The LA Times Gets West Antarctica and HSR Completely Wrong

May 13th, 2014 | Posted by

This op-ed from LA Times editorial writer Karin Klein is one of the most appalling things I’ve read in a very long time. She uses the news of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet slowly collapsing to argue against funding high speed rail.

No, seriously. This has to be seen to be believed:

It has to make one wonder why, with billions of dollars a year coming in to California from the state’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend 30% of it on the high-speed rail project. The train wouldn’t be ready to run for about a decade, and its ability to reduce vehicle miles driven remains to be seen. (Or not, if the state is unable to pull together the legal wins and financial resources to build it.)

First off, the claim that “its ability to reduce vehicle miles driven remains to be seen” is simply not true. It’s a falsehood that an LA Times staffer should have known to check and correct before publishing. If you look at HSR in Spain you’ll see that nearly 25% of its first year demand came from people switching from their cars.

But even if the primary source of California HSR riders is from airplanes, that’s a good thing too because airplanes are also a significant source of CO2 emissions. How she can just ignore that, even in an op-ed, is shocking.

She continues:

There is a reason, of course. But given the latest scientific findings coming in from one group of climate experts after another, it might be time for some rethinking. The way AB 32, California’s landmark legislation to fight global warming, is written, the proceeds from cap-and-trade are supposed to be used to reduce greehouse gas emissions, not to protect the state against the inevitable effects of those emissions.

Trying to prevent the worst of global warming is still a necessary goal, but Sacramento leadership should be paying heed. It makes sense to amend AB 32 so that a hefty portion of cap-and-trade money is used to protect the coast and help the state adapt to other foreseeable changes, such as drought and worsening fire seasons, as well as stave off as much warming as we can.

This is the Sierra Club California “let the future burn” attitude that is still completely absurd. HSR isn’t about preventing the worst. It’s about achieving lasting, permanent reduction in CO2 emissions. If there’s concern that the cap-and-trade revenues aren’t sufficient to fund all necessary CO2 reduction strategies, the answer is to support more spending to get us there. It’s pretty simple, really.

Spending money on short-term fixes is important, but the effect of those fixes is negated if people continue to fly and drive around the state for lack of an alternative. HSR is essential to maintaining and accelerating the immediate CO2 reductions. That’s why the California Air Resources Board included it in their Investment Plan for the cap-and-trade funds:

Full implementation of existing State strategies will achieve the 2020 reduction target. However, extensive additional strategies are needed both to ensure ongoing maintenance of the 2020 limit – as population and related growth increase after 2020 – and to meet post-2020 goals.

Reaching the 2050 goal (80 percent below 1990 levels) will require far-reaching new approaches to how we plan our communities, how we move people and freight, how we power our State, how industries produce their products, how successful we are in treating waste as a source of energy, and how well we preserve California’s lands and natural resources that sequester carbon.

In fact, CARB published an LA Times op-ed of their own a couple months ago, which Karin Klein clearly did not read:

High-speed rail has the same potential to change the way people travel in California. By 2040, it could reduce car miles traveled in the state by 3.6 billion miles a year, the equivalent of taking 317,000 cars off the road daily. And by 2020, the project is estimated to eliminate between 278,000 and 674,000 net metric tons of greenhouse gases from voluntary emissions reductions, electrification of local rail and other efforts. High-speed rail will be constructed with net-zero emissions and operate 100% from renewable energy.

This statewide rail system would also give rise to transit and pedestrian-friendly development, which, in turn, preserves Central Valley farmland. The city of Fresno, for example, has approved a land-use plan that directs growth to infill and denser development in the city core, while barring expansion into prime farmland on the city’s outskirts. A key element of this downtown development is the future high-speed rail station and its connection to transit.

California is on track to meet its 2020 emission reduction goals under AB 32, and we need investments in rail modernization to help achieve long-term reductions beyond that date. Reducing car travel, promoting infill and transit-oriented development, preserving farmland and open space, and avoiding massive highway and airport expansions are all part of the high-speed rail project and the vision for California transportation.

And yet you have an LA Times editorial writer completely ignoring something that appeared in her own pages in her own uninformed attack on a project that is essential to stopping the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from melting. It’s stunning and depressing.

It’s also a perfect example of why we are facing a climate crisis in the first place. The problem isn’t the deniers, those who refuse to accept that humans are the cause of global warming. The real problem are those who accept that anthropogenic global warming is real but who consistently argue against solutions to stop it. They’re the NIMBYs who place aesthetics over CO2 reduction. The austerity scolds who hate spending money now even though it saves billions, if not trillions, later.

And the real problem are writers like Karin Klein who do not understand HSR, have not bothered to try and understand HSR, have not talked to the experts in Sacramento who understand AB 32, cap-and-trade, CO2 reduction, and HSR – and who nevertheless attack HSR anyway.

If we fail to stop burning fossil fuels, losing the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and with it coastal California, we will know that Karin Klein was one of the people who made it possible. Maybe we can rename the flooded ruins of Newport Beach after her. “Laguna Karin Klein” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

  1. Eric
    May 13th, 2014 at 09:30

    For what it’s worth, the article I read on the ice sheet stated that scientists believe that the ice sheet melting may be irreversible at this point…it is past a tipping point that is unrecoverable. building the HSR won’t affect that one way or the other.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Also unrecoverable is the billion or so slipped to PB.

    Travis D Reply:

    Except the ice sheet collapse is real, unlike your fever dream paranoia about PB.

  2. leroy
    May 13th, 2014 at 09:31

    Global Cooling: Antarctic Sea Ice Coverage Continues To Break Records
    May 13, 2014

    nbluth Reply:

    “Conservative millennial unfiltered”

    i LOL’d.

    Edward Reply:

    Antarctic sea ice, like all sea ice, is floating. The amount of sea ice has no effect on sea level.

    When the ice in your drink melts the glass does not overflow.

    Joe Reply:

    The site carries the full news story.

