How Feasible are Electric-Powered Cars for Widespread Use?

Potential for widespread electrification of personal vehicle travel in the United States (Abstract, Zachary A. Needell, James McNerney, Michael T. Chang & Jessika E. Trancik, Nature Energy, Aug. 15, 2016)
Also discussed here: Today’s electric vehicles can make a dent in climate change: Electric vehicles can meet drivers’ needs enough to replace 90 percent of vehicles now on the road (Science Daily, Aug. 15, 2016)
And here: Low-carbon infrastructure strategies for cities (Abstract, C. A. Kennedy, N. Ibrahim & D. Hoornweg, Nature climate change, Mar.16,2014)

Today we review research into the feasibility of widespread use of e-cars for urban transportation. Results indicate that 87% of current needs can easily be met by today’s electric vehicle technology, noting the obstacles that are holding back their full acceptance can or will be overcome. The need to charge batteries can be done overnight or during the day in parking facilities. The relative short driving range can be overcome for driving long distances by utilizing alternatives such as car-sharing with conventional vehicles or by purchasing a second car for those needs. Converting 90% of today’s vehicles to electric power would reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the USA by 30% – or more if power came from utilities with lower carbon fuel use.

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Which Countries Have the the Most and Least Sustainable Cities?

A Global Perspective on the Sustainable Performance of Urbanization (16 page pdf, Liyin Shen, Chenyang Shuai, Liudan Jiao, Yongtao Tan and Xiangnan Song, Sustainability, Aug. 11, 2016)

Today we review a comparison of 111 countries, according to how well they perform in urban sustainability, made up of indices of environmental, economic and social sustainability. The best overall performers are developed countries in Western Europe, the worst in Africa and Asia. It is notable that although Sweden is not the top performer in any one of the three indices, it is the best overall, signaling how well that country balances the three aspects.


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Does Air Pollution Affect Productivity?

The Effect of Pollution on Worker Productivity: Evidence from Call-Center Workers in China (Abstract, Tom Chang, Joshua Graff Zivin, Tal Gross, Matthew Neidell, NBER Working Paper No. 22328, Jun. 2016)
Also discussed here: The effect of pollution on worker productivity: Evidence from call-centre workers in China (Tom Chang, Tal Gross, Joshua Graff Zivin, Matthew Neidell, VOX- CEPR’s Policy Portal, Jul. 15, 016)

And here:Pollution is bad for your health, but is it also making you less productive? (Tal Gross, Tom Chang, Joshua Graff Zivin, Matthew NeidellWorld Economic Forum, Jul. 25, 2016)

Today we review research that looks at how the productivity of call workers in China was affected by higher levels of pollution. Results indicate that a 10% increase in the Air Pollution Index (API) was associated with a 0.3% drop in calls handled each day. Translated to China’s office workers as a whole, a 10% improvement in air pollution equates to $2.2 Billion/year in productivity. Or, to put it in a big city North American context (Los Angeles), were the 90 days that pollution levels exceeded EPA standards eliminated, the productivity for that city alone would be $378 greater. As the authors comment in terms of broader implications, pollution restrictions, aimed at an improved environment, are sometimes seen as a negative, unfair “tax” by businesses. This paper shows that it could help rather than hinder their bottom line.


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Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution (TRAP) by Children up to 15 Years Old

Long-term air pollution exposure and lung function in 15 year-old adolescents living in an urban and rural area in Germany: The GINIplus and LISAplus cohorts (Abstract,  Elaine Fuertes, Johannes Bracher , Claudia Flexeder , Iana Markevych , Claudia Klümper, Barbara Hoffmann , Ursula Krämer, Andrea von Berg , Carl-Peter Bauer , Sibylle Koletzko , Dietrich Berdel, Joachim Heinrich, Holger Schulz, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Mar. 2015)

Today we review research that tries to answer the question of whether exposure to traffic-related air pollution by children has both a short term and long term effect on their lung development. Results indicate that while no link was found between long term exposure on lung development, that those who had asthma did show a link with long term exposure to NO2. It was also observed that the impact of short term exposure may be reversible later in their lives.

