29 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Greta’s math lesson”

  1. Unfortunately, I have serious doubts on humanity’s ability to combat a problem like climate change. It’s a classic tragedy of the commons, and every person, institution, and government is incentivized to just keep on polluting and rely on others to reduce their emissions instead. The only difference is those that pay lip service to problem vs. those that decide it’s in their ideological interest to just deny it completely.

    Of course, we still have to try. But, it’s a problem that goes fundamentally against human nature, and seems especially difficult under a democracy, where the timetable for the next election is much shorter than the timetable for climate change. A China-style government ruling the entire world might have a fighting chance, if, of course, the leader cares more about making it happen than enriching himself (a near impossibility).

    1. You’ve sized it up pretty well. To some extent the long time industrialized nations have to come to the realization that we’ve taken our “quota”. Newly industrialized nations I’m sure feel less compelled to worry about climate change when they are still well behind the US and Europe in personal wealth.

      Some good news is that there a compelling self interest to “keep it clean”. The US has seen a tremendous turn around in air and water quality since the EPA came into existence. People I’ve spoken with from China are amazed at how clean everything is here. Hopefully the value of that is something that will stay with them.

      On the “stick” side we can refuse to import products that are grossly destroying the environment; palm oil comes to mind. Is it enough? Don’t know and nobody really does. I do worry though that because of the deeply divided rhetoric we might be missing the enormity of the ocean acidification issue.

    2. Misinformation propaganda makes it significantly worse. The ones most pushing climate denialism or foot-dragging have a vested interest in oil companies and related businesses, or countries with oil. But the propaganda makes their beliefs/doubts spread across a wider population that doesn’t benefit much or at all. That’s the situation in the US. Russia, developing countries, and mideast oil countries have their own issues which partly overlap and are partly unique to each. I wish we could just go to a low-carbon future and focus on creating an equivalent standard of living. But the anti factors are so strong I’m pessimistic. We see Northern Europe as one of the best models we have for sustainability and a vibrant democracy/capitalism, but Greta tells us even Sweden is falling dangerously short. And if Sweden can’t do it, what hope is there for the rest of us?

    3. We can trace a line between private ownership of mineral resources and low or nonexistent taxes on their externalities, and the rise of fossil-fuel companies based on that business model, and corrupt heads of state who made themselves the law (thus owning the assets and ignoring externalities). And the Futurama mania (propagada) that made Americans think everyone could have a detached house/car/car-oriented landscape/single-use zoning and all their problems would be solved and it would be the epitome of civilization. And the anti-environmental propaganda that not putting cars first and switching to renewable energy and low-carbon lifestyles would be socialism and lead straight to dictatorship and a ruined economy. And the propaganda that climate change is a hoax.

    4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1QhioHNJaI. Funny, Vladimir. From my reading, experience in places like Texas suggest that wind and solar energy will eat coal’s lunch.

      Notice how often our own version of him has to decree that we keep on using fossil fuel as a market-exempt National defense measure. Cars too.

      Same with blizzard of threats and demands on our side, which won the 2016 Election, to admit we’re licked. Different thing than not yet begun to fight.


      1. Note too that the Coal museum installed solar panels to cover the cost of electricity. Coal would be totally dead if China wasn’t subsidizing building new plants in the 3rd world.

  2. I rode the Monorail for the first time since 2003. I was happy to get to use my Orca card. I wish there was a place to tap on without waiting in line. I have only been onit 2x now Since EMP was put in. I felt like a brand new tourist in my own hometown. Now that I am used to modern busses and light rail, the Monorail seems so clunky. Much louder than I remembered. You can hear the tires. You can see the metal seems move and the articualtion joints bump and flex. It is funny to watch a train bank as much as a race car when it is only going 25mph or less. I cannot believe you could put buildings so close to the bottom of the rails in 2019. t was kind of cool. I had a great time. Plus most of those trees were not grown yet.

    I told my dad about it and he was annoyed that he could not use it like a bus in the 1980’s. If there was a way to do that, he would have ridden it many more times. He worked downtown for part of the 80’s but never rode it. Oh well.

    I saw some pictures of of the future Westlake entrance. Anybody know if that includes making it so the original wider tracks are possible? Would be nice to run 2 trains more efficiently.

    1. I’m curious, if this monorail route didn’t exist, and you could design a monorail route from scratch, anywhere in the greater downtown area, where would you make the route go from and to? And it could have only two stops. No middle stops. Or would you still choose this same Westlake to Seattle Center routing?

      1. In 1962, I am not sure how to do it with only 2 stops. My mom had a summer pass to the fair. She thought there should have been a stop around Pioneer Square somewhere. She was in middle school. But that would make 2 stops.

        My personal opinion is that the Monorail would be better if the tracks were never narrowed. It would not matter if they went to the newer mall or the old Westlake park.

      2. As a more than three stop line, International District/Westlake/Seattle Center would be good. So would Pioneer Square/Pike Place Market/Seattle Center.

      3. I guess if you gave me the choice to make the Monorail network in 1962, I would have made it a downtown loop. All elevated. But obviously with more than one stop. The closest thing we may get to that today is the streetcar, if they finish it.

