Tucson’s Complete Streets Policy

On February 5th, the Tucson City Council passed Ordinance 11621 – The City of Tucson Complete Streets Policy. What’s in the Complete Streets Policy? How was it created? What does it mean? How will it affect the future of Tucson? At our next meeting, we are going to answer these questions and more. We’ll look at the details of the new policy and how it was created. We’ll also have some expert opinion about how the policy will be implemented. Be sure to join us and get a glimpse of the future of Tucson!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 from 6-8 pm at the Ward 6 community room. Doors open at 5:30.

Complete Streets, Connecting Complete Neighborhoods, Creating a Complete City

New construction is popping up all over Tucson: widening roads, new hotels and apartment complexes, and development of some of our most treasured architectural icons. At the same time, Tucson’s bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. In recognition of the opportunities and problems, Ward 6 will be hosting a Complete Streets planning session on July 25th at 5:30 pm (see below).

In preparation for this meeting and to discuss the ramifications of some of the many development projects in the works or being proposed, we will be hosting a Complete Streets Primer at our July meeting (July 10 at 6 pm). Join us in thinking about



this topic in a broad and comprehensive way, including access to friends, neighbors, jobs, urban food production, services, resources, and entertainment in ways we can afford and that produce a lot less CO2.
We’ll present a selection of informative videos, followed by a discussion to envision building complete streets, complete neighborhoods, and a complete city in Tucson.

July 10, 6:00 pm (doors open 5:30 pm)
Ward 6, 3202 E. 1st Street

NOTE: Ward 6 no longer allows food or drink in the Community Room, so we can no longer provide refreshments at our meetings.

If you want to see what you missed, here are the videos we showed:

July Workshop
What are our best opportunities for action?
What’s next? How do we get governments, businesses, financial organizations, educational institutions, and just plan folk to work together to make Tucson more sustainable and resilient?

One answer is to know what we want … and then talk “amongst ourselves” – every chance we get.

Come to the next Sustainable Tucson meeting, July 11 at Ward 6 office from 6-9pm, and help create the next step in developing “Principles for Our Sustainable Future”. Please register now, so we know how many people to plan for and can provide additional materials for next Tuesday’s meeting.

At this workshop, we will build on the principles developed at the June Sustainable Tucson meeting. These principles were developed by over 40 people in a 3 hour workshop and cover five areas – water, transportation, local jobs and businesses, green redevelopment, and financing.

At the July workshop, you will help identify overlaps and connections between these principles and then craft community-wide opportunities that the City of Tucson could help promote. (Example connection)

The results of this meeting will guide our City Council Candidates forum on August 9. The goal will be to identify 4-6 such opportunities and ask the City Council Candidates to discuss the City’s role in making Tucson more resilient and sustainable, using these opportunities as examples. These principles and connections may also be used in candidate forums for the Board of Supervisors, next year.

This should be a fun evening. You will be working with other creative and caring Tucsonans who want to make Tucson a better place for all of us. So put on your creative cap, and join in the fun. Register now.

Public Meetings About Proposed Interstate 11- May 2 & 3

Tuesday, May 2 — Arizona Riverpark Inn, 777 W. Cushing Street
Wednesday, May 3 — Marana Middle School, Cafeteria, 11285 W. Grier Road, Marana

The Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration are hosting public meetings to present corridor alternatives for the proposed interstate 11 between Nogales and Wickenburg.

More information and talking points will be available from Coalition for Sonoran Desert Preservation closer to the meeting date.

Initiatives for Climate-ready, Resilient Buildings – the Emerging Tucson 2030 District and More

2030 Districts are a national network of organizations in 15 cities in North America that are working to reduce building energy, water waste, and carbon transportation emissions by 50% by 2030.

At Sustainable Tucson’s April General Meeting, come hear the update of the Tucson Emerging 2030 District, Tucson’s new Community Partnership to transform our commercial and institutional buildings.

The Tucson Emerging 2030 District continues to evolve, and their executive committee will share their progress and expectations with Sustainable Tucson to describe how far the concept has proceeded since earlier presentations. Learn about the workshops, forums, PCC classes, and community events, which are attracting interest in this important new initiative in Tucson.

After Tres English presents a brief overview of the conditions of our quarter million aging tract homes, the second half of the April General Meeting will feature David Eisenberg, Director of the Development Center for Appropriate Technology.

David will present an overview of what people need to know to embark on the green building journey. This will include information on building codes, building science, green building materials, and reliable sources for further information. If you are interested in the subject of green retrofitting of existing residences or designing and building your own eco-house, this part will be of particular value. David will also describe the potential for green retrofitting Tucson’s vast housing stock built between 1950 and 1990.

• Ward 6, 3202 E 1st St
• Tuesday, April 11, 2017
• 6:00 pm (doors open 5:00)

Sustainability and Architecture: USGBC ADVANCE and Tucson’s Prospective 2030 District®

For our May General Meeting, Sustainable Tucson is very pleased to present “Sustainability and Architecture: USGBC ADVANCE and Tucson’s Prospective 2030 District®.” This program will present the innovative partnership between the 2030 Districts and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)-Arizona Sonoran Branch, with the goal of developing a 2030 District® here in Tucson.

First established in Seattle, 2030 Districts® are unique private/ public partnerships that bring property owners, managers, and developers together with local governments, businesses, and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources. Now in 11 other cities across North America, 2030 Districts® are forming to meet the energy, water, and vehicle emissions reduction targets for existing buildings and new construction called for by Architecture 2030 in the 2030 Challenge for Planning.

Here in Tucson, since late January of this year, a growing group of representatives from community environmental organizations, City and County departments, and building professionals have been meeting regularly to explore the development of a 2030 District in Tucson. Initial focus has been on forming a District in the Bonita neighborhood in Menlo Park, but there is also interest in expanding to include downtown Tucson and the U of A. The 2030 Challenge for Planning goals, which need to be adopted to form a District, if successfully met, would result in reducing energy use, water use, and CO2 transportation emissions by 50% District-wide by 2030.

USGBC-Arizona Sonoran Branch members, working together with Architecture 2030 and 2030 Districts® representatives, have formed the Tucson ADVANCE/2030 District Partnership (TADP), in a joint effort to provide free resources and tools such as ENERGY STAR to benchmark, develop, and implement creative strategies, best practices, and verification methods for measuring progress towards the goals of the 2030 Challenge for Planning and the Tucson 2030 District. (See article below for related training event.)

Speakers include:
Peter Dobrovolny: Retired Architect/Planner and 2030 District Advocate. Peter was instrumental in forming the first 2030 District in Seattle and is currently facilitating the exploration of a 2030 District in Tucson
Michael Peel: Community and Government Relations Liaison, Pima Community College. Michael is facilitating the USGBC ADVANCE training that is focused on development of the Tucson ADVANCE Prospective 2030 District.
Ray Clamons: Owner of Xylon Designs Sustainable Architecture & Water Harvesting Landscapes. Ray has produced the concept of the Bonita District – Tucson 2030 District and is currently active in planning for that District.
Joel Loveland: Professor Emeritus University of Washington (UW) School of Architecture and Director, UW Center for Integrated Design; 2030 District Advocate. Joel is currently supporting Peter and Michael in the area of building performance analysis and benchmarking for the emerging 2030 District in Tucson.

Monday, May 9, 2016
Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower level Conference room
101 N Stone (lower level parking off Alameda St.)
Program begins at 6:00pm. Doors open at 5:30 for networking.

We Need to Electrify As Much Transportation As We Can – Heinberg

We Need to Electrify As Much Transportation As We Can

by Richard Heinberg

Transcript:

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Folks are lining up to reserve electric car automaker Tesla’s Model 3. It’s considered to be one of the first electric cars for the mass market at an expected price tag of 35 thousand dollars. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, will be unveiling the vehicle on Thursday evening, so we can’t show you what it will actually look like. But in this segment we wanted to get beyond the consumerism and ask, will this be a game changer for the automobile industry in America and the environment?

Now joining us to help us answer that question is Richard Heinberg. He’s a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. Thanks so much for joining us, Richard.

RICHARD HEINBERG: It’s a pleasure, Jessica.

DESVARIEUX: So, Richard, why has it taken so long for an affordable electric car to sort of come to the market? I’m reminded of the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” which really highlights how we essentially went from having electric cars on California roads in the ’90s to then, eventually, shredding and destroying those very same vehicles years later. So my question to you, Richard, is, who killed the electric car?

HEINBERG: Well, the bosses at the Detroit automakers decided back in the 1990s that there wouldn’t be a mass market for the electric car because of the short range of the vehicles. They thought consumers wouldn’t buy a car if it didn’t have a two to three hundred mile range, and the batteries at that time were not capable of delivering that kind of range. So even though they built some prototypes and sent them out to drivers, they never produced a mass market car.

Today, battery technology has improved enough so that it is possible to produce an electric car for the masses with at least a 200-mile range, and that’s what’s anticipated for the Tesla Model 3.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. there are some folks that are saying that this isn’t as big of a game changer as people are making it out to be, because essentially you’re getting power to charge your electric vehicle from fossil fuel sources like coal. Do you agree with that?

HEINBERG: Not entirely. First of all, the energy mix is different in different parts of the country. Some parts of the country, electricity is mostly coming from coal. In other parts of the country the mix is more oriented toward natural gas, hydro and renewables. So, first of all, it depends on where you’re getting your electricity from.

And second, you know, if you look out at the energy transition that we’re just beginning right now, away from fossil fuels toward renewables, it’s clear that one of the main strategies that we’ll have to pursue during this energy transition is electrification. Right now only about 20 percent of the final energy that we use in the United States is in the form of electricity. The rest is in the form of liquid fuels for transportation, energy for high heat industrial processes and so on.

We have to electrify as much of that energy usage as we can, because most of our renewable sources of energy produce electricity. That’s true of solar and wind, geothermal and hydro power. So we need to electrify as much transportation as we can.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. You have some automakers, you know, really touting this as a bright future, that we’re going to see more and more electric cars hit the market. I want to ask you about the role of cheap oil. Do you think that threatens he growth of the electric car industry?

