Friday, July 30, 2010

Voodoo Environmentalism

Think about this. Say you are the CEO of a major fossil-fuel company. Your job is to promote your product and maximize investor return.

What can you do? Let's think. You really have nothing to offer the public but death and destruction. Hmm. Well, there is that liberal-vs-conservative circus going on in the main-stream media. That is a nice distraction. That helps. But then there are those pesky environmentalists. They keep doing things that might turn the public against sprawl. If they were to expose the sprawl subsidies or show people how much energy is wasted in sprawl, that could be disastrous. People might decide to fix up the cities and give the suburbs back to the farmers. It could be the end of unlimited growth.

What can be done to divert all those energetic idealists from endangering profits? Wouldn't it be great if there was something they could pursue that allows them to be radical and militant, but is really just a dead end?

Hmmm...what could work? Oh yeah, what about supply-side? Yes. Supply-side thinking is something that has a proven track record in the mis-direction department. Wouldn't it be great if the environmentalists attacked the suppliers of energy? What if they demanded that you stop drilling and mining? How would that look to the hard-working people who are just trying to heat their homes, fill their gas tank, and move to the suburbs? You are just trying to satisfy demand. If you don't do it someone else will. As long as the taxpayer keeps paying for highways, energy wars, and storm cleanup, there will always be energy-sucking suburbs, and you will always be the hero who makes the light-switch work.

Brilliant. Let's hope they fall for it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alternative energy is worse than just a waste of time

There are two major problems with alternative energy development. One is that in many cases the cure is worse than the disease. (See the quote below). The other is that adding energy to a bonfire of demand simply encourages more growth and waste.

...The EU must shoulder some of the blame. Badly thought-through policies designed to lower Europe's carbon emissions in the energy and transport sectors have sparked a gold rush into biofuel, with results that often go directly against the policies' intentions. Studies show that some biofuel, including when made from palm oil from cleared rainforest and peatland, result in significantly more greenhouse-gas emissions than fossil fuel does...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why isn’t an electric car the magic solution that everyone wants?

  • An electric car is still dangerous to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers.
  • An electric car requires a tremendous amount of land to rest and operate.
  • An electric car depends on coal-powered electricity in most situations.
  • An electric car will not alleviate congestion.
  • An electric car will not level the mobility playing field.
Read more at Reimagine an Urban Paradise

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let us reclaim human interaction - get rid of the anti-social private auto

Further evidence of the positive effects of free public transport can be gleaned from the Belgian city of Hasselt. Not only did use of Hasselt’s bus system explode once zero fare were introduced (from 331,551 in the old situation to an astonishing 3.2 million - and this for a city of only 70,000 people), with all the obvious benefits this shift suggests, but also, some rather unexpected advantages were produced as well. For example, following the introduction of zero fares, the number of visits to patients in the city’s hospitals was reported to have “increased enormously” (van Goeverden, 2006: 7). This suggests that individuals and families will take more of a role in terms of caring responsibilities if they can actually access the people who need to be cared for, and this could represent incredible indirect savings for the state in terms of social and health care budgets. Indeed, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has demonstrated statistically that people who socialise and participate in social activities are on average happier and healthier (2000:326-335). Of course you can only do this if you can get around, an evidence from a wide range of sources indicate that many people cannot ‘get around’ (see Church et al, 2000; Graham and Marvin, 2001; Hine and Mitchell, 2003; Knolwes, 2006 New Economics Foundation, 2003; Pooley et al, 2005; Raje, 2007; Reisig and Hobbiss, 2000; Shaw, 2006; Social Exclusion Unit, 2002 and 2003; Urry, 2007). Bob Jeffrey - Towards a Sustainable Transport Policy

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Divorce Your Car! -- Letter to Washington D.C.

Divorce Your Car!: "Please eliminate all tax credits and deductions currently provided to the oil industry. I find it ludicrous that the most profitable companies in the world – ExxonMobil comes to mind – receive what amounts to about $4 billion per year in tax breaks from the U.S. government, as reported recently by the New York Times. These tax breaks are inappropriate favors to an industry that doesn’t need or deserve them. They also constitute a huge barrier to the competitiveness of alternative energy sources."

Methane Seeps, Tipping Points Feared as Congress Sleepwalks |

Methane Seeps, Tipping Points Feared as Congress Sleepwalks | "Those who follow this�issue likely have familiarity with the concept of 'tipping points'. This innocuous-sounding phrase does not do justice to its vast meaning. It refers to the crossing of a line whereby tremendous natural forces are unleashed and an unstoppable rush of interlocking climate disruptions wreak havoc on the earth and its fragile web of life-supporting ecosystems. Once set in motion, it cannot be predicted how far the devastation would extend. Geological records have linked a severe climate shift with the 'Great Extinction' event which wiped out a ghastly 90% of all life forms on the planet. ��"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stroke of Genius: Free Public Transport

Jul 2010

July 16th, 5:00pm 0 comments Celebrity SOG: Graeme Base - free public transport #sogenius

SOG Idea 95: Free Public Transport

Well known Australian author Graeme Base suggests free public transport. Certainly a good one for the wallet and bound to make happier commuters! It may even get more people using public transport so better for the environment and perhaps a more active option for commuters?

"Make all public transport completely free. With no insanely expensive ticketing system to keep going wrong, and no army of inspectors to police the network, plus massive productivity gains and lower health costs (mental and physical) from the easing of the ravages of traffic congestion – we could spend the savings on additional trams, trains and buses. Why, we could even bring Connies back – not to collect fares, but to help get prams on board, tell you what stop you need for the museum and to whistle jaunty tunes."

