Why High Speed Rail Matters

May 12th, 2014 | Posted by

This is why I am so adamant about building high speed rail:

The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.

The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.

“This is really happening,” said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”

This is why I have no patience for people who complain about the cost of building high speed rail. Even at $90 billion it is far cheaper than the cost of dealing with a 10 foot rise in the sea level. At ten feet, much of coastal California will be severely impacted.

HSR alone doesn’t solve the problem. But it is an essential part of the solution. It’s why the California Air Resources Board included HSR in its plan to achieve the AB 32 carbon emissions reductions. We have to stop burning fossil fuels and we need to do it as soon as possible. We already wasted 30 years dithering. There’s no time left to lose.

The cost of climate change is far, far higher than the cost of retrofitting the United States to stop relying on fossil fuels. Anyone who criticizes the latter while ignoring the former is really not worth listening to. They are fiddling while Earth burns.

  1. synonymouse
    May 12th, 2014 at 15:25
    #1

    climate change

    global warming

    save the planet

    Save Tejon Mountain Village Golf Course!

  2. Paul Druce
    May 12th, 2014 at 15:47
    #2

    The shutdown of San Onofre resulted in higher emissions per year than CAHSR can eliminate. HSR is simply spitting into the wind when it comes to global warming.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    citation needed

    Paul Druce Reply:

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/EE-California-emissions-rise-on-San-Onofre-shut-down-0511135.html

    Eric Reply:

    good link, thanks

    joe Reply:

    The two utilities that own the plant — Southern California Edison Co. and its junior partner, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. — are in early stages of legal proceedings with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the maker of the defective $680-million steam generators. One of the sets of generators developed a leak that released a small amount of radioactivity.

    That equipment failure in January 2012 led to Edison’s decision to shutter the plant 18 months later.

    Hey, let’s just fire it back up.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Small, monitored radioactive gaseous and liquid releases to the environment occurred, well below allowable limits. The release rates and calculated dose will be included in the 2012 Annual Radioactive Effluent Release Report. The release to the atmosphere via the air ejector vent stack was quantified at 3.75E-2 Curies (noble gases and radioiodine) which is equivalent to 4.25E-5 millirem (mrem) whole body dose. This release was several orders of magnitude below the off-site limit for continuous releases from this vent path of 500 mrem/year.

    http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1209/ML12090A153.pdf

    It’s literally three orders of magnitude less radiation than the normal hourly background radiation of California.

    joe Reply:

    The design specification says there is no radioactive release.

    When retro-explaining away unspecified failures and behaviors in a complex system like a nuclear reactor is not being pragmatic – it’s ass-clown territory.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In the mean time coal plants spew all sorts of shit including stuff that’s radioactive into the air and no one blinks an eye.

    joe Reply:

    I think we do blink an eye. And we know that it’s a side effect of coal burin going
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/

    When a system has a designed behavior and it fails, there’s a problem. The designed behavior for the reactor steam generators is to NOT leak small amounts of radioactivity.

    When it does, it’s failing to meet a primary design requirement.

    Andy M Reply:

    Wrong, the reactor itself shouldn’t leak radioactivity, but the plant as such does and is even designed to. Stored fuel rods emit small quantities of noble gases (mostly radon) and this is not captured but emitted into the atmosphere via the ventilation shaft. The values are well below background radiation and are completely OK – the like of Greenpeace don’t even bother to mention the fact as not to embarrass themselves. but that’s not the same as NOT leaking small amounts of radioactivity.

    Eric Reply:

    Problem is, leaks between primary and secondary cooling systems don’t get better with time. they get worse.

    joe Reply:

    Radiation is all around us and we can assign a range of acceptable radiation under a specific set of conditions.

    The system that leaked is not design to leak.

    What leaked was not suppose to leak or wear out in 2 years or be the subject of a lawsuit over defective equipment valued at over 600M.

    Safe is predictable and this is not predictable behaviour and not with the operational design of the plant.

    wdobner Reply:

    What do you think happens to all the Thorium that China unearths while mining the rare earth minerals that supply the inverters, control electronics, and motors in solar and wind turbine plants? Do you think it just disappears? There are radioactive mine tailings that would show just how “low radiation” those solar panels and wind turbine nacelles really are. Not to mention all our cell phones, appliances, headphones, and everything else they jam rare earths into these days.

    It’s no different than the radioactivity of coal ash. Solar and wind power result in a definable release of radioactivity into the environment as part of their manufacturing process.

    Joe Reply:

    Radiation is a natural part of the world and our lives.

    It’s not a boogie monster to fear.

    When we design a system to NOT leak there is a problem when it does and fails in 1/10 the time projected. Dismissing the failure to perform because the leak is small doesn’t acknowledge the failure in the design. Foolish to ignore the problem until there is a massive leak or event.

    joe Reply:

    Ass-clowns that install defective equipment because profit.

    Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts send a letter to NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane on Wednesday stating,

    “Southern California Edison and MHI were aware of serious problems with the design of San Onofre nuclear power plant’s replacement steam generators before they were installed. Further, SCE and MHI rejected enhanced safety modifications and avoided triggering a more rigorous license amendment and safety review process.”

    Boxer and Markey reported today that this information came from a 2012 report by Misubishi Heavy Industries, which designed the replacement steam generators. They were supposed to operate for 20 years, and cost the plant owners $680 million.

    Instead they lasted less than two years, and are costing the plants owners many more millions.

    No big deal – the shit that leaked out is cool.

    No problem the device had a 20 year designed life and only lasted 2 years. No problem. pauls’ got the dosage counts and we’re all well under any problematic dose.

    FIRE IT UP! What can go wrong.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Corner-cutting corporate contractors are one of the worst problems we face today. There are a lot of technologies which we could use if we had trustworthy people to build them.

    But since we don’t, we have to use technologies which are much closer to foolproof. Which rules out nukes.

    wdobner Reply:

    That may rule out light water nukes, but that’s just one of a wide variety of possible reactor designs. Nukes have been produced which are incapable of melting down. That’s as close to foolproof as you’re going to get.

    The only way to get a handle on the radioactive release attributable to Thorium deposits within rare earth mines (and thus resulting from solar and wind plant construction) is to make the Thorium a usable commodity. That means building and operating Thorium fueled reactors. If we want truly clean renewables, we need to invest in nuclear.

    Joe Reply:

    Humans seen unable to manage the long term risks and commitments to make nuclear and waste storage safe. Germany is going it right. Renewables like wind and solar with storage systems.

  3. Tony D.
    May 12th, 2014 at 16:28
    #3

    Then why not get more smog belching cars off the road sooner by investing all HSR funding at the commuter bookends? I don’t want to hear about Central Valley jobs or what line is easiest to build; get LA and Bay Area cars/commuters off the roads now…The CV line can wait.

    BTW, HSR or no HSR sounds like what’s happening in Western Antarctica is irreversible, a done deal. North San Jose should have a true Bayfront in about 200 years…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Invest in all of it now. That’s my plan.

    joe Reply:

    495b+26b+79b +36b = 636 billion. We’re approaching 10 CA HSR Phase 1 systems a year.

    “The U.S. Department of Defense is requesting $495.6 billion in authority for the base budget in FY 2015 in line with the Budget Control Act, or BCA, caps as revised by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.

    The request also includes an additional $26 billion in FY 2015 for the defense portion of President Barack Obama’s Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, or OGSI; the initiative is intended to fund readiness, investment, and installation spending not included in the base budget.

    The Pentagon’s FY 2015 request also includes a placeholder request of $79 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, funding.

    Congress also requested that DOD submit an unfunded priorities list that outlines programs it would like to fund that did not make the budget. These requests total about $36 billion. ”

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/report/2014/04/24/88516/a-users-guide-to-the-fiscal-year-2015-defense-budget/

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So you want to 0 the defense budget? With Russia taking the Ukraine bit by bit?

    If the US stands down who defends the rest of Europe and NATO? The Ukraine has shown that neglecting your military is just an invitation to lose your country

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    “the commies are coming the commies are coming” went out of fashion when the commies all wandered off to spend more time being capitalists. Where did anyone say anything about whether the defense budget should be smaller much less zeroed out? Or bigger? Or that it’s just right? Less than half of the worldwide total might be nice.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So you are ok with countries and parts of countries being gobbled up? They are not communists, they are just bullies, like all the bullies who came before them. And unless people stand up to them they will continue to be bullies. It’s a very simple lesson that each generation seems to have to learn for itself every time

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    With our big brawny military how many troops have we committed? Or will commit?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    None, thanks to a commander in Chief who believes as you do that military options are dirty.

    So just like Poland in WWII are we willing to consign a whole country to invasion?

    Eric Reply:

    you talking about the same guy who ordered the seals to go kill Bin Laden, and not a missile strike?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You do not get to milk WW2 for a war against Russia.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The Seal raid was his 1 shining moment (and a gutsy call he deserves credit for). Unfortunately for Libya, Syria, and the Ukraine, he reverted to type. He is so intent on not gettting into a war he is letting dictators and tyrants run roughshot.

    And please explain how Russia’s military annex of the Crimea (and soon Eastern Ukraine) with the duel excuse of national security and “national” Russian heritage is any different that Germany’s military annex of Austria and Poland with the duel excuse of national security and “national” German heritage? Oh I forgot to include “returning the motherland to its former glory” also used in both cases.

    do you like repeating history?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I haven’t said anything about whether or not the Crimea is problem.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, you’ve just compared Russia to Nazi Germany. I don’t think Putin is Hitler, but that’s not the main difference. The main difference is industrial warfare versus atomic warfare. Same reason the US did not start a war against Stalin in 1950, but only got into a limited war in Korea. Stalin, unlike Putin, was a Hitleresque mass murderer, but atomic age warfare is not the same thing as industrial warfare.