    The increased extent in the Weddell Sea region appears to be associated with a broad area of persistent easterly winds in March and April, and lower-than-average temperatures (1 to 2 degrees Celsius, or 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the 1981-2010 average). A separate region of cool conditions extends over the southern Indian Ocean coastline, with temperatures as much as 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than average. However, across much of the far Southern Hemisphere, temperatures have been above average: for example, in the southern Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures have been 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit) above average; in the southern South Pacific, temperatures have been 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, and up to 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average in the area near the South Pole.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    But, Edward, your drink becomes diluted!

    Donk Reply:

    You need to stop nursing it and drink it faster!

  3. synonymouse
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:33

    PBHSR has next to nothing to do with environmental preservation and everything to do with environmental exploitation. It has devolved into a real estate developers scam. The snag is hopeless political corruption. The Bay Bridge fiasco is the paradigm for future California infrastructure debacles. The mindset is now too big to fail, too big to stop. Ergo unlimited change orders and infinite cost overruns.

    Global warming is caused by overpopulation enabled by technology and encouraged by corporate greed. The phenomenon will self limit.

  4. nslander
    May 13th, 2014 at 11:24

    Re: editorial shift – consider who’s left reading newspapers. They’ll be dead soon anyway.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And what’s left are government and corporate press releases: propaganda and disinformation

    nslander Reply:

    Yep. Which largely explains the agressiveness and persistence currently employed to keep them afloat. Those likely to be bullied into subscriptions are also more likely to be receptive to authoritarian dicta.

  5. synonymouse
    May 13th, 2014 at 12:16

    Muni fanboys cannot make their mind whether the Stubway should proceed down Columbus or Stockton:

    I don’t know how mining machines fare in alluvial mud, which has got to be Columbus Avenue, the lowest cowpath around.

    And 60 new trolley coaches – I just hope they have the sense to insist on heavy-duty truck quality drive train components. The Skodas could not cut the mustard with no-show Muni maintenance.

    If you want to cut emissions deploy trolley buses on Geary St. Could be done in a few years time frame. Oh, but that cannot happen; that could contrary IBG to the Beach and selling off Presidio Yard to friends.

  6. EJ
    May 13th, 2014 at 13:51

    I don’t know how mining machines fare in alluvial mud, which has got to be Columbus Avenue, the lowest cowpath around.

    They seem to work just fine in soggy estuaries like London.

    If you want to cut emissions deploy trolley buses on Geary St. Could be done in a few years time frame.

    Like you wouldn’t find a reason to bitch and whine and call people names if muni were proposing to put electric trolley buses on Geary.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If they proceed straight ahead on Stockton it is not mud and a portal up to a connection with the Embarcadero line is quite doable. A Columbus Avenue station at the Wharf would have to be underground in the mud. Don’t believe enough room can be found for a portal at that location. Plus why the extra maintenance and noise of unneeded curves?

    I have always supported trolley buses on Geary just as Caltrain electrification. BART is the enemy in both instances.

    All this disruption just to take care of Jerry’s environment-destroying, sprawling real estate developer pals:

    synonymouse Reply:

    Plus Columbus drops considerably and you will have to dig deeper and introduce a gradient.

    Who can “bitch and whine” more than Amalgamated or TWU 250A?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If the City was truly smart they would end the trains at Pier 41 to encourage ferry connections. Obviously merchants want the route to serve tourist needs but I also think it actually makes more sense to run the line east of Grant to exploit financial district ridership.

    Michael Reply:

    As someone who lives in the neighborhood and also claims to know a bit about the rail construction stuff…

    From Columbus at Washington Square, it will be cut-and cover to any portal, Columbus or Powell. It won’t be Stockton, as that’s climbing back up Telegraph Hill. You might just mean Powell. No biggie.

    My assumption will be that to go forward, it will be a turn to Powell and a portal between Greenwich and Lombard, next to Joe DiMaggio playground. I don’t believe there is physically enough space to create a portal on Columbus, nor enough width to place surface rail in between the cable car tracks that run on Columbus from Mason to Taylor. Powell is also a nice shot to the middle of the Wharf area and low auto traffic.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Cut and cover on Columbus would mean no Powell Mason cable for some time. And good luck with either your Columbus or Powell options with the residents. If you don’t go under Bay Street hardly worth it..

    No I do mean straight ahead on Stockton with the NB station at Stockton and Columbus. Ramp up on the other side of Bay Street.

    Pic #4 here would seem to indicate dual trackage on Columbus between the original F(now #30)and the Powell Mason cable:,2045519

    Why mess with curves when you can just mine straight ahead on Stockton? Surface station on the north side of Bay and a connection to the Embarcadero line.

    synonymouse Reply:

    dual trackage in the center lanes only

    synonymouse Reply:

    All in all a whole lot of money for not that many riders. Monumental screw-up-3rd & Kearny would have been so much better.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    In my experience, there is no fast way to get from NB to Union Sq or Market, which very often I want. There is the Orient Express, or a taxi – slow or expensive (and not really fast in rush hours). I’m sure that a NB station — perhaps Washington sq. – would get a LOT of riders. I’m definitely less sure about a Fisherman’s Wharf extension; it would be primarily tourists and if they aren’t those reassuring old cars from Milan or Old America running on the surface those Okies won’t ride. So maybe for now they could just add one stop to what they’re building; maybe later to FW.

  7. Derek
    May 13th, 2014 at 14:14

    If you look at HSR in Spain you’ll see that nearly 25% of its first year demand came from people switching from their cars.

    Yes, but that isn’t lasting, permanent reductions in CO2 emissions.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then neither is building mass transit for suburbanites. The people who didn’t drive didn’t emit carbon from their cars. The people who take the train today don’t emit carbon from their cars. The people who don’t drive in 2025 won’t be emitting carbon from their cars. Or the ones in 2214.

