My solution is to totally integrate public and private transportation. Individuals would own or lease their own small electric vehicles. They would use them to commute to a station where they would join to form a “train” driven by the electricity network. This would travel at speed along the major arteries, charging batteries as it went. At their destination station the individual cars would decouple and be driven to their final point. Stations could be well spaced because commuters would have their own vehicle to travel the last few kilometers.
New South Wales, Australia
Public transportation has to be a priority and include, for daily commuting, small, nonpolluting cars integrated into a “public transportation system,” as Paris did with the Vélib’ bicycle-sharing scheme. Second, people need to get involved with sustainability by using fewer cars, separating recyclable garbage at home, living close to work or working close to home, and teaching children about sustainability. Children are phenomenal agents of change.
—Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, which implemented, during Lerner’s first tenure in the early 1970s, an innovative transportation system that has been imitated worldwide
Power, Power Anywhere
People in poor countries crowd the urban centers because of the lack of infrastructure in rural areas. Micro CHP generators, which can use fuels ranging from solar-thermal to biogas, make rural areas more livable by providing electrical infrastructure, affording the powerful potential to decrease overcrowding in urban areas and leading to long-term improvements in urban quality of life.
—Iqbal Z. Quadir, director of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developer of the concept of providing universal access to phone service for the poor in Bangladesh
Better Information on the Internet, Please
Better urban planning, public policy and education could be solutions, but in the current Chinese system those changes could be costly and hard to actualize. Shanghai is not so “compact” compared with other world metropolitan areas, as we have about 20 million people in a very spread-out urban area. We already have some severe urban problems such as intense traffic congestion, overcrowding in public areas, housing supply shortage, environmental pollution, fast-increasing amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and the public overreacting to rumors.
When I turn to science for solutions, the Internet and other public media seem to have much more potential to readily spread helpful information to the public and enable them to make efficient and beneficial decisions, making things easier for everyone. That should be the main goal desperately sought after by the urban-management practitioners.
—Pan Haozhi, student, Tongji University, Shanghai
Scooping Up the Fallen Fruit
Long before I learned about the risks of climate change, I was fanatical about energy efficiency. Whenever my wife and I move into a new home, I check the attic for adequate insulation. I look for leaks around doors and windows and install a programmable thermostat if needed. When our hot- water heater needed eplacement, we installed a tankless water heater that decreased our summertime gas use by 50 percent.
Taking these steps is called weatherization. I would rather call it “saving money by saving energy.” For the next few decades energy efficiency will be one of the lowest-cost options for reducing carbon emissions while promoting economic growth. The quickest and easiest way to reduce our carbon emissions is to make our appliances, cars, homes and other buildings more efficient. In fact, energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit; it is fruit that is lying on the ground. Over the next several years I want to help millions of American families seize the same opportunity to cut their utility bills by making their homes and appliances more energy-efficient while increasing comfort.
—Steven Chu, U.S. secretary of energy