How are Swedish Cities Planning to Adapt to Climatic Change Extremes?

Planning for Climatic Extremes and Variability: A Review of Swedish Municipalities’ Adaptation Responses(27 page pdf, Christine Wamsler and Ebba Brink, Sustainability, Mar. 14, 2014)

Today we focus our attention on Sweden, one of few countries in the world which is on track to become carbon neutral within this decade. The journal article under review looks at how Swedish cities approach the other side of climatic change- adapting to impacts, both natural and anthropogenic, using physical, economic and socio-economic measures. While there is little top-down direction at the national level beyond the provision of tools such as the Klimatanpassningsportalen on the internet to share practices and approaches, within cities top-down is the rule, leaving little for individual initiative but reflecting the local differences among the cities across Sweden.

local city role impacts

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Marketing the Environment

Amanda Little

Amanda Little (Photo credit: ChimpLearnGood)

Want everyone else to buy into environmentalism? Never say “Earth”(Heather Smith, Grist, Mar. 12, 2014)

Also discussed here: No, we’re not “environmentalists.” It’s more complicated than that (Samantha Larson, Grist, Mar. 7, 2014)

Today we review a report from a source we rarely do- an environmental activist organization, Grist. The article looks at the question of why the public at large is so slow to accept and act on the alarm bells that are rung so loudly by the activists.

The answer seems to lie in several things:

  • failure to budget enough for communications (as opposed to fund raising and membership drives)
  •  failure to relate the environmental issue to people’s lives
  • failure to explain and keep the description of the issue simple
  • failure to repeat the message line enough until it reaches the public
  • *failure to adjust to the common sense outlook of millennials

Bottom line is to stop using the terms, such as “the environment” and “sustainable development”, and to start appealing to what makes sense to the man or woman on the street. Stop talking about “air quality” and start talking about how commuting to work by car harms the health of everyone enroute- and by how much.

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Modelling Cities According to Isobenefits

Simulating future societies in Isobenefit Cities: Social isobenefit scenarios(16 page pdf, Luca D’Acci, Futures Journal, Sep. 25, 2013)

Today we review a paper about a model of various urban forms that are evaluated according to the benefits that each confers to its citizens. The forms include a traditional Central Business District form where the population and economy is highest in the centre and radiates outward to a second form where there are several sub centres or sub cities of activity to a third form where there is a ring city surrounding .The isolines of benefits (isobenefits) are based on formulae which estimate such things as benefits to pedestrians and cyclists (pedestrian and bike paths for example) and specific examples from cities around the world are tested. Results indicate the types of cities that could be designed as well as what might be done to existing cities to improve benefits. The optimum one seems to be a multi-centre city.

isobenefits

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Are the Winter Olympics at Risk because of Global Climate Warming?

The Future of the Winter Olympics in a Warmer World(8 page pdf, Daniel Scott, Robert Steiger, Michelle Rutty, Peter Johnson, University of Waterloo, Jan. 22, 2014)

Also discussed here: Climate Change threatens Winter Olympics(University of Waterloo, Jan. 22, 2014)

And here: Climate change could see Winter Olympics melt away, warns new study(Robert Myles, All Voices, Jan. 28, 2014)

We review today an article which examined the climates of the 20 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics over the last 90 years, finding that only 10 would qualify by 2050 and 6 by the end of this century because of global climate warming and despite advances in technology. Indicators used in the analysis included the capability of maintaining a 30 cm snow base for skiing (60 cm is better) and the number of rainy days, both an issue at the Vancouver Olympics in 2008. Of course, the public and its political leaders could wake up before then and reduce carbon emissions, 80% of which occur in cities addicted to cars.
winter olympics and cl ch

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How do they Measure Resilience to Climate Change Disasters?

Measuring psychological resilience to disasters: are evidence-based indicators – an achievable goal?  (20 page pdf, Jose Manuel Rodriguez-Llanes, Femke Vos, Debarati Guha-Sapir, Environmental Health , Dec. 20, 2013)

Today we review the ways that resilience can be measured and in particular, psychological resilience, based on a literature review of this factor in various scenarios and disasters. Unlike many climate impact studies this research looks at human behavior and how humans react to events that present challenges. Results indicate not surprisingly that social support increased resilience, in general, while women showed a larger risk of lower psychological resilience following a disaster. These findings would be important in disaster planning especially with the higher risk of larger and larger disasters expected with the greater variability of wind, temperature and precipitation extremes from climate change.

Reduction of flood and associated extreme weat...

Reduction of flood and associated extreme weather costs is the primary benefit of climate change mitigation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A Plan to Reduce the Impact of Air Pollution by 37% in 15 Years!

English: Constituency for the European Parliam...

English: Constituency for the European Parliament election in 2009 Español: Mapa por el Elecciones al Parlamento Europeo de 2009 Français : Circonscriptions aux élections européennes en 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Clean Air Programme for Europe (11 page pdf, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions , European Commission, Dec. 18, 2013)
Also discussed here: London told to cut air pollution by 2020 – or face fines – European commission tells London and other European cities to dramatically reduce ‘invisible killer’ vehicle emissions (John Vidal, the guardian, Dec. 18, 2013)

Today we review a new package of measures announced by the European Commission which would improve air quality by reducing vehicle emissions such as nitrogen oxide by over 70% and produce economic savings of 40 to 140 billion EU in health benefits alone. The measures include revised short term targets, and stricter emission targets for the six main pollutants and reduced emissions from medium size utilities such as energy plants.

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Is Denying Climate Change Like Suppressing Health Risks?

Is Learning about Climate Change like Having a Colonoscopy? (5 page pdf, Richard C. J. Somerville, Earth’s Future, Dec. 16, 2013)

Readers of this blog know that it focuses on the links between urban pollution and health. Today we review a short article that addresses the challenge of communicating the facts of climate change and why so many people seem to want to avoid knowing that or even deny that it exists.  The article observed that the same reaction is found when some people are faced with the hard realities of medical disease, especially ones that end in death such as heart attacks and cancer. Further, a poll revealed that over half (55%) of those responding did not want to know about their risk to disease because of their fear of knowing the answer, a phenomenon called “health information avoidance”. But most of those who did want to know the risks (82%) also wanted to know the options available to deal with the disease. Turning to communicating climate change, the author reasoned that a little priming of the pump by providing more about policy options could produce more understanding and support for those policies and less climate change information avoidance and denial. Let’s hope.

