Slower shipping can help the environment because the faster you move something, the exponentially more energy it takes. Using only planes would be the fastest and most damaging way to transport goods. Walking across the country would use the least gas but it not practical. Currently we are somewhere in between. Trucks are used extensively because there is a huge infrastructure that can get goods delivered directly to the place it needs to go.
The problem is that trucks can only carry one shipping containers worth of goods at a time. Trains can carry up to 270 times more than trucks do, up to 94% more efficiently. However, people don’t like trains because they are slower and their products must be transported from the train station instead of delivered to their store.
Transportation of goods is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases and simple physics tells us that slower shipping takes less energy. Using trains and other methods of transport would lower the fuel it takes to move each item.
wow nearly simultaneous answers! typing mine in word and didn’t see yours until i posted mine. Anyway, good thinking 🙂
One look at any major US highway and it doesn’t take long to realize that majority of the non-time-sensitive national shipping needs are met with tractor trailers. Transporting produce, mail, building materials, etc. the nation’s arteries are filled with these monster diesel guzzlers. One solution is using railroads in order to meet our nation’s shipping needs. High horsepower locomotives (4,000-5,000 HP) are able to move 1 ton with 0.8 HP, yielding a 50-car 263,000 lb/car capacity per locomotive. That’s a lot of stuff! A typical weight limit on a semi-trailer is 52,000 lb. Let’s double that for instances when a double / triple trailers are deployed – 104,000 lb per truck. That means that a locomotive is capable of carrying the loads of 106 double tractor trailers. Additional research on energy use difference between a 50 car locomotive compared with 106 trucks given X miles traveled is needed. Also logistics of transporting goods once they arrive at the central destinations – trucks will be needed to transport loads from the central location to their final destinations. Much more to be considered here, but I think it’s a great idea!
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