    Derek Reply:

    Exactly. HSR isn’t really green, it’s simply less ungreen than cars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Most people aren’t willing to become subsistence farmers who walk to the market town a few times a year.

    Derek Reply:

    Most people also aren’t willing to pay the full cost of driving or mass transit. So what’s left?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Weighing themselves down and leaping off a ship into a subduction zone? They stop using fossil fuel and the carbon in their bodies won’t reenter the atmosphere for a very long time. If people switch from using fossil fuels in their automobiles to using the train it reduces carbon emissions. When they made that switch when the line opened. When they do it tomorrow. When they do it in 2025. Or in 2214. Even if the electric cars become feasible for more than gallivanting around the neighborhood and all electricity is generated from non carbon emitting sources. The car won’t wear out as fast and the carbon emissions that come from metal refining and recycling will be lower. Be sure to send us a post card when you walk to the market town. We’ll be sure to weigh down the post card and drop it into a subuction zone for you.

    joe Reply:

    Use economics. Entice public ridership by offering lower cost public transit.

    It works.

    For example we get a free Caltrain VTA MUINI pass every month and use it. If we had better service to Gilroy, we’d commute car free 100% of the time.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Would you use it if you had to buy a ticket? That’s the norm in countries with successful public transit. Perhaps the service is poor because they give away free tickets?

    joe Reply:

    Interestingly the ridership in my area dropped (and so did service frequency) when Caltrans expanded the freeway from 2 to 4 lanes each way. So we’re providing free competition to transit and enticing driving.

    Subsidizing fares – that’s a norm. Not all economic incentives have to be fees and
    taxes. Lower fares to entice ridership is a valid capitalistic solution. It doesn’t hit low income people as hard either.

    Caltrain’s problems are mainly due to a 3 county service area that doesn’t cooperate and has little incentive. Same fractionation impacts light rail and buses which are county services. That is the problem with bay area transit in general. 5 counties and a goofy MTC to coordinate them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Spain’s achieving a pretty big reduction in CO2 emissions per capita lately (link).

    (No, it’s not the HSR, it’s the austerity. Poorer people emit less carbon.)

    Joe Reply:

    Emissions conparisons have to include economic conditions and quality of life.

    I like to think a modern public transportation system that encourages economic development and mobility without a car is a plus.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes. I like to think that curbing emissions is more important.

    joe Reply:

    Well it’s a false choice and fool’s objective to curb emission regardless of the impact on people.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You mean people in the first world.

    jonathan Reply:

    Alon why are you trying to argue with Joe?
    He’s innumerate. He can’t tell the difference between 25kV overhead catenary, and a 400kV national-grid line: he insists that a question about the one, is answered by a study about the other.
    Joe has shown, over weeks, that he has no understanding of maxima versus minima.

    He makes claims and predictions, and flatly refuses to acknowledge when he turns out to be wrong. He won’ even acknowledge that he made false predictions. He claims to be a “scientist”, but his scientific ethics are so non-existent, he refuses to acknowledge data which disproves his assertions, on the grounds of an *HTML formatting error*.

    Why on Earth do you bother to interact with Joe as if facts, or data, or logic, or reasoning, or science, are going to make *ANY* difference to his opinion, once stated? I don’t understand it.

    joe Reply:

    No. In fact the opposite. All people aspire to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Any solution has to offer economic development – hope. Denying the “third or second” world opportunity is a sure to fail miserably.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For a couple hundred million people, “hope” means “not becoming climate refugees.”

    Donk Reply:

    Exactly. So lets stop supporting Democracy in the rest of the world. Lets send China back to the stone age. If we cut consumption of cheap consumer goods cold turkey, then the Chinese will have to go back to the bicycle, the hutongs, and the gray Dr. Evil-style smocks. Problem solved.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I assure you that if Americans cut the consumption of cheap consumer goods, the negative shock to GDP will be almost entirely in the US and not in China. China has an internal market.

    jonathan Reply:

    Depends what you assume those US consumers do with the money they’re not spending on cheap Chinese consumer goods.

  8. Keith Saggers
    May 13th, 2014 at 15:20
  9. Reality Check
    May 13th, 2014 at 15:53

    America’s Finest Rail Transit policymakers:
    After worker deaths, BART directors eye service cuts, eliminating timed transfers

    Directors also debated eliminating timed transfers, at least in the morning, between Richmond-Fremont and Pittsburg/Bay Point-SFO/Millbrae trains at MacArthur Station because of overcrowded trains.

    “When those people get off the (Richmond-Fremont) and onto the yellow line (Pittsburg-Millbrae) at MacArthur, they are creating dangerous conditions,” said Director Joel Keller of Brentwood, suggesting the end of timed transfers. “There are too many people, too many bicycles, too many suitcases. That’s unsafe.”

    Ted Judah Reply:

    That is the next article Robert needs to write (after the geopolitics of HSR in the context of a European Union) is how crowded mass transit is in California. At this point, it’s getting hard to argue that big, downtown high speed rail station won’t attract enough riders to make the system viable.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I guess creating dangerous conditions on the platform instead is fine.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I think he thinks that if they eliminate the timed transfer people won’t transfer.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The transfer penalty will rise, so fewer people will transfer, but many will still transfer.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    It has nothing to do with dangerous platform conditions. Downtown SF platforms are much more crowded. Keller is probably concerned that BART might go back to using the Dublin line to serve SFO.

    some background:

    Dublin/Pleasanton line originally was used to serve SFO, because those trains are less crowded (more space for luggage). And sending the yellow line way to out to SFO had less slack in the schedule to accommodate the timed transfer. Keller threw a fit about this, so BART staff changed it to the yellow line — but the scheduling has been problematic.

    jonathan Reply:

    “That’s unsafe”??

    Too many people, too many bicycles, too many suitcases? Or simply not quite enough time?
    Surely piss-poor platform design would have nothing to do with it, would it?