States that have declared GHG mitigation strat...

States that have declared GHG mitigation strategies or hold action plans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Who Is Legally Responsible for Climate Change Impacts (and avoiding them)?

International Climate Change Liability: A Myth or a Reality?  (Jennifer Kilinski, 42 page pdf, J. of Transnational Law & Policy, Spring 2009)

Also discussed here: Office of the Auditor General 2012 Annual Report (City of Ottawa, Nov. 28, 2013)

And here: The Alaskan village set to disappear under water in a decade (Stephen Sackur, HardTalk, BBC News Magazine, Jul. 29, 2013)

And here: The Moral and Criminal Case Against Canada’s Climate Negligence (William Rees, Dec. 7, 2013)

Today we review the liability of companies which emit greenhouse gases for losses caused by anthropogenic climate change.  Several suits have been raised in the last 5 years by plaintiffs that have suffered significant impacts against the main emitters of carbon pollution which in the USA is the electrical generation industry which is responsible for 25% of that nation’s emissions.

While these suits concern flooding from sea level rise of Arctic islands, such as Kivalina, Alaska, the Auditor General for the City of Ottawa found that “Lack of a systematic and comprehensive climate change adaptation plan may result in impairment to municipal infrastructure and services due to extreme weather resulting from climate change. This could then result in potential legal action due to sustained property damage”. This liability was linked to the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act requires an emergency preparedness plan be in place.

Taking this thinking a step further,  most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions originate in cities and one of the principal GHG emitters is the transportation sector and private vehicles n particular which are owned and driven by around 70% of the city’s population. Those most affected by air pollution from these vehicles are too young or too old to drive. Just as the Inuit on a small Alaskan island are among the lowest emitters of GHGs and suffer the most from climate change, the same logic applies to the young and elderly in cities who conceivably could launch a valid class action against those responsible for vehicle emissions for both health impacts, accentuated by climate change, and for damage to property and infrastructure as the Auditor General found. The Court found in the Kivalina case that regulation of greenhouse gases was a political rather than a legal issue and one would look for accountability at that level.

However,  the failure of the City of Ottawa to prepare a plan of action to protect and adapt to climate change appears to provide a potential legal recourse for those suffering losses, whether they be structural or health. In addition, cities have a dominant role and mandate in regulating traffic, congestion and roads, as well as the ability to price use of these, which in turn gives cities the ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and the liability that goes with this responsibility. How long will it take those who are impacted to sue the city and vehicle owners for damages?

English: Aerial view of Kivalina, Alaska, USA....

English: Aerial view of Kivalina, Alaska, USA. View is to the southeast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Is 2 deg C the Most Effective Goal to Control Climate Warming?

The difficult, the dangerous and the catastrophic:Managing the spectrum of climate risks (14 page pdf, Amy L. Luers, Leonard S. Sklar, Earth’s Future, Nov. 17, 2013)

Today we review an article that examines the challenges that exist with adopting a single goal for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions- which currently has been accepted as a 2C warming of the global surface tenmperature. The authors point out that this single goal is seen as a far off line separating the difficult from the catastrophic, thus becoming an obstacle because of the need to define “catastrophic” according to the needs and interests of individual and diverse countries. It also puts the focus mainly or solely on the mitigation of emissions without a balancing effort to adapt to the coming climate changes which may become the most important aspect.  A different framework is presented which presents the major impacts of climate change (which vary from one user to another with differing conditions and interests and varying interpretations of risk ) from the present to the far future as one axis and the degree of impact as a second axis while adaptation and mitigation are presented with the same axes. This risk management framework  may be applied to any one country or situation- or to the world at large.

mitigation vs adaptation

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How Are Canadian Cities Adapting to Climate Change?

Adapting to Climate Change: An Introduction for Canadian Municipalities (48 page pdf, Richardson, G. R. A., Natural Resources Canada, 2010)

And here: Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan (107 page pdf, City of Ottawa, Nov. 2004)

Today we review a report on how some Canadian municipalities are planning to adapt to impacts expected from climate change which vary from melting of the permafrost in the North to heat health alerts in Canada’s largest city in the South to water level maps showing where sea level rise or flooding would impact communities, both in the interior and coastal regions, unless changes are made by amendments to zoning plans. What is amazing to this blogger is the absence of some cities from the list of those who have community adaptation plans, including notably and regrettably, the national capital of Ottawa which in 2004 had only addressed ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the corporate structure and not by the community and has not yet developed a climate adaptation plan.

temp ch canada by seasons

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How Close Are We to the Tipping Points from Climate Change?

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change:Anticipating Surprises (201 page pdf, James W.C. White, Richard B. Alley, David E. Archer, Anthony D. Barnosky, Jonathan Foley, Rong Fu, Marika M. Holland, M. Susan Lozier, Johanna Schmitt, Laurence C. Smith, George Sugihara, David W. J. Thompson, Andrew J. Weaver, Steven C. Wofsy, National Academy of Sciences, Dec. 3, 2013)

Also discussed here: An Update on Risks of Abrupt Jolts from Global Warming (Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, Dot Earth, Dec. 3, 2013)

And here: Investigation of the Magnitudes and Probabilities of Abrupt Climate TransitionS (IMPACTS) Project (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Today we review an assessment of climate change in terms of how far it has advanced and what the risk is of crossing a tipping point, in terms of climate impacts for the rest of the century. The authors give a low risk of major changes in ocean current circulation and overturning, the melting of major ice sheets such as the polar ice caps as low, while giving a moderate risk to such impacts as extreme heat waves and floods and rapid state changes in ecosystems which puts vulnerable populations of people in danger as well as endangered species of wildlife. They recommend improved scientific monitoring and a better understanding of the climate system as part of an abrupt change early warning system.

arctic sea ice extent

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How Does Population Dynamics Affect the Vulnerability and Resilience of Cities to Climate Change?

