The Case for China’s Cross-Bering Railway

May 11th, 2014 | Posted by

China’s rail expansion in recent years has gotten a lot of global attention. But a new proposal floated last week in a Beijing newspaper is of a different kind entirely. According reports, China is considering building a rail line to the continental U.S. via Russia, the Bering Strait, Alaska, and Canada:

China is considering plans to build a high-speed railway line to the US, the country’s official media reported on Thursday.

The proposed line would begin in north-east China and run up through Siberia, pass through a tunnel underneath the Pacific Ocean then cut through Alaska and Canada to reach the continental US, according to a report in the state-run Beijing Times newspaper.

Crossing the Bering Strait in between Russia and Alaska would require about 200km (125 miles) of undersea tunnel, the paper said, citing Wang Mengshu, a railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

“Right now we’re already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years,” Wang said.

The project – nicknamed the “China-Russia-Canada-America” line – would run for 13,000km, about 3,000km further than the Trans-Siberian Railway. The entire trip would take two days, with the train travelling at an average of 350km/h (220mph).

The Guardian article goes on to express some serious skepticism over this, noting that it’s basically just one “railway expert” being quoted here. I don’t think we should assume this is anything more than a concept being kicked around, at least for the time being.

The report has gotten a lot of attention, most of it negative – io9 called it “batty” – and that shouldn’t be any surprise. Building a rail line from Beijing to the heart of North America would be a massive undertaking and it wouldn’t be cheap.

But it’s not actually that far-fetched. The Guardian compared it above to the Trans-Siberian Railway, a similarly massive project built 100 years ago to connect far-flung locations across the tundra and mountains. China is no stranger to impressive railway engineering feats, with the Qinghai-Tibet Railway that recently opened being a good example of China’s desire and ability to build rail lines across harsh environments (including over permafrost) to get where they want to go.

Schemes to cross the Bering Strait have been discussed for decades. Eventually something will be built to cross the 82 kilometer wide passage, and that something will probably be a rail tunnel. Connecting East Asia to North America via a fixed link would help connect passengers as well as goods between the two regions.

Of course, such a link may not appear all that necessary right now. Container ships and airplanes currently move cargo and people between Asia and North America with ease. Why go to the trouble and massive expense of building a rail connection when those other options remain viable?

But that’s just the thing. Those options aren’t going to be viable for long. Burning fossil fuels to cross oceans is helping heat up the globe to alarming levels – and those fossil fuels becoming quite expensive even before carbon taxes are levied.

China currently burns an enormous amount of fossil fuel. But they know that’s not a long-term solution. They are very interested in building renewable energy to power their economy in the decades to come, one reason why they invested heavily in high speed rail in recent years. There will come a time, not long from now, when using airplanes and container ships to cross the ocean won’t be as viable as it is today. A railway to North America would come in quite handy at that point.

It’s not just the endpoints that matter here. In a warming climate, the Russian Far East, Alaska, and the Yukon would all become even more important than they are today. Each hold significant natural resources that China would love to have better access to in the years to come. And given the way the Rocky Mountains are angled, the cheapest and most direct route from the Bering Strait to the continental USA would go through the Canadian Prairies – right through the Alberta Tar Sands.

A link across the Bering Strait would enable Alaskan and Albertan oil to be shipped to Russia and China – and give Russian oil quicker access to North America. The trains could carry all sorts of other goods, from timber to minerals to finished products. And yeah, they can carry people, just as the Trans-Siberian Railroad still does.

Nobody should expect this project to commence anytime soon. But I would not be surprised if this report is an example of China’s long-term planning, something they’re considering when the time is right. It’s a sensible, workable idea whose time has not yet come, but for those of us who will likely live to see 2050, it’s an idea we may yet see become reality.

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  1. Joe
    May 11th, 2014 at 18:58
    #1

    It’s a trap.

  2. wdobner
    May 11th, 2014 at 20:48
    #2

    It’s unlikely it’ll be as “high speed” as China is claiming. The ability to replace container ships will end up being the primary motivation and we’ve already heard repeatedly how incompatible the needs of freight and high speed traffic are. Just going from Beijing to Seattle is a 5500 mile trip, and while crossing the Bering Strait does a good job of staying near the great circle route, it’s still 36 hours at a very challenging 150mph average speed. A more realistic 40mph average speed results in a 5 or 6 day trip from Seattle to Beijing. It’s a good way of moving freight from Eastern Asia to North America and vice versa, but it’s debatable how much of a market share it’d be able to carve out with week long trip times.

