c9: (Toronto)
Yesterday, several media outlets received an email regarding the goals and activities of #CodeRedTO and the abilities of Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems. This email was misleading in some places, flat out incorrect in others. If you missed it, read the original message here. (What's CodeRedTO?)

The official #CodeRedTO response, sent this morning:


Dear all:

On Tuesday morning, you may have received an email that provides an alternate viewpoint to transit policy in the City of Toronto. CodeRedTO welcomes this debate and would like to present the following as a rebuttal to the arguments posed by Mr. Gutierrez.


CodeRedTO's motivations

"There is an ongoing attempt to revive the former Transit City plan as an alternative to building subways in Toronto, with its proponents getting attention to their cause in a series of articles and interviews by the Toronto media."

CodeRedTO's goal is not to revive Transit City but to ensure Toronto moves forward on an achievable, evidence-based rapid transit strategy. We are not advocating against subways: we're questioning the appropriateness of directing all committed funding and resources to needlessly bury the planned on Eglinton Avenue, ignoring the transit needs of northwest Etobicoke by cancelling a funded and approved LRT line, and halting construction of a LRT line on Sheppard Avenue East to spend over a year on studies that show a subway line is not affordable by the private sector, let alone the through public funding.


LRT plans and road space

"Contrary to what they say, Transit City is the wrong approach to solve Toronto's gridlock problem, since it is about taking existing, and scarce, road space in exchange for short trains going on their own right-of-ways, quite similar to current Toronto streetcars on St. Clair, or Spadina."

Approved LRT plans on Eglinton, Finch, and Sheppard, largely minimized the reduction of road space for cars. On each line, the number of general traffic lanes are maintained. This is possible because the surface sections of these LRT lines are in road right-of-ways that are 30 metres, or more, in width. As noted in yesterday's Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1120102--cohn-mcguinty-ford-lrt-deal-destined-to-collapse-under-its-own-weight), the Province is said to have offered expropriation on Eglinton Avenue East to actuallywiden the roadway to accommodate an extra general traffic lane, but Mayor Ford reportedly declined.

More importantly, transit lanes are arguably a more efficient use of road space than a general traffic lane. The throughput of people is much greater, given a two-LRT train could carry as many as 400 people. With auto occupancy rates in Toronto averaging around 1.1 persons per vehicle, that's over 350 fewer vehicles on the road, which would occupy much, much, more road space.


Congestion and travel speeds

"People use their cars mostly because they are able to travel in much shorter time compared to transit, and this happens everywhere in the city, except for downtown during rush hour."

First of all, we have to be clear that vehicular congestion is not just a "downtown" problem. Much of the congestion downtown can be traced back to inadequate transit and other travel options in automobile-dominated suburban neighbourhoods. We should also note that some of the worst congestion areas in the Toronto region are in the the most car-friendly places. If building wider roads and more highways is the solution, then Highway 401 would never be congested, with sixteen lanes of constantly free-flowing traffic.

"If a proposed LRT is expected to save 5 minutes compared to an existing bus route, that will still remain uncompetitive to the car. And that is "if", because streetcars on separated right-of-ways do not seem to go faster than buses in mixed traffic. Let me explain with the 5 cases below:

  • Taking the Queens Quay-Spadina streetcar LRT between Queens Quay/Bay and Spadina/Harbord (on its own right-of-way) takes 21 minutes and 15 stops, on a 4.3 km stretch.
  • Taking the St. Clair streetcar LRT between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street (on its own right-of-way) takes 19 minutes and 17 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.
  • Taking the Eglinton West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes also 19 minutes, but 19 stops, on a 4.4 km stretch.
  • Taking the Finch West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes 12 minutes and 18 stops, on a 4.5 km stretch.
  • And last, taking the Bloor subway between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes only 8 minutes and 7 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch."

The comparison of LRT plans on Eglinton/Sheppard/Finch to streetcars downtown is common, but wrong. With all transit technologies, travel time is largely determined by design. It is also inappropriate to compare downtown operating speeds with suburban operating speeds. For example, the Spadina Streetcar is "slow" by suburban standards, at an average speed of approximately 15km/h, but it is "fast" by downtown standards, when the comparative Bay bus (similar traffic conditions and activity) travels at an average of just 10 km/h.

Stop spacing is a major design consideration when it comes to speed. Mr. Gutierrez's comparisons largely prove this point: the more stops you have the slower a service runs. Spadina/St. Clair has stop spacing of about 200 metres. The LRT plans provide much wider stop spacing (approximately 500 metres) to increase travel speed and will have signal priority to reduce long stops at intersections.

The LRT lines on Eglinton, Finch, and Sheppard were all designed to achieve an average design speed of at least 25 km/h.

The average speed of the Bloor-Danforth Subway today is 30 km/h.
The average speed of buses on Eglinton and Finch during rush hour is 20 km/h.
The average speed of a car on the Gardiner Expressway during rush hour is 22 km/h.

There are ways to further increase the design speed of the LRT lines. Further increasing stop spacing, grade separating the LRT line at congested intersections (as was planned at Eglinton and Don Mills), and different approaches to signal priority are all approaches that can be investigated.