The Demography of Adaptation to Climate Change(204 page pdf, Martine, George and Daniel Schensul (eds.), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), IIED and El Colegio de Mexico, Oct. 2013)

Also discussed here:

(1hr 49 min You-Tube, Woodrow Wilson Center, Oct. 2, 2013)

Today we review a comprehensive and up to date book on population trends and dynamics and how they affect the resilience and vulnerability of cities to climate change, the vulnerability of coastal cities to storms, cities in drylands to water shortages and how urbanization and sprawl combine with a lack of mobility to affect the poor, especially during severe climate events which may occur at greater frequencies. Although the focus is on urban areas in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, many of the conclusions or predictions apply equally well to highly developed countries, such as after Hurricane Katrina  where the New Orleans poor could not afford fuel to flee disaster even if they had cars. “Climate change is a spatial phenomenon” but the link with urban population vulnerability is hampered because censuses are based on administrative divisions, not environmental risk which is becoming more definable by the advent of Geographic Information Systems and satellite mapping imagery.

urban pop in africa asia la

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How Quickly are Cities Growing and What are the Environmental Consequences?

Choking on their own growth(24 page pdf, Lars Martin Hjorthol, pages 17-20, Gemini, NTNU, spring 2013)

Today, we review an article in « Gemini », the magazine of NTNU, the technical university located in Trondheim, which has formed a multidisciplinary group of researchers looking at “urban ecology”. The article looks at the population growth of cities, especially in Africa and Asia, over the last 50 years,  how urban development  has proceeded and what needs to be done in the future.  A major observation is that traditional Western development policy with its accent on sprawling suburbs, has unfortunately took hold in some cities.  Urban development must be adapted bottom-up to the particular needs of the inhabitants who see secure property ownership as most important along with health safety and transportation.

urban growth

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What Will Happen to the Suburbs as Cities Aim to be Healthy and Sustainable?

The End of Suburbs?(Urban Milwaukee, Sep. 26, 2013)

Also discussed here:Next Generation Suburbs(19 page pdf, David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, The Chief Planner Roundtable, Toronto, Apr. 2, 2013)

Today we examine the future and viability of suburban areas that have grown in the last era of cheap oil and uncontrolled sprawl that has afflicted many cities since the end of World War 2. This period now seems to be coming to an end as the boomer generation which fed suburban growth wants to downsize and move to a residence closer to the urban core where a more attractive life style and conveniences awaits them. Property taxes in the suburbs which have been low compared to urban rates now will rise because of costs to renew the infrastructure are passed on to suburban residents. At the same time, the flood of commuters continue to bring traffic congestion and unhealthy air pollution with the vehicles to the urban core. A key aspect is the need to plan for transportation modes that encourage exercise (walking and cycling) to curb the obesity that comes from dependence on driving and the need for more greenspace in the urban cores.

obesity and exercise

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Aging, Fertility and Migration as Environmental Drivers

For Fast-Growing Countries, Should Aging Be a Concern? Planning for the Second Demographic Dividend(Elizabeth Leahy Madsen, New Security Beat, Environmental Change and Security Program,  Wilson Center, Sep. 10, 2013)

Also discussed here: World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 with most growth in developing regions, especially Africa – says UN(UN Press Release, Jun13, 2013)

And here: Population Aging and Economic Growth in Asia(30 page pdf, David E. Bloom, David Canning, and Jocelyn E. Finlay, the National Bureau of Economic Research, University of Chicago Press, Aug. 2010)

Today we review recent population analyses which focus on the combined effect of the aging society with lower fertility and increased migration (in some countries) and the trends expected through this century. The reason this topic was examined is the increase in vulnerability to exposure to air pollution and the health impacts, seen in many studies of the elderly. While pointing out that consumption (and therefore pollution) increases from childhood through to senior years, from an economic point of view, aging by itself is not a negative aspect provided those in their working years plan for their retirement income – which given the recent tendency of the state to retreat from this responsibility would or should encourage more self reliance. That in turn could translate into a greater ability to maintain quality of life and of the environment.

We’ll see!

figure1-population-65

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Are Cities Prepared for Climate Change Impacts?

Campaign for Climate Resilience Spreads Across U.S.(Andrew Freedman, Jun. 19, 2013)

Also quoted here: Pound Foolish – Federal Community-Resilience Investments Swamped by Disaster Damages(15 page pdf, Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman Jun. 19, 2013)

And here:A Stronger, More Resilient New York (445 page pdf, PlaNYC, The City of New York, Jun. 21, 2013)

And here: Climate Change Adaptation: A Priorities Plan for Canada (150 page pdf, B. Feltmate and J. Thistlethwaite, Climate Change Adaptation Project(Canada), University of Waterloo, August 2012)

And here:

(4 min You-Tube, CBC, Jun. 21, 2013)

Today we review reports from the US and Canada that raise concerns about the lack of preparedness to the increase in extreme weather events in the last year (e.g. Hurricane Sandy and New York in October 2012 and heavy rainfall and flooding in Calgary and Toronto in June/July 2013) and, in broader terms, disasters that accompany climate change which particularly affect cities and their infrastructures. In the US, only $6 for disaster recovery is spent for every $1 to increase general community resilience and the costs for disaster cleanups have reached $110B over the last three years. The leadership shown by Mayor Bloomberg in his plan for the future (PlaNYC) to mitigate climate impacts is one that other Mayors could emulate.

clikmate adaptation-cities

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What is the Silver Bullet for Climate Change – Going Carbon Neutral or Degrowth?

Power Shift Away From Green Illusions(Steve Horn, Truthout, Apr.8  2013)

Also discussed here: Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism(464 pages, Ozzie Zehner, Jun. 2012)

And here: Renewable Energy’s Not-So-Bright Side(Paul Krugman, Truthout, Mar.31 2011)

And here: Degrowth(Wikipedia)
And here: The Limits to Growth(Wikipedia)

Today we review a challenge to the conventional answer to the mitigation of climate change by a shift to a green economy with renewable energy instead of carbon fuels, growing more trees and driving in electric cars. The author instead points out that each of these “cures”, when accompanied by more use of energy because of growth driven by population growth and new technology, result in more, not less, greenhouse gas emissions.  Governmental policy approaches, even when well-intentioned in terms of the environment, make the problem worse.  He calls for “degrowth” or a new environmentalism. “On verra”, as they say in French. At least, it causes one to examine more carefully the alternatives offered and whether, finally, to accept the warnings about global consumptive growth, contained in the book on Limits to Growth, published over 40 years ago by the Club of Rome. In a city context, growth equates to sprawl, whether it is done in a seemingly green way (e.g. electric LRT) and the result is a polluted city.

green illusions

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How Does Urban Population Growth Affect Health in China and Elsewhere?

