Monday, March 31, 2008

Arctic Methane

There are enormous quantities of naturally occurring greenhouse gasses trapped in ice-like structures in the cold northern muds and at the bottom of the seas. These ices, called clathrates, contain 3,000 times as much methane as is in the atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

Now here's the scary part. A temperature increase of merely a few degrees would cause these gases to volatilize and "burp" into the atmosphere, which would further raise temperatures, which would release yet more methane, heating the Earth and seas further, and so on. There's 400 gigatons of methane locked in the frozen arctic tundra - enough to start this chain reaction - and the kind of warming the Arctic Council predicts is sufficient to melt the clathrates and release these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren't talking about.


Take Action - Boston, MA

Tired of oil wars, traffic congestion, crumbling infrastructure? Want to do something about it? Join your local bus/transit rider or transit advocacy group. Here is an example in the area of Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

(1) The affordability crisis facing many Massachusetts' households is severe. Using transit is one of the best ways to control soaring transportation costs: an analysis by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development and Center for Neighborhood Technology, looking at nationwide data on households of two persons or more, found that transit-using households lower their annual transportation costs by more than $3,000 compared to those that own one or two vehicles, do not use transit regularly and spend 16–19 percent of their annual income just on transportation.

(2) When the affordability crisis is redefined to look at combined housing and transportation costs, rather than just the cost of housing, it becomes clear that affordable access to both housing and transit is not just the problem of a limited socioeconomic group–affordableaccess to both is everyone's concern.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fuel, Food, and Debt

From the Organic Consumers' Association:

With trucking diesel fuel prices now over $4 per gallon in many locations, food prices are reaching an all time high, since the average grocery store item has traveled 1500-3500 miles. Over the past year, alone, consumers have been forced to pay significantly more for staples like eggs (25 percent), milk (17 percent), cheese (15 percent), bread (12 percent), and rice (13 percent). This is partially due to increased costs of transportation and partially due to massive amounts of cropland being converted to biofuel production. As a result, consumers are paying more for their food and paying $15 billion in increased taxes per year for biofuel subsidies. Fuel prices have nearly doubled the expenses of commuters over the last year. Recent polls show a strong majority of U.S. citizens are in favor of allocating a larger portion of the federal budget for mass transportation. In contrast, the amount of federal money earmarked for mass transit projects (example: rail and bus) has been reduced by nearly 70% since the Bush Administration took over in 2001. A record number of consumers are using credit cards to pay for increased fuel costs. Although the recession has negatively impacted employment, the New York Times reports one of the few booming occupations in the current job market is as a Debt Collector. Since 2001, the top five oil companies have increased their annual profits by an average of 500%.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Time running out for the human race.

(CNN) -- Some 220 square miles of ice has collapsed in Antarctica and an ice shelf about seven times the size of Manhattan is "hanging by a thread," the British Antarctic Survey said Tuesday, blaming global warming.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Green People Punished

Urban dwellers who use public transit are low carbon emitters. These same people must pay taxes to cover the externalities of the auto and sprawl.

Why, then, is there a tariff (fare) to punish them?

The answer is simple. The carbon-auto lobby has power. Public transit is the greatest threat to their power.

Fares hobble public transit.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Auto proliferation alarming

The 6.1 billion people on earth in 2000 owned 735 million vehicles. Imagine what would happen if all the countries on earth ever achieve the same vehicle-ownership rate as the U.S. in 2000: there would be 4.7 billion vehicles even if the human population does not increase.... If there are four parking spaces per car (one at home, and three more at other destinations), 4.7 billion cars would require 19 billion parking spaces, which amounts to a parking lot about the size of France or Spain. More cars would also require more land for roads, gas stations, used car dealers, automobile graveyards, and tire dumps.

The High Cost of Free Parking - Donald Shoup

read more on the externalities of autosprawl

C.A.F.E. standards are useless

The Economist spells it out [emphasis ours]:

...a 12% improvement in fuel efficiency sounds impressive. But economists know better.

Because fuel costs are a significant part of the total price of running a car, lowering them means cheaper motoring. And cheaper motoring, all other things being equal, means more motoring. The same applies to flying, home insulation or
industrial processes: any reduction in energy use means a reduction in cost which, in turn, leads to an increase in demand, eating into the savings from more frugal engineering. In energy economics this is known as the “rebound effect.” It was first described in 1865 by William Stanley Jevons, an economist investigating steam engines....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Auto system falling down, falling down...