Debating the costs of rapid transit

"Therefore, it is very hard to justify Transit City's $167 million per kilometre expense (figure taken from Transit City proponent's website:www.savetransitcity.com). On the other hand, the inflated estimate of $348 million per kilometre for building subways, seems to be taken from the current construction of the 8.6 km long Spadina subway extension (at $2.63 billion, or $305 million per km). However, this line includes 6 expensive subway stations that, by themselves, will cost about $1 billion dollars. If they had designed real estate opportunities (commercial or residential) above these new subway stations, TTC would've had these stations paid with private funds, therefore reducing the public cost for this subway extension to $1.6 billion, or $186 million per km."

To assemble enough land to create a development parcel to finance a subway station is virtually impossible. Given expropriation requires "fair value" to be paid to the landowner and that any subway plan would dramatically increase the value of the land, the cost-benefit of this type of land assembly would be a tough sell. There's also the argument against the legitimacy of expropriating land by a municipality primarily for the purpose of developing the land for profit themselves.

A good point is made here: subway stations are expensive; even the most spartan and value-engineered station would cost at least $75-million, whereas the most elaborate surface LRT station would be a fraction of that cost, under $10-million. It's easy to see why: no need for elevators, escalators, extensive digging, or disruption to the surrounding community.

"Alternatively, we can build elevated mass transit systems like the city of Vancouver does, where we would keep our scarce road space unaffected. We can even do this at a lower cost compared to Transit City's LRTs, since Vancouver's 19.2 km long Canada Line, including its 16 stations, cost about $2 billion, or $104 million per km. This is less than 2/3 of Transit City's cost."

Elevated lines are an option and it should be investigated further as a potential design solution. However, Mayor Ford also refused this option on Eglinton Avenue East when it was proposed. Most definitely, lessons from the Canada Line should be considered, such as public-private partnership options, and extensive value-engineering. Do note that station costs for Canada Line are significantly lower because they're much smaller stations (50 metre length compared to 150 metres for a subway station, and 100 metres for an Eglinton LRT station).


Is the motivation misguided?

"To our advantage, Toronto has a series of corridors where we can put additional road capacity; and without having to destroy neighbourhoods, as it was done half a century ago in many cities in North America."

Additional road capacity is not a solution to Toronto's transportation woes, if we even have room for it. The motivation of providing enhanced rapid transit should not be to free up space for road widening and expansion. Why? Read about induced demand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_demand), which is an important concept. In short, increasing road capacity will only add more cars to our roads. Providing more transportation and mobility choice is the key to reduce our reliance on driving to get around the region. Driving when necessary, but not out of necessity.


Agreeing on a balance

"Toronto doesn't need a Transit City plan. Instead, we need a Transportation City plan that would improve transportation for all commuters. A balanced plan that serves transit riders, car drivers, walkers and bicycle riders, alike."

We finally agree here. We need a balanced plan. A subway-only plan is not balanced. Nor is a LRT-only plan.

A balanced plan means:
  • We can build subways where they make sense: providing York University with a much needed subway connection, extending the Sheppard Subway to the employment centre at Consumers Road or a downtown relief line where more transit capacity is needed to support the transit-dependent development in the core.
  • We should build LRTs where its flexibility is an advantage and capacity is appropriate.
  • We should ensure our local bus network remains well-funded and provides reliable, frequent service.
  • We should make it safe and convenient to walk, bike, and carpool to transit and other destinations.

Those are the makings of a balanced plan. Instead, we face the danger of following a random, untested collection of ideas that claims to be balanced, but is deliberately unachievable as to stall transit progress in a city starved for travel options.

We must move forward on solutions.

Laurence Lui
for CodeRedTO

c9: (Toronto)
A note from your host, @c_9: This email was sent to CodeRedTO.com, SaveTransitCity.com, 11 reporters from the National Post, 10 reporters from the Toronto Star, 4 reporters from the CBC, 2 at the Sun, 1 Global, 1 CTV, plus others.

I personally found it misleading in many cases and factually wrong in others. I have not responded to it yet. This is included only for discussion purposes, not for trashing the author. Personal attacks will be deleted.

If I personally respond, or if CodeRedTO sends an official response, I will post it to this blog as well.


Yes I still have a LiveJournal. Shush.


Dear all,

There is an ongoing attempt to revive the former Transit City plan as an alternative to building subways in Toronto, with its proponents getting attention to their cause in a series of articles and interviews by the Toronto media. Contrary to what they say, Transit City is the wrong approach to solve Toronto's gridlock problem, since it is about taking existing, and scarce, road space in exchange for short trains going on their own right-of-ways, quite similar to current Toronto streetcars on St. Clair, or Spadina. Transit City proponents argue that this plan would take hundreds or thousands of cars off the roads, by assuming that car trips are linear, when in reality they are not. People use their cars mostly because they are able to travel in much shorter time compared to transit, and this happens everywhere in the city, except for downtown during rush hour. If a proposed LRT is expected to save 5 minutes compared to an existing bus route, that will still remain uncompetitive to the car. And that is "if", because streetcars on separated right-of-ways do not seem to go faster than buses in mixed traffic. Let me explain with the 5 cases below:

- Taking the Queens Quay-Spadina streetcar LRT between Queens Quay/Bay and Spadina/Harbord (on its own right-of-way) takes 21 minutes and 15 stops, on a 4.3 km stretch.
- Taking the St. Clair streetcar LRT between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street (on its own right-of-way) takes 19 minutes and 17 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.
- Taking the Eglinton West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes also 19 minutes, but 19 stops, on a 4.4 km stretch.
- Taking the Finch West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes 12 minutes and 18 stops, on a 4.5 km stretch.
- And last, taking the Bloor subway between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes only 8 minutes and 7 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.

