Sound Transit train with Graffiti
Sound Transit with graffiti, photo by brewbooks

As always, this is an open thread.

95 Replies to “News Round Up: 40 Years of Amtrak”

  1. I’m going to throw this out there, please don’t call me crazy.

    From a technical perspective gondolas have big advantages when there are major physical barriers in the way of land transportation. Husky Stadium to Eastlake is an example. Cap Hill to SLU could be another. I know it sounds far fetched but if a Gondola is built in concert with a HTC station, and development potential at the other end is high enough to make the ridership pencil out, Gondolas can be a good solution is some situations.

    1. Err, have you seen Matt the Engineer’s numerous posts on the subject? There’s a bunch of us here already totally in the tank for gondolas.

    2. How to gondolas compare to other modes in terms of speed? The article mentioned that they come every 10 seconds, but I imagine they are slower than busses, and even slower than light rail. So presumably there’s a point where the shorter headways is outweighed by the slow travel speed. What is that point?

      1. Typical installations at ski areas move at anywhere from 4-6 meters per second, or roughly 9-14 mph. Urban systems would be on the high end of this most likely. This compares well with average bus speed (last I knew, about 11 mph for Metro as a whole; ST is higher).

      2. Plus it’s a straight line, which is a big factor in cities. Of course so are good light rail or in theory BRT lines (though not so much for BRT in practice). In general, much faster than urban buses, slower than light rail. Factoring in frequency and assuming, say, 8 minute headway on light rail, you’re an average of 4 minutes away by the time the light rail would have come. So my guess (sorry, no time for math right now) would be that it’s faster than light rail for anything under a 10 minute trip.

    3. The two routes you mention have some pretty pricey homes within ‘eye-shot’ of any tram system built.
      I can’t imagine a majority of those property owners would sit back and say “Yeah, it’s really pretty hanging way up there, and the towers and cables are just lovely – how soon can you start?”

      1. Why not instead wall and cap the eye, ear, and lung sores that grid the Eastlake/Capitol Hill/SLU area? This would help contain the noise and toxic stench, and remove barriers to active transportation. This work would not be tied to a specific location like a gondola would. (The I-5 bridge will remain a problem, but if one has designed an open air sewer, well, there’s only so much you can do to mitigate it.)

      2. Thanks for posting a link to that website, Matt. I was actually thinking about the privacy problem with gondolas on my daily walk down First Hill to catch the bus downtown and thought it might be possible to use frosted glass on the sides of the cabins and normal glass on the front and back to limit people’s view. On some routes, such as the ferry terminal to First Hill, privacy wouldn’t be much of an issue because it would be passing mainly commercial buildings, but on other routes, such as SLU to Capitol Hill, I could see privacy being a huge issue.

      3. The funny thing is, from a purely legal standpoint this isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed. Anything that you expose to a window or in your yard can’t be expected to be private, and if someone builds a building (or a gondola) that can see in, then you’re just out of luck.

        That said, not dealing with views could create a whole lot of NIMBY noise very quickly. So we should try to keep these out of neighborhoods. But where we can’t, that electrically switched frosted glass is a great solution.

    4. I agree especially with the SLU to Capitol Hill one and Pioneer square to Harbourview, both sounds like decent public transportation and would likely be huge tourist draws as well.

      Tourists bring in money, and should be coveted.

    5. Using gondolas, maybe it would (have been | be) possible to turn our LINK construction costs from $179 million (not counting the $20 billion spent planning) per mile into the San Diego prices of $10-$35 million.

      Use either gondolas (or buses) for hill climbing. Run the train on level ground. Interconnect with other means for hills and skip expensive tunnels and dark underground stations.

    6. Over the last couple years I’ve gone from laughing at this idea to loving it. A gondola connecting LQA/SLU to CH would be a godsend for E-W connectivity there.

  2. Last time I visited NYC, I did the rounds of all the tourist attractions, and stopped at Ellis Island. One of the docents related a story an old gentleman had told them when he’d visited a couple of years ago. His parents, from eastern Europe, had emigrated first and were living in NYC; subsequently they sent for him when he was 12. Speaking no English, he was put on a ship with a letter they had written where the only readable English part was the their address on Houston St. But the clerks at the shipping company sent him to Houston, where he was put off the train not knowing a soul. Eventually he was taken in by a local church and raised as an orphan.

    It’s hard to imagine, today, what would happen if an airline simply lost an unaccompanied minor in the developed world. It would be all over the news, INTERPOL would be all over it, Congress would investigate… it’s strange to think that kids just used to go AWOL and nothing really happened.