    Anyway, Putin, too, uses the same obnoxious WW2 analogies: Ukraine is fascist because Svoboda, Ukrainians are goons, Russia must protect itself from Nazis to its west. This is what I mean when I complain about WW2 analogies: you do not get to make them against one of the main WW2 allied powers.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Since the end of the cold war the US military-industrial complex has been trying to provoke and isolate Russia. Missiles in Poland, eastward expansion of NATO, quite unnecessary steps against a collapsed SU. Because Yeltsin was drunk most of the time the issue of returning Crimea to Russia didn’t come up but there is no way the Russians would let the warm water base of their fleet stay in the hands of a “foreign” country.
    As for Ukraine, its status is at best ambivalent, as its borders are fluid. Should we return Ukraine to Lithuania? Give the southern part back to the Turks? Murky waters here.
    Since 1989 Russian speakers in the former Soviet Republics have had a hard time. The elected government of Ukraine was overthrown and the first thing the new regime did was to eliminate Russian as an official language. So the “Russians” in Ukraine decided to take care of their own interests. Ulster in 1912?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I do get to use WWII analogies against Russia because they are accurate. He is grabbing land up because no one will stop him. But I don’t need to use WWII analogies, he is a bully dictator in any time period. And for you Alon, to defend him is hypocrisy when you claim to hate military aggression of any kind. Russia did a plain old fashioned land grab without any provocation. That’s a fact.

    I think it is ironic that the “excuse” given for Russia’s naked aggression is that NATO expanded towards Russia. In fact, they didn’t expand far and fast enough. If the Ukraine had been part of NATO then Russia would not have invaded because the entire weight of NATO would have come down on them like a ton of bricks. The “masked” unknown soldiers would have been killed,or forced out and the Ukraine would still own Crimea. You bet Latvia is glad to have uS troops on its soil,right now.

    EJ Reply:

    If the Ukraine had been part of NATO then Russia would not have invaded because the entire weight of NATO would have come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    Otherwise we do the same thing only after he has invaded Moldovia, Estonia, Latvia, etc.

    You said BOTH those things. So does NATO membership protect former Eastern Bloc countries, or doesn’t it?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It does protect them. Read my post again.

    Russia invaded Ukraine because they did not belong to NATO and he could.
    We will intervene (I.e. NATO will work) if he invades a NATO country.

    Donk Reply:

    I mostly agree with Paul on this one. The borders of Ukraine are arbitrary. They were originally created with the assumption that Ukraine would always remain in the Russian sphere. If certain parts of Ukraine have been overwhelmingly Russian for decades, then lets just keep things simple and give it back to Russia. The worst case scenario is that Ukraine turns into Kashmir.

    I am in no way advocating this, but the most peaceful long-term solution has always been the most painful – make the people go back to the neighboring country from which they came. This is what they did all throughout Europe after WWII – Germans, Polaks, Slovakians, Czechs, etc were all forced to “go back where they came from”, forming homogeneous countries throughout Europe. My grandparents were among these people.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    John, I’m not defending Putin. On Twitter I lamented that he’s the worst person in the world right now rather than Harper. I’m attacking the notion of the US committing troops to Ukraine over WW2 analogies or wounded pride or something. Want to commit troops? Do so after actually having considered the pros and cons, thinking in Cold War analogies rather than WW2 analogies. In Korea, when MacArthur pushed too hard into the North, it triggered a Chinese response, turning it into a protracted war that killed millions and produced almost no change in the border; if Truman had insisted that MacArthur immediately withdraw to the 38th, the war would’ve lasted a few months.

    And Donk, Crimea has been Russian for decades because Stalin ethnically cleansed the original Tatar population and settled Russians instead.

    Donk Reply:

    Alon – yeah I was aware of the Tatar expulsion from Crimea. At some point in history, a line unfortunately has to just be drawn. Should they resettle the Germans to Gdansk, Kaliningrad, and the Sudentenland? Kick the Han Chinese out of Tibet? Resettle the Palestinians in Israel? Kick the non-Hispanics out of TX? Kick the Indonesians (Malay people) out who were transmigrated to Borneo, Sulawesi, and West New Guinea? Kick the Tamils out of Sri Lanka? Oh and you can kick out all of the Indians from East Africa and Suriname, they came in and started running all of the businesses and are hated.

    It’s already been like 3-4 generations since Stalin. Crimea is now Russian, unless you want to open up some of the doors I just listed off. Crimea definitely isn’t Ukranian, since Tatars have nothing to do with Ukraine.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So you like history lessons, just not when they teach to opposite lesson.

    Intervention in the Ukraine could result in a serious war…that is true.

    Here is another truth, appeasement has never worked. Putnin is trying to “rebuild” the Russia empire. If allowed to go unchecked he will continue to grab land. Intervene now, early or later when it is harder. So if you don’t want to commit troops, how do you propose to stop him or are you ok with him gobbling up land?

    Try this on for size, as horrible as the Korea outcome was, it worked, because North Korea and China were bottled up and US troops keep them bottled up. South Korea would not be safe without those troops. The north would have tried again to take them

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Donk: first, Palestinian activists would very much like the right of return (actual application varies – most refugees want the right but aren’t interested in exercising it). Tibetan activists fume at how China is settling Han Chinese in Tibet, to the point of threatening a boycott of all companies that supplied technology to the railway to Lhasa. The Germans in what is now Poland were often settlers themselves – after unification, Germany had a policy of settling Germans in Polish-majority territory to create facts on the ground, and those Germans were mostly urban, so e.g. Danzig was surrounded by entirely Polish rural areas, just as Fiume was surrounded by entirely Croat suburbs.

    In this case, Ukraine began to rectify the ethnic cleansing by allowing the Tatars to return, which many did. Together with the end of Russian domination, Crimea’s Russian majority was in steady decline starting at independence. The Tatars sided with the Ukrainians, as do other ethnic minorities in Ukraine (e.g. Jews). As a result, the actual referendum was about a tie – Russia forged the results.

    And John: 3 million people died in the Korean War. If your point is that the North might have tried to start another war that would kill 3 million people, then what’s the point of that war in the first place? “We had to kill 3 million people because otherwise there might have been a war that killed 3 million people” is not a compelling argument.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Alon, not sure what your source is for the ethnic makeup of Crimea or the referendum results, you may well be correct. But the reality is that Russia would not permit Sevastopol and the rest of the territory to become part of NATO. If the west had not been so intent on pushing NATO east Russia may have been content with the lease arrangement, but the cold warriors here could not face the prospect of riding off into the sunset without one last poke at the bear with a sharp stick.
    In general the issue of ethnic minorities in Europe will always be thorny, and policy has been inconsistent. The west countenanced the breakaway of Kosovo, and Scotland may be next. How far should this go? Unfortunately the borders are not so neatly drawn that they clearly delineate one group from another.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2014/05/05/putins-human-rights-council-accidentally-posts-real-crimean-election-results-only-15-voted-for-annexation/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Crimea

    Also, interesting that you phrase things as “the issue of ethnic minorities in Europe will always be thorny” and not “European majorities are racist toward ethnic minorities.” But anyway, often separatism is not about that; Catalonia’s main grievance is not racism but tax imbalance.

    EJ Reply:

    How exactly should we “stand up” to Russia in defense of Ukraine? How many troops do we commit? How many should we be willing to lose? How many of their people should we be willing to kill if a shooting war breaks out? What are the larger global consequences of that?

    Bloodthirsty militarists never seem to spell any of that out. All they’ve got to offer is infantile language about “standing up to bullies.” The only saving grace is fewer and fewer people listen to them.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So Russia takes the Crimea l..just walks in and takes it..and the US are the bloodthirsty militarists?

    If we put any troops in the Ukraine Putnin would back down. That is why he invaded now. If the Ukraine joined NATO he knew it was over because he could not invade after that.

    And a shooting war has broken out. The problem is 1 side has no military through years of incompetence and corruption.

    You think he is stopping at the Ukraine? Remember back when he was going to stop at Georgia?

    Go review your history of how WWII started. It was not because anyone “stood up” to the bully. I believe they did exactly what you want and gave them the land in exchange for peace. How did that work out?. Peace for our time?

    There are people who don’t care about freedom and liberty, they only care about power and glory, In order to defend freedom and liberty people have to die fighting those people. It’s been true for the entire history of the US, why is it less true now.

    So to answer your question, we should commit as many troops as necessary(I think the big red 1 division is a good start) we lose as many troops as it takes, and we stop this now. Otherwise we do the same thing only after he has invaded Moldovia, Estonia, Latvia, etc.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    [Blockquote]If we put any troops in the Ukraine Putnin would back down.[/Blockquote] Seriously? Putin wants a crisis to get the Russian people to rally ’round the flag. Plenty of statements coming from Moscow make sense only to people who can’t find out what the other side is saying.

    My solution? When Greece was ruled by a right wing dictatorship (1967-74), the opposition made good use of tape recorders. They had 20 minutes or so of blank tape followed by a pithy message against the Papadopoulos regime. With today’s iPod Nanos and tiny MP3 players, we could connect to tiny speakers to ridicule Putin’s pretensions.

    [Blockquote]Go review your history of how WWII started. It was not because anyone “stood up” to the bully. I believe they did exactly what you want and gave them the land in exchange for peace.[/Blockquote]If you’re talking about the Rhineland, too few people appreciated the danger Hitler posed to protest the militarization of Germany’s back yard.

    If you’re talking about the Munich Peace Accord, Hitler was ready to launch his war back then. Chamberlaine and Daladier bought a year’s preparedness which may well have made a difference for British survival.

    EJ Reply:

    Have the Ukrainians asked us to send troops? I must have missed that. I mean, I realize they don’t really matter because it’s a lot of fun to go to war in someone else’s country, and it makes our right-wingers feel strong, and we prove how badass we are.

    There are people who don’t care about freedom and liberty, they only care about power and glory, In order to defend freedom and liberty people have to die fighting those people.

    Good Lord, aren’t you a fucking hero.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They have asked for troops and military aid and we have turned them down because Germany does not want to lose their Nat gas

    Andy M Reply:

    and we get to decide who is the bully and who isn’t because we were never bullies and never marched into anyone’s country for non-altruistic reasons?

