Transportation continues to avail our civilization. Our roads and railway lines make almost any place on Earth readily accessible. With this transportation network, we efficiently move people and material. And we continually add more. For example, Mexico is building the Tren-Maya railway line. This +1500km rail extension will soon open the Yucatan peninsula to modern conveniences.

Yet transportation networks are costly. They are expensive in terms of both money and energy to build, to maintain and to operate. Equally, their construction usually replaces the native flora that naturally captures and stores the Sun’s energy. Thus, they represent a strong energy imbalance.

No one expects the Tren-Maya railway line to become an historical footnote like the Mayan temples, the line’s namesake. Yet, as with most constructs of our civilization, we will only use this line when profitable and abandon it when not. And its remains will be a continual energy imbalance as nature restores the flora’s natural energy capture. Given this perspective of our transportation network, what does this foretell about civilization’s future?

Steam Train
Photo by M. Rehemtulla / QUOI Media Group