    1. There was a post at MR in a vaguely similar vein: basically our norms about the expectation of safety for us and our children are hugely different from what they were even 30 years ago, and 100 years ago it was something completely different.

      I guess it’s still 1980 in Portland, however. :D

  3. It’s a little frustrating that urban gondolas in North America are penciling out to “a quarter to half as expensive as light rail”. They really can be cheap to build.

    On the other hand, maybe high-end gondola installations will make sure we don’t end up with any flops. Nothing could be worse for gondolas than bad first examples of service. Back on that first hand, Portland spent all that money and ended up with an aerial tram (2 large cars connected by a cable and a pulley). And aerial trams are a terrible way of designing urban gondolas. Spending a lot of money in the wrong direction is worse than spending a little money in the wrong direction, and way worse than spending a little money in the right direction.

    1. But that’s how it always is. For any technology there’s a theoretically cheap way to do it, but once through the sausage machine it’s either expensive or massively reduced in scope.

      1. Except when that doesn’t happen. Consider how cheap gondolas are at ski slopes. Sure, cities are different, and there’s a lot more sausage making. But it’s not a minor feat to lug construction equipment up a mountainside. And even in beautiful mountain scenes and high-end lodges the ski industry is comfortable with factory built stations bolted in place. Why can’t we do that here?

    2. Portland had a really odd problem to solve there, compounded by the desire to make it “iconic”. I really don’t know what to think of their gondola.

    1. Wheelchair accessibility has been standard on new British taxis for years now — sedan-sized ones, not just vans! That seems a pretty major fail on Nissan’s part.

      Also, New York has many more Turkish cab drivers than Japanese ones. The Kazan model would have been somehow fitting.

      1. Not wheelchair accessible? If this isn’t an ADA violation, it should be.

        New York City is simply embarassing when it comes to wheelchair accessibility. It’s awful.

      2. “The Nissan model does not offer wheelchair accessibility as a standard feature, unlike the Karsan model, which earned plaudits from disability advocates.”

        Which means that some of the Nissan cabs can/will be outfitted with ramps/lifts. Letter of the law, if not the spirit. But in a city where hailing a cab is preferable to calling one, it would be nice if it were standard.

        Here’s a standard modern cab in Britain:
        http://images03.olx.com.sg/ui/1/03/95/2059895_1.jpg

      3. I’m sure, as with the current taxicab fleet, a small percentage will be converted to wheelchair-accessible.

        Just like height bonuses for buildings, Taxi operators get age-bonuses for handicap-accessible vehicles. Ordinarily NYC taxis are legally required to be retired after only 3 years – handicap accessible cabs get a bonus. I’m not sure how long it is, though. I think in Seattle, the bonus stretches our 7 year retirement to 10. It’s been a while since I looked into it.

        The vehicle retirement requirements are kind of silly and wasteful, though. Ostensibly, they’re to remove older, more polluting vehicles from the fleet. Consider this, though: The typical Ford Crown Victoria taxi had it’s last significant redesign in 1979, and only underwent 3 significant drivetrain revisions in that time (updated fuel management/emissions systems in ’83 and ’86, and a completely new engine design in ’92). A current model Crown Vic has virtually the same environmental impact as a ’92. So why mandate the purchasing of new vehicles so often? It’s silly, and creates a lot of waste.

  4. I hate the Enyman initiatives. Pure simpleton logic. “We don’t wanna pay for nuttin!” “My granpappy built his own suspension bridge for three bucks with two buddies, Olympia is paying too much!” “Variable tolling is social engineering!”

  5. As a regular 3/4 rider from Garfield to Downtown, I was thinking that a really good place to look into building a gondola would be the short but extremely congested and quite steep corridor from Harborview to Pioneer Square. Right now the 3 and 4 and very overloaded and slow on that segment (even more so than on all the other segments of those routes!) A gondola could have one station at the foot of Jefferson just west of 9th above the freeway, then the other station in City Hall Park or in the little plaza next to the DSTT entrance across from City Hall Park. It would be short and cheap, but have very high ridership and greatly increase connectivity for the Harborview area.

    1. That would mesh well with the potential plan to move the 3/4 to Yestler. The only question is where you’d but the stations and how you’d get it under/over I-5.

      1. True, it wouldn’t be that hard I suppose. I keep visualizing Portland’s tram which has big cars and wide support spacings, but of course we wouldn’t be building a design like that.