Urbanisation and health in China (10 page pdf, Peng Gong, Song Liang, Elizabeth J Carlton, Qingwu Jiang, Jianyong Wu, Lei Wang, Justin V Remais, The Lancet, Mar. 3, 2012)

Today we review the state of the environment and health in the most quickly growing (and largest) cities in the world that have come about because of a massive shift from rural  to urban areas where migrants make up 40% of  the population. A major health threat comes from the parallel increase in industry and increase in the use of vehicles which affect outdoor air quality and is the cause of 400,000 premature deaths each year which becomes even more critical in a society that is aging faster (and is older) than the global average (by 2050, median age expected to be 50 vs 38 years). The paper under review calls for more stringent regulation of industrial and vehicle emissions.

china urban growth

china cities gdp

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Heating and Cooling Buildings after the Climate has Changed

Air conditioning versus heating: climate control is more energy demanding in Minneapolis than in Miami(5 page pdf,  Michael Sivak, Environ. Res. Letters, Mar. 27, 2013)

Also discussed here : Cold Cities Less Sustainable Than Warm Cities, Research Suggests(Science News, Mar. 26, 2013)

And here: Hot cities more sustainable than cold ones, study says(Science on NBC news, John Roach, Mar. 27, 2013)

The issue reviewed today concerns the differing challenges of heating and cooling buildings in warmer and colder climates and what this might imply with rising temperatures as a result of climate change. Results indicate that it takes more energy to heat a room than to cool it, due to the technologically superior efficiency of air conditioners vs furnaces. This, in turn, points to a positive trend in sustainable energy terms for cities in cold climates, such as Ottawa (the second coldest capital city in the world to Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia), as long as the relative warming and cooling efficiencies remain the same. That noted, the research did not consider the energy efficiency of geothermal heating which offers emission free heating along with a small energy cost for electricity to power the circulation of the heated air.

cold climate

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Atmospheric Energy Imbalances and Climate Change

Energy and Climate – Dr Kevin E Trenberth(Royal Meteorological Society, Feb, 2013)

Also discussed here:
(NCAR, Apr. 14, 2010)

And here:
Surface Energy Budget of Central Canada(194 pages, William Pugsley. Publication in Meteorology #96, Arctic Meteorology Research Group. Dept of Meteorology, McGill University, Montreal, PQ, Sep. 1970)
Today we review a topic close to my heart and the subject of my MSc thesis 40 years ago- the flows of energy and radiation in the atmosphere and with the earth’s and ocean surface. Dr Trenberth suggests that the balance that existed between outgoing and incoming radiation has changed recently with an unexplained or missing amount of energy that may be stored or accumulating in the deep ocean. He calls for better global atmospheric-oceanic modeling to account for this and to better anticipate the net impact that carbon fuel use has on atmospheric warming and climate change – which, as we have seen from previous posts, mainly affect people and their health in cities.
trenberth_energy

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Adapting to Climate Change- A Guide

Toward Resilience – A Guide to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation(194 page pdf, Marilise Turnbull, Charlotte L. Sterrett, Amy Hilleboe, Emergency Capacity Building Project ,  Jan. 2013)

Today we review a report that is aimed at adapting to climate change in developing countries with emphasis on the particular vulnerability of women and children to the disasters which are increasing as climate change and its impacts continue to intensify. Examples are given on applying ten principles which appear to be as valid for urban cities as for the case studies in rural third world countries.

disasters for last century

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How Can the World deal with Climate Change and Overpopulation?

Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?(10 page pdf, Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Jan. 8, 2013)

Today we review a paper written by ecologist Paul Ehrlich on his election to the Royal Society in 2012. He assesses the prospects for survival of human civilization as we know it, faced with overpopulation, increasing consumption of natural resources and a growing set of interacting and serious challenges that slowly but persistently threaten to overwhelm society’s ability to cope. One apt observation about this state of affairs is the difficulty in dealing with slow, almost imperceptible, changes, given that the magnitude of the responses needed become greater with time- something that many short term political thinkers have difficulty with.

This leads to the suggestion for “foresight intelligence”- an approach that looks at the various scenarios possible or likely and where these lead so that the re4sults of various policies can be evaluated in advance. It strikes this reviewer that thinking about change is needed from the bottom-up rather than leaving it all to action and policy at the global level because it is in urban centres where most people live and where the impacts of inaction are so often first felt and where a change in energy use and consumption can probably best be achieved.

English: Climate zones of the world

English: Climate zones of the world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Price of Carbon and the Cost of Inaction

Probabilistic cost estimates for climate change mitigation(Abstract, Joeri Rogelj, David L. McCollum, Andy Reisinger, Malte Meinshausen & Keywan Riahi, Nature, Jan. 2, 2013)

Also discussed here: Carbon price of $30 needed to avoid 2°C climate target(Ed King, RTCC, Jan. 3, 2013)

Today we review a report from the highly respected International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) that looks at the relationship between the price put on carbon consumption and the resulting global temperature increase that follows because of atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions. An analysis of the climate impacts and instability that result from more than 2 degrees C warming, starting with”extreme heat waves with severe societal impacts” and leading to “global mass extinctions” indicates the need to have a carbon price that would limit warming to that amount. However, continued inaction by political leaders for another decade, the factor seen to be the dominant one, to increase the carbon price from $10/ton leaves the chances of staying below 2 deg C as next to impossible. Even $30/ton has only a 60% chance of success. The role of cities, especially large ones, in reducing carbon emissions is clear as is the link between carbon pricing and road pricing to reduce emissions from transportation.

cl ch carbon price

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Looking at the Future of Energy Using Scenarios

Shell energy scenarios to 2050(52 page pdf, Shell International, 2008)

Also discussed here: Shell Scenarios: Keeping an Eye on the Future(Rigzone, Dec. 13, 2012)

And here: Don’t kill the shale-gas boom(Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post. Dec. 23, 2012)

Shell’s scenarios over the last 40 years have produced insightful analyses of possible options that have led to a number of wise decisions in both the political and economic areas. Today we review their look at energy scenarios where the future is determined either by short range reactive thinking by governments “Scramble” (which seems to be the order of the day) or by a more disciplined long term planning approach “Blueprint”. The projections from each scenario out to 2050 produce widely different results as might be expected with implications for climate change and the economy, as well as the need to keep a special eye out for the major triggers or uncertainties among which are the future of shale gas (a Scramble approach) and the future of a carbon tax which also takes the form of road pricing (a Blueprint approach). The last of the noted links above show the political-natural gas aspect.

