Working to minimize the carbon footprint

Working to minimize the carbon footprint

Aliyah North

These next twenty years are crucial to our earth’s existence. The global temperature continues to rapidly increase and in 20 years there will be no turning back. The damage done to our planet will be irreversible. Decarbonization of transportation provides one way in which we can fix this global issue. 

Global warming has affected many people over the course of the last 100 years through an increase in temperature, rise of sea levels, severe droughts, more dangerous storms, and much more. With a globally coordinated effort, these effects can be halted instead of increased. 

Kiewit is one of the largest and most respected engineering and construction firms in North America. Alex North is the Manager of Alternative Transportation at Kiewit where his sole purpose is to decarbonize transportation. The transportation sector is responsible for around 29 percent of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere, which is the largest of any sector. 

“I consult fleet operators or anyone who wants to decarbonize. For example, if you are a public transport operator like Topeka Metro, I would provide a plan to decarbonize based on fleet size, etc. and the amount of new electric buses needed. Most companies are not equipped with the knowledge of how exactly these systems work, which is where we come in and shrink the knowledge gap,” North explained. 

One common misconception in the alternative transportation industry is that, “the transfer is not one-to-one,” North explained when talking about the process of decarbonizing transportation. For example, if you take away one regular public transport bus, you will need more alternatives to support the same amount of people. 

Decarbonization is just one of the many different ways we can save our planet. There are numerous different processes but the one North focuses on is “eliminating greenhouse gasses that are omitted by capturing them and taking the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Cleaner air will in turn stop the increase in global temperature.”

There are many different causes of the increase in the global temperature as a result of carbon emissions. Eighty-seven percent of carbon emissions come from fossil fuels, which are used in the production of gas, manufacturing plants and much more. 

Along with these causes of carbon emissions, there are also many different ways to improve the carbon footprint. Some of the ways include; switching to lower-carbon fuels, improving vehicle efficiency, vehicle sharing, and high speed rails. Other ways are using different forms of energy such as solar, wind, and bioenergy. Bioenergy is energy from any organic matter that has absorbed sunlight and stored it as a form of chemical energy. 

North says he hopes to decrease the carbon footprint by, “supporting [his] clients and their efforts in decarbonization. One big challenge is knowledge gaps. We need to educate people and provide them a cost effective way to get there.”

It will take everyone to meet these goals and save our planet, and Kiewit is just one helpful source. There are many other companies around the world working together to try and lower their carbon footprint. This is a very unique problem, because it deals with everyone across the globe, not just certain countries or people. This global issue will take over our planet if we do not start now.