    And it’s worth noting that back in 2012 China ceased its “blind expansion” into solar and wind power in favor of investing in nuclear, shale gas, and hydropower. Of course if they do introduce high temperature reactors then the Alberta tar sands are really pretty useless because they can simply use waste heat to manufacture petroleum fuels.

    Eric Reply:

    I figure a route this long with this much potential traffic would probably have multiple lines for multiple types of traffic, freight and passenger, and backups for maintenance.

    Eric Reply:

    That would double the cost, and it’s expensive enough as is.
    -Other Eric

  3. Alon Levy
    May 11th, 2014 at 21:56
    #3

    So what you’re saying is that in order to use less fossil fuels, China is going to build a railroad to the region with the fastest-growing exports of oil. But not to worry, it’s just like the occupation railroad it built to Tibet, the one that got human rights activists to protest Bombardier for merely supplying the passenger coaches for.

    (Also, please, please, please do an order of magnitude check on ocean shipping’s fuel emissions. It’s even more fuel-efficient per ton-km than Class I freight trains in North America.)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Class I freight trains in North America aren’t electrified.

    I could see China building this railroad for the short-term benefit of shipping oil but for the long-term benefit of controlling a key trade route. It would be a 21st century Panama Canal.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Electrifying rail doesn’t make it cleaner than shipping unless you are quite close to carbon neutral and you can always do that with shipping anyhow (NS Savannah for instance). As it is, Maersk’s new ships are supposed to emit only 3 grams per ton-km. Let’s also not forget the carbon costs of building such a ludicrous line in the first place.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Panama Canal, once they finish the third set of locks in a few years, is the 21st Century Panama Canal. It’s going to out compete unloading stuff on the West Coast and shipping it to the East Coast. If it can out compete, that a train for the whole route isn’t.

    Eric Reply:

    except on the basis of premium shipping, time sensitive packages. trains would easily be 4x as fast as shipping in speed…difference will be speed over the route.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you need something right now there are airplanes. Any speed advantage – in lower inventory costs – would be eaten up by higher freight costs. It would still be cheaper to put the crap on a container ship.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They aren’t electrified, but they don’t use a lot of fuel relative to how much heavy stuff they ship. I got curious once about the relative merits of towing DMUs and having them travel on their own accord; towing wins, by a factor of about 1.5. And late-model DMUs are very efficient to begin with; the companies that build them are used to high fuel taxes and strict air pollution controls.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    As an aside, the bit about towing vs. traveling under their own power is also relevant to passenger trains in service – the longer the train, the more efficient diesel locomotives are per car, whereas DMUs stay the same. Various US commuter agencies have studied the issue; I believe the MBTA thinks the breakeven point is 8 cars, with FRA-compliant DMUs. But noncompliant DMUs run into the same issue with scaling, and so longer intercity trains use diesel locomotives. (Yes, there’s also the comfort issue, which I’m ignoring.)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    This is nothing more than the Chinese taking a page from the French version of European Union. Somehow if you run a HSR between two countries, they become unable to go to war with each other. I said the other day what was more jaw dropping in that article was the mention of “London to Moscow” and “Beijing to Signapore” for other proposals.

    John Foster Dulles just rolled over in his grave and smacked Bob McNamara with Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick….

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    You can already get from London to Beijing via train, you just have to make a couple transfers – the last one being in Moscow.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Of course, but the proposal is clearly aimed to be one seat rides. That’s plausible in most of Europe-almost refreshingly idealistic. Both the US and China are far too paranoid to allow one train to run Beijing to DC….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    DHS will be only too happy to build a multi-billion dollar processing center at the Canadian border, where train passengers who aren’t American can be fingerprinted and if need be extraordinarily rendered to Syria.

  4. paul dyson
    May 11th, 2014 at 22:04
    #4

    Put a High Speed Rail label on anything at all and Robert will be there to sing its praises. If you’re really concerned about emissions from transportation then stop buying trinkets from China. I had always assumed that this idea was first published on April 1st.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s not a crazy idea – it’s technically feasible. It’s just very, very expensive, which makes it unlikely that China would actually do this anytime soon. China doesn’t play by the same austerity-based rules that North America currently does, which is why they’re willing to explore the idea. To be clear, that’s all they’re probably doing right now – kicking around a concept.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I agree, the whole thing is on the “kicking around a concept” level… similar to what happened with the Channel Tunnel concept a century ago.