    Michael Reply:

    He’s the representative from Brentwood, miles east of the end of the Pittsburg line, whose subsidized megasuburban constituents have already ridden for around half an hour when they get to MacArthur and don’t want to share their train with folks coming in from Berkeley and beyond. BART’s really manged to f’ itself in the past year with the really tragic deaths of the two experts they recruited to help get the track in shape. Remember, the accident happened during the strike, when they were making a deadhead move with a train. That got their safety practices investigated and the changes are resulting in more work being needed to be done with tracks out of service. Hard to do with just a few crossovers and growing ridership. Just a big f’in mess. Sad.

  10. John Nachtigall
    May 13th, 2014 at 16:23

    that 3.6 billion mile reduction per year is 1.2% of total miles predicted (in 2030). Its just not an efficient use of resources to reduce CO2. Its just that simple.

    If you want to save the world because you believe climate change is going to kill (or harm) us all then HSR should not be a priority. There are a variety of better ways.

    Derek Reply:

    A one-child policy would do the most good but would be a tough sell. So how about if we toll the interstates? As a bonus, it would help the Highway Trust Fund remain solvent.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Rich countries are below replacement rate. Many poor countries are approaching it. Some poor countries are producing lots more male babies than female babies. Thatis gonna be interesting.

    Tolling the interstates means the person in the SUV that gets 12 MPG pays the same rate as someone who drives a small car that gets 50 MPG. Tolling cost a lot of money to administer. Fuel taxes don’t.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The irony of the debate is that each time the inflation adjusted value of the fuel tax dropped, Congress simply raised it to go back to level it was at when enacted. This is still an option right now, but nobody will discuss it.

    Eric Reply:

    thats what kills me. there’s a very simple answer to the problem, they just won’t do it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think real motivation of policymakers is to make the Highway
    Trust Fund not viable any more and deprive a transit of such a method of funding.

    Joe Reply:

    Simplier explanation.

    “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

    We recalled our Gov over a vehicle registration fee increase.

    They are all scared to tax.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Republicans actually love taxes they don’t pay. Plenty of GOP City Councilmen, county supervisors, and legislators are all too happy to let the sales tax creep up. But touch the income tax or property rolls and they go ballistic….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    no they didn’t

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Pardon me, Congress used to revise the tax amount to the inflation adjusted amount of what the prior authorization was. In the 1930s with no interstate highways yet, the inflation adjusted rate was way lower on average than post WWII.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a handy dandy inflation calculator. No they didn’t.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You can argue with me all you like, but a quick search on Google will reveal the consistent pattern of gas tax increases…

    Derek Reply:

    Tolling the interstates means the person in the SUV that gets 12 MPG pays the same rate as someone who drives a small car that gets 50 MPG.

    It also permanently eliminates traffic congestion and simultaneously makes the freeways more efficient in vehicles per lane per day. Fuel taxes are simply incapable of doing both at the same time.

    Tolling cost a lot of money to administer. Fuel taxes don’t.

    Now you’re making stuff up.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How much traffic congestion is there on I-80 in Wyoming? How much has the very high tolls across the Hudson River into Manhattan decreased congestion?

    I’m not making things up. The toll highways publish annual reports where they document how much money they spend on collecting tolls. It costs a lot of money compared to having fuel distributors collect taxes on motor fuels.

    Derek Reply:

    How much has the very high tolls across the Hudson River into Manhattan decreased congestion?

    If it hasn’t, then the peak hour tolls are still below the market equilibrium rate.

    The toll highways publish annual reports where they document how much money they spend on collecting tolls. It costs a lot of money compared to having fuel distributors collect taxes on motor fuels.

    How much does it does it cost to collect tolls electronically? Is this more or less than what it costs to collect fuel taxes?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    More than it does to collect fuel taxes from the distributor. Unless you think having the auditor calling the refiners to confirm that the distributor isn’t lying about how much he sells costs more than:

    what the banks charge to process the credit and debit card transactions.
    Then there are those lovely people in customer service.
    All of them using software.
    Toll tag readers aren’t cheap. They need to be maintained.
    And use electricity.
    How about the telecom bill to make this all work.

    Derek Reply:

    Express tolling permanently eliminates traffic congestion, so a lot of money (I mean a LOT) is saved by tolling. If electronic tolling adds another 1 cent per gallon of gasoline, then it’s a very wise investment.

    jonathan Reply:

    Citations needed. No, not the same one old boring Toronto study again.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would you raise gas taxes if he tolls are so efficient. Add a 30th of cent to the per mile charge and pay for it that way.

    Reality Check Reply:

    VMT tax.

    joe Reply:

    social justice including women – no need to establish big brother state.

    Their proposals include improving the status of women, reducing racism and religious prejudice, reforming the agricultural system, and shrinking the growing gap between rich and poor.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not terribly relevant, but in developed countries, the correlations go the other way: higher status for women means more support of working motherhood, which raises birth rates rather than reducing them. Compare fertility rates in Northern Europe and developed East Asia.

    Not that it matters all that much – the main per capita polluters all have low fertility rates, with the exception of the oil states, whose emissions come from their oil supplies and are independent of population.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Back in the 50s when American women were dropping 3.4 babies per the median wage for working age women was zero. Because most women stayed home and took care of the house and kids. Access to effective birth control helps.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The US was in stage 3 of the demographic transition then; what I’m talking about is true for stage 4, roughly 1960s or 70s and onward.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It goes up a little it goes down a little. How well does it track recessions?
    …. The pill came out in the 60s.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Very interesting–however the Northern European Late Marriage Pattern ™ predates the pill by a lot. This trend actually starts in the 1500s….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That trend got European fertility rates down from 7 to about 6. That was still very much stage 1; stage 2 only began in the mid-to-late-1700s in Europe.

    joe Reply:

    I visited Virginia City CA and dropped by the old cemetery – child mortality was god awfully high. 7-6 births is not 7-6 adults.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    So when did the Western European marriage pattern begin? I suspect its origins lie in the late Neolithic of Western Europe, when farming communities had reached a saturation point. With farmland in short supply, young men and women had to wait their turn before they could marry and have children of their own. And some would never marry.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Stage 1 of the demographic transition means 6-7 births and 2 adults.

