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View Diary: Morning Feature: Mass Transit - Our Lives and Footprints (Plus Kossascopes) (185 comments)

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  •  Fascinating diary, Crissie (12+ / 0-)

    So it's more complicated than we thought.  Of course.  Should have guessed.

    Add to that the fact that a lot of humans aren't likely to want to change their habits, and we've got a problem here.

    I know plenty of people who enjoy taking mass transit (where a good system is available) because it gives them time to relax, read the paper, do some work, sip coffee... and they get to know the other frequent riders.

    Apparently my area hasn't yet reached the critical mass where the owners of Hummers and SUVs are likely to give up their "independence" and join the hoi polloi in the same vehicle.  Or endure the annoyance of having to wait on mass transit.

    I honestly don't know what would push them to demand or use mass transit.  Too many of these people didn't eve slow down when gas hit its all time high.

    Huggs and good morning, Krew!

    "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

    by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 04:32:36 AM PDT

    •  I'm guessing $5/gallon gasoline will do it. (11+ / 0-)

      Once gasoline prices top $5/gallon and stay there, you can bet a lot more people will get a lot more interested in car/van pooling and other forms of mass transit.  A bit part of our hyper-individualistic car culture has been artificially low gas prices, as compared to other industrialized nations.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

      •  I am one of the only people I know who cheers (8+ / 0-)

        when gas prices go up.  It really does result in a reduction of driving and gets people into small cars.  Only, it bums me out that the government doesn't get the money to fund mass transit, and instead it goes to oil companies.  I wish the government had the guts to raise taxes and put the money into developing better mass transit.

        Don't believe everything you think.

        by EJP in Maine on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:05:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree on gas taxes. (8+ / 0-)

          I'd love it if we had a Congress with the guts to pass a $2/gallon gasoline tax to fund mass transit.  That'll happen the day after the Congress passes a constitutional amendment legalizing LGBT marriages in all 50 states.

          Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

          •  Both would be great! (6+ / 0-)

            but I guess not likely any time soon...

            Don't believe everything you think.

            by EJP in Maine on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:11:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It would be an incredibly regressive tax and (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            EJP in Maine, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

            kill the average working person who doesn't live in a metro area. They would end up subsidizing a utility they didn't get to use. Too many people can't afford to live close enough to work. We're just too big and our population density varies too widely. We need mass transit for metro areas and to expand rail service between them, city planning has been a really bad joke for too many decades, but green fuels will be the ticket for much of the country. On the bright side, there are a couple of new algae based fuel producers, (two in South Blogistan), who are currently estimating production of 4,000-6,000 gallons/acre in open ponds within a couple of years

            Good morning! :::Huuugggsss:::

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 06:45:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree, FWG (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              EJP in Maine, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

              I saw too many people having to choose between food and the gas to get to work when we hit $5/gal.

              Huggs and good morning!

              "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

              by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 06:50:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Huuggss back! As someone who have lived most (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                EJP in Maine, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

                of my life in the West and in rural/farming areas with low population density, I can vouch for the fact that even ride sharing is difficult for many. It used to be that hitchhiking in rural areas worked well, people would pick up anyone walking along the road, but not anymore. The link to algae to energy news on the biofuels site is good reading and very encouraging. Boeing recently did a jet test with biofuel and not only did it work, it increased the engine efficiency significantly. So as long as we chose which biofuels to encourage, (corn ethanol and palm oil are horrible and jatropha, which looked very promising, has had setbacks), we can go at least carbon neutral, if not actively sequestering some, become energy independent to increase security and create jobs, and not have to pull our population into mega metros with robofarms for support.

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 07:09:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Living in low-density areas is a choice. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NCrissieB

                When it gets too expensive to live in a low-density area, people will move to high-density areas.