Crack in pillar supporting Interstate 95 in Philadelphia, PA. Taxpayers can't keep up with the trillion-dollar carbon-auto subsidy. We are stuck with an unsafe, unsustainable system. Meanwhile the tariff is maintained on transit users to discourage any alternative.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Midwest: "..Increased flash flooding..."

Overview: Midwest
By the National Assessment Synthesis Team, US Global Change Research Program
Published in 2000

For smaller lakes and rivers, reduced flows are likely to cause water quality issues to become more acute. In addition, the projected increase in very heavy precipitation events will likely lead to increased flash flooding and worsen agricultural and other non-point source pollution as more frequent heavy rains wash pollutants into rivers and lakes.

And what to do about it - from the NARP:
“By how much does transit reduce carbon emissions?” Transit directly saves 6.9 million metric tons annually. Taking into account indirect savings, this number jumps to 37 million metric tons.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Light Rail a hit in Dallas, TX

Increasing ridership is another measure of the success of the light rail system. When it opened in 1996, the average number of weekday rides on the 11-mile system was more than 18,000 passenger-trips/day. The following year, with an expansion of the system, average daily ridership jumped to 30,000 per day. In 2007, average weekday rides were around 65,000, up from 62,000 the year before. [DART web site and Dallas Morning News, 4 Oct. 2007] "People are learning about the convenience about living and working near light rail" said Lyons. "While developers are recognizing that building near light rail substantially increases the value of properties over the long term." [, Commercial Real Estate News and Property Resource, 30 Aug. 2007]

--light rail now!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oops, pothole, that will be $413, please.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 12, 2008 – Twenty-three percent of the nation’s major metropolitan roads – interstates, freeways and other critical local routes – have pavements in poor condition, resulting in rough rides and costing the average urban motorist $413 annually in additional vehicle operating costs due to accelerated vehicle deterioration, additional maintenance needs and increased fuel consumption, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research group. -

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sitting still in traffic, burning the future

Every reporter is trained like a puppy to ask "how will you pay for free transit?" -- while the trillion dollar carbon-auto subsidy just keeps on a rollin'.

Congestion in Virginia costs licensed drivers $1.7 billion annually in delays and wasted fuel.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More on Economic Multipliers

From Grist: and Yes Magazine

Number of jobs created by spending $1 billion on defense: 8,555
Number of jobs created by spending $1 billion on health care: 10,779
Number of jobs created by spending $1 billion on education: 17,687
Number of jobs created by spending $1 billion on mass transit: 19,795


The multiplier of 9 previously cited on this blog was calculated by taking into account ALL the known externalities. Transit investment is justified by carbon dioxide reduction alone. But the carbon-auto lobby whose control reaches even the "enlightened" transportation and environment blogs won't even allow serious discussion. In any case, it is clear that even the most conservative estimates show that transit is one of the best public investments available.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Auto system heavily subsidized

from metroriderla - looking at just one small part of the trillion-dollar carbon-auto subsidy:

Together, crashes and congestion cost Los Angeles and Orange County $19.8 billion a year....If all gas taxes in Los Angeles and Orange County went to pay for the cost of accidents and congestion, each and every citizen of the metropolitan area would still have to pay $1,200 a year, or $100 a month, to cover those costs.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

U.S. streetcars killed with premeditation

In the 1920s, there were about 1,200 electric lines operating across the country, providing some 15 billion rides a year. By the 1970s, the number of cities with real streetcar systems was down to about five....
Reasons for the demise vary but include National City Lines, formed by General Motors, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum and Firestone tires. It bought up more than 100 lines in the 1930s and 1940s in many of the larger cities and dismantled them. - Public Transport Progress

more "dirt"...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Should I go car-free?

If you can, yes.... but.

You will be happier and save money, but the energy you save will be allocated to more autosprawl as long as autosprawl is subsidized.

Individual action cannot compete with public policy. If you want to reverse autosprawl, you must become active in electoral politics, join a transit advocacy group, or join a bus/transit riders' union.

We have listed a few on the right under "Take Action." If yours is not listed contact us.