    Except in the US, which was never really in phase 1 – from the beginning of settlements it had 7 births and 4 adults, so population grew by a factor of 20 in the 1700s without much immigration.

    joe Reply:

    “status for women means more support of working motherhood, which raises birth rates rather than reducing them.”

    Well the book states the extract opposite. I personally know both authors and their work and the text’s direct application to the developing world.

    As for lower fertility rates indicating large per capita polluters – it’s also strongly correlated with eating a meal every day.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What applies to the developing world doesn’t apply to the developed world.

    Also, you’re misunderstanding my paragraph about the main polluters. The point isn’t that there’s a correlation; it’s that the obsession of certain people with reducing birth rates has about zero effect on greenhouse gas emissions since the main polluters are all in stage 4.

  11. Jos Callinet
    May 13th, 2014 at 20:15

    How much real impact and influence will Karin Klein’s LA Times op-ed piece have on the movers-and-shakers and policymakers who might heed her suggestions and inferences and sweep HSR off the Cap-and-Trade table?

    Some on this blog are saying that print-format newspaper readers are rapidly approaching extinct-species status – but that still leaves me wondering how many non-fossilized DIGITAL EDITION LA Times readers are there to compensate for their stone-age brethren, and how influenced will THEY be by Karin’s piece?

  12. Jos Callinet
    May 13th, 2014 at 20:29

    The cynic in me also wonders who paid Karin – and how much – to write that op-ed piece?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The only substantive palm-greasing going on at PBHSR pertains to the alignment.

    Of course, the unions will start throwing some real cash around when they start the perfunctory bs about private operators. No franchisee would last long if it ever got that far.

  13. Donk
    May 14th, 2014 at 06:08

    Newly approved high-speed train route has ‘unavoidable’ effects on valley

    Who gives a shit? How can anyone even compare the negatives of the “displacement of 376 homes and relocation of 1,144 residents” and “393 commercial or industrial businesses, employing a total of nearly 2,900 employees” with the greater good that this project will result in? These are orders of magnitude apart. Why isn’t anyone able to look at the big picture, look long term, and think strategically?

    joe Reply:

    I had the same thought initially.

    Tim’s provided a worse case story of what HSR impacts. CAHSRA will help relocate businesses and there’s no indication they are low balling property. There’s no mention of economic growth having this stem in place or around the stations.

    The loss of farmland – it’s quite small compared to the total area farmed and of course the counties plan to expand and want more and wider roads.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    More and wider roads so more farms can be plowed under for McMansions. It’s gonna take 5,000 acres. That’s 10,000 mini McMansions on half acre lots. Or 5,000 McMansions on acre lots. Or 2,500 on two acre lots. But then Real Americans(tm) buy McMansions and evil communist city folk use trains so the McMansions are good and the trains bad. Four legs good, good and two legs bad, bad.
    ….5.000 seems a bit high since the 800 route miles in the whole state, for the ROW itself, will only use 10,000. ( in very round numbers. there’s just over 12 acres in something a 100 feet wide and a mile long. )

    datacruncher Reply:

    The Bakersfield paper last week also reported the release of the Final EIR for the Centennial Corridor/CA-58 freeway extension in Bakersfield.

    As a comparison, that roughly 2 miles or so of new freeway will result in “the demolition of 200 single-family homes, 110 multiple-family structures and 121 commercial buildings” and “could displace an estimated 961 people”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is the same crowd of developers, sprawlers, and urbanizers pushing the freeways and PBHSR. The Koch Bros. types secretly support hsr as a development scheme. That’s why no one funds the ballot initiative which would kill DogLegRail.

    I-5 would minimize the disruption. But in California these days the the least practicable, most dysfunctional, most expensive option usually is locked in by our lifer moron politicians and “experts”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s a passenger railroad, it makes sense to put the railroad where there are passengers.

  14. Donk
    May 14th, 2014 at 06:24

    Here is a good summary with graphics of the proposed transit options for the San Fernando Valley for those of you who are not familiar.

    Eric Reply:

    What retarded options. Why do #1 and #4 have such giant zig zags? For #6, Bob Hope Airport has just 3% of the passengers that LAX has, and already has a rail connection, why does it need more big transit investments? Worst of all, why does the #7 deviate to an expensive freeway alignment while ignoring the existing rail ROW on Chandler Blvd? And of course HSR (#5) goes to Palmdale.

    Reminds me of North California transit planning.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For #6, Bob Hope Airport has just 3% of the passengers that LAX has, and already has a rail connection, why does it need more big transit investments?

    Thank you.

    By the way, the zigzag in #1 comes from joining the strongest north-south corridor in the Valley with the 405.

    joe Reply:

    #1 is 1. A Valley-to-Westside bus line that uses I-405’s carpool or shoulder lanes.

    #4 and #6 are under
    “Unfunded, unplanned or unlikely options”

    #4 connects the existing 741 and 761 which current run N-S.

    “A 5-mile stretch of Ventura Boulevard sits between the southern ends of the 741 and 761 bus lines. The “Valley U” line would fill this gap and provide more access to Ventura Boulevard by creating a seven-day-a-week bus line.”

    Donk Reply:

    #1 is just a band-aid solution until they can get #2 (the subway) built. Van Nuys is the busiest N-S corridor and since there is a mountain in the way, your only real choice is the zig-zag.

    Once the subway is built thru the mountains and it connects to Westwood/UCLA and to LAX, then the LA transit system will have arrived. Good thing is that this project is the kind of project that can get craploads of federal dollars. The 405 is one of the most (THE most?) notorious freeways in the world – everyone in congress, even every Republican congress, knows how bad the 405 is and has to agree that a 405 subway is a good idea.