HEINBERG: Well, probably not over the long run. We’re headed toward electric cars one way or the other, I think. However, over the short run it definitely takes some wind out of the sails, because from the consumer’s standpoint the biggest draw for an electric car is that over the lifetime of ownership the operating costs are much lower, so if you have cheap gas that changes that differential a bit, so that there’s not as much of an advantage.

DESVARIEUX: Okay, let’s talk about the future. What would a truly green transportation system look like, and are there some states or countries that are really laying out a road map to get us there?

HEINBERG: Well, a truly green transportation system probably wouldn’t rely on electric cars that much because it wouldn’t be relying on cars that much. Cars are an inherently inefficient mode of transportation. I mean, think about it. Most cars just have a driver and maybe one passenger, and meanwhile you’re dragging around two tons of metal, glass and plastic in order to get those one or two people where they want to go.

Much more efficient modes of transportation are light rail, any kind of public transportation, actually. So what we really need is to build up more rail transport and get people walking and bicycling as much as possible.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. Richard Heinberg, thank you so much for joining us.

HEINBERG: It’s been a pleasure. Thanks, Jessica.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Electric car teaser image via shutterstock. Reproduced at Resilience.org with permission.


Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.


Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-04-04/we-need-to-electrify-as-much-transportation-as-we-can

Historic Broadway widening links and articles

“Intro to Broadway Widening Project – Who What, When, Why: Why Are We Spending $74 Million and Destroying 30 Buildings in a Central Historic Area while Producing No Traffic Improvement?”

Overview and background, an intro for people who are learning about the situation. By Dave Bilgray.

http://www.sustainabletucson.org/2016/03/intro-to-broadway-project-who-what-when-why-why-why/

 

An excellent OpEd by Tucson architect Bob Vint on how Historic Broadway should be designed:
http://tucson.com/news/opinion/column/guest/robert-vint-broadway-renovation-plan-needs-a-redo/article_7100d70a-8844-5150-873c-cb6d6d230f98.html

 

“Broadway widening WILL NOT speed cars…or buses…or pedestrians…or even bicycles!”

Details about minimal benefits, and RTA text showing that job doesn’t need to be done. By Les Pierce.

http://www.sustainabletucson.org/2016/03/data-crunched-broadway-widening-will-not-speed-cars-or-buses-or-pedestrians-or-even-bicycles/

 

“City’s April 2016 Plan differs from Previous Recommendations and Adoptions”

Differences between base alignment, as agreed to by Citizen Task Force and Mayor and Council, and specifications produced by City staff and consultants.

By Broadway Coalition

http://www.sustainabletucson.org/?p=8029

 

“Impacts of the Broadway Widening”

Various impacts on neighborhoods and Tucson overall. By Diana Lett.

http://www.sustainabletucson.org/2016/03/10-impacts-of-the-proposed-broadway-widening/

 

“Has HDR Engineers done what they were hired to do?”

Scope of work by consulting firm, as specified by Mayor and Council, and as actually done. By Margot Garcia.

http://www.sustainabletucson.org/2016/03/has-hdr-engineers-done-what-they-were-hired-to-do/

 

“Broadway project draft Design Concept Report”

City document with basic project design

bar graph showing 6-second traffic improvement is on page 5.9, which is page 77 in the pdf.

http://broadwayboulevard.info/pdf/Broadway-DCR-Public-Review-FullDoc-120815.pdf

 

Parsons-Brinckerhoff 1987 “Broadway Corridor Transportation Study”

referenced in Les Pierce’s writeup.

see Table 3, page 10, which is page 16 of pdf, for compared expectations of various roadway configuration options

says that intersections should be 14-16 lanes wide, on page 10, which is page 16 in the pdf.

https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/transportation/broadwaycorridortransstudy.pdf

 

Link to the Broadway Coalition Petition drive to oppose the City’s unnecessary alignment plan:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/develop-historic-broadway-not-wastefully-widen-the

 

Copy of the Petition as a PDF to distribute:

Copy Broadway Petition

 

400 Comments regarding the Broadway widening from the community recorded during the current Petition Drive :

Broadway Petition Comments

Intro to Broadway Project – Who, What, When, Why?

Why Are We Spending $74 Million

and

Destroying 30 Buildings in a Central Historic Area

while

Producing No Traffic Improvement?

 

The Broadway Improvement Project is not needed, and will provide no benefit to the residents of Tucson.  The City’s own data shows that widening Broadway will provide only a 6-second improvement in travel time.

 

The City of Tucson wants to bulldoze dozens of buildings, many of them historically significant, to handle nonexistent traffic increases which were projected 30 years ago, but did not materialize.

 

The effort started in the 80s, when City analysts predicted a substantial increase in Broadway traffic by 2005. This began a decades-long push to widen Broadway, despite a consulting firm’s analysis that widening would not improve traffic flow.  The reason is the delays at intersections.  The City got funding for the project in 2006, as part of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) proposition.

 

But the traffic increase didn’t happen, for two reasons:

 

1. Population growth, which had been primarily to the East, went to the Northwest instead.

2. Aviation Parkway was completed in the 90s, providing an alternative for residents in Southeast Tucson.

 

In 2009, a consultant’s study showed that Broadway traffic was essentially unchanged since the 80s. That should have squelched the project. But the City said it was obligated to do the job, because voters approved it as part of the RTA. (Not true. The RTA proposition said a change in the plan was permitted if there was “no degradation in performance”. That 6-second difference is 1 percent, which would certainly be within the limit.)

 

So the City’s plans continued. The original design was for widening Broadway to 8 lanes, 150 feet wide. That’s half the length of a football field. More than 100 structures would be demolished, mostly locally-owned businesses, including nearly everything on the North side of Broadway, from Euclid to Country Club.

 

There was strong opposition by thousands of citizens and several neighborhood associations.  This resulted in creation of a citizen’s task force, with representatives from business, neighborhood, and disabled communities. Between June 2012 and May 2015, the task force held 37 design meetings, coordinated by City staff and consultants. There were 5 Open Houses, each attended by several hundred people, and five Business and Property Owner Meetings.

 

In late 2014, a compromise was reached between the City, RTA, and task force, calling for 6 lanes, with an estimated 10-12 buildings to be torn down. City agencies and consultants were to work out technical details.

 

We have now received the revised plan. It calls for at least 30 buildings to be demolished — triple the City’s compromise estimate — including 2 blocks of houses in Rincon Heights.  Many other buildings will become inaccessible, and will likely be destroyed, because their driveways and/or parking lots will be wiped out.  There also are changes at intersections which impact nearby neighborhoods, by diverting or blocking traffic flow.

 

Will the Broadway Corridor be a gateway to our revitalized downtown, with locally-owned businesses, and human scale?  Or will it be a wide swath of asphalt, straddled by empty lots and the dream of big box stores?

 

Tucson got a black eye with Rio Nuevo.  Let’s not do it again.  The money can be spent on sidewalks, landscaping, and ADA compliance, which would enhance the area. Please tell your City Council member to reject this wasteful and harmful idea, once and for all.

 

For more info:   www.sustainabletucson.org     www.facebook.com/broadwaycoalition

 

Thanks to Margot Garcia, for providing background and chronological information; Les Pierce, for identifying important items in City and RTA documents; and Bob Cook, for wording suggestions.

Has HDR Engineers done what they were hired to do?

Has HDR Engineers done what they were hired to do?

Here is the scope of work

The phrases below are excerpted from the 2011 Scope of Work issued by COT Dept. of Procurement for the Broadway Project used to issue the contract to HDR Engineering.

 

The consultant is to establish

  • “an innovative and context sensitive, solutions-oriented approach toward the redesign of this major roadway…
  • the selected team will redesign Broadway into a multi-modal boulevard using a variety of land use strategies to preserve historic structures…..
  • Project development should include utilization of innovative urban design, streetscape, xeriscape and environmental sustainability concepts to promote a vibrant, green, and liveable urban character….
  • consideration should be given to…long term transit development; the value of mid-century and other historic properties along the corridor; …and residential district location, form, and design.
  • Part of this project will consider how to enhance transit capability and how planning and design of facilities can increase ridership as well as foster future development of a streetcar, or light-rail system.”

 

They haven’t done any of this.

City Council, Send the design back and tell them to do what they were hired to do!!!

City’s April 2016 Plan differs from Previous Recommendations and Adoptions

There are large differences from the base alignment that the Citizen Task Force (CTF) recommended and the Mayor and Council adopted in May 2015. They are:

 

1.     Many more buildings, historic and businesses, will be acquired and demolished. It appears to be at a minimum around 30, not the 10 to 12 promised earlier.

2.     It takes out the front line of the Rincon Heights Neighborhood Historic District: two blocks of houses.

3.     Other businesses will be acquired: south side block from old Table Talk to end of that row because of no access; same for Solot Plaza.

4.     There are double left turn lanes both directions at Euclid – encouraging traffic past Tucson High School and along the periphery of the University.

5.     There are 11 bus pullouts – these slow down transit, therefore this design does not enhance transit, but makes it worse than now.

6.     There are double left turn lanes onto Campbell/Kino, making that intersection 9 lanes wide – a nightmare for pedestrians trying to get to Starbucks, Carls Junior, or the Safeway or to transfer bus lines.

7.     Extends medians past neighborhood streets, preventing left  turns. Examples: Mountain Ave, Fremont, Olson, Smith, Camino Espanol.

 

Therefore we find the 30% drawings are unacceptable because they:

 

••Do not adhere, even conceptually, to the alignment passed by Mayor & Council on June 9, 2015 and by Citizens Task Force on May 7, 2015.

••Destroy historic streetscape

••Destroy too many businesses, and thus, the essence of Broadway as a destination

••Are hostile to pedestrian and bicyclist road users

••Have too many bus pullouts, slowing down the busses

••Deny parking and access to existing businesses, thus threaten total acquisition of more properties than currently planned

••Do not support local existing businesses

••Impede access to neighborhoods

••Are automobile-centered, at the expense of a more livable Tucson

••Create remnant parcels that are too small to be used by themselves

••Do not contribute to a sense of place

••Do not adhere to current best practices in road design

••Removes right hand turn lanes from WB and EB Broadway at Country Club creating terrible opportunity for bicycle-car accidents. Using 10-foot lanes would allow a right-hand turn lane without changing overall roadway width.