    Eric Reply:

    not to take it over

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The US has a long and admirable track record of giving back our gains from war. And not as puppet countries. I would put our record up against any country now or in the past. Never in history has a country fought and lost so much only to give the land back.

    EJ Reply:

    You ought to read up on these folks called Native Americans.

    joe Reply:

    Perhaps someone thinks Texas and California were part of the Louisiana Purchase.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Germany, Japan, Cuba, Mexico (other than Texas), France, Belgium, really all of Western Europe. Philippines.

    So give me an example of a country, at any time in history, that returned the land won in a war like the US has. The US does not have a perfect record but has done more than any other country ever.

    Contrast with Russia at the end of WWII who kept all the Eastern European states. The US had the power to do the same but did not and in fact rebuilt our former enemies. Name anyone else who has done that

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Greece. Rome. The Turks/Ottomans. All sorts of interesting things happened in what we now call China. India too.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Greece never willing have up the lands taken by Alexander the Great, the empire broke up
    Rome…same deal
    Turks…same deal
    China is still using Mongolia as a puppet state.

    None of those countries ever willing gave up a conquest…try again

    Donk Reply:

    John, you left off a few countries: Dominican Republic, Panama, Haiti, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan.

    On the other hand, you can argue that the US setup puppet states in some of these countries, especially back before WWII.

    Donk Reply:

    And I don’t want to hear about California. Typical liberal blather. Barely any Mexicans even lived here before the US took it. And if the US didn’t take it, the French, British, or Russians would have. CA deserved to be taken by someone else who had the resources to manage it.

    joe Reply:

    “And I don’t want to hear about California. Typical liberal blather. Barely any Mexicans even lived here before the US took it. And if the US didn’t take it, the French, British, or Russians would have.”

    But the French sold us their Nor Am territories.

    The Russians so disinterested they sold Alaska in 1867. That leaves the British and of course Canada which was sparsely populated at the time. Probably less dense than Alta CA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So give me an example of a country, at any time in history, that returned the land won in a war like the US has.

    where does it say willingly in there? The independence of India was relatively bloodless. The independence of Pakistan a bit less. The independence of Bengladesh. Hong Kong?
    If you want your true Scotsman to be someone from the south side of Aberdeen who has blond hair, a peg leg and is deaf in one ear. most of us aren’t going to make that assumption.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Russia didn’t keep any of the Eastern European states, unless you count the moving of the USSR/Poland border west. If you’re saying it established puppet regimes in its sphere of influence, I could counter and talk about the US and the various coups it supported in Latin America.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The US didn’t give up its gains from war very often, and almost never voluntarily. Geez, ask Mexico about that, or the Native Americans, or Cuba (seriously, look up the history of the puppet state the US set up in Cuba), or the Phillipines.

    Yes, the US gave some stuff up after WWI and WWII. But the US was grossly imperialistic in the 19th century.

    As for the 20th century, the UK has given up much, much more empire much more voluntarily than the US.

    In ancient history, I can give you far, far more examples of countries giving up lands conquered in war. To be fair, the attitude then was usually “These barbarians don’t even speak our language, why would we want to rule over them, good riddance”, but yes, there were frequent wars where the conqueror made no attempt to retain the territory.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I didn’t say the us had a perfect record. I said they had the best record.

    The UK did not give up anything willingly except perhaps Hong Kong. They did not give up India for centuries. The Indians revolted at the same time as the US. The eventual freedom was not a full war, but it was not voluntary. That said the British are in 2nd place.

    I like how you are so willing to throw out the good data points. Gave up “some stuff after WWII? That was all of Europe we gave back!! “Sure they gave back Western Europe, twice, but they kept Texas a hundred years before that so they are bloodthirsty “.

    And withdrawing because you don’t have the power to keep it is not voluntary, it is just intelligent.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The US isn’t bloodthirsty because of Texas; it’s bloodthirsty because of MacArthur’s contribution to Korea, because of Vietnam and Iraq, and because of CIA-backed coups that created horrific regimes, worst of all the assassination of Lumumba and the backing of Mobutu. That makes it the biggest killer of people outside its national borders since 1950 (the USSR is in second place, because of Afghanistan and its own record on installing awful allies; the PRC is third, because of Korea and its contribution to the Khmer Rouge).

    The UK was awful in ways people don’t really understand, but it stopped once it couldn’t afford being a superpower anymore. Tens of millions of people in India starved to death under the British Empire’s watch, especially in the late Victorian era. There were far more famines in India under the British than before the British; since independence, there hasn’t been any. (Yes, there was Borlaug, but that wouldn’t explain why undemocratic regimes keep having famines, or why independent democracies didn’t have famines even before the 1960s.) This should be figured as man-made famines, just like the famines that happen every time a communist state collectivizes agriculture and every time an autocrat decides he doesn’t like some ethnic minority.

    Eric Reply:

    For every Mobutu who the US backed, there was a Pol Pot who the US opposed. Like in most wars, in the Cold War both sides were willing to do pretty much whatever was necessary to win. Once the Cold War ended the US stopped supporting nasty dictators.

    From Wikipedia: “Mobutu’s relationship with the US radically changed shortly afterward with the end of the Cold War. With the Soviet Union gone, there was no longer any reason to support Mobutu as a bulwark against communism. Accordingly, the US and other Western powers began pressuring Mobutu to democratize the regime. Regarding the change in US attitude to his regime, Mobutu bitterly remarked: “I am the latest victim of the cold war, no longer needed by the US. The lesson is that my support for American policy counts for nothing.”[67] In 1993, Mobutu was denied a visa by the US State Department after he sought to visit Washington, DC”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The US kept recognizing the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia even after communist Vietnam had overthrown it. So “Pol Pot who communist Vietnam opposed” is more correct.

    Also, post-Cold War there was no longer any need for Mobutu, but there was need for others, of whom the latest is Karzai.

    joe Reply:

    So serious.

    I was thinking of spending the 36B for toys the Pentagon DOES NOT WANT on HSR.
    Wolverines!

    The 79B we spend annual on occupying rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan with expensive for profit contractors (aka mercenaries) on commuter transit systems.

    The remainder US fighting force exceeds what Russia can put into uniform let along be effective in combat.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    She should next write: “Home ownership is down and your answer is a smartphone?”

    Nathanael Reply:

    John: we don’t need to zero the military budget. Just cut it by 90%, we’ll still be spending more than Russia and China COMBINED.

    The US can’t manage to win a war lately, but it isn’t for lack of money. Take some money away, eliminate the pork and the slush funds and the attractiveness of corruption, and maybe we can get some competence into the military.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Can’t mange a war? We took all of Iraq in less than 2 months. Afghanistan with only special forces. Fewer than a 1000 casualties from the war part.

    In a decade +long occupation combined both of them have less than 10,000 KIA which is on par with training accidents in WWII.

    The US military is the most deadly to ever inhabit the earth

    Nathanael Reply:

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    We lost Iraq and Afghanistan, if you didn’t notice.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Afghanistan is basically under Taliban control; western Iraq has been taken over by Kurdish separatists; eastern Iraq is under the control of Iran-associated factions.

    If this was the US goal, then yay, go US military. If not, well, we lost.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you look at it objectively, looking at *results*, you’d conclude that the US military has worked assiduously and effectively to benefit the government of Iran.

    But I don’t think that was the goal.

    Eric Reply:

    You mean northern Iraq has been taken over by Kurd separatists (and western Iraq by Al Qaeda).

    Israel actually privately opposed the Iraq invasion in 2003 because they thought Iran should be a higher priority (they still think this).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And yet Israeli public opinion was strongly pro-war on Iraq.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh. Also lost in Somalia and currently losing in Yemen. (In Somalia, now that Kenya is involved, the side backed by Kenya is winning; but the US couldn’t accomplish anything.)

    Nathanael Reply:

    An important point here is that the US military can be very deadly (kill lots of civilians), while still being completely ineffective (unable to seize and control territory).

    Eric Reply:

    It’s funny, the US “lost” in these places because public opinion did not allow it to kill enough people in order to win (in contrast to, say, the Boer Wars or Chechnya). Hardly something to be ashamed of.

    Joe Reply:

    The Russians lost Afghanistan because public opinion?

    Eric Reply:

    Just because the US did not use all its firepower in certain wars, for reasons of public opinion, does not imply that all wars by all countries end for the same reason!

    jonathan Reply:

    Eric, are you saying the US should have nuked all those places??

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I didn’t notice. Last time I looked Iraq and Afghanistan had democratically elected governments that were no puppet state of America.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Afghanistan and Iraq are both ranked as Not Free by Freedom House.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    The phrase, “manage a war,” includes winning the peace. If US Armed Forces in Afghanistan saw only 1000 deaths from “the war part,” what killed the others? Diarrhea? You don’t seem to be a big fan of credibility.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There’s a finite amount of money in the cap and trade pile. We both think there should be more, via higher costs of emissions. The difference is that I think that for any fixed amount, spending should be based on emissions reductions alone, whereas you factor in state development priorities. California should invest the money in what produces the most emissions reduction per dollar, which is building efficiency and rooftop solar subsidies, and only fund HSR if there’s additional money coming from higher emissions costs.

  4. morris brown
    May 12th, 2014 at 16:39
    #4

    LA Times: opinion: Opinion Antarctic ice melts and California’s response is … a bullet train?

    Here is an opinion piece just printed in the LA Times which has a 180 degree opposite view of HSR and its meager and too late effect on Climate change.

    See:

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-climate-change-sea-levels-antarctica-20140512-story.html

    You can find the full explanation of what’s happening here.

    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.)

    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 greenhouse 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.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I am stunned that it actually got published – and it’s from a reporter! Who ought to know better! She doesn’t once mention CO2 reductions that HSR would generate. Holy cow.

    Joe Reply:

    The next line if attack is to ridicule HSR as if it is the state’s response to reducing co2.

    Professor Ibbs insists CA build more roads and airports as he provides his “expert opinion”. They are more flexible he says.

    And HSR critics mostly want the project to go away, cut taxes and leave my congested community alone.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    “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.” How?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No doubt using it all to build more highway lanes for congestion relief.

    joe Reply:

    Yes. You too can be a expert consultant against HSR.

