It depends on what you mean by efficiency. If time is of the essence, a plane would be the most efficient. If you mean environmentally friendly, then some sort of wind powered boat would probably be best (although not very fast).
The most environmentally friendly way to mass produce goods would be to use domestic materials, but this is unrealistic because in rich countries (such as the U.S) the cost of materials are much more expensive then importing them from a third world country (even though it would be much more environmentally friendly).
Trains are decently efficient (although they consume lots of energy)… I think since this is an environmental website, we have to consider the efficiency from an environmental standpoint before (and place more importance upon this, because pollution / GG release due to transportation modes / resource [over]consumption is a problem, is it not?) we consider time and cost efficiency. So from the green standpoint, the most efficient way to transport mass goods is definitely one that utilizes free energy (such as wind patterns)… Could we develop a solar train, which crawls along at a steady clip and circles the earth following the sunlight? Maybe hook a few wind sails up to it when the wind is just right! There is no telling what we are going to develop in the future (I’ve got this idea for an airplane which poops out gliders which all have their goods in them for transport to various depots — why not let them coast on down to their destinations instead of landing at the airport, having to be unloaded [energy waste] then carried to a truck and re-loaded [energy waste], and then driven to their next sub-destination [huge energy waste if they had already flown directly overhead of the USPS station where they needed to be brought in the first place]!)… We will probably be re-employing the technologies of yesteryear, like the windsail and the good old fashion canoe, because we can’t just keep burning up fuel (releasing GG’s) and acting like it’s not a problem, especially when (as long as we can be patient, which is going to be the difficult part [esp. for short-term profit-seeking business people]) we can use free, available, clean energy to get the goods where they need to go! I can wait!
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