Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama is taking the train!

Port Townsend, January 17th.

train schedule, iStockPhoto

The Obama family is setting a great example by taking the train to the inauguration instead of a private jet. After all, taking mass transit when possible is something we can all do to help reduce pollution and end our dependence on foreign oil.

But how much of an impact will the historic train ride make on the planet, especially when you consider what a short distance it is from Philadelphia to Washington D.C.?

To find out, TerraPass crunched the numbers and came up with estimates for a family of four making the 137-mile trip. These are only estimates and they do not take into account the extra people and/or vehicles that would accompany the Obamas in their travels.

Ultimately, the savings depends on which mode of transportation they would have chosen instead. Here are some different scenarios:

  • Taking the train instead of flying on a Boeing 747-200 (same type as Air Force One) saves the equivalent of the carbon footprint for shipping 110,000 bottles of French Champagne, or the emissions of roughly 50,000 people watching five hours of inauguration festivities on a 42" plasma screen.

  • Choosing Amtrak over a helicopter (Sikorsky Sea King, VH-3D, also known as Marine One) saves the equivalent of taking a Hummer off the road for a year.

Obviously, the savings for the rest of us are much more modest, but they're not insignificant. A family of four riding the train instead of taking a commercial flight for the same distance saves the equivalent carbon footprint of 588 bottles of bubbly. Not bad.

The bottom line: It definitely makes good sense for all of us to follow the Obamas' lead on this whenever we have the opportunity.

What an absolutely exciting day, to see this gentleman riding down to Washington aboard "Georgia 300," a 1930 Pullman. Gallery of photos of "Georgia 300."

Exciting day indeed!

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