Climate Change
October 8, 2020

Dutch Road Innovation~Bye Bye Bitumen, Hello Lignin!

 

Do you know what the biggest use of bitumen is? Bitumen is “low-grade crude oil which is composed of complex, heavy hydrocarbons.” It is composed of sand,water and viscous oil, and needs a lot of energy to make it into any kind of useable product. It is what the oil sands  around Fort McMurray are full of.

Once refined, 85 percent of all bitumen product is used as a “binder” in asphalt applied on roadways, airports, and parking lots. Add in gravel and crushed rock to bitumen, heat it up, and you are good for road building.

The City of Vancouver has experimented with “eco” asphalt in the past, being one of the first in Canada to use a plastic based wax to create a “lower-heat” asphalt mix in 2012.

But as Maurits Kuypers in Innovations Origins.com describes the Dutch  have gone one step further in their adaptation of “bio” asphalt~asphalt that uses plant-based lignin to replace bitumen. This of course also fits in with using less oil based products.

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It was Eric Doherty that started it all in this article by Jennifer Saltman in the Province.  In the summer more than 250 government leaders who are affiliated with the Climate Caucus sent an open letter stating that Covid related economic recovery monies should not be used for expanding highways and airports but fr supporting transit service, walking and biking.

In Canada after oil and gas industries it is transportation that is the largest source of greenhouse gas emsisons. In British Columbia  transportation produces 37 percent of emissions. Mr. Doherty representing the Better Transit Alliance in Victoria sees Covid recovery as an opportunity to reinforce transit which is suffering with lower ridership in this phase of the pandemic.

There are a few changes already evident from the pandemic. The first is that there is a clear adaptation to working at home. Mario Canseco’s work shows that 73 percent of Canadians expect to continue some kind of work at home, while 63 percent think that business travel and meetings are gone,with internet applications like Zoom replacing those trips.

The second change is that there has been an increase in physical activity as one of Mr. Canseco’s latest polls with Research.co indicates.  Two-thirds of people in this province say they are walking more despite living at home, and 26 percent of all people are running or jogging more.

But if more people are working from home, and as in the case of London
England only 25 percent of workers have come back to work in the downtown because of Covid concerns, what shifts can be made?

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Metro Vancouver is unique in that the region uses water from the mountains contained in Seymour, Capilano and Coquitlam reservoirs. Think of that~we do not take advantage of rain water, ground water, or fresh water from rivers for any water sources.

While we are lucky in that our water supply is vast and with prudent conservation should last through a dry hot summer, according to Elizabeth Elkin at Bloomberg,  “Almost two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to face water shortages by 2025. “

According to the CME Financial Derivatives exchange Wall Street is going to commence trading in futures contracts estimating California’s water supply. The purpose of commodifying water is to allow “big water consumers” such as almond growers and municipalities to hedge against price increases.

But this also suggests water, will become scarcer with climate change and  more torrid temperatures.

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Translation: Will the increase in people working at home mean we’ll drive less?

Answer: Apparently not.

Here’s a summary from the terrifically named Center for Advanced Hindsight:

While there may be less commuting, there will be more local trips for shopping and, no doubt, Zoom breaks.

There’s another big implication that’s not mentioned: possibly less congestion during the traditional drive times, but heavier traffic throughout the day.  More accidents too, I’d bet.  And more conflict in how we allocate or reapportion road space.  (In other words, bike lane wars.)

The real-time experiment as a consequence of the pandemic in how we manage our transportation network shouldn’t be wasted.  Minimally we should be measuring and reporting on the day-to-day changes that are occurring out there (as discussed here in “How do we start limiting congestion NOW?“)  and then trying out different options so we don’t lose the gains we’ve made even as we respond to the ‘climate emergency’.

(Of course, ‘climate emergency’ is not a concern of the Park Board apparently, which showed how easy it is to succumb to the desire to go back to ‘just the way it was.’   Even though we never can and never should.)

