Cities

The ghost of link dumps past

So I was thinking to myself, self, you should do a link dump post so you can close out some of this cluttery crap in your browser. I go to start one, and what do I find? An old link dump post that I’d never published! So here’s an old link dump. Watch for a new one in mere days! —– Thanks to the UK Times Online for deeming Gristmill "the green blog from the other side of the pond." It’s a shame this op-ed is relegated to the Billings Gazette. I’d like to see one like it in every …

Oil hysteria, part 2

Are low gas prices an inalienable right?

I'm listening to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) talk to Thom Hartmann on Air America. Sanders is arguably the best senator in decades, and understands, as he just explained, that we need to transform our energy system toward renewables. But he also said something to the effect that "we have to get gas prices back down." I can't blame him -- particularly in his state of Vermont, rural people are getting slammed by high gas prices, because they have to drive long distances. His main explanation of high prices (with which Thom Hartmann, an important progressive radio talk show host, seems to agree) is based on 1) oil companies ripping us off, 2) speculators pushing up the price of oil, and 3) OPEC keeping a lid on production. While all of those are certainly a problem, and a windfall profits tax that Sanders advocates is certainly in order, if the Senate's most progressive voice is not discussing the problem that the supply of oil is beginning to decline, then I don't see how carbon pricing is going to fare well. In the long run, people will get hysterical as their oil expenditures increase, as I argued in what I will now call Part 1 of what may become a series on oil hysteria. We need to push a mandate on turning the American car fleet into an all-electric fleet, and we need to construct a national high-speed rail and light rail network.

Obama on rail transit

A candidate finally discusses public transit … at a random lunch

So I’m looking at this pool report from a run-of-the-mill day in the Obama campaign. Barack and Michelle dropped by to have lunch with an Indiana couple, Mike and Cheryl Fischer. Mike works in Amtrak’s Beech Grove shop, as his family has for generations. Notes the report dryly: "No news." But I scan down a bit to the middle, where Barack’s talking to Mike about his impending layoff at Amtrak, and suddenly my mouth is hanging open. Says Obama: The irony is with the gas prices what they are, we should be expanding rail service. One of the things I …

Pittsburgh beats out L.A. for sootiest U.S. city

Pittsburgh, Pa., has received the dubious honor of being the U.S. city most well-sooted for short-term particle pollution, topping an annual list put out by the American Lung Association. Los Angeles came in at a surprise second as Pittsburgh became the first non-California city to top an ALA list. “It’s not that Pittsburgh has gotten worse,” says the association’s Janice Nolen. “It’s that Los Angeles has gotten better.” A little better, anyway: L.A. was still deemed the worst city for ground-level ozone and for year-round particle pollution (Pittsburgh was the runner-up on that list). Overall, some 42 percent of the …

The unbearable tightness of oil markets

America is ill equipped to handle expensive oil

The Times‘ Jad Mouawad has written a piece describing the state of the world’s oil market. It is, in a word, tight. Production volumes have been flat at best, and consumption growth has continued. Kevin Drum comments: I imagine that a global economic slowdown will flatten oil consumption a bit over the next year or two, and eventually higher prices will rein in demand more permanently. On the other hand, we’ve seen oil prices double three times in the past eight years without producing so much as a blip in rising demand. So if we’re in a genuine, long-term supply …

Ousted L.A. gardeners continue to farm

In June 2006, a land dispute led to the shutdown of the South Central Community Garden in Los Angeles. Weeks of protest and tree-sitting by celebrities and regular folk proved unfruitful, and the 14-acre garden, tended by 350 low-income families in the middle of one of L.A.’s poorest neighborhoods, was bulldozed. Nearly two years later, with legal wrangling over the land’s ownership ongoing, the gardeners are plotting again in Buttonwillow, Calif., a tiny town west of Bakersfield. With the help of a nonprofit foundation, some farmers have bought 85 acres of land that they hope convert into a working farm …

Architect R.K. Stewart on building the future of sustainable design

If you build it, they will come. But if you build it green, you just may be able to save the planet. R.K. Stewart. Or so says a recent report, which suggests that green building could help cut North America’s greenhouse-gas emissions more quickly and less expensively than any other measure. And word is getting out about the promise of this fast-growing field — some have even called 2008 the official “Year of Green Building.” It’s no wonder the field is building momentum — sustainable design is one of the top priorities for the American Institute of Architects, the leading …

Nothing new under the sun

I lived with a railroad signalman in college and he used to drive a convertible rig -- a heavy truck that could drive either on the streets or on the tracks with retractable steel wheels. Apparently someone noticed that this might be a great idea for lots of applications. Watch:

What is the Vectrix?

Electric bike zips up Berkeley hills with ease

An ex-girlfriend of mine placed great diagnostic weight on the following question: Would you rather have one cookie now or two cookies later? I am generally a two-cookies-later person, and she ... well, now that I think of it, she was more of a two-cookies-now kind of person, which explains ... Photo: Sonietta46 I digress. The point is that if you have been reading all the recent news about the Tesla and the Volt, and now Think is coming to America, and apparently Project Better Place is going hook up everyone in Denmark and Israel -- and you are perhaps pissed at the oil companies, and food riots are scaring the shit out of you, and the rocketing price of gas makes you wonder if the peak oil kids are right -- well, who can blame you for wanting an electric car right now? Unfortunately, you are kind of screwed. I mean, the Zenn is kind of cute, but 35 mph? Tesla takes reservations, but a reservation doesn't really get you to the grocery store, does it?