 

Broadway Coalition – March 2016

10 Impacts of the Proposed Broadway Widening

1) The current alignment (the 30% design) ignores public input, which overwhelmingly advocated for preservation of the historic streetscape and local businesses.

 

2) The 30% design defies the direction of Mayor and Council, who approved an alignment that would have caused the loss of at most 11 historic buildings. The proposed 30% design will take out 30 historic buildings.

 

3) The entire project is based on traffic projections that are 20 years out of date. Current data show steady decreases in vehicular traffic on Broadway, on Tucson’s other arterials, and on arterials throughout the nation.

 

4) The project is estimated to cost $74 million, before cost overruns. At this time, cost overruns are expected to be at least $5 million. Our city government is in a budget crisis. Where, exactly, is this money supposed to come from? Coincidentally, the city plans to put tax increases on November’s ballot.

 

5) The city’s own data show that, after the project is completed, traffic will move 6 seconds faster. Yes, you read that correctly: SIX SECONDS. We are supposed to sacrifice two blocks of historic homes, numerous local businesses, go into debt, and tolerate a corrupt public process for SIX SECONDS.

 

6) By destroying local businesses along the Broadway Corridor, the city is sacrificing future tax revenues for the city itself and for the Rio Nuevo District. This will only deepen our budget crisis.

 

7) The city and county keep saying they are respecting the will of the voters by going forward with this project. Well, I voted for the RTA. I held my nose over the road widening projects, because I wanted to see light rail come to Tucson. I never imagined the devastation road widening would bring to historic neighborhoods along Broadway and Grant Road. THIS IS NOT WHAT I VOTED FOR.

 

8) If your neighborhood borders an arterial, this project is a horrible template that could be applied to you. For example, the city has long planned additional widening of Speedway in Feldman’s Neighborhood. The Major Streets and Routes Plan specifies a right-of-way of 125 feet along Speedway in Feldman’s. The city can (and usually does) require any property owner wanting a zoning variance along Speedway to deed the 125 feet over to the city — for free. That is a policy that drives urban blight, just as it did on Broadway.

 

9) This project is the exact opposite of everything that makes a city such as Austin or Portland attractive, livable, economically and culturally viable. There will be no dedicated transit lanes. Little or no landscaping. No replacement parking for the parking that local businesses will lose, meaning those businesses will likely go under. And of course, none of the beautiful amenities that were envisioned early on in the process, such as pocket parks and vegetation buffers between vehicles and cyclists.

 

10) This project is also the exact opposite of government accountability and transparency. In addition to the end-run around public input and direction from Mayor and Council, there have been allegations of early buyouts offered to national chain businesses (looking at you, Starbucks and Brake Masters) that were not necessary, given the alignment, and were far more generous than anything offered to local businesses.

 

 

Sustainability on the Chopping Block – Tucson City Council Decision April 19th

XXX

This is an urgent appeal to the Sustainability Community to show up and speak out for sustainability and reject an unnecessary road widening plan which will cost millions and do nothing for sustainable mobility and economic vitality.

XXXXX

We have limited opportunities to help shape decisions about urban form and public infrastructure which effect the way we live and generate climate-changing GHG emissions. This is one of them.

XXX

 

The Tucson Mayor and Council will decide at their April 19th Regular Meeting on how to proceed with the 30% design proposal on the table. We urge you to sign the popular “Vote No” petition below sponsored by the Broadway Coalition and ALSO submit your “negative” comments on the 30% Design here at the City’s website.

XXX

When: Tuesday, April 19th,  5:30 pm

Where:  Tucson City Hall Council Chambers

We Should Develop Historic Broadway NOT wastefully widen the roadway!

 

Say YES to smart development and NO to another bad alignment plan for Broadway. Why would we spend $75 million for no appreciable improvement in traffic?

 

On April 19th, the City of Tucson will vote whether to:

XXX

1) Widen Historic Broadway even though traffic hasn’t increased for 20 years,

2) Demolish 30+ buildings and businesses, and

3) Ignore the community’s overwhelming plea to design a vibrant, history and place-preserving, climate-friendly future where local businesses thrive and more people prefer to safely walk, bike, and use public transit.

XXX

The City’s alignment plan would set a horrible precedent for our economic future!

XXX

We need to stop wasteful public spending on unnecessary widening of roads when we need to:

XXX

1) Revitalize our historic places leading into Downtown Tucson.

2) Repave our unsafe, crumbling Tucson streets and roads.

3) Invest in alternatives to more cars – walking, biking, public transit.

4) Encourage and enable use of renewable energy – electric vehicles, Street Car extensions.

Our Petition Campaign has exceeded the first goal of 1,000 signatures with over 400 comments. Please add your name, comment if you like, and see what other Tucsonan’s are saying:

 

Time for Action is Now!

 

For background on Broadway Widening , references, articles, and research go here:

 

 

Why Are We Spending $74 Million

and

Destroying 30 Buildings in a Central Historic Area

while

Producing No Traffic Improvement?

By Dave Bilgray

 

 

The Broadway Improvement Project is not needed, and will provide no benefit to the residents of Tucson.  The City’s own data shows that widening Broadway will provide only a 6-second improvement in travel time.

 

The City of Tucson wants to bulldoze dozens of buildings, many of them historically significant, to handle nonexistent traffic increases which were projected 30 years ago, but did not materialize.

 

The effort started in the 80s, when City analysts predicted a substantial increase in Broadway traffic by 2005. This began a decades-long push to widen Broadway, despite a consulting firm’s analysis that widening would not improve traffic flow.  The reason is the delays at intersections.  The City got funding for the project in 2006, as part of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) proposition.

 

But the traffic increase didn’t happen, for two reasons:

 

1. Population growth, which had been primarily to the East, went to the Northwest instead.

2. Aviation Parkway was completed in the 90s, providing an alternative for residents in Southeast Tucson.

 

In 2009, a consultant’s study showed that Broadway traffic was essentially unchanged since the 80s. That should have squelched the project. But the City said it was obligated to do the job, because voters approved it as part of the RTA. (Not true. The RTA proposition said a change in the plan was permitted if there was “no degradation in performance”. That 6-second difference is 1 percent, which would certainly be within the limit.)

 

So the City’s plans continued. The original design was for widening Broadway to 8 lanes, 150 feet wide. That’s half the length of a football field. More than 100 structures would be demolished, mostly locally-owned businesses, including nearly everything on the North side of Broadway, from Euclid to Country Club.

 

There was strong opposition by thousands of citizens and several neighborhood associations.  This resulted in creation of a citizen’s task force, with representatives from business, neighborhood, and disabled communities. Between June 2012 and May 2015, the task force held 37 design meetings, coordinated by City staff and consultants. There were 5 Open Houses, each attended by several hundred people, and five Business and Property Owner Meetings.

 

In late 2014, a compromise was reached between the City, RTA, and task force, calling for 6 lanes, with an estimated 10-12 buildings to be torn down. City agencies and consultants were to work out technical details.

 

We have now received the revised plan. It calls for at least 30 buildings to be demolished — triple the City’s compromise estimate — including 2 blocks of houses in Rincon Heights.  Many other buildings will become inaccessible, and will likely be destroyed, because their driveways and/or parking lots will be wiped out.  There also are changes at intersections which impact nearby neighborhoods, by diverting or blocking traffic flow.

 

Will the Broadway Corridor be a gateway to our revitalized downtown, with locally-owned businesses, and human scale?  Or will it be a wide swath of asphalt, straddled by empty lots and the dream of big box stores?

 

Tucson got a black eye with Rio Nuevo.  Let’s not do it again.  The money can be spent on sidewalks, landscaping, and ADA compliance, which would enhance the area. Please tell your City Council member to reject this wasteful and harmful idea, once and for all.

 

For more info:   www.facebook.com/broadwaycoalition

 

Thanks to Margot Garcia, for providing background and chronological information; Les Pierce, for identifying important items in City and RTA documents; and Bob Cook, for wording suggestions.

Sign online petition for a sustainable Broadway

Data crunched: Broadway widening WILL NOT speed cars…or buses…or pedestrians…or even bicycles!

Analysis of RTA and COT’s own numbers shows widening Broadway will not cut travel times for cars or anyone else.

So why are we spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars amidst a budget crisis?

(A)  The proposed work will have almost zero (~1.4%) benefit, as the Design Concept Report (DCR) data itself declares.

(B)  Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) requires that “Where a departure from the ballot description is being considered, a performance comparison between the proposed alternative and the original scope of work must show no degradation in performance”.

(C)  Therefore, since functionality for cars will not be improved under ANY widening scenario (4-lane, 6-lane, or 8-lane), less invasive options that improve road functionality for everyone else (pedestrians, bicyclists, transit) will still comport with RTA’s directive while saving scarce tax dollars and must be given urgent and careful consideration.

These points are explored in more depth below.

(1)  The proposed work will have almost zero (~1.1 – 1.4%) benefit.

Broadway draft DCR, page “5.9” (9th page of Chapter 5), figure 5.10 “Travel Time Euclid to Country Club” states that travel time by car* from Euclid to Country Club on the current 2+2+center-turning lane configuration is 7.1 minutes.  Of all the four (4) considered alternatives — 4-lane, 4+2T, 6-lane, and 8-lane — only ONE enables faster travel time over this distance, the 6-lane option.  How much faster?  Six seconds.  A 1.4% improvement, which could be margin of error and not even real.  It should be noted that the 8-lane “ballot language” option actually makes things WORSE, increasing travel time by a full minute.

(* These comments focus on car-centric performance because car/vehicle performance appears to be the only transportation metric being given more than token consideration.  We thus attempt to meet the world halfway.)

Figure 5.11 “Average Speed” on the same page shows the current average car travel speed over the two-mile segment of Broadway between Euclid and Country Club to be 17.4 MPH.  Again, of all the considered alternatives, only the 6-lane option shows any improvement AT ALL, and that is an extremely modest 1.1% increase to 17.6 MPH which, again, could simply be margin of error.  And again, the 8-lane “ballot language” option would have dropped average speed by over two minutes, to 15.2 MPH.