    Eric Reply:

    this isn’t the first time the idea has been floated either, they’ve been talking about a bridge across the Bering straight for a while.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Interestingly, the bridge or tunnel across the Bering Strait *isn’t the expensive part*. The line across the Russian Far East isn’t the expensive part either.

    Crossing the Rockies in Alaska and the Yukon is the expensive part.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep! I don’t mind floating these concepts – to me, it’s the same as faster-than-HSR proposals like vactrains. As long as people don’t get the idea that they should seriously think about them in the next generation, it’s good to think far ahead.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Professional planners” thinking far ahead? The morons at Muni have dug themselves into an impasse on Columbus Avenue and cannot even get trolley buses on Geary, even tho their predecessors had it all laid out in 1985.

    How about such follies as the LV Monorail or the OAC? These planners are idiots.

    Now BART is one outfit does envision the future – one that has IBG to Sac, sans toilets. Bring your “motormans friend”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Rest assured, this is not planned by the people who run capital construction at Muni and BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m sure the planners presented lots of options. Ususally documented in that thing called an “alternative ananlysis”. It’s not their fault the people in charge of selecting an option are idiots. Or the people in charge of defining the parameters for the alternative that will be examined. Set them to it, I’m sure they could come up with a plan for vaporetto service to the dirigible terminals.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Well the Guardian and Robert both took the journalistic bait: the serious probing post talks about the geopolitics of France uniting Europe through Continent-wide HSR service. The other post is a lightning rod flight of fancy to ensure foamers and trolls reveal their true colors…

  5. John Nachtigall
    May 11th, 2014 at 22:20
    #5

    Container ships are already tremendously cost effective. That’s the reason they can ship a $0.99 party toy made in China all the way to the US and then through a national distribution system and still make money.

    There is no way a train costs less than a container ship

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    You missed my point entirely, which is that container ships are not likely to be cost effective for much longer. When the planet gets serious about ending fossil fuel dependence, which will happen in the next decade or two, a project like this will become more practical than it currently appears.

    Donk Reply:

    Ok, but how are they going to power the trains? The trans-Siberian railway is not electrified (at least the Beijing-Ulan Bator portion that I took was not). Or are you implying that they would electrify the entire thing and then that it would be entirely powered by new renewable energy sources, in those renewable energy hotbeds of China, Russia, and Canada?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are gonna electrify, power it with windmills, so they can ship oil to China… instead of just shipping the electricity to China. Or generating the electricity in China…. There’s a reason why OPEC oil gets transported thousands and thousands of miles by ship and not by train….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Trans-Siberian mainline to Vladivostok is electrified.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Do feel free to elaborate on how this is more cost effective than
    1) Maersk’s Triple-E ships
    2) Windjammers
    3) Nuclear marine propulsion

    Eric Reply:

    Googling those terms led me to this intriguing technology:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkySails

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    1st. Fossil fuels are not running out. With the tar and oil sands and current technology oil will remain $100 a barrel for several generations. Truthfully it will actually get lower as technology gets better. I know you think of that as a bad thing, but it is a fact.

    2nd, It’s not container ships that are the issue with global warming. Daily commutes (trips less than 20 miles in a car) and generation of electricity account for the vast vast majority of emmisions. Don’t go after a fraction of 1% for a tremendous cost, go after the big game first. Spend the money wisely.

    China creates it’s electricity with coal. I think the container ships are actually less impact ful right now than this theoretical system and they will be for sure because the emmisions in building it would be off the charts.

    For the cost of this railway you could provide commuter rail to how many cities? You could convert how many coal fired plants to nuclear or solar or wind?

    This idea isn’t even worth discussion

    Ted Judah Reply:

    What hasn’t been realized, however, is the inflationary impact of energy prices risiinh during the Bush years. The suburbs are dying with $4 a gallon gas. The American economy, which needs cheap oil to subsidize spending on housing and cars is moribund. Conservation and switching mode share is the only way to lower the real price and that only can be achieved through lower levels of consumption.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You missed my point entirely

    CHOOOOOOOO CHOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    , which is that container ships are not likely to be cost effective for much longer.

