Trolly buses cheapest transport for post-oil world

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by eclipse, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. eclipse macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #1
    Hi all,
    I've been thinking about how we're going to get around once the oil starts to decline in production around 2015.

    According to this article, trolley buses are the cheapest public electric transport we can whack up REALLY fast, 5 times cheaper than trams! That means instead of a 5km tram line you could have a 25 km trolley bus line!
    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/07/trolleytrucks-trolleybuses-cargotrams.html

    They can even carry cargo, but probably not the same density of tonnage that heavy rail can (which we'll need more of as well, especially intercity).

    Cargo trolley-truck.
    [​IMG]

    Or even this!
    [​IMG]

    But no one wants trolley-bus lines down EVERY street in their suburb, and I doubt we could afford that. So how can council rubbish trucks get around once they leave the main line and go down side-streets?

    The idea I have involves hybrid trolley buses and trolley trucks which also have diesel engines. They run on the trolley lines much of the time, but turn their biodiesel engine on when servicing side streets. Where does the biodiesel (or syngas) come from? Locally collected green waste pushed through a biochar plant!
    http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/2007...nish-the-soil/

    Then the council gets to:-
    1. Be immune from the coming oil shocks
    2. Have most council trucks running most of the time on wind & solar
    3. Dispose of their green waste after extracting some syngas (or synfuel) from it
    4. Sell the Biochar to local farmers markets, after peak phosphorus (20 years) this stuff will sell like gold!
    5. Claim carbon credits for the sequestered Co2 in the biochar

    And your local council is now ready for the post-oil world, and probably making a bit more money to boot! Not bad hey? :D I just wish someone would run some figures on the "average" municipal green waste for various regions around the globe and how well this system would work.
     
  2. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #2
    That's fine for cities and major highways. But get a detailed highway map of any state and look at the small-road networks--and then start considering the needs for the various types of vehicles and equipment used in agriculture. Last I heard, folks like to eat.

    When you can't do giant corporate farms and readily haul produce and products in our existing system, the options become complex and expensive.

    Trolleys move along set routes, so access to all sorts and sizes of stores would require strip development for off-loading. Sidings, as well, so as not to interrupt the movement of people.
     
  3. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #3
    SNBerk replied in another thread, and as it was getting off topic I thought I'd better reply here... because I love this stuff! :D

    Good point! I mainly side with public transport and think cars have been a very destructive influence in our city design and sense of community, and I also hold all the concerns about cars that this article raises.
    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html

    But I have to be honest and admit that *some* electric cars are probably necessary, and are on the way! For more on THE electric car INTEGRATED ENERGY SYSTEM that I think could change the world, check this out!
    http://www.ted.com/talks/shai_agassi_on_electric_cars.html

    It's called Better Place, and rather than seeing you as the owner of the whole car, they sell you the car but OWN THE BATTERY! This is a great thing, as then they will swap it out for you at an automated battery-swap station every time you accidentally let the charge get too low. This is THE missing ingredient! Shai Agassi basically says that asking drivers to buy the battery of an EV is like asking regular car owners to buy not just the car, but the whole oil well that car will use at the time of purchase of the car!

    Anyway, install charge points everywhere, at home, at work, at the shops, AND have SatNav GPS located battery swap garages ready to go.

    Now consider if they rig it up with internet connection and some basic timer programming to sell "excess charge" BACK into the net!

    The average trip to work in some parts of Sydney is about 40 to 50km. (Man that just sounds stupid to me when we could be walking to work, check out this 15 minute classic video of "Village-Towns" presented at University of NSW).

    1. Guy drives to work, plugs in.
    2. Car is fully charged at work again over 8 hours.
    3. Guy drives home again, and still has 50 to 60km worth to sell back to the grid in the afternoon PEAK DEMAND!
    4. Guy earns a bit of money back on his car-energy account.
    5. Battery runs low, but is programmed to never discharge all energy back into the grid, and maintains enough charge to get to the local garage (battery swap garage), just in case guy needs to dash out for some reason.
    6. Car charges again after 12am or whenever is cheapest OFF-PEAK DEMAND time to charge, ready for the trip to work the next day.
    7. Other cars just sit there 24 hours a day and don't even drive much at all except to pick kids up from school etc, and act as a "peak smoothing" backup for the future renewable energy grid.