Also, the level-of-service (LOS) predicted from the four (4) presented options shows no real difference between them in terms of overall average performance.  When averaged (where 0 = ‘F’, 1 = ‘E’, 2 = ‘D’, 3 = ‘C’, 4 = ‘B’, and 5 = ‘A’), the LOS data presented on Broadway DCR page 4.18 (54th page of PDF document) yields:

 

(A)  Broadway LOS at PAG 2040 traffic projections, by intersection:

config:  Euclid – Highland – Campbell – Tucson – Country Club – overall

4-lane:  2.17 – 3.33 – 1.75 – 2.00 – 2.08 – 2.26

6-lane:  2.08 – 3.75 – 2.58 – 2.92 – 2.08 – 2.68

4+2T:  1.50 – 2.83 – 2.33 – 2.17 – 2.08 – 2.18

8-lane:  2.50 – 3.58 – 2.75 – 2.83 – 2.00 – 2.73

 

(B)  Broadway LOS at PAG “low growth” traffic projections, by intersection:

config:  Euclid – Highland – Campbell – Tucson – Country Club – overall

4-lane:  2.33 – 3.67 – 1.83 – 2.17 – 2.08 – 2.25

6-lane:  2.17 – 3.75 – 2.50 – 2.92 – 2.00 – 2.22

4T+2:  1.92 – 3.25 – 2.33 – 2.42 – 2.17 – 2.25

8-lane:  2.58 – 3.83 – 2.75 – 3.00 – 2.25 – 3.13

 

It would appear that there is no appreciable overall difference in LOS between the presented options, with all performances but one landing in ‘D’ territory (the 8-lane option under “low growth” projections rates a low ‘C’).  Without current LOS data in the DCR, it is not clear which, if any, of these options would actually improve conditions or by how much.

This should come as no surprise, since the 1987 Parsons-Brinckerhoff Broadway Corridor Study stated (table 3, page 10) that widening Broadway (either to six or to eight lanes) would not improve performance at the Euclid, Campbell, or Country Club intersections AT ALL, and that even the “nuclear option” of installing grade-separated interchanges (GSI’s) at these intersections would only raise performance at Euclid and Campbell from a then level-of-service (LOS) of ‘F’ to ‘D’ (Country Club would not improve, and would stay at the then-current ‘D’).  In the thirty years since, nothing has changed:  none of the nine (9) alternatives contemplated by Parsons in 1987 would effect any appreciable improvement then, and none of the four (4) alternatives presented to the Broadway CTF over the past (almost-) four years will effect any appreciable improvement now.

The 1987 study was purportedly commissioned to address what was projected to be the demands of traffic in 2005.  None of the suggestions made by Parsons has been enacted — aside from intersection changes at Kino Parkway in 1989 and as part of the more recent Park-Euclid realignment, but not on the scale recommended by Parsons — yet the proverbial sky has not fallen, and Broadway remains one of our more easily traversed roads.  The perceived “problem” does not exist to an extent that justifies spending $74 million on a notional “solution” that will make no noticeable difference in average travel time or speed, or to overall throughput.

It is also not clear how a 6-lane Broadway would solve the bottleneck at Fourth/ Congress/ Toole:  northbound Downtown Links, being a 30-MPH four-lane road, will siphon away only a small fraction of the traffic load.  Hurling cars westbound down Broadway will not improve overall road performance, as they will only accumulate and back up faster than Downtown Links and Fourth/ Congress/ Toole can disperse them.  This is likely a moot point given the modest performance gains the Broadway proposal would realize, but if these changes were to move more cars per lane per hour the 6-lane “solution” on Broadway will only create another problem downstream.

This makes all the more puzzling the assertion made in Pima County’s ordinance 2015-10 (which amended its ordinance 1997-80, the Transportation Bond Improvement Plan that includes project DOT-56, “Broadway Boulevard, Euclid Avenue to Campbell”) where the Broadway project benefits were described as:  “The estimated economic value of the improvements to traffic flow and reductions in accidents are $172.85 million.  The benefit/cost ratio is 4.9:1.”  It is not clear how a 1% performance increase (time saved, speed gained) creates $173 million in benefits; in fact, one would expect accidents to rise (in number and/or severity) as speed does.

One must also wonder about end-user sentiment:  for $74 million, drivers would not unreasonably expect to feel a difference in the Broadway commute experience proportionate to such an expenditure.  Six seconds, the best projected outcome possible from among the considered options, is a woefully inadequate consolation prize.

 

(2)  RTA requires that “Where a departure from the ballot description is being considered, a performance comparison between the proposed alternative and the original scope of work must show no degradation in performance”.

As discussed above, an 8-lane configuration of Broadway would either have no effect on traffic conditions (Parsons-Brinckerhoff, 1987) or would make them worse (time and speed comparison charts, DCR page 5.9).  Leaving things at status quo would yield better traffic performance results than inflicting the “ballot language” option.

 

(3)  Therefore, since functionality for cars will not be improved under ANY widenening scenario, less invasive options that improve road functionality for everyone else (pedestrians, bicyclists, transit) must be given urgent and careful consideration.

DCR states (page 5.18) that “It is not an option to leave the roadway as it is — the City will have to improve the roadway per Federal [Americans with Disabilities Act] requirements, and there is no money to do so”.  The inadequate pedestrian and bicyclist facilities on Broadway need to be improved in any event; the low incidence of bicycle traffic on Broadway is likely for the same reason there are few bicyclists on I-10, i.e., bicyclists were simply not considered when the road was last expanded.  As our mindsets evolve from “one mode” transportation to handling all modes, so too will our roads.

If getting an ADA-compliant street* is in fact the only reason this project is moving forward — and it is difficult to draw any other conclusion, given the negligible benefits on offer — there are, and have been suggested by the CTF and the public, other alignment options that will improve functionality for pedestrian and bicyclist road users, lay the foundation for future transit improvements, and also preserve much more of the surrounding built environment for historic, commercial, and/or residential purposes.

 

(* One wonders, though, how a medianized roadway that forces wheelchair users to go blocks out of their way to cross Broadway at one of a handful of wheel-able crossings comports with ADA’s goals of equality of access.  Pedestrian travel and community connections are not just along Broadway, but across it.)

Given the current budget constraints under which City, County, and RTA are operating, it is only prudent to review what a project area truly needs, what any proposed “solution” will actually effect, and reduce the project scope accordingly.  With $74 million earmarked for Broadway, negligible projected benefit from the proposed Broadway changes, and more pressing transportation needs elsewhere, we urge a rigorous and unflinching value analysis of the current proposal and implementation of less-invasive less costly measures to create a Broadway that works for midtown and all of Tucson.

Thank you for your time and attention.

 

SOURCES AND DOCUMENTS:

Broadway project draft Design Concept Report — http://broadwayboulevard.info/pdf/Broadway-DCR-Public-Review-FullDoc-120815.pdf — (~48MB, 118 pages, PDF format)

Parsons-Brinckerhoff, 1987 Broadway Corridor Transportation Study —https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/transportation/broadwaycorridortransstudy.pdf — (~1.67 MB, 39 pages, PDF format) — see specifically Table 3, page 10 (16th page of PDF document) for compared expectations of various roadway configuration options

1989 Kino/Broadway intersection widening — https://www.tucsonaz.gov/apps/maps-and-records/webroot/images/Plan_Lib/1988/I/I-88-035A/i-88-035a_013.tif — (~227KB, TIFF format)

County ordinance 1997-80, Transportation Bond Improvement Plan, plus subsequent amendments — http://webcms.pima.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=7610

09-APR-2015 County ordinance 2015-10, amending the 1997 Transportation Bond Improvement Plan —http://webcms.pima.gov/common/pages/UserFile.aspx?fileId=194763 — (~529KB, 48 pages, PDF format) — and describing the possible benefits of widening Broadway (page “40”, 45th page of PDF document)

19-OCT-2010 County ordinance 2010-62, amending the 1997 Transportation Bond Improvement Plan —http://pima.ecustomdev.intrafinity.com/common/pages/UserFile.aspx?fileId=9400 — (~195KB, five pages, PDF format) — including redline of River Road Ventana Wash project wording

Past roadway projects that seemed like a good idea at the time and, as history has proven, were best left on the drawing board —https://www.arizonaroads.com/urban/index.html — (Tucson’s marvels are ~2/3ds from the top), since we would be so much poorer as a City without Armory Park or the Campbell Avenue mercantile district

 

Thanks to Les Pierce for diligently compiling the documentation and lucidly stating the case.

Attached please find additional files that may be helpful.  The first two are 1987 Parsons-Brinckerhoff documents (the Broadway study and the “concept plan”); the three one-pagers are summaries/ graphic illos of my previous warblings about how the performance data clearly states (and has stated) that this project ain’t gonna solve whatever “problems” Broadway is alleged to have.  Caveat that the LOS page is a bit cluttered, but it should still work.

Cheers,

Les.

bway_conceptplan_parsons_198702

bway_study_parsons_198702

bway_dcr_los_table_201512.eps

bway_dcr_perf_graphs_201512.eps

bway_study_parsons_198702_los_table3

 

CALL TO ACTION!

XXX

Why would we spend $75 million for no appreciable improvement in traffic?

XXX

The City of Tucson is proposing to:

XXX

1)   Widen Historic Broadway even though traffic hasn’t increased for 20 years,

2)  Demolish 30+ buildings and businesses, and

3)  Ignore the community’s plea to design for a vibrant, history and place-preserving, climate-friendly future where local businesses thrive and more people prefer to safely walk, bike, and use public transit.

XXX

This plan is a horrible precedent for our future!

We have to stop spending on what we don’t need so we can invest in what we do need!

XXX

Dear City of Tucson:

XXX

Don’t Waste Taxpayer Money We Don’t Have.

Do Broadway Right Or Not At All!

XXX

People of Tucson:

 Show up at the Public Open House

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Time: 5:30-8:00

Sabbar Shrine Temple

450 S. Tucson Boulevard

This is the time and place to comment on the 30% alignment drawings. This plan sets in motion Real Estate beginning to buy properties. There may be small changes, but by in large this is it!

 

There are large differences from the base alignment that the Citizen Task Force (CTF recommended) and the Mayor and Council adopted in May 2015. They are:

1.     Many more buildings  – historic and businesses will be acquired and demolished. It appears to be at a minimum – 30, not the 10-12 promised earlier.