    Trans-oceanic shipping (highly efficient already) will be one of the very last things to go.

    If it does, I wouldn’t count on things like “the internet”, “electric supply grids”, or “national governments” being around either.

    When the planet gets serious about ending fossil fuel dependence …

    High speed choo choos will be toast. Along with most of the rest of civilization.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, there’s a carbon tax – a real one, not the jokes that are currently bandied about in the EU and BC and California. Fuel prices as a result have more than doubled. This means that the cost of shipping a kilogram of goods across oceans will rise by $0.015. So your $0.99 toy, which weighs way less than a kilogram, might have to be rounded up to $1.00. Hooray for honesty.

    ($500/t-CO2 * 3 g-CO2/t-km * 10,000 km = $15/t = $0.015/kg)

    EJ Reply:

    Why are you using math? The correct way to argue this is immediately propose a weak analogy to some other infrastructure project a hundred years ago. Don’t ever use numbers.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    By the way, I should clarify that “hooray for honesty” refers to the elimination of the .99 marketing trick (a trick that, by the way, can also be regulated away – Israel is trying to do it).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Meh. By the time I was shopping in Woolworth’s almost nothing was a nickel or a dime. I still went to the 5&10. Dollar stores have the crap that Woolworth’s had that isn’t in Rite Aid or Walgreens. They’ll squeeze the extra two mils out with extra efficiency of the New Panamax ships…
    It depends on where the cheap crap is coming from. The shortest route from Nagoya to Chicago is across the Pacific. The shortest route from Dhaka to Chicago is through the Suez. The Chinese are becoming a high labor cost country for the really cheap shit and it’s going to move to Sub Saharan Africa. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to ship things from Dar Es Salaam to Paris via Anchorage. Just like the garment industry migrated from the Northeast to the Southeast and then to China and it’s now migrating to Bangladesh it’s going to migrate to Africa and then run out of places to migrate to. Someone will figure out a robot that can make tshirts and all of them are screwed.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s interesting how hard it has been to automate sewing. People have been trying to solve the problem for well over 100 years without success.

  6. Travis D
    May 12th, 2014 at 00:11
    #6

    It is interesting to consider this. I mean it might not make so much sense today but what about in 20-30 years?

  7. Eric
    May 12th, 2014 at 02:39
    #7

    This is ridiculous. As somebody commented on another site, “Are they building this tunnel to move cargo less efficiently than a cargo ship or to move people less efficiently than an airliner?”

    If it’s HSR – why would a passenger want to travel at 220mph when they could fly at 550mph? And then you can’t use it for heavy freight, the tracks will be torn up and you won’t be able to run 220mph trains any more.

    If it’s regular rail, like an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railroad – seeing how desolate both the Russian Far East and Alaska are, it’s sort of hard to imagine it being profitable. And remember that the Trans-Siberian Railroad was built, there were no airplanes or cars. If those were available, who knows if the Trans-Siberian Railroad would have been justified at all.

    Eric Reply:

    Or maybe they are planning for a future when fossil fuels are almost nonexistent. If so, maybe you need electric-powered transport. Electric-powered planes will never work (unless we have near-magical improvement in batteries). Nuclear-powered container ships would be nice but they’re too much of a security/hijacking risk.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, Russia is investing in the Trans-Siberian and wants to speed it up, to compete with cargo ships on speed. But there’s a difference between continental hauling, in which ships have to go around, and intercontinental hauling, in which ships go straight and ground transportation has to go around. To say nothing of the horrific maintenance costs of Chukotka and the Alaskan interior… Siberia is sparsely-populated, but the areas along the Trans-Siberian are a lot more populated than Chukotka.

  8. Max Wyss
    May 12th, 2014 at 04:47
    #8

    Technically feasible… for sure; long underwater tunnels are “known territory”, and most likely less a challenge than alpine base tunnels (such as the Gotthard Base tunnel).

    Economically feasible… There are good chances for that. The competition is not necessarily container ships, carrying time-insensitive freight. In an era when air freight becomes unpayable, something somewhat slower could be very competitive. Even if it takes a week to 10 days from factory (in inland China) to a distribution center (in inland US), it would be very fast.

    Note that there is a trend in China to move the factories to the inland, because the price levels along the coast are getting too high. That means that containerizable freight is already on rails from the factory.