    Yep, I'm an Aussie. Yes, California surprises me, especially as it's led by a Republican! (I'm a bit of a Lefty). But go Arnie!

    If we design homes properly (say as in the Village-Town passive solar homes in video above) we can cut that air-conditioning energy cost. Check this out!
    http://earthship.net/buildings.html It's hippie at the moment, but moves are on to make it more "mainstream" in the UK! Built out of old tyres! Off the electricity, water, and sewer grid! NO utility bills ever again! And warm even in the snow! (woah, that was a lot of exclamation marks, I must really like these things).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You wouldn't believe this was made from tyres would you?
    [​IMG]


    Agreed!

    But if you built more of these passive solar homes (whether earthships made from tyres or not ;) ) then it all helps. Just having windows and thermal mass (to store the winter sunlight) in the right places can save an enormous amount of heating bills (and Co2 emissions).
    Eeeewww, yes, I have a box of dead ones that didn't last quite as well as I thought they would either. I must find out where I am to dump them.

    Well, try not to just think of energy efficient lighting but try and think of energy efficient cities!

    Check out this!
    http://www.ecocitybuilders.org/index.html

    We are running out of oil, so energy efficiency needs to think BIG!

    Agreed, and great chatting with you! This group is developing a 10 year plan for Australia to totally wean off fossil fuels!

    http://www.beyondzeroemissions.org/zerocarbonplan

    Visionary, maybe a "bit" too optimistic, but hey, if we do it in 15 or 20 years, then we're energy secure AND greenhouse friendly AND more economically secure AND have more energy jobs at home. Win win win win!:D
     
  4. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #4
    Hi mate, long time no speak on oil stuff!

    Yeah, but surely if the trolley-truck is going to be a new fixed feature of a city the city will gradually adapt?

    Peter Newman, our Australian expert on these matters, explains that once a good public transit system IS built, New Urbanism starts to grow around it.

    "If you build it, they will come". ;)

    Also, if the trolley trucks are hybrids they can make some detour deliveries in the meantime, as the system adapts to lower and lower oil supplies in the coming years.

    There are no guarantees that we'll make it, but no guarantees that we won't. Optimism motivations, pessimism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I get the risks, but am very aware of the effects of reading this stuff on young people. I recently met up with a dad whose 19 year old hung himself over LATOC. :(
     
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #5
    Hello eclipse.... I'm happy to move to the new thread. You've put a lot of points into the starting post, so I'm just here to say that I've followed you to the new thread.

    M wife has a Masters in Public Policy. While her degree is in an area completely different than what we are talking about, from our long and frequent conversations about changing public policy in general, I've become cautious (and a bit cynical). Things get sticky when you are changing the way people are used to living. I am totally on board when it comes to protecting the environment, cleaning up cities, lessening our dependence on oil, etc. Its just that there are always a couple of issues that crop up. 1) Who pays? 2) Is a solution that works for one place going to work for somewhere else? 3) Balancing the rights of the individual vs the good of the community.

    I've not had time to read your links, so this is just random ramblings. I'm also going to use Vancouver as an example a lot, though I don't live there anymore. I'm also not trying to change your mind, just asking questions at this point..... just for the sake of discussion.

    1) Its all very good to design a new type of city, with green roofs, "daylighted" waterways (Vancouver uses the term "to daylight a waterway" when they restore a previously buried stream), etc etc However, it always comes down to who is going to pay? Vancouver, which I think is one of the most progressive cities around, though I hear good things about the Australian cities as well, has ambitious projects to become even more liveable. But the resources are limited by what the population will pay.

    To answer my own question, Vancouver made the developers pay. But Vancouver was lucky. Vancouver pre-1986 was a quiet, boring, safe, community that was often called a village. In 1986 Vancouver hosted Expo, got international attention, and became the city of choice for a series of migrations from Asia, Eastern Europe, China. All of a sudden City Hall was buried with building permit applications for big projects, and they did something really really good. City Hall recognized that they were in a seller's market (Vancouver being the seller of a "liveable city"). City Hall made it easy for developers from a paperwork point of view. Forms and applications were kept to a minimum. City Hall agreed that once a project was approved, it should proceed quickly and with minimal interference (aside from building code inspections etc). However, City Hall also made the initial approvals conditional on the developer agreeing to a) a mix of housing types (market, low income, social, etc) b) building a public asset (park, school, community centre, lightrail station, etc) c) preserving the view corridors and sun corridors d) if you were waterfront, extending the seawall. All of these public assets were designed to make the city more liveable, and to bring people closer to their work and shopping and transit systems, and often to remove the need for cars.

