Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another domino falls -- Keila, Estonia adopts free public transport

Capital Region Town Introduces Free Public Transport | Economy | News | ERR: "Keila city government spokesperson Valdur Vacht told that the idea for Keila to move to free transport was not new and that it made good economic sense.

"Keila has only two bus routes and up to this point children, the elderly and social workers rode for free. There are so many who receive benefits that it was more costly to administer a fare system than to allow everyone to ride for free," he said.
The town's transport would therefore be free for all passengers, unlike the Tallinn system, which is free only to registered residents of the city."

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brave attempts to stop road-building address only the symptoms, not cause, of sprawl tsunami

What’s wrong with the Link Road? « Combe Haven Defenders: "The road would carry up to 30,000 vehicles a day across a valley, Combe Haven, described by ESCC as ‘probably the finest medium-sized valley in East Sussex outside of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’."
As long as the subsidized private auto has critical mass as a way of moving people, the only thing that will stop sprawl is the economic collapse coming with the end of cheap energy. We can anticipate and mitigate this collapse by ending #autosprawl now. We should start in the cities by making them car-free. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Carbon trading, carbon tax, won't work. Here is why

Carbon market solutions to #climatechange are supply-side solutions.

The idea is that industry will gradually replace fossil-fuel energy sources. What is not said, is that the renewables are very low in net energy. This means the carbon price will have to be very high. Too high to become law at a rate that will have any effect. Consequently the increase in renewables will allow more growth, but not reduce fossil fuel use. Carbon credits earned by conservation will simply be added to the growth side, or traded to extend the life of another dirty industry.

What we need are demand-side solutions that are consistent with degrowth. What if the dollars put into implementing a carbon market scheme (imagine the legal costs!) were instead spent on free public transit. Cities would become more attractive, and many would move in and give up their car. As more did, there would be more political urgency about fixing urban life, and more money to do it, starting a virtuous circle.

Urban living, if comfortable, would lower the birth rate.

Carbon markets such as REDD and EU carbon pricing, have already proven problematic, if not downright destructive. Is the U.S. going to embark on an expensive, time-consuming mistake?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Carbon trading is just more corporate welfare

MPs warn against compensating heavy industry for low-carbon costs | Environment | The Guardian: " "I welcome the government helping energy-intensive companies cope with additional carbon price rises to stop them moving jobs abroad. But it shouldn't throw good money after bad by giving compensation to those already making windfall profits from the emissions trading system when allowances were allocated free of charge.""

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Global growth rate in steady decline since 2Q 2010

Guest Post: Declining Global Growth | Zero Hedge: "Globally, there was a big and swift return to strong GDP growth, built on the backs of emerging countries and particularly the BRICs. Since early 2010, rather than getting stronger and stronger, global growth has actually become weaker and weaker."

Monday, January 21, 2013

World’s 100 richest earned enough in 2012 to end global poverty 4 times over — RT

World’s 100 richest earned enough in 2012 to end global poverty 4 times over — RT: "The world's 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over, Oxfam has revealed, adding that the global economic crisis is further enriching the super-rich."

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

LEED just more sprawl promotion

As Important As It Is, LEED Can Be So Embarrassing - Housing - The Atlantic Cities: "Contrary to myth, the environmental performance of a building is not determined just by what happens inside the building.  Research shows, for example, that Americans generally consume more energy – and emit more carbon dioxide – getting to and from a typical building than does the building itself.  Research also shows that location and neighborhood factors can create a dramatic difference in how much energy is consumed and emissions are generated in the getting to and fro. "

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Friday, January 18, 2013

How growth of renewables can lead to sharper #peakoil collapse

Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are low EROEI, just as are shale oil and tarsand. They will not allow the economic growth necessary to sustain capitalism.

What they will do, however, is prolong the fall of oil. During this time, with business as current and usual, more cars will be put on the roads, current sprawl will not be dismantled, and there will be little modification of the oil-dependent food supply. The result will be a more extreme drop some time later.

Our only hope is to use this time wisely and undo the systems that depend on oil. A good start is to break the critical mass of the autosprawl system. You can start this in your town by calling for free public transit.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013: Beginning of Long-Term Recession? | Our Finite World

2013: Beginning of Long-Term Recession? | Our Finite World: "This recession is likely be very long term. In fact, based on my view of the reasons for the recession, it may never be possible to exit from it completely."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

U.S. infrastructure deferred costs have reached the limits of growth

3.5 Million Jobs at Stake if Infrastructure Continues to Crumble: "What would it cost if the nation’s crumbling infrastructure of bridges, roads, rails, sewer systems, power grids, airports and more is allowed to deteriorate at its current pace? Some 3.5 million jobs and $3.1 trillion in lost economic output by 2020. What would it cost to avoid that? About $1.1 trillion in additional investment."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Starving the cities to feed the suburbs | Grist

Starving the cities to feed the suburbs | Grist: "These public dollars, the report argues, collectively create an incentive for suburban sprawl and redistribute income from the poor to the rich. "

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The sprawl tsunami

Autosprawl subsidy has dominated U.S. economics for many years. A system of transporting people by car combined with spacial spread of residential infrastructure has been built and supported by direct taxpayer subsidy, indirect taxpayer subsidy, imperial theft, and deferral of cost.