2.     It takes out the front line of the Rincon Heights Neighborhood Historic District – 2 blocks of houses.

3.     Other businesses will be acquired – south side block from old Table Talk to end of that row because of no access, same for Solot Plaza.

4.     There are double left turn lanes both directions at Euclid – encouraging traffic past Tucson High School and along the periphery of the University

5.     There are 11 bus pullouts – these slow down transit, therefore this design does not enhance transit, but makes it worse than now.

6.     There are double left turn lanes onto Campbell/Kino making that intersection 9 lanes wide – a nightmare for pedestrians trying to get to Starbucks, Carls Junior, or the Safeway or transfer buses.

7.     Extends medians past neighborhood streets preventing left hand turns – examples: Mountain Ave, Fremont, Olson, Smith, Camino Espanol

Therefore we find the 30% drawings are unacceptable because they:

 

  •     *do not adhere, even conceptually, to the alignment passed by Mayor & Council on June 9, 2015 and by Citizens Task Force May 7, 2015.
  •     *destroy historic streetscape
  •     *destroy too many businesses, and thus, the essence of Broadway as a destination
  •     *are pedestrian and bicyclist hostile
  •     *have too many bus pullouts, slowing down the busses
  •     *deny parking and access to existing businesses, thus threaten total acquisition
  •     *impede access to neighborhoods
  •     *are automobile-centered, at the expense of a more livable Tucson
  •     *do not adhere to current best practices in road design

Comments can be given at the Open House

Comments can be sent via email at www.broadwayboulevard.info/comments.php

Maps can be found at www.broadwayboulevard.info/planning

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Public Hearing at City Council Meeting on 30% alignment set for Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

 

For an excellent summary of studies which show that widening historic Broadway is unneessary, click here.

 

UA Earth Transformed Lecture Series

UA Earth Transformed Lecture Series

A Series of Six Lectures
Exploring Our World and Ourselves

Mondays, January 25 – March 7
7:00-8:00 PM
UA Centennial Hall

Climate change and its impacts are no longer merely abstract projections for the future. Instead, they are on-going and growing challenges for both humans and many of the natural systems upon which we depend. Globally, changes in the oceans, ice sheets and atmosphere provide clear fingerprints of the human causes, but also important lessons for society to learn as we seek solutions. Even more than when the UA Science Lecture Series originally turned to climate change a decade ago, the Southwest is dealing with a looming water crisis, unprecedented severe wildfire risk, emerging human health concerns and much more. Scholars and the public alike need to brainstorm and work to ensure a resilient and vibrant future for the Southwest and the planet.

Lectures are held at Centennial Hall on the campus of the University of Arizona. Parking is available on a pay-per-use basis in the Tyndall Avenue Garage.
All lectures begin at 7:00 PM and are free to the public. Doors open at 6:00 PM. We encourage you to arrive at Centennial Hall before 6:30 PM as seating is limited.
For More Information
Visit the Earth Transformed website or call 520-621-4090.

Upcoming Lectures

Monday, January 25, 2016
The Ocean’s Role in Climate: Heat and Carbon Uptake in the Anthropocene
Joellen Russell, 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar and Associate Professor of Geosciences, College of Science, University of Arizona
The oceans play a key role in shaping the Earth’s climate and its variability on both short and long time scales. Central to this role is the ability of the ocean to store both carbon dioxide and heat, not only at the surface but also in its deepest layers. New technologies are revolutionizing how we study and predict changes in our dynamic oceans.
Monday, February 1, 2016
Climate Change and Global Food Security
David Battisti, Tamaki Endowed Chair and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington
Increasing stresses on major crops due to climate change, coupled with the increasing demand for food due to increasing population and development, present significant challenges to achieving global food security. This lecture explores the likely impact of climate change and volatility on food production and availability in the foreseeable future.

Monday, February 8, 2016
Ecosystem Resilience: Navigating Our Tenuous Connection to Nature
Russell Monson, Louise Foucar Marshall Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, College of Science, University of Arizona
Sustainability of the services provided by Earth’s ecosystems is dependent on mechanisms of resilience that include maintenance of biotic diversity and avoidance of climatically-controlled ‘tipping points’. This lecture will explore how recent trends in land use and anthropogenic climate warming have exposed vulnerabilities in the mechanisms of ecosystem resilience, and revealed the potential for surprising shifts in the productivity and persistence of ecosystems.

Monday, February 15, 2016
No lecture this week.

Monday, February 22, 2016
Climate Change and Human Health: Impacts and Pathways to Resilience
Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Arizona
Climate change will inevitably lead to negative impacts on human health. Certainty in predicting negative health outcomes is higher when changes are more directly related to the natural environment. Research is advancing our understanding of these complex systems and how they might be altered under different climatic conditions. Mitigation strategies can be applied now to improve both the current and future health of populations.

Monday, February 29, 2016
Carbon Sequestration: Can We Afford It?
Kimberly Ogden, Professor, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Arizona
Carbon sequestration is defined as removing carbon from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. Although there are commercially available technologies, the main barrier to implementation is economic. This lecture will explore proposed methods for carbon capture from the simple to the complex. The potential of alternative energy to reduce emissions and sequestration using biological processes will be emphasized.

Monday, March 7, 2016
The Changing Earth: It’s Not Just a New Normal
Jonathan Overpeck, Co-Director, Institute of the Environment; Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Professor of Science and Regents’ Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, College of Science, University of Arizona
Climate change is ever-intensifying at scale of the globe, and the Southwest is already dealing with climate change challenges in the form of unusually hot drought, looming water shortage, widespread death of trees, unprecedented severe fire risk, dust storms, hotter heat waves and more. With the economic vitality of the Southwest at stake, climate adaptation and mitigation are key.

Free screening – This Changes Everything

Join Rising Tide Tucson, the Bus Riders Union, and other local groups for a community conversation on climate justice globally and here in Southern AZ. We will be showing Naomi Klein’s new documentary about climate change and grassroots resistance, This Changes Everything.

The film presents seven powerful stores of communities fighting for justice on the front lines of climate change. The film will be followed by a panel discussion on local social and climate justice struggles and how we can get involved!

Join us at the Screening Room
127 E Congress St (right next to Ronstadt Bus Terminal)

Food! Childcare provided on request! Bilingual event.
Win a prize if you walk, bus, or bike to the event.
Contact us at risingtidetucson@gmail.com

From the Pope to Paris: Climate Change Action Updates

Greetings and wishes to you all for a very Happy & Sustainable New Year!

2016 marks Sustainable Tucson’s 10th Anniversary. To mark that milestone, we will be planning this year’s meetings around the theme of “Climate Change and Actions for Our Sustainable Future.”

Join us at the next Sustainable Tucson General Meeting for a review of two major climate-change events from the past year: Pope Francis’s Encyclical and the COP21 meeting in Paris.

Hank Krzysik. local sustainable architect and policy advisor with Pima County Interfaith Council, will provide an analysis of the Pope’s Encyclical, focusing on its implications for action not just by world powers but also by each of us as individuals.

Vince Pawlowski, UA graduate student and board president of Association for the Tree of Life, recently returned from COP21, the UN Climate Conference in Paris. He will tell us what really happened behind the scenes in Paris — and particularly the US commitment will mean for Tucson (and for Arizona). “National promises will become the basis for city agendas. More than ever, cities will the first impacted, and in many cases the first actors.

Discussion following these presentations will focus on climate activism here in Tucson, in light of both the Pope’s Encyclical and the Paris agreement, and what we can (& must) do to reach our goals.

Climate change is a moral issue and a survival issue. The time for action is NOW.

The event will take place in the downstairs conference room of the Joel Valdez Main Library in downtown Tucson. Meet & greet begins at 5:30; the program will begin at 6:00. Doors open at 5:30 pm.

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Lower Level Meeting Room,
(Free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Special event for November

Sustainable Tucson is co-sponsoring a special movie at the Loft Theater – “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein.

The presentation also features a post-film panel discussion with Luis Alberto Perales of Tierra y Libertad, Bob Cook of Sustainable Tucson, and Diana Liverman of UA Institute of the Environment.

This presentation is part of Science on Screen at The Loft, an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation. Movie starts at 7:00pm. Loft Theater, 3233 E. Speedway.

Important movie – This Changes Everything

In place of the November Sustainable Tucson meeting, ST is co-sponsoring the movie This Changes Everything at the Loft.

Featuring a post-film panel discussion with Luis Alberto Perales of Tierra y Libertad, Bob Cook of Sustainable Tucson, and Diana Liverman of UA Institute of the Environment.

This presentation is part of Science on Screen at The Loft, an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation.

Movie starts at 7:00pm. ST and other groups will be presenting information on various sustainability topics. SO GET THERE EARLY.

ENVISION TUCSON SUSTAINABLE FESTIVAL


Join us at this year’s 5th annual Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival, October 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the YWCA, 525 Bonita Avenue. The Festival will showcase the many features of sustainable living in Tucson and our desert Southwest.

We’re very excited about the great variety of activities and exhibits at this year’s event. Over 40 exhibitors, demonstrators, and vendors will be sure to provide something for everyone.

A few of the highlights of this event:
** The Festival is the starting point for PAG Solar Partnership’s neighborhood Solar Tour.
**The Tucson Electric Vehicle Association will display a wide variety of electric vehicles
** The Southern Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce will present this year’s Climate Leadership Challenge recognition awards.
** In recognition of National Co-op Month, the ‘Co-op Cluster’ will showcase local co-ops that use this sustainable business model.
** The Festival is the kick-off event for 10West, a weeklong celebration of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Throughout the day, local and native foods will be featured in food preparation demonstrations. Examples of solar cooking will demonstrate an exciting way to be sustainable. Visionary speakers will be looking at how we can attain the sustainable future we need and want. The Annual Green School Recognition will again honor a local school that promotes ecological education, school gardening, and related activities. This year, that award goes to Davis Bilingual Magnet School. And we’ll dedicate Phase 2 of the Festival-installed vegetable garden at the YWCA.

Admission and parking are free, or come by bike and Living Streets Alliance will provide a Bike Valet service for those who come by bike.

