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  1. #16
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    @BWeaves - I think if you live so far from work (I mean 30 miles a day -- there and back -- is not bikeable, even with an electric) perhaps one potential way to reduce car use is to bike to a transit point? Or bike to a co-worker to carpool? I live 6k (about 3.7miles) from work, that's doable, I think I could be OK with up to 5 miles, after that I would seek an alternative. If your work is near an airport then then there is usually transport to the airport. (and you could avoid horrible bike-unfriendly highways).

    I used to commute with my fold-up bike, 15 minutes to the train station by bike, an hour and 15 mins train, 10 mins on the other end to work... it worked but it was a pain meeting the train times since my tickets were very inflexible. But I liked the bike bit...

    @imperator well I hope you're right but signs are bad

    @runningtravel I think the demand for air travel is still increasing -- people are flying more and more instead of less and less. So I do think demand plays into it.

    @travelteach -- hearing you. America seems to be completely stuck train and bike policy. I can only imagine that ordinary citizens have to take pains to raise the issue with local governments, local businesses, state governments etc. We have to have a lot of conversations about it. It's a lot of work, and why can't it just work? Beyond frustrating. Why would not flying mean not seeing the grandkids and parents though? Chicago is the train hub of the US if nothing else.

  2. #17
    Forum Member sujo's Avatar
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    I will add two more factors: 24/7 lifestyle and "the same for everyone"

    It's something I don't hear mentioned a lot but the fact is we can get whatever we want, wherever we are 24 hours a day, seven days a week every day of the year. This means increased amounts of electricity, water, and fossil fuel used to support these activities. And because of this capability to provide 24/7 service, it's "the same for everyone."

    Do you remember when you had to go to a big city to get sushi? Now, you can go anywhere and get it and there are usually lots of different restaurants within blocks of each other. They can’t all be filled all the time, using all their product for the day everyday. What this means is - there's tons of wasted food. There's no way populations in a city can support a bunch of sushi restaurants. That fish won't stay fresh longer than a day or two.

    Anyway, my point is that we all focused on what burning fossil fuel does to the environment but the reason there is so much burning of fuel is a mindset - we have to have the same for everyone everywhere, 24/7.

    Chick-fil-a is making a bunch of money and they are not open on Sunday. Say what you want about the owners' beliefs, but the point is they do not operate 24/7 and are even closed one day a week. But because you can't just get a Chick-fil-a sandwich anywhere at anytime, they do well.

    Perhaps we don't need to go to Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. for a roll of paper towels. Maybe we can make due for another 6 hours. And knowing they close at 9 p.m., we might plan our day better to get what we need before then – without the benefit of a home delivery service. Maybe we don't need to have sushi in a town of 12,000 (located in the mid-west somewhere where salmon is not even a local fish).

    OK, I'll stop rambling and make a point. The point is that we use so much because we feel like we have to have everything all the time when we want it, where we want it. If we can stop that mindset, then maybe we can start to take back some of the damage. Otherwise, if we continue, that decision will be made for us by nature or an overburdened infrastructure.

    Edited to add: And of course, this demand increases the need for meat, chicken, fish, grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as non-organic things like metal, plastic, cleaning products, etc. This impacts the oceans and the land. Just a vicious cycle.
    Last edited by sujo; 05-15-2019 at 08:24 AM.

  3. #18
    Volunteer Moderator Forum Moderator Crew's Avatar
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    Forum Moderator Kitty usually posts when there’s a problem, but today Forum Moderator Kitty is posting to say: this is a thread about important and potentially intense topics, and it’s super cool to see how productive the discussion is and read all the varied thoughts and experiences. That's nothing out of the ordinary around here but we still wanted to recognize it. That’s all.
    We're here to post friendly reminders of the TOM BIHN Forums Rules and Guidelines.

  4. #19
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    Transportation is only one portion of the emissions pie. People have very romantic view of Europe as being a quaint place with a focus on being green, but Europe isn't the best reference point to use as a pinnacle of environmental policy. California has limited public transportation and people drive long distances. Germany has plenty of public transportation and actually has a political party devoted to being green. Despite this, if you look at the carbon emissions of California, which has spent a lot of money on the environment, versus Germany, which also has spent a lot of money on the environment, the pace of decline for CHG emissions is much steeper in CA vs. Germany, and the two are now basically the same in terms of CHG per capita. This is mostly because CA essentially stopped using coal to generate power and built a lot of utility scale renewables. Germany decided to shut nuclear, burned more coal as a consequence of using less nuclear, and focused on rooftop solar, which is 5X the cost of utility scale renewables and crowded out headroom to do things that are more effective uses of money. Interestingly, even the U.S. as a whole, despite having no carbon policy at a national level, has reduced emissions more than Germany over the past 10 years (still higher than Germany on an absolute basis).

  5. #20
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    Thank you forum moderator - I bet your heart plummeted when you saw the topic. Thank you everyone else for discussing this in an interesting and productive way. I'm learning!

    The four climate actions I have seen referenced are 1 - go car free 2 - fly much less or not at all 3 - eat a plant-based diet - 4 reduce consumption.