    Professor Ibbs has studied Mega Projects and benchmarked over 2000 large-scale construction projects around the world. He suggests that the state might “revisit the question of whether we should be devoting this much money to a high-speed rail system when we pressing problems with our highways, airports and have other infrastructure facilities.”

    The Professor also revealed that “Most rail systems in the US, collect only about 2/3 of their operating cost from the fare box. If we have that kind of experience on this project, it’s going to eat future generation alive, it’s going to eat our grandchildren’s wallets alive. “
    ..

    He adds, “ A lot more people that will use highways than any railroad system, so I would urge you and your colleagues to look at transportation investment across the board and give us world class transportation system.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    World class transportation systems are cars, cars, airplanes, cars, cars, trucks, cars, airplanes and more cars?

    …. highway projects and airport projects never go over budget either…

    joe Reply:

    Exactly – it’s impossible to protect the coast from a 10 ft sea level rise.

    CA can achieve the 2020 CO2 targets but not the 2050 targets which require more extensive changes to our infrastructure. HSR is part of the solution.

    Critics have no answer:
    Professor Ibbs of UC at B is a HSR critic and his professional opinion is we spend the money building more roads and airports. Seriously – that’s his opinion.

    Morris Brown want his taxes cut and all the IT hipsters off his lawn.

    NIMBY Atherton is now the most wealthy zip code everh! They demand Caltrain buy Tier 4 Diesel engines and cut service frequency.

    CARRD wants to stall until they push their kids thought the Paly school system and flip their property.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Joe, next thing you know, Atherton will demand that Caltrain cease operations altogether. Let people commute to work in their 12-MPG-City/22MPG Hwy SUV’s!

    joe Reply:

    Home prices in Atherton, already sky high as of last fall when Forbes declared it America’s toniest zip code, continue to climb, in part because Forbes published that article. As SFGate’s real estate blog notes, home prices in the Silicon Valley suburb are up 40 percent over last year, meaning that mansions and even little bungalows there are now 40 percent more expensive than what qualified as the most expensive place in the country 8 months ago.

    CNBC reported last week that mansions are regularly going for prices over $10 million, and some of that is being fueled by foreign buyers, including those in China, who want to claim the prestige of living in America’s wealthiest zip code. One Chinese buyer just plopped down $14 million for a mansion, sight unseen.

    The median home price there is now a stupidly insane $9.44 million, up from $6.67 million last year.

    And then this from last year

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/06/06/atherton-revolts-over-cost-of-obama-visit-targets-donors/

    ATHERTON (KPIX 5) – A community on the Peninsula may take the unprecedented action of slapping a lien against two homeowners who hosted an April fundraiser for President Barack Obama that cost the town $8,000 in security and cleanup costs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Atherton and Lebec – sister cities of NIMBY

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    1. To rise 10 feet all the ice IN THE WORLD has to melt. I think that is a little unlikely
    2. Read the paper from these yahoos. They are predicting a 10 foot rise over the. Course of the next 300-1000 YEARS.

    It’s this kind of junk science and it’s breathless reporting that leads to people not believing there is a real threat because they hear 10 feet and never see it happen.

    Zorro Reply:

    2.5 to 3.0 miles of melting antarctic ice is not junk science, as what is seen on the surface is only about 10% of the bulk of the ice, the other 90%, junk science is intelligent design and creationism. We would be lucky if the sea level rise is just 10 feet, when the last ice age ended the sea level rise was 300 to 400 feet and Antarctica has lots of ice. Climate change is backed up with facts, ice cores and other such evidence, like the Siberian Traps and massive rise in CO2 back then from deposits of coal being burned by the traps active and sustained vulcanism.

    Not by myths, oil company greed and oil company lies, Big Oil will do whatever it takes to keep their profits coming, no matter what the cost to our world, to the only planet humans have, Earth. You can’t drink oil and you can’t keep going when plant and animal species that Humans depend on go extinct.

    Zorro Reply:

    the other 90% is miles deep.

    Eric Reply:

    “when the last ice age ended the sea level rise was 300 to 400 feet and Antarctica has lots of ice.”

    Antarctica has very little ice compared to that which melted at the end of the last ice age.

    Edward Reply:

    Sea level rise would be a bit more if all the ice melted, 216 feet to be exact.

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/rising-seas/if-ice-melted-map

    Eric Reply:

    Or if God opened the faucets of the sky and created a global flood, to give another scenario that is unlikely to happen in our lifetimes.

    Zorro Reply:

    This is mans doing, We as a species are guilty of this, if Man weren’t here & hadn’t survived to recent times, climate change wouldn’t be happening, as that is what the facts say, so leave religion out, before it devolves to which religion did what, since religion has nothing to do with climate change.

    Eric Reply:

    I was being sarcastic. Just like a flood won’t happen in our lifetimes, neither will a 216 foot sea level rise.

    A 4 foot sea level rise in our lifetimes is likely. But seeing how cities like Amsterdam are currently further below sea level than that, and doing just fine, I think the same will be true of the world’s coastal cities in coming decades.

    John Burrows Reply:

    When I screw up it’s usually after midnight.

    joe Reply:

    They are predicting the collapse of an ice shelf - no mechanism to stop it collapsing once it begins.

    It’s just a matter of how fast the flow happens. Once the ice floats, it displaces water and sea levels rise. Ice does not have to melt.

    The science community is inherently conservative in model design and forecasts to avoid making doomsday mistakes which means – as usual – the situation will probably worsen over time as feed backs come into play in the natural world as they always do.

    Zorro Reply:

    Ocean temps where the water is the warmest would have to be cooled off since the oceans are warming up due to climate change, cause the acidic ph is rising above what it has been.

    Andy M Reply:

    Didn’t Archimedes teach us that an iceberg displaces its own mass of water? So if an iceberg or indeed an entire floating ice shelf melts, the sea should’t rise at all. It’s when the ice that’s on land melts that we should be worried.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is on land.

    Eric Reply:

    correct. the land is below sea level, but it is on land. I think that is what is confusing people.

    Nathanael Reply:

    We’ll see a sea level rise of feet within my lifetime. Unfortunately.

  5. Eric
    May 12th, 2014 at 16:40
    #5

    a 10 foot rise in sea level will impact the sacramento river pretty severely

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale is not on the Sacramento River but they want its water anyway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And the precious body fluids of Real Americans ™

  6. Jos Callinet
    May 12th, 2014 at 21:47
    #6

    This entire HSR Blog has unwittingly become a dramatic testament to how incredibly selfish and greedy some (not all, by any means) people in our society have become in recent years.

    The new national motto and creed are as follows: “IF THERE’S NOTHING IN IT FOR ME, I DON’T GIVE A S**T ABOUT YOU, OR WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, YOUR DESCENDANTS OR THE REMAINDER OF THE WORLD! EVERYTHING REVOLVES AROUND AND CENTERS ON ME!

    There are still considerable numbers of people who care about more than themselves – however, with each passing year, it seems that there are fewer and fewer of them. Selfishness and greed are overtaking, dominating and about to destroy our planet.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Get a grip and start looking at the facts, not the hyperbole

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/13/after-years-of-decline-u-s-carbon-emissions-rose-2-percent-in-2013/

    The HSR-free US has declined in emmisions 12% in the last 9 years. Thanks to of all things, fracking and the natural gas boom.

    China, on the other hand, which has the most HSR track in the world has exploding emmisions.

    So if you want to bitch and moan about all the selfish people, start outside the US. We are doing our part

    Zorro Reply:

    Maybe the US should help china in their power needs, to go Green quicker, to lower their emissions. And No the US doesn’t need to be the worlds policeman, the world is just too big for one nation to police. So why push for a bigger defense budget? The US should not be spending $0 on defense as that would be insane and at the same time should not increase the already bloated defense budget, the US needs to spend about $400 Billion on Defense a year and not be on a war footing, especially on tanks the military does not need or even want. The US should withdraw and close bases in most countries of the world, as it only creates resentment and makes the US look like hated occupiers. Putin is being dealt with by way of sanctions and diplomacy, wars just kill people and should be avoided if possible, and should only be done as a last resort when other ideas have failed to work, right now it’s too early to tell and ideology does not promote peace, just wars and greed.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Go visit the history of Poland in WWII and then repeat the statement abou how wars don’t solve problems and just kill people and sanctions work just fine

    joe Reply:

    Or you could reference the folly that lead to WWI.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yeah. John really needs to do his research on World War I. We are living in times when the headlines seem frighteningly like the leadup to WWI.

    And our bloated military budget seems to be driven largely by the desire of weapons manufacturers to get contracts — the “merchants of death” who were accused of starting World War I, y’know.

    The US military budget is more than 10 times the budgets of Russia and China combined. This is pointless.

    EJ Reply:

    History’s a fascinating subject, John. Perhaps you should look into some other sources besides History Channel WWII documentaries.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    John, “fracking” is no energy-producing panacea, either. It comes with its own not inconsiderable share of “collateral damage” ranging from contaminated underground aquifers, methane gas leaking into the atmosphere from hundreds, if not thousands, of difficult-to-monitor points of origin (methane is an even more powerful global-warming agent than CO2), to possibly causing some earthquakes.

    It is unfortunate that we have to contend with more and more “Atherton-like NIMBYs,” who are determined to do everything in their considerable power to make sure that selfishness and greed are the “chief determining factors” in how we deal (NOT!) with climate change.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    As an add-on to the above comment on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking” in the vernacular), John, you most likely are aware of a strong backlash by various communities and individuals across the country who are fighting to keep it off their land.

    Here is one article describing the growing resistance to fracking: http://www.salon.com/2014/03/10/fracking%E2%80%99s_new_backlash_how_supporting_it_now_exacts_a_real_political_price/

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Yet fracking is actually solving the problem. No solution is perfect, but fracking lead to a 12% decrease in emissions over a decade. HSR in CA will not even be a rounding error in 30 years when(if) it is completed.