    Eric Reply:

    Responses to everyone here:
    #1 is much zig zaggier than necessary to connect to Van Nuys.
    #4 joins multiple strong corridors, agreed. But there is no reason that anyone would choose the giant U over a direct east-west bus, and a route that long will have horrible scheduling problems.

    joe Reply:

    I thought about the scheduling problems with a long, combined U route but if Metro runs frequent service it doesn’t matter.

    We use the busy VTA 22/522 along El Camino Real and don’t bother looking at the schedule. VTA runs 5+ #22 buses an hour 7AM-12PM and 4-5 522 express buses.

    The 761 and 741 look like 4 buses an hour which is approaching a frequency that wouldn’t matter to me.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The old RTD used to do a lot of U routes using Ventura Boulevard as the connector. As traffic increased they stopped, citing scheduling issues. Of course MEtro has stripped a lot of the routes down to the bone of hourly service to provide for the Orangeline without increasing service hours. Great if you live near, not so good for the rest.
    Incidentally I did an offpeak trip for educational purposes, North Hollywood to Warner Center by Orangeline and back on a Rapid along Ventura to Universal. The Rapid was faster! I imagine the Orangeline would be faster in the peak.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not really. Orange Line is like eBART….

    Eric Reply:

    It matter for frequent routes too. Because the buses bunch and then you no longer have a frequent route.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah about that…not sure anyone knows yet the right transit solutions for north of Mulholland and south of Slauson and east of the LA River. It’s pretty straightforward for the urban core. But outside I think transit planners are going to realize they have no options but light rail, Metrolink, and freeways, and I don’t know what happens then.

    (The City of LA has always tried to protect Warner Center as a job center, but it looks increasingly out of step….

    Eric Reply:

    The solutions outside the core are exactly the same as in the core. Rapid buses on the grid, bus lanes on corridors where the ridership/traffic is high, replacement by rail when ridership is even higher. And PoP payment everywhere.

    The main difficult question is whether the rail should be grade-separated when it is used.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Missing is a plan to use Metrolink as a high frequency connector to downtown and, when SCRIP is complete, to Orange County. The right of way is there, the line is finally being double-tracked out to Chatsworth and second platforms are to be built at Northridge and Van Nuys. Connect the buses on the north-south arterials and you have a low cost solution appropriate for the population density.

    Eric Reply:

    Agreed, I should have mentioned (upgraded) Metrolink.
    With electrification and double tracks, you could even add some stops while maintaining current travel times.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Sounds good, until you see how long it would take you to board the Gold Line in East Los Angeles where you live and ride the rails to Warner Center where you work emptying trash cans. Metrolink is so expensive that very few workers can afford without an employer subsidy.

    Million dollar question is if OCTA as Surfliners managing agency starts to compete with Metrolink for riders. My bet is they do.

    Donk Reply:

    Metrolink is not much more expensive than BART.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Metrolink may not be much cheaper to run, but it was designed to need as little money as possible to begin operations. Switching to even something that rhymes with BART will be eight figures.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Sorry, eleven figures. No coffee this morning.

    Donk Reply:

    I thought we were talking about ticket costs, not capital costs.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Sorta. To get BART esque ridership you need to spend 10 + billion and the fares would be just as expensive as Metrolink. But BART’s fare box recovery ratio is really high by US standards. Metrolink has so little in subsidy there’s no way to upgrade itself to something more viable.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Aim low and aspire to BART.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Aim lower and aspire to MUNI….

    Joey Reply:

    And then VTA…

    Eric Reply:

    East LA-Warner Center sounds like a long annoying commute whether you take upgraded public transportation or drive. In a metro area the size of LA, you can’t make every commute quick and easy. But you do it for as many commutes as possible.

    If ridership rises than ticket prices can be lowered.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The MTA lowered fares after the 2003 strike and while it might have boosted ridership, still put them in a deficit which caused fares to go up.

    Also you have to realize that if the system is at capacity, the market price for fares is the highest price that keeps the system full. (I’m presuming there is a benefit to the public system serving as many people as possible.) Population density in LA is so high now, there is no question about ridership materializing.

    Donk Reply:

    Anything less than a $2 fare for public transit in this day and age is ridiculous. As long as they make all transfers free (as they are planning). The BRU is arguing about chaining the ticket cost from $1.25 to $1.45 or something along those lines.

    Eric Reply:

    I’m not saying to lower fares for the hell of it. I’m saying that once you have more efficient and profitable operation, it is worth passing on some of those gains to riders to induce even more ridership. That is particularly true for something like Metrolink which is so lightly used nowadays. Not for the NYC subway.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Also, mode-neutral fares.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    In my experience, passenger revenue has to cover your labor costs whereas taxes and other income covers admin and servicing capital bond debt. Lowering fares sounds noble, but it his pushes costs back on the wrong side of the ledger and makes it that much difficult to raise prices when you need to.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, OCTA is also a member of SCRRA so why would they want to compete with themselves? Also as managing agency they do not dictate policy. That is up to the members of LOSSAN. Furthermore there is already a rail to rail program whereby Metrolink passholders can use the Surfliner. A much more likely outcome is for the two agencies to merge. There is only one SCRRA county that is not a member of LOSSAN.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Such a merger would presage a merger of regional planning agencies too… San Diego is never going to submit to the Angeleno yoke.

    The think to remember is that Metrolink is almost as bad as CalTrain as far as dedicated funding streams go. The realigned funding for the Surfliner is a way more handsome dowry to lease a few more trains, serve a few more stations and extinguish any viability Metrolink has left.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Please explain “realigned funding for the Surfliner” for those not familiar.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Freudian slip, there!

