Sustainable Putnam

Global Warming & Transportation

Transportation, powered primarily by fossil fuels, is one of the greatest causes of global warming in our area. Automobiles, trucks, and airplanes emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide on a daily basis, trapping more of the sun’s warmth and altering our climate in ways we are only beginning to understand. A rapid shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable electric transportation is essential to reversing global warming, improve our health, and at the same time, save money.  

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Personal Vehicles

Make your next car a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric vehicle. You’ll spend less on transportation over the vehicle’s life, breathe cleaner air, reduce your carbon footprint, and spend virtually no time at gas stations and repair shops. 
Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles have roughly 2,000 moving parts. Moving parts break. That’s why they require maintenance and repair. That costs money and time at the repair shop. Electric vehicles have only about 20 moving parts. They have no engines, no engine oil, no transmissions, and no exhaust systems. Over the life of a vehicle, EVs require a small fraction of the maintenance required by ICE vehicles. 

School Buses & District Vehicles

Even school buses are going electric, and the benefits are many! Electric school buses require far less maintenance. They produce no fumes as they pick up, carry, and drop off our children, whose developing lungs are much more vulnerable to the heavy particulate matter that results from diesel-fueled buses. Most school buses drive a limited number of miles in a day, and sit idle all night — that allows nighttime charging and makes electric school buses an excellent choice

Government Fleets

Town and county governments can purchase hybrid and electric vehicles at discounted prices. Many government vehicles drive only during business hours, and sit idle all night — making EVs a perfect choice that allows nighttime charging. New York State offers grants to local governments purchasing EVs or installing EV charging infrastructure.

Actions:

  • Purchase an EV. For two-car households, an EV is an easy choice. About 90% of all driving is under 20 miles per day (Verify this statistic). For around town or mid-range trips take the EV. Reserve the ICE vehicle for long-range trips.
  • Write to your local school board and suggest electric for our next school bus purchase.

Public Transportation

Our car-centered culture has often neglected those who do not or can not drive. Differently-abled, young, and elderly residents often need assistance to get where they need to go for employment, shopping, medical, and social needs. Widely-available, affordable public transit is essential, and as our population ages, we can expect demand to rise in the years to come.

Actions:

  • Take public transportation – bus or train – whenever possible. Remember that if you wind up spending more money, it’s because you’re paying the real cost of transportation: unsubsidized by externalities such as fossil fuel extraction and burning pollution, and government subsidies. If you find it wanting, let your local government representatives know you value better mass transit. 

Infrastructure

Our local infrastructure must also transition to a more sustainable footing. The transition to electric vehicles, bicycles, and more walking will require near and long term modifications. For example, many more public and private EV Charging stations will be necessary for EVs in shopping areas, libraries, and schools. Additional bicycle lanes will be needed on roadways, while parking lots at shops, businesses, libraries, and schools may require improved and more secure bicycle racks. 

Actions:

  • Need access to a publicly available charging station at work or in town? Need a bike lane or shopping area bicycle rack? Help us start a campaign. Contact Sustainable Putnam via the Contact page. 

Transportation is the single largest sector of carbon emissions for most residents in our region. It’s greater than home heating, electricity, food, or waste. If you’re in the market for a new car, or are able to eliminate a vehicle from your household fleet, the positive impacts you’ll create for our air quality, our health, and global warming will be immediate and dramatic. We Americans drive a lot, and much of our driving — even in EVs — is unsustainable. With internet-based technology, such as video conferencing, we can dramatically reduce the time and money we spend sitting inside a vehicle, and spend more time enjoying the company of friends, family, neighbors, and the natural world.

More Information