Come to the Festival! Explore what’s going on now in our community, get more involved, learn new skills, and share your own vision of a sustainable community.

For more information: www.envisiontucsonsustainable.org and like us on Facebook at Envision Tucson Sustainable, or contact Paula Schlusberg .

Lessons from Sustainable Urban Design: Films and Discussion

As activist citizens, we have been working towards sustainability in many ways, particularly looking at issues impacting life in our city, including the work of the Broadway Coalition featured at last month’s General Meeting.

This month, we’ll carry on the discussion started by that examination of the Broadway Corridor, by looking at some positive examples of steps that various cities have taken to create more sustainable and livable communities — plus one less-than-positive example. After viewing film segments showing what has been done around the world, we’ll open the discussion to consider whether any of those steps are happening also in Tucson, and whether they could — and should — happen here.

Linda Samuels from the UA’s Sustainable Cities project will join us for this community discussion.

The selection of film segments will feature:
• Bogota, Colombia
• Copenhagen, Denmark
• New York City’s High Line
• Jane Jacobs
• Phoenix, Arizona
• Singapore
• Curitiba, Brazil
• Portland, Oregon & City Repair

Join us for this look at some exciting urban alternatives and continue the conversation of what we can do to create changes that we want to see in our city.

Location: Downtown Main Library, lower level meeting room.
Doors open at 5:30. Program starts promptly at 6:00.

REJECT THE BROADWAY ALIGNMENT! A model letter to the City of Tucson

REJECT THE BROADWAY ALIGNMENT!

A model letter to the City of Tucson

By Broadway Coalition Member Laura Tabili

OOO

Send to:     broadway@tucsonaz.gov,      Jonathan.Rothschild@tucsonaz.gov, mayor1@tucsonaz.gov, ward1@tucsonaz.gov, ward2@tucsonaz.gov, Ward3@tucsonaz.gov, ward4@tucsonaz.gov,ward5@tucsonaz.gov,Regina.Romero@tucsonaz.gov, Karin.Uhlich@tucsonaz.gov, Paul.Cunningham@tucsonaz.gov, Shirley.Scott@tucsonaz.gov, Richard.Fimbres@tucsonaz.gov, Steve.Kozachik@tucsonaz.gov, citymanager@tucsonaz.gov

OOO

REJECT THE BROADWAY ALIGNMENT!

The Broadway Citizens Task Force and Tucson’s Mayor & Council must reject the excessively wide and destructive staff-generated Broadway Alignment posted on February 20, 2015.

 

This alignment is an insult to the Citizens Task Force, who put in many grueling hours in good faith, and consistently directed the Design Team to:

 

–narrow the roadway to minimize impacts to the historic streetscape, parking and neighborhoods;

–preserve the Sunshine Mile’s sense of place;

–ensure safety for all transportation modes;

–encourage business; and

–use innovative design.

 

 

This alignment defies direction from the Mayor & Council to minimize the right-of-way, keeping it under 96 feet, and to flex and narrow it where necessary to preserve the historic built environment and the Sunshine Mile Business District.

 

This alignment disregards and disrespects the hundreds of stakeholders who attended the four public meetings, and overwhelmingly ranked Historic Preservation above all other roadway elements.

 

A COSTLY BOONDOGGLE

 

While the accompanying “report” lacks any budget, this alignment is sure to go tens of millions of dollars over budget, as analyzed in the Design Team’s own Acquisition Costs document of September 2014. (attached) Cost overruns will be borne by City of Tucson taxpayers, to the detriment of other community priorities, such fixing potholes on existing streets.(see Acquisition Costs document attached)

 

BIKE & PEDESTRIAN HOSTILE

 

This alignment will worsen the pedestrian and bicycle environment, which is already extremely poor, by creating needlessly wide lanes down which motorists will speed, while removing homes and businesses from the edges. See http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/10/why-12-foot-traffic-lanes-are-disastrous-for-safety-and-must-be-replaced-now/381117/

 

UNNECESSARY

 

Adding lanes to Broadway is unnecessary, as traffic projected in 1987 has never materialized, and the latest figures show it has been falling for at least 10 years, consistent with national trends. (see Traffic Counts attached)

 

NO MEDIANS

 

This alignment breaches Tucson’s Major Streets & Routes Plan, which states, (p.20): “Landscaped medians shall be provided on routes of more than four through lanes, EXCEPT WHERE THE ROUTE PASSES TRHOUGH OR ADJACENT TO A HISTORIC AREA AND THE WIDTH OF THE ROADWAY WOULD INTRUDE ON THE CHARACTER OF HISTORIC STRUCTURES.” Medians will worsen congestion by forcing motorists to double back, and they induce rear-end collisions because queued cars tail back into travel lanes.

 

BAD FOR CENTRAL TUCSON

 

Stripping the commercial buffer from the arterial, this alignment will undermine owner-occupancy, destabilizing adjacent historic neighborhoods. Destroying four continuous blocks of Contributing Properties, this alignment will severely damage Rincon Heights Historic District.

 

RISKS TRANSIT FUNDING

 

Demolishing National Register and Register-eligible properties can jeopardize Federal matching funds for improved transit, the ostensible “reason” for widening the street.  See section 110k of the National Historic Preservation Act, reproduced below.

 

The Design Team needs to be sent back to the drawing board–or, preferably, replaced by a more competent team–to produce an alignment that will be a genuine improvement for our City. Broadway Coalition has produced an alternative alignment with an 86′ footprint that would be a place to start.

 

As a community, we must decide whether to continue with a 20th-century development model that has brought our planet to the brink of destruction, or to become part of the solution. An up-to-date approach to Broadway would fit into the latter.

 

With all due respect,

 

Laura Tabili

Tucson

 

Section 110 (k) National Historic Preservation Act

 

[16 U.S.C. 470h-2(k) — Anticipatory demolition]

 

(k) Each Federal agency shall ensure that the agency will not grant a loan, loan guarantee, permit, license, or other assistance to an applicant who, with intent to avoid the requirements of section 106 of this Act, has intentionally significantly adversely affected a historic property to which the grant would relate, or having legal power to prevent it, allowed such significant adverse effect to occur, unless the agency, after consultation with the Council, determines that circumstances justify granting such assistance despite the adverse effect created or permitted by the applicant.

Broadway Coalition Vision: Let’s Make the Broadway Project Sustainable Now!

Please ACT NOW: Email your objections to the City’s Broadway Plan. Here is a model letter with email addresses by Broadway Coalition member Laura Tabili to help list the community’s concerns.

“Broadway Corridor Plan Aims to Demolish 37 Tucson Buildings” reads the Arizona Daily Star lead headline from Feb.24th. City of Tucson staff and consultants are proposing an alignment of the 2-mile project that contains unjustified widths and unnecessarily destroys historic buildings and businesses. Also troubling, this staff plan varies from what elected city leaders have voiced is their preference — the most narrow solution for six lanes which meets the safety concerns for all modes of mobility.

Many people in Greater Tucson are asking, “Why are we widening roads that don’t need it, especially when our existing roads are in such a state of disrepair? ” “Why not eliminate potholes, rather than small businesses!”

The sustainability community is asking, “Why is the City promoting a wide, car-oriented design when future trends indicate accommodation to more “people and place”centered mobility and low carbon living?” If Tucson is going to actually respond to the challenges of global warming and climate change, don’t we also have to build a “climate-friendly” transportation system?

Clearly, an irreversible Tucson Tragedy is in the making if we don’t act soon.

Come hear members of the Broadway Coalition describe their vision for the Historic Broadway Redesign Project including improvements for bicyclists, pedestrians, autos, and transit riders and creating vibrant places where people want to go to meet, shop, and enjoy life. Hear the Coalition rally the community to communicate to the City of Tucson that very little widening if any is necessary to make Historic Broadway the next great destination of historic significance and thriving small businesses.

The Coalition has already convinced the City, County, and RTA that 8 lanes is excessive. Now we just need to show that the narrowest width alignment is best for all.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6 pm.

We hope to see you all there.

To read the City Staff report and alignment maps, go to: http://www.tucsonaz.gov/broadway

The deadline for public comment on this alignment is midnight, March 11, 2015. Send comments to:

Email to broadway@tucsonaz.gov by midnight, March 11,

Hand-delivered hard-copy to the address below by 5pm on March 11, 2015

By postal mail to the address below – must be postmarked by March 9, 2015. Address to use:  Tucson Department of Transportation, 201 N. Stone Ave, 6th Floor, Tucson, AZ  85701

Monday, March 9th, 5:30 – 8:00
Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Climate: The Crisis and the Movement

Climate: The Crisis and the Movement

by Naomi Klein & Allen White

Wherein lie the roots of the climate crisis? Allen White, Senior Fellow at the Tellus Institute, talks with writer and activist Naomi Klein, author of the new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, about how our economic system has driven us to the point of crisis and how we can build a movement to confront the root causes of contemporary planetary perils.

A major theme of your new book is that resistance to the economic transformation required to confront climate change is the paramount challenge facing both the planet and the activist community. Why is that?

According to the analysis of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, between now and 2050, we need to leave at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground in order to keep global warming below the widely accepted threshold of two degrees Celsius. If this occurs, owners of these reserves will have to sacrifice trillions of dollars in profits. The fossil fuel companies and their investors, who are counting on these profits, have a huge vested interest in blocking meaningful climate action and, as we have seen so far, the power to do so.

The attraction of profit in the short-term overwhelms longer-term considerations, even for the most “enlightened” of businesspeople. Look at Michael Bloomberg for example. He is often seen as among the most enlightened billionaires on climate change. He introduced climate policies when he was mayor of New York City, he has talked openly about the risks to business associated with climate change, and he backed the Risky Business report that outlined the huge economic impacts of inaction on climate change. But then, as an individual investor, Bloomberg invests substantial money in fossil fuels. Indeed, the investment firm created to manage his wealth specializes in oil and gas.

Is this dynamic unique to the issue of climate change?

We can see this economic roadblock in past social movements as well. In the struggles for women’s liberation, for lesbian and gay liberation, and for racial equality, the biggest wins were on the legal, electoral, and cultural fronts: improved representation in culture and the media, equal rights to vote, and equality under the law. Each of these movements also had a dimension focused on economic transformation, but what you see is a pattern of winning on the legal side, on the electoral side, and on the cultural side, but losing on the economic side because it presents the biggest threat to the status quo.