From the experiences above, we observe that LRTs on separated right-of-ways in Toronto do not move faster than buses in mixed traffic. Therefore, it is very hard to justify Transit City's $167 million per kilometre expense (figure taken from Transit City proponent's website: www.savetransitcity.com). On the other hand, the inflated estimate of $348 million per kilometre for building subways, seems to be taken from the current construction of the 8.6 km long Spadina subway extension (at $2.63 billion, or $305 million per km). However, this line includes 6 expensive subway stations that, by themselves, will cost about $1 billion dollars. If they had designed real estate opportunities (commercial or residential) above these new subway stations, TTC would've had these stations paid with private funds, therefore reducing the public cost for this subway extension to $1.6 billion, or $186 million per km. Also, if Toronto begins a large subway construction program, economies of scale would apply, which would further reduce the cost per km for building subways. Alternatively, we can build elevated mass transit systems like the city of Vancouver does, where we would keep our scarce road space unaffected. We can even do this at a lower cost compared to Transit City's LRTs, since Vancouver's 19.2 km long Canada Line, including its 16 stations, cost about $2 billion, or $104 million per km. This is less than 2/3 of Transit City's cost.

Having said all the above, Toronto commuters still remain without a plan to improve the road conditions in this city. And this is for the majority of Torontonians, who commute on private cars. Even if we execute Metrolinx's entire "The Big Move" plan, we would still have over 50% of commuters in Toronto travelling on private cars. Without increasing road capacity, but with the population increasing 43% in Toronto and its surroundings, in the next 20 years (as forecasted by Metrolinx), traffic gridlock will only get much worse. To our advantage, Toronto has a series of corridors where we can put additional road capacity; and without having to destroy neighbourhoods, as it was done half a century ago in many cities in North America.

Toronto doesn't need a Transit City plan. Instead, we need a Transportation City plan that would improve transportation for all commuters. A balanced plan that serves transit riders, car drivers, walkers and bicycle riders, alike.

Yours sincerely,

Jose Ramon Gutierrez


P.S.:  Links to recent articles about reviving Transit City, as referred above:
http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/21/code-red-gears-up-to-fight-for-a-better-way/
http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=184596
c9: (Gay)

It's a graphic subject line, but suck it up: you probably have people and resources around you that many queer youth don't have.

I was raised Catholic, and attended Catholic schools in BC and Ontario from Kindergarten to Grade 13. I figured out that I'm gay partway through high school, came out to friends, then family, and honestly had a really easy time of it. I even took a boy to my prom. But I had friends who were kicked out of their homes by their parents - at age 14! - and never spoke to their families again. I had friends who attempted suicide, and a friend who succeeded at suicide.

Things were so easy for me (thanks Mom and Dad!) that I genuinely wanted to take on some of the pain and shit that my friends were going through just to help them get through it. When I watch the "It Gets Better" project videos I tear up over and over again thinking about how little care some of us have for one another. Studies are inconsistent on this point, but it's commonly stated that up to a third of teen suicides are due to fears over sexual orientation. I can't prove that from looking at the studies, but I can say this: I know people who have attempted and who have killed themselves, and that learning to love yourself including your sexual orientation and/or gender identity is not easy, and is very stressful. Kids need support from those around them.

But some of the people we trust with supporting our kids are Not. Doing. Their. Job.

In Ontario, Catholic schools are not allowed to have "gay-straight alliances", or GSAs, which is a student group where kids can get together and support each other without having to come out or say that they are gay - it's a place that's considered safe for all. Many many high schools across North America have GSAs, but even some of the largest high schools in Ontario can't, because the school board, or the bishops, or the Vatican, or somebody has said no. Repeatedly. Quietly. Loudly. In secret memos. Behind closed doors. Even when over 30 students at one high school in Mississauga want to form a GSA, they are told no.

Some students in Mississauga decided to form an unofficial support group - they meet in the mall, of all places, because the school you and I pay for to support them and help them become responsible and intelligent adults isn't willing to host a group of students trying to help each other not fucking commit suicide.

These kids went ahead and helped each other anyway. They decided to have a bake sale to raise money to donate to a worthy cause. How about the LGBT Youth Line? They were told they couldn't donate the money to any gay, lesbian or trans organization. The school suggested a Catholic homeless shelter.

It gets worse: the kids wanted to advertise the bake sale, but they were told no signs with rainbows. "Rainbows are associated with Pride," was the school board's complaint. Let me say that again: the school board banned rainbows.