        James would really be an excellent candidate, because of car congestion and the slope. Where would we build the stations? Islands in the street?

      2. I recently read a (fictional) short story called “The Day The Wires Came Down” about a gondola system being decommissioned. In that, the networks were privatized and stations were built atop, or anchored on the side of, buildings.

      3. [alex] Man that’s a short line. I’d build the west station right where the awning is for the bus tunnel entry. You shouldn’t need to increase the footprint, and therefore you’d keep all of the park space.

        The other side has plenty of options – anything from rebuilding that little office on 9th, to just dropping a factory built station in the park space.

  6. That picture (of the graffitied LRV) is absolutely deplorable. I could understand this sort of thing on some hapless grain car, but not on a transit vehicle. Hope they find/found whoever did that and make them pay to clean it up.

    BTW, one line of the list says “Blame lack of transit” without saying anything else or linking to anything.

    1. Yeah I had trouble writing this post (it’s not always easy to see the work that goes into blogging!) thanks for the help, I just removed it

    2. That’s kind of an odd photo to use – it’s from when they had the LRV parked by I-5 before the light rail started running. If you click on it you’ll see it’s from 2008. I’ve never seen an LRV in service with graffiti on it.

  7. Note from my parents today: “Enclosed are the ORCA cards you loaned us. Thanks, it made the trip to the airport so easy! We tried to add money to it once we arrived at the airport, but couldn’t figure it out. Sorry!”

    For the record, my dad’s a civil engineer and my mom did a master’s online, so they’re not technically challenged

  8. The Vulnerable Users Bill which protects cyclists and pedestrians who share our state and city streets is on the Governor’s desk waiting for signature.

    Here is a web contact form for her:
    http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp

    Suggest:
    “I support SB5326, the Vulnerable User Bill, and I want to encourage Governor Gregoire to sign it.”

    The bill:
    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5326&year=2011

    Cascade Bicycle and the Kent Bicycle Advisory Board are both in favor of this measure.

    1. JB makes the most useful/actionable comment on a post, while Bruce makes the most tasteless (Yes, I think it is a little early to start cracking jokes about the guy who got shot and killed near Kent Station this morning). You might want to cool it on picking on JB, Bruce.

      1. What are you talking about? I haven’t even replied to JB on this thread.

        This is the second non-idiotic post from JB I can recall; I’ll keep sending up demented comments by anyone and everyone for as long as they keep making them.

  9. ST needs to take the zero-tolerance approach to graffiti that the MTA does in New York. Cars are not allowed to leave the yard with graffiti. Windows have Lexan (or some other polymer) coatings that absorb key scratchings and can be easily peeled off and replaced. Seats are hard plastic and easily washable.

    1. If Metro instituted that policy… hoo boy. That’s some extra man-hours, right there.

      Honestly, though, it would help. The #1 deterrent to graffiti is quick removal. Taggers tend to not target surfaces that they know are cleaned up quickly – anyone who’s ever had to maintain a public restroom will tell you that. Remove an old tag and it will be back within a week. Remove a new tag and it won’t come back at all.

      Currently, if you tag a metro bus seatback or window, you know that tag will be there until the vehicle is retired. It’s on permanent display.

    2. AFAIK ST does have a zero-tolerance policy toward graffiti. I haven’t seen a ST bus or Link car with anything other than very minor graffiti in revenue service.

      Metro sometimes will let a bus go out on the road with some interior or exterior graffiti, but they don’t let the coaches get a lot of it before they clean it up. Metro is doing much better than they used to, especially with the interior graffiti. (I don’t think exterior graffiti has been much of a problem for any local agency)

    1. Of course the escalating cost of Jet A and the massive subsidies both direct, in terms of infrastructure of the runways, terminal, and indirect, such as a military that serves as a training ground for jet pilots… yeah that will pencil out!

  10. Tri-Met terror story.

    It’s amazing that we fund expensive human “operators” on these systems, and yet they are just as unaware (and more mean spirited) than robots…even when the “customer” is trying to follow their rules:

    On that day, he was preparing to board at the Rose Quarter stop. The operator, he said, came on the intercom and told him: “You need to disconnect your bike from the trailer before getting on board.”

    And that, James said, is why he detached the trailer before the train arrived about 3:45 p.m. Saturday.

    !

    1. I sympathise with the operator in this case. This guy sounds like a typical egomaniac: I’m going to bring my massive bike+trailer combo, if you give me trouble I’m going to try to make you wait.

      The whole world doesn’t revolve around you, bike man, and at least no one was harmed.