energy 2050

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Climate Change, Life Expectancy and Human Development for the Next Century

Exploring future impacts of environmental constraints on human development(37 page pdf, Barry B. Hughes, Mohammod T. Irfan, Jonathan D. Moyer, Dale S. Rothman and José R. Solórzano, Sustainability, May 10, 2012)

Today we review a look at the long term impact of climate change on human development for the next century where the policy choices made to deal with climate change on the one hand (example carbon taxes applied globally) are combined in a model with varying degrees of possible environmental scenarios. Not surprisingly, the results do not produce a future or futures with a lot of hope and the road to global disaster “has a low probability”. The impacts on the economy, well-being and the environment,  particularly for developing countries could be very useful in preparing the world for what lies ahead.

intnl futures and linkagesfuture scenarios and env

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How To Develop Resilience to Rare Extreme Events

Climate Risk and Resilience: Securing the Regi...

Climate Risk and Resilience: Securing the Region’s Future (Photo credit: Asian Development Bank)

General Resilience to Cope with Extreme Events(12 page pdf,  Stephen R. Carpenter, Kenneth J. Arrow, Scott Barrett, Reinette Biggs, William A. Brock, Anne-Sophie Crépin, Gustav Engström, Carl Folke, Terry P. Hughes, Nils Kautsky, Chuan-Zhong Li, Geoffrey McCarney, Kyle Meng, Karl-Göran Mäler, Stephen Polasky, Marten Scheffer, Jason Shogren,Thomas Sterner, Jeffrey R. Vincent, Brian Walker, Anastasios Xepapadeas and Aart de Zeeuw, Sustainability, Nov. 28, 2012)

Today we review an article that looks at resilience when faced with extreme events, an especially timely topic given the recent hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, storm surges, earthquakes and tidal waves and the expectation that climate change will increase the frequency of rare weather-related disasters. Among the key activities and outlooks needed in advance of such disasters is the need to combine long term considerations into short term planned actions and the usefulness of such tools as planning alternate scenarios to identify needs.

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World Bank Report on 4 Degree Warming of the World’s Climate

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided(106 page pdf, A Report for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, November 2012)

Also discussed here

(1.2 min You-Tube, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group)

And here: Stand Still for the Apocalypse(Chris Hedges,TruthDig,  Nov. 26, 2012)

Today we review a recent report from the World Bank, assessing the impacts of unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions leading to a 4 degree warmer planet. The impacts are many but tend to occur more often among developing countries near the equator rather than in mid-latitude developed countries who have been (and are) responsible for most of the emissions over the last century and these have accelerated in the last decade or two. The World Bank with a direct interest in promoting the economies of the developing world urges world leaders to begin to take serious measures to reduce emissions and as far as possible these impacts, even though the tipping point for an unstable climate was reached at 350 ppm (now close to 390 ppm).

world bank

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How Can Northern Cities Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change?

Cities of the Future(Minister of the Environment and International Development, Government of Norway)

Also discussed here: Cities of the Future: From Norway with love(World Streets, Dec. 6. 2012)

And here:

Cities of the Future 2008–2014 – Agreement between the state, KS and the municipalities(3 page pdf, Government of Norway)

Today we look at the cities of the future in northern Scandinavia where 13 of Norway’s largest cities have become engaged with their national government in a 6 year program, ending in 2014 “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the cities better places to live”. The initiatives are broken down into four distinct categories (Land Use and Transport, Consumption and Waste, Energy and Buildings, and Climate Adaptation) and each of these has several sub components with specific examples of progress being made. This would be of special interest to other northern countries, such as Canada and Russia, where carbon fuels needed in winter for heating buildings and for transportation and where introducing new energy sources and infrastructure to reduce emissions are big challenges.  Some, if not all, of the ideas may be borrowed and used elsewhere in the wake of the recent 2012 Conference of the Parties (COP) 18 at Doha, Qatar where the world and the world’s cities in particular look ahead to post-Kyoto years as to how to reduce global emissions by the 90% required in the short time available.

norway citiescities-of-the-future-2

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Toronto in 2040- Hot and Getting Hotter!

Toronto’s Future Weather & Climate Driver Study: Outcomes Report(12 page pdf, Summary of the Senes Consultants Ltd Study by Toronto Environment Office, Oct. 30, 2012)

Also discussed here: Toronto failing to act on alarming climate changes: Environmentalists(Tess Kalinowski, Toronto Star, Nov. 11, 2012)

Canada’s largest city is expected to have four times as many days with a humidex above 40C (104F) by 2040. So says the report being reviewed today and prepared for the City of Toronto Council in order to decide on what preparations are needed to adapt to the future with climate change continuing to proceed at full speed because of inaction by the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, namely, the USA, Brazil, Russia and China- and on an emissions per capita basis, Australia and Canada. Past studies have linked heat waves with air pollution and health and higher mortality rates. We look forward to see what the response from city council will be.

toronto 2040

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What is the Future of Air Pollution Globally?

Effects of business-as-usual anthropogenic emissions on air quality(23 page pdf, A. Pozzer, P. Zimmermann, U.M. Doering, J. van Aardenne, H. Tost, F. Dentener, G. Janssens-Maenhout and J. Lelieveld, Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Aug. 1, 2012)

Also discussed here: Air Pollution Worsening Worldwide: Cut Emissions Further, Experts Urge(ScienceDaily, Jul. 31, 2012)

Today we review a paper that looks at the state of air quality globally for the next 40 years, using an index that represents the five major pollutants and a global circulation model to produce scenarios into the future if we continue with “business as usual” policies. These scenarios show that countries and large cities with the worst widespread pollution (in Indo-Asia, the Middle East and North Africa) will not surprisingly deteriorate. The rest of the world’s state of pollution will worsen on average to what we see today in East Asia with the negative health results and enhanced anthropogenic climate change that this implies. Clearly improved atmospheric environmental policy is called for in almost all countries.

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What Makes a Sustainable City?

