Archive for March, 2006

Melting Ice

Monday, March 27th, 2006

I was struggling to summarize the seven articles and one editorial on melting glaciers in this week’s Science magazine, when RealClimate did it for me. This summary of their summary contains some background and extra material.

My Life Without a Car — guest

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

I never thought parental sacrifice would mean losing transportation, at least for a period of time. However, for the last few months, three college age children and a spouse, who absolutely needs a car, have rendered me “carless.” Now you may say why must three young adults need to have cars while their mother sits at home without one. Well, lets just say what they have as cars are really four wheeled wonders of machinery. To be more specific, one drives a 10-year old van, the other drives a 7-year old Saturn, with all the parts of the engine having been replaced at least once. The other drives a newer car but has to keep a job to make the payments.

With my economic misfortune set aside, I have learned a lot about surviving without a car in a car dependent city. I have some knowledge of mass transit living because I moved from a small town to the big city of Chicago in 1979. This was the time of the gasoline crisis, when long lines of cars formed at gas stations across the country and the cost of gasoline hovered around $.80 cents a gallon. But my meager salary was still too little to fill up my gas-guzzler Dodge. Fortunately though, I didn’t need to drive. I had the luxury of living close enough to my job so that I could walk to work, and the school my husband attended provided shuttle transportation from the campus where we lived to the downtown campus.

Guest Blogs

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Many others have important perspectives that need to be brought to the table. Ellen wrote me to say that she was citing the Making Transit Work blog, and forwarded her piece to me. I like it because Ellen is considering how to live with fewer cars, and why. So read what reducing the number of family cars entails for one person in Austin.

If you have a contribution on changes in the environment or changes in ourselves, please leave a comment letting me know.

Comments that go beyond praise and nays Both comments to the previous post on war and oil point out wars and conflicts larger than the Iran-Iraq war that led to extended to conflict over oil. Important additions.

Re peak oil: I discussed this in previous blogs, basically, oil production is still rising, absent shutdowns due to oil conflict, and almost everyone in energy policy or climatology or biology or other –gies is considerably more worried about the carbon emissions than the peak of oil production, as alternatives exist to oil.

Oil and War

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

One person’s ministry in Meeting for Worship this last Sunday included a reference to wars over resource needs: food, oil, and water. He mentioned Jared Diamond’s Collapse. This book includes a large section on the high population density in Rwanda preceding the genocide. The population increased dramatically during a time of good harvests; then came drought and genocide. Diamond is careful to avoid claiming strict causality, but he provides a convincing link between lack of resources and calamitous solutions.

I have frequently heard people mention oil conflicts when discussing resource scarcity, and even give it precedence of place, but these seem to me to resemble more the conflicts in Angola and Sierra Leone over diamonds or gang wars over drugs. Whenever there is a valuable resource, some of the locals will covet it.

The most important oil war was the Iran-Iraq war, over territorial disagreements. Iraq’s grievances included Iran’s possession (since the end of the Ottoman empire) of oil-rich Khuzestan and Iran’s control (since the 1970s) of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which both countries used for oil exports. The country with the world’s third-largest oil reserves attacked the country with the second-largest reserves. Estimates of casualties vary — the Wikipedia site gives a casualty range from 450,000 – 950,000 Iranis, from 450,000 — 650,000 Iraqis.