    All these things were laid out, and clearly defined. Developers could work out for themselves what it would cost. They could be confident that projects would be completed on time. However, they complained about the cost. They said they would just pass on the cost to homeowners. They said they would build else-where, etc etc. But in the end they built in Vancouver, because there was a market for condo towers, and they built the public assets. And the more they built, the more liveable the city become, and the more people wanted to live there, so they needed to build more towers, with more public amenities, etc etc. Still building, even in this economic climate.

    By some accounts Vancouver has had several $Billion in public amenities essentially given to it (Population just more than 600,000).

    It also takes a million dollars to buy the average single family home, and about $300,000 to buy the basic, very small, condo. A two bedroom apartment rents for $1000/month. BC's minimum wage is $8/hour. Vancouver is becoming a city where only the middle-class and wealthier can afford to live. Because, all those amenities still need to paid for, and they are being paid by the people who live in Vancouver as part of their cost of housing. With all those $billions of amenities, Vancouver is still far from being poster child of ecological living. So - thats my point. Who pays? And even if you know who should pay, you have to convince them, and the rest of the community, that the money best spent doing this instead of building more hospitals and schools, etc

    And what about cities that weren't blessed the convergence of events that make Vancouver a growing city?

    Cheers
     
  6. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. As suburbs have electric cables running along the road for the houses adding cabling for trolley buses isn't that big an extension on the idea.
     
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #7
    The transit system for metro Vancouver (22 municipalities including the city of Vancouver is testing the "If you build it they will come" thesis. They are extending the light rail system into the suburbs. Every so often they designate a station (usually where it is already in a built up area, or where they can connect other forms of travel to the Skytrain) as a "town centre". (The "Liveable Region" plan was formulated decades ago, and is constantly updated - so these "town centres" are not being placed randomly). The area around a "town centre" is then zoned to include high density housing, shopping areas, offices, retail etc. All the things that one would find in stand-alone town. Once the are is rezoned, private interests then build up the area over time. The idea is to create a series of "town centres" all connected together by high-speed transit. People will then be able to live near a "town-centre" of their choice - ideally where they can both work and shop.

    So far the idea seems to be working. There are now little downtowns scattered all over the metro Vancouver region. The downside is that downtown Vancouver is no longer the Cultural Capital of the region - cultural amenities are now scattered all over the region, so its hard to define where the "centre" of the metro city is.

    Just playing devil's advocate with the trolley truck idea. Have you ever lived in a city with trolley buses? Except at designated switches, one bus can't pass the bus in front unless the poles are retracted on one of the buses (usually the front bus, due to it being broken down).

    Would you put the trolley trucks on the same set of wires? And then make them wait for the buses? Or, would you make the buses wait for the trucks if they happened to be in front? That would be a non-starter because the two main demands of riders is affordability and on-time performance.

    You could put a second set of wires down a road (if it was at least two lanes in each direction). Buses on the curb lane, trucks in the middle lane. Two problems with that. 1) Many cities like to have trucks in the curb lane for safety reasons. 2) Every place a bus or truck route turns across the other route, you have a messy knot of wires. It can be done, but its prone to problems. And when you have problem, it often means turning off the power and/or blocking traffic to both trucks and buses.... and transit riders hate having to wait.

    Why not take your car battery idea (where the batteries are swapped out at central stations) and apply it to delivery trucks that work in city? They are often at a depot getting loaded - the battery can get swapped at the same time. They don't actually need a lot of range, most of their day is spend waiting to be loaded or unloaded. Delivery companies already have an infrastructure in place to deal with mechanical stuff - so this is just an extension.

    I know I'm making a lot of posts, but I'm trying to separate topics.

