Climate Change
August 16, 2019

Twinning Tweets: Extinction Scenarios

 

Two recent stories, the first from Brazil:

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil fired the head of a government agency that had revealed a steep increase in deforestation in the Amazon.

 

The second from America:

… for the first time, regulators would be allowed to conduct economic assessments … when deciding whether a species warrants protection.  Critically, the changes would also make it more difficult for regulators to factor in the effects of climate change on wildlife …

 

These stories illustrate how denial of climate change by the authoritarian populists, Bolsonaro and Trump, is leading, without ambiguity, to a tolerance of extinction.  These leaders and those who support them, explicitly or by their silence, are willing to not only eradicate species and biospheres but take all of us all down with them if it helps speed up the rush for spoils, grabbing  the last good stuff, seizing the remaining power and wealth. As illustrated so presciently by The New Yorker.

It may seem cynically extreme to say that those in power, public or private, whose job it is to assess risk and respond appropriately care little for civilizational survival so long as they see short-term gain.  Let’s instead assume they’re operating on a 3D Strategy: doubt, deny, delay.  Acknowledge climate change, if need be, include it in the long-term assessments, fund a few programs, but keep any disruptive change that requires immediate and large-scale response off the agenda.  Or use it against your opponents.

But that only makes sense so long as nothing substantially changes in the short term that confirms the long-run predictions and starts to scare people.  And unfortunately the changes are coming fast and looking uncomfortably furious:

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From Dianna. who’s a Seaside Regular:

This is an especially scary time of the year to ride on the seawall. People have a few months of riding, have grown stronger and more confident, and now their enthusiasm and strength outweigh their skill. People ride faster but aren’t aware of increased pedestrian traffic, never mind other cyclists.

I’m happy to see other happy riders, but please pay attention to what you’re doing. Heads up, friends!

 

Not a new problem.  Here’s a CBC report from 2014:

Cyclists have to take care for each other, because there’s not much evidence that the Park Board does.

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As we pass high summer into the glory days of fall (the first leaves are changing, perhaps from a bit of drought), it’s time again for an observation I make every year:

Did Vancouver seem as lush and forested on its streets a year ago as it does now?  Same answer, too: Nope.  Things grow fast here (it’s almost a rain forest), and the additional growth from spring is tangible enough to make a difference in perception – especially if seen only intermittently.

Where, for instance, is this – where the trees now branch over a highway-wide corridor?  Only a decade or so ago, they seemed only samplings.*

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When Gordon recently posted a short item about plans to use facial recognition to speed Chinese subway users through ticket gates, I was actually riding those subways in Chengdu and Beijing.

What the story didn’t say is that the delays at the subways aren’t at the turnstiles, but at the adjacent “Security Check” where every passenger has his or her bags, purses, or backpacks x-rayed, and undergoes a wand scan for prohibited items. Millions of these checks are a part of daily life in China at subways, museums, offices, and public places.

Along with the ubiquitous video cameras, ID checks, and security personnel we found that they just became part of the routine after a couple of days.

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There’s nothing like listening to a gifted speaker riff on culture and politics; especially when the riffing is concise, with a judicious use of words, and an almost complete absence of hyperbole or bafflegab.

Sure, that sounds like Peter Ladner. But in this edition of Price Talks torch-passing, it also describes Vivienne Zhang, the successor to Ladner’s predecessor.

Zhang is a UBC grad, currently en route to the Paris Institute of Political Studies (‘Sciences Po‘) to begin her Masters in international security, with an eye to a future career in politics. Born in Beijing, with years spent between the Chinese Mainland and the Lower Mainland, Zhang has, over time, become very self-aware of the richness of her bicultural perspective — two ways of living, two political systems, two views on the role of the individual in society.

Ladner, also a UBC grad, can tell her a thing or two about politics on Canada’s west coast; the former journalist and co-founder of Business in Vancouver was at the forefront of municipal politics in the early 2000s as an NPA councillor and mayoral nominee, and has a brand name in local retail politics that’s literally on the map. Now a decade removed from political life, Ladner remains active in governance and policy as Chair of the Better Transit & Transportation Coalition, and past-Chair of the Board of the David Suzuki Foundation.

And, like the host of this podcast, Ladner also remains interested in the evolution of the liberal democratic model, the sustaining legacies of certain political and institutional norms, and of the collective (or perhaps majority) mindset of the new generation of leaders who will be in the thick of it. Zhang, for Ladner, is one of those emerging leaders to watch, to listen to.

Who does this generation trust? Are they integrated with the world they’re stepping into, or are they shaping it? Do they see problems with liberal democracy, and how are they dealing with it?

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Amazon has entered the prefabricated housing market in their offer of a house for 50,000 Canadian dollars or 37,000 U.S. dollars. Made in Beijing by Hebei Weizhengheng Modular House Technology company this house comes resplendent with solar panels, a kitchen and bathroom, and all wiring and plumbing in place for hook up to local systems.

Delivery to your site does cost an additional $1000 U.S. dollars.

The house itself appears to be a shipping container  but is already drawing criticism from small home builders. As the founder of Tiny Home Builders observes in the Seattle P-I:

This container home’s pricing is not unreasonable for a 20-foot home.Yet although it’s touted as a “container home. This does not appear to be a true shipping container conversion, so quality and rigidity may not be as high.”

Other issues include building materials that may not be the same in North America, andt the cost of accessing  electrical services and city sewers.

