IELTS writing – Infrastructure, comparison of form of transport and Environment issues related to transport

Environment impact of Transport :

From : Wikipedia

The environmental impact of transport is significant because it is a major user of energy, and burns most of the world’s petroleum. This creates air pollution, including nitrous oxides and particulates, and is a significant contributor to global warming through emission of carbon dioxide, for sector. By subsector, road transport is the largest contributor to global warming.

 

Environmental regulations in developed countries have reduced the individual vehicles emission; however, this has been offset by an increase in the number of vehicles, and more use of each vehicle. Some pathways to reduce the carbon emissions of road vehicles considerably have been studied. Energy use and emissions vary largely between modes, causing environmentalists to call for a transition from air and road to rail and human-powered transport, and increase transport electrification and energy efficiency.

 

The transportation sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the United States. An estimated 30 percent of national GHGs are directly attributable to transportation—and in some regions the proportion is even higher. Transportation methods are the greatest contributing source of GHGs in the U.S., accounting for 47 percent of the net increase in total U.S. emissions since 1990.

 

Other environmental impacts of transport systems include traffic congestion and automobile-oriented urban sprawl, which can consume natural habitat and agricultural lands. By reducing transportation emissions globally, it is predicted that there will be significant positive effects on Earth’s air quality, acid rain, smog and climate change.

 

The health impact of transport emissions is also of concern. A recent survey of the studies on the effect of traffic emissions on pregnancy outcomes has linked exposure to emissions to adverse effects on gestational duration and possibly also intrauterine growth.

 

As listed above direct impacts such as noise and carbon monoxide emissions create direct and harmful effects on the environment, along with indirect impacts. The indirect impacts are often of higher consequence which lead to the misconception that it’s the opposite, since it is frequently understood that initial effects cause the most damage. For example, particulates which are the outcome of incomplete combustion done by an internal combustion engine, are not linked with respiratory and cardiovascular problems since they contribute to other factors not only to that specific condition. Even though the environmental impacts are usually listed individually there are also cumulative impacts. The synergetic consequences of transport activities. They take into account of the varied effects of direct and indirect impacts on an ecosystem. Climate change is the sum total impact of several natural and human made factors. 15% of global CO2 emissions are attributed to the transport sector.

Advantages and Disadvantages of various forms of transport:

Transportation plays a major role in the economy. It increases the production efficiency and it links to the logistics system. Vehicle should have some characteristics which are used for easy transport of goods and services.

 

Transportation is generally of two types. They are public transport and transport for non generic-use. Public transport is nothing but which is used for meeting the needs of all sectors of the people for transportation of goods and services. Transport non-generic will be for the plant operations here the transportation means may be by the non-transport enterprises.

 

Coming to the different types of transport which are usage generally are:

 

  1. Rail:

 

Advantages:

 

Ability of loading and unloading goods and services is more.

Frequency of delivering the goods over long distances is more.

Climatic conditions have no effect

No traffic or congestion easy movement of the vehicle.

 

Disadvantages:

 

Capital and initial investments are more.

High material usage for the construction and even the fuel consumption

The above are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the rail.

 

  1. Road:

 

Advantages:

 

High flexibility and ability to move the vehicles fast.

Uses different routes to reach the destination quickly.

Does door to door service

High safety for the cargo.

Chance to select the carrier which is suitable for carrying the goods.

 

Disadvantages:

 

It mostly depends on climatic conditions.

High cost for long distances.

Productivity is low.

Some of the advantages and disadvantages are discussed above.

 

  1. Air:

 

Advantages:

Highest speed

Even delivers goods to remote places.

High reliability

 

Disadvantages:

 

Highest cost of transportation.

Even adverse weather conditions effect the transportation.

Material and fuel consumption is costly.

 

  1. Water:

 

Advantages:

It is economical mode for transporting heavy loads and even cargo.

It is the safest mode which provides convenience to the people without accidents.

Cost of construction and maintenance is very low.

It even provides international transport

 

Disadvantages:

It is highly affected by the weather conditions.

It requires large initial investment

It is a slow process.

So, these are some means of transport.

 

Infrastructure :

Infrastructure refers to the fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city, or area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy to function. It typically characterises technical structures such as roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, telecommunications, and so forth, and can be defined as “the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions.”

 

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word infrastructure has been used in English since 1887 and in French since 1875, originally meaning “The installations that form the basis for any operation or system”

 

The word was imported from French, where it means subgrade, the native material underneath a constructed pavement or railway. The word is a combination of the Latin prefix “infra”, meaning “below”, and “structure”. The military use of the term achieved currency in the United States after the formation of NATO in the 1940s, and by 1970 was adopted by urban planners in its modern civilian sense .

 

The term came to prominence in the United States in the 1980s following the publication of America in Ruins,which initiated a public-policy discussion of the nation’s “infrastructure crisis”, purported to be caused by decades of inadequate investment and poor maintenance of public works. This crisis discussion contributed to an increase in infrastructure asset management and maintenance planning in the US. Public-policy discussions have been hampered by lack of a precise definition for infrastructure.

 

A 1987 US National Research Council panel adopted the term “public works infrastructure”, referring to:

 

“… both specific functional modes – highways, streets, roads, and bridges; mass transit; airports and airways; water supply and water resources; wastewater management; solid-waste treatment and disposal; electric power generation and transmission; telecommunications; and hazardous waste management – and the combined system these modal elements comprise. A comprehension of infrastructure spans not only these public works facilities, but also the operating procedures, management practices, and development policies that interact together with societal demand and the physical world to facilitate the transport of people and goods, provision of water for drinking and a variety of other uses, safe disposal of society’s waste products, provision of energy where it is needed, and transmission of information within and between communities.”

 

The OECD also classifies communications as a part of infrastructure.

 

The American Society of Civil Engineers has not defined the term, though issuing a US “Infrastructure Report Card” every 2-4 years. As of 2017 they grade 16 categories, namely Aviation, Bridges, Dams, Drinking Water, Energy, Hazardous Waste, Inland Waterways, Levees, Parks & Recreation, Ports, Rail, Roads, Schools, Solid Waste, Transit and Wastewater.

 

Hard infrastructure refers to the physical networks necessary for the functioning of a modern industrial nation. Soft infrastructure may refer to the institutions which are required to maintain an economy, like health, and cultural and social standards of a country, such as the financial system, the education system, the health care system, the system of government, and law enforcement, as well as emergency services.

 

The term critical infrastructure distinguishes those infrastructure elements that, if significantly damaged or destroyed, would cause serious disruption of a system or organization. Storm, flood, or earthquake damage leading to loss of certain transportation routes in a city, for example bridges crossing a river, that would make it impossible for people to evacuate, and for emergency services to operate, would be deemed critical infrastructure. Similarly, an on-line booking system might be critical infrastructure for an airline. These elements of infrastructure are the focus of recovery efforts in the aftermath of natural disasters.

 

Related concepts

The term infrastructure may be confused with the following overlapping or related concepts.

 

Land improvement and land development are general terms that in some contexts may include infrastructure, but in the context of a discussion of infrastructure would refer only to smaller scale systems or works that are not included in infrastructure, because they are typically limited to a single parcel of land, and are owned and operated by the land owner. For example, an irrigation canal that serves a region or district would be included with infrastructure, but the private irrigation systems on individual land parcels would be considered land improvements, not infrastructure. Service connections to municipal service and public utility networks would also be considered land improvements, not infrastructure.

 

The term public works includes government-owned and operated infrastructure as well as public buildings, such as schools and court houses. Public works generally refers to physical assets needed to deliver public services. Public services include both infrastructure and services generally provided by government.

 

Ownership and financing

 

Infrastructure may be owned and managed by governments or by private companies, such as sole public utility or railway companies. Generally, most roads, major ports and airports, water distribution systems and sewage networks are publicly owned, whereas most energy and telecommunications networks are privately owned. Publicly owned infrastructure may be paid for from taxes, tolls, or metered user fees, whereas private infrastructure is generally paid for by metered user fees. Major investment projects are generally financed by the issuance of long-term bonds.

 

Government owned and operated infrastructure may be developed and operated in the private sector or in public-private partnerships, in addition to in the public sector. As of 2008 in the United States for example, public spending on infrastructure has varied between 2.3% and 3.6% of GDP since 1950. Many financial institutions invest in infrastructure. In Keynesian economics, the word infrastructure was exclusively used to describe public assets that facilitate production, but not private assets of the same purpose. In post-Keynesian times, the word has grown in popularity and has been applied with increasing generality to suggest the internal framework discernible in any technology system or business organisation.

 

Uses of the term

 

Engineering and construction

 

Engineers generally limit the term “infrastructure” to describe fixed assets that are in the form of a large network, in other words, hard infrastructure. Efforts to devise more generic definitions of infrastructures have typically referred to the network aspects of most of the structures, and to the accumulated value of investments in the networks as assets.One such definition from 1998 defined infrastructure as the network of assets “where the system as a whole is intended to be maintained indefinitely at a specified standard of service by the continuing replacement and refurbishment of its components”.

 

Civil defense and economic development

 

Civil defense planners and developmental economists generally refer to both hard and soft infrastructure, including public services such as schools and hospitals, emergency services such as police and fire fighting, and basic financial services. The notion of Infrastructure-based development combining long-term infrastructure investments by government agencies at central and regional levels with public private partnerships has proven popular among Asian- notably Singaporean and Chinese, Mainland European and Latin American economists.

 

Military

 

Military strategists use the term infrastructure to refer to all building and permanent installations necessary for the support of military forces, whether they are stationed in bases, being deployed or engaged in operations. For example barracks, headquarters, airfields, communications facilities, stores of military equipment, port installations, and maintenance stations.

 

Urban

 

Urban or municipal infrastructure refers to hard infrastructure systems generally owned and operated by municipalities, such as streets, water distribution, and sewers. It may also include some of the facilities associated with soft infrastructure, such as parks, public pools, schools, hospitals and libraries.

 

 

 

 

Green infrastructure

 

Green infrastructure is a concept that highlights the importance of the natural environment in decisions about land use planning. In particular there is an emphasis on the “life support” functions provided by a network of natural ecosystems, with an emphasis on interconnectivity to support long-term sustainability. Examples include clean water and healthy soils, as well as the more anthropocentric functions such as recreation and providing shade and shelter in and around towns and cities. The concept can be extended to apply to the management of storm water runoff at the local level through the use of natural systems, or engineered systems that mimic natural systems, to treat polluted runoff.

 

 

Communications

 

The term infrastructure may refer to informal and formal channels of communication, political and social networks, or beliefs held by members of particular groups, as well as information technology, software development tools. Still underlying these more conceptual uses is the idea that infrastructure provides organizing structure and support for the system or organization it serves, whether it is a city, a nation, a corporation, or a collection of people with common interests. Examples include IT infrastructure, research infrastructure, terrorist infrastructure, employment infrastructure and tourism infrastructure.

 

In the developing world

 

According to researchers at the Overseas Development Institute, the lack of infrastructure in many developing countries represents one of the most significant limitations to economic growth and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Infrastructure investments and maintenance can be very expensive, especially in such as areas as landlocked, rural and sparsely populated countries in Africa. It has been argued that infrastructure investments contributed to more than half of Africa’s improved growth performance between 1990 and 2005, and increased investment is necessary to maintain growth and tackle poverty. The returns to investment in infrastructure are very significant, with on average thirty to forty percent returns for telecommunications (ICT) investments, over forty percent for electricity generation, and eighty percent for roads.

 

Regional differences

 

The demand for infrastructure, both by consumers and by companies is much higher than the amount invested. There are severe constraints on the supply side of the provision of infrastructure in Asia. The infrastructure financing gap between what is invested in Asia-Pacific (around US$48 billion) and what is needed (US$228 billion) is around US$180 billion every year.

 

In Latin America, three percent of GDP (around US$71 billion) would need to be invested in infrastructure in order to satisfy demand, yet in 2005, for example, only around two percent was invested leaving a financing gap of approximately US$24 billion.

 

In Africa, in order to reach the seven percent annual growth calculated to be required to meet the MDGs by 2015 would require infrastructure investments of about fifteen percent of GDP, or around US$93 billion a year. In fragile states, over thirty-seven percent of GDP would be required.

 

Sources of funding

 

The source of financing varies significantly across sectors. Some sectors are dominated by government spending, others by overseas development aid (ODA), and yet others by private investors.

 

In Sub-Saharan Africa, governments spend around US$9.4 billion out of a total of US$24.9 billion. In irrigation, governments represent almost all spending. In transport and energy a majority of investment is government spending. In ICT and water supply and sanitation, the private sector represents the majority of capital expenditure. Overall, between them aid, the private sector, and non-OECD financiers exceed government spending. The private sector spending alone equals state capital expenditure, though the majority is focused on ICT infrastructure investments. External financing increased in the 2000s (decade) and in Africa alone external infrastructure investments increased from US$7 billion in 2002 to US$27 billion in 2009. China, in particular, has emerged as an important investor.

 

 

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