Fire the rocket train
The Trib recently posed the question of should we build a rocket train from New York City to Washington, D.C. (" A rocket train: Investment opportunity? ," Editorial, May 31 and PghTrib.com).
Of course we should build the rail line, as quickly as possible, and not just for the obvious reasons.
Contrary to popular myth, CO2 is not the most significant greenhouse gas -- water vapor is. Methane is second and CO2 may be third.
A study done on the temperature effect of the three-day air traffic ban on Sept. 11, 2001, and after indicated a full two-degree increase in radiational cooling when water vapor from jet contrails was absent.
Providing a "greener" alternative to short-hop jet traffic would do more to curtail greenhouse gas production than all the cap-and-trade schemes our politicians can imagine.
The second question concerning private investment vs. government subsidy is somewhat different.
Our private airlines don't build the airports and air-traffic control grid, our private trucking companies don't build the interstate highways and our private shipping and barge lines don't build the ports, locks and dams.
The government should build and maintain the rocket rail line and find private firms to own and operate the rolling stock. (We should have done this with Amtrak and Conrail, and maybe even the original transcontinental rail lines.)
Craig B. Clemmens