    All you are proving is that people are hypocrites. If you really belive the ocean is rising 10 feet then things like fracking are a mall price to pay to avoid global catastrophe. So are we serious or no?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Absolutely false.

    The best scientific estimates, from a Cornell study, show that fracking has actually increased greenhouse gas emissions due to newly-generated methane leakage direct out of the ground. (The standard measurements only add up industrial / commercial / residential emissions, so they don’t include the methane leakage.)

    Fracking causes a lot of trapped methane to just escape loose into the atmosphere. This is BAD.

    joe Reply:

    The HSR-free US has declined in emissions 12% in the last 9 years. Thanks to of all things, fracking and the natural gas boom.

    By person, the US emits over 3 times more CO2 than China.

    And CO2 isn’t the most aggressive green house gas – methane is far more damaging.

    http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/unexpected-loose-gas-from-fracking/950/
    A survey of hydraulic fracturing sites in Pennsylvania revealed drilling operations releasing plumes of methane 100 to 1,000 times the rate the EPA expects from that stage of drilling, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    As a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, methane is about 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    does the atmosphere care about per person or total amount? I am pretty sure physics is agnostic to per person…in fact I am sure of it. The atmosphere cares about total amount.

    More importantly, the facts are that the US has decreased its emissions and China’s emissions have grown exponentially. If you want to complain about a society that does not give a shit about the environment save your vitriol for China. The US is lowering emissions.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Partly by having the coal mined in the US burnt in China to make cheap shit that is shipped to US.

    joe Reply:

    You’re hilarious.

    The Nachtigall Diet:
    “How can I be overweight when the combined weight of those four other people is greater than mine? “

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Keep talking. uS decreasing….China exploding. In 10 years they will emit more per capita than the US

    joe Reply:

    Because fracking will lower US emissions!!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …well.. it does. Not an ideal way to do it does.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It has. Are you arguing a fact? Fracking lowered Nat gas prices…a lot. Causing coal plants to convert to Nat gas. Which lowered emissions.

    Which words or concepts are you having trouble with?

    Just because you don’t like something (fracking, nuclear power, etc) does not mean that you can ignore its benefits

    Nathanael Reply:

    Just because you mouth words doesn’t mean that they’re facts.

    Fracking increased emissions. It matters how you measure emissions, and it increased emissions in a way which isn’t measured by the standard measurements… by loose methane spraying directly out of the ground, as joe just explained to you.

  7. Eric
    May 13th, 2014 at 04:57
    #7

    “The cost of climate change is far, far higher than the cost of retrofitting the United States to stop relying on fossil fuels.”

    [Citation needed]
    I have never seen evidence for this assumption. As far as I can tell it’s probably false.

    Climate scientists saying they don’t even know if the effect of climate change on humanity will be positive or negative:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impacts_of_climate_change#Aggregate_impacts

    The high environmental impact of non-fossil energy sources:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/renewable-energys-hidden-costs/

    If we are running short of energy and resources, the first thing you want to do is not spend large amounts of them on boondoggles like HSR via the Bering Strait.

    Zorro Reply:

    People said at one time that building a rail line under the English Channel was a fools errand and that it could not be built, yet here We are, the Chunnel is built and works and there is even talk of a second set of tunnels, so I wouldn’t dismiss a railway line from China to the US, afterall there is talk about connecting Alaska to the lower 48 states via Canada by rail and that is not far fetched and with climate change happening air travel over long distances may be harder to do, until all electric airplane propulsion(fan ducts) becomes practical and so far that’s only in its infancy, the world is changing and We may have waited too long to do much about stopping it, though We can possibly influence how much change happens. So HSR and Freight may be done across the submerged Bering Straights in a tunnel(s), if the rock below ground there is suitable for a TBM to dig thru that is.

    Eric Reply:

    Everyone knew the Chunnel was buildable from a technical perspective. The question was would it be cost-effective. Once projections showed that it would be cost-effective, they started building it.

    In contrast, HSR via Alaska is not at all cost-effective (and neither are most of the other trendy forms of global warming mitigation).

    Trentbridge Reply:

    I’d settle for a long overdue second BART tunnel under the Bay thru’ Alameda to S Oakland from ATT Park area. Anyone can see that the current BART transbay tunnel is a bottleneck and the extensions of BART service in the East Bay is going to exacerbate the problem of cramming too many trains down this existing tunnel.

    Eric Reply:

    BART is in a tube, not a tunnel. :)

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Better yet, annex Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties to BART, for a 5-county BART district with over six million residents and ultimately BART around the Bay. (Complete first to Berryessa, then fund and build to Santa Clara Caltrain. Better OVER 101 along former WP with Alum Rock station near 28th & Santa Clara Streets and subway under San Fernando Street with an SJSU station near Eighth Street.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Au contraire, have the State seize BART and “re-invent” it. Convert some outlying lines to standard gauge.

    Give Amalgamated a pay cut.

    Travis D Reply:

    Wrong, people fought the Chunnel all the way until the end. I read an entire book about it. Fascinating how a group let their ideology dictate that trains are bad and therefore the Chunnel should not be built regardless of the numbers.

    Eric Reply:

    “They” meaning the people who make decisions. Like I said, they made the decision.

    As it turns out, the Chunnel’s profit is small or perhaps negative nowadays. I think I read this is because of the rise of low-cost airlines which were not forseen when the plans were made.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    When the British completed the high speed line to St. Pancras Station, low cost airlines were threatening the Eurotunnel company, but shortly after that, the advantage of a 2:15 trip by rail was more than air-competitive. (Also, by then, the cost of fuel was hitting the airlines pretty badly.)

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You have to be careful about Chunnel profits. Do you mean Eurostar or the infrastructure company?
    With all these comparisons with air travel the key factor is the actual origin and destination of the traveler. From some points south of London Gatwick can be a lot more convenient than St Pancras or Ebbsfleet. Even Heathrow works better for a large part of SW London and adjoining burbs.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The average person traveling to London is not really interested in visiting points south of Gatwick, and the average person traveling to Paris is not really interested in visiting Orly.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People travel from London….

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You are too city centric in your thinking. A lot of folks taking low cost flights to satellite airports will rent a car for onward journies.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The destinations are city-centric. Paris and Central London have huge global tourist draws. Their suburbs don’t. So that’s one side of the trip where city stations have a guaranteed advantage over suburban airports. Yes, it’s possible to rent a car, but that costs more money and time, and driving to your Paris or London destination isn’t the most fun experience.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    They are not driving to the city centers but to points beyond. I’m just trying to make the point that the Chunnel is not ideal for every trip. But it is better suited for its market than LA – SF.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s lot of people who want to use the airport as their origin. They don’t all live next to a train station in the CBD. Apparently if you live in greater London and have the urge to visit Mickey in Florida your choices are Gatwick or Gatwick. Has it’s charms, it keeps hoi polloi out of the way of the important people using Heathrow.

    http://www.orlandoairports.net/statistics/schedule/Airlines_by_Destination.pdf

    Plop metro Newark down in Wyoming and it becomes the 12th largest metro area in the US. Roughly metro Detroit. There’s going to be a lot of origin demand.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Newark has a train station, and in both the UK and France, an enormous share of foreign tourism is headed to the central parts of the capital. Ask yourself where all the high-end hotels in the non-La Defense Paris suburbs are.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People who live near Gatwick and are jonesing for some Space Mountain don’t care how many high end hotels there are in Paris.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They aren’t flying to the Paris region, either. (Okay, sure, Eurodisney is also a major destination, but it’s served by Eurostar too, just at lower frequency than Gare du Nord.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The ones who live near Gatwick and want to go to New York are pissed because there are no longer any direct flights. They don’t care how many high end hotels are in Paris either. The ones who want to get some sun in Madiera or some gambling in Las Vegas or… There’s lot of people who use Gatwick as their ORIGIN.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The cost of retrofitting *one city* to deal with sea level rise caused by carbon emissions has been estimated. It’s extremely high.

    The cost of retrofitting the entire US to run on solar has been estimated. It’s quite low by comparison.

    You can look up the citations yourself. It’s pretty much proven that it would be cheaper to get off of fossil fuels than it is to deal with the myriad problems caused by climate change.

    Eric Reply:

    From the first two links I found on Google (neither of them a “denier” site):

    Cost to protect all of the US against sea level rise: $20 billion
    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=298

    Cost to supply one house with solar power: $94000
    (Cost to convert 100 million homes this way: $9.4 trillion. Add in industry, and the figure will be higher.)
    http://www.hgtvremodels.com/home-systems/the-true-cost-of-solar-power/index.html

    Which indicates the opposite of what you said. Shockingly so.

    Eric Reply:

    That said, I think solar energy R&D is one of the few “anti-climate-change” interventions which is definitely worth doing. (Improving detection of methane leaks – which BTW happens to be one of my dad’s areas of research now – might be another.) R&D in general is cheap compared to its rewards, and whatever the effects of climate change, the economic benefits of cheaper energy will likely justify the investment anyway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wikipedia says there are 4.153 housing units on Fire Island. Keep the arithmetic simple 4,000 housing units at half a million a pop, which is probably too low, is 2 billion. Move bit farther west where there are places with lots of houses. 20 billion doesn’t get you to Queens. where there are even more half million dollar houses that will be flooded out. Or let you go east from Fire Island out into the Hamptons. Rinse repeat with New Jersey and Connecticut. Then Delaware and Rhode Island. Massachusetts. Maine. North Carolina. Virginia. Florida. how much of Florida is underwater if sea level rises 5 feet?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    how much of Florida is underwater if sea level rises 5 feet?
    Not enough.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s not gonna happen all at once and drown them. They’ll get people in blue states to buy them something somewhere else.

    Derek Reply:

    Storm surges will make some of it happen all at once. And, of course, the Federal Government will pay for it again like it always does, instead of requiring that cities and states insure themselves.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep. Domestically there’s no climate apartheid, only internationally.

    joe Reply:

    I disagree.