                Living in low-density areas promotes obesity ($ cost to healthcare system) and increases carbon footprint ($ cost to overall economy). Those dollar costs should be assessed as some kind of tax that falls more heavily on those in low-density areas.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 11:29:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, it would be regressive, especially rurally. (4+ / 0-)

              On the other hand, as citizens we often subsidize utilities we don't get to use.  Childless people do that with public schools.  People in comparatively safe neighborhoods subsidize police services that are concentrated in more dangerous neighborhoods.  Part of the change is recognizing that taxes aren't the same as fees, where you're guaranteed some direct service in exchange for the money.

              And the indirect service would be lessening our dependence on foreign oil, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and thus bringing ourselves more in line with our environment.  Those are difficult to put a "Where's my $2/gallon worth?" tag on, but they are not irrelevant.

              Finally, as noted in the diary, not every green transit solution applies only in cities or suburbs.  Car/van pools can work even in rural areas, if they are well-designed to fit with the local needs.  If the cars/vans run at near peak occupancy, they're as green as all but the most efficient light rail.  So this isn't a "cities and suburbs only" solution set.

              Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

              •  True, we do co-op and subsidize one another, (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                EJP in Maine, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

                but so many rural living folks are already so close to the edge that it would take very little to swamp them. As Winter said, many, many people were having to choose between groceries and fuel to get to work during the crunch. Some of the carbon neutral biofuels are projecting in the range of $2/gallon, with wholly domestic production, so multiple benefits as that develops. And city planners really need to be utilised on a larger scale, the piecemeal sprawl that's been going on for so long is horribly inefficient in so many ways.

                Good morning! :::Huuugggsss:::

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 07:23:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  algae based fuel (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              EJP in Maine, winterbanyan, BYw, NCrissieB

              has been "a couple of years away" since the `70s gas crisis.  I've read all the technical information I can get my hands on and fund

              1. They have yet to solve the problem of efficient harvesting of algae.
              1. It seems doubtful they've really solved the extraction of the oils, although someone may have and isn't talking about it.
              1. Open ponds mean contamination with wild algae, as well as predators eating it.
              1. Out of all the open growth reports I've read, none had actually run a site for a full year. In most locations extra energy input is needed for part of the year; enclosed systems almost always require heating or cooling or both for part of the year.

              A lot of the current projects look interesting, but so did many in the past but turned out not to be practical.  I suspect that certain locations may be able to be successful in the near future, but more general application is further away.

              •  There is a new process, (patent pending) for (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                winterbanyan, NCrissieB

                extraction that doesn't require dewatering and they're looking to license the process, so that looks promising. The link about algae to energy below has the newest info. One of the producers is exploring linking to coal fired plants for CO2 enrichment/sequestration cogeneration.

                The two open pond producers are using non-GMO strains in FL and haven't reported significant contamination, but don't know how they're set up. One is scaling up from pilot to demo.

                I'm pretty sure the Boeing jet test used algae based fuel.

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 08:09:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  there are several non-dewatering methods (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NCrissieB

                  I'm NDA for one, but none have been proven on even medium sized pilot plant scale.  The designer says to expect 5+ years to get it working well enough to be commercial and 'green' - not taking so much energy that the plant becomes a net energy sink.

                  Almost no one has done GMO algae, mostly the old standard selection of strains for high yields.  Going back to the early 1980s these all suffered from contamination when used in open ponds for more than 4 months. Several got 'infected' with algae gulping critters that dropped yields.

                  Almost every more recent design includes some source of CO2, some fossil fuel plants produce clean enough CO2 that they make decent direct feeds, some power plants don't.  In warmer climates cooling can become an issue with such combinations, the relatively shallow ponds heat up from the sun quickly and the warm power plant exhaust just makes it worse; cooling means increased water consumption. Balancing everything gets tricky.

                  •  Check out the link (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NCrissieB

                    for current info. Last updated in April. A couple of them are projecting over a million gal/year production by 2011, one as low as ~$1.30/gal.

