Explore the Quaker way: read about the basics of our faith, find answers to common questions and find a Quaker meeting near you.
The Four-Fold Path of Personal Transportation
This path may seem like a tall order for many of us who are accustomed to the convenience of motoring to Yearly Meeting alone. But the handwriting is on the wall: Human-induced climate change is about to alter forever the way every one of us is living on this planet, whether we find it convenient or not. And if we want to continue having Yearly Meeting sessions for all the Quaker meetings and churches in New England and a sustainable future for all of life, we will need to begin now to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases we produce in order to get there.
Our big, fat carbon footprints. If we are typical residents of the United States, each of us is currently responsible for the emission of about 22 metric tons of CO2 into Earth’s thin, fragile atmosphere every year. With only 4 percent of the world population, we are together producing about a fourth of the 27 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted worldwide every year.
The world’s climate scientists now agree that we must reduce by 80 percent the amount of CO2 we are spewing into the atmosphere by the year 2050 to have any chance of averting runaway global warming in the next few decades. To achieve that degree of reduction, those of us who are relatively more affluent need to reduce our share of emissions even more—up to 90 percent—simply because those who are less affluent don’t have room for further reductions without great suffering.
Our transportation habits. Transportation accounts for a major portion of the CO2 emissions in the U.S., which is more reliant on the private automobile than most other countries. One way to make a big cut in our transportation-related CO2 is to make the single-occupant vehicle a relic of the past. Let’s say that those who attending this year’s New England Yearly Meeting Sessions on average come from 75 miles away, or 150 miles round trip. A motor vehicle getting 27 miles per gallon therefore will emit about 75 pounds of CO2 emissions per person during that round trip if it has only one occupant, but will emit only 20 or so pounds of CO2 per person if it has four occupants.
By comparison, a 150-mile train trip will emit about 32 pounds of CO2 emissions per rider, while a 150-mile bus trip will emit about 15 pounds of CO2 per rider. The CO2 emissions of those who choose to bicycle or walk will be insignificant. The bottom line: The collective carbon footprint for the number of Friends likely to attend Yearly Meeting sessions this year could be reduced 20 tons or more if we put our minds and hearts to it.