    Government Code 14070.4 creates a option for the State Secretary of Transportation to limit the amount of subsidy that CalTrans provides LOSSAN to operate the Surfliner as a condition of transferring control from CalTrans. Reading it quickly, nothing will change as far as service levels or funding until 2017. After that, it’s my guess that the funding will be realigned from state taxes to local control.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    And local control Ted means tapping the same county funds as Metrolink and Coaster. You couldn’t create a more effed up mess if you put your mind to it. That’s why I think some sound minds will at least try and merge the agencies, to try and cut expenses and keep some semblance of service. I agree about San Diego’s attitude, and NCTD was the problem child in trying to create the new LOSSAN. But they are members of LOSSAN and need only bring in San Bernardino to make it work. Once the mega agency is created they ought to have enough heft to squeeze Cap and Trade or other money from Sacramento. Probably all wishful thinking on my part but otherwise we’ll just watch the present services go into slow (or maybe not so slow) decline. There are rumors afoot that there will soon be cuts on the Ventura County and San B’doo lines.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think the only solution that would fit your needs is a reorganization similar to the Bay Area in 1970 that created the Metropolitan Transit Commission. I think that there is merit to that approach but you can be sure that San Diego will not be part of any sort of consolidation like that.

    I could see SANDAG, NTCD, LOSSAN, and MTS merging into one and being given control of the Surfliner. Metro and SCAG would merge into a new agency that does funding for the five counties and the remaining transit districts would compete for the scraps.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Light rail is presented as elevated :(.

  15. synonymouse
    May 14th, 2014 at 11:45

    future of Sin City

    therealist Reply:

    turn it into a homeless shelter………..

  16. joe
    May 14th, 2014 at 12:03

    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —All along the Florida coast, thousands are gearing up to stop All Aboard Florida, the high-speed train that would link Orlando and Miami next year.

    Executives with All Aboard Florida have said they don’t need local approval to start the service; they already own the tracks.

    They said their short passenger trains will be quieter than the current freight trains, and will clear intersections in 60 seconds, quicker than a traffic light.

  17. Keith Saggers
    May 14th, 2014 at 16:39

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Japan, France and potentially UK are running HSR trains at three minute intervals, I remember a politician (Feinstein?) saying California will never have to run HSR trains at less than five minute intervals, will CHSA take this three minute headway possibility into account in their design?

    Keith Saggers Reply:


  18. Ted Judah
    May 14th, 2014 at 17:30

    I think the goal is to bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund to the point that it is not viable, and deprive transit of a major funding source.

    Eric Reply:

    Can we really find no better source for transit investment than the “Highway Trust Fund”?

    In other words, if the fund ceased to work, would the replacement funding programs (perhaps on the state level) likely be more responsive to local needs and better at funding (useful) transit projects?

  19. joe
    May 15th, 2014 at 19:32

    Iowa Fail

    Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn used a forum at President Barack Obama’s climate change conference in Des Moines Wednesday to urge Iowa to allocate state money to build its portion of a high-speed rail line from Chicago to Omaha that would pass through the Quad Cities, Iowa City and Des Moines, reports

    Quinn said it could cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. Iowa officials have not allocated matching funds for a federal grant for the line, which actually would carry trains traveling at a maximum of 79 mph.

    Indications at the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., last week were that federal officials were planning to take back the money for the Iowa segment of the line
    Quinn said an Iowa line needs support from Gov. Terry Branstad and state lawmakers. “We need everybody in,” he said.

    State Democrats have struggled to get Republicans to sign on to the idea. GOP leaders have said they’re concerned the proposal would require ongoing taxpayer subsidies.

    “What infrastrucure is it you wanna build?”

    Free Roads!!

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    There is no way that 79 mph qualifies as HSR

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    80 MPH or more they would have to put up crossing gates and that costs money…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s looking like HSR in the Midwest and South will look like it does in Germany as far as speeds go. The West and NEC will look more like France.

    EJ Reply:

    The NEC itself is a lot more like Germany – the new-build line that’s been proposed is more like France, but it’s a huge if as to whether that will ever get built.

    In the west, France would never build a line that wandered over to the Antelope Valley on the way to LA. The ill-fated SNCF proposal was a straight shot down the I-5 corridor that not only bypassed the Antelope Valley, but Fresno and Bakersfield.

    Joe Reply:

    Richard Mlynárik once man-splained why France, with a long history of strong central gov’t, and Germany, a more recent federation, have different systems.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I thought that was me, channeling Anthony Perl. Richard is a big fan of the German way.

    joe Reply:

    It was he – and of course he wrote we are blending the worse of both systems and went off on AFTP ™.

    Ted Judah Reply:


    My statement was prospective. I think the President’s vision for the US was similar to what France has for the EU, capitals from east to west linked by HSR trains anchored by Charles De Gaulle Airport.

    For a bunch of reasons, I get the strong feeling that true HSR will be built in the NEC and in the West. But I am skeptical that in the Midwest and South, 220 mph train service will be viable. This is because most airline flights out of Chicago aren’t to places in the Midwest, they are to other places outside the reach of an HSR system.

    In the case of the South, the problem is that Atlanta has no big destinations near it…the lowest hanging fruit are in Texas and Florida which are far flung.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The EAS flights take up as much airspace as the flights to Los Angeles and London. A robust train system means people in Fumbuck Wisconsin lose the urge to fly to Chicago and change planes for Nullepart Ohio.

  20. Michael
    May 16th, 2014 at 10:52

    Dutch trains to be wind-powered from 2018

    ALL traction power for the Dutch railway network will come from wind turbines under a new energy contract signed on May 15 between power company Eneco and Vivens, an energy procurement joint venture which includes Netherlands Railways (NS), Veolia, Arriva, Connexxion and railfreight operators.

    Under the contract, which runs from 2015 to 2025, wind will provide 100% of traction power on the ProRail 1.5kV dc electrified network from 2018 onwards, compared with around 50% today. The contract forbids the sourcing of electricity from the existing energy market, meaning only new-build wind farms can be used to meet the 100% target. It is estimated that after 2018 about half of the electricity demand will need to be covered to be covered by foreign, wind farms.

