[Natural] gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.
So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.
But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.
With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.
One of our readers drew our attention to a video that shows a cycle route in Rijswijk which is in effect a suburb of The Hague. It shows a road where cyclists have to make a detour while motorised traffic can go straight on. The man in the video calls this a daily annoyance. And he is right. Most cycle routes in this country are as direct or (more often) more direct than routes for motorised traffic.
In this case (see picture below) the green line (about 100 meters/yards) would be the logical route. There is ample room for a cycle path there, but curiously cyclists are required to take the route represented by the red line. This includes going up and down and even an extra level crossing of a light rail line that would otherwise be crossed on the overpass. There is a shortcut (red dots) using the pedestrian stairs. But all in all the red route is at least double the length of the desired green route.
It is clear from the video that this man is not the only one who feels this is wrong. Many cyclist find a short cut by riding over the grass. The city council doesn’t like that but instead of tackling the problem by making the cycle path more direct, they put up a fence to protect the grass. The fence is of course consequently damaged. Another option is to ride against traffic on the opposite side of the road. Which is not a good solution either. continued…’
and this is in the Netherlands, too! Cycling country. but with Den Haag performing below the standard.
Portland has invested heavily in biking over the last two decades, creating hundreds of miles of interconnecting bike paths that allow residents to commute to work, shop at local businesses and ride for pleasure. In contrast, most other US cities have focused on building highways that accommodate automobiles but are unsafe for cyclists, the study, published in the journal, reports.
But will Portland’s residents benefit from its investments in cycling? To find out, Götschi added up the city’s past and planned investments in biking improvements, factored in an increase in residents’ activity levels, and found that the changes will result in significant savings by the year 2040 — up to $594 million in reduced health care spending and as much as $218 million in lower fuel costs. These estimates are based on the city’s planned investments of up to $605 million in biking improvements by that year.
Thanks to a small transformation in federal transportation policy since Obama took office, cities around the nation are looking at the real possibility of creating new streetcar lines within the next year or two.
In a series of momentous moves, the Obama Administration has made it easier for cities to start or expand streetcar lines. The crux of the changes come from the understanding that streetcars are not just about saving people time, they are also highly useful in building an attractive urban landscape, stimulating and channeling investment and growth into the urban core and into other specifically targeted areas of the city, and attracting non-transit riders to efficient mass transit.
Yesss thank you, Prez. Been time enough to catch up with Europe, where streetcars are common across many countries, even in not-so-dense medium-sized cities.
Most European cities I’ve been to have streetcars operating. Streetcars/trams all over Deutschland: Magdeburg, Leipzig, Dresden, Düsseldorf (tram/u-bahn), Hamburg (maybe, I forget). Amsterdam, Brussels, Helsinki, Milan, Zürich, .. plus a bunch of places I’ve yet to visit that’re moved to my second euro-trip list.
So far both Delaware and New Jersey have followed Massachusetts’ lead in passing their own versions of offshore-wind power-purchasing legislation. And they may soon be joined by Maryland where Governor O’Malley has just introduced the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2011 — a bill Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, called the “strongest, most sensible offshore-wind legislation ever adopted by a U.S. state.”
always great to see stuff I’ve learned in class in the news. makes me feel like class is actually worthwhile (vs. majority of university courses/school).
and this article’s great, too. The challenges to offshore wind in the US that I’ve pointed out in my last post are being met, and offshore is finally happening. The future of renewable energy in America. 20 years late. (after Denmark constructed the first offshore wind farm.)
Here’s that presentation I gave for my EIA/SEA (Environmental Impact Assessment/Strategic Environmental Assessment) class early last month that I’ve been meaning to share here.
It’s a PDF of my PPT presentation. Just a short 20 slides, with half of them as graphs, charts, photos, tables, so there’s no reason not to take a look. Especially since the original report (by the NREL [National Renewable Energy Laboratory], 2010: Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the US: Assessment of Opportunites and Barriers) I did it on is a 200pg pdf. (I think I did a pretty good job with condensing everything and only giving the important points.) It’s just an introduction to/overview of the current status of offshore wind power in America. As of current, there are NONE. Except for Cape Wind finally getting started after a DECADE.