    Is the right place to be looking for energy savings in a city? Per person, city dwellers are already much more "green" than rural dwellers, on average. In a city, more people take transit, don't even own a car, and live in small dwellings. In condo and apartment blocks, each person's dwelling usually only has one or two outside walls. When we lived in Vancouver, our heating bill was about $35 month on average. In a similar sized house, in a rural area, we are into about $135/month. Simply because we now are also losing heat out our ceiling, two more side walls, and a back wall. The house is insulated to code, but there is just so much more surface area. And we use a wood stove at times to help out. Rural dwellers have to have a car, because you can't really walk anywhere, nor are there the densities to support transit. The car is usually a big one, because you are buying groceries weekly or less often, because the store is not close by. Yes, you may grow your own food, and do other green stuff - but I don't think that mitigates all the impact of living a rural lifestyle. I'm not talking about farmers, whose existence is necessary for city dwellers, just people who choose to try to live "close to nature". We are among them. We have chosen to put in a geoexchange heating system, and no air conditioning to minimize our impact. But not everyone can do that.

    Just to start some discussion.....
     
  8. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Penryn
    #8
    Absolutely. Although urbanites do use less energy, the production of that energy, their waste and all the other nasties that go along with civilization end up being very highly concentrated. Urban runoff is a huge problem. In the San Francisco Bay area, cat and dog waste are serious polluters in the Bay. Somehow I doubt that it's a big problem on Salt Spring Island.

    Auto exhaust, although much cleaner than 30 years ago, still has a lot of nasties in it. When it's emitted, it's concentrated in the concrete jungle and then as it falls to earth, concentrated even more when it's flushed out to sea.

    Half of the world's population now lives in cities and many of those cities have poorly insulated homes, have poor transit links to the suburbs, have major runoff issues, waste disposal issues, etc.

    Rather than making out rural folks to be the enemy, we should concentrate on the low hanging fruit and there's no doubt in my mind that it's located in urban areas.

    As you rightly point out, your house is up to code. How much would you have to invest to bring your electric bill down to the level you paid in the city?
     
  9. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sydney
    #9
    “(Vancouver being the seller of a "liveable city"). City Hall made it easy for developers from a paperwork point of view.”

    They certainly did! I think your wife will enjoy listening to Paul Mees, a public transport and town planning academic critiquing the shocking policy of Victoria which appears designed to create more developer V local council lawsuits than ever seen in the history of development. He raves about practically everywhere else’s legislative and policy framework for planning!

    http://www.saveoursuburbs.org.au/paul_mees1

    And from your description of “Livable Regions” it sounds like Vancouver is heading in exactly the right direction!

    Trolley buses as EV’s? Trolley TRUCKS as EV’s? I’m not an engineer, but I thought there was some rule about the maximum weight of an EV before it became unfeasible... with today’s battery technology?

    Anyway, whatever the direction of future transport policy I think the general rule is:
    Start planning cities where LESS transport is needed in the first place: walkable and cycling cities.
    Start planning to make the transport you have to have mainly electric, because renewables can produce vastly more electricity than it can liquid fuels.

    As for who pays, whether government or business, I don’t care. The main thing is breaking the ‘status quo’ thinking that nothing has to change and suburbia can roll out forever. I personally think that this will become a “war-time economy on steroids”, a BIG government project where emergency legislation crushes community protest because certain things HAVE TO GET DONE ON TIME!

    The OECD’s main energy body, the International Energy Agency, has just announced GLOBAL PEAK OIL in 10 years!

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/peak-oil-ten-years-away-expert/story-e6freuyi-1225757520051

    This means we should DEMAND to know from our local members of government what the hell they plan to do about it? Peak oil is now no longer the province of greenies and quacks. Everything we do depends on oil, was either “grown” or “mined” with oil energy and was transported using oil.

    If I were Barack Obama I’d be using huge percentages of the military engineers core to RUSH BUILD high speed electric rail between States, and trolley buses in the cities, and creating a war-time propaganda machine to get people to consider moving closer to work, school, play, church, communities etc. The average American (and Australian) is utterly dependent on DOUBLE the oil of the average European because of Europe’s traditional city cores.

    Peak oil is almost here. Many geologists think it is only 5 years away, not 10 years like the IEA. Once the permanent decline sets in, oil could hit $300 a barrel overnight, or there could simply be shortages. You raised rural folk? I'd be allocating the remaining oil for rural folk because they are the people that grow our food! It takes 10 calories of oil energy to grow 1 calorie of food energy! We are "Eating Fossil fuels".