So what did the kids do? They iced the cupcakes in rainbow colours! Inventive, and hard (not impossible) for the school board to ban. The board still banned almost all the documents and materials brought to hand out, including one written by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation!

So what's next?  Well unless we can get the Ontario government to make changes and force the publicly-funded Catholic school boards to support GLBT youth equally, we're kinda sunk. The Catholic church is not exactly a fast mover on supporting those who are different, as you might already be aware. But these kids need our help. They need to know that they have support, even though the officials we trust to help raise our kids and teach them about the world are STILL pretending there's no such thing as gay.

So here's what I need you to do. It only takes a couple minutes, and unless you're in school and haven't finished your homework yet you've got the time.

1. Email Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, and tell him you think his government needs to fix this problem. Also tell him that it's not going to change the vast majority of votes this fall, and if his team loses government that these kids will be getting LESS support from Queen's Park. Sometimes it's OK for him to be Premier Dad and support ALL the kids. https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx

2. Email Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and tell HIM about this problem. He doesn't know, and his advisers don't think it's important for him to even consider. But you know it is, and he needs to hear that. http://www.ontariopc.com/contact-us/

3. Help the GSA at St Joseph's raise money for some buttons! They're taking their fight out of the school to us during Pride, and you know how much people's attention depends on getting something for it. Let's give them buttons! Every dollar helps - please give! http://caseyoraa.chipin.com/catholic-students-for-gsas

 

* Links:

It Gets Better video from Pixar: watch until the very very end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeZiF_BJ3ss

Rainbows banned at Mississauga Catholic school: http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/Rainbows_banned_at_Mississauga_Catholic_school-10262.aspx

c9: (Running)
Exodus International lies. They claim things that are demonstrably untrue, and their founders actually left the group to get gay married! (bad grammar, fun phrase)

I learned today ("Curing Gays Isn't Charity") that Exodus Global Alliance (their new name, reason unknown) is a registered charity in Canada. That's a shame. Personally, I think that using my tax dollars to promote something known to be untrue kinda sucks and ought not to happen. Of course, that would require governments to also not do it I suppose, and god knows (pun intended) that's not going to happen.

I researched what I could find about the directors of the Canadian operation of Exodus International / Global Alliance, and it wasn't much. I also researched revoking charitable status, but didn't find anything helpful.

Exodus International:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus_International
(now known as Exodus Global Alliance)

Canadian branch is a registered charity, unlike in some other countries. The Directors and Trustees from the last CRA filing, for 2008, were:

Jack Hannah, Chairman (2000-2008)
- Pastor of http://www.westneyheightsbaptist.ca/ in Ajax, ON
- Canadian rep for CreationResearch.net - believes evolution is brainwashing.
"He has done research in USA, UK, Europe, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia, Pacific Islands and Asia on the evidence for Creation, Noah's Flood and Babel"
http://www.creationism.org/topbar/linksI18L.htm
- Had the church's "Theologian-In-Residence" Craig Carter preach for a month about how homosexuals, gay marriage, and the sexual revolution are all bad.

Doug Coultis, Director (2008)
Can find no confirmed record of existence online outside CRA filings.

Tony Resendes, Director (2008)
Can find no confirmed record of existence online outside CRA filings.

John Mahaffey, Secretary / Treasurer (2000-2008)
- Lead pastor of http://www.westhighland.org/ in Hamilton, ON
- Church's website states they believe Bible "as originally written" is "entirely free from error." Also, surprisingly, "We believe in the entire separation of church and state."

Paul Allen, Vice-Chairman (2000-2005, 2007-2008)
Can find no confirmed record of existence online outside CRA filings. Microsoft co-founder shares name, so internet searches especially challenging. Listed in older CRA filings as "Clergy" or "Pastor".

Dave Karram, Vice-Chairman (2004-2008)
- "Retired educator, Ajax" is all I can find.
- Wrote and performed church hymn, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwpTcEOOwlk
 
I'll just close by saying that gay/lesbian/bisexual/justquestioningthings kids and teens account for a HUGE proportion of youth suicides. This can be traced back to lack of community support. One form of "support" that does not help is telling lies to kids about their feelings, as Exodus does.

All of which makes me very upset. Not "burn down their church" upset -- that's not acceptable, and actually already happened to Hannah's church! -- but I do want them to lose the power of speech or something. No wait, I know: I want them to finally figure out / accept not only that we're gay, but also that they're gay, and then shut the fuck up.


Best twitter conversation so far:
@c_9 (that's me): Well that was a bust. Spent some time researching Exodus International's bullshit parade in Canada, but found nothing worth obsessing about.

@scottdagostino (a friend):
That's just because you refused to listen hard enough to their message of hope and change! Oops, I said "hard." I have to go pray now.

c9: (Global Warming)
Global warming denial comes in many forms, and detailed resources are available to those willing to hear them:
  1. How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming
  2. Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says
  3. Climate change: How do we know? (NASA)
  4. Global Warming Denier Database

But reading is different from hearing a dynamic, interesting talk. Al Gore convinced many, and exposed many more to important ideas and facts that led to more people learning about global warming. Pause here to consider that I used "Al Gore" and "dynamic, interesting talk" in the same paragraph.