Here’s the short conclusion:
There are abundant opportunities for offshore wind power in the US, yet significant challenges and barriers to overcome.
Removing deployment barriers could help the first projects take-off.
Integration of national and state energy codes and standards for offshore wind.
Research and prudent citing strategies that involve stakeholders at the site would reduce potential risk.
Costs will likely decrease as gains in experience and technology increase.
Offshore wind will play an important role in the future US energy markets.
Thought this might be a good intro/quick run-down on offshore wind for those not knowing much about it (assuming most people think “wind power”—turbines on grassy fields, and don’t really know what “offshore” should allude to) since I’ve been seeing quite a few news articles about new projects popping up.
Fewest 311 complaints, a breakdown by zipcode for a week in September.
Whether it happens through government services such as 311, private-sector startups, open source initiatives, or, most likely, a combination of all three, it’s clear that the 21st-century city is going to be immensely more efficient at solving clear, definable problems like graffiti and transportation routes. The question is whether these platforms can also address the more subtle problems of big-city neighborhoods—the sins of omission, the holes in the urban fabric where some crucial thread is missing. After all, when people gripe about their neighborhood, it’s usually not the potholes or clogged storm drains they have in mind; it’s the fact that there isn’t a dog run nearby or a playground or a good preschool with space available. “We’re really interested in tackling things that are problems not because they’re broken but because they don’t exist,” Ashlock says.
And indeed, it’s not hard to imagine ways that existing data sources could be used to fill holes like this. For instance, a neighborhood with a perennial cluster of booked cabs, according to the TLC reports, could be made a top candidate for additional bus lines. The best example of this to date is a pilot program in Brooklyn sponsored by OpenPlans that scouted areas needing bike racks by encouraging people to “take pictures of places where there are bikes locked up to every object in sight—to show the demand.” By tapping a community—big-city bicyclists—that is already passionate about its place in the urban fabric, OpenPlans hopes to teach users some of the power of this form of community-bug reporting. Ben Berkowitz, CEO of SeeClickFix, likes to say that “potholes are the gateway drug for civic engagement.” If OpenPlans has its way, it’ll be true for bike racks, too.
Cross-breeding is guaranteed with alfalfa and likely with corn. (The U.S.D.A. claims to be figuring out ways to avoid this happening, but by then the damage may already be done.) And the organic dairy industry is going to suffer immediate and frightening losses when G.E. alfalfa is widely grown, since many dairy cows eat dried alfalfa (hay), and the contamination of organic alfalfa means the milk of animals fed with that hay can no longer be called organic. Likewise, when feed corn is contaminated by G.E. ethanol corn, the products produced from it won’t be organic. (On the one hand, U.S.D.A. joins the F.D.A. in not seeing G.E. foods as materially different; on the other it limits the amount found in organic foods. Hello? Guys? Could you at least pretend to be consistent?)
Mark Bittman, nytimes. 15.02.11. (so the dude quit The Minimalist to write more opinion articles?)
Greenpeace protest against GMOs in (above: Madrid) Spain and Europe on 16.04.2010.
For those (probably not you, my tumblr followers) unable to follow logic and understand basic economics, here’s the quick concise run down:
Cyclists save money by not having a car.
They also are more likely to see storefronts since they roll by at a slower pace.
In the space of one parked car, can there easily be room for more than 5 parked bikes.
Increased sales due to cyclists.
More details, studies, numbers here: 24.11.07 by mikael on copenhagenize, 17.06.10 on therecord/takethelane.
So those businesses who are so adamant at refusing propositions to remove auto parking in front of their property or have bike lanes or bike racks installed there: Just stop and look at the possible real money benefits. And hopefully these business owners aren’t like a certain political party who are so proficient at ignoring facts and evidence.
