September 08, 2017
Sacramento Bee: "While California is making headway in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the rate of progress is slowing. Emissions fell by a scant 0.3 percent in 2015, the last year for which figures are available. It was one of the smallest year-to-year declines recorded since California enacted laws aimed at defeating global warming more than a decade ago, and calls into question the state’s ability to meet long-term goals for curtailing carbon."
"The chief culprit: California’s cars and trucks. After falling steadily since 2007, greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles increased by 3 percent in 2015, according to the California Air Resources Board. That meant the equivalent of 4.6 million additional metric tons of carbon spewed into the air, the agency said in a report released in June."
September 08, 2017
Federal Highway Administration: "New data released today by the . . . Federal Highway Administration show that U.S. driving topped 1.58 trillion miles in the first six months of 2017 – or more than 8,500 roundtrips from Earth to the Sun – continuing a streak of steadily increasing vehicle miles travelled that began in 2011."
September 08, 2017
Sacramento Bee: "Lake Tahoe’s famously clear waters continue to warm, and the surrounding forests face dire threats due to drought, disease and insects, according to the annual Tahoe State of the Lake report by researchers at UC Davis."
"Tree mortality in Tahoe’s forests has also increased drastically, with the number of dead trees more than doubling from 35,000 in 2015 to 72,000 last year due to the stress of the drought combined with attacks from insects and disease, according to the report. The problem was worst on Tahoe’s north shore, but forests on the east shore were also affected."
"Patricia Maloney, a researcher who is part of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC Davis, likens the trees to straws in the ground that compete to suck up the water."
“'We’re basically in a crisis,' she said about the large number of dead and dying trees in the Tahoe Basin. 'It all started with the drought. The trees become weakened and then they’re susceptible to attack by disease or insect infestation.'”
September 03, 2017
Nicholas Kristof: "Climate scientists are in agreement that there are at least two ways climate change is making hurricanes worse."
"First, hurricanes arise from warm waters, and the Gulf of Mexico has warmed by two to four degrees Fahrenheit over the long-term average. The result is more intense storms."
“'There is a general consensus that the frequency of high-category (3, 4 and 5) hurricanes should increase as the climate warms,' Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at M.I.T., tells me. Likewise, three experts examined the data over 30 years and concluded that Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger."
"Second, as the air warms, it holds more water vapor, so the storms dump more rain. That’s why there’s a big increase in heavy downpours ('extreme precipitation events'). Nine of the top 10 years for heavy downpours in the U.S. have occurred since 1990."
“'Climate change played a role in intensifying the winds and rainfall associated with Hurricane Harvey,' says Charles Greene, a climate scientist at Cornell. He notes that there’s also a third way, not yet proven, in which climate change may be implicated: As Arctic sea ice is lost, wind systems can meander and create blockages — like those that locked Harvey in place over Houston. It was this stalling that led Harvey to be so destructive."
September 02, 2017
Mountain Line: "Mountain Line’s three-year Zero-fare demonstration project began in January 2015, and continues to be a big success as the agency continues to experience record ridership each month. Mountain Line provided 110,237 rides in September, a 43 percent increase over last year. Overall, the cumulative ridership is up 36 percent since January."
"Mountain Line’s Zero-fare partners include the University of Montana, Associated Students of the University of Montana, City of Missoula, County of Missoula, the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization, St. Patrick Hospital, Community Medical Center, Missoula County Public Schools, Missoula Aging Services, Missoula Downtown Association, Missoula Parking Commission, Missoulian, Southgate Mall, and Homeword. Before Zero-fare, many of these organizations would purchase bus passes for students or their employees to ride fare-free. Now thanks to their investment, these benefits are extended to all Missoulians."
August 23, 2017
New York Times: "Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, it contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter — plants that took carbon dioxide from the atmosphere centuries ago, died and froze before they could decompose. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere."
"Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming. Scientists have estimated that the process of permafrost thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to global warming over the next several centuries, independent of what society does to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other activities."
July 19, 2017
Brian D. Taylor: "A typical freeway lane can handle up to 2,000 vehicles per lane per hour, but in really bad traffic that throughput can be cut in half; just when we need the most out of our road system, it performs at its worst. So heavy traffic is not only irritating, it’s also really inefficient. Second, traffic delays are non-linear, which means that when traffic rises to certain levels it becomes unstable. Add just a few too many cars at the wrong time and fast-moving traffic suddenly slows to a crawl; take just a few cars off of the road at the right time and traffic speeds and throughput can both increase dramatically. If we can find a way to keep some cars from crowding onto already congested roads at certain times and places, many more people will get through the system overall, and at higher speeds to boot."
"Keeping drivers from crowding onto roads at the wrong times and places is not easy, and could entail a heavy-handed role for government. This is where pricing comes in. Road space is scarce and valuable, so why not use prices to allocate it like we do for almost everything else, including food, housing, and utilities?"
July 13, 2017
New York Times: "While the destabilization of the Larsen C Ice Shelf is certainly worrying, it pales in comparison with the threat from the increasing instability of the glaciers and ice shelves holding back the enormous West Antarctic Ice Sheet. If much of that ice sheet thaws and slides into the sea this century or next, global sea levels could rise by up to 17 feet."
July 05, 2017
The Transport Politic: "The U.S., of course, is the world’s notable exception. Over the past thirty years, almost two dozen countries have built up networks of collectively thousands of miles for trains traveling at least 150 mph. Since 1976, for example, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain slowly but steadily built up large networks, under varying political and economic environments (Japan had started opening such lines in 1964). Americans upgraded a route between Boston and New York and created 34 miles of track capable of such speeds."
"In face of the difficulties inherent in investing in large infrastructure projects that have the potential to transform the travel experience, the U.S. has been unable to advance. Over the course of an entire generation, American society has proven itself incapable of pooling either the sustained motivation or the resources to complete a single major high-speed intercity rail project."
July 05, 2017
Joe Cortright: "It may seem like we have a shortage of infrastructure, or lack the funding to pay for the transportation system, but the fact that truck freight is so heavily subsidized means that there’s a lot more demand (and congestion) on the the roads that there would be if trucks actually paid their way. On top of that, there’d be a lot more money to cover the cost of the system we already have."
Congressional Budget Office: "Locomotives are much more energy-efficient (per ton-mile) than trucks, so their emissions are much lower."