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Planes, Trains and Automobiles


by Jonathan van Bilsen


Many people, including those I know and many I do not, worry about what is going to happen to our environment in the future. I am not here to argue about the good and bad sides of these worries, but I do want to talk about some interesting facts about pollution, especially when we travel.

When we move around in today's world, whether it is by plane, train, or car, figuring out what is best for the environment can be really tricky. However, there is hope! The latest Transport and Environment Report (TERM), from 2020, shed some light on this. It looked at whether travelling by train or plane is better for the planet, especially considering the European Union's plan to be much greener.

The European Green Deal is a big deal, it aims to cut down on the pollution caused by transportation, by a huge 90 percent, by the year 2050. This shows Europe is really serious about taking care of our planet. The report said, changing from flying to taking the train, could be a major part of reaching this goal.

When we look at how much pollution transportation makes, it is pretty eye-opening. In 2018, a quarter of all the pollution in the European Union came from transportation. Most of this pollution comes from, cars and trucks, driving on the roads. Ships and planes also add a lot, though not as much as cars and trucks. Surprisingly, trains, at least the ones which run on diesel, do not cause much pollution compared to the others.

So, what is better: train or plane? According to the report, trains are the winners, when it comes to being good for the environment. They are second only to walking or biking! Even though planes can take us far and fast, they create a lot more pollution per person travelling. However, do not forget about cars. Driving alone in a car which runs on petrol or diesel, can be just as bad for the environment as flying.

I have taken the train across Canada and found it to be an extremely interesting and exciting trip. It took four days to go from Jasper to Toronto, so as far as it being an adventure, it ranks near the top. When it comes to efficiency, however, taking a plane is much faster.

The message is to, give some thought to alternative measures or opportunities when travelling, especially by ourselves in a car. Each ticket we buy and every trip we take, shapes the future of our planet. Let us aim for a future where progress and nature work together smoothly.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website and YouTube.

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