    The total consumption of electricity on the Dutch rail network is about 1.4 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, and NS reportedly consumes 1.2TWh of this.

    Operators are trying to reduce their traction energy consumption through the procurement of new trains and the adoption of more efficient driving techniques. NS claims that since 2005 the consumption of electricity per passenger kilometre has been reduced by about 30%.

    Eric Reply:

    Of course, what actually matters is what percentage of the country’s (or continent’s) electricity comes from wind. It doesn’t matter which electricity user gets power from which source.

  21. Trentbridge
    May 16th, 2014 at 17:57

    How can you have a discussion on the CAHSR blog boards about global warming without mentioning the elephant in the room? The Maunder Minimum?

    You can talk about rising CO2 levels and rising sea levels (over a century or two) but this is the biggest enchilda in the Solar System – the ultimate source of light (and heat) the Sun! And it ain’t behaving as it’s supposed to! AS the old movies used to say: “It’s too damn quiet and I don’t like it”.

    Fewer sunspots could mean less solar radiation and colder temps.

    This is bigger than missing Malaysian planes, stars fighting in elevators, Russia and the Crimea, Donald Sterling and the LA Clippers, The Tehachapi route – the BART unions, Muni, Judge K, Gov Moonbeam, the US Supreme Court, CAARD, the IOS and Pacheco Pass , and obscene rents in San Francisco, and evenObamacare.

    If the Sun – old Sol himself is going on strike – we have bigger rpoblems than we thought.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    Bigger than spelling errors!

    Eric Reply:

    But is it bigger than CAHSR to Oakland?

    EJ Reply:

    We can only hope. This would buy us some time to get our GHG emissions in order.

    jonathan Reply:

    Did you even read the article you cite? Toward the end, Prof. Lockwood says that a Maunder-style sunspot minimum might buy *about five years*.

    Spending 30% of Cap-and-Trade fund on HSR is like bleeding from your caroid artery, femoral artery, and a toe; and putting 30% of the resources towards your toe.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Many years ago, when I was feeling mean, I made a climate change denier bingo. One of the squares was “mentions sunspots.”

    (Sadly, too many other squares were irrelevant to the mainline denialism – things like Christian fundamentalist arguments – while I completely forgot to put in a square for “warmist” and for “makes two contradictory arguments simultaneously,” as with a certain Israeli libertarian who in the same thread argued that a) global warming is global greening, and b) it is not happening.)

    Joe Reply:

    The last paragraph explains why the sun isn’t going to matter in the time frames relevant to us.

    5. It’s Not the Sun’s Fault

    Henrik Svensmark is a physicist and professor at the Danish National Space Institute in Copenhagen. He’s published a number of papers, spanning a decade, arguing that the Earth is warming as a result of solar activity.

    He hasn’t been persecuted for these beliefs, nor run out of the scientific community on a rail. Nobody has tried to censor his views. Rather, his theories have been tested by other scientists, repeatedly, and don’t stand up to scrutiny. That’s how the scientific method works.

    “There’s no evidence to support Svensmark’s contention,” says Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M. “It’s a testable hypothesis, and we routinely look at whether Svensmark’s ‘the sun explains everything’ hypothesis is in accord with available observations. And it isn’t.”

    Dessler explains that if the sun were warming the planet, we would see heating “throughout the full vertical extent of the atmosphere.” Yet scientists have found that while the lower atmosphere is heating up, the upper atmosphere is actually cooling, and that finding is “fundamentally inconsistent” with the idea that the sun is to blame. But, says Dessler, that pattern is exactly what was “predicted by the earliest computer model simulations” of a planet that’s warming due to increased greenhouse gases.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ooh, I like the extent of the atmosphere bit :).

  22. joe
    May 16th, 2014 at 21:50


    Brown doubles down on high-speed rail amid calls for restraint

    Preparing for looming budget battles with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown warned Friday that lawmakers must balance “desire and need” for expensive social programs – even as he defiantly doubled down on support for the increasingly unpopular high-speed rail system, saying it remains emblematic of his passion to “build great things” in his final term as governor.

    Brown was most passionate in his defense of a high-speed rail plan connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, a 520-mile project expected to eventually cost $68 billion. The projected outlay has drawn scathing criticism from Republican gubernatorial candidates Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and former Treasury official Neel Kashkari, who has dubbed it the “Crazy Train.”

    Calling the bullet train a crucial test of “our capacity as a state,” Brown asked: “Can we be bold – or are we all just going to shrink back into our Lilliputian faintness of heart?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Beisdes Gavin Newsome’s lukewarm call to reevaluate what other Democrats think it’s a bad idea? Bat shit insane Tea Partiers forthing about how it’s going to violate the cultural and historic significance of 7-11 parking lots and make red blooded Real Americans into Commie pansies isn’t a problem with Democrats.

    Joe Reply:

    Gavin’s stuck in a deadend job. Poor guy.

    I don’t see any concensus on what to do with cap and trade $$if they disallow HSR. Just break it and each critic runs with a small piece for their pet project.

    What they’ll have to do us start planning highway expansions and of course fund it. Probably start tolling.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And HSR is not a pet project?

    Joe Reply:

    No it’s not a pet project.

    John did a good job explaining the persistent support from past Govs.

    Also 2/3 legislature approved the proposition for the 2008 ballot.
    A majority voted for the system.

    So hardly a pet project.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s a pet project of the governor. The people voted for the bonds, not for cap-and-trade funding priorities.

    joe Reply:

    And the people of CA, and the legislature and the president.

    Shall we redefine Pet Project because it means” A project, activity or goal pursued as a personal favorite, rather than because it is generally accepted as necessary or important.”

    How is HSR not generally accepted as necessary and important if we have Prop1a on the ballot by 23 majority vote.

    Prop1a passed in general election.

    Prop1a funded by the Legislature

    Federal ARRA funding sent to CA for HSR

Comments are closed.