Science doesn't have a monopoly on dynamic, interesting speakers. In fact, it kind of has a reputation for the opposite. Which means that a dynamic, interesting speaker like Christopher Monckton can quite easily sway an audience based on passion and conviction, even though he actually doesn't know what he's talking about. Want proof? Settle in, this slide show is 90 minutes but easily skimmed if you want to see just bits. Monckton claims researcher X claimed Y, so *actual* scientist fights back by actually asking researcher X if they meant claim Y. Looks like he has a tendency to mislead, misunderstand, outright lie, or simply make stuff up, in 100% of the cases. Sad.

See the slide show (with audio) here: http://www.stthomas.edu/engineering/jpabraham/
c9: (Banging my Head)
My iPhone stopped connecting to the wifi at home yesterday. Worked fine for months, worked while in Paris last week, worked when we got home, but then stopped. Tried resetting the phone, the wifi router, the network settings in the phone, turning off WPA, changing SSID... nothing worked. So obviously the phone has the problem.

...except when I got to work, wifi on the phone works perfectly on the work wireless network. So obviously it's the wireless router at home that has the problem.

...except that my laptops at home (1 mediacentre laptop, 1 netbook, 1 work laptop) and Vincent's iPhone all connect to it fine, and have forever.

...except that Vincent's laptop keeps losing wireless at random intervals, even when wifi is stable and fine for others. And when friends visit, their iPhones can't connect to our wifi (2 weeks ago at a party) even though it's worked in the past.

I have a backup wifi router I'll try, but ARGH. The whole point of this exercise was better more reliable internet and less electricity usage. My blood pressure is ridiculous over this.
c9: (transit)
There's a concept I thought of this morning which I'm sure brighter minds have already thought of. I call it "shrinking to your audience". It's when a company chooses to play to their current customers instead of playing to the customers they want or need.

I'm in Ottawa for work, and I just struggled to get from one spot to another by transit. I have *never* had this difficulty before, in many many trips to Ottawa. I didn't struggle due to bus frequency or routes (though Ottawa has a lot of growing up to do on that front*), but rather due to paying my fare.

In years past, I could purchase daypass vouchers at the Ottawa airport, much like buying bus tickets, and then turn them into a daypass when I boarded my first bus each day. The daypass was cheaper than 4 transit trips by cash, and gave me lots of flexibility while in the city. It also meant that I wasn't paying for $30-40 cab rides to and from the airport, so I was saving the company money too.

Last night upon landing, I learned that there are no more daypass vouchers. I have to buy them with cash on the bus. Problem: now I need to have exact change cash with me each morning, and I get no receipt for work expenses. Oh well.

This morning, I tried to find somewhere to sell bus tickets so I could get back on the bus and get to the office. A brand new, shiny, clean Shoppers Drug Mart didn't have any. Everything else was closed -- and this was right downtown on Monday morning at 7:00! Finally I found a corner store that sold tickets -- cash only! -- and was able to get some transit for myself.

OCTranspo's job is to increase ridership and improve the transit experience for people in Ottawa. Removing pass options, removing payment options, and removing (or not pushing) ticket sales outlets is not the way to do that. It's a shame, because I'm sure the various decisions had all sorts of pros listed. But if you're driving people away from transit - even I felt like just hailing a cab last night when my bus was 6 minutes late and my scarce cash was about to be used up - then you're not doing your job.

Come on OCTranspo. Ottawa city council has proven they're not ready to be the grownups on transit. Can you please avoid following their example?


* I say this because during rush hour there are about 100,000 bus routes that each go right downtown. There is almost no hub-and-spoke connector system in Ottawa, so nobody is being trained for future LRT. Instead, people are offended if they can't get a bus directly from their neighbourhood to their place of work, and Ottawa ends up with insane bus gridlock twice a day. In the 80's OCTranspo was named the best transit system in North America. Today, OC has a great website, but their system leaves a lot to be desired.
c9: (Global Warming)
(Courtesy of The Walrus -- a magazine I regularly find to be worth my time.)

First, what's Peak Oil?

Oil will not just "run out" because all oil production follows a bell curve. This is true whether we're talking about an individual field, a country, or on the planet as a whole.

Oil is increasingly plentiful on the upslope of the bell curve, increasingly scarce and expensive on the down slope. The peak of the curve coincides with the point at which the endowment of oil has been 50 percent depleted. Once the peak is passed, oil production begins to go down while cost begins to go up.

In practical and considerably oversimplified terms, this means that if 2005 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2030 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world’s population in 2030 will be both much larger (approximately twice) and much more industrialized (oil-dependent) than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace worldwide production of oil by a significant margin. As a result, the price will skyrocket, oil dependant economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode.

So why do we need to worry? Well, very few people are willing to honestly discuss how much oil, gas and coal are left.