This pattern goes back to reparations for slavery—the great broken promise of abolition. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said many years later, the civil rights won so far were the rights that came cheaply. It is cheaper to desegregate a lunch counter than it is to bring good schools and good jobs to impoverished neighborhoods. We can see this dynamic in the women’s movement as well. The battles for wages for housework and for counting domestic work as part of the economy are the ones we tend to lose. In the United States, even maternity leave is a struggle. What these all have in common is a diminished bottom line for the economically powerful.

This pattern became clear to me when I traveled to South Africa while writing The Shock Doctrine. One chapter in the book explores the economic losses in the aftermath of the end of apartheid. I saw this as an example of the shock doctrine—the shock of liberation—because it created a major disruption for people’s lives and marked a moment for a small group of South Africans to consolidate wealth. The economic side of the liberation project, which was to nationalize the mines and banks in order to have the resources to invest massively in improving conditions in the townships, was essentially abandoned by the African National Congress once it took power. It is a tragic story because economic inequality is deeper in the post-apartheid era than it was before, despite the enormous gains in democracy and equality under the law.

In discussing these economic roadblocks in your book, you identify neoliberal economics and an extractivist mindset as the root causes of the crisis. How do you define these?

If we are talking about root causes, I would certainly point to extractivism, a violent relationship to the planet based on dominance. It is a mentality that says we can take and keep taking without limit and never give back, one that inevitably obstructs natural cycles of renewal.

The spread of this mindset goes back to the era of European imperialism, with its sacrifice zones of resource extraction that fed the powerful centers of commerce. And it was taken to a completely new, hegemonic level with the rise of coal and the Industrial Revolution. Our drive to mine and drill and now to frack, creating ever more sacrifice zones and disposable communities along the way, certainly goes much deeper and farther back than the neoliberal form of capitalism we have now.

I wouldn’t say that free-market ideology is a root cause of the crisis, but it has played an absolutely crucial role in bringing us to the edge of the climate cliff. With global warming, we have seen an epic and tragic case of bad timing: the moment when the crisis was dropped in our laps was precisely the moment when the neoliberal project had declared victory, that there was no alternative to its program of deregulation, privatization, and slashing the public sector. Politics was now exclusively about unleashing the power of unfettered markets and unrestricted private wealth, and the very notion of collective action to further the public good had fallen completely out of favor. It is the single biggest reason we have seen such little progress on climate, because the obvious solutions—cracking down on corporations, planning our economies—are seen as impossible by the political class.

We frequently hear terms like “sustainable capitalism, “green capitalism,” “breakthrough capitalism,” and “Gaia capitalism.” Are these worthy alternatives to capitalism as we know it or decorations on a fundamentally flawed system?

People put forward these dreams periodically, and some can make sense on paper. But, once again, the entrenched interests and hyper-profitability of the current system block any possibility of the necessary economic transformation. Whenever I encounter these concepts, I always wonder how their proponents plan to get from our current system to these supposedly enlightened systems with their “triple bottom line,” their correct price signals, and their valuing of nature. What is the theory of change? We have been hearing about ways to transform capitalism from the inside for a long time, yet the ecological degradation and economic inequality produced by capitalism have only gotten more brutal.

I can certainly imagine an economic system in which markets are not at war with life on Earth. But whether that should rightly be called capitalism is another question entirely. Many people seem to be deeply invested in preserving the capitalism brand. We are stuck in this dichotomy that if it’s not capitalism, then it must be state socialism. But it could be something else entirely: a system that starts with the fundamental imperative to protect and renew life on earth, whether that is the right of all people to have enough for a good life or the right of natural systems to regenerate and not be depleted out of existence.

At the UN Climate Summit in September, I spent a day in the Private Sector Forum. The UN was very proud of the record number of CEOs present at the meeting. These business leaders waxed on and on about how they were going to be the ones to solve the climate crisis. They blamed governments for not doing anything, fully impervious to the fact that have been part of a successful counter-revolution—some of them spearheading it—to render our governments as weak as they are. The dissonance was astounding.

In my breakout session, our question was “What is the one thing governments can do to fight climate change, and what is the one thing that corporations can do?” I raised the question of whether or not governments could regulate corporations to require environmentally sustainable behavior. And the response was “Well, that’s not possible anymore. We’ve tried regulation, and it doesn’t work.” I also suggested that it was important to reduce the power of corporate money in politics. If the problem is that governments are weak, here is a way to help them get stronger. That, too, was dismissed as entirely out of hand.

You argue that we need bottom-up change. What would such a dispersed, distributed movement look like, and how likely is it to emerge?

The challenge we face is how to organize out of the rubble of neoliberalism. How do we organize without the institutional supports that our predecessors had? Many of us don’t have jobs to unionize. We have contracts, we are hyper mobile, and we are very hard to organize. The paradox of new technology is that we are easier to find than ever before but much harder to organize in a sustained way.

We see flash movements again and again, ones that burn brightly and quickly burn out. I have been a part of some of these, including the so-called anti-globalization movement and, in a more peripheral way, the Occupy movement. And I think we all understand now that sustaining a movement without a fixed address is a big challenge.

The NGO model—hopping from campaign to campaign and focusing on providing “deliverables” for funders—has also been a corrosive factor to building sustained movements. In the United States, on the right, you have funders who take ideas seriously and very consciously funded an ideological counter-revolution. Liberal donors like George Soros and the Rockefellers are often treated as the antithesis of right-wing donors like the Koch brothers. However, these donors and their foundations tend to be allergic to funding big ideas and structural change, let alone anything that consciously identifies as the left, in favor of time-limited, issue-specific campaigns. There are exceptions, but few and far between. So we have campaigns and issue-based groups, punctuated by brief periods of inter-movement convergence.

If the current model of movement-building is broken, what is needed to replace it?

Coalitions needed to build a broad-based social movement are not going to be funded in the way that the left in the United States is currently funded. Historically, there have been important relationships between trade unions and social movements, a relationship we need to revive. That means overcoming the tired dichotomy that pits jobs against the environment and, instead, bringing whole communities together to map what a real justice-based climate transition would look like—and then fighting for it. Such efforts need to go beyond mere lip service for green jobs and really hash out a vision and program for the next economy. Will public transit be free? How many jobs will it create? Where will the money come from?

We also need to revitalize membership-based organizations and create new ones, and we need to democratize our movements so that there is a system of accountability in place. Right now, after the People’s Climate March in New York, there is nothing to prevent a slick green NGO from attempting to harness all that power in the streets, meeting behind closed doors with politicians, and saying, “Well, what this movement wants is fee and dividend.” Is it? Did anyone ask? The march was about more than just climate action—it was about climate justice. One of the most noteworthy aspects of the march was its racial and economic diversity. And a lot of what was driving that was the hope of climate action representing a real investment in some deeply neglected communities and the possibility of jobs and infrastructure. If you give all the money back from a carbon tax, you no longer have any left to invest in these neglected frontline communities.

You are particularly critical of the large environmental organizations. Why?

Not all of them, and I also work with many of them. I am on the board of 350.org. I have addressed the staff of Greenpeace International. Amazing Sierra Club staff members are featured in our upcoming documentary film. I have huge respect for Friends of the Earth and Food and Water Watch. But I do point out that the environmental movement is not a social movement like the civil rights movement and the labor movement, which relied on large numbers to offset their shortcomings in political and economic power. The roots of conservationism in the US are very elite; one of the primary catalysts was the desire among the affluent to protect wilderness spaces for recreational purposes. This is still reflected in the approach some of the richest green groups take to coalition-building: their first coalition targets are usually big business—so-called “partners”—and even the military.

It is important to understand that these elite coalitions can and do come at the expense of other coalitions, ones that are not sought. The climate movement’s most natural allies—the people who have the most to lose from inaction because they are on the front lines of fossil fuel extraction and combustion—are too often never invited, or invited in ways that are perfunctory or seem disingenuous. There is a long and bitter history between the environmental justice movement and some of these big green groups, and these battles are being fought again and again. Real progress is being made in parts of the movement, which we saw during September’s People’s Climate March. But we also have to recognize that parts of the environmental movement do not stand in opposition to the status quo; on the contrary they are deeply invested within it. That means there are real limits to the scale of change they will support, even when science demands it.

What is needed to shift advocacy from specific issues and mainstream strategies to acting and thinking more systemically and structurally?

We will not win any of this unless we engage in a deep battle of worldviews. Progressives have lost so much ground over the past forty years. Particularly within the climate movement, so much effort has gone into positioning climate action as unthreatening and compatible with the free market worldview.

That is why I think it cannot be just a call for climate action—it has to be a call for climate justice. We need to be clear about the values and principles that underpin our demands. We need a polluter-pays framework so that those most responsible bear the cost. At the same time, those who have been most victimized by our current toxic economy have to be first in line to benefit from the next economy. That is not only just, but also strategic—since the people with the most to gain will fight hardest.

We need to work on elevating those parts of ourselves that value quality-of-life rather than economic enrichment. Green groups, unfortunately and perhaps unknowingly, reinforce the neoliberal view that we are first and foremost consumers by focusing their efforts on telling people what to buy and where to shop. We need to emphasize the parts of ourselves that love nature, our families, and our communities, and we need to rediscover our identities as active community members and engaged workers, not just consumers.

Are your critiques and solutions equally applicable to the Global North and Global South?

We have a collective global climate crisis and will need a collective global response. What brought me to this issue was having the concept of climate debt explained to me by Bolivia’s trade negotiator. If we are to take climate change seriously, we would have to tackle North-South inequality, including transfers of technology and wealth to heal the festering wounds of political and economic colonialism.

Anybody who has been to a UN climate conference knows that this is the issue over which the talks repeatedly break down. The Global North has been emitting carbon for over two hundred years more, and the impacts are being felt overwhelmingly in the Global South. Absent acceptance of this reality, stalemate will continue.

Latin America offers a glimpse of a path forward. The discourse around anti-extractivism and the rights of nature emerged from indigenous-inspired movements in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil. Pitched battles are ongoing between traditional development-oriented leftist governments and massive social movements disillusioned with decades of neoliberal policies.

