August book shelf collage

Transportation: It’s what delivers you to your job and back, brings fresh fruit to your breakfast table, and offers you an escape to a tropical vacation.

But the cars, trucks, trains, and planes that make such a lifestyle possible also generate plenty of greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation sector accounted for more than a quarter of total U.S. emissions in 2014.

To cut those emissions, transportation will need to change, radically. Solutions could include a greater reliance on self-driving cars, rails, and plain old walking. The books in this month’s edition of the YCC Bookshelf take an in-depth look at those approaches and others, drawing on national and global expertise to paint a picture of how you might get around on a warming planet.

Descriptions are drawn from copy provided by the publishers and have been lightly edited.

Book collage A

Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability, by Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon (Oxford University Press 2010, 336 pages, $18.95 paperback)

Today there are over a billion vehicles in the world, and within 20 years, the number will double, largely a consequence of China’s and India’s explosive growth. Given that greenhouse gases are already creating havoc with our climate and that violent conflict in unstable oil-rich nations is on the rise, will matters only get worse? Or are there hopeful signs that effective, realistic solutions can be found? Transportation experts Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon conclude that the two places that have the most troublesome emissions problems – California and China – are the most likely to become world leaders on these issues. Two Billion Cars makes the case for why and how we need to transform transportation now more than ever.

Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars, by Margo T. Oge (Arcade Publishing 2015, 368 pages, $25.99, $16.99 paperback will be released in September)

In Driving the Future, engineer Margo Oge, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, portrays a future where clean, intelligent vehicles with lighter frames and alternative power trains will produce zero emissions and run at 100+ mpg. With electronic architectures more like those of airplanes, cars will be smarter and safer, will park themselves, and will network with other vehicles on the road to drive themselves. Offering an insider account of the partnership between federal agencies, California, environmental groups, and car manufacturers that led to a historic deal, she discusses the science of climate change, the politics of addressing it, and the lessons learned for policymakers.

Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation, by Edward Humes (Harper Collins 2016, 384 pages, $27.99)

Transportation dominates our daily existence. Thousands, even millions, of miles are embedded in everything we do and touch. We live in a door-to-door universe that works so well most Americans are scarcely aware of it. Now, the way we move ourselves and our stuff is on the brink of great change, as a new mobility revolution upends the car culture that built modern America. This unfolding revolution will transform our commutes, our vehicles, our cities, our jobs, and every aspect of culture, commerce, and the environment. Using interviews, data and deep exploration of the hidden world of ports, traffic control centers, and research labs, acclaimed journalist Edward Humes breaks down the complex movements of humans, goods, and machines as never before. He ultimately makes clear that transportation is one of the few big things we can change – our personal choices do have a profound impact.

Book collage B

Autonomous Driving: Technical, Legal, and Social Aspects, edited by Markus Maurer et al. (Springer Open-Access Publishing 2016, 706 pages, free download available here)

How can autonomous vehicles be integrated into the current transportation system with diverse users and human drivers? Where do automated vehicles fall under current legal frameworks? What risks are associated with automation and how will society respond to these risks? Experts from Germany and the United States define key societal, engineering, and mobility issues related to the automation of vehicles. They identify expectations and concerns that will form the basis for individual and societal acceptance of autonomous driving. While the safety benefits of such vehicles are tremendous, the authors demonstrate that these benefits will only be achieved if vehicles have an appropriate safety concept at the heart of their design.

The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future, by Levi Tillemann (Simon & Schuster 2015, 353 pages, $16.00 paperback)

The world’s great manufacturing juggernaut – the $3 trillion automotive industry – is in the throes of a revolution. Its future will include cars Henry Ford and Karl Benz could scarcely imagine. They will drive themselves, won’t consume oil, and will come in radical shapes and sizes. But the path to that future is fraught. The top contenders are two traditional manufacturing giants, the U.S. and Japan, and a newcomer, China. Team America has a powerful and little-known weapon in its arsenal: a small group of technology buffs and regulators from California. The story of why and how these men and women could shape the future is an unexpected tale filled with unforgettable characters. Levi Tillermann’s riveting account explains how America bounced back in this global contest and what it will take to command the industrial future.

Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers, by James M. Anderson et al. (Rand Corporation 2016, 216 pages, free download available here)

For the past 100 years, innovation within the automotive sector has created safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles, but progress has been incremental. The industry now appears close to substantial change, engendered by autonomous, or “self-driving,” vehicle technologies. This technology could offer significant benefits – saving lives; reducing crashes, congestion, fuel consumption, and pollution; increasing mobility for the disabled; and ultimately improving land use. This report is intended as a guide for state and federal policymakers on the many issues that this technology raises. Guided largely by the principle that the technology should be allowed and perhaps encouraged when it is superior to an average human driver, RAND researchers determined that the benefits of the technology likely outweigh the disadvantages.

Book collage C

Cities Alive: Towards a Walking World, by Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation, Transport Consulting, and Urban Design Teams (Arup Global Design Group 2016, 166 pages, free download available here)

Mobility is intrinsic to the quality of life experienced in cities. But for the past century, the car has dominated how we plan and grow our urban areas. We must now seize the opportunity to place people back at the heart of our cities and drive a human-focused approach to the design of the built environment. From 70 years of practice, Arup recognizes that a walkable city is a better city and that the more we walk, the better the city is in every respect. Cities Alive highlights 50 benefits of walking and lists 40 actions that city leaders can consider to inform walking policy, strategy and design. A catalogue of 80 international case studies will inspire action and further aid cities in identifying and evaluating opportunities.