John Whitelegg on “Health in the sustainable city” (Worldstreets:The Politics of Transport in Cities, Jul. 13, 2012)

Also discussed here: Towards a Zero Carbon Vision for UK Transport (68 page pdf, John Whitelegg, Gary Haq,Howard Cambridge and Harry Vallack, Stockholm Environment Institute July 2010)

Today we review a short video from the World Streets blog  by Prof. John Whitelegg, an expert in what makes a sustainable city, mainly in terms of transportation. He points out the importance of the choices made in cities to either promote the use of vehicles and roads to carry them or to look for more sustainable, less polluting options such as car free housing, reduced parking spaces etc – all in the face of the challenge of climate change mitigation and the goal to achieve a carbon free city.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Assessing Sustainable Mobility in Germany

 

Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the German Federal Government with Respect to Sustainable Mobility (114 page pdf, Robert Gruber, Wuppertal Institute for Climate Environment and Energy, May 2012)

 

From Germany’s Wuppertal Institute comes a master’s thesis which assesses the limited success of the federal government to reduce emissions from road traffic by relying on passive measures such as awareness campaigns or a reliance on technological improvements instead of a more direct focus on traffic avoidance to shift from using cars to using transit and cycling or walking.

 

English: Roadsign on the Island of Juist, Germ...

English: Roadsign on the Island of Juist, Germany. Juist is an island without motorized vehicles. Deutsch: Verkehrszeichen auf Juist an der Billstraße an der Backstube (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Challenge of the Future for the Cities of the World

Planet Under Pressure – A major international conference focusing on solutions to the global sustainability challenge  (Mar. 26-29, 2012, London, UK)

Also discussed here: Sustainable Cities: Meeting the Challenge of Rapid Urbanization the Focus of “Planet Under Pressure 2012″ (Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit,  Mar. 28, 2012)

And here: Planet under pressure / Navigating the Anthropocene (Susan MacMillan , ILRI news, Mar. 29, 2012)

And here: Human activities and global environmental change (28 slide PowerPoint show, Diana Liverman, 2012)

The focus today is on a major conference held in London at the end of March 2012 where the topic was the impact humanity is increasingly having on the world’s environment, a process now referred to, in geological terms, as “the Anthropocene”. Urbanization world-wide is expected to grow over the next 20 years to an area greater than Germany, Spain and France combined. How prepared is society for these changes?

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Decarbonizing Europe

Energy Roadmap 2050 (20 page pdf, Communication From the Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and The Committee of the Regions, European Commission, Dec. 2011)

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing ...

Image via Wikipedia

Also discussed here: Towards a competitive low-carbon energy sector  (European Commission, Dec. 19, 2011

And here: EU’s “Energy Roadmap 2050” Published (Zachary Shahan, Clean Technica Dec. 27, 2011

While many countries have very modest plans to decarbonize in the short term (e.g. Canada and the US with a 17% reduction target by 2020), few countries have serious plans beyond this. The EU recently released a plan, or rather a series of scenarios, to achieve the required reduction of carbon fuels and a stable global climate by 2050 – if that is not too late for the atmosphere to recover, a question being debated between the carbon energy proponents on the one hand and serious climate researchers on the other who would see the target moved to much earlier. Whatever reductions occur, there will be significant improvements also in air pollution and the health benefits that come from that which is the prime focus of this blog, so that we follow the development of decarbonization plans such as this with much interest. Some of the implications of this roadmap are noted including the need to engage the public and the role of nuclear energy,  energy efficiency, and managing energy demand.

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Where are Cars Going Globally in the next 15 years?

Automotive landscape 2025: Opportunities and challenges ahead (90 page pdf, Ralf Kalmbach, Dr. Wolfgang Bernhart, Philipp Grosse Kleimann, Dr. Marcus Hoffmann, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, March 2011)

The report reviewed today looks at the major global trends expected –geopolitical and population shifts , environmental trends, technology- and what they imply:“the automotive industry will undergo the greatest transformation it has experienced in its history”. A major aspect is the growth of China, both in population terms and as an automobile manufacturer and consumer.  A second major aspect is the degree of connectivity between the internet and the new technology built into future cars.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports, click HERE

 

Action on Health Impacts of Climate Change

Adapting to health impacts of climate change: a study of UNFCCC Annex I parties (10 page pdf, A C Lesnikowski, J D Ford, L Berrang-Ford, J A Paterson, M Barrera2 and S J Heymann, Environmental Research Letters, Oct. 31, 2011)

The focus today is on how Annex 1 states (members of the OECD and former USSR) are preparing for impacts expected from climate change, viewed as “one of the main challenges facing public health this century”. The majority have taken no action to adapt to health vulnerabilities. Flooding, general extremes, and air quality were recognized as the main threats and extreme cold as the least. Overlooked by many is the vulnerability of their elderly- whose numbers will double over the next few decades at the same time as periods of extreme heat and high pollution increase as a result of climate change.

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Is there a Link between Climate Warming and Hospital Infections?

Seasonal and Temperature-Associated Increases in Gram-Negative Bacterial Bloodstream Infections among Hospitalized Patients ( 6 Page pdf, Michael R. Eber1, Michelle Shardell, Marin L. Schweizer, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Eli N., Perencevich, PLoS ONE, Sep. 26, 2011)

Today’s review summarizes analysis of the incidence of bloodstream infections in hospitals with higher outside air temperatures. The results indicate a rise in infections by 12 to 51% comparing winter to summer and an increase of 3-10% with every 10 degree F (5 deg C) rise in temperature. The implication for an additional health impacts of climate change is clear – unless year-round precautions are taken by hospitals during hot spells and, in general, as climate warming progresses, we will see more infections. It is worth noting that the spread of insect-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus is also a growing threat in countries such as Canada where winter cold has lessened and allowed insects and birds to carry the disease further north. Also, the convergence of more urbanization, greater use of emission producing vehicles and the large role these vehicles play in causing climate change points to the other major factor and potential solution in reducing these health threats in cities.

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Urban Heat Islands, White Roofs and Climate Change

Urban heat island profile

Image via Wikipedia

Effects of Urban Surfaces and White Roofs on Global and Regional Climate (Abstract, Mark Z. Jacobson, John E. Ten Hoeve, Journal of Climate, Sep. 12, 2011)

From the meteorological modelling community comes an article today examines the significance of urban heat islands as a factor in climate change- turns out that it is not.  It also tests the hypothesis that painting roofs white would reduce the amount of warming of the atmosphere and thereby delay climate change. The model shows that the converse is true because there would be less heating at the surface resulting in less convection and less cloud which globally would allow more sunlight to warm the atmosphere.

