What are the Overall Benefits of Road Pricing beyond Revenue Generation and Congestion Management?

Next Generations of Road Pricing: Social Welfare Enhancing (15 page pdf, Omid M. Rouhani, Sustainability, Mar.11, 2016)

Today we review a paper that looks beyond the two factors often used to justify road pricing: raising cash and reducing traffic congestion. Some of those factors are public acceptability, equity and the fact that only 26% of the important factors are generic- much depends on local factors that differ from one location to another – which perhaps explains why congestion pricing (and carbon taxes for that matter) are overwhelmingly accepted in places such as Stockholm and British Columbia but vigorously rejected by the public in many US and Canadian cities.

Some of the implementation decisions involve the spillover of traffic from a tolled road to its neighbours (which supports the notion of tolling existing roads and not just new ones) and then need for alternatives to road use (i.e. walking, cycling, public transit) for those who need to travel and the need for flexibility in terms of the rate to be charged and finally the need to make clear at the onset the overall benefits or welfare to the travelling public.

road pricing welfare

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The Environmental and Health Benefits of Trees in Cities– a Literature Review

Health and climate related ecosystem services provided by street trees in the urban environment (17 page pdf, Environmental Health, Mar. 8, 2016)

Today we review an extensive literature review (with 156 references) of research concerned with the role of trees in an urban ecosystem services (ESS) framework and how that affects the environment, health and climate change mitigation for cities. Past studies have focused not only on the health benefits of trees, but also the conditions where trees can lead to lower air quality. The paper describes the physical role of trees in allowing for more moisture to be released from the soil to the atmosphere as well as the effectiveness of some trees (with large leaves) to capture air pollutants while at the same time reducing the ventilation and dilution of pollution along tree-lined streets. Pollen from trees causes asthma and allergies in as much as half the population of some cities. The authors suggest that a systems dynamics approach might help to consider the many dynamic processes involved in order to improve urban planning into the use of trees.

Lost Ecosystem Services and Vanishing Ecologic...

Lost Ecosystem Services and Vanishing Ecological Roles. Forest ecosystems in the tropics and subtropics are being quickly replaced by industrial crops and plantations. This provides large amounts of goods for national and international markets, but results in the loss of crucial ecosystem services mediated by ecological processes. In Argentina and Bolivia, the Chaco thorn forest (A) is being felled at a rate considered among the highest in the world (B), to give way to soybean cultivation (C). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How Does Noise in the City Affect Its Residents?

How City Noise Affects Residents’ Health (The Atlantic , Mar. 1, 2016)

Also discussed here: Noise and the City Blog

And here: Greater Boston Neighborhood Noise Survey (Noise and the City)

And here: Pinpointing the Health Impacts of Urban Noise

Today we review progress on a project by a PhD candidate at Harvard School of Public Health to measure and monitor the noise in neighbourhoods of a large American city (Boston) as well as conduct a survey of residents to assess their reaction to noise. The noises include traditional road noise from traffic, as well as the hidden ones such as vibrations and low frequency noises from underground subways or idling trucks. While we await her thesis, those interested in the project can follow progress at her blog at http://noiseandthecity.org/monitoring-and-surveying-at-a-glance/ .

Boston_ Monitoring and Surveying at a Glance - Noiseandthecity.org_Page_1 boston noice map-big

 

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What are Countries Doing to Protect Human Health and Ecosystems?

Global Metrics for the Environment, 2016 REPORT, Environmental Performance Index (12 page pdf,  Yale University, Jan. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: U.S. Could Do Much More To Protect The Environment, Report Finds (Huffington Post, Jan. 27, 2016)

And here:Environmental Performance Index- Air Quality (Yale University, Jan. 24, 2016)

Today we review the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, prepared by Yale University which ranks the performance of countries in two areas: protection of human health and protection of Ecosystems. While improvements were seen in most categories, air quality is becoming worse mainly as a result of increased concentrations of fine particulate matter, especially in urban areas. While only 2% of global deaths (1.24 million) are caused by unsafe drinking water (and that is due to 80% of waste water not being treated), poor air quality caused 10% of global deaths (5.52 deaths). Overall, Finland tops the list in all categories with policy commitments made to achieve carbon neutral status by 2050. Other Scandinavian countries are near the top while North American countries such as Canada (ranked overall at #16) or the USA (ranked 26) are not achieving as much. This also applies to air quality where Canada at #26 and USA at #36.

env perf index 2016

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The Relationship between Traffic-Related Air Pollution and the Incidence of Parkinson’s Disease.

Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Parkinson’s Disease in Denmark: A Case–Control Study (6 page pdf, Beate Ritz, Pei-Chen Lee, Johnni Hansen, Christina Funch Lassen, Matthias Ketzel, Mette Sørensen, and Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Environmental Health Perspectives, Mar. 1, 2016)

Today we review research into the relationship between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Results from a large sample over 15 years  in Denmark indicates that this exposure increases the incidence of PD.

Histological sample of Substantia nigra in Par...

Histological sample of Substantia nigra in Parkinson’s disease. A. SNpc neuron with a Lewy body, extracellular neuromelanin and pigment-laden macrophages. Haematoxylin/Eosin stain, 500×. B. Alpha-synuclein-positive Lewy neurit, 400×. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How is Traffic-Related Air Pollution Related to Dementia?

Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Dementia Incidence in Northern Sweden: A Longitudinal Study (7 Page pdf, Anna Oudin, Bertil Forsberg, Annelie Nordin Adolfsson, Nina Lind, Lars Modig, Maria Nordin, Steven Nordin, Rolf Adolfsson, and Lars-Göran Nilsson, Environmental Health Perspectives, Mar. 1, 2016)

Today we review research which assessed the exposure of a cohort of elderly patients (79-81 years old) to traffic related air pollution (represented by NO2) in a northern Swedish city. Conclusions included observed associations between dementia incidence and local traffic pollution. The magnitude of the association was similar for both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.  The importance of further research  is underlined by the predicted tripling of Alzheimer’s Disease over the next 40 years unless preventive measures are taken.

sweden dementia no2

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What does the 2 Deg C Carbon Budget Look Like?

Differences between carbon budget estimates unraveled (Abstract, Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Pierre Friedlingstein, Nathan P. Gillett, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Keywan Riahi, Myles Allen & Reto Knutti, Nature Climate Perspective, Feb. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: A lower limit for future climate emissions (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) News, Feb. 24, 2016)

And here: A second look at the two-degree target (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) News, Dec. 7, 2015)

Today we review research at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis near Vienna which examines the conditions necessary to keep global warming within the 2 deg C target accepted by the United Nations Conference COP21 at Paris in the fall of 2015. The limit to the amount of carbon which can be burned (or the available carbon budget) in the future after 2015 has been estimated at varying amounts from 590 to 1240 billion tonnes, a difference of almost a billion tonnes. Differences arise because of assumptions made in various scenarios as well as the contributions by other greenhouse gases than CO2. The possibility of overestimating the budget by up to a billion tonnes is a major concern in terms of the urgency to reduce carbon emissions in action plans for the immediate future.

2degworld

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