    For passengers… probably not, but it would depend on the kind and level of service provided (plus a whole bunch of other issues making flying less attractive).

    So, I would not a priory laugh at such ideas.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem is not that it’s not by itself useful to some people. It’s that the Bering Strait is in a much more remote area than the English Channel or the Swiss Alps, and a line across it requires multiple thousand kilometers of new connecting lines, in remote areas of the Russian Far East and Alaska.

    EJ Reply:

    Every proposal I’ve read points out that the connecting lines would cost many times more than the actual tunnel.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There are some really serious mountain ranges to cross. The worst is probably the Alaska/Yukon Rockies. But there’s several big, difficult ranges in Russia too.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Sure, it is really remote.

    But then, isn’t the Transsib or/and the BAM less remote? Or the line to the Tibet? Or sending a ship over the Pacific ocean?

    It may not be built within our lifespan, but so what?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Trans-Siberian is much less remote, yes. Chukotka is the single least dense subnational entity of Russia, and the only entities in the bottom few that host the Trans-Siberian or the BAM are enormous and have a fair amount of development at their southern margins, where the railroad passes. The Pacific Ocean is of course different, but ships (and planes) don’t require right-of-way maintenance.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people out there are out there to extract resources not to ship things from Berlin to Beijing. There has to be a way to get the extracted resources to markets.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Historically, the Trans-Siberian was built to encourage settlement, same reason as the American and Canadian trans-continentals.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ..to encourage settlement so that there are people out there to extract the resources….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think it was less about resources and more about empire building. The US had Manifest Destiny, Canada wanted to prevent the US from claiming what is now the Canadian Pacific coast, and Russia wanted to colonize Siberia.

    TomA Reply:

    Chances are if we got to that point then production would move back to where people are buying them.

  9. Loren Petrich
    May 12th, 2014 at 07:03
    #9

    The Trans-Siberian Railway is entirely electrified. However, most of the other lines in eastern Russia are not. There’s a line being built from the “Transsib” to Yakutsk, and a station near that city may have opened late last year (Russian Wikipedia article on the Amur-Yakutsk Mainline). That line may be continued from Yakutsk to Magadan and eventually to the Bering Straits. This possible line is thinly populated:

    Harbin, China: 5.8 m, Khabarovsk, Russia: 577k, Yakutsk, Russia: 270k, Magadan, Russia: 96k, Uelen, Russia: 720
    Nome, Alaska: 3598, Fairbanks, Alaska: 98k, Whitehorse, Yukon: 28k, Edmonton, Alberta: 1.2m, Calgary, Alberta: 1.2m

    Nathanael Reply:

    I would expect Yakutsk-Magadan to be built because it seems to fit Russia’s plans. That’s pretty difficult terrain. After that, however, there’s 1400 miles of empty before the Bering Strait. There are some difficult mountains near Magadan and after that it gets easier. The tunnel’s easy, and it’s not so bad from there to Fairbanks, but then there’s another difficult section through the Rockies to Alberta.

  10. Loren Petrich
    May 12th, 2014 at 08:10
    #10

    Those Chinese rail planners have proposed some other possibilities.

    Two lines through central Asia to Europe. A northern one that roughly parallels the Trans-Siberian Railway to Moscow, and a southern one that goes through Central Asian stans to Iran and Turkey. Since there are many existing rail lines there, it’s not clear what that would entail. Improving existing ones? Building standard-gauge lines alongside Russian-gauge ones?

    Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, western Malaysia, Singapore. That is relatively populous, and the most likely prospect. It has several existing rail lines, but they are largely meter gauge. Would China build standard-gauge lines alongside them?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/news/asia/single-view/view/high-speed-line-planning-continues.html

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Penang–Singapore High Speed Rail
    From Wikipedia,

    KL-Singapore High Speed Railway

    The Kuala Lumpur – Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project was announced by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib in September 2010 and is proposed to connect Penang[citation needed], Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru with Singapore.[1] On February 19, 2013, Singapore and Malaysia have officially agreed to build a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore by 2020 at a meeting between Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak in Singapore

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The project of a standard gauge line through central Asia is on its way (more or less actively); buzzword “iron silk road”. Test trains have already been sent via northern route (aka Russia), and containers did arrive after only 21 or so days (which is considerably faster than by sea).