The energy industry depends on everybody believing their product is going to be around for a long time (otherwise we would switch to other products), so they have an incentive to inflate their reserve estimates. Governments depend on everybody being stable, quiet, and well-behaved taxpayers, so they have an incentive to soften bad news. Additionally, they have to win elections, so they have an incentive to focus on the short-term.

But worst of all is us. We don't like hard problems, we don't like change, and we don't like the idea of not having STUFF. And everything -- EVERYTHING -- around us is made out of or with oil/gas/coal. Plastic. Electrical power. Cars. Roads. Subways. Planes. Food. Phones.

Canada is quite bad too. We like to pretend we're pretty special, but we're not. We're the 36th-most-populated country, but we use oil like we're #9.

The next three excerpts are from the actual article I'm finally getting around to recommending, An Inconvenient Talk:

[In 2008 the International Energy Association released] the latest edition of its annual World Energy Outlook, which predicts a global oil production peak or plateau by 2030. In a video that appears online soon after, the Guardian’s George Monbiot requests a more precise figure from the IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol. The official estimate, he confesses, is 2020. Monbiot also inquires as to the motivation for the IEA’s sudden about-face, and Birol explains dryly that previous studies were “mainly an assumption.” That is, the 2008 version was the first in which the IEA actually examined hard data, wellhead by wellhead, from the world’s 800 largest oil fields. Monbiot asks, with understandable incredulity, how it was that such a survey hadn’t been conducted previously. Birol’s response: “In fact, nobody has done that research.”

But what about Canada's tar or oil sands? (More on the name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_sands)

The historical Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) for conventional oil is 100:1. This refers to the kind of crude that gushes up in the opening credits of The Beverly Hillbillies, the kind that first flowed out of the Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia when it was tapped in 1948. Invest a barrel’s worth of energy drilling and refining in a spot like Ghawar, then and forever the largest single crude oil deposit on the planet, and you used to get 100 barrels of energy-dense, easily transported fuel in return. These days, conventional EROEI for such places is closer to 25:1.

The EROEI on more recent “new conventional” deposits, which Dave cites mostly by their discovery and extraction methods (“deepwater oil, horizontal wells, 3-D seismic”) is also around 25:1. In Alberta’s tar sands, the surface-mined bitumen comes to market at an EROEI of 6:1. “In situ” bitumen — sludge buried too far under the boreal forest floor to excavate, which comprises the lion’s share of the most breathless estimates of Canada’s energy superpower–scale oil production — rings in at 3:1. Corn ethanol, that darling of America’s farm states, is somewhere between 1.3:1 and 0.75:1. Shale oil, another unconventional source held by its boosters to be capable of indefinitely extending the age of oil, has never been converted into fuel at a net energy profit, at least as far as Dave has been able to ascertain.

A barrel of oil is pretty cheap these days, all things considered. But what if, sort-of-hypothetically-and-sort-of-not, what if we had no way to generate energy except ourselves?

As he drives, Dave indulges in a little academic exercise. He’s comfortable with numbers, quick with calculations. A barrel of oil, he tells you, contains about six gigajoules of energy. That’s six billion joules. Put your average healthy Albertan on a treadmill and wire it to a generator, and in an hour the guy could produce about 100 watts of energy. That’s 360,000 joules. Pay the guy the provincial minimum wage, give him breaks and weekends and statutory holidays off, and it would take 8.6 years for him to produce one barrel of oil equivalent (boe, the standard unit of measure in hydrocarbon circles). And you’d owe him $138,363 in wages. That, Dave tells you, is what a barrel of oil is worth.

Worth the read. http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articles/2009.06-energy-an-inconvenient-talk/
c9: (Banging my Head)
It's happening on all sorts of sites, not just this Microsoft one, but their approach creates a perfect screenshot for why the whole world has gone insane.



http://blogs.technet.com/mslcommunity/archive/2009/03/16/get-on-the-bus.aspx
c9: (Change We Can Believe In)
One week.

One week and we may see a new presidential administration in the United States.

One week and the most powerful and influential country in the world may begin a gradual rehabilitation of its reputation around the world, and a gradual improvement in its approach to decision-making, secularism, and foreign policy.
Read more... )
c9: (Banging my Head)
Found in a large corporation's project plan just now:

"Deliver customer sessions in FY08Q4/Q5"

This is the sort of elegant shorthand that could be 100% clear and really be a nicer way of saying "end of this year, maybe the very beginning of next" but I can see people adopting this and then someday nobody will remember what the Q used to stand for.

I try not to be such a prescriptivist*, but god.

* Linguistic prescription means "this is the rule in English and it must never change". I bitch and whine about spelling and apostrophes a lot, for example.
c9: (Politics)
...and if not, why won't they answer the simple questions?

And finally, why are we not having an election if the opposition believes the Tories lied, they disagree with the budget, and they repeatedly say so? When the government has lost the confidence of the house, it should fall. Except yesterday only seven Liberal MPs showed up to vote on the budget -- voting no, but allowing it to pass through their colleagues' absence. Kinda sad.

Do I want an election that Harper would probably win? Perhaps -- asking the electorate for their opinion would be light years ahead of the current Harper-Dion coalition farce.

