Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 10 Posts in 2012 on Pollution Free Cities- Blogger Edition

At year end, bloggers sometimes look back at their posts to see which ones were the most popular- and I did just that with the list of links clipped below, in case you want to revisit any of them. There continues to be interest in pollution-free, sustainable cities and advances being made to reduce or eliminate traffic congestion and pollution in cities, along with an ongoing interest in the health impacts of all this. 

Making Transportation Sustainable in Cities
Comparing the Health Risks of Smoking and Air Pollution
Cities of World Ranked by Exposure to Particulates 

Neural Network Modelling and Residential Building Energy Consumption
How Can Transportation Technology and Practices Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Economic Impacts of Air Pollution from Asthma 
Climate Change, Air Pollution and Corrosion of Buildings l
Reducing Emissions from Wood Burning Stoves
Childhood Asthma and Ambient Air Pollution

Friday, December 28, 2012

How to Make a City Better for Walking

10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable (Kaid Benfield, Cities-the Atlantic, Dec 03, 2012)

Also discussed here: The Smart Growth Manual (Andres Duany, Jeff Speck, Mike Lydon, McGraw Hill, Oct. 15, 2009)

Today we review a ten things cities can do to make them more walkable and not as attractive for driving. Extracts are listed below but seem to boil down to making streets more attractive (more trees and interesting things to look at) and safer for pedestrians – and for cyclists –by slowing traffic and overall create a more  enjoyable place to live.

 walkable cities  

Key Quotes:
  1. “a car-first approach has hurt American very careful about assuming the merits of pedestrian-only zones
  2. neighborhoods with a diversity of uses – places to walk to – have significantly more walking than those that don’t
  3. we have a huge oversupply of underpriced parking, in large part due to minimum parking requirements for buildings and businesses.. recommends consolidated parking for multiple buildings and businesses and higher prices, especially for curb parking
  4. Let transit work…concentrating on those transit corridors that can be improved to support ten-minute headways, and working there to simultaneously improve both the transit and the urban fabric
  5. Protect the pedestrian…use narrow lanes and two-way streets…on-street curbside parking.. buffers the sidewalk from moving vehicle traffic.
  6. Welcome bikes.. bike traffic slows car traffic…car traffic isn’t really inconvenienced much if at all when the addition of cycling infrastructure is thoughtful
  7. Shape the spaces. …the amount of density to support good city walkability does not necessarily require tall buildings.
  8. Plant trees.. in addition to contributing to auto safety, trees provide myriad public benefits, including natural cooling, reduced emissions and energy demand for air conditioning, and reduced stormwater pollution.
  9. Make friendly and unique [building] faces…how far we will walk is all about what we encounter along the way. Stores and businesses with street-level windows does disguised or lined parking, vertical building lines, and architectural details
  10. Pick your winners…focusing on downtowns first, and on short corridors that can connect walkable neighborhoods”
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Less Car Use – only in Britain you say?

On the Move - Making sense of car and train travel trends in Britain(148 page pdf, Scott Le Vine and Peter Jones, Royal Automobile Club (RAC) Foundation for Motoring Ltd, Dec. 3, 2012)

Also discussed here: Making sense of car & train travel trends in Britain(Royal Automobile Club (RAC) Foundation for Motoring Ltd, Dec. 3, 2012)

And here: Oops! What is happening to the American Dream? Are cars on the way out?(World Streets, Dec. 4, 2012)

And here: Peak car or bleak car? The future is up for grabs(Campaign for Better Transport, Dec. 3, 2012)

And here: Traffic forecasts and pensions(Campaign for Better Transport, Apr. 17, 2012)

Today we review a report assessing the state and causes of car use by car users in Britain, noting that there, as in many other countries, there seems to have been a peak in mileage driven per year. Some of the reasons suggested are the rise in fuel costs as oil becomes more expensive and harder to produce, greater use of trains for commuting (at least in and around London where this is a viable option) and less use of company cars again because of higher fuel costs – along with cultural trends such less desire for car ownership by the younger population and a preference for online shopping over driving to the mall. An important exception seems to be older men and women whose car use has increased, signaling a different motivation. These are important conclusions as they suggest ways to accentuate the shift away from polluting vehicles in other countries which have serious roadside pollution and health issues. car growth cars in uk  

