Last week I shared the 2016 State of the Industry Report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR), provided in part by Towson University, and how shipping by freight rail can help on a local and global scale financially.
Today I want to talk about the health benefits of rail/intermodal transportation and its reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
What are greenhouse gases and why should this concern me?
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are a group of compounds that trap heat in the atmosphere, keeping the Earth’s surface warmer than it should be. This extra heat causes climate change, which believe it or not leads to several economical, environmental and human health problems.
GHGs can cause major damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges caused by extreme weather events, and an increase in precipitation resulting in higher risks of flooding. Heat waves result in higher risks of forest fires and heat stroke. GHGs also pose a greater risk of respiratory and cardiovascular problems and certain types of cancers as temperatures rise and exacerbate air pollution. There are many other issues, but I think you get the point.
How does rail/intermodal transportation help?
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported in April 2016 that “on average, railroads are four times more fuel efficient than trucks…” and “moving freight by rail instead of truck reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.”
Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we have learned that non-transportation sources such as power plants and manufacturers put out upwards of 74% of all U.S. GHG emissions in 2014. This leaves transportation accounting for the remaining 26 percent. Freight railroads accounted for just 2.5% of transportation-related GHG emissions, which is a mere 0.6% of U.S. GHGs altogether. If you’re interested in reading further into the detailed statistics that AAR released, the report can be downloaded here.
The Good News
It’s obvious. We already knew that shipping by rail is less expensive and more economically beneficial than other modes of transportation. Now we know that it also helps the environment and saves lives. What more can you ask for?
We’re happy that more and more U.S. shippers are finding ways to reduce these emissions. If you’re shipping in and out of New Mexico, NMT is the solution for you.