 

 

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As we enter the era of the New Abnormal  – much faster than most of us expected – where will people go “when there is no longer any other choice”?  Abrahm Lustgarten explores the prospects of American migration, greater than any movement in its history, in this New York Times Magazine article:

Here are the paragraphs directly relevant to us:

The millions of people moving north will mostly head to the cities of the Northeast and Northwest, which will see their populations grow by roughly 10 percent, according to one model.

Once-chilly places like Minnesota and Michigan and Vermont will become more temperate, verdant and inviting. Vast regions will prosper; just as Hsiang’s research forecast that Southern counties could see a tenth of their economy dry up, he projects that others as far as North Dakota and Minnesota will enjoy a corresponding expansion. Cities like Detroit, Rochester, Buffalo and Milwaukee will see a renaissance, with their excess capacity in infrastructure, water supplies and highways once again put to good use.

One day, it’s possible that a high-speed rail line could race across the Dakotas, through Idaho’s up-and-coming wine country and the country’s new breadbasket along the Canadian border, to the megalopolis of Seattle, which by then has nearly merged with Vancouver to its north.

Oh well then, you can bet that this will be interpreted by some to mean better wine, wealth and keeping the border closed.

ProPublica presents the climate changes graphically:

 

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A report from Global News reporter Nadia Stewart, with a headline that distorts the story:

The protest had three dozen people – surely worth a qualified ‘some’ when the headline starts “Vancouverites upset.”  But that quibble doesn’t matter when judged against the absence of data and other points of view (like, say, comments from passing cyclists).  Importantly, the video story was supplemented in the online print version, where reporter Simon Little provided important information:

Vancouver Park Board manager Dave Hutch says about 93 per cent of Stanley Park Drive is open to vehicles, and that about 70 per cent of parking in the park remains open.

He said after talks with the city’s disability advisory committee, the board also added 10 new handicapped parking spaces.

“We’re seeing that the park and parking is nowhere near capacity this year. The busiest day was in mid August, we had 63 per cent capacity. We would expect about 90 per cent in August,” he told Global News.

Still, impact-wise, the protesters had the visuals and screen time.  There have been demanding that Park Drive be restored to two lanes for cars and have all the parking returned – in other words, back to the standards of mid-century Motordom.  That’s what we did in the post-war decades, and the roads of Stanley Park were designed accordingly: a transportation system where cars are given most of the space, there are no separated bike lanes (cars and bikes fight it out for priority), parking is provided in excess, and the seawall has to accommodate the crowding of all active transport users.

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America Walks presents this informative discussion as part of their monthly webinar series. This is sure to be oversubscribed, so register early.
 Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America – a conversation with author Angie Schmitt

Join us for an interview with Angie Schmitt and discussion of her book, Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America. This webinar is hosted by America Walks Board Member Charles Brown, who wrote the foreword.

Right of Way documents the traffic violence that occurs daily on America’s streets and reveals the racist policies and practices that create and perpetuate these tragedies. Contrary to popular opinion, pedestrian deaths are not unavoidable “accidents,” but highly predictable events, occurring in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequalities. The victims are disproportionately those marginalized by society: immigrants, People of Color, those with lower incomes, the elderly, and the disabled.

Presenters:

Angie Schmitt, author and journalist, former National Editor at Streetsblog

Angie Schmitt is one of the best-known writers in the United States on the topic of sustainable transportation. She was the long-time national editor at Streetsblog, covering the movement for safe, multi-modal cities, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Bicycling, and GOOD. She is frequently sought out as an expert source on transportation topics by the news media. Schmitt holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and an undergraduate degree in journalism.

Charles T. Brown, Senior Researcher, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center

Charles T. Brown, MPA is one of the nation’s leading voices in transportation equity and justice. He is a senior researcher with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) and adjunct professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, both at Rutgers University. He also serves as a 2020 Fellow within the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication in Partnership with The OpEd Project. His work has been published in international journals and featured by various national outlets, including the New York Times, Vice and CityLab.

