Leadership Qualities: Innovating Transportation Solutions…

The Jackson 5 – I’ll Be There (1970)

Effective leaders know one of the biggest items in the budget is transportation – so getting workers to work and home, shipping valuable goods across the world, and preparing for whatever emergencies may happen  are top priorities for investments.

Imagine for a moment that it’s early morning and you have just begun preparations to head out for the day.  You barely have the kettle on before the phone rings and you hear your child saying, “Mom, I’ve been in an accident.  The ambulance is here and we are headed to the hospital.  I need you to get here as fast as you can.”  No matter what you had planned for the day, every thing gets shelved in order to get to your child in distress.  But, how are you going to get there?  How do you bridge the gap between your home and where your child is located?  What if they are across town, in another state or parish, or even in another country?

Transportation is more than just moving people and resources around by the five main modes which are: railways, roadways, airways, waterways and pipelines.  At the heart of it, is facilitating meaningful relationships and building a sense of community.  Some responses from persons may be: “I travel because I have to go and see my children and grandchildren.”  “I commute because I have to earn a living to provide for my young family.”  “I drive fast cars because I enjoy racing with my buddies.”  But, no matter the reason, people use different modes of transportation because it connects them to social and economic relationships.  

But, there are consequences to the choices that we make in how we travel around. A study of one of the world’s largest transportation systems shows that air quality is significantly affected by increases in nitrogen bearing gases.  It is estimated that for India,    

“more than 95% of the transport-related requirements of public and goods mobility are met by road and railways. In view of the ever-increasing needs of greater mobility, coupled with increasing economic prosperity, India has been witnessing sharp growth in transport sectors such as road and aviation for last couple of decades. The increase in transport fleets and their utilizations require enhanced amount of fuel consumption, resulting in increased emissions of nitrogen bearing gases such as nitrous oxide (N2O) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). In Indian urban ambient environment, quite often particulate matter and NOx have been found to breach the national ambient air quality standards” (Gurjar, Sahu, Nagpure, Sharma, Singh, & Bhattacharya, 2017; https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811836-8.00029-X).  

Why are breaches in air quality standards a bad thing?  Well, air quality directly affects the health of the population.  And, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirms this trend.  On average, one in 12 people in the U.S. has asthma, or about 25 million people.  But it is rising.  From 2001 to 2011, the CDC says the number of Americans with asthma grew by 28 percent (CDC, 2013; https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/pdfs/asthma_facts_program_grantees.pdf).  Of greater concern is the fact that asthma rates are rising the fastest among black children (almost a 50 percent increase) from 2001 through 2009 (Healthline, 2013; https://www.healthline.com/health-news/children-allergies-and-asthma-on-the-rise-110813#1).  

Add to this fact that almost 60 percent of the asthma cases are allergic asthma triggered by environmental conditions from airborne pollen and dust to industrial chemicals, mold, urban pollution and climate change.  Symptoms include trouble breathing, coughing, and wheezing which are life-threatening in a severe attack ( Healthline, 2020; https://www.healthline.com/health/allergic-asthma/treatment-options-doctor#triggers).  

And, societies are paying a heavy price.  Estimates suggest “a mean cost per patient per year, including all asthmatics (intermittent, mild, moderate and severe asthma) in Europe is $USD 1,900, which seems lower than USA, estimated mean $USD 3,100” (Nunes, Pereira & Morais-Almeida, 2017; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5219738/).  

So, if we want to move around faster to keep our social and economic lives strong, then we have to understand how we got here, and what possibilities exist for the future.  How we got here is with a lot of innovation.  See the short video below.

History of transportation

So, we have to continue innovating from here.  And, there is good news, as cleaner fuels such as CNG and auto LPG are being used in road transport in smaller quantities as compared to conventional liquid fuels (Gurjar, Sahu, Nagpure, Sharma, Singh, & Bhattacharya, 2017).  Also, modelling techniques are being employed by shipping lines to determine the best combination of land and sea transportation (Gursoy, 2010).

In aviation, the industry’s second-largest airline, Delta, just announced that it will be carbon neutral by investing more than one billion US dollars over the next decade to make the industry sustainable for generations to come (Purdy, 2020; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/money/topstories/delta-says-it-will-spend-dollar1-billion-to-reduce-its-climate-footprint/ar-BB102SWl?MSCC=1581947076&ocid=spartandhp#image=BB102SWl_1|1).  

For more do your own research.  Also see Mitchell (2018) https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=related:EIqchCDuAPIJ:scholar.google.com/&scioq=Keisha+A.+Mitchell+2018&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5) .  For a little soul fuel, visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

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