There’s something I’ve been wondering about. I’ve noticed that the majority of traffic ‘safety’ campaigns seem to focus on everything except the bull in the china shop — the automobile. It’s a global tendency, stemming from the seemingly irreversible prescence of cars and trucks. I find it odd that so few campaigns actually place the focus firmly on the problem: the large, heavy, dangerous machines that rumble about our streets and the people who seem to have difficultly controlling them. …
There are changes to laws, like in Denmark and the Netherlands that place the blame firmly on the automobile in accidents, unless it can be proven otherwise. The idea is simply that the person in the most dangerous vehicle has the most responsibility.
In the 60s and 70s, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, the current bike capitals of the world, were not much unlike the rest of the world, with a decade of urban planning revolved around the car.
It took the massive grassroots protests of the 1970’s and 1980’s to force urban planners and politicians to return to planning for pedestrians and cyclists.
This is what it looked like in Copenhagen at a protest rally in the 1970’s. Regular citizens in their thousands demonstrating for safer streets and the re-implementation of bicycle infrastructure.
In order to draw attention to the need - and desire - for infrastructure white crosses were painted on the asphalt where cyclists had been killed. In the late 1960’s there were roughly 300 hundred cyclists killed every year in Denmark. Last year, in 2010, there were 19.
The power of the people triumphed. Cycle tracks are the Tahrir Square where Citizen Cyclists continue to gather to show that fighting for The Common Good can suceed and from where the dictators who only wish to serve the interests of the few are banished.
YES IN MY BACKYARD! För att vi älskar Göteborg! Because we love Gothenburg!
Nice blog on urban design and planning in Göteborg.
(You can use g.translate.) I visited this city on the western coast of Sweden this past September for a day (but never got around to blogging about… Here are pics though, to prove that I was there). Very pleasant, kind of quaint, nice city. Public transportation good, with trams and buses, walkable, too. The usual pedestrian shopping streets typical of European cities. Lovely city overall. And of course, it’s Sweden.
Gotta love Swedish environmentalism / Swedes’ environmental consciousness.
But apparently and opposite of what you and I might expect/expected, their urban planning actually isn’t that great.. Last line of most recent post:
Vi har tyvärr betydligt mer enfald än mångfald i svensk stadsplanering. Unfortunately, we have much more stupidity than diversity in Swedish urban planning.
YIMBY — opposite of NIMBY. and haha—gotta love wiki for having under “see also”: Luddites and CAVE People.
The laying of tracks for the high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Shanghai, China’s two most important cities, was completed Monday (Nov. 15, 2010) morning, in the latest milestone in the construction of the world’s longest high-speed railway.
The 1,318-kilometer-long line will link Beijing, the Chinese capital in the north of the nation, and Shanghai, the country’s eastern economic hub. Construction on the 220.9 billion yuan (33.3 billion U.S. dollars) project started in April 2008. The line is scheduled to open in 2012.
Once completed, train travel time between the two cities will be slashed to about four hours from the current 10 hours.
shiiiiit that’s 3-4 years construction to running.
and the California High-Speed Rail? still in planning and design stages. Construction to start next year, 2012, and to be finished (and running?) by 2017. For a route 18 miles less than 1318km.
Sometimes you’d wish we’d have a similar sort of efficient-“get shit done” type of top-down actually authoritative government like China’s. But, no. America will be America — wallowing in its debt, staunchly anti-“socialist”, stymied by various interest groups (oil & NIMBYers at the forefront), resisting change and progress that has been so valiantly called for. at least so long as the GOP and idiot “leaders”/”politicians” haven’t died off yet.
Not to mention we don’t have an “army of engineers” ready at the get-go for these kind of things.
a couple more articles:
World Bank Report Commends China’s Development of High-Speed Rail, financial. 28.07.10. China’s new industrial revolution, bbc. 01.08.10.