    (Every Big Mac you munch down on took 10 times those calories in oil to get to you!)


    It’s time to get serious.

    [​IMG]

    I couldn't have put it better myself!
     
  10. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #10
    It's likely a 20- to 30-year time-frame, but I don't argue that there will be in-migration to city centers, and the ghetto areas will ooze out toward what are now suburbs. It likely will be similar to what's happened with urban renewal and yuppification/gentrification, but with movements farther from the centers.

    Among other problems, it's gonna take years to rebuild the losses of capital for investment in new construction. The credit just does not exist to take on large loads of debt. Since we're repeating all the monetary mistakes of the 1930s, it likely will take a goodly while for significant amounts of change to begin.

    My own memories of electric trolleys on tracks date back to the very late 1930s and WW II. Far fewer autos, then, so the mix wasn't so terrible. The tracks created hazards, particularly in wet weather. Then came electric-powered buses, which were far more maneuverable with their swinging and telescoping connecting rods to the overhead "hot wire". It seems possible that with "bugmobile" cars as the primary urban vehicle, the urban mix would not lead to the sort of down-town congestion we see today.

    As far as energy efficiency in houses, the US has been on a retrofit jag since the 1970s, and modern insulation is much advanced over the cheap-energy years. A drawback in modern housing is the flimsiness of the materials for walls and roofs; far more subject to storm damage than the Old Days construction. (Example: The old Jefferson Davis home in Biloxi survived Camille's 225 mph winds in 1969; was weakened some by Katrina, and finally succumbed to Rita. The modern casinos a few blocks away were destroyed quite easily by Rita.)

    Edit-add: Per-mile, high-speed rail costs a bunch more than standard. The US is broke; not only broke but way in debt.

    Peak oil? The max pumpage, ever, was in mid-2005, at a tad over 85 million bbl/day. We're already on the downhill side of Hubbert's curve, since new discoveries aren't keeping pace with the decline in output of existing fields. The only thing that's holding down the price of oil is this worldwide recession/depression.
     
  11. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

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    Location:
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    #11
    What sort of speeds do trolley buses get? I had one guy in a forum trying to tell us that they only did 'twice walking'.
     
  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #12
    Vancouver's buses must do at least 50kph. I've seen them hurtling down some of the main thoroughfares at the same speeds as cars, and I don't think they were observing the speed limit.

    Just because its concentrated, doesn't mean there is more of it. Give every resident of San Francisco just one acre, and you spread the mess out over 3237 square kilometers, and instead of polluting just one bay, you get all the bays in that area. Plus all the extra roads and infrastructure that will be needed. Its the difference between having largely untouched wilderness surrounding a city, or spreading roads, and sewage, and smog over a much larger area. (I used just over 800,000 as the population of SF. Of course there are already people living in the 3000 square kms near SF, so in fact the mess gets spread out much much further)

    You'd be surprised at how much a small place like Salt Spring disturbs the area. Most people aren't connected to a sewer line, so we rely on septic fields. Which work fine, when they are maintained and working well. Unlike a city with inspections on the infrastructure, there is very little monitoring of our "natural sewage plant". Digging up a field to install or fix a septic disturbs the soil, and put phosphorus into the watersheds, which creates algae in the ponds and lakes. Each and every dwelling is digging up a bit of land about the same size as the house. That same issue doesn't exist in a city.

    I'm not trying to make out rural folk as the enemy, I am rural folk. I'm just trying to point out that the issues are complex, and easy answers don't exist. We went through an exercise at how to make Salt Spring Greener. And you know what? We ended up 'visioning' a place that had many of the same characteristics as a city - though much smaller. Increased densities of housing, so that you get the economies of scale of heating, plus you minimize the number of walls that lose heat. You bring enough people together in one spot to make transit possible. You get to treat the sewage in proper plant. You make it affordable harvest rain water, because you don't need to duplicate the water treatment plant. You put shops near housing so people don't have to drive.

    You said that half the people in the world live in cities. Which means that half live rurally. And, I believe that - per capita - city dwellers have less of an impact on the globe than rural dwellers. Densities make things more efficient.

    We installed a geoexchange unit in the house we are building, to minimize our impact. We will start growing some of our own food. We drive a smart car. Despite that, I think we will still have bigger carbon impact than if we lived in a city.

