The issue of global climate change is playing out as an immense drama just outside the spot lit arena of public awareness at least in the U.S.
The climate is changing far more rapidly than scientists projected just a few years ago—and the systems of the planet are far more sensitive to even a small degree of warming than observers anticipated.
As a result, it is rapidly becoming clear that the continuity of our highly complex and intricately interrelated civilization depends on our ability to reduce emissions from our fossil fuels by 60 to 80 percent in very short order. Absent cuts of that magnitude, we will soon begin to see the opening of profound fissures in the fabric of our collective lives.
Given the magnitude of this drama, it is somewhat ironic that the front-line foot soldiers in the battle to stabilize the climate will come from relatively undramatic professions like resource economics and engineering.
The proof is in the following pages.
As Raphael Edinger and Sanjay Kaul point out, one third of the emissions in the industrial world come from the transportation sector (with another third from electricity generation and the final third from the thermal energy uses). The transportation demands in the developing countries, whose infrastructures are, in most cases, still works in progress, are already escalating dramatically. In the year 2000 alone, the world produced 57 million new vehicles (a distressingly high proportion which took the form of SUVs). The total stock of vehicles in the world is expected to double in the next two decades.
In this increasingly mobile world, when the transport of goods is the cornerstone of a global economy and freedom of movement is valued almost as a basic human right, it is critical that we make our transportation systems as sustainable as possible in very rapid fashion.
“Sustainable Mobility” represents a major step in that direction.
Beginning with a short history of the concept of “sustainability”—from Boulding's “Spaceship Earth, ” to the Meadows' “Limits to Growth, ” to the Brundtland Commission's “Our Common Future, ” the book moves quickly into