Transportation, the Environment, and Health

Anne Christine Lusk, PhD, Research Scientist in Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health., Harvard Extension School

This generation inherited transportation systems that have an impact on climate change and cause a number of negative health effects. We want students to understand the existing transportation systems and the environmental and health impact of each. From this knowledge, students can choose to use environmentally sound and healthy transportation systems and help in overhauling and making transportation systems more sustainable and healthy for everyone. We explore the history of bicycles, mass transit, and vehicles. We calculate METs (metabolic equivalent of task, or human energy expenditure) of different forms of transportation. Topics of discussion include the negative health effects of mobile-source air pollution, transportation-related job creation, and car-versus-bicycle parking and their related costs and benefits. All forms of transportation are measured by travel time, convenience, noise, number of fatalities, runoff caused, heat island effect, quality of life, and wildlife migration. The expectation is that with more information and awareness, decisions about new transportation infrastructures can be based on factors other than the inherited considerations of job creation, level of service (moving vehicles quickly), and crumbling infrastructure. (4 credits)

  • 3 September 2013
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  • Language: English Gb


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