                    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                    by FarWestGirl on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 09:27:15 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I've read OriginOil's patents in the recent past (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

                      and was not struck that they have any real breakthrough. They are replacing the use of ultrasonics to disrupt cells, which a turbulence based system that generates very small bubbles which then collapse and generate intensive sound similar to the ultrasound process.

                      It sounds good, but erosion of the bubble forming apparatus can be an issue.  They also state that digestive enzymes are used beforehand to weaken the cell walls, and that can be expensive.

                      While patents aren't as bad as press releases when it comes to the handwaving done, patents in the last quarter century or so have included a decreasing amount of information and increasing amount of noise to cover as many bases as possible.  In not a few cases the patent appears to be an attempt to own a concept that really isn't ready for prime time yet, but might be useful with more development.  With startup type companies patents are also used as assets to help attract further venture capital.

                      I and others I know have attempted to recreate processes and results described in various patents (not these OriginOil ones) without success.  In several cases someone else worked on the project, the patents had expired and described a still useful process or result, and could not be made to work at all even after extensive research and trials.  The claims made in the patent were bogus, little detail had been given and the processes had never been published in a peer reviewed publication.  

                      Just because something has been patented and is being promoted doesn't mean it actually works, or the while it does work does not imply that it is useful or practical.

                      So I wait to see how the large scale pilots go, provided enough data is given to evaluate production costs and yields, or see if the company starts selling product at competitive prices.  I've stacks of literature describing various processes that were going to be great successes, but instead faded away having never even made it to the commercial stage.

                      •  Thank you for taking the time to expand on (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        wondering if, NCrissieB

                        this. I don't doubt there are lots of people trying to look ripe for acquisition so they can cash in and trying to sift through and evaluate the signal to noise ratio isn't easy. My background is stronger in other areas of conservation and efficiency, I've only been looking into biofuels for a couple of years, so I appreciate your explanation.

                        I understand that enzymes have been the major stumbling block for cellulosic ethanol.

                        Biofuels sound very promising and are much needed, I hope we can get them online in time.

                        If you don't mind, what are the drawbacks to the original ultrasound approach to breaking down the cell walls?

                        Thanks again.

                        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                        by FarWestGirl on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 11:45:02 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Energy input (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          FarWestGirl

                          ultrasound generators can be fairly inefficient, and soupy messes such as algae cultures can further waste some of the generated ultrasound. Then the sound make not be real effective at disrupting the cells walls, taking much more energy than expected.  Ultrasound cell disruption is used all the time in the laboratory, but efficiency is not an issue there.

                          OriginOil has some good ideas, but there's very little published in the scientific press so evaluation is difficult.  What they've done is not unusual, you have an interesting process that may become practical, so you patent it and hope that you can refine it. Perhaps you are getting some more venture capital to help out, boosted by the optimist tone of the patent and PR you turn out, and you genuinely think the process can be made economically successful with that additional funding.

                          Harvesting seems to be the biggest stumbling block for algae derived fuels; a bit similar to processing ethanol from fermentation - a dilute starting point and somewhat energy intensive to concentrate.

                          •  Thank you. It would seem that if the cells were (0+ / 0-)

                            fully hydrated the tension on the walls would make them more susceptable to disruption by the US. Do they use weak osmotic solutions to adjust the fluid balance in the cells prior to US?

                            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                            by FarWestGirl on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 11:10:12 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  in the lab - sometimes (0+ / 0-)

                            and sometimes just use osmotic pressure to burst the cells, if the particular cells have weak walls.  A lot of methods, depending on what is being processed and the goals.

                            There's been a lot of work on concentrating algae cultures for harvesting purposes. Ingenious mechanisms that don't use much energy, but are prone to clogging. Clog-prove ones that take a lot of power. Cleaver ones that take too much maintenance.  It simply isn't an easy task.