This subsidy has created a way of living that is desired by billions of people. A tsunami of demand. This demand confers tremendous economic and political power on those who profit from this system.

The tsunami cannot be defeated head-on. We need a solution that redirects the flow, reduces its power, and at the same time undermines the subsidy that sustains the demand.

There is a way. Make urban public transit fare-free. Gradually remove cars from the city. Give the suburbs to organic farmers. Educate all children. Provide economic security and universal healthcare. Cities will become attractive, birthrate will drop, and autosprawl subsidy will lose political support.

We do not have to wait for national governments. We can implement this town by town.

The physics of nature is already calling for payment of deferred costs via climate change. We can act now, or we can let nature take its course.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Israel politician proposes free public transit and is viciously criticized. Should be no surprise there.

The Death of the Party - Salem-News.Com: "And last month, she unveiled an ambitious economic agenda featuring a cornucopia of goodies for the middle class, such as a higher minimum wage, longer maternity leaves, more public housing, free day care, and even free public transportation in Tel Aviv."

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Australia burning from global warming

Picture: AP Photo/Holmes Family
Five Australian children were reunited with their parents after their grandparents helped them dramatically escape from blazing bush fires by clinging to a wooden jetty for three hours. Grandfather Tim Holmes alongside his wife and and his daughter's five children had to shelter in the sea to survive the potentially deadly inferno that raged on the shore.
Picture: NSW Rural Fire Service
Trees burning and smoke billowing from a fire along the Princes Highway at Deans Gap in the Shoalhaven area in New South Wales

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Big oil attacks, threatens government, and tries to hold economy hostage

Hands Off, Oil Industry Warns Government - "But he cautioned that this rosy future was dependent on the federal government’s not interfering with his industry, by, say, raising taxes on oil companies, or imposing new environmental regulations on fracking operations, or limiting greenhouse gas emissions from refineries."

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Capitalist economists admit that austerity doesn't work. Next lesson, growth does not either.

The Big Fail - "For what the paper concludes is not just that austerity has a depressing effect on weak economies, but that the adverse effect is much stronger than previously believed. The premature turn to austerity, it turns out, was a terrible mistake."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Subways extend the life of autosprawl

Building subways is not green.

The car is choking the city. The best solution is car-free cities. If cities are car-free, there is no need for subways.

Subways make possible longer commutes, something we should not be encouraging.

Subways take people underground to relieve traffic congestion on the surface. This extends the life of the auto-based system of moving people, a system which could lose critical mass if car ownership and use were to drop past a tipping point. Subways delay us from reaching that point. That allows suburban sprawl to last a few years longer. We do not have any years to waste.

Metro systems: Going Underground | The Economist: "London would have ground to a halt long ago without its “Tube”."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Carbon tax supported by oil-industry and its trolls -- should make you wonder

The best solution for climate change is a carbon tax | The Great Debate: "Despite its critics, a carbon tax has garnered broad support – even from unexpected places. Exxon Mobil’s chief executive has supported a carbon tax. Among conservatives, it has been supported by scholars at the American Enterprise Institute, former Congressman Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), Gregory Mankiw, an economic advisor to Mitt Romney’s campaign team, and Martin Feldstein, a top economist in Ronald Reagan’s administration."

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tallinn becomes first European capital to offer free public transport - NZweek

Tallinn becomes first European capital to offer free public transport - NZweek: "TALLINN, Jan. 2 — Estonian capital city of Tallinn on New Year’s Day became the first European capital to waive public transport fee for its registered residents."

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Poverty in Saudi Arabia proves that capitalism doesn't work even in the best of circumstances.

Saudi Arabia's riches conceal a growing problem of poverty | World news | Guardian Weekly: "The kingdom has a two-tier economy made up of about 16 million Saudis, with most of the rest foreign workers. The poverty rate among Saudis continues to rise as youth unemployment skyrockets. More than two-thirds of Saudis are under 30, and nearly three-quarters of all unemployed Saudis are in their 20s, according to government statistics.

In just seven decades as a nation, Saudi Arabia has grown from an impoverished backwater of desert nomads to an economic powerhouse with an oil industry that brought in $300bn last year."

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