Rail, Safe and 'Green'. Air, Some Fliers get 100X Radiation


RAIL: We recently took one of the old historic train routes, from Chicago, Kansas City, Dodge City, Raton, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Our government gave the railroads free land to encourage transportation and development. And it worked! This was almost the identical route taken in the late 1800's of the American West and it hasn't changed much since. Except the trains (Amtrak) are quieter, smoother, and user friendly. I liked the roomy area, and the fact that it was quiet (unlike air travel). It was also great to be able to sleep, or walk around or even go to the observation "club" car or the dining car.

We saw some beautiful views of mountains, plains, antilope, sunsets, and some interesting people, from Mennonite women who looked like they came right out of a "Gunsmoke Set", to Navaho indians, Boston "Blue Bloods", to a lot of students and people like me, who like to use our computers and work a bit as we travel. So, we asked the question, is train travel environmentally "green".

Well, the reviews suggest that if you consider everything, it is greener than a car or airplane, simply because of energy movement efficiency. Certainly you save on lodging, food, and gas. Our 2000 mile train ride was $176 (about half what the gas would have cost in a car). We made a little video, and recommend that you check it out. It is terrific for a family vacation and one of those "memory journeys". 

AIR: We have noted reports that those who fly 100,000 miles a year or more get as much radiation as those who work in nuclear plants. It is logical that the altitudes, have less "screening" from sun and star radiation.Airline pilots have long known of this risk, but it is rarely discussed in the U.S. press.The aviation industry has been hesitant to rate their workers as "radiation workers" because of reporting and liability issues. But one source indicated that flying round trip to, China, or Hong Kong, seven times a year, would put an airline crew at above industry radiation levels. This would certainly apply to the businessman or tourist who flies internationally.

CELL PHONES: Brain cancer? Well, more bad news, but this should not surprise you. 10 years ago, research indicated that the radiation/waves from cell phones, when held next to the skull could cause brain cancers. The cell phone industry has held the story down for a decade. But I recall while on an assignment in India, I met with the owner of a cellular telephone company. He said: "Oh, there is no doubt. Never put a cell phone next to your head. Always use an ear plug or an external speaker phone." And sure enough, he had a cell phone, with a little ear plug.

Now, if you don't want to ride the train, the old fashioned "See the USA" wild west method, and you must fly, you get radiation from the Sun, from your cell phone (if they let you use it) and probably another dose from all of the radar and equipment that is on the airplane.

My advice? Relax. Enjoy life and just move toward moderation as you go through life.

Have a great vacation!