Just before New Year’s Eve – easily the booziest holiday of the year – New York State uncovered a litany of insurance laws that effectively outlaw the practice of ride sharing. This comes at a devastating loss to a vast group of people, from app owners, who are losing a significant area of service, to regional drivers, who lose another opportunity to earn cash, to riders, who no longer have a fast, convenient means of transport.
Around the country, city and state legislatures are beginning to question whether ridesharing is safe. However, users of ridesharing apps consistently clamor that the service is the transit of the future. Fortunately for business owners, drivers, and ride share users, it seems that ride sharing is indeed a smart and safe means of transportation, and it should continue to be as policies and technologies develop.
Ride Sharing Engenders Road Safety
The more cars there are on the roads, the more chances there are for disastrous collisions. The simple concept of probability is why automobile accidents are so much more common than plane crashes: While there are at most about 5,000 planes, the global number of cars and trucks has already surpassed 1 billion. On average, there are over 3,000 deaths and 50 million injuries on the road every day, so every automobile is a potential health hazard.
Ride sharing helps cut down on the number of cars on the road, decreasing congestion, and limiting the possibilities for harmful collisions. In fact, ride sharing is particularly popular amongst the intoxicated, which means communities that allow ride sharing business to operate are likely to have fewer drivers under the influence. Inarguably, providing intoxicated people an alternative to driving home drunk and high is a significant boon for the ride sharing service.
Some regions are concerned less with overall road safety and more with individual security of passengers. For example, Austin was among the first cities to pass legislation mandating extensive criminal background checks for ride share drivers in the hopes of reducing the likelihood of kidnapping, theft, or assault on passengers. Yet, emerging studies on the issue have found that risks to passengers are no greater than they are in traditional taxis; if anything, their cashless payment system and digital documentation lower the risk of violent crime.
Ride Sharing Is More Sustainable
Additionally, fewer cars and more ride sharing is a remarkable win for the environment. As concern over climate change climbs, more citizens are becoming interested in any way they can cut down on their environmental impact. Carpooling has long been touted as one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions, but rarely have carpooling initiatives found much success. Ride sharing is effectively paid carpooling since users are riding in a shared vehicle instead of driving their own. Ride sharing requires less fuel and emits fewer pollutants than the most likely alternative – everyone driving a private vehicle – which is unequivocally good for the environment.
Some ride sharing companies have even more progressive plans for sustainable services. For example, RideCell has developed software to help ride sharing businesses build their apps, but thanks to a partnership with BMW, the company might become a pioneer of autonomous fleets in the coming years. Autonomous vehicles are dramatically more efficient than human drivers for a dozen reasons, including their superior engines and their attention to fuel use. Though the widespread use of driverless cars often raises more questions about safety, it is likely that autonomous fleets will have less environmental impact than traditional automobiles.
Ride Sharing Is a Smart Market
Ride sharing has always been by and for the people. Long before startups like Uber and Lyft developed apps to facilitate (and profit from) the service, citizens and cities built their own low-tech ride sharing organizations to combat traffic and other harmful effects of commuting.
Though businesses have built ride sharing into a larger market, it is still largely controlled by average people. Not only do users choose whether they will ride share or not, but they also decide when they need a ride and which app to use.
Meanwhile, drivers have control over their vehicles and their routes, and they can even decide whether they will accept a certain passenger. It is this degree of individual power that has allowed ride sharing to nearly overtake other forms of transit. Cities can hardly expect citizens to accept the prohibition of ride sharing when it promises such outstanding opportunities for growth.
World leaders have agreed a deal attempting to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C after two weeks of negotiations at the climate change summit in Paris.
The global pact is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions.
The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary.
Earlier, key blocs, including the G77 group of developing countries, and nations such as China and India said they supported the proposals.
President of the UN climate conference of parties (COP) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “I now invite the COP to adopt the decision entitled Paris Agreement outlined in the document.
“Looking out to the room I see that the reaction is positive, I see no objections. The Paris agreement is adopted.”
As Laurent Fabius struck the gavel to signal the adoption of the deal, delegates rose to their feet cheering and applauding.
Nearly 200 countries have been attempting to strike the first climate deal to commit all countries to cut emissions, which would come into being in 2020.
President Barack Obama was among the first world leaders to tweet his congratulations, describing the deal as “huge”.
The chairman of the group representing some of the world’s poorest countries called the deal historic, adding: “We are living in unprecedented times, which call for unprecedented measures.
“It is the best outcome we could have hoped for, not just for the Least Developed Countries, but for all citizens of the world.”
Paris Agreement key measures:
To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
To review progress every five years
$100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.
Ahead of the deal being struck, delegates were in a buoyant mood as they gathered in the hall waiting for the plenary session to resume.
Laurent Fabius was applauded as he entered the hall ahead of the announcement.
Earlier, French President Francois Hollande called the proposals unprecedented, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on negotiators to “finish the job”.
However, the celebratory mood has not been shared among all observers.
Nick Dearden, director of campaign group Global Justice Now, said: “It’s outrageous that the deal that’s on the table is being spun as a success when it undermines the rights of the world’s most vulnerable communities and has almost nothing binding to ensure a safe and livable climate for future generations.”
Some aspects of the agreement will be legally binding, such as submitting an emissions reduction target and the regular review of that goal.
However, the targets set by nations will not be binding under the deal struck in the French capital.
Observers say the attempt to impose emissions targets on countries was one of the main reasons why the Copenhagen talks in 2009 failed.
In 2009, nations including China, India and South Africa were unwilling to sign up to a condition that they felt could hamper economic growth and development.
The latest negotiations managed to avoid such an impasse by developing a system of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
In these, which form the basis of the Paris agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, nations outline their plans on cutting their post-2020 emissions.
An assessment published during the two-week talks suggested that the emission reductions currently outlined in the INDCs submitted by countries would only limit global temperature rise by 2.7C.
A new Ice Age is due to start within 1,500 years, according to Cambridge University scientists; but, due to human carbon emissions, the lethal “big freeze” could be put off.
Scientists at Cambridge University say that levels of CO2 in the atmosphere could actually insulate against a catastrophic ice age which would see glaciers advance over Europe and North America.
They admit that we would be “better off” in a warmer world – but caution that this is “missing the point”.
In an article published in Nature Geoscience, Cambridge University paleoclimatologist Luke Skinner says that even if carbon emissions stopped today, levels would remain elevated for at least 1,000 years, and stored heat could prevent the next Ice Age from happening.
Instead, things would cool down, but not quite so severely.
Thanks to elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the earth would not experience “glaciation” (periods of severe cold where glaciers advance).
The current level of carbon dioxide is 390 parts per million. Scientists believe that level would need to drop to 240 parts per million to allow glaciation to take place.
“It’s an interesting philosophical discussion. Would we better off in a warm world rather than a glaciation? Probably we would,” says Dr. Luke Skinner.
“At current levels of CO2, even if emissions stopped now, we’d probably have a long interglacial period,” he says.
“Interglacial” periods are warmer periods between periods of glaciation.
The last ice age ended 11,500 years ago, and scientists debate over when the next one is “due”.
The cycle is dictated by tiny variations in Earth’s orbit around the sun.
Ice ages are marked by glaciers advancing over continents. At the peak of the last ice age, large areas of Europe, Asia and North America were covered in ice.
The effects of glaciation on human civilization would be catastrophic.
Dr. Luke Skinner says: “This is missing the point, because where we’re going is not maintaining our currently warm climate but heating it much further, and adding CO2 to a warm climate is very different from adding it to a cold climate.”