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Pathways for Carbon Free Energy for the World

100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water, and Sunlight (WWS) All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for 139 Countries of the World (62 page pdf, Mark Z. Jacobson, Mark A. Delucchi, Zack A.F. Bauer, Savannah C. Goodman, William E. Chapman, Mary A. Cameron, Alphabetical: Cedric Bozonnat, Liat Chobadi, Jenny R. Erwin, Simone N. Fobi, Owen K. Goldstrom, Sophie H. Harrison, Ted M. Kwasnik, Jonathan Lo, Jingyi Liu, Chun J. Yi, Sean B. Morris, Kevin R. Moy, Patrick L. O’Neill, Stephanie Redfern, Robin Schucker, Mike A. Sontag, Jingfan Wang, Eric Weiner, Alex S. Yachanin, Stanford University, Apr. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: Clean Energy Could Fuel Most Countries by 2050, Study Shows (Zahra Hirji, InsideClimate News, Niv. 27, 2015)

Today we review a draft report prepared for the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris that provides an analysis of the ways that renewable energy source could be applied in 139 countries to replace the carbon sources currently used. Currently, only 3.8% of the power capacity is installed to reach 100% clean energy worldwide. In Canada, as an example, a power load of 412.1 gigawatts  is required by 2050 under a business as usual scenario . Under a clean energy scenario, however, the country would need only 240.2 gigawatts of power. Most of the energy would come from onshore and offshore wind (58%), utility-scale and rooftop solar (21%), hydropower (16.5 %) and a mix of other sources, including geothermal (2%) and wave energy. The avoided health costs would be $107.6B per year which represents 4% of GDP or 9,598 air pollution deaths avoided every year. The estimated total electricity, health and climate cost savings of this transition would amount to about $8,887 per Canadian per year (in 2013 dollars).


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Kidney Disease and Air Pollution

Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Increased Risk of Membranous Nephropathy in China (Abstract, Xin Xu, Guobao Wang, Nan Chen, Tao Lu*, Sheng Nie*, Gang Xu, Ping Zhang§, Yang Luo, Yongping Wang*, Xiaobin Wang, Joel Schwartz**, Jian Geng††‡‡ and Fan Fan Hou, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Jun. 30, 2016)

Also discussed here: Air pollution linked to increased rates of kidney disease – Regions in China with high levels of fine particulate air pollution have elevated rates of membranous nephropathy (Science Daily, Jun. 30, 2016)

Today we review research on the impact of particulate matter (average annual PM2.5 in the range 6 to 114 μg/m3) on the risk of developing membranous nephropathy (MN), an immune disorder of the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure. Results showed that MN increased 13% over in the eleven year period.


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How Can Self-Driving Cars Improve Mobility in Cities?

NACTO Policy Statement on Automated Vehicles (4 page pdf, National Association of City Transportation Officials, Jun. 22, 2016)

Also discussed here: NACTO Releases Policy Recommendations for the Future of Automated Vehicles – New disruptive technology has the potential to remake city streets, and policies must directly address their expected widespread impact on safety, mobility, and land use (Press Release, National Association of City Transportation Officials, Jun. 23, 2016)

Today we review a policy statement by an association made up of municipal transportation planners from 40 major cities in the USA that transforming cities constrained by congestion and old vehicle technology to future ones where automated cars improve mobility and safety by all modes of transportation, not just for cars but even that could be much better. Automated cars offer a way to dramatically increase the capacity of (and lower the capital and maintenance costs) city roads and highways as well as making them safer for pedestrians and cyclists by imposing a speed limit of 25 mph. They will also offer more space in cities for homes and businesses by virtually eliminating the need for on and off street parking – a function that today covers as much as 40% of urban areas in the form of parking lots and driveways

English: Disruptive technology graph

English: Disruptive technology graph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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