There is a fair bit of social pressure to behave in an environmentally responsible manner in places like Sweden, where such behavior is now simply part of the social contract, like stopping at a stop sign or standing in line to buy a ticket. But more important, perhaps, Europe is constructed in a way that it’s pretty easy to live green.
So after my last post regarding Blackle, I decided to look into whether Blackle REALLY saved energy.
According to Blackle, the website, being primarily black, saves energy because “Image displayed is primarily a function of the user’s color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and…
Well, anyway, there’s this free software called f.lux which configures your computer screen automatically to the time of day. Bright during the daytime, and then when the sun sets, your screen will be tinted to a hue similar to whatever lighting you have in your room (you have to select this).
I’m not aware of any studies on whether this saves any energy for your computer, but I’m thinking probably yes, since all the settings (even daylight) are less bright than normal screens without f.lux.
The Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior this week announced the first-ever inter-agency plan to rapidly develop massive offshore wind farms. The plan is designed to encourage private industry to develop offshore wind farms — and to produce enough energy to contribute to the Administration’s goal of generating 80% of the nation’s electricity from clean sources by 2035. If the plans come to fruition, the United States could see thousands of square nautical miles of ocean off the coast of the eastern United States developed into wind farms in the coming decade.
“The primary benefit of close collaboration between the Department of Energy and Department of the Interior is to demonstrate the strong commitment of the federal government to developing the nation’s offshore wind energy resources in a responsible manner,” said Tom Welch, a spokesperson for the Department of Energy.
At a joint press conference announcing the initiative earlier this week, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar each announced their respective agencies’ specific new programs to help foster private development.
Chu announced that Energy would dedicate $25 million to fund research to improve offshore wind technology. The “DOE will support the development of innovative wind turbine design tools and hardware to provide the foundation for a cost-competitive and world-class offshore wind industry in the United States,” explained a joint press release. The money will go to projects like the development of open-source computational tools for offshore turbines and studies for how best to set-up the systems that will run a large-scale offshore wind farm.
The DOE also announced it would invest in economic studies on how to best sell wind energy once it gets to land as well as a $7.5 million investment in developing the next generation individual wind turbines that convert the wind into energy.
At the press conference, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the specific areas in the Delaware, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey coasts that will become the first locations of Interior’s “Smart from the Start” initiative, unveiled this past November, to streamline some of the bureaucratic hurdles that have turned the development of a single offshore wind farm into a decade-long headache of red tape.
The president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, Jim Lanard, explained to TPM how currently an offshore wind farm must undergo two environmental impact studies before construction can begin. The first study must be done before the developer can even lease the area of water from the government and can between one and two years to complete.
This “first [environmental impact statement] would not provide information that isn’t already available. There would be no new research on birds or marine mammals or how a it will affect an area,” Lanard told TPM. “Smart from the Start” streamlines this first impact study by evaluating certain areas before developers even begin to invest.
Lanard stressed that “Smart from the Start” will not affect the second, full environmental assessment.
Lanard believed that Interior’s announcement would have a large impact on offshore development. “The department kept to its stated time line. And it’s moving forward to help developers get leases so that they can have the certainty of the land.”
While they have sprouted along many other countries’ coasts, there are still no operational offshore wind farms in the United States. Cape Wind is one proposed project for building 130 turbines near the center of Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts. The project has been approved by the Federal Government, but it has faced complaints from residents near the proposed site that the farm would hurt the value of real estate. It has also had trouble finding buyers for its electricity. In May of 2010, Cape Wind made an agreement with a Northeast electrical utility to purchase half of its capacity at a price over twice market rates for electricity.
Definitely glad I’m currently taking this EIA/SEA course — we’ve studied the Cape Wind case and I gave a short presentation introducing the current status of offshore wind power in the States.
Very nice to see so quickly what I’ve studied in/for class be so relevant and blogged about.
