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Trio of Speakers Join World Canals Conference Line-Up

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An announcement from organisers has revealed that three highly regarded industry experts will join the bill at the 2016 World Canals Conference in Scotland. Roland Lewis, Pete Grannis, and Daniel Fábrega, from the Americas, will speak at the prestigious event with a variety of other internationally recognised speakers in September.

Hosted on the banks of the majestic Caledonian Canal in Inverness, the prestigious four-day conference will take place on 19 – 22 September and will see more than 300 business leaders and global professionals celebrate innovative thinking and cutting-edge delivery in a range of disciplines including sustainable tourism development, regeneration, heritage management, climate change and engineering within the iconic landscape of the Scottish Highlands.

Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the New York Waterfront Alliance, will draw on his extensive experience in leading the transformation and regeneration of New York and New Jersey’s waterways and 700 miles of shoreline into a vibrant, healthy, resilient, and accessible resource as keynote speaker on day two of the four-day conference. Since its inception in 2007, the Alliance has grown into a coalition of more than 900 organisations working together to bring about real change in New York and New Jersey.

Joining Mr Lewis is fellow American Pete Grannis, Commissioner on the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission and former Commissioner of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. From fighting to clean up long-festering toxic waste sites and reducing damaging acid rain to championing ground-breaking laws to increase recycling, Mr Grannis has been driving positive environmental change for more than three decades. He will speak on day four of the conference, joining the likes of Professor Mark Horton – presenter of BBC’s Coast – and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Dame Seona Reid.

Completing the trio of speakers from the Americas is Daniel Fábrega, Panama’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Mr Fábrega was educated in Panama and the United States, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Loyola University in New Orleans, followed by a Master’s in Business Administration at the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT) in Panama. Before his appointment as Ambassador, Mr. Fábrega has served as a Company Director and the Vice President for Exports for Varelas Hemanos S.A. Under his watch, the company’s worldwide sales more than doubled, helping to provide yet another element to Panama’s thriving business economy. Mr Fábrega will speak of the vital role of the Panama Canal in his nation’s economy during day two of the World Canals Conference.

Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to announce the addition of three highly-regarded speakers from the Americas to the programme of this September’s World Canals Conference. With an array of world-renowned speakers set to join us amidst the myth and majesty of the Scottish Highlands, this year’s conference is set to be the best yet.

“From Panama to Paris, there are a huge number of innovative projects taking place on canals all over the globe and waterways continue to play a vital role in the communities that line their banks. The World Canals Conference will celebrate those achievements, highlighting pioneering work in everything from water management and regeneration to climate change and engineering.

“With just over three months to go until the World Canals Conference, we’re taking this chance to remind everyone that tickets are still available and we have a fantastic programme of speakers, study trips and social events to look forward to. We can’t wait to welcome the world to Inverness and the Caledonian Canal this September.”

As the biggest event in the international waterways calendar, Inverness joins an illustrious list of past World Canals Conference hosts including the Grand Canal in China, Montreal in Canada and New York in the USA. As well as innovative projects from around the globe, the World Canals Conference will also celebrate developments along Scotland’s 137-mile waterway network, from the creation of The Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures on the planet – to The Falkirk Wheel’s role as the world’s only rotating boat lift and an iconic tourism destination.

Once the transport arteries that stoked the fires of the industrial revolution, today Scotland’s canals are home to cyclists and social enterprises rather than coal scows and Clydesdale Horses. Passing through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes and the bustling cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, the 250-year-old waterways are increasingly vital venues for business, leisure and tourism that attract more than 22 million visits a year.

For more information, visit the Scottish canals website, www.scottishcanals.co.uk or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter.

 

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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