    Katrina is a prime example of climate apartheid.

    and 1927 flood along the Mississippi is how the impacts are asymmetrical.
    http://www.classzone.com/books/earth_science/terc/content/investigations/es1308/es1308page05.cfm

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The red staters who hate how they are making all that money from blue staters vacationing along their coasts wouldn’t want to pay for the insurance pool. They’d want the people who don’t live some place as stupid to pay for it.

    Occasionally the Federal government says “Sorry, you’ve had too many flood claims. Here’s a check for your property. Vacate”

    joe Reply:

    I’m sure my son will scuba dive the ruins of submerged Miami.

    NASA’s Eric Rignot, lead author of the Geophysical Research Letters study,[NASA-UCI Study Indicates Loss of West Antarctic Glaciers Appears Unstoppable] explains:

    The systems we are looking at do not respond to climate forcing in a smooth way, they start slow and then they proceed faster and faster. am not convinced the numerical models are there yet, they are still conservative and do not include all the feedbacks, they are getting better than IPCC-class models but still trailing reality quite a bit.

    Joe Reply:

    That study comes up with 20B due the decision to only do selective mitigation and includes abandonment of property. So no it does not protect the us coastline.

    FYZi, The New Jersey transit transit tunnel is at risk of failure after salt water intrusion from Sandy accelerated corrosive wear. 20b cost to mitigate sea level rise is hilarious low.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well yes if you refuse to pay the insurance claims it’s much cheaper.
    NJTransit doesn’t have any tunnels. How did tunnels they don’t have get damaged?

    joe Reply:

    You tell us – I was gong to post the details but I’ll let you show off your skilz.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I did post the details. How much more detail is there to “don’t have tunnels”? None of their dirigible fields, funiculars, hovercraft, with or without eels, cable cars, gondolas, horse drawn station wagons or mule drawn ones either, reaction ferries or steam locomotives were damaged in Sandy. Or Irene. Or the great Quebec Ice Storm.

    joe Reply:

    Oh thank god we have you here to help describe the NY area transit systems and issues. Keep up the good work.

    wikipedia
    The North River Tunnels carry Amtrak and New Jersey Transit rail lines under the Hudson River between Weehawken, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, New York City.

    http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2014/05/8544757/clock-ticking-hudson-crossings-amtrak-warns

    “I’ve been hearing abstractly people at Amtrak and other people at New Jersey Transit say for years the tunnels are over 100 years old and we have to be worried about them,” he said. “To actually have Joe put something concrete on the table, less than 20 years … Within my office, there was a level of, ‘Wow, this is really serious.’”

    “As you know the Hudson River Tunnels are more than 100 years old and were filled with salt water during Super Storm Sandy, which can be very corrosive,” he said. “ Amtrak is working with an expert to assess the condition of the tunnel structures since the storm, and that work is ongoing.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    PATH and subway tunnels of similar age and construction, some that have had water in them more frequently than Amtrak’s, must be ready to fall apart.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The MTA doesn’t defer maintenance the way Amtrak does.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak’s been maintaining them. There was a report on the state of them before they did the recent life and safety upgrades. Which were maintenance.
    …when is South Ferry gonna reopen?

    EJ Reply:

    joe, what dumbshit is trying to say is that Amtrak owns the tunnels, not NJ Transit. How that invalidates your point I’m not sure.

    joe Reply:

    I got it. Actually was disappointed in the direction he decided to go.

    The cost of rising sea levels should include the corrosive damage caused by seawater in the NY area transit system. Storm frequency and intensity is part of the change. Sandy’s are coming and the city will flood again and again.

    Eric Reply:

    “That study comes up with 20B due the decision to only do selective mitigation and includes abandonment of property. So no it does not protect the us coastline.”

    Indeed, it would be more expensive to preserve everything exactly as it is, than to abandon some especially exposed property. But the 20B includes the cost of that abandonment. I don’t see why preserving everything exactly as it is, at immense cost, should be the goal.

    Personally, I would have expected a somewhat higher number than 20B. But given that it’s 3 or 4 orders of magnitude lower than the cost of solar power (from my other link), even a substantial error would be very unlikely to change the conclusion.

    joe Reply:

    The sea rise scenario was 0.5 M. The 90′s study they cited (IPCC did not do a study but summarized past work) was made, the ice shelf was considered stable for thousands of years. Now the latest estimate is it’s not stable and there is a proejcted 10ft or 3 M rise.

    Zorro Reply:

    Of course now we know that the ocean has warmed up considerably, that has undermined(melted) the ice shelfs, that water rises to the surface and forms more sea ice, hence why some ships got stuck more than once and even ice breakers had trouble.

    EJ Reply:

    [citation needed]

    Zorro Reply:

    Well lets see, there is this Here@NASA and this from Columbia University(Ocean Currents Speed Melting Of Antarctic Ice), are those enough citation? If those aren’t, I don’t know what to say.

    Eric Reply:

    Agreed, but that rise is hundreds of years away.

    http://www.science20.com/news_articles/west_antarctic_ice_sheet_collapse_is_only_a_few_centuries_away-136386

    joe Reply:

    Just a decade ago the entire ice shelf was supposed to stable for thousands of years.

    Perhaps these projections are based on incomplete knowledge and inherently conservative.

    Eric Reply:

    Incomplete knowledge != inherently conservative.
    An estimate can be adjusted in either direction based on new evidence.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The US is not particularly vulnerable to small rises, because it doesn’t have the same flat floodplains that other parts of the world do. There are about a hundred million people living within a meter of sea level, but very few of them live in the US – even Miami is not that vulnerable. The only metro area in the US that’s this vulnerable is New Orleans, which punches far below the US share of world population. To have large numbers of potential climate refugees, you need extraordinarily flat coastal floodplains and very high rural density. This exists in Bengal and very few other places in the world.

    Tellingly, the one developed country that does have this pattern of high rural density and very flat floodplains, the Netherlands, is considering a hundred billion euros to spend on flood protection, on top of the existing Delta Works. The Netherlands has 16 million people; Bangladesh and West Bengal have 250 million between them.

    Eric Reply:

    I’m willing to budget a couple hundred billion euros to protect Bengal against floods. Still much cheaper than overhauling the world economy all at once.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bengal is just the biggest place this happens in; there are others. In Africa, for example, the biggest problem isn’t even coastal floods (relatively few people live in the Niger and Nile Deltas) but collapse of agricultural fertility coming from higher temperatures. There’s only so much mileage you can get out of a trillions for adaptation, not a penny for mitigation approach, especially as the adaptation costs rise.

    Eric Reply:

    Here’s what Wikipedia says about agriculture and climate change. It doesn’t sound very threatening.

    “As part of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, Schneider et al. (2007) projected the potential future effects of climate change on agriculture.[17] With low to medium confidence, they concluded that for about a 1 to 3 °C global mean temperature increase (by 2100, relative to the 1990–2000 average level) there would be productivity decreases for some cereals in low latitudes, and productivity increases in high latitudes. In the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, “low confidence” means that a particular finding has about a 2 out of 10 chance of being correct, based on expert judgement. “Medium confidence” has about a 5 out of 10 chance of being correct.[18] Over the same time period, with medium confidence, global production potential was projected to:[17]
    * increase up to around 3 °C,
    * very likely decrease above about 3 °C.”

    Eric Reply:

    And I don’t propose spending not a penny for mitigation. I think solar energy has the potential to drastically reduce carbon emissions once it is further developed. But private R&D has externalities – the costs are privatized while the benefits are socialized to a significant extent (i.e. patents are only for a limited time). So governments should sponsor solar R&D. Also, we should work to decrease our reliance on coal power, although probably more due to pollution concerns than CO2. And increase our reliance on nuclear power, at least in the short term, as the main practical alternative to coal.

    The vast majority of public debate on climate change consists of statement like “carbon emissions have to go to zero, now, and if they don’t then we’re all going to die!!!!!!!!!!!” Such hysterical statements are very common even among supposedly smart, educated, rational people, like the readers of this blog and of Slashdot. And anybody who dares question any detail is labeled a “denier” and grouped with the creationists and cigarette manufacturers. That is not a healthy situation and, as we see, does not lead to a rational cost/benefit assessment of different policies.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The specific complaints about agriculture come from Africa, which is low-latitude.

    Also? For all the “it was a beautiful planet” jokes, I don’t think many people actually believe any “we are all going to die!!!!111″ stories. Civilization survived World War Two; it will survive this. The trick is avoiding that sort of human cost. A WW2-grade death toll isn’t likely, but mass displacement is, and wars in Africa and South Asia of Second Congo War proportions are possible.

    As for questioning details, there’s a difference between revisionism and denialism. In Holocaust discourse, people who question whether the Nazis were planning on genocide until 1942, or who question whether one particular concentration camp had gas chambers, etc., would not be labeled denialists by serious historians. There are a lot of climate change equivalents here – for examples, people who think methane’s impact is overrated (which in particular makes beef a lot less destructive), or who support nuclear power, or who think it’s possible to compound incremental changes like more efficient appliances. But there’s a line between those and trolling, and focusing on first-world adaptation, with third-world issues as an afterthought, crosses that line.

    Eric Reply:

    To take one name from this blog to which I can tie an actual identity – Richard Mlynarik, who is certainly smart and has technical accomplishments in the past, really believes that modern industrial society will disappear in the next few decades. Many, many others are not so specific, but really do seem to be living in fear of some kind of horrible catastrophe which awaits us, unless we accept the truth and change our ways now.

    As for the effects on third world populations, let me first quote Nick Bostrom:
    “Even the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a report prepared for the British Government which has been criticized by some as overly pessimistic, estimates that under the assumption of business-as-usual with regard to emissions, global warming will reduce welfare by an amount equivalent to a permanent reduction in per capita consumption of between 5 and 20%. In absolute terms, this would be a huge harm. Yet over the course of the twentieth century, world GDP grew by some 3,700%, and per capita world GDP rose by some 860%. It seems safe to say that (absent a radical overhaul of our best current scientific models of the Earth’s climate system) whatever negative economic effects global warming will have, they will be completely swamped by other factors that will influence economic growth rates in this century.”