    2. Oh great, the Rose Quarter, where one has to deal with teenagers, malcontents and whackos…I’ve got on their many times, and I totally sympathize with the operator, the garbage they have to deal with….yeeeesh.

      Favorite stop is at Widmer Bros/Albina Yard. The best Reubens in the PNW! Yummmmm.

  11. One thing to point out on that Link graffiti photo is that it’s from July 2008, a whole year before the system actually opened. The car must have been on a test run, and they probably ran into an issue with the wires or rail and parked it overnight in an exposed spot (somewhere in the Tukwila segment according to the photo tags), and probably before the safety fencing was installed so as not to impede access by the construction crews.

    Without clicking through to the original I was expecting to discover this had just happened, and wondered why we hadn’t heard anything about it in the news!

    1. They parked the car there for quite awhile before the system was running regularly.I think it was there for a few weeks before it got tagged.

    1. Note that this is the second part of a 2-part restructuring that started last year to align ST’s zones more closely with other agencies’.

    2. It seems like this, along with the first phase of the restructuring, is a big push to get people off the “local” portions of the ST routes and onto Metro. What used to be a 1-zone ST fare has increased by 67%, from $1.50 to $2.50.

      It still seems odd to me that people going from Overlake TC to Seattle can choose between the fast, frequent 545/542 for $2.50 or the slow(er), peak-only 256 for $3.00. Metro’s definitely right to cut that route as part of the RRB restructuring.

    3. These fares bring ST Snohomish County commuter routes closer to back in line with CT fares:

      http://www.communitytransit.org/Fares/FaresAndPasses.cfm
      .
      .
      While glancing at Pierce Transit fares, I noticed I’ve been greatly exaggerating the end of their paper transfers:

      http://www.piercetransit.org/fares.htm#transfer

      However, their paper transfers are only good for one hour, vs. two hours for ORCA. This seems a lot more fair to me, although still not ideal. I’d love to see their stats on ORCA usage as percent of boardings.

    4. I think it’s mainly about simplifying the zones, and secondarily an increase to cover more of the cost of service. Lake City-downtown is one of the reasons the 522 was created so I don’t think ST is intentionally discouraging Lake City riders. They’re just the collateral damage of going to county zones.

      County-based zones can never be fair — it costs $3.50 to go to Mountlake Terrace but only $2.50 to go all the way to Federal Way or Woodinville — but everybody knows where the county boundaries are, as opposed to an imaginary line that one transit agency recognizes but not another.

      1. Ride ST 535 from Canyon Park Freewy Stn to UWB/CCC campus will cost you $3.50 even thought it’s just the next freeway exit and both are withing Bothell’s city limit.

  12. Interesting note from the ‘Seattle In Black and White’ talk about the Seattle Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) work in the 1960s. They don’t talk much about transit but mention “no black bus drivers” and that the 48 was created due to the CORE 1966 North-South Cross-Town Bus Committee.

    http://www.spl.org/library-collection/podcasts

    1. There were (not many) black bus drivers for Seattle Transit in the 1950s and 1960s, but CORE’s work definitely encouraged the hiring of more from the mid-1960s forward. Seattle Transit had a seemingly pathological resistance to cross-town routes – what is today the 8 was proposed in 1969 and perhaps earlier.

      1. Given the reliability of the 48 and the extended 8, I kinda wish Metro had kept a bit more of that resistance.

      2. Everybody recognized the need for the 8 for a long time. My neighbor lived on Capitol Hill in the 1960s or 70s and walked to Queen Anne High School because it was faster than going downtown and transferring.

        Most crosstown routes have been phenomenally successful and have gradually added more and more runs. First the 44 and 48, then the 60, 75, 8, and 30-west. The 9-local (UW-Broadway-Rainier Beach) was successful but Metro killed it to take its service hours for other routes.

        The problems with the 8 and 48 are not because they’re crosstown; it’s because the routes are too long to be reliable. If the 8 were split at Madison and the 48 at UW, they’d be more reliable.

  13. SLOG is reporting that the Port of Seattle commissioner supports using a portion of the Port’s $300 million viaduct replacement contribution for transit in the corridor.

    http://bit.ly/kce76b

    Tunnel proponents are not amused and are already trying to organize opposition.