    To answer your question, I don't know that we could ever bring this house (not the future one with the geoexchange) to a level where it costs as much to heat as the condo did in Vancouver. In Vancouver we probably had 30 or 40 sq meters of exposed wall through which we lost our heat. All the other walls, floor and ceiling, were perfectly insulated because there was another dwelling the same temperature as ours on the other side. In this house, we are loosing heat in all directions, up-down, side to to side. Without totally rebuilding the house and burying it, how do we keep that heat loss down to the same level?
     
  13. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #13
    I spent a very memorable weekend cycling around Salt Spring about 12 years ago. It's a wonderful place full of independently minded people, some of whom probably can't afford to hook up to the sewer system. That, I think is where the problem lies in rural areas. Out of control septic tanks, poor insulation, long distances to health care and shopping, and people who don't make a whole lot of money. Who is going to pay for it? Moreover, in many rural areas they're growing the food that the city dwellers eat. While bundling the housing and the shopping altogether is great, there's still the commute to the fields and the pastures.

    From your initial post, it seems as though you've forgotten to include food and food takes up an enormous amount of energy, water and time.

    In southern Germany and Austria, there are these huge old Hofs. Basically a courtyard around which are buildings for people and animals. It made a lot of sense in the old days but back then, fields were small. Farmers in Alberta or Manitoba sometimes have to drive dozens of miles until they reach the end of their property or to buy a part for a machine or to bring their animals or food to market, in areas like those, Hofs simply aren't viable. Do we start rationing energy to those who are producing our food?

    I'm not trying to rain on your parade, however, it's going to take an enormous amount of money to accomplish this. I also believe that most people will be unwilling to spend the money or reign in their energy wasting habits until the crunch actually hits.

    Here in the US, I don't think people will do much to change until gasoline hits $5 at the pump.
     
  14. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #14
    Sounds exactly like the eco-city principles above. They also found that even though high-rise eco-apartments costs more energy to initially build, and requires an elevator, the energy savings are vast compared to suburbia because of the embodied energy costs bound up in extra thousands of km's of pavement, roads, power & telephone lines, sewerage lines, freshwater plumbing, etc.

    Interesting point about the earthships above: they don't need infrastructure. Earthship "towns" can spring up so much faster than regular towns because they don't have to wait for the plumbing and electricity and stuff to be built... they tend to look after all of that themselves. The guy described developers seething with envy at the fact that an earthship village can suddenly start being built, whereas a regular developer has to put millions of dollars and a year's work into preparation before the first house is built.

    Just imagine all these...

    [​IMG]

    turning into these. I just find it fascinating. Love to visit one.
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #15
    No argument with the desirability of a lot of the Green ideas. Seems to me, though, that folks ought to give equal time to thoughts about how to pay for it all.

    Bits and pieces: Homes and commercial buildings: Availability of materials, for one thing. Decent lumber is hard come by, which is why shaped sheet metal is being used for studs, joists and rafters. Steel prices are way up, nowadays. Foamed panelling for walls is made via petro-chemical processes--from oil or natural gas. And all the materials must be shipped to the job site, which means transportation fuel.

    "Bang for the buck": Comparative costs, now and in the future, compared to a few years back. You don't get as much material, now, as you did just a few years ago. That affects how much house somebody can afford for a given level of income.

    Think about financing in a world where "Zero down payment!" is gone. Availability of credit is another factor, since there is competition among borrowers of all sorts--and that affects interest rates, commonly driving them higher.

    Green Is Good--if you can afford it.
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #16
    You haven't answered my question. Who Pays? Governments have no money, at the moment. For every dollar/pound/peso/lira borrowed now, several times that amount will eventually be paid future generations to pay off the interest on the debt. Very few governments have the financial room to take on new expenditures at the moment. The current financial mess is partly because of overborrowing.

    Some businesses have money. Its not as easy as just passing legislation to force businesses to pay. If you put too much burden on businesses, they fold and now you've got thousands of unemployed people. The shares for some businesses (like blue chip banks) are held by pension funds, and by retirees. Cut their profit margins too much, and all of sudden you find you've put a slice of your elderly population below the poverty line.