  3. Maybe out of line for bringing this up but I am really torqued at so called conservatives who beller for local control and then want to keep pushing 976 when Sound Transit District residents voted 976 down. I mean I just want these hypocrites to hear the most annoying sounds – to them, not us – humanly possible. I don’t know what makes me angry more: Tim Eyman or a Governor who wouldn’t stand up to Tim.

    If we could cut a deal where Sound Transit wouldn’t get hurt and the special needs grants WSDOT funds from car tabs would find a new permanent funding source, I’d take it with grave reluctance if it comes to that from my Skagit “GO SOUND TRANSIT” perch. Period.

  4. Jimmy, Seattle Monorail, the BART, and the Washington DC subway are all several decades old. Over stretches of years and really brutal wear and tear, budgetary habit of deferring maintenance – new capital is so much shinier and more exciting- occasionally gets trains derailed and people killed. Same with a certain Interstate Highway system. And much like California’s bankrupt electric grid that now delivers fatal range fires.

    Lately I’ve been developing the habit of using these pages to add courses of study, and technical training, that should be ironclad requirement for high school graduation. This is how you give citizens real power. Like an entire electorate that knows backwards how to both draft and evaluate a ballot measure.

    Thereby also finally ridding ourselves of the idea that “liberal” and “conservative” are opposing concepts. Learned early from my father, the chief accountant of the Michigan Credit Union League, that the more liberal your goal, the more conservative your accounting has to be. “C”-word meaning precise, honest, and above all Careful. Tax-cuts leaving trillion dollar deficits that wreck cars, trucks, and trains, you gotta call something else.

    ‘Nother “take-away” from public education is feeling that mathematics are best learned by instruction in designing and making actual products. es. Look up “PCC Streetcar.” Americans used to come out of school knowing how to do that.


    Doubt I’m the only student with lingering sense that main purpose right now is to leave students with the feelings of inadequacy that shaky authority loves. And life-time math question: if the Breda tunnel buses had been Seattle’s to build instead of just try to fix, how much transit could we have built with the savings?

    For up-sizing the Monorail now, my guess is that final touches on the rest of Downtown Seattle’s subway system will be satisfied to keep it as probably envisioned, more or less the elevator between Westlake Station and Seattle Center. But gotta admit, be great to have come out of trade school knowing the answer off the top of my head. And Public Health would have no better cure for pernicious initiatives.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Thank you, Mark. When I was younger, my parents told me that Republicans and Democrats (conservatives and liberals) need each other. As far as the Breda question, as I am interpreting it, we saved about 200k trying to retro the Bredas. Could we have built them in the first place? Have no idea.

    2. A decade or more ago we tried to upsize the Monorail and run the West Seattle, Ballard route. It got killed due to the fact that there isn’t enough tax revenue to run a Seattle only Light Rail segments and the Monorail. (Also the project was run by a snake oil salesman Joel Horn who was way in over his head.) The concept, the route were right, the land was bought but the execution was more than budgeted for.
      Had that route been completed, there would have been no justification for the sr99 tunnel through downtown as the Monorail would have moved enough people off the roadway that the tunnel costs wouldn’t have justified it.

      Now Seattle is looking at yet another tunnel downtown to run the Light Rail to Ballard/West Seattle. Anyone looking at comparative costs to an all elevated system vs that tunnel would be appalled that the Monorail project was killed.

      But oh well. The tunneled route will be nice once it’s finally done in 2030?

      1. Had that route been completed, there would have been no justification for the sr99 tunnel through downtown as the Monorail would have moved enough people off the roadway that the tunnel costs wouldn’t have justified it.”

        Hahaha. The monorail wouldn’t have accommodated cars, and even if it did like an auto ferry, the time to get a car on and off it would probably be longer than a traffic light. The tunnel was pushed by people who insisted on driving on an expressway and wouldn’t accept anything less, and by state officials who believed Central Puget Sound needed more highway bandwidth than I-5 and 405. Christine Gregoire said so. 99 is a state highway so the city had limited ability to influence what the viaduct’s replacement would be. In fact we voted against a tunnel but got another tunnel anyway.

        The other factor is it’s not just people from West Seattle and Ballard. It’s also people from Burien and the airport. They’re less willing to take transit, especially if it means transferring to the monorail in West Seattle. And they may be going beyond downtown to Greenwood, Shoreline, Lynnwood, etc. What are they supposed to do when they get to the Ballard end of the monorail? Take the 40 to Aurora or the 44 to the 512? Don’t be silly, you’re such a card. And there was no planned ST2 or ST3 at the time.

    1. I’d like to know too…. even though support for my ideas for station names is in single digits.

  5. A week ago, I experienced a sad situation downtown. Somebody decided to close 3rd Ave. for one block in the middle of downtown for some kind of construction work on a building. Not only were the buses left to fend for themselves with zero priority on adjacent streets, but in order to avoid missing stops bus after bus jogged over to 2nd (southbound) or 4th (northbound) for one block, then went back to 3rd again. For West Seattle buses, it was really bad. The bus cut over from 3rd to 2nd, then back to 3rd, then back to 2nd again, with every single one of those east/west jogs taking several minutes a piece. Due to the shear number of buses on 3rd, traffic started liking up as the day went on, leading to long delays.

