Open House: Tucson Urban Corridor Draft Environmental Assessments

From: Shellie Ginn, City of Tucson Department of Transportation Project Manager


The Tucson Urban Corridor and Modern Street Car Draft Environmental Assessment Reports were under review by the Federal Transit Administration. We have now received authorization to make the reports available for public circulation and comments.

I would like to invite you to attend an open house we will holding to discuss the Draft EA’s and accept written comments. The public meeting will be held on Monday, February 4, 2008 at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Conference Room, 101 N. Stone Avenue from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. A brief presentation will be given at 4:30 p.m.

A copy of the Tucson Urban Corridor Draft Environmental Assessment Reports, are currently available for viewing at the Ward III Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road.

The reports are also available on the project website at, TDOT website at, and RTA website at

All comments received in writing by February 18, 2008 will be addressed in the Final Environmental Assessment and should be submitted to Shellie Ginn, TDOT Project Manager at P.O. Box 27210, Tucson Arizona 85726 or shellie.ginn*at*; or Alex Smith, Federal Transit Administration Region IX at 201 Mission Street, Suite 1650, San Fransico, California 94105 or alex.smith*at* .

Thank you for your participation in the City of Tucson Major Transit Investment Study for the Tucson Urban Corridor.

Shellie Ginn
City of Tucson Department of Transportation Project Manager

Thank you,
Karin Uhlich
Ward III Council Office

James Hansen: Significant climate tipping points have been passed

While the world’s attention was on Bali in December 2007, a remarkable set of comments and predictions were made by Prof. James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science and other scientists at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

They were made at a media briefing: “Climate tipping points: Are we there yet?” on Thursday, 13 December 2007.

Here is a summary of the main points:

  • Climate tipping points have been passed. These include large ice sheet disintegration, significant sea level rises and species loss.
  • These tipping points were passed when we exceeded 300-350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a point passed decades ago.
  • The Arctic will soon be ice-free in the summer.
  • There is already enough carbon in Earth’s atmosphere to lose Arctic sea ice cover and for massive ice sheets such as in Greenland to eventually melt away, and ensure that sea levels will rise several feet (meters) in coming decades.
  • Climate zones such as the tropics and temperate regions will continue to shift, and the oceans will become more acidic, endangering much marine life.
  • “We have passed that (Greenland) and some other tipping points in the way that I will define them,” Hansen said in an email. “We have not passed a point of no return. We can still roll things back in time – but it is going to require a quick turn in direction.”
  • “We either begin to roll back not only the emissions [of carbon dioxide] but also the absolute amount in the atmosphere, or else we’re going to get big impacts.” “We should set a target of CO2” that’s low enough to avoid the point of no return. The CO2 tipping point for many parts of the climate is around 300 to 350 parts per million, Hansen estimated.
  • “We have to figure out how to live without fossil fuels someday,” Hansen said. “Why not sooner?
  • People must not only cut current carbon emissions but also remove some carbon that has collected in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution

Hansen’s slides used at briefing available here.

Read more on the Arctic’s big melt

Read Remember This: 350 Parts Per Million By Bill McKibben

Solar Energy Lecture

February 10Solar Energy: Theory and Practice.  This talk will cover the impact of our energy use in Tucson and Southern Arizona and ways to meet that use through renewable energy.   We’ll also discuss how solar energy works, and introduce the incentives and rebates that are currently available.  Kevin Moore Koch, Technicians for Sustainability, presenting. With a background as a neuroscientist and mountaineer, Kevin came to sustainability through his connection to nature. He believes in living symbiotically with his environment, which has led to over nine years in the renewable energy field.


The forum will be at St. Philp’s-in-the-Hills (Northeast corner of River Road and Campbell) on Feb. 10 at 10:15 am in the West Gallery.

Viewpoint: Ten Ways to Prepare for a Post-Oil Society

by James Howard Kunstler, American Social Commentator
Out in the public arena, people frequently twang on me for being “Mister Gloom’n’doom,” or for “not offering any solutions” to our looming energy crisis. So, for those of you who are tired of wringing your hands, who would like to do something useful, or focus your attention in a purposeful way, here are my suggestions:

1. Expand your view beyond the question of how we will run all the cars by means other than gasoline. This obsession with keeping the cars running at all costs could really prove fatal. It is especially unhelpful that so many self-proclaimed “greens” and political “progressives” are hung up on this monomaniacal theme. Get this: the cars are not part of the solution (whether they run on fossil fuels, vodka, used frymaxTM oil, or cow shit). They are at the heart of the problem. And trying to salvage the entire Happy Motoring system by shifting it from gasoline to other fuels will only make things much worse. The bottom line of this is: start thinking beyond the car. We have to make other arrangements for virtually all the common activities of daily life.

