Welcome to the blog of the course and textbook Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Carpooling: The Drive to Green.

It was the summer of 2010; myself and a friend were on a trip of a lifetime inter-railing around Europe. For those of you who have never inter-railed, an inter-rail pass is a train ticket for EU members allowing you to travel between countries in the EU over a period of time.
Inter-railing is an experience to say the least. Leaving aside the crazy nights out, the sun, sea, historical sites and the people you meet along the way. You can often arrive in new location tired, hungry, and bagged down and with no idea of where you’re staying, or what you’re doing.
It was this mixed bag of emotions which we were carrying when we were hurled off an overnight train in Stuttgart mid journey from Munich to Paris. The train had been double booked, they had no record of our reservations, and no sympathy for the tired tears that ran down our grubby faces – Off we stepped at 3am into Stuttgart. We desperately needed to get to Paris on time –but how? Despite the lack of customers one solitary café remained open despite the lack of customers. This Café introduced us to a Danish girl who was fluent in English and German, she kindly helped us to look up tickets for the next train, and at two hundred Euros each we quickly resigned to the fact that we were doomed.   Seeing our reaction the Dane stepped up her game and introduced us to the Mid- European phenomenon of Carpooling.
The majority of us have heard of people sharing lifts to work or school in order to save; time, money and of course the environment. This goes a step further. We found a website advertising free spaces in a car which was travelling from one destination to another, each passenger pooled their money together to pay for the petrol. So there we were at 4.30 am calling a strange number arranging a lift to Paris from Stuttgart and by 7 am we were in a car with four other people! By pooling together we saved the money and the environment through more efficient use of petrol as it would take the same amount of petrol to take one of us from Stuttgart to Paris.

Carpooling evidently means more people in a one car, this means less cars on the road, this can directly lead to less pollution; Less air pollution, noise pollution, less carbon emission, less greenhouse gas emission. Evidently carpooling is a major and direct step towards a cleaner and greener environment.  When we arrived safely in Paris we wished our fellow commuters a nice trip and parted ways. For a simple 30 euro each we made an economical saving of 170 euro each, in comparison to the alternative train ticket, while simultaneously saving the environment.

Although many people have questioned the safety element of ‘getting in a car with a stranger’ this carpooling idea could easily be adopted to the business sector of Ireland with many people making trips from Dublin to Galway or Cork on a daily basis it would be a safe and easy way to save the money and the environment to simply set up a business carpooling community and drive towards green.
Jane Farrelly

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