DRNK

Jan. 1st, 2008 02:06 am
c9: (Default)
Apparently, if I let Tyler make the drinks, I end up way drunker before new years and have a have hard time remaining conscious and upright in 2008. It's fun, but I feel a bit guilty too.

i hope I behave and yet still do justice to both 2007 and 2008.

I hope you're all having fun. I'm too inebriated to help, really.

xoxo
c9: (Toronto)
Something that annoys me about Toronto: A lot of people say zee instead of zed.

Comments from Canadians agreeing with saying zee will be attacked with no mercy. :)
c9: (Explosion)
"In my travels, I have noticed a disturbing theme among the educated minority of eco-advocates: they are every bit as dedicated to the status quo (in their own way) as the NASCAR morons and shopping mall developers. The eco-advocates want cars, too, and all the prerogatives (like free parking and country living) that go with them, just like the WalMart shoppers. If this were not so, then why do the eco-advocates cream in their jeans whenever somebody presents a snazzy new vehicle that runs on a fuel other than gasoline? Indeed, why are some of the eco-friendly pouring all their efforts into the invention of such things instead of into walkable communities and the reform of our stupid land-use laws?

I encountered this ethos most strikingly a few years back at Middlebury College in Vermont, where angry biodiesel advocates assailed my lack of enthusiasm for their particular "solution" -- which seemed geared mainly to allow them to continue to drive their dad's old cast-off SUVs to the snowboarding venues of that progressive little state. But the wish to keep running all our cars permeates what little public discussion there is of the global warming / energy crisis issues at all levels. Even the elder statesmen of the eco-movement talk it up incessantly. The first great victory will come when they shut up about it and put their minds to other tasks."


c9: (House on Fire)
I suppose it had to happen someday. Last night* we were robbed! Well, the shed** was robbed. Does it count as a robbery if only one thing was taken?  We lost our beloved barbeque!

We are NOT impressed, needless to say. I'm glad we didn't buy a super-expensive barbeque or something, but Jesus! We don't have money in the budget to buy TWO barbeques and TWO propane tanks!

The shed now has a padlock on it. And we have different, less grilleriffic dinner plans. Motherfuckers!



* We think it was last night, but neither of us were in the backyard yesterday, so it could have been Friday night.
** Vinny calls it a barn for some reason. New Brunswickers!
c9: (Default)
When we moved, I switched our Bell service completely over as-is to the new place. We're getting a pretty good deal, so I figured what the heck.

Bell didn't show up when they promised, so I wasn't here. The electrician let them in, and Bell's technician decided that our wiring was too old, and he put in a new demarcation box (where the line enters the house). He also wired up one jack only. In the basement. So we could only hook up our phone, internet, etc downstairs. I called Bell to get the scoop on new jacks, and was told they cost $99 for one, and $55 for each one thereafter. Holy cannoli! While I was trying to schedule the technician to come back, my cordless phone started to beep because the battery was low. I warned the agent that I'd have to call back, and asked what ticket number I should quote. He said "it'll just be another minute." And then I went dead. So I didn't call back, and fumed instead.

Then Vincent reminded me that the various phone/internet/TV companies in Canada are engaged in a huge war right now, since number portability* just started. So I called Rogers, and they got me a great deal that would have saved us almost $100 in the first four months -- primarily due to one thing: Bell charges you through the nose for new jacks, and Rogers charges just $10 a pop. Crazy!

I signed on to the Rogers deal for phone, long distance, and internet. I determined though that we would eventually be paying more, and the savings would be eaten up unless we switched back. So this morning I called Bell and asked if there was some way to fix this situation because "I really like working with Bell and would prefer to stick with our current setup."**

They cut me a new deal that involved a 50% discount on the new jacks (still pricey really) plus a discount on our internet if we sign a 24-month contract. I ran the numbers*** and figured that we will still be saving money -- both in the short term and the long term. As long as Bell doesn't pull any surprises. But sheesh!

So anyway, we should have more than one phone jack next week. Finally!


* Number Portability means that Canadians can now change phone companies but keep their phone number. This was seen as a barrier to competition, since people like to keep their phone number.
** Not entirely a lie: Rogers blocks unencrypted BitTorrent traffic, while Bell doesn't. Woo!
*** Can I just say how royally fucked it is that I needed to create a big spreadsheet just to figure out which deal is better for us? I mean, I understand why they make it complicated, but for [profile] petele's sake! (teehee)
c9: (House on Fire)
Selling a place and buying another place is super stressful. I don't recommend it.

I feel like our mortgage broker, our mortgage provider, and our two separate lawyers, all want information at the same time, even when that information is serially linked to other information we don't have yet but is also required. Proof that we have the money from the condo to buy the house, yet we're buying the house first (which is normal and common). Proof that we have insurance on the house we don't own yet, despite the insurer requiring electrical work, and the electrician requiring money we won't have until we finish with the condo, which doesn't happen until after we get the house, which means we need the insurance beforehand.

...and on and on it goes like that. Each problem is solvable, but they each individually and together make we want to jump out the GD window.

