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New Application Shows U.S. And Canadian Commuters Their Carbon Footprint

Whitworth said the company also plans to sell the data it collects.

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carbon, digital
Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

A mobile application launched in dozens of U.S. and Canadian cities on Monday measures the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions of inner-city travel, its creators said, letting concerned commuters map their so-called carbon footprints.

Mapping app Cowlines can suggest the most efficient route as well which uses the least fuel, combining modes of transport such as bicycling and walking, within cities, its Vancouver, Canada-based creators said.

Some two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to settle in urban areas by 2050, according to the United Nations.

The trend presents an environmental challenge, given that the world’s cities account for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions.

CO2, Antarctica, ozone layer, carbon
Carbon atoms move between rocks, rivers, plants, oceans and other sources in a planet-scale life cycle. Flickr

Not only will the app measure a trip’s emissions and suggest alternatives, it will provide the data to cities and urban planners working on systems from subway lines to bike-sharing programs, said Jonathan Whitworth, chief strategy officer at Greenlines Technology, which created the app.

“As you would imagine here in Canada, especially Western Canada, most people are driven by the environmental side of it,” Whitworth told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The app aims to encourage users in 62 U.S. and Canadian cities to use cleaner modes of transportation, from mass transit to walking or biking, he said.

Carbon
A Tri-Met light rail train rolls through downtown Portland, Oregon. VOA

In the United States, mass transit accounts for less than 2 percent of passenger miles traveled, according to Daniel Sperling, founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.

“People are starved for good information and data for good travel choices,” said Sperling.

The app’s suggested route is a cowline – city planner parlance for the fastest route, said Whitworth. In pastoral settings, a cowline is the most direct path cattle use to reach grazing grounds.

Also Read: Brazil Cut Its Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels Lower Than 2020 Emission Goals

The app shows users after a trip how many kilograms of carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions they are responsible for, Whitworth said.

While other apps such as Changers CO2 Fit track users’ carbon footprints, Cowlines claims its methodology, certified by the International Organization for Standardization, is most accurate, he said.

Whitworth said the company also plans to sell the data it collects. (VOA)

Next Story

Americans Arrive in Canada Seeking Affordable Prices for Insulin

Caravan to Canada trekked across the border in May for the same reason

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Americans, Canada, Insulin
Advocates from the United States exit a Canadian pharmacy after purchasing lower-cost insulin in London, Ontario, June 29, 2019. A self-declared "car. VOA

A self-declared “caravan” of Americans bused across the Canada-U.S. border on Saturday, seeking affordable prices for insulin and raising awareness of “the insulin price crisis” in the United States.

The group called Caravan to Canada started the journey from Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday and stopped at London, Ontario, on Saturday to purchase lifesaving type 1 diabetes medication at a pharmacy.

About 20 people made the trip, according to Nicole Smith-Holt, a member of the group. Smith-Holt said her 26-year-old son died in June 2017 because he was forced to ration costly insulin.

Caravan to Canada trekked across the border in May for the same reason, and Smith-Holt was on that trip, too. She said the previous group was smaller than this week’s group. Americans have gone to countries like Mexico and Canada for more affordable medications in the past and continue to do so, she added.

Americans, Canada, Insulin
U.S. residents get set to depart a Canadian pharmacy after purchasing lower-cost insulin in London, Ontario, June 29, 2019. VOA

‘Resurgence’ in visitors

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported in May that Canadian pharmacists have seen a “quiet resurgence” in Americans coming to Canada looking for cheaper pharmaceuticals.

Insulin prices in the United States nearly doubled to an average annual cost of $5,705 in 2016 from $2,864 in 2012, according to a study in January.

While not everyone purchased the same amount of insulin, Smith-Holt said most people were saving around $3,000 for three months’ worth of insulin, and as a whole the group was saving around $15,000 to $20,000.

Prescriptions for insulin are not required in Canadian pharmacies Smith-Holt said, but the caravan has them so they can prove to the border patrol they are not intending to resell them when returning to the United States.

T1International, a nonprofit that advocates for increased access to type 1 diabetes medication, has described the situation in U.S. as an insulin crisis. Quinn Nystrom, a leader of T1International’s Minnesota chapter, said on May via Twitter that the price of insulin in the United States per vial was $320, while in Canada the same medication under a different name was $30.

“We know that many people couldn’t make this trip because they cannot afford the costs associated with traveling to another country to buy insulin there,” Elizabeth Pfiester, executive director of T1International, said in a press release.

Banting House

Americans, Canada, Insulin
Smith-Holt said her 26-year-old son died in June 2017 because he was forced to ration costly insulin. Pixabay

An itinerary said the caravan planned to stop at the Banting House in London later in the day. The Banting House is where Canadian physician and scientist Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin, lived from 1920 to 1921, and the building is called the “birthplace of insulin,” according to the Banting House website.

Also Read- Thousands March in Madrid to Ditch Traffic Restrictions Set Up to Improve Air Quality

Smith-Holt said the group was not currently planning any future trips, but they could be organized in the near future depending on need. She hopes for long-term solutions in the United States like price caps, anti-gouging laws, patent reform and transparency from pharmaceutical companies. (VOA)