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The Cost of Climate Change for the Health of Canadians

Paying The Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada (Ch. 5 Human Health) (168 page pdf, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Sep. 2011)

Today we review a a significant report from Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and Economy that puts an added cost of 1-10 billion dollars each year for each of the four cities assessed, as a result of the impact of climate change and the changes that this implies for air pollution on the health of people. Over the next 10 years, this translates into a cumulative cost of over $80 B in Canada’s largest city- and this is only for premature deaths. The report also has recommendations on how to reduce these impacts by making adaptations to reduce the pollution levels- widespread use of green roofs, for example.

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Health Impacts of Future Heat Waves as a result of Climate Change

Temperature difference in Europe from the aver...

Image via Wikipedia

Projecting Future Heat-related Mortality under Climate Change Scenarios: A Systematic Review (43 page pdf, Cunrui Huang, Adrian Gerard Barnett, Xiaoming Wang, Pavla Vaneckova, Gerard FitzGerald, Shilu Tong, |Environmental Health Perspectives, Aug. 4, 2011)

The focus of today’s review article is on the heat-related deaths likely under climate change scenarios that extend out 50 years. A literature search revealed that heat waves are the single largest cause of deaths of any severe weather and women particularly elderly women tend to suffer the most. Acclimatization to warmer temperatures is an important factor to avoid exaggerating the mortality impact. Air pollution will add to the impact from heat waves.

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Podcars in England

Personal rapid transit (Wikipedia)

Today’s story comes from Milton Keynes a small town of around 200,000 in southeast England which recently commissioned a report on the feasibility of monorail podcars or a personal rapid transit system, as part of a transportation strategy for the next 20 years. This comes following the introduction of operational systems in Masdar City, UAE in November 2010 and at Heathrow Airport to connect its terminal to the parking lot. What is interesting these developments is the concept of a car-free community whose transportation needs are met by small, emission-free robot cars. Similar systems are being planned in South Korea and India, according to the Wiki reference.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports, click HERE

Building Resilience in Cities Adapting to Climate Change

Financing the Resilient City- A demand driven approach to development, disaster risk reduction, and climate adaptation (48 page pdf, Jeb Brugmann, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, June 3, 2011)

A pollution-free city facing change must adapt. Today’s focus is on a report from Resilient Cities: World Congress on cities and adaptation to climate change sponsored by ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability. The report recommends a bottom-up approach, aimed at reducing systematic and catastrophic risks that sometimes may be taken on together, using local criteria to decide how to approach the challenges and how to finance them.

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Urban Health Impacts of Climate Change and Air Pollution in Southern Ontario and Southern Quebec

Possible Impacts of Climate Change on Economic Losses and Health Care Costs due to Heat- and Air Pollution-related Premature Mortality in South-central Canada Using Downscaled Future Climate Scenarios (Abstract, Qian Li, Chad S. Cheng, Guilong Li, Heather Auld, Congress, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, Victoria, June 2011)

The key health impact report in 2005 for four large Canadian cities near the Great Lakes is the focus of today’s review as the authors presented an update at the annual Congress of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society in Victoria, BC. They point out a number of significantly higher health risks, including the projection that premature deaths from high pollution episodes and climate change-induced heat waves could increase three-fold by 2080. At the same time cold-related deaths would decrease by 60-70% by 2080.

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Urban Vulnerability to Climate Change

Cover page cuverture Turning the Tide On Clima...

Image via Wikipedia

Conceptualizing urban vulnerability to global climate and environmental change (Abstract, Patricia Romero Lankaoa, and Hua Qina, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Feb. 10, 2011)

 

The focus of the review article today is on the lack of action by many large cities world-wide. The author suggests that a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of urban vulnerability is needed where critical thresholds and indirect impacts are defined and made part of urban action plans, as well as more progress in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions as reducing energy demand, as seen in congestion pricing.

To see Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

Adapting to Climate Change in Australia

Climate Change- Science and Solutions for Australia (168 page pdf, Editors: Helen Cleugh, Mark Stafford Smith, Michael Battaglia, and Paul Graham, CSIRO, April 2011)
The report reviewed today come from CSIRO, Australia’s lead agency for climate (and other areas of scientific research) which describes the adaptation needed for a range of climate impacts in this country which already has had to cope with major heat waves- many of which are similar, both in origin and response, to what is seen in North America and Europe. Highlighted below are examples of health impacts in particular.

To see Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports about this post, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

How Should Cities Plan to Reduce Health Impacts from Climate Change?

Preparing a People: Climate Change and Public Health (6 page pdf, Catherine M. Cooney, Environ Health Perspect 119:a166-a171, Apr.1, 2011)

 

Today’s focus is on the need for cities to plan in advance for the health impacts from climate change that goes beyond the stress from heat waves which have been well documented in North America and Europe. Only  few cities, such as Chicago, have prepared contingency plans to build in the resilience needed to adapt to the changing climate.

To see Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

The EU White Paper for Transportation to 2050

Schengen Agreement

Image via WikipediaThe focus today is on the recently released White Paper from the EU which outlines various steps to move toward a carbon free major cities within the next 20 years through the use of new technology, investments in infrastructure and relying on user/polluter pays to achieve greater mobility.

WHITE PAPER – Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system (31 page pdf, European Commission, Mar. 28, 2011)
The focus today is on the recently released White Paper from the EU which outlines various steps to move toward a carbon free major cities within the next 20 years through the use of new technology, investments in infrastructure and relying on user/polluter pays to achieve greater mobility.

To see Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports about this post, go to the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

Planning Mobility for Cities in the Future

Megacities on the move (65 page pdf, Forum for the Future, Dec. 2, 2010)

Also discussed here: Report calls for radical redesign of cities to cope with population growth (Guardian, Dec. 2, 2010)

And here: Time to start work on the urban mobility systems of 2040 (Forum for the Future, Dec. 2, 2010)

And here: Smart Cities (MIT)

The report being reviewed today looks at the urbanized world 30 years from now and the needs for mobility coming using four scenarios: renew-abad, communi-city, sprawl-ville and planned-opolis on two axes: top down/bottom up and carbon fuel/renewable energy.  Solutions point toward more use of technology, especially “smart” technology, while shifting the favoured means of transportation from the private car to robo-cars and to more “pedestrian” forms.