    But even if we did all that it might not be enough? Here's a list of things so that we could work towards collective action (but: from some person off the internet, so maybe not the most reliable source).https://theclimatelemon.com/individu...limate-change/

    Keep yourself informed, share knowledge and discuss climate issues with your friends and coworkers
    Look up environmental policies and vote with the climate in mind. Talk about climate change if you get polled or surveyed
    Go to talks and debates locally and ask the speaker a question about how climate change relates to their field
    Contact shops and brands asking for more sustainable options, or explaining why you won’t buy certain products
    Sign petitions and email your local representative about an issue you care about
    Contact politicians and business leaders on social media about an issue you care about (and they can do something about)
    Go to a real live protest. It makes a bigger impact because it takes more effort than a click
    Volunteer for an NGO, charity or local community group. Ideally try and drag your friends along too
    Campaign for your university or workplace to make a specific change, like divesting from fossil fuels, switching to renewable energy or recycling.

  6. #21
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejvc View Post
    Why would not flying mean not seeing the grandkids and parents though? Chicago is the train hub of the US if nothing else.
    In my case, living in Texas with kids/grandkids in the distant Northeast, anything but plane travel is unfeasible from a timing standpoint. It would add days of travel time (and hardship) that we can't afford. A flight from Dallas to Rhode Island is 4 hrs; Amtrak is over 50 hrs. Heck-- even getting around in Texas, as big as it is, can be a major time commitment and often not feasible unless by air. Dallas to El Paso is 1.5 hrs by air, but over 9 hours by car. There have been some great new mass transit options that we've started using, including Vonlane Bus line, which is nicer than plane, and zips you in comfort to downtown Austin or Houston in the same length of time it takes to drive. However, from an emissions standpoint, I don't know if that's truly helping or hurting the environment, as the bus only seats 22.

    I think it's a great idea to think about the overall impact of everything you consume though, and make changes wherever you can. For some of us, the mode of travel is not much of an option. Dallas has a rail system (yay!), but it doesn't serve the whole city, and often doesn't save time when you factor in the second leg of transportation you'll often have to take. It's crazy hot here in the summer, and things are very spread out, so biking and walking are inconvenient (and downright dangerous) in many parts of the metroplex.

    @sujo, I think the 24/7 lifestyle is a mixed blessing. It's convenient and useful, particularly for those who work odd hours. But I do love visiting rural places or other countries where shops close early or on weekends, like in the old days. I don't really see cities ever reverting to something like that. The world has expanded and shrunk simultaneously.
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    The world has expanded and shrunk simultaneously.
    I love this, it's a great way to describe it.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    The world has expanded and shrunk simultaneously.
    I absolutely agree and it seems that the more we know it becomes more complicated. I agree that flying less is certainly a good thing especially when it is not necessary. And there are indeed some excesses as flying is so cheap (in Europe often cheaper than using the train). On the other hand I also agree that it is a great and an important thing that it has become so easy to meet people from all over the world. As I am working in academia this is one of the most rewarding and interesting aspects of what I do: Sharing, discussing and developing ideas with people from all over the world. And meeting face to face is so different from a telephone or a video conference. Thus, I travel a lot and I sometimes use a plane with uncomfortable feelings though.

    However, as far as I know traffic is not even the biggest source of man made CO2. Producing heat and energy as well as farming contribute a much larger proportion. As NClens rightly remarked in Germany we still generate a lot of our power with coal which ruins our CO2 balance despite all the other efforts that have been made. One of the major reasons for our ongoing coal use is that so many jobs depended on that business.

    Producing meat is another relatively large and growing source of CO2 and as there are a couple of other good reasons (such as health and animal well-being) I have cut down my meat consumption to almost zero. But again there are huge economic interests in producing meat as can be seen in Brazil where the deforestation of the rain forest to produce more soja mainly for farming purposes is a big and alarming issue.

    I mainly use the bike while my car virtually collects dust in the garage as I am using it less and less. But I know that that's a huge privilege as I am living in a city with a great infrastructure where everything I need is almost within walking distance while other folks in more rural areas depend on a car. Thus, to balance all these different aspects and needs makes the solution so complicated.
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood
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  9. #24
    Forum Member Perseffect's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by imperator View Post
    Have at it, I love empty seats next to me! Thirty years form now, this doomsayers' moral panic will be forgotten like all the others.
    Iím really curious, what other environmental impact(s) in the past have now been forgotten?



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  10. #25
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    There have been some interesting comments but some really need to look at this differently.

    Take the hybrid or electric cars. When the batteries can no longer be charged and have to be replaced, they have no recyclable parts and are sent to landfills.

    As for stores being open 24, blame that on our 24 hour business and manufacturing cycle. Many people now work evening and overnight shifts and stores stayed open so they could shop at their convenience. Blame that on our productive society and wanting to make sure people have jobs.

    As for flying, planes today burn less fuel and have less impact on the environment than planes did 25 years ago. It's a process that keeps getting better. But that is true of a lot of things.

    Why don't we have an extensive rail network like Europe? We're too big. Do you realize that all of western Europe could fit in the U.S. east of the Mississippi?