    I care most about those “other factors that will influence economic growth rates”. If we raise the cost of energy to third world countries, we will decrease their growth rates. Even if we only raise the cost of energy to first world countries, we will decrease first world growth rates, which due to the gradual diffusion of wealth between connected economies, will hurt the third world as well. Economic development is the most important systemic moral imperative in the world today. It’s questionable if climate change is even second on that list.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    For all the “it was a beautiful planet” jokes, I don’t think many people actually believe any “we are all going to die!!!!111″ stories. Civilization survived World War Two; it will survive this.

    It’s no joke.

    I doubt all H. sapiens will perish, but given that all cheaply exploitable fuels and ores are gone forever (on less than geological time scales), any required rebooting of industrial civilization is a far from certain thing.

    How will the long and global supply lines of industrial civilization fare in a world with many billions of very desperate humans (who will be increasingly irrational about anything but immediate survival, increasingly religiously insane) and in the face of total collapse of all fisheries and agricultural loss of large percentages of the planet’s surface (including, for example, the entire SW of north America)?

    What will it take to defend and maintain the last photovoltaic cell factory and everything (skills, tooling, raw material mining, raw material shippin) that is required to supply it?

    It’s possible to imagine peaceful transitions from a population of ten billion to a much less than one billion (I’ve done my non reproductive duty), but there is no reason at all (being against all history, against all biology) to hope for anything but catastrophe and suffering (human and non-human) on a scale with no human precedence.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    really believes that modern industrial society will disappear in the next few decades

    Congratulations on being as smart and honest and accurate as the average frequency-weighted chsrblog commenter.

    joe Reply:

    The Fourth ?
    “Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,”
    Eric’s reading older assessments. 2007. The newest is 2012.

    The IPCC is inherently conservative. It is a consensus and projection of trends, not a prediction.

    For example past assessment projected the ice shelves to be stable for thousands of years – now they’re irreversibly collapsing. The Author of the GRL study openly states the models they used to show instability are undoubtedly MISSING feedbacks. They would make the shelves even less stable.

    Food productions a problem under change scenarios too but Eric wouldn’t know a C3 form a C4 if he ate it.

    joe Reply:

    Hmm Nick’s lying in that quote.

    Here’s Nicks paper http://www.nickbostrom.com/papers/future.html

    You can catch him on the book circuit as he promotes himself as a counter voice to the IPCC.’

    Nick’s flaming the IPCC is pessimistic but thats actually the opposite is inherently conservative and represents a consensus opinion which drive sour extreme viewpoints. The authors and their report are not pessimistic. In fact the IPPC is seen as a cautious statement probable understating the effects.

    Eric The latest IPC is here https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/

    joe Reply:

    fucken safari

    Nick’s claiming the IPCC is pessimistic but it is actually the opposite. The IPCC is inherently conservative and represents a consensus opinion which drives out extreme viewpoints. The authors and their report are not pessimistic. In fact the IPPC report is seen as a cautious statement, probable understating the effects.

    Eric Reply:

    Actually, Bostrom referred to the IPCC report as “the most authoritative assessment of current scientific opinion” and to the Stern Report (a different publication) as “pessimistic”.
    (Which it is, compared to other studies – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Estimates_of_the_Economic_Damage_of_Climate_Change.png )

    I’ve read parts of the IPCC report and not seen anything to contradict the view I’ve given in this thread. Maybe you can show me what I’m missing.

    joe Reply:

    You’re quoting an old IPCC report – maybe that’s intentional.

    You also misquote such as the Fourth Assessment (old) does a survey of literature including mitigation of sea level rise which you mistakenly (r probably intentionally) represent as the IPCC’s conclusion. It wasn’t their conclusion. A survey of past reports (the one you liked is from the mid-90′s or ~20 years old.

    joe Reply:

    BTW the wikipedia Pic you link to is a 2006 paper which means it compares the Stern report to the third IPCC report (2001) 13+ years old. The fourth IPCC, also outdated, came out a year later in 2007.

    The third IPPC Scientific Basis discusses grounded Antarctic ice:

    For Antarctica (Table 11.6), the ice discharge dominates the uncertainty in the mass balance of the grounded ice sheet, because of the difficulty of determining the position and thickness of ice at the grounding line and the need for assumptions about the vertical distribution of velocity.
    The figure of Budd and Smith (1985) of 1,620×1012 kg/yr is the only available estimate. Comparing this with an average value of recent accumulation estimates for the grounded ice sheet would suggest a positive mass balance of around +10% of the total input, equivalent to -0.5 mm/yr of sea level.

    That assessment shows the IPCC wa sun sure but possibly the Antarctic could be accumulating ice – we now know that’s not the case. The Thrid IPCC report used this information as the basis for their sea level rise analysis so it was not known the ice shelves were going to melt without any chance to stop. Maybe you should stick to the new stuff.

    Back in 2001 the now collapsing west antarctic ice shelves were supposed to be stable for thousands of years.

    Now we have 10ft rise with the lead author of one study admitting they probably don’t model all the feedbacks so the rapid collapse (which will happen later) can happen sooner given the feedbacks. They too are reporting conservative results.

    Eric Reply:

    My numbers for GDP, sea level rise, etc. are the latest I have seen available.

    For example, the IPCC predictions for 2013 (at least) predicts approximately the same 0.5m sea level rise as in the earliest study I cited:
    “A draft version of the next report from the IPCC (AR5), due for publication in 2014, was recently leaked. Although the information is subject to change, the draft report says sea levels are likely to rise by between 29 and 82 centimeters by the end of the century,”

    Every day or two we read in the news another anecdote about how global warming will affect the climate. Some people are afraid of change and feel the need for the earth to remain perpetually static, and such news releases make them panic. For those of us who simply care about the climate’s effects on human beings (and to a much lesser degree on animals and natural diversity), the reaction is: What degree of change? How much will it cost us? How much will it cost to prevent the change? And on the rare occasions when numbers appear to answer these questions, they are much less scary than most people believe, and they also seem to change rather little from survey to survey.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nick Bostrom is not a climate scientist, an economist who studies environmental costs, or an expert in any similarly relevant field. He’s a philosopher. The last time I heard his name was in relation to the simulation argument. And he seems not particularly honest, with the “has been criticized as overly pessimistic” line (criticized by who?) and the opposition of 20% reduction with 860% growth. 9.6*0.8 = 7.68; chopping 20% of future GDP per capita means chopping nearly 200% of present-day GDP. Of course, it gets discounted because it’s in the far future. Assumptions on future growth don’t matter too much then – long-term discount rates and growth rates cancel out, so no matter what, we’re talking about the equivalent of a 20% shock to GDP today, and that’s where $500/t-CO2 social costs of emissions come from.

    The other bit, about the third world, is exactly backward. The impacts of climate change are worst in the third world: coastal flooding, reduction in low-latitude agricultural fertility, and higher food prices coming from desertification impact the third world the most. On the global scale, it’s like air pollution and fuel taxes: against the argument that fuel taxes are regressive, there’s the fact that air pollution is even more regressive, so the net social impact of fuel taxes increases equality.

    Conversely, when you adjust for PPP, the world’s poorest countries actually have lower emissions per GDP than the average – see for example here; the highest per-GDP emissions are in middle-income places like China and South Africa and in the former USSR. Generally high emissions per GDP seem to be a feature of countries with legacies of a planned economy, including China, and the predominantly middle-income countries in this category are capable of shedding their inefficient holdouts, and some (again, China) are doing so already, just not fast enough. The only truly poor country with high emissions, India, a) has emissions per GDP barely above global average, and b) is also one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in terms of both agriculture and coastal floodplains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    By the way, for some reason, the link states its units in dollars, which makes it ambiguous whether lower numbers are better or worse. Lower numbers are better; the actual units are kg-CO2 per constant 2005 PPP dollar of GDP.

    When you think about it right, 20% of GDP means $400 in 2005 dollars (almost $500 in today’s dollars): the world economy produces $2,000′s worth of goods and services per t-CO2, and times 20% that’s $400. In particular, Hansen’s proposed $100/t-CO2 turns out to be the lower end of the estimate range.

    John Burrows Reply:

    My son recently installed solar panels on his roof in Campbell. The cost of the panels before discounts was $33,000. For the 3 month period from Feb. 1 to April 30 his panels produced 2.6 megawatt hours of electricity which works out to 29 kilowatt hours per day—roughly equal to his power consumption for the period, and in fact he expects to break even on his electric power consumption for the year.

    My understanding is that the cost of rooftop solar panels is falling as their efficiency goes up. I would guess that as time goes by rooftop solar will become a really big deal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    29 kWh per day is an awful lot.

    John Burrows Reply:

    He supplied me with a link so I can see his roof top power generation almost in real time. So far today his panels have generated 41.3 kWh of electricity and will get to 45 or 46 by sundown.

    Eric Reply:

    How many years until his panels pay themselves back? If my calculation is right it’s around 35 years. That’s a long time, when you don’t know if you’ll be leaving the house or if the panels might get damaged somehow.

    I’m waiting for when panels are cheap enough that they pay for themselves in 5-10 years.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The labor to install them is going to be that much.

    Eric Reply:

    In that case, you don’t put them on your house, you put them on a big farm on the desert, which replaces the coal power plant you were buying from. Same environmental effect.

    joe Reply:

    Solar tiles. I see these tiles on new construction in Gilroy.
    For CA roof sized at 2,000 sq ft with 80% solar (highest level on their on-line calculator).

    http://www.dowpowerhouse.com/value/
    “For an additional $27,640 (post incentives) over the cost of a traditional roof, you could receive an estimated $106,300 in energy savings over 25 years and potentially increase your overall home value by $33,000. Dow Solar also offers financing for Solar Shingles. ”

    The devils in the details but we’re paying 0.10 off peak 11pm 9 am and .30 peak (2-9pm).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Shingles don’t work well on flat roof and putting the solar collectors on the north side of a pitched roof isn’t very effective.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You can always incline the panels. When you think about it right, it doesn’t provide any more power than just covering the entire roof with flat panels, but it allows you to get the same power with a lower unit area of panels.