    I'm not saying that you shouldn't do anything ... but you have to answer the question. Who Pays? The environmental projects that figure out that question are the ones that will get built. They may not be the best ideas around, but they will be the ones that get the green-light ( :) - pun intended). My example of Vancouver is a case in point. The city figure out how to make the developers pay - by giving them predictability for building schedules. Also keep in mind unforseen consequences will always crop up.

    So, figure out the money - and get some of these projects moving.
     
  17. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #17
    "...a BIG government project where emergency legislation crushes community protest..."

    And the next election puts an end to that crap.
     
  18. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #18
    It is a wonderful place... I'm glad you had a chance to experience it. And you are absolutely right about the independently minded people. Ironically, most of the what gets done is through volunteer boards, committees, groups, focus groups, etc. I am constantly impressed at how many "independent minds" will reach a consensus through compromise and negotiation. Its the people here who make it special.

    Its not a matter of not being able to afford to hook up to the sewer system, its that the sewer system doesn't exist, except in the few villages. The regional district has been upgrading the septic field requirements over the past few years, and they inspect and enforce the rules quite diligently.
    You are right about the distances, and old houses with minimal insulation, and distances to health and shopping centres, etc. Not all rural dwellers grow food, however. The vast majority of homeowners on Salt Spring are sitting on 5 or 10 acre (or bigger) lots, and aren't farming. I believe that this common right across the country, and continent, that just outside the suburbs you have "rural" dwellers who don't grow food. I was part of the OCP (Official Community Plan) review, and we recommended that any *new* developments (subdivisions of the acreages) cluster the new houses near each other, leaving the rest of the lot unbuilt (as opposed to spreading them out evenly). The "rural" dwellers fought that.
    No, I haven't forgotten food. Food takes energy and resources. Most food in North America is grown on huge farms with incredible economies of scale to save on the energy and other resources. The number of farms goes down every year, however.

    I like the sound of "Hofs". And I think we are starting to head back in that direction, as least partially. There are more and more farmer's markets springing up. People are starting to care about where their food was grown. Our local supermarket is now starting to buy some of its fresh produce off the back of farmer's trucks. Its not just the fuel to grow the food, its also the fuel to transport it. Do we really need to ship apples from New Zealand to North America? Or fly bread from Paris to Vancouver? (its a speciality item at a Vancouver supermarket called Urban Fare).
    I agree about the motivation to change... and the pace of change
    I actually wonder what would happen if the US government put price controls on gasoline, and then declared that they were going to raise the price of gas 10% every year (no more, no less) - starting in 12 months - until it was $5/gallon? There would be some griping, sure.... but at least people would be able to plan for it. Businesses could account for it in their projections. Car makers would be able to predict the right balance of economy vs gas guzzlers, labour unions could ask for wage increases for members to account for the increase costs of living, etc. I don't think people mind so much how much gas costs, as much as they are unhappy when it increases unpredictably. If I was King, that is what I would do. And bury and all the power lines, but that's another story.
     
  19. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #19
    "I actually wonder what would happen if the US government put price controls on gasoline, and then declared that they were going to raise the price of gas 10% every year (no more, no less) - starting in 12 months - until it was $5/gallon?"

    That takes money out of disposable income, in an economy which has been relying on 70% "consumeritis". IOW, less consuming. That means fewer jobs in service industries. Fewer retail sales at the mom'n'pop level. It also runs up the costs of production which then means even fewer jobs...

    TANSTAAFL.

    It also means a bunch of voters who are--shall we say--"displeased".
     
  20. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #20
    Or, because there is time to prepare - vehicles will get more fuel efficient, drivers will get out of their cars more, business fleets will find alternatives to save fuel. When businesses know that a cost is going to go up, then they tend to try to control that cost to stay competitive.
     
  21. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #21
    Hi snberk103 and desertrat,

    Who pays, and won't elections put an end to big government interventions?

    Depends how fast the Export Land Model kicks in!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_Land_Model

    If the world oil market collapses significantly faster than the actual oil production depletion rate, because too many exporting countries are becoming importing countries to satisfy domestic demand at home, then we could be in an even more serious situation than 8% decline per year.

    Remember, this is no longer 'quack' thinking... the IEA have confirmed peak oil in 10 years and I think that's very optimistic!