DATE: Tuesday, September 8th 2020

Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 a.m.

To register please click on this link.

Images: AmericaWalks, Slate.com

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American Planning Association’s (APA) Sustainable Communities (SCD) and Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (ENRE) Divisions are asking planners how they prepare to face the climate crisis.

Over 300 members responded to our survey on how planners address climate action, how their jobs are changing due to climate policy, and what assistance, training, or tools planners need.

This webinar presents the survey results, places the Sustainable Communities “climate champions” programs in the context of new policy initiatives and research, and engages participants to contribute to the ongoing effort to build the planning toolkit to meet these new challenges.

Presenters:
Brian Ross, AICP, LEED GA, Program Director at the Great Plains Institute
Jessi Wyatt, Energy Planner & Analyst at the Great Plains Institute
Jim Riordan, AICP, LEED AP, Division Chair of APA’s ENRE Division, SCD Sustainability Champion, and Senior Project Manager at Weston & Sampson
Matt Bucchin, AICP, LEED Green Associate, Division Chair of APA’s SCD Division, Director of Planning with Halff Associates, Inc.

Date: Tuesday  July 28

Time: 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time

You can register at this link.

 

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A gardener’s adage  is “right plant, right place” to ensure that plantings remain and thrive with the right amount of light, exposure and water. One of the more surprising Vancouver trees that survived for ninety years in Kerrisdale was a sequoia that somehow was planted in the 1930’s in the 2300 block of West 41st Avenue. Over the years development on the block was setback in order for the tree to flourish, which it did for many years.

Giant sequoias live in Northern California, Oregon and Washington State  and can grow to nine meters in diameter, and 76 meters high. The biggest Sequoia is known as General Sherman. It stands  a towering 84 meters tall with a 31 meter girth. It is the largest tree on earth by volume.

When the building occupied by Bill Chow Jewellers located at 2241 West 41st Avenue was constructed,  there was some allowance for increase building height due to the positioning of the sequoia.  I could not find the decades old City of Vancouver document which would have referenced that.

Over the decades there have been all  kinds of efforts to maintain this tree, and in the final years it had care by an arborist. Sadly the tree became very stressed at its concreted over  location and  it was taken down in 2019. The huge trunk was carted away by flatbed truck to be milled for eventual reuse as benches in the Arbutus Greenway.

It was intended that the students at Magee Secondary would be making the benches this year, but that would have been delayed due to the Covid pandemic.

As Terry Clark with the Kerrisdale Business Association statedWe intend to affix a modest plaque on the benches to give reference to this once woody sentinel that was at the village’s heart for 90 or more years. It seemed appropriate to me that its heart would remained with the community that was heartbroken at its demise.”

In the interim, the wall behind the tree’s stump has been turned into a blackboard for chalked positive affirmations in the face of the Covid crisis.

And there is news for sequoias too~with climate change, there has been a rethink of what to replace native tree forests with,  when faced with demise by pests (like the mountain pine beetle) or by fire.

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The Pandemic & Climate Change
Can COVID-19 get us to respond to the climate crisis?

City Conversations continues in a live online format while we continue physically distancing!

The international response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that humans can react quickly when their health is threatened. Another great threat to humanity–and to the planet–is climate change. But unlike COVID-19’s immediate threat, most people and governments have been unwilling to take action against a threat whose current impacts may be less apparent. So, is it time to rethink and reframe climate change as a threat to public health?

At this online event, we’ll hear from urbanist and former Vancouver City Councillor Gord Price and economist/entrepreneur Michael Brown, who both contributed to the 1990 report Clouds of Change, one of the earliest civic studies of global warming. Representing a newer generation of climate activists, we’ll also hear from Adriana Laurent-Seibt of UBC Climate Hub and Rebecca Hamilton of Sustainabiliteens.

This event will be hosted online. After you register, you will receive instructions for logging into the online event via email.

 

Wednesday, June 17

12:00 PM

Hosted online.
Free event | Registration required

 

 

 

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