Key Quotes:

“If we go on with business as usual, what happens is unmanageable levels of congestion because personal car ownership has proliferated,”

“Information technology is going to be incredibly important in all of this, in terms of better integrating and connecting physical modes of transport..But we’re also going to see lots more user-centred ICT [information and communication technology] so it makes it easier for us to access things virtually.”

City planning will also be important, creating self-contained neighbourhoods where everything is accessible by walking or cycling”

Six solutions:

  1. ” Integrate, integrate, integrate. Cities need to consider transport, urban planning, business, public services, energy and food supply as part of the same system. Good mobility solutions will offer easy access, choice, and smooth connectivity.
  2. Make the poor a priority. Most population growth in the future will take place in developing world cities, where people on low incomes are in the majority. Future urban mobility systems must be accessible and affordable to all.
  3. Go beyond the car. Current growth rates in car ownership are simply unsustainable. Cities need to be designed for people, not cars, and promote alternative forms of transport.
  4. Switch on to IT networks. Information technology can create more integrated transport systems, and offer virtual mobility solutions which avoid the need for travel altogether.
  5. Refuel our vehicles. Climate change and volatile oil prices mean we need to radically increase the energy efficiency of transport, and shift the way we power our vehicles from petrol to renewable, low-carbon fuel sources.
  6. Change people’s behavior. Better infrastructure and technology are not enough. We need to create new social norms that encourage more sustainable, low-carbon lifestyles”
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Trends in Traffic Congestion, Emissions and Health

Evaluation of the Public Health Impacts of Traffic Congestion: A Health Risk Assessment (12 page pdf, Environmental Health, 9:65, Oct. 27, 2010)

Isolating the impact of traffic’s impact on health from that of ambient and roadside air quality is challenging but the article under review attempts that and also projects this impact two decades into the future for more than 80 cities in the USA.  Although this article projects lower health impacts over the next decade, a slight increase is seen after that point as vehicle-miles traveled continue to increase. In addition, no allowance is made for the health and economic impacts arising from climate change which may be significant.

A similar study by the City of Toronto’s Public Health estimated that in that city about 1/3 of the mortality due to air pollution can be attributed to traffic as reported in Impact of Traffic Air Pollution on Health in Toronto

Key Quotes:

“Congestion arises when a roadway system approaches vehicle capacity, resulting in numerous negative impacts ranging from wasted fuel and time to increases in tailpipe emissions..the relative magnitudes of economic and public health impacts of congestion would be expected to vary significantly across urban areas, as a function of road infrastructure, population density, and atmospheric conditions influencing pollutant formation”

“Economic impacts will tend to increase approximately proportional to delay time, but public health impacts will have somewhat different dependencies, including relationships with population size and age distribution (both of which will also influence traffic demand)”

“In total, across the 83 urban areas modeled, VMT [Vehicle-Miles Travelled] is projected to increase 33% from 2000 to 2030 (an increase from 2.97 billion daily VMT to 3.94 billion daily VMT), closely paralleling projected population growth in the urban areas of 32%… Whereas 18 of the 83 urban areas were estimated to have 50% of time in congestion in 2000, 40 urban areas reached this threshold by 2030…Overall, approximately 48% of the impact over the 83 urban areas is attributable to NOx emissions, with 42% attributable to primary PM2.5 emissions and 11% attributable to SO2 emissions”

“whereas the public health impacts contributed approximately 34% of the total cost of congestion in 2000, this decreases to 14% by 2030”

“when comparing traveling conditions of congestion and freeflowing traffic in which the estimated average speed is similar, emissions during congested driving conditions are 50% higher”

“the monetized value of PM2.5-related mortality attributable to congestion in these 83 cities in 2000 was approximately $31 billion (2007 dollars), as compared with a value of time and fuel wasted of $60 billion“

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Future Urban Energy Use – One Scenario for the USA

A Sustainable Energy Scenario for the United States: Year 2050 (31 page pdf, Sustainability 2010, 2(12), 3650-3680, Nov. 26, 2010)

Today’s review article looks at what scenario might emerge over the next 40 years as a result of action taken to make the US sustainable from an energy and climate change perspective  and what this implies for the size and shape of today’s cities. Underpinning the feasibility of such a scenario is the issue of the issue of financing. A carbon tax is assumed to be the most likely mechanism.

Key Quotes:

“suburbs are no more. They have been absorbed into mega-cities or have been transformed into highly self-sufficient eco-communities. About half of the population lives in each type of settlement..Neatly arranged throughout the mega-cities are very high density cores..Neighborhoods of attractive multi-family residences and well integrated commercial, educational and other buildings fill out the rest of the urban landscape.. Each community has its collection of vertical farms, which are multi-story structures designed specifically to grow vegetables, fruits, fish, and poultry “

“The buildings are heated by electricity, solar thermal heating systems, district steam systems, and boilers burning bio-fuels. Appliances in homes are all electric and about 25% more energy efficient than their ancestors from several decades ago”

“The transportation systems in the mega-cities are completely electrified and highly intelligent…electric taxis and buses smoothly traverse the traffic calmed streets.. most residents travel around the city via on-demand public transit

“fossil fuels are also no longer used to produce electricity. In their place is an amalgam of nuclear, concentrated solar, geothermal, wind, and unconventional hydro plants. Therefore, emissions of nitric oxides, sulfur dioxides, mercury, carbon monoxide, and particulates from vehicles and power plants have been eliminated. Tropospheric ozone is also no longer a public and ecological health concern”

“Treeless expanses of manicured turf have been replaced by oases of indigenous flower beds, garden plots, trees, and water gardens. Residents now farm these resources themselves or allow others to grow and harvest the resources for a fee..Increased use of pervious surfaces in the low density settlements will reduce urban run-off. Decreased dependence on corn ethanol and the use of lawns could reduce agricultural and urban run-off of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides”

“By the year 2050.. sprawl will have disappeared. Populations will reside in dense urban settlements or spread out over the landscape in sustainable and maximally environmentally friendly eco-communities”

“ a carbon tax that escalates over a period of time. Revenues from the tax would used to remake the built environment and the energy system.. also allow the government to directly acquire fossil fuel resources and buy-out leases to such resources now owned and held by the private sector”

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