… trying to salvage the entire Happy Motoring system by shifting it from gasoline to other fuels will only make things much worse.

2. We have to produce food differently. The Monsanto/Cargill model of industrial agribusiness is heading toward its Waterloo. As oil and gas deplete, we will be left with sterile soils and farming organized at an unworkable scale. Many lives will depend on our ability to fix this. Farming will soon return much closer to the center of American economic life. It will necessarily have to be done more locally, at a smaller and finer scale, and will require more human labour.

The value-added activities associated with farming – e.g. making products like cheese, wine, oils – will also have to be done much more locally. This situation presents excellent business and vocational opportunities for America’s young people (if they can unplug their iPods long enough to pay attention.) It also presents huge problems in land-use reform, not to mention the fact that the knowledge and skill for doing these things has to be painstakingly retrieved from the dumpster of history. Get busy.

3. We have to inhabit the terrain differently. Virtually every place in our nation organized for car dependency is going to fail to some degree. Quite a few places (Phoenix, Las Vegas, Miami) will support only a fraction of their current populations. We’ll have to return to traditional human ecologies at a smaller scale: villages, towns, and cities (along with a productive rural landscape). Our small towns are waiting to be re-inhabited. Our cities will have to contract. The cities that are composed proportionately more of suburban fabric (e.g. Atlanta, Houston) will pose especially tough problems. Most of that stuff will not be fixed. The loss of monetary value in suburban property will have far-reaching ramifications.

The stuff we build in the decades ahead will have to be made of regional materials found in nature – as opposed to modular, snap-together, manufactured components – at a more modest scale. This whole process will entail enormous demographic shifts and is liable to be turbulent. Like farming, it will require the retrieval of skill-sets and methodologies that have been forsaken.

The graduate schools of architecture are still tragically preoccupied with teaching Narcissism. The faculties will have to be overthrown. Our attitudes about land use will have to change dramatically. The building codes and zoning laws will eventually be abandoned and will have to be replaced with vernacular wisdom. Get busy.

The graduate schools of architecture are still tragically preoccupied with teaching Narcissism.

4. We have to move things and people differently. This is the sunset of Happy Motoring (including the entire U.S. trucking system). Get used to it. Don’t waste your society’s remaining resources trying to prop up car and truck dependency. Moving things and people by water and rail is vastly more energy-efficient. Need something to do? Get involved in restoring public transit.

Let’s start with railroads, and let’s make sure we electrify them so they will run on things other than fossil fuel or, if we have to run them partly on coal-fired power plants, at least scrub the emissions and sequester the CO2 at as few source-points as possible. We also have to prepare our society for moving people and things much more by water. This implies the rebuilding of infrastructure for our harbours, and also for our inland river and canal systems – including the towns associated with them.

The great harbour towns, like Baltimore, Boston, and New York, can no longer devote their waterfronts to condo sites and bikeways. We actually have to put the piers and warehouses back in place (not to mention the sleazy accommodations for sailors). Right now, programs are underway to restore maritime shipping based on wind – yes, sailing ships. It’s for real. Lots to do here. Put down your iPod and get busy.

5. We have to transform retail trade. The national chains that have used the high tide of fossil fuels to contrive predatory economies of scale (and kill local economies) – they are going down. WalMart and the other outfits will not survive the coming era of expensive, scarcer oil. They will not be able to run the “warehouses on wheels” of 18-wheel tractor-trailers incessantly circulating along the interstate highways. Their 12,000-mile supply lines to the Asian slave-factories are also endangered as the US and China contest for Middle East and African oil.

The local networks of commercial interdependency which these chain stores systematically destroyed (with the public’s acquiescence) will have to be rebuilt brick by brick and inventory by inventory. This will require rich, fine-grained, multi-layered networks of people who make, distribute, and sell stuff (including the much-maligned “middlemen”).

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Internet will replace local retail economies. Internet shopping is totally dependent now on cheap delivery, and delivery will no longer be cheap. It also is predicated on electric power systems that are completely reliable. That is something we are unlikely to enjoy in the years ahead.

Do you have a penchant for retail trade and don’t want to work for a big predatory corporation? There’s lots to do here in the realm of small, local business. Quit carping and get busy.

Internet shopping is totally dependent now on cheap delivery, and delivery will no longer be cheap.