    I'm currently in Scotland. Everywhere you look you see wind turbines. Both on land and in the water. Scotland now gets 85% of its energy from these wind turbines and hope by 2025 to be at 100%. That makes a big difference. They no longer need to burn fossil fuel. (The largest turbine in the world is in Scotland. One revolution of the blades can power a home for one day.)

    Throughout most of the UK there is a move to get rid of plastic utensils and straws. It's working. If you want a shopping bag at the market, you pay for it. (It's not a way of making money but a way to get you to reuse them.) That's a rule throughout the EU.

    Norway will ban the sale of cars burning fossil fuel by 2025. India and Germany by 2030. France and the UK by 2040.

    While it may make you feel good not eating meat, or biking to work, or not flying, it won't make a big impact. People will still eat meat, they will get in their cars to go to work, and flying is more popular than ever. To really make a change, we have to get governments to act.

    In the U.S., we first have to convince the government there is a problem.

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  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejvc View Post

    @travelteach -- hearing you. America seems to be completely stuck train and bike policy. I can only imagine that ordinary citizens have to take pains to raise the issue with local governments, local businesses, state governments etc. We have to have a lot of conversations about it. It's a lot of work, and why can't it just work? Beyond frustrating. Why would not flying mean not seeing the grandkids and parents though? Chicago is the train hub of the US if nothing else.
    Thank you for the thoughtful response. We do have people in the US advocating for environmental change, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

    As for my family visits. Boston to Chicago by train is a 1 day 3 hour trip at best. Chicago is a hub, but it's not connected to Boston so I'd have to travel through Washington, D.C. Flying is ~2 hours.

    Elderly parents are in Dallas. Train to Dallas is 1 day 18 hours. A direct route, but a very long distance. (~2500 km)

    I do take the train to NYC where another grandchild lives. It's a great way to travel!

    Lots of good thoughts here. I think what @bartleby mentioned about jobs is a huge factor in the U.S. With the election cycle, our politicians are only looking 4-6 years ahead. They are hesitant to support anything that will put people out of work. Promising new green jobs 'somewhere' in the future isn't going to work with their voters.
    Last edited by Traveltech; 05-15-2019 at 04:06 PM.

  12. #27
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    I thought this thread was going to be about how prices keep rising and airline service keeps getting worse!!!

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveltech View Post
    Lots of good thoughts here. I think what @bartleby mentioned about jobs is a huge factor in the U.S. With the election cycle, our politicians are only looking 4-6 years ahead. They are hesitant to support anything that will put people out of work. Promising new green jobs 'somewhere' in the future isn't going to work with their voters.
    I just watched the Anthony Bourdain episode in West Virginia and this is the exact reason (based on the anecdotal evidence of residents interviewed for the show) that WV went for the Republicans. If we really want to get enough people to come around to voting in favor of a Green New Deal (which I should say, I support), we have to provide them with IMMEDIATE job opportunities that pay as well as the coal/fossil fuel industry. Is this impossible? I'd like to think not. If it was a safer job that paid the same or more, I think things would shift pretty quickly in those communities.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by bartleby View Post
    Producing meat is another relatively large and growing source of CO2 and as there are a couple of other good reasons (such as health and animal well-being) I have cut down my meat consumption to almost zero. But again there are huge economic interests in producing meat as can be seen in Brazil where the deforestation of the rain forest to produce more soja mainly for farming purposes is a big and alarming issue.
    Any CO2 produced by cattle is ultimately derived from new growth grasses and grains, so it is ultimately net zero. The core of the argument is Methane, which has higher greenhouse potential, but is also more volatile and ultimately breaks down in the atmosphere. Once the movement veers from hydrocarbon extraction increasing atmospheric concentrations, it is just appealing to general anti-industrial or "Western lifestyle" sentiment. The bigger concern is poor land use policy and unsustainable ranching practices leading to ranching's overuse of water in arid places like Texas and New Mexico, which also has a hand in preventing denser growth.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by runningtravels View Post
    I just watched the Anthony Bourdain episode in West Virginia and this is the exact reason (based on the anecdotal evidence of residents interviewed for the show) that WV went for the Republicans. If we really want to get enough people to come around to voting in favor of a Green New Deal (which I should say, I support), we have to provide them with IMMEDIATE job opportunities that pay as well as the coal/fossil fuel industry. Is this impossible? I'd like to think not. If it was a safer job that paid the same or more, I think things would shift pretty quickly in those communities.
    Actually, something similar to this has been done. For decades, North Carolina was the furniture manufacturing capital of America. But slowly, jobs were shipped overseas and it became cheaper to cut down the trees in NC, ship them to China, make the furniture there, and ship it back than it was to do everything here.

    NC officials knew they had to do something. They had all these empty buildings and unemployed workers. They decided to reach out to the biotechnology field offering them incentives to take over the empty building and build their plants there. This industry needs workers in the plants who don't need college degrees just some specialized training. So six month programs were started in every community college in the state to train people. The companies came and people got jobs.

    It took a government who wanted to do something. It seems nowadays, all we hear about are the extremist politicians who denigrate anyone who disagrees with them or votes differently.

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