                            I suspect that a workable solution is a genetically engineered variety that needs special, although not too hard to provide, conditions to grow as a way to keep it from spreading in the wild, and that takes on a clumping behavior when triggered by some low cost means. The clumped masses would be easy to strain out, possibly floating to the surface through entrained gas bubbles (plus the oils they make).  As starvation, particularly nitrogen starvation, usually triggers oil formation, a similarly triggered but delayed formation of sticky polysaccharides that bound the cells into a mat and trapped the O2 they give off might work. The combined buoyancy of oil and gas floats the mats, concentrating the cells enough that the more energy intensive harvesting methods could be used.

                             

        •  I diaried this last year (6+ / 0-)

          On a simple calculation if gas prices in the US were the same as Europe, then average consumption  per vehicle would eventually get to European levels, then the US would consume 25% less oil.

          To get that point, I advocated an increase in gas taxes of 50 cts a gallon every year for eight years, in order to allow people to renew their vehicles as required in the full knowledge of future price increases.

          pimping my own diary

      •  Cheaper gas and higher health care (7+ / 0-)

        Maybe our goal should be to flip these two. Thanks for the diary.

      •  Gas RATIONING. (6+ / 0-)

        Yeah, allcaps.  Sorry for the shout.  But increasing gas prices is an unfair burden on the poor when mass transit isn't available, and the guy with the Hummer is still humming along.

        So ration the stuff.  Carpools would have access to more ration coupons simply by virtue of more riders.

        And as mass transit moves in, reduce the amount of gasoline per household.  Exceptions could be made for those with serious medical problems, but beyond that...

        Ration it.

        "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

        by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:21:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  we both drive 5-speed Civic Hybrids (7+ / 0-)

        my car is approaching 80,000 miles -  overall my mpg is still over 50.

        If I have to drive, which given my job and my residence, I do, I try to minimize my carbon footprint and the pollution for which I am responsible.

        This car replaced one for which the overall MPG was about 30.  I think I have probably more than recovered the additional cost of buying a hybrid

        1.  tax break
        1.  better mpg at a time of increasing gas prices
        1.  ability to get on HOV roads and thus have an uninterrupted commute and not stop and go

        For some people $10/gallon would not get them out of their Hummers.

        do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

        by teacherken on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:35:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Surprisingly ... (6+ / 0-)

          ... six people carpooling in a Hummer use less energy and have a lower carbon footprint than you in your 5-speed Civic Hybrid.  That astonished me.  Occupancy really is the dominant variable in the equation.

          •  not with two of us (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            EJP in Maine, BYw, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

            which is quite often our pattern

            they would have to get at least 10.5 in the hummer to match that

            oh, and by the way, please tell me what percentage of Hummers have 6 people in  them?   If even 10% have two or more, I would be surprised

            do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

            by teacherken on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 06:08:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very few, sadly. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              winterbanyan, BYw, FarWestGirl

              My point wasn't to defend Hummers; there are better vehicles for 5-6 person carpooling.  My point was to emphasize that it's less a matter of what vehicle than how many people are in it.  The exception is not Hummers, surprisingly, but pickup trucks.  Even at peak occupancy, they still don't get close to other transit modes.  So unless you need a pickup to haul stuff around ... get anything else. :)

        •  Agree, teacherken :) (6+ / 0-)

          I saw it in my area when gas passed $5/gal.  The big, heavy expensive vehicles never slowed down.  And the houses with 4-6 cars in the driveway (because of course every family member must have their own car, lest they have to wait on someone else) never reduced the number of vehicles.

          This while I was calculating, literally, how to combine trips, shorten distances, and just generally avoid any trip that wasn't essential.

          And during that time, while we saw a brief flowering of more fuel efficient vehicles, we continued to see an increase in brand-new gas guzzlers.  

          huggs and good morning!

          "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

          by winterbanyan on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:41:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I lived in the city and walked everywhere, but (10+ / 0-)

      at the end of the day, I always envied the people who allowed to walk out of meetings because they had a train to catch... I thought that made the case for trains by itself!

      Good morning winter! Hugggs

      "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~ Anne Frank

      by theKgirls on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 04:52:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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