Unprecedented candor on climate change

In an uncharacteristic move, the California Air Resources Board’s 2018 Progress Report California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act admits the state is going backwards in greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. Some key excerpts: With emissions from the transportation sector continuing to rise despite increases in fuel efficiency and decreases in the carbon content of fuel, California will not achieve the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions to meet mandates for 2030 and beyond without significant changes to how communities and transportation systems are planned, funded, and built.   The overall ratio of dollars planned to be spent on roads versus on…

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San Mateo Measure W going down to the wire

See updates, below. San Mateo County’s additional transportation sales tax, Measure W, failed to get a 2/3 majority vote on election night. As the mail-in ballots are slowly tallied, the percentage is creeping slowly towards 66.67%. As of November 25, the count was at 66.55% yes, with approximately 13,000 ballots left to count. TRANSDEF has taken an Oppose position, and has been helping its allies in San Mateo County. Excellent coverage in the local press: Daily Post Measure W Editorial Daily Journal Article As of Tuesday, November 27, the margin had shifted significantly to 66.87% Yes votes. Concerns have been…

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IPCC delivers blockbuster report–No one important acted

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, published its latest scientific consensus of projections of where climate change will take the planet. The short version: Unless we act quickly and decisively, the results will be even more catastrophic than we predicted earlier. In fact, the impacts of a 2° C increase in average temperatures, the former globally agreed-on target, are now recognized as being so concerning that the IPCC recommends restricting warming to 1.5° C. Here are selected responses to the report: ‘Incredibly grim’ prognosis on global warming also carries clarion call for global action–Los Angeles Times Opinion Piece by…

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Measure AA: TAM could care less about climate change

Climate change is sending increasingly strong messages–through catastrophic floods, droughts, and wildfires–that human societies must shift their priorities if they are to survive beyond the next few generations. Unfortunately, transportation professionals–including the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM)–still haven’t accepted the responsibility of reducing the impact of transportation on climate change. Climate change is caused primarily by the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. Motor vehicles are the biggest source of GHGs in California, in the Bay Area, and in Marin. Because driving keeps increasing, GHG emissions keep increasing, even while the State is working hard to…

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TAM can’t be trusted with a 30-year sales tax

Today’s Marin IJ carried TRANSDEF’s Marin Voice, entitled “TAM can’t be trusted with a 30-year sales tax.” Although the IJ endorsed the measure, it gave opponents the much-sought-after Sunday placement. The piece is a hard-hitting takedown of a status quo agency that is uninterested in its impacts on climate. As environmentalists, we find that stance completely unacceptable. See associated post.

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Climate change is here!

The most direct and tangible expression of global warming has been the intensification of hurricanes and typhoons. A very striking article explains why it has been so hard for forecasters to predict the big storms: warmer ocean surface temperatures and more importantly, warmer deep ocean temperatures, have changed the energetics of storms, so they don’t follow past patterns. As climatologist and hurricane expert Greg Holland explained last year, “globally, the proportion of Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased from ~20 percent of all hurricanes to around 40 percent due to climate change over the past 60 years.”   Bottom…

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Terrestrial carbon management, not biofuels!

Science Daily reported today on a tremendously important opinion piece that demolishes the environmental credentials of biofuels as being carbon neutral. If applied by policymakers, it would result in transferring funding for the incentives for biofuel production over to the conservation and restoration of natural landscapes. U.S. national policy has strongly incentivized ethanol production, for example, due to the political power of the Corn Belt. Authors DeCicco and Schlesinger point out that biofuels create a “carbon debt” because burning them generates CO2 in the present, which isn’t sequestered by plants for decades. To reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the…

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We don’t have much time left to fix transportation

Environmentalist Ed Mainland of Novato, CA speaks out: Controversy has swirled around Marin’s Measure AA. Many proponents of Measure AA seem oblivious to TAM’s dismal track record and substantive arguments pro and con around TAM’s funding plan. Proponents point to the plan’s funding of transit, EVs, and Safe Routes to Schools. Others call the plan conventional, status quo, wedded to car culture, and lacking in real understanding of what is at stake. Several things Marinites may wish to keep in mind: 1. A local climate activist recently compared TAM’s plan to Los Angeles’ plan and found TAM’s, by comparison, to…

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Trump Administration acknowledges climate change

In a shocking new policy position, the Trump Administration claims there’s no point in higher efficiency standards for new cars and trucks for reducing GHGs. There’s nothing new in that. They offered a completely new reason, however: because the reductions won’t make a significant difference in a world that clings to fossil fuels. Of course, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. NHTSA has put out a draft Environmental Impact Statement for its proposed CAFE standard that projects that in 2100, there will be 708 ppm CO2, 3.8 meters of sea level rise and 4 degrees C global temperature rise. It is already…

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