(revisiting) Egypt’s Climate Policy Void in a Post-Mubarak World
Egypt is already suffering from the effects of climate change. In September 2010, Dr. Mohamed El Raey of Egypt’s Alexandria University described the situation in what is probably the most comprehensive study (PDF) ever…
Holy shit another freakin’ EIR! am I glad I’m studying relevant topics!
I’ve had this for a few months, and finally watched it tonight despite feeling tired and wanting to head to bed early. But it is definitely worth staying up late watching.
Nothing too eye-opening for me since I’m quite/or at least tipping above marginally aware of these issues and had a general idea of what to expect. However, it was great to see some firsthand footage of farm factories and a grass-fed natural farm.
with Michael Pollan, author of the 2006 bestseller of which I still have yet to read, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and Eric Schlosser, author of the 2001 also bestseller of which I’ve only read excerpts of, Fast Food Nation.
This film basically shows findings of the Pollan’s investigation to find out where our food comes from, plus interviews with some people: the lady who lost her 2yr old due to that e.coli case, a farmer who works under one of the big multi-national corporation, a low-income family who can’t afford to eat healthier, a farmer of a natural farm, and a couple others.
Very good—excellent. Highly recommended; a MUST-WATCH for everyone—anyone’s who ever eaten anything, especially if you’re an American.
some personal notes: Yeah when I was younger my family didn’t eat too healthily. I got taken out to McD’s often. Typical kid: candy, soda, junk food, etc. Also immigrant family not so many dollahz. But now my family eats much better. Due to increased income and more knowledge about food & health. Mom tries to buy organic most of the time, grass-fed meat, organic cage-free brown eggs; mucho thanks to Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods, and Farmers’ Markets. I just don’t buy meat because I don’t cook. This kind of laziness/unwillingness to cook makes it easy to be a vegetarian, but I do eat meat when I go out sometimes, and also sometimes buy salami/deli meat for sandwiches. and also as aforementioned in one of my other posts: asian. asians gotta have their meat. But yeah, trying hard to limit it to when going out for food.
I believe in consumer power. supply & demand. I did pick to study economics for a reason, at first, because the shit’s true and it’s how people make decisions. — Make better decisions and exercise your power as a consumer to choose more sustainable products. — /end preaching.
The video (in previous post) examines the media and public response to a road incident in The Netherlands (Den Bosch) between a reckless driver and three cyclists hit while they were stopped waiting for a traffic light. Please watch it thru, it should be seen by everyone.
After you finish rubbing your eyes and wondering if you really just saw that, think about it: it’s completely fair to say wherever you live in the United States, you’ve never seen reporting like that — not even if the victims had died. Not even if they were high profile actors or members of society. Not even if juicy, dramatic video existed of the crash itself.
[…] In particular CBS 2 in NYC has devoted so much time to negative bicycling stories — and constantly getting the facts wrong — you have to wonder how much of it is sloppy, easy reporting and how much a vendetta. After all, this is the same network that has chosen to use “Bike Bedlam" as their choice buzz phrase to file many of these stories under. Yet everytime a pedestrian or cyclist is hurt or killed by an out-of-control driver, they refuse to see a trend to start lumping these tragedies with banners like "Amok Drivers" or "Cars Out of Control".
BUT: wtf that bike lane? You’re riding along and then you hit a fire lane curb. Okay?? Not okay. htf is a cyclist going to cross the street? by merging into the car lane again? Then what was the freaking point of painting a bike lane in the first place???!!
The bike lane should be continuous— slope the bulbout so cyclists can actually reach the corner and keep going somewhere. **Ahhg I should take pictures of street corners in Berlin.** Plus I don’t even see a bike lane sign there. and that’s a good length in which to have one. Also, these straight white lines aren’t so helpful. Drivers just treat it as another lane. If instead of straight lines, larger-width’ed dashed lanes were painted, the visibility of bike lanes would increase, and with that, their safety level.
But pics are from late 2009. Dunno how LJ blvd. is currently. Will have to check it out.