Ninety-nine percent of the Earth is hotter than 1000 degrees Celsius. Inside Earth’s core, temperatures rise to 7000 degrees. In total, the power within our planet amounts to thousands of billions of watts. This reservoir has its origins in the residual heat dating from the time the Earth was created, roughly 4.6 billion years ago, and in the ongoing radioactive decay of long-lived isotopes of uranium, thorium and potassium. The question we need to ask ourselves is why, given these gigantic amounts of energy, does geothermal power still only account for far less than one percent of our energy usage?
In principle, electricity and heat can be sourced economically and in a climate-neutral manner from geothermal power plants. But this valuable energy lies hidden beneath our feet and is difficult to access. On average, temperatures only rise moderately as depth increases – by roughly three degrees per 100 metres. However, at a few places on Earth, due to location-specific geological attributes, more of Earth’s heat reaches the surface. Volcanically-active Iceland is the classic case in point. This Atlantic island has enough heated and evaporated water just below its surface to supply more than half of the power it needs, driving the turbines in geothermal power stations via heat exchangers. In addition, roughly 90 percent of Icelandic households are heated remotely from geothermal sources.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to make RTC’s extensive bike trail data available through Google Maps and Google Earth,” says Shannon Guymon, Product Manager for Google Maps. “Bikers all over the country now will be able to explore new trails or find specific directions in their local community with just a few clicks of their mouse.”
The inclusion of RTC’s trail information in Google Maps comes at a time when people are clamoring for biking opportunities. In the last year, RTC has seen an unprecedented surge in its TrailLink.com users. TrailLink.com is the most robust, national resource for rail-trail maps, pictures, descriptions, listings and directions to more than 30,000 miles of trails.
“The demand for trail maps and information has never been higher, especially as more people recognize biking as a viable, inexpensive and healthy alternative to driving,” says Rails-to-Trails President Keith Laughlin. “Sharing our trail data is an exceptional way to introduce the world to what 150,000 RTC members and supporters already know—biking is the ideal way to get where you’re going. The addition of biking directions to Google Maps makes life easier for bikers, whether they are commuting to work or biking for fun, and it can introduce our network of trails to a whole new audience of cyclists-to-be.”
I think its a great idea and can’t wait until it becomes widely available (only in beta now).
The rail, to trail…
I can wait for completion — I like the mud. Paved, ADA-compliant paths are OK, but it doesn’t make you feel like you’re in the wilds of pre-historic New Jersey.