Tuesday, December 27, 2005


A comment from Sydney, Australia by Michael Duffy. Greenies love to criticise others for the indirect negative effects on the environment from car pollution etc., but don't bikes in high traffic areas also have an indirect effect in terms of congestion and indeed smog?

It's time to get bikes off our roads. As a mainstream form of transport, the bicycle has proved itself the equivalent of communism: a lovely idea that failed dismally in practice. Bikes are dangerous to ride and slow traffic, which creates more pollution. For the good of all of us, we need to ban the bike.

When Government started to encourage bike riding a few decades ago, it was like the balmy days after the Russian Revolution: the future looked golden. It was hoped that a significant proportion of all trips made in Sydney would soon be by bike. Where it all went wrong was that almost no one showed any enthusiasm to get on their bikes. Today, fewer than 1 per cent of all trips in Sydney are made by bike. The bike activists blame this on the paucity of bike lanes and tracks, but this is like Marxists excusing the failure of communism in the Soviet Union by blaming the nature of its regime. The sad truth is that in both cases a vanguard tried to impose a new form of behaviour on the populace and was rejected. The only difference is that the bike lobby hasn't accepted this.

Every week I travel 10 kilometres down a crowded, four-lane, inner-city road. Whenever it contains bikes, the traffic is frequently forced to slow to a crawl as drivers wait for a chance to pass them. This increases the pollution given off by the cars, as well as raising tempers all round. Many bike riders hog the centre of their lane, legally and perhaps wisely, but also slip between traffic when it stops. Where there are traffic lights, this means you can find yourself grinding along behind the same bike several times in the space of a journey. So thousands of cars are inconvenienced by two or three bikes, and the amount of greenhouse gas produced increases.

Bike riders tend to be unhappy and resentful people. They relish telling stories of narrow escapes from death at the hands of stupid car drivers. While glad the individuals involved survived, one has to wonder why they persist. We all know that significant proportions of the population are depressed, tense, on a vast range of attention-limiting prescription and non-prescription drugs, or like using their mobile phones while driving. For bike riders to launch into city traffic expecting everyone else to respond instantaneously to their unexpected appearance in the same lane, or when they flash through red lights at intersections, suggests a desire for self-harm. As does their preparedness to engage in sustained exercise where they breathe in large quantities of monoxide, with health consequences that can only be guessed at.

Possibly their thinking has been adversely affected by the smog. Consider some of the proposals the lobby group Bicycle NSW made at the last state election. These included "affirmative action" such as forcing people to stop driving by introducing parking restrictions and imposing a general urban speed limit of 50kmh for all of Sydney. Considering the tiny number of cyclists who would benefit from such a change, you wonder if the bike lobby is suffering from delusions of grandeur.

Given the threat bike riders pose to themselves and others, the big question is whether it is right to encourage them. Unfortunately, bike riding is one of those activities that has acquired an aura of virtue. Supporting it (with other people's money) is an easy way of demonstrating your moral stature. The new Westlink M7 has a 40-kilometre cycleway stretching from Prestons to Baulkham Hills. This was recommended in the tollway's environmental impact statement on the sole grounds (here quoting from the one-volume summary) that it "would improve cycling opportunities in the region". Now, almost no one rides bikes on roads in the western suburbs. According to a Westlink spokesman, there are not even any estimated usage figures for the new bike path. Very wise, that - but it makes you wonder just why building an unwanted 40-kilometre strip of concrete to be lit at night by coal-powered electricity should be considered environmentally beneficial. The Westlink spokesman refused to disclose how much the cycleway had added to the cost of the project - or to the toll that will be charged to road users.

Fortunately the State Government is less enthusiastic about spending its money on bike infrastructure and has recently halved such expenditure. But more needs to be done. A public campaign encouraging people not to ride bikes in traffic would be a responsible start.

More here


Sir Peter Crane, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, said the urban view of the natural world was often at odds with the issues facing people living in rural areas. Sir Peter made his comments in a speech to delegates at the International Media and Environment Summit (Imes) in Kuching, Malaysia. "Forests in and around cities are disproportionately important," he said. "They colour the view that city dwellers have on the natural world as more people live in cities, they set the agenda."

This was particularly evident in the US, he said, where states in the mid-West are currently suffering from what he termed a "plague of deer". Culling the deer was unpalatable to urban voters so the animals had been allowed to expand beyond their natural populations, Sir Peter argued. "Many of the ecological processes that sustained forests in the past... no longer function at all." He gave one example as being forest fires in North America that are routinely extinguished, despite being natural events that are needed to create new growth.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran, environment correspondent for the Economist magazine, suggested it may be possible that people moving to cities could help the situation by taking pressure off important rural ecosystems.