Key Quotes: “developed countries around the world are seeing car traffic level off rather than increase .. and that in dense urban areas traffic levels are declining”
  • ” Average car driving mileage per head of population has changed little in Britain over the ten-year study period.. large differences in trends between men (whose driving mileage has decreased) and women (whose driving mileage has increased); the largest drop has been for men in their 20s, whose average car mileage fell by about 2,000 miles per year.
  • Most of the reduction in mileage by men…can be accounted for by a sharp fall in company car use; this seems to be linked to the large increases in taxation on fuel provided for private use.
  • Half of the increase in mileage by women can be accounted for by a rise in adult female licence holding (up from 56% in 1995/7 to 62% in 2005/7).
  • London is different…car travel is lower and rail travel higher among both London residents and those from outside who work in the capital… has been a pattern of continuing growth in non-company car use outside London for those aged 30 and over
  • 60% growth in GB rail travel is the result of more people starting to travel by train, rather than existing rail users travelling more.. Rail mileage has grown most rapidly for business purposes – it has nearly tripled – and there is some evidence of a partial shift of business travel from company car to rail for men.
“this effect is cultural rather than simply economic, led by new trends such as fewer young people desiring cars of their own, and the growth of home offices, online shopping and radical changes in communication technology making face to face meetings and transactions less necessary, to the extent that they affect travel patterns in a significant way”
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Satellite Monitoring of Air Pollution in the World’s MegaCities

AOD trends over megacities based on space monitoring using MODIS and MISR(11 page pdf, Pinhas Alpert, Olga Shvainshtein, and Pavel Kishcha, American Journal of Climate Change, Nov. 2012)

Also discussed here: Tracking Pollution from Outer Space: Team Uses NASA Satellites to Measure Pollution Hovering Over World's Megacities(ScienceDaily, Nov. 27, 2012)

Today we review research that used three different satellite sensors to estimate atmospheric optical depth for 189 large cities world-wide over an eight year period. One big advantage of this method is that it gets away from the sometimes non standard or inconsistent pollution monitors on the earth’s surface. Another is that trends in air quality in various cities can be measured and compared using the saem equipment. While cities in Southeast Asia and Northeast USA show an improvement, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Northern China show deteriorating air quality. This approach looks very promising for future monitoring on a global basis. satellite aq megacities  

Key Quotes:

“Using eight years' worth of data collected by the satellites [MODIS-Terra, MODIS-Aqua, and MISR], the researchers tracked pollution trends for 189 megacities -- metropolitan hotspots where the population exceeds 2 million”

“Unlike ground-based measurements, satellite remote sensing of aerosols has the advantage of providing global coverage on a regular basis [10]. This provides us with an opportunity to compare aerosol tendencies in different megacities using satellite data of the same sensors”

 "By merging the data from three imperfect sensors, their flaws are mostly counterbalanced. In cases where the three sensors show differing signs of pollution levels, more research is required."

“The increasing AOD trends over the largest cities in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and North China can be clearly seen. By contrast, megacities in Europe, the north-east of US, and South-East Asia show mainly declining AOD trends”

 “Space monitoring of aerosol optical depth trends over megacities can serve as a potential space indicator of global anthropogenic air-pollution changes”
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Friday, December 21, 2012

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.  

Key Quotes: 

 “Resilience, in the context of environmental management and sustainability, is the capacity of a social-ecological system to absorb disturbance, reorganize, and thereby retain essential functions, structures and feedbacks”

 “rare or unprecedented disturbances that are unusually intense or extensive require a more broad-spectrum type of resilience” 

“Monitoring—the provision of transparent, relevant information about status and trends of the socialecological system—is essential for building and maintaining resilience. Indicators of social processes and the ecosystem help users and managers understand status and trends of critical ecosystem services. Sometimes indicators may provide early warnings of approaching thresholds”

 “seven principles for enhancing resilience, which address
  • diversity,
  • connectivity,
  • feedbacks and slow variables,
  • polycentric governance,
  • learning and experimentation,
  • breadth of participation, and
  • the complex adaptive characteristics of social-ecological systems”
Scenario planning is a method of exploring the resilience of a social-ecological system to a wide range of factors. Scenarios are a coordinated set of stories that reveal sharply different alternative futures for a social-ecological system. The alternate scenarios within a set diverge as a result of human decisions, diverging drivers, and large-consequence events.”

“The greatest challenge of general resilience is to design and implement concrete policies and actions. Unless incentives are constructed properly, short-term decision making will tend away from the long term view that is needed to build and maintain general resilience. How can long-term practices be woven into actions that also meet the immediate needs of people and ecosystems?”
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