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Freight train takes 15 days from China to Germany

    http://allportcargoservices.com/retailnews/allport-knowledge/regulatory-news/china-to-germany-freight-train-makes-maiden-journey/801621580

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Thanks, that’s what I had in mind.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    (now, if those guys only knew how to correctly spell Mr. Grube’s first name)…

  11. Observer
    May 12th, 2014 at 09:53
    #11

    While you can debate this latest Chinese idea, you have got to admire their can do attitude; something this country no longer has. The political idiocy of Washington is preventing even a simple basic idea like an infrastructure bank from getting instituted.

  12. letsgola
    May 12th, 2014 at 11:47
    #12

    This is the kind of nonsense that gives legitimate rail projects a bad name. The capital costs of building the tunnel and thousands of miles of connecting would be huge. The maintenance costs of keeping up thousands of miles of remote track across tundra and taiga, along with innumerable isolated bridges, would be huge.

    All of this huge expense for a premise doesn’t make sense in the first place. If energy for transportation is so expensive that container ships are not cost effective, it’s simply not going to be practical to mass produce industrial goods in China and transport them all over the world. Unless, of course, we live in a world where all energy generation and storage challenges have been overcome except those particular ones that cripple the types of transportation that some people happen to dislike.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    If bunker fuel prices keep going up, LNG and wood pellets start looking increasingly good (per BTU, wood pellets are cheaper now I believe). Canada turns into the new Saudi Arabia and the Midwest is reforested to cash in on the new energy boom. Not such a bad thing actually.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Reforest the Midwest and the price of food goes up. You wanna pay 8 dollars a pound for ground chuck but save half a cent on the cheap shit in the dollar store go right ahead.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    More expensive beef is better for the environment anyhow. Besides, we could just do it with the unproductive farming parts, like the corn raised for ethanol.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Let all the debris rot in the fields, you need less artificial fertilizer and it slows down runoff. Makes the soil spongier too so what doesn’t run off has someplace to soak into. Ya want low impact meat switch to bison. It’s part of the natural ecosystem west of the Mississippi.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Pretty sure raising bison has the same environmental cost as raising cattle – it’s a big ruminant mammal. It doesn’t matter where it’s naturally from; the natural bison population density is not enough to feed modern human population densities.

    Zorro Reply:

    Bison are native to North America and are perfectly adapted to eating on the prairie and surviving the climate, Cattle were introduced by Europeans and are not adapted, so Cattle need to be fed hay which sometimes has to dropped from helicopters, from pickup trucks or such, Bison need no such supports. So I call your statement BS, as the Bison herds once roamed North America by the 10′s of millions at one time, before Americans of European descent decided to kill off as many as possible to starve the Native Americans into submission back in the 19th Century. Most Cattle would die without Human support, Bison on the other hand are wild animals, not Domesticated like Cattle.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Growing bison is what prairie does.

  13. Emily
    May 12th, 2014 at 13:33
    #13

    Would the cross-Bering railway be named “Gladly”?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    http://www.beringyachts.com/?

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    Why “Gladly”? I don’t see the connection.

    Emily Reply:

    “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear” is a misheard version of a line in the hymn, “Keep Thou My Way” The actual lyric is “gladly the cross I’d bear.”

  14. Judge Moonbox
    May 13th, 2014 at 17:32
    #14

    I have a technical question that I haven’t seen addressed. What is the depth of the Bering Strait where they would build the tunnel? I have read a proposal for a Gibraltar Strait tunnel which has a maximum depth of 1300 ft. It would leak constantly because the ability to build immersed tube tunnels that don’t leak at that depth are a generation away. Turkey’s Marmaray Tunnel crosses the Bosporus at 400 ft down, and they need an underwater bridge so they can avoid the deepest stretch of the strait. I would think this project is doable, but I do want to see the actual number.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Bering strait is shallow. 50 meters or so at the deepest. The tunnel is the easy part.

    http://en.ria.ru/world/20140513/189788166/ANALYSIS-China-Russia-US-Bering-Strait-Railroad-Plan-Feasible.html

    “Soloview’s firm estimates the entirety of the Chinese high speed rail project from the Chinese capital of Beijing to the US capitol in Washington, DC would cost at least $2 trillion. The Bering Strait tunnel would cost approximately $35 billion, a small fraction of the total.”

    The hard part is the mountains.

  15. JB in pa
    May 13th, 2014 at 18:45
    #15

    A tunnel from Oahu to Maui.

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