    So if I were world ruler right now I would enact emergency powers legislation to retool various industries just as for WW2, and gradually ramp up a significant "war time economy". (Remember the USA military budget was in low single figures pre-WW2 and by the end of it were at 38% GDP? We need something on that scale!)

    I would legislate:-
    1. Airlines to manufacture trolley buses and light rail components, not planes
    2. All car & truck companies to head into manufacturing full EV's
    3. NO money into new roads or highways, all that money for "extra" planned roads into new light rail
    4. NO new greenfield developments and all development money into New Urbanist consolidation stuff around transport nodes
    5. Velib cycling stations everywhere either end of trolley bus transport networks
    6. Massive propaganda machine to explain the dire nature of the emergency.... because at this stage I'm sounding like a complete nutter. But in 10 years the public will be demanding Senate inquiries into who knew what when and where, because they'll be so damn angry about the sheer viciousness of the rationing we'll inevitably experience unless we get started now!

    So who pays? Everyone pays through a massively regeared emergency economy NOW, or we all 'pay for it' through bankrupted airlines, freight companies collapsing, and a decade or 2 of "Greater Depression" because we didn't leave oil before it left us.

    I'm NOT a Mad Maxer, but I *can* even see certain extreme Mad Max scenarios spinning out of control if we're REALLY stupid!

    The IEA have announced peak oil. Have either of you seen it as headline news cast in a way so that the average citizen can understand it? Nope. Neither have I! So when Ugg says
    I say, wouldn't it be nice if they actually KNEW what was coming in the first place? Hence point 6 above.

    Lastly: See my sig? That's how I'd pay for it in Australia. I'd say a majority of Australian's want to abolish their State governments, have a more accountable "National" (not "Federal") election process and Constitutional checks-and-balances (because "Federation" is NOT the only way to have checks and balances but seems to be THE most inefficient way to provide laws and services for a country), and have a 2 tiered National and Local government model.

    Our Local governments are everyone's kicking boys, both kicked around by the State AND the Federal government. They don't even have powers under our Australian Constitution. I for one would like to see that changed.

    We'd save about $40 billion a year. You guys would probably save hundreds of billions, if not close to a trillion dollars a year if YOU had a "National / Local" model of government with ONE legislature for National laws, and local government service provision.
     
  22. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #22
    Hello Eclipse

    Canada is like Australia, in that the constitutionally recognized governments are the Federal (National) and Provincial (State). Local (municipal) levels aren't recognized. We both live in democracies. Democracies are the worst form of government - except for the other forms (I think Winston Churchill said something like that first). Your "war time" economy will not happen until the general public decides it will. All you can do is to work to make a positive difference where you live, and the best you can. If you are thinking "mad max" (last one was the best one) then you should also be thinking about living off the grid. Not because I'm anticipating a problem, but because we like the community... but we're living on an island that once was intensively farmed (and can be again), surrounded by fish and sea food, and with lots of wood for heating and cooking.

    If you want to make a difference in the next 5 to 10 years, pick a project, figure out how who is going to pay for it, make it happen.

    Good Luck.
     
  23. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #23
    Hi mate,
    yep I love democracy as well, I just think we can make a better one. Did you know England doesn't have "States" yet rules 51 million people? The UK has "Nations" as a result of it's unique history, more like a little EU than a Federal Constitution.

    But England, within the UK, doesn't have States.

    Neither does New Zealand.

    Also, consider California. It rules 36 million people under the Legislature of California, which is more than the 21million people in Australia. So there's nothing intrinsically "more democratic" about having a certain "State to population" ratio.

    Basically I can't see much reason why a country of similar cultural identity can't have uniform laws across it, but local implementation and supervision.

    The only Federation I'm really excited by is an EU styled "World Federation" which might end wars, legislate a world economy better and fairer, create a world dollar, and world departments of health, welfare, etc... with local national variation and under that local city / town / suburb implementation.
     
  24. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #24
    The UK (and other EU country) have higher petrol prices than that and our economies haven't fallen over...
     
  25. eclipse thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #25
    That's why I love the EU so much, as you guys at least have made an effort for petroleum to reflect the future of oil prices (through a hazy looking glass though). The average European uses half the oil of the average American, and that's pretty wise really! Those traditional city centres and wonderful electric train, tram, and trolley bus systems are going to mean the EU copes that much better than the USA when peak oil turns over into ever less oil.
     

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