Transport, Climate Change, and the City, by Robin Hickman and David Bannister (Routledge 2014, 400 pages, $53.95)

Sustainable mobility has long been sought after in cities around the world. Progress, however, appears difficult to make as the private car, still largely fueled by gasoline, remains the mainstream mode of use. Transport is the key sector where carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions seem difficult to reduce. Transport, Climate Change and the City seeks to develop achievable and low transport CO2 emission futures in a range of international case studies, including in London, Delhi, Jinan and Auckland. These scenarios can help us plan for and achieve attractive future travel behaviors at the city level. The alternative is to “sleepwalk” into climate change difficulties, oil scarcity, a poor quality of life, and increasing traffic casualties.

Rail and the City: Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Reimagining Urban Space, by Roxanne Warren (The MIT Press 2016, 337 pages, $37.00)

The United States has evolved into a nation of 20 densely populated megaregions. Yet despite the environmental advantages of density, urban sprawl and reliance on the private car still set the pattern for most new development. In Rail and the City, architect Roxanne Warren makes the case for compact urban development that is supported by rail transit. Calling the automobile a relic of the 20th century, Warren envisions a release from the tyrannies of traffic congestion, petroleum dependence, and an oppressively paved environment. Technical features of rail uniquely qualify it to serve as ideal infrastructure within and between cities. High-speed rail, fed by local transit, could eliminate the need for petroleum-intensive plane trips of less than 500 miles. Rail transit, Warren argues, is the essential infrastructure for a fluidly functioning urban society.

Book collage D

Energy, Transportation and Global Warming, edited by Panagiotis Grammelis (Springer Publications 2016, 895 pages, $179.00)

This book presents a holistic view of climate change by examining a number of energy and transportation technologies and their impact on the climate. High-quality technical research results from specific test cases around the globe are presented, and developments in global warming are discussed, focusing on current emissions policies from air and maritime transport to fossil fuel applications. Energy, Transportation and Global Warming is of great interest to researchers in the field of renewable and green energy as well as professionals in climate change management, the transportation sector, and environmental policy.

On Board: A Sustainable Future, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO 2016, 248 pages, free download available here)

The International Civil Aviation Organization Environmental Report 2016 highlights progress made over the last three years across key areas of ICAO’s environmental protection activities. Considered a key reference document in the area of international aviation and the environment, the report presents the work of more than 600 internationally recognized experts, in areas such as noise, air quality, aircraft end-of-life and recycling, and climate change adaptation. In this edition, concrete case studies have been added to illustrate the quantified benefits of the mitigation actions developed and supported by ICAO. Some initiatives are already bearing fruit.

Adapting Transport Policy to Climate Change: Carbon Valuation, Risk, and Uncertainty, by the International Transport Forum (OECD 2015, 94 pages, free download available here)

Transport accounts for nearly a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion. This report reviews the three key challenges in considering the effects of carbon dioxide emissions in transport: the economic valuation of carbon dioxide emissions, the treatment of uncertainty in climate change, and the approach used to discount future costs and benefits. The report reviews current approaches in selected countries (France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States) and provides examples of good practices and recommendations for national and international policy making.

Book collage E

Transportation’s Role in Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Volume 1 – Synthesis Report (145 pages); Volume 2 – Technical Report (450 pages) (U.S. Dept. of Transportation 2010, 605 pages total, free two-volume download available here)

This report, presented in two parts, examines greenhouse gas emission levels and trends from the transportation sector and analyzes the full range of strategies available to reduce these emissions. These strategies include introducing low-carbon fuels, increasing vehicle fuel economy, improving transportation system efficiency, and reducing carbon-intensive travel activity. While the report does not provide recommendations, it does analyze five categories of policy options for implementing the strategies: an economy-wide price signal, efficiency standards, market incentives, transportation planning and funding programs, and research and development.

Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework, by Federal Highway Administration (U.S. Dept. of Transportation 2012, 54 pages, free download available here)

The Federal Highway Administration’s Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework is a guide for analyzing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on transportation infrastructure. It gives an overview of key steps in conducting climate change vulnerability assessments and uses in-practice examples to demonstrate a variety of ways to gather and process information. The processes, lessons learned, and resources outlined in the framework are geared toward state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and other agencies involved in planning, building, or maintaining the transportation system. But it includes suggestions and examples applicable to a wide range of applications.

International Practices on Climate Adaptation in Transportation: Findings from a Virtual Review, prepared by Gina Filosa and Alexandra Oster for the Federal Highway Administration (U.S. Dept. of Transportation 2015, 48 pages, free download available here)

The Federal Highway Administration reviewed how transportation agencies – in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and United Kingdom – are addressing issues related to adapting highway infrastructure to the impacts of climate change. This synthesis report highlights these agencies’ adaptation frameworks/strategies, climate change risk assessments, adaptation measures and strategies, long-range planning and land use, changes in design standards, maintenance and operations, asset management, and research. The information presented here is relevant to transportation planners, asset managers, design engineers, and policy-makers.

Michael Svoboda, Ph.D., is the Yale Climate Connections books editor. He is a professor in the University Writing Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he has taught since...