6. We will have to make things again in America. However, we are going to make less stuff. We will have fewer things to buy, fewer choices of things. The curtain is coming down on the endless blue-light-special shopping frenzy that has occupied the forefront of daily life in America for decades. But we will still need household goods and things to wear.

As a practical matter, we are not going to re-live the 20th century. The factories from America’s heyday of manufacturing (1900-1970) were all designed for massive inputs of fossil fuel, and many of them have already been demolished. We’re going to have to make things on a smaller scale by other means. Perhaps we will have to use more water power. The truth is, we don’t know yet how we’re going to make anything. This is something that the younger generations can put their minds and muscles into.

We will have fewer things to buy, fewer choices of things.

7. The age of canned entertainment is coming to an end. It was fun for a while. We liked “Citizen Kane” and the Beatles. But we’re going to have to make our own music and our own drama down the road. We’re going to need playhouses and live performance halls. We’re going to need violin and banjo players and playwrights and scenery makers, and singers. We’ll need theatre managers and stage-hands.

The Internet is not going to save canned entertainment. The Internet will not work so well if the electricity is on the fritz half the time (or more).

8. We’ll have to reorganize the education system. The centralized secondary school systems based on the yellow school bus fleets will not survive the coming decades. The huge investments we have made in these facilities will impede the transition out of them, but they will fail anyway. Since we will be a less affluent society, we probably won’t be able to replace these centralized facilities with smaller and more equitably distributed schools, at least not right away.

Personally, I believe that the next incarnation of education will grow out of the home schooling movement, as home schooling efforts aggregate locally into units of more than one family. God knows what happens beyond secondary ed. The big universities, both public and private, may not be salvageable. And the activity of higher ed itself may engender huge resentment by those foreclosed from it.

But anyone who learns to do long division and write a coherent paragraph will be at a great advantage – and, in any case, will probably out-perform today’s average college graduate. One thing for sure: teaching children is not liable to become an obsolete line of work, as compared to public relations and sports marketing. Lots to do here, and lots to think about. Get busy, future teachers of America.

9. We have to reorganize the medical system. The current skein of intertwined rackets based on endless Ponzi buck passing scams will not survive the discontinuities to come. We will probably have to return to a model of service much closer to what used to be called “doctoring.” Medical training may also have to change as the big universities run into trouble functioning. Doctors of the 21st century will certainly drive fewer German cars, and there will be fewer opportunities in the cosmetic surgery field. Let’s hope that we don’t slide so far back that we forget the germ theory of disease, or the need to wash our hands, or the fundamentals of pharmaceutical science. Lots to do here for the unsqueamish.

10. Life in the USA will have to become much more local, and virtually all the activities of everyday life will have to be re-scaled. You can state categorically that any enterprise now supersized is likely to fail – everything from the federal government to big corporations to huge institutions. If you can find a way to do something practical and useful on a smaller scale than it is currently being done, you are likely to have food in your cupboard and people who esteem you.

An entire social infrastructure of voluntary associations, co-opted by the narcotic of television, needs to be reconstructed. Local institutions for care of the helpless will have to be organized. Local politics will be much more meaningful as state governments and federal agencies slide into complete impotence. Lots of jobs here for local heroes.

So, that’s the task list for now. Forgive me if I left things out. Quit wishing and start doing. The best way to feel hopeful about the future is to get off your ass and demonstrate to yourself that you are a capable, competent individual resolutely able to face new circumstances.

About the writer:

James Howard Kunstler is the author of The Long Emergency, The Geography of Nowhere, and 12 other books, including nine novels. His essays have been published in the Atlantic Monthly, Sunday NY Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and many other places. He was an editor at Rolling Stone back in the 1970’s.

Green Audit: Congregation Initiative Workshop

Faith communities of the greater Tucson area are coming together to fight global warming. On this coming Earth Day, April 22, 2008, leaders from various faith groups will be offering a workshop for Tucson faith communities to reduce our carbon footprint.

This all-day workshop at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church (3809 East 3rd Street) will focus mainly on how congregations can become more responsible stewards of the earth’s energy resources. We will learn what it means to be a community of faith in the First World facing the global crisis of climate change that threatens life on the planet.

find out how you can help your faith community become more responsible stewards of the Earth’s precious resources. recrit 1-4 others from your congregation, and sign up for this workshop.

Two of Tucson’s faith communities will share their journeys in becoming green congregations: the Unitarian Universalist Church of Northwest and St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church.