When we move home again, we are SO renting for the first segment of our time home. This cannot be worth the stress in the short term.
c9: (Rawr!)
What a fucking day. Not really, and there are children starving and homeless people and all that so I need to just STFU. But still, I need to vent.

- I forgot about returning the rental car this morning until I put on my jacket, so I was already running later than I wanted to.
- I got to the rental place and the guy had gone to drop someone else off and nobody else was working, so I had to sit and wait for 25 minutes. Good thing they give me good prices.
- My boss wants me to basically drop anything that isn't directly related to my new priorities, but this one supposedly little project keeps coming back and eating like 1-2 hours every day. I'm so sick of it, but I can't drop it and everybody else now associates me with it making it worse.
- The website of a vendor I have to work with was misbehaving all day and I managed to get basically nothing done with it.
- An employee of mine complained that he was stuck working at reception to cover for the receptionist instead of prepping on new courses he needs to learn, so I sent an email to the local managers asking if there's a way to fix this in future, and it was interpreted as a huge complaint and the result was a big guilt-filled clusterfuck.
- I have a few projects that have been stuck on the back-burner until I find more time, but now I have a meeting at 8am with my boss and I need to have some progress on them. So much for having an evening.
- I just want to go home but somebody has unlocked the new lock on our new office door during the construction, and the only keys are all at least 30-75 minutes away from the office at the moment. The door can't be locked without the key -- great design -- and I'm sitting here to protect shit for at least a little bit longer.

ARGH.

I didn't even get into the existential do I even want this job shit that's swirling in my head today. That's an entirely separate journal I think.
c9: (Default)
Hi Dad,

First off, an illustrative top-ten list I found:

10) In the 1990s, Canada ranks 109th among 163 nations in voter turnout, slightly behind Lebanon, in a dead heat with Benin, and just ahead of Fiji.

9) In 1984, the Progressive Conservatives win 50% of the votes but gain nearly 75% of the seats, close to an all-time record for the largest percentage of "unearned seats" [according to Fair Vote Canada --Cam] in any federal election.

8) In 2004, more than 500,000 Green voters fail to elect a single MP anywhere, while fewer than 500,000 Liberal voters in Atlantic Canada alone elect 22 Liberal MPs.

7) In 2000, twenty-two candidates become MPs despite winning less than 40% of the votes in their ridings.

6) The 2006 election produces a House with only 21% women MPs, with Canada now ranking 36th among nations in percentage of women MPs, well behind most Western European countries.

5) In 1993, the newly formed Bloc Quebecois comes in fourth in the popular vote, but forms the Official Opposition by gaining more seats than the second place Reform Party and third place Tories.

4) In 2000, 2.3 million Liberal voters in Ontario elect 100 Liberal MPs while the other 2.2 million Ontario voters elect only 3 MPs from other parties.

3) In 1993, more than two million votes for Kim Campbell's Progressive Conservatives translate into two seats – or one seat for every 1,000,000 votes. Meanwhile, the voting system gives the Liberal Party one seat for every 32,000 votes.

2) In 1984, when competing for the Liberal leadership, Jean Chretien tells reporters in Brandon, Manitoba, he would introduce proportional representation "right after the next election" if he became prime minister.

1) In 1993, Jean Chretien wins the election and begins his ten-year reign as prime minister. In three elections, he never wins more than 42% of the popular vote, but still forms "majority" governments thanks to the current voting system. He never gets around to introducing proportional representation.

(from http://www.fairvotecanada.org/en/node/148)

Here's a positive example of Proportional Representation you can read up on: Germany. They use MMP (mixed-member proportional), which I like a lot. Basically you vote once for your local MP, and once for your favourite party. Then the seats are allocated 50%+ by your local votes, just as we do now, and up to 49% by your party vote.

More countries to research: Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Wales, Ireland.

Popular misconceptions:

Instability? Since 1949, Germany has had only three minority governments. Most others were formal majority coalitions. We use the word coalition incorrectly in Canada -- we often think of it as a short-term backroom deal -- but these were formal agreements, with Cabinet seats to both parties, and a stable governing pattern.

Disproportionate power to the fringe groups? This is a false argument, because we already have this and we pretend that it's OK. The BQ got 12% of the vote in 2004, but got 18% (fifty-four) of the seats. The Tories for 12% of the vote in 1993, but only 0.6% (two) of the seats.

Seats for the Marijuana Party and the Nazi Party? Canada currently blocks campaign funding for fringe groups by requiring 2% of the vote. Most PR systems require 3-5% of the vote before you get any seats at all.

More elections?
Ireland: 16 elections since 1948, 1 election every 3.63 years
Germany: 16 elections since 1949, 1 election every 3.56 years
Canada: 17 elections since 1949, 1 election every 3.35 years

But Italy and Israel! Italy and Israel!!
"...both Italy and Israel have historically used versions of pure party list proportional representation (Italy recently switched to a system more similar to Germany's) that Canadian electoral reformers are not interested in introducing in Canada anyway." (See Myth link below) [That's a relief to me! --Cam]


More reading:


Hope you find this interesting,
Cam

August 2015

S M T W T F S
      1
234 5678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 09:38 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios