Alternative futures

Alternative futures
Week 10 – Professor Alastair MacDonald discussing possible alternative futures

Prior to this week’s lecture, there were a few pre-reading tasks set, looking into problems with current vehicles, how to make communities self-sufficient and discussing if electric power is really the best way forward for transport. 

Some really big topics but I found them very insightful and relatable to my current blog ‘Engine Emissions’ in the exploration of powertrains. 

Current vehicles have rubber tyres which wear considerably after many journeys. Tyre wear is a large source of microplastics going into rivers and the sea and when driving the tyres throw microscopic particles into the air for us to inhale, due to the friction between the tyres and the road. Currently there is no proper way of recycling the tyres and therefore they end up in landfill, this is an urban design problem created by our favourite vehicle. This is a really interesting topic and could be an idea to explore for a final year project.

To create a self-sufficient community, every necessity would need to be within a 15-minute walking range. I do believe this to be a sensible idea for the future to hopefully reduce the number of private car journeys however, I don’t think it could be implemented everywhere. As I have grown up in the countryside, the nearest supermarket was 15 minutes in the car, my school was 45 minutes away and the nearest hospital was 10 mins away. The overall idea is really good however, I think it would only work for people within cities or towns, as those who live in small villages and towns could not have this privilege.

Is it a good idea to implement this in such rural places? The countryside is the countryside because of its vast green fields filled with cattle, so if we were to add shops to these areas, we could disrupt the natural beauty and force the area to become a larger overpopulated town.

When we make these changes, we should not be ruining the natural wonders of the world, the point of these changes is to help preserve the world, we cannot stop one evil to then start another. We need to think of the bigger picture.

Tyre wear on roads
Tyre landfill
Save our countryside

In the talk, Alastair discussed the changes being made in Orkney and Shetland. They are leading in renewable energy and are showing that the change is possible. Now, these islands have significantly less people and are working on a much smaller scale compared to the rest of the UK however, it shows that smaller scale projects could be the best way forward.

Attempting to change the whole country to electric or hydrogen would be exhaustingly difficult, as those living inland would struggle to reap the benefits of wave and wind energy (as they thrive along the coast). Therefore, I believe small scale community projects are a realistic way forward for getting more people involved in improving our waste and emissions.

An example of a small-scale project: in my local area the council have decided to change the timetable for bin collection. Previously the green bin was collected every 2 weeks however, it has now changed to once every 3 weeks for collection. The purpose of this change is to encourage people to manage their waste and recycle more instead of putting everything in general waste. Although this sounds like a minor change, it will help. Every small step is moving forward.

23rd March 2021.



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