However, Philip Milne, a New Zealand lawyer specialising in the environment, vigorously attacked urban-based people having a say in the management of the environment and rural life. He said an important opportunity to study a model of how sustainable logging could work had been lost due to "one of the rare examples where the green point of view was more sexy than the scientists' view." A timber firm had proposed selective logging of beech trees on the west coast of New Zealand. But the plan was stopped by Prime Minister Helen Clark in 1998 after her centre-left coalition - which included the Green Party - came to power. Mr Milne said this was partially because people who had no knowledge of the west coast forests had become "emotionally attached to old trees." "Ten years of research into sustainable logging went down the river," he said.

The plan had included proposals to "pour millions" into fighting the invasive pest of Australian possums, which he described as "one of the huge threats" to the country's forests. Because the plan had failed, the beech forests were now controlled by the New Zealand Forestry Commission, which Mr Milne argued could only afford to control possums in the popular eco-tourism areas.

This view was backed by Alan Bernstein, the co-founder of the Sustainable Forestry Management company, who said that sometimes environmentalists "who have never seen the forests push things too far." However, the claim that scientists were in opposition to the green point of view was contradicted by Helen Clark herself, who has gone on record as saying scientific opinion was very divided at the time.


A reader comments: "City people love nature, they just don't want to live there. ...I remember hearing an interview with botanist David Bellamy who pointed out that the green agenda was essentially to depopulate the bush and turn it into national parks but this would not do the actual ecosystem much good. In order to protect Australia's vast land area from complete takeover by feral plants and animals, he said you really needed to have people on the land with economically viable businesses who cared about their landscape, which he believed most bushies did (otherwise they would adopt an easier life in the city). No society could ever afford to pay an army of rangers large enough to protect the 'pure' ecosystem of greenie myth"


"Environmental effectiveness and minimum cost are two core building blocks for any long term modern climate policy," declared Olivia Hartridge, a representative from the Environmental Directorate of the European Commission. She was speaking on a panel on the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) at the United Nations' Climate Change conference in Montreal. The problem is that it is not at all clear the EU ETS fulfills either goal.

The EU launched its new carbon dioxide trading scheme this past January as a way to begin to meet its commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent below what the EU emitted in 1990. The idea is to keep the earth's climate cool by cutting fossil fuel emissions that tend to warm the atmosphere. The EU ETS applies to 11,500 facilities that produce or use 20 megawatts of power, including electric power generation plants, refineries, metal foundries, and cement manufacturers. These facilities emit about 45 percent of the CO2 produced in Europe.

First, let's consider environmental effectiveness. The ETS has allocated 2.2 billion allowances to emit CO2 among the 11,500 facilities it covers. Speaking on the same panel, Abyd Karmali, an energy consultant with ICF Consulting, estimated that the allocations have lowered emissions by perhaps 50 million tons compared with what they would otherwise have been in a business-as-usual scenario. Even if all the cuts mandated by the Kyoto Protocol were achieved -- which Karmali estimates to be equal to a cut of 700 million tons of CO2 emitted per year -- they would spare the earth a negligible 0.02 to 0.28 degrees of warming by 2050. Reducing CO2 emissions by a mere 50 million tons clearly has no discernible impact whatsoever on the earth's climate.

And what about the core building block of minimum costs? Before CO2 trading began, models devised by consultants projected that the price of a ton of carbon would be under 10 Euros. Last January, the price for a metric ton of CO2 opened at around 5 to 7 Euros. However, the price rose steeply to nearly 30 Euros by September before settling back at around 22 Euros currently. Meanwhile European wholesale electricity prices have soared, rising from about 28 Euros per megawatt hour (mwh) to over 40 Euros per mwh during the past year.

Admittedly, a good bit of the increase is the result of the recent run up in natural gas and oil prices. But the high prices for CO2 allowances are also responsible for some of the increase. In order to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitments, Karmali estimates that European Union member states will have to cut their carbon emissions by 250 million metric tons per year between 2008 and 2012. This would clearly add even more upward pressure on the price of CO2 emissions allowances. Ultimately, Europe's experience with a CO2 market is sending the world a signal about just how hard and costly it will be to cut greenhouse gas emissions.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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