With a 25 day time from order to arrival, the 20 by 40 foot house’s location  will need to be approved by local planning authorities, and if is ancillary to the main dwelling you will need to figure out the correct location on the lot. Of course you will need concrete footings to place the dwelling, and potentially a crane to move the house into place.

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Another counter-intuitive study that offsets a reasonable expectation that more electric bikes and scooters will mean less fit users – kind of like the idea that ‘riding hailing will result in less SOV use and vehicle congestion’.  (Turns out Uber et al increase congestion and reduce transit use.)  But there are qualifications.

From treehugger:

E-bikers use their bikes more, go longer distances, and often substitute it for driving or transit. …

A new study, with a mouthful of a title, “Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non-cyclists: Insights based on health and transport data from an online survey in seven European cities,” finds that in fact it is true: e-bikers take longer trips and get pretty much the same physical activity gains as analog cyclists. …

But perhaps even more significant is the dramatic increase in exercise among people who switch from cars to e-bikes, a much easier transition than from cars to a-bikes.

It should be noted that this study looks at European pedelec e-bikes like my Gazelle, where people have to pedal a bit to get the 250 watt motor to kick in. Results probably don’t apply to overpowered throttle-controlled American e-bikes or scooters. Because, as the study authors note, with a pedelec, “using an e-bike requires moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, depending on topography.”

There is so much to unpack from this study. It also looks at how e-bikes are easier for older riders, keeping them fitter longer. It also reinforces my opinion that the Europeans got it right by limiting speed and power on e-bikes and mandating that they are all pedelecs rather than throttle operated; you don’t get much exercise on a motorcycle.

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Jeff Leigh, as always, provides some helpful background and perspective:

That path through Kits Beach park has been on the City inventory of bike paths for decades. Some Park Board commissioners have expressed on several occasions over the past few years that it isn’t actually a bike route now, since they didn’t vote for it and it is their jurisdiction, not the City’s. This is despite the fact that it is shown in the Vancouver City bylaw (with a drawn map) and in the City GIS database. That database is used to publish the City free bike maps. We pointed out to the Park Board commissioners and staff that they have in fact acknowledged it as their path in their Park Board meetings.

The oldest reference we were able to find that acknowledged it as a Park Board path was when Vancouver enacted the bicycle helmet bylaw, and wanted to include City facilities that were off-street. The City Council motion was in February 1998 (and was moved by councillor Gordon Price). Staff then made a list of all the paths, but City staff couldn’t make a bylaw for the city park paths since it was Park Board jurisdiction. Park Board staff prepared a report (April 1998) with a map of their paths, and Commissioners voted on it, in June 1998. It passed unanimously. That was in support of putting a helmet bylaw on Park paths per an attached staff report, not to declare some routes paths and some not, but it shows that at the time they considered it a formal bike path.

Park Board staff have more recently advised that they don’t consider the 1998 documentation to be significant in determining whether they consider that path to be a bike route or not. When stencils stating “No Cycling” were applied to the paved portion of the official path a few years back, and this was brought to their attention, Park Board staff removed the stencils. Now a few years later, they have applied them again.

All this matters in the push for improved walking and cycling facilities in Kits Beach Park because public perception can be different depending on where we are coming from, what our starting point is. Some claim that there is an effort to put a new path through the park, and remove green space. Others point out that there already is an official path, and the desire is actually to move the bike path farther away from the water, but still in the park, where it is less congested, and so return the waterfront path to people walking. By claiming that there is no path there now, Park Board staff effectively create more public pushback from special interest groups.

Just as the “To, Not Through” de facto policy for bikes routes in parks has never been officially voted on by the Park Board, so it seems is the very status of the AAA bike routes in parks like Kits, Vanier and Jericho.

So let’s ask them – and we’ll keep it simple: .
Should the AAA bike routes marked on the official City map above be removed?
. The fact that Parks and City may be studying them is not a sufficient answer; we want to know what each commissioner thinks their status is at the moment.   Do these AAA bike routes even ‘exist’? . PT will send an email to each commissioner, and we’ll report back here and find out where they stand. Read more »

One of the world’s most iconic vans is making a comeback…

But this time, it’s electric. Slated for production by 2022, the “electric microbus” is one of five new electric models in Volkswagen’s ID. series — a family of 100% electric vehicles, which includes a crossover, a compact, a sedan, and of course, the van.

Just like the classic VW van, there will be room for up to seven people with an adjustable interior that includes a table and movable seats. Volkswagen also intends on enabling all ID. series models with a fully autonomous feature option.

Distance, a major concern of many when it comes to purchasing an electric vehicle, is no longer an issue. The van will have an electric range of 400 to 600 km, comparable to pretty much any gas-powered vehicle. Further, Volkswagen has partnered with Electrify Canada (partnership formed by Electrify America in cooperation with Volkswagen Canada) to build ultra-fast electric vehicle charging infrastructure to give Canadians the reliability they need to confidently make the switch to electric. Planning and deployment are well underway, including network routes — you can check out the Vancouver to Calgary route here.

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Mass shootings in the United States in 2019 – to August 6:

From Wikipedia.  Definition: “four or more people, excluding the perpetrators, are shot in one location at roughly the same time.”

Total killed (to July): 246.

 

Massacres in Canada in 2019 – to July 28:

From Wikipedia.  Definition: “the indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people.”

Total killed (to July): 12*.

*Using the American definition of ‘mass shooting,’ the Canadian equivalent adjusted for population would be 80.

 

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