    This is no way to treat such a huge transit core like 3rd Ave. Even on a weekend, there are still a ton of buses that go down 3rd, and delays on 3rd have ripple effects throughout the city, even for trips like Fremont->Ballard that don’t go anywhere near downtown (but rely on a bus that does).

    Worse, by creating a traffic jam that only affects buses, you create strong incentives for people to drive. For instance, from exiting the freeway on a West Seattle bus to Dexter/Harrison took nearly 30 minutes, even with zero wait time on the transfer (2nd bus was right behind the 1st one). Staying on the freeway and driving through the $4 billion car tunnel, that same stretch takes about 2 minutes.

    I understand that the construction work needed to happen at some point. But, I have to ask the following? 1) Why couldn’t it be done in the middle of the night? 2) Why couldn’t they close half the street and keep at least one lane open each direction? 3) If none of the above are possible, why couldn’t the buses just be rerouted to stay on 2nd/4th, rather than go back and forth every other block? 4) If none of the above are possible, why didn’t buses get any priority in the detour? They already had a bunch of cops out directing traffic. They knew what the bus situation was going to be. There is no reason they couldn’t have set up temporary bus lanes along the detour. 5) Bus drivers should have announced what was going on back in Pioneer Square, giving passengers at least a chance to avoid the mess by switching to Link. By same nothing, the average passenger didn’t know until they were committed and it was too late to anything except sit it out.

    1. They were probably erecting a crane. That’s a full street closure because cranes are high risk over a significant distance while being erected or removed.

      1. Fair enough. But why does it have to be in the daytime? Why are buses not given any priority in the detour? Why can’t buses be rerouted to stay on 2nd and 4th and avoid all those time consuming turns?

  6. I now know what I want for Christmas: To be allowed to sit on the floor, or stand, on the Amtrak trains to Vancouver and Portland, since the seats usually sell out, and I end up taking a bus (which has a non-negligible additive carbon footprint). That, and that the media start covering the science of how long we have to reach CO2 emissions neutrality, instead of feeding the hate trolls trying to attack the character of those trying to get the science talked about and acted on.

    Amtrak could immediately improve capacity, virtually for free, if it didn’t have such a snow-flakey standard that everyone needs a seat. If train riders in Europe can sit on the floor, we can too.

  7. Saw at least 4 people get on the same bus, at the same stop, and not pay. The policy of treating thieves better than honest riders is still prevalent.

    1. I’m assuming you are talking about a Metro bus. I haven’t heard of any incidences of riders with clear-and-obvious proof of prepayment being warned or fined on Metro.

  8. Re the RapidRide J (Roosevelt) turnaround, it looks pretty clear it will turn on 65th. The station’s bus stop has a RapidRide-style shelter. At first that didn’t make sense because RapidRide 62 isn’t scheduled yet. But it makes sense if the J, 45, and 62 will all share the westbound stop.

    The eastbound stop was relocated several months ago, a block east to be across the street from the station. I guess only the 62 will use it, because the 45 will turn south on Roosevelt, and the J won’t stop eastbound because it’s the terminus and the one-way streets won’t allow it. Of course, this may strengthen the argument for a 45/62 route that would stop closer to the station, but I won’t speculate on how much of a chance it has in the restructure. We’ll find out when Metro’s first proposal comes out and somebody makes that suggestion.

  9. Too bad Greta isn’t honest and trying to get people to feel sorry for her when riding Deutsche Bahn. They called her out on it too.
    Gives her a black eye.

    1. Oh, you must be referring to the factually-challenged tweet from someone at Deutsche Bahn who doesn’t appear to be the regular social media staff there (or the tweet would have been more professional), who sent one single tweet. Climate change deniers have latched onto that single tweet, without paying attention to the follow-up tweets.

      Greta had a reporter along who corroborated that she did indeed sit on the floor for at least two legs of the trip, and that she doesn’t mind sitting on the floor. Only in America would we see that photo as looking for sympathy that she was sitting on the floor, since Amtrak’s practice of requiring everyone to have a seat is a wierd example of American exceptionalism. Many other passengers were beneficiaries of her tweet when Deutsche Bahn updated the train schedule that day to deal with the high ridership they hadn’t planned for.

      My conspiracy theory is that someone higher up the political chain of command ordered someone to send that unusually snarky tweet, given their failure to fact-check before tweeting it out.

      This is actually the social-media pattern that has gone on for many months. First, they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then, they pile on promoting any hoax to attack your credibility, hoping the truth never catches up to all the hate-troll pile-ons. Then, you win. Well, I hope, for all our sakes, that she does win eventually. The fake news trolling pile-ons only motivate her more, and bring her more attention. About the only negative effect is that she tries not to let the public know about her travel plans more than a couple days in advance, which has stunted the ability of local event organizers to get the word out and bring the sort of crowds to see her speak that she gets when there is advanced notice.

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