To vote for Graeme’s Stroke of Genius

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why all the anti-Iran sabre rattling? Here is why:

Iran, Armenia to split oil pipeline cost

YEREVAN, Armenia, July 16 (UPI) -- The Armenian and Iranian governments agreed to split the cost evenly for the construction of a 217-mile oil pipeline, the Armenian oil minister said.

Iran sits on some of the largest oil and gas deposits in the world. Armenia would receive 70,000 barrels of oil through the proposed Shahnazi-Zadeh pipeline.... UPIScienceNews

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The most critical tipping point

Are you scratching your head over public transit funding? With oil spewing into the ocean, heat waves cooking the cities, floods destroying communities, drought wrecking farms, traffic congestion sapping life--with polls continually showing that people want their taxes used to fund public transit, one would think that the U.S. Congress could muster support for more than a token investment in public transit.

There seem to be unlimited billions for energy wars, storm cleanup, and road building. But when it comes to an "energy" bill, no one seems to get that a bus carries up to 40 people and works up to 18 hours a day, while a private auto carries 1.02 people and works about 3.5 hours a day. Tremendous savings are waiting to be had for a very modest investment.

Why the disconnect? You might reasonably ask.

Ok. Here is why.

Mass human transport is a system. A large system. It is thoroughly integrated with all of the economy. Transport has different modes. The dominant mode is the private auto, laughably, a consumer product. Unfortunately, the auto mode is extremely difficult to integrate with other modes--just try parking at the airport, for example. Because of this awkward interface, either the auto or other modes have to be dominant. Other modes have to compete with the auto for dominance. The auto is less efficient, but is kept dominant by heavy taxpayer subsidy and deferred subsidy [aka externalities].

The beneficiaries of the billions in autosprawl subsidy own enough congress members to stop any progress of public transit toward this tipping point. Hence, only token transit funding.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Conservatives need not obey highway lobby

So why are conservatives using the public transportation we are told they oppose? Because being stuck in traffic isn’t fun, even if you are driving a BMW. On a commuter train or Light Rail line, you whiz past all those cars going nowhere at 50 or 60 miles per hour — reading, working on your laptop, or relaxing, instead of staring at some other guy’s bumper.
- William Lind, in American Conservative Magazine via Transportation for America

Friday, July 9, 2010

Subsidized auto-system is harmful, wasteful, and takes up too much space

To begin with, from as early as the 1920s, private car ownership has been subsidised in a way that public transportation has not (Glaister et al, 2006: 9). As Reynolds points out: ‘in most instances the real cost of automobile travel is not borne by users and a transit subsidy is needed to “level the playing field” and encourage use’ (2008: 19). This of course reached its peak during the flurry of motorway construction in the mid to late twentieth century. Bob Jeffrey - Salford

Thursday, July 8, 2010

European Social Forum calls for Free Public Transport

...Against those who oppose people’s desire to have good and well-paid jobs and to move beyond the madness of infinite growth on a finite planet, we are calling for a just transition in the way we work, in the structures of production and consumption. While there are many things we need more of, there is much we need less of. For example, we need to stop the destructive energy production practices involving coal, oil, nuclear and hydropower, or to end the madness of building individual cars for everybody. At the same time, we need to expand community-controlled renewable energies, food sovereignty as well as public services that contribute to our goal of a good life for all, like free public transport, health, housing and education. This would create millions of socially and ecologically useful jobs.... europe-solidaire

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Swedish Free Transit Advocates Providing Elegant English Prose

...The car is pitching us towards each other. Who has not experienced the feeling of putting oneself in a car and suddenly being transformed into a motorist? The pure act of putting oneself behind the wheel seems, for almost everyone, to lead to egotistic behavior, a situation where everyone is trying to gain something on someone else’s behalf. While driving a car, one’s fellow human beings (other drivers, public transport users, pedestrians, bikers) become nothing more than obstacles. Who cannot, honestly, recognise the almost aggressive and competitive feeling that the car produces in oneself? Since we do not want to encourage this kind of behaviour, and since we are confident that one is not born a motorist, but rather becomes one, we strongly believe that the risk of people becoming motorists has to be minimised.
Because of this we do not only want to change the order of the traffic hierarchy and take the car down from its pedestal. Rather, we want a society built on totally different premises. A society where no one is forced into motorism, whether passively or actively. A society where proximity and availability to what people need to satisfy their needs and desires are put at the forefront... by Planka Nu translated by them from the original Swedish see this and similar work on Carbusters

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oil Companies Reap Billions From Subsidies -

On Friday, cleanup workers in Grand Isle, La., positioned absorbent material to block oil from washing onto the beach.
By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI Published: July 3, 2010

Oil Companies Reap Billions From Subsidies - "... an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process...."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bus Cuts Drive Americans Back to Cars |

Bus Cuts Drive Americans Back to Cars | "People should recognize that it is very easy to say that everybody should ride public transit, but far harder to construct such systems that take people where they want to go efficiently and safely.

That is part of the problem now. Service cut-backs add too much time to the schedules of working people and parents, who typically have no other reasonable option but the automobile. And in the vast majority of American suburbs and rural areas, mass transit doesn't even exist.

Also there is this issue: In the San Francisco Bay Area, transit investment has increased by 50% over the last 25 years, but overall ridership has increased by only 7%. Yikes! That is a hugely inefficient use of resources. We almost certainly could have saved money and gotten more people on board by simply giving them free rides."