    Pitched roofs are never worse than flat roofs, other than requiring more panel area to be fully covered, and are actually better for total power if the sun’s angle is such that one side of the roof is shaded. However, the problem is that you often still have to cover the poleward side – on hot summer afternoons, nearly half the insolation will be on the poleward side, and on hot summer evenings more than half the insolation will be on the poleward side.

    joe Reply:

    What’s with the ass-pergers syndrome commentary ?

  8. leroy
    May 13th, 2014 at 05:33
    #8

    Move to Wisconsin (Scott Walker) We froze our buns this past winter. And besides, if India and China don’t go along … HSR will be but a drop in the ocean. Worship Jesus, not the earth.

    Eric Reply:

    I’m happy to be about the only person here who worships neither Jesus nor the earth :)

  9. Jos Callinet
    May 13th, 2014 at 06:45
    #9

    As I see it, the only way to settle this never-ending debate on high-speed rail in California is to go ahead, just build the damned thing and put it to the real-life acid test: Will it, or Will it Not, make a substantial contribution to protecting our environment from emissions otherwise generated if it (HSR) were not present?

    Until we have an ACTUAL, IN-PLACE, HSR system, all we can do is speculate – endlessly.

    Under present circumstances, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that HSR in California is not likely to be built.

    BOTTOM LINE: HSR is caught dead in the middle of a full stand-off tug-of-war between powerful opposing forces. There isn’t enough political consensus to clear the way to its being built. Even if the first segment of the line were to finally get the “OK,” forces will arise to stymie and block further construction elsewhere. I see no way around years and years of endless political in-fighting and obstructionism over this project. We will have to adopt and apply the Chinese political system in order to force it to be built.

    We can’t chop our way free from our entanglement in the heavy undergrowth of political opposition to HSR if we don’t have enough sharpened machetes or people to wield them! Clearly, we lack both.

  10. Trentbridge
    May 13th, 2014 at 07:32
    #10

    Hardly reported is the growing trend of local coucncils to upgrade their street lighting to LED lights – which cuts CO2 emissions in half: Berkley – for example

    Saving Energy: Streetlights make up 32% of the City’s municipal electricity load and account for 900 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. LED streetlights cut energy and greenhouse gas emissions in half. Following on the success of LED pilot projects in the Marina and along Telegraph Ave, all City streetlights are scheduled for replacement with LEDs in 2014.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Switching to LEDs is one of those things which everyone should do ASAP. Huge, very quick benefits.

    Eric Reply:

    Not so quick.

    It’s a good idea for light poles, since in addition to the electricity cost, they are a pain to replace when they burn out.

    But for home lights, particularly those which aren’t used on a continual basis, it would take a long time for the up-front investment to be paid off. Particularly if LEDs end up following the pattern of CFLs, where some brands do not actually last any longer than incandescents, in which case you never end up saving money.

    Hopefully LED development progress in the next few years will make LED cost a moot point. But for now, it matters.

    Derek Reply:

    LED streetlights increase light pollution (they tend to be brighter than the lights they replace, and the light is more difficult for astronomers to filter out than low pressure sodium vapor lamps) and the bluish light suppresses melatonin, causing insomnia.

    These effects can be mitigated with good lamp design that don’t allow light to shine directly into the sky, and by using motion sensors to turn them on and off only as needed.

  11. Alon Levy
    May 13th, 2014 at 07:38
    #11

    I’d appreciate it if your citation for “HSR is essential” included climate scientists or climate activists or environmental economists and not government bureaucrats.

    More in general, HSR is projected to reduce California’s emissions by, what, 1%? It just sounds like you’re mustering outrage over something pretty small. You’re trying to whip people into the sort of outrage that leads to bans on driving, widespread shutdowns of fossil-fired plants, and shutdowns of industrial plants. That, to me, is what “fiddling while Earth burns” and the things you’ve said on Twitter suggest. James Hansen wants to stop coal burning. Instead, you’re proposing one infrastructure project, because California decided it’s a priority.

    And this matters, because the right way to build infrastructure depends heavily on whether you’re in incremental change mode or in shut everything done mode. HSR is incremental change mode: the assumptions on ridership include a modest rise in fuel prices, not an all-out government effort to make people stop driving gas-powered cars. They include a continuation of preexisting trends in where people live, not skyrocketing electricity prices wrecking suburban property values (depending on whether rooftop solar can be deployed at the scale to prevent this).

    Now suppose that things shift to shut everything done mode. Suddenly, people can’t drive into San Francisco, or to their Silicon Valley jobs. It means the entire California rail plan has to suddenly scale up to pick up the slack. Enjoy your demand for 40 million transit trips per day squeezed into a rail transit network with the capacity for, charitably, 2 million. Would anyone give a crap about speeding up intercity trains when there’s no competition? Or would California prefer to devote its transportation resources to scaling up urban transit capacity as fast as possible? You say California HSR is essential. Maybe building three new trans-Bay tubes and fifteen subway lines in Los Angeles is more essential, but the state isn’t thinking about them today because they wouldn’t financially pan out under an incremental scenario whereas HSR would?

    Joseph E Reply:

    “Suddenly, people can’t drive into San Francisco, or to their Silicon Valley jobs. It means the entire California rail plan has to suddenly scale up to pick up the slack. ”

    Nah. If everyone stopped driving, we would need a bunch more buses. With the roads largely free of traffic, regular buses could be nearly as fast as at-grade light rail. The freeways could be used for express bus routes, run for a profit by private companies.

    Over time, it would make sense to build more rail lines to reduce operating costs on many of the busy routes.

    At first, there might not be enough buses to meet demand in an oil-shock situation, but private vans and cars could be used as jitneys, and bikes and walking would become much more popular. With private car drivers off the roads, walking and bikes would be much safer and faster too.

    Unfortunately, I don’t expect oil supplies to collapse, so I don’t think this scenario will come to pass.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    With no cars there’s no reason to leave all those intersections laying around. Through a few Jersey Barriers and the bus could run almost as fast as grade separated rail. Since it would more or less be on it’s own right of way.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Road maintenance is about to become a problem. Asphalt prices are rising, and asphalt is nastily carbon-intensive, and has a short lifespan.

    Standard concrete is also carbon-intensive, but luckily carbon-negative concrete has been invented.

    jonathan Reply:

    what does carbon-negative concrete (or surely, really, carbon-negative cement?) cost?
    Where can I call up a contractor and get a few Byzantine-obsolete units (“cubic yards”)?

    Regarding asphalt: I’m curious. Sure, bitumen is a viscous petrochemical, either found naturally, or a by-product of distillation. “Asphalt” as used on roads (aka “tarmac” or Tar-MacAdam) is bitumen mixed with aggregate: Asphalt Concrete. I’m sure the aggregate is significantly denser than the bitumen. So do you count the carbon-content by volume, or by mass?

    IOW: Why is that “nastily carbon-intensive” ? I take it on faith, but I’d like to know why.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, at-grade light rail is not all that fast. Neither are buses, even in relatively low-congestion environments. The 4th Avenue limited-stop buses in Vancouver scratch 30 km/h from below, with signal priority over cars (pedestrians need to hit the beg button to cross) and not a lot of density along the route.

    Second, express buses would probably no longer have the branching frequency problem because of the positive shock to demand, true. This affects planning as well. Under any incremental scenario, even a very aggressive one involving high transit spending and heavy TOD, freeway buses are not very useful, so planners largely (and correctly) ignore them.

    Third, think in terms of phasing. If as a result of a robust climate agreement fuel prices skyrocket, people will respond by driving less, but not just through mode shift but also through driving shorter distances: more people living in cities, fewer in suburbs. There are large numbers of people driving, today, in countries where fuel costs the equivalent of $2 per liter; they live in more compact town centers, trip-chain better, and cause a lot of traffic congestion in the major cities. We’re still talking about a huge rise in transit ridership from current US levels, but not about the elimination of city car traffic. In a city without traffic, cars are amazingly useful and don’t consume that much fuel. Think of it as the incremental version of the shut-it-down scenario – high and sudden fuel taxes, but no widespread bans on or forced closures of anything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    First, at-grade light rail is not all that fast.

    Because there are all those pesky cars fouling things up. Ban cars and the trolley ( or the bus ) goes a lot faster. Just as fast as it would if it was totally grade separated… it gets grade separated to keep the cars away… if you have banned cars that problem goes away.

    Jon Reply:

    You’d have to ban pedestrians and cyclists as well. And there will be lot more of those if oil supplies collapse.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The pedestrians can stay on the sidewalk like they do now and the cyclists can use the parking lane,. That will be free because there won’t be any cars to park. They just have to watch out for the bus that comes along every few minutes.

    Jon Reply:

    The problem is not pedestrians/cyclists going in the same direction as the light rail vehicle (assuming it already has a semi-exclusive right of way), it’s intersection delay . People still need to cross the street, and cyclists/buses/other LRVs need to travel in an orthogonal direction, or make left turns across the path of the LRV.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and if there’s no cars around they do it in the long spaces between the buses or trolleys. . . the Atlantic City boardwalk doesn’t have traffic control devices. Neither does the mall or the airport terminal. Other than on the streets with bus routes you could probably rip out everything including the stop signs.

    Jon Reply:

    and if there’s no cars around they do it in the long spaces between the buses

    …which would limit the speed of the LRVs to speeds where they could stop in time if someone decided to dash out in front of them. Vehicles should only be travelling faster than about 20 mph if they can be reasonably sure that wont happen, i.e. they have an exclusive right-of way. The Atlantic City boardwalk doesn’t have traffic control devices because it doesn’t have any traffic faster than 20mph. (Are you being deliberately obtuse, or do you actually have a point here?)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The speed limit in front of my house is 40 and people rarely go that slow. I manage to cross the street without being run down. So do all the neighbors. There’s a lot more cars than there would be buses.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On 4th Avenue in Vancouver, crossing pedestrians can turn their light green very fast, which I don’t think is true of crossing cars. The buses certainly have had to stop suddenly for crossing pedestrians.

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