Iowa should turn to river travel to reduce carbon footprint

Austin Wu

Another derecho, unusually warm weather in December, increased precipitation and other extreme weather events have brought home the impacts of climate change in Iowa, and by extension, the need to reduce the state’s contributions to the destruction of the planet.

There is much room for improvement; while ranked 26th in overall carbon emissions among the states and territories, in terms of per capita emissions Iowa ranks 12th, just behind Nebraska and ahead of Oklahoma.

The state Department of Natural Resources, in its assessment of greenhouse gas emissions by sector, notes agriculture as the single largest source in Iowa, followed by residential/commercial/industrial fossil fuel use, power plants and transportation. However, while emissions from agriculture and power plants are on a downward trend, transportation emissions are noted to be increasing, largely propelled by diesel highway vehicles — in other words, commercial trucks. I have written previously about reducing carbon emissions through transportation alternatives to automobiles, mostly in regards to trains, but what if there was another alternative sitting right at the margins of the state?

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