  14. Made an interesting transit journey this past Monday, Colorado Springs to Denver International via FREX and RTD starting at 4:28 AM in order to make my 8:15 flight. The first leg cost me $11 dollars and took me from downtown C Springs to the suburbs of Denver (Arapahoe P&R) and the second leg was 13$ and took me right to the terminal. I was the first person on both buses, but by the end of each run they were both packed. Definitely a weird experience and not my first choice on getting to the airport (my friend decided she didn’t want to drive me at 9:30 the night before) but I have to give props to google transit for helping me out on this. The only hiccup was being short 5$ for the second fare but a nice older lady lent it to me.

    1. I rode Denver’s airport bus in the early 2000s. When I arrived at the airport, I couldn’t believe the $13 bus fare to downtown. It’s a 12 mile express running every 15 or 30 minutes, so essentially the same as our old 194. There was nothing for several miles around the airport, just dirt and the highway. I guess Denver’s attitude is, “Let air travellers pay extra for their express because they have money; it’s still cheaper than a shuttle; and we wouldn’t send a bus to that empty area if it weren’t for the airport.”

      Downtown Denver has some interesting aspects. The airport bus terminates at an underground transit center, along with what look like the suburban and outer-neighborhood buses. Outside the transit center there’s a free shuttle bus along the main street running every minute or two.

  15. So, it appears there was a lot of truth to the claim the recent spike in oil prices was driven largely by speculation:

    Oil sinks below $100

    Too bad for Metro and ST, $5/gallon gas would have really helped out the budget by driving ridership back up.

    1. Supply, meet demand.

      If you read the story you linked to, prices dipped due to signs our economy isn’t getting stronger after all. Celebrate our weak economy if that’s what you’re into, but dropping oil prices under this news doesn’t mean we haven’t hit peak oil – it just means demand is expected to drop as fewer people can afford it.

      Actually, peak oil theorists say prices shouldn’t just shoot up. They’ll become unstable first – up, down, up, down, but each time the up is more than the down.

      1. The price of petroleum has been up and down for the entire history of it’s production and I’ve been hearing about peak oil ever since Nixon was in office. Yes, like everything else, overall the price rises (you just can’t WIN ;-). The fluctuation is driven largely by speculators:

        “It’s like the commodity bubble burst,” Daniel Flynn, an energy trader at PFG Best said. “We knew it was going to happen, but didn’t know it would be this fast and furious.”

        In the long run supply and demand return prices to their real value:

        crude inventories grew by 3.4 million barrels last week, while oil demand fell by 1.256 million barrels per day,

        Every time there is a short term blip in the price of gas people make long term changes to reduce demand. For example; replace an old oil furnace with natural gas or a high efficiency heat pump, a person who’s lease is up moves closer (perhaps walking distance) to work, people shopping for a car make fuel efficiency a higher priority, etc. All of this persists long after the price of gas comes back down. As for supply, well there never was a shortage. Did you see any signs at stations saying “Out of gas” or any talk about odd/even rationing, gas lines? In fact on the news just this morning it was reported that domestic production for 2010 was the highest since 2003. Guess what happens when you have a plentiful supply and decreasing demand.

      2. I actually agree with much of what you say about behavior. High prices do shift behavior, and that’s what will assure us that oil prices won’t shoot up and stay high – they’ll continue in a saw pattern upward as demand goes up and down.

        But the fact is that increasing global demand has caught and passed global supply. This means we’ll never see oil prices as cheap as they were even a few years ago. And as supplies start to dwindle and as more of the developing world acquires a hunger for energy, we’ll see prices climb higher and higher.

        We actually had peak oil back in the time of Nixon. But it was a national peak and expanded our search for oil around the world. Once the world’s oil peaks there’s nowhere left to go.

        As for the argument that people have always predicted peak oil and it hasn’t happened – you’re right in that M. King Hubbert, the king of peak oil theory, has been predicting global peak oil since the ’50s. But his prediction wasn’t for the ’50s or even the ’70s – his prediction was that we’d hit peak oil right around now.

      3. It’s interesting to look back at Hubbert’s prediction. His graph, using data from the first half of the twentieth century predicts world production today to be about 12 billion barrels annually. In fact world production is ~30 billion barrels and US production is 66% higher than he predicted. The use of oil is tied to geopolitical events, technological break troughs and fundamental economic changes (the dollar impact of a barrel of oil on GDP has significantly declined) that defy long term prediction based on historical usage. But, looking back at the history for the last century:

        The ratio between proven oil reserves and current production has constantly improved, passing from 20 years in 1948 to 35 years in 1972 and reaching about 40 years in 2003.