At this environmental audit workshop participant teams from different congregations will have an opportunity to interact with other ecologically oriented faith groups around various related issues in addition to the responsible uses of energy. We shall talk about water conservation, transportation, waste, food and purchasing among other things. Congregational teams will be equipped with action plans to take back to their home faith groups to begin their own conversations regarding the greening of their communities.

The workshop organizers are hoping that this event will not only transform the environmental impact of our different faith communities, but that it will inspire the many hundreds of their individual members to alter their personal lifestyles to be more sustainable as well. To this end, individuals attending the workshop will be able to take with them tools with which to carry out their own home energy audits. They will also be provided with additional suggestions for minimizing each individual’s or family’s carbon footprint.

For further information about this Earth Day workshop please contact Pastor Stuart Taylor at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church: (520)325-1001, extension 13 or stutaylor*at*mindspring[dot]com

Bored or Anxious? Hungry for Fresh Journalism?

Are you bored or anxious that much vital news is not being presented and discussed in the broadcast and print media? Here are four recent video reports on two of the most important topics of our current times: The future of oil and the future of the American dollar. These YouTube programs from the People & Power Project present Max Keiser combining whimsy and dead serious interviews about things we all need to know. Our Udall family’s Randy Udall speaks on the implications of oil depletion. Enjoy.

Click on the titles below to watch the reports:

“Peaked” Part 1

“Peaked” Part 2

“Death of the Dollar” Part 1

“Death of the Dollar “Part 2

Sustainable Tucson member Tom Greco reported on his blog January 11th about an analysis of the U.S. dollar by Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under the Reagan Administration. Former Asst. Sec. Roberts is interviewed on the “Death of the Dollar” video reports above. Writes Tom, “His article on the [impending crisis] is both insightful and, in my opinion, accurate. No one can dismiss his statements as being the ranting of a liberal Democratic partisan. He sees clearly the dire situation faced by Americans as we see the limits being reached in the ability of our federal government to finance its debt. … I urge you to read it in its entirety.”

Central Solar Power Forum (Phoenix)

From NAU’s web site:
(to visit their original page, go to:

WELCOME to the Central Solar Power Forum

Arizona is blessed with one of the best solar resources in the country. Utility-scale solar power technologies such as solar trough, power tower, dish and high-concentrating photovoltaics have matured and are available to help provide stable, reasonably-priced electric power for Arizona. This Forum is designed to provide comprehensive information on the technical and policy issues surrounding the development of Central Solar Power (CSP).

Development of CSP will provide substantial economic investment in the state and will lead to a clean energy future. We hope you will join us to learn about these exciting technologies.

To register, please go to this page on NAU’s web site:

Sustainable Tucson General Meeting – May

Northwest Neighborhood Center
2160 N. 6th Ave.
6-8 PM (officially, with time before and after for more networking)

Please join us!  This month’s meeting is all about networking–if you’ve got a project that needs volunteers or you want to spread the word about, bring your display materials.  If you’re looking for a place to get involved or people to share your ideas with, please come–and bring your friends and neighbors!

We’ll begin the meeting with a round of brief introductions, and break out in the rest of the meeting for semi-focused networking.

Hope to see you there!

5:30-6:00     Meet, Greet, and Network
6:00-6:05     ST Welcome
6:05-6:50     Individual and project introductions (1 minute)
6:50-8:00     Networking
8:00-8:30     Extra networking and Clean-up

Special thanks to the Food Co-Op for donating coffee for this meeting

Sustainable Tucson General Meeting

Sustainable Tucson Membership Meeting

January 8, 2008

6:00 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library

(Downstairs meeting room)




                             6:00-6:10     Welcome

                             6:10-6:20     Introductions

                             6:20-6:30     Core team report  

                             6:30-6:50     Affinity groups report

                             6:50-7:00     Announcements

                             7:00-7:25     “Urban Villages” presentation: Tres English              

                             7:25-7:55     Networking

                             7:55-8:00    Closing 

Grant Road design meeting

The public is invited to give their views and values on the future of Grant Road.
Voters have approved $160 million to widen Grant Road to 6 lanes. Should they be more traffic, urban villages, or what? Come to the meetings and let the City know what you value.
Grant Road Segment Workshops
January 14, 16, and 17, of 2008
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Tucson Association of Realtors Meeting Room
2445 N. Tucson BoulevardJanuary 14, 16, and 17, of 2008

Monday, January 14 – Oracle Rd to 1st Ave
Wednesday, January 16 – 1st Ave to Tucson Blvd
Thursday, January 17 – Tucson Blvd to Swan Rd