        Oil production will eventually give way to alternatives just like whale oil was replaced by kerosene. When, nobody knows but it’s highly unlikely to happen in ten years and more likely to be decades. I believe the fundamental driving this change will be our limited environment; we’re going to run out of atmosphere before we run out of fossil fuel.

      4. Ah, now you’re quoting CERA, who themselves underpredict prices by 40% even when predicting only half a year out.

        Prediction is not an easy game, I agree. But Hubbert has been nearly spot-on for individual peaks. And man does that curve seem to fit well. That said, it’s certainly possible we have years left. But again, the past decade’s trend in prices shows something a lot more important is happening then bad speculators (who would need an immense amount of money to waste if they’re really the cause – any inefficiency in the market caused by a speculator leads to a loss on the part of the speculator).

        I absolutely agree about our climate being the reason we will someday stop using fossil fuels (because we have enough coal in the ground to do some serious damage), but we’ll run out of easy oil well before then.

      5. I don’t think wealth is created or lost by speculators; just transferred from those that guess badly to those that guess right. There’s certainly economic loss to users when oil prices spike. You mentioned world demand and it’s true that China and India have had a big influence on that. I don’t think those were ever “plugged in” to Hubbert’s original analysis. Natural gas and ethanol are easy substitutes for oil. Coal nuclear and “renewable” are to the extent they can be used to generate electricity. The only reason we’re still building relatively inefficient cars and heating homes with oil is simply because it’s cheap. US consumption could be cut 20% simply by eliminating stationary use (i.e. home heating and electrical generation). There’s absolutely nothing stopping this from happening except the cheap and plentiful supply of oil.

      6. But high prices curtail use, and reduced use means reduced greenhouse gases. The fact that people are using oil means it’s cheaper than the alternative, so energy prices do have room to go up. This also gives us the chance to start using less energy and finding sustainable alternatives. My big fear is that we miss this one opportunity and just switch to coal. Then there’s no roadblock left to a high carbon atmosphere.

      7. But high prices curtail use, and reduced use means reduced greenhouse gases.

        Yes. We’ve seen a swift and long lasting effect with every spike in the price of gas. These are consumer driven changes that are inherently more efficient than government projects and mandates. The SUV craze only happened because of a decade of cheap oil following the spike caused by the first Iraq war (where So-Damn-Insane set Kuwait’s oil fields on fire). As you point out however coal is the wild card and that’s why I’m growing ever more skeptical of government attempts to “jump start” this industry.

        At current levels of CO2 production for our electrical infrastructure GH gas emissions for an electric car are about a wash with the current generation of gas powered vehicles and much worse than European standards. Worst case is the marginal demand is filled by coal burning plants that would double the GH gas emissions per mile and, because operating cost per mile is about half for an electric vehicle significantly increase VMT.

        Infrastructure spending is a proper role for government; not bailing out car companies or, worse yet, trying to manipulate what they build (although I have to admit that despite some distortions CAFE standards have had a desirable effect). Instead of charging stations and other BS there really needs to be more than lip service given to improving the electrical generation and distribution. Instead of subsidizing trucking create public private partnerships with our class A freight railroads. They already operate electric locomotives; they’re just generating the electricity from diesel. The catenary can be part of our national grid providing a viable collection point over much of the nation for wind power. [Random thought, wind power has just recently started to ramp up in this country. What would a Hubbert curve predict our total wind energy production to be in say 20-30 years???]

        My big fear is that we miss this one opportunity and just switch to coal. Then there’s no roadblock left to a high carbon atmosphere.

        Well, since coal is a stationary power source (unless liquified or we return to steam locomotives) there are viable techniques for carbon sequestration. The thing I don’t see an answer to is the devastating effects of mining since almost all of it is now surface mined.

      8. Mostly agree, except carbon sequestration is a lie told by the coal industry to give politicians something to defend them with.

      9. t carbon sequestration is a lie told by the coal industry

        Perhaps. It’s a good story at least and I haven’t seriously looked into it. But is seems like a much easier issue to mitigate than mtn top mining. And our President says “clean coal” should be an much easier than going to the moon.

      10. I feel like I should repeat the politician part of that comment. You lose a large chunk of the southern vote when you attack coal – they see it as a jobs issue (sigh).

        Environmentalists and scientists see right through “clean” coal. If you think storing radioactive waste is a problem long term, imagine storing something millions of times the volume in the form of a pressurized gas.

      11. Once oil prices are high enough coal can rather easily be turned into gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. The technology has been around amlong time but in general it only makes economic sense when a country can’t buy oil on the world market. See the Axis powers during WWII or S. Africa during the sanctions period.

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