On the other side of the Pacific, China’s relentless drive for economic growth, spurred by trade globalization and low-cost labor, has taken a devastating environmental toll on both cities and the countryside. Here, we are afraid to talk about growth because it is seen as untouchable. Everybody is pro-growth. But in Beijing, people are choking on growth. The government is now reducing growth projections and committing to cap its coal use as the environmental costs of unbridled economic expansion become increasingly evident and severe.

We have to build stronger alliances globally so that we can strengthen those forces that have another vision, a non-extractivist vision, of the good society. We need to see the response to climate change as not just an issue, but as a frame that permeates the struggle for all forms of social justice.

Your new book cites the “Great Transition” scenario as a plausible and desirable alternative future that would address the ills of free market capitalism. What is the role of such a vision in mobilizing change?

I cite the Great Transition research in the context of a discussion of capitalism’s growth imperative and the fact that the only breaks from the mindless growth juggernaut have been economic crises. Avoiding those extremes requires that we very carefully plan the economy, something I have started calling a “deliberate economy.” People need to know that moving away from our obsession with GDP growth does not have to mean deprivation and suffering; on the contrary, the “managed degrowth” model means putting our well-being, health, and leisure time back at the center of our economic lives and aspirations. The idea of a Great Transition, along with much other inspiring work coming out of the New Economy movement, expresses that optimism beautifully.

More broadly, there is a desperate need for the different coalitions of the left to get far more engaged with climate change, because this crisis really forces us to decide what kind of societies we want and puts us on a firm, science-based deadline. And that makes it a unique and powerful opportunity.

The world’s social movements need to work together under a common banner to fight climate change. And we certainly need smart frameworks for thinking and talking about the diverse set of solutions that we know can tackle the crisis—from invoking the polluter-pays principle to divert fossil fuel profits into the green transition, to building decentralized, community-owned solar and wind systems, to reining in financial speculation—and making sense of the world that they are already helping us build. Again, I don’t think it is going to be capitalism. But this also isn’t about devising and imposing some kind of one-size-fits-all economic system on the globe, so the emphasis on the creative power of the “transition” itself is especially important.

 

Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-12-19/climate-the-crisis-and-the-movement

 

Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities. Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice. Original article: http://greattransition.org/publication/climate-the-crisis-and-the-movement . Published by The Great Transition on 12-19-14.


What climate change asks of us

 

What climate change asks of us: moral obligation, mobilization and crisis communication

by Margaret Klein

“Humans contain a great capacity to help each other, to dutifully respond to the needs of others, and to improve the world around us… When it is clear there is an emergency, and we have a vital role in responding to it, we respond vigorously. The time for all of us to act, together, is now”  theclimatepsychologist.com

Climate change is a crisis, and crises alter morality. Climate change is on track to cause the extinction of half the species on earth and, through a combination of droughts, famines, displaced people, and failed states and pandemics, the collapse of civilization within this century. If this horrific destructive force is to be abated, it will be due to the efforts of people who are currently alive. The future of humanity falls to us. This is an unprecedented moral responsibility, and we are by and large failing to meet it.

Indeed, most of us act as though we are not morally obligated to fight climate change, and those who do recognize their obligation are largely confused about how to meet it.

Crises alter morality; they alter what is demanded of us if we want to be considered good, honorable people. For example—having a picnic in the park is morally neutral. But if, during your picnic, you witness a group of children drowning and you continue eating and chatting, passively ignoring the crisis, you have become monstrous. A stark, historical example of crisis morality is the Holocaust—history judges those who remained passive during that fateful time. Simply being a private citizen (a “Good German”) is not considered honorable or morally acceptable in retrospect. Passivity, in a time of crisis, is complicity. It is a moral failure. Crises demand that we actively engage; that we rise to the challenge; that we do our best.

What is the nature of our moral obligation to fight climate change?

Our first moral obligation is to assess how we can most effectively help. While climate change is more frequently being recognized as a moral issue—the question, “How can a person most effectively engage in fighting climate change?” is rarely seriously considered or discussed.  In times of crises, we can easily become overwhelmed with fear and act impetuously to discharge those feelings to “do something.” We may default to popular or well-known activism tactics, such as writing letters to our congress people or protesting fossil-fuel infrastructure projects without rigorously assessing if this is the best use of our time and talents.

“Our civilization, planet, and each of us individually are in an acute crisis, but we are so mired in individual and collective denial and distortion that we fail to see it clearly.”

The question of “how can I best help” is particularly difficult for people to contemplate because climate change requires collective emergency action, and we live in a very individualistic culture.  It can be difficult for an individual to imagine themselves as helping to create a social and political movement; helping the group make a shift in perspective and action. Instead of viewing themselves as possibly influencing the group, many people focus entirely on themselves, attempting to reduce their personal carbon footprint. This offers a sense of control and moral achievement, but it is illusory; it does not contribute (at least not with maximal efficacy) to creating the collective response necessary.

We need to mobilize, together.  Climate change is a crisis, and it requires a crisis response. A wide variety of scientists, scholars, and activists agree: the only response that can save civilization is an all-out, whole-society mobilization.[i] World War II provides an example of how the United States accomplished this in the past. We converted our industry from consumer-based to mission-based in a matter of months; oriented national and university research toward the mission, and mobilized the American citizenry toward the war effort in a wide variety of ways. Major demographic shifts were made to facilitate the mission, which was regarded as America’s sine qua non; for example, 10% of Americans moved to work in a “war job,” women worked in factories for the first time, and racial integration took steps forward. Likewise, we must give the climate effort everything we have, for if we lose, we may lose everything.

Where we are.  While the need for a whole society and economy mobilization to fight climate change is broadly understood by experts, we are not close to achieving it as a society. Climate change ranks at the bottom of issues that citizens are concerned about.[ii]  The climate crisis is rarely discussed in social or professional situations. This climate silence is mirrored in the media and political realm: for example, climate change wasn’t even mentioned in the 2012 presidential debates. When climate change is discussed, it is either discussed as a “controversy” or a “problem” rather than the existential emergency that it actually is. Our civilization, planet, and each of us individually are in an acute crisis, but we are so mired in individual and collective denial and distortion that we fail to see it clearly. The house is on fire, but we are still asleep, and our opportunity for being able to save ourselves is quickly going up in smoke.

Understanding the gap: The role of pluralistic ignorance. How can this be? How are we missing the crisis that will determine the future of our civilization and species? Dr. Robert Calidini, social psychologist and author of Influence, describes the phenomena of “pluralistic ignorance,” which offers tremendous insight into this question—and into how we can beat the trance of denial and passivity.

In the following passage, Dr. Calidini is not discussing climate change, but rather, the phenomena of emergencies (heart attacks, physical assaults, etc.) that are sometimes witnessed—and ignored— by dozens of people, especially in urban settings. These tragic instances are often ascribed to “apathy”—the hardening of city dwellers’ hearts toward each other. But scientific research shows something very different. Research shows that if one person witnesses an emergency, they will help in nearly 100% of instances. It is only in crowds—and in situations of uncertainty—that we have the capacity, even the tendency, to ignore an emergency.

Very often an emergency is not obviously an emergency.  Is the man lying in the alley a heart-attack victim or a drunk sleeping one off? Are the sharp sounds from the street gunshots or truck backfires? Is the commotion next door an assault requiring the police or an especially loud marital spat where intervention would be inappropriate and unwelcome? What is going on?

In times of such uncertainty, the natural tendency is to look around at the actions of others for clues. We can learn, from the way the other witnesses are reacting, whether the event is or is not an emergency. What is easy to forget, though, is that everybody else observing the event is likely to be looking for social evidence, too.

And because we all prefer to appear poised and unflustered among others, we are likely to search for that evidence placidly, with brief, camouflaged glances at those around us. Therefore everyone is likely to see everyone else looking unruffled and failing to act. As a result, and by the principle of social proof, the event will be roundly interpreted as a nonemergency.

This, according to [social psychology researchers] Latané and Darley, is the state of pluralistic ignorance “in which each person decides that since nobody is concerned, nothing is wrong. Meanwhile, the danger may be mounting to the point where a single individual, uninfluenced by the seeming calm of others, would react.”

These paragraphs vividly illustrate how denial of the climate crisis is cocreated through the effect of pluralistic ignorance. We look around us and see people living their lives as normal. Our friends, coworkers, and family members are all going about their days as they always have. They are planning for the future. They are calm. They are not discussing climate change. So surely there is no emergency. Surely civilization is not in danger. Calm down, we tell ourselves, I must be the only one who is afraid.

This situation creates an intense amount of social pressure to act calm and not appear hysterical or “crazy.” We all want to fit in, to be well liked and to be considered “normal.” As of today, that means remaining silent on the effects of climate change, or responding with minimization, cynicism, or humor. It is taboo to discuss it as the crisis it is, a crisis that threatens all of us, and that we each have a moral obligation to respond to.

Of course, this pluralistic ignorance of the climate emergency is reinforced and bolstered through misinformation campaigns funded by fossil-fuel companies and the hostility of the few. “Better not bring up the climate crisis,” we tell ourselves, “It’s a controversial topic. Someone might really lose their temper.” However, the responsibility for pluralistic ignorance is widely shared. The vast majority of us—including those of us who believe in climate science and are terrified by climate change—are still, unwittingly, contributing to pluralistic ignorance.

How can we meet our moral obligation, and effectively fight climate change?

Certainty dispels pluralistic ignorance.  Fortunately, the research on pluralistic ignorance and crisis response provides excellent guidance for how to overcome this trance of collective denial. The research shows that humans are actually strongly motivated to act in a crisis—as long as they are sure that there is a crisis and that they have a role in solving it. As Dr. Calidini describes,

Groups of bystanders fail to help because the bystanders are unsure rather thanunkind. They don’t help because they are unsure of whether an emergency actually exists and whether they are responsible for taking action. When they are sure of their responsibilities for intervening in a clear emergency, people are exceedingly responsive!

Dr. Calidini provides a vivid example of how to apply this knowledge to a personal emergency—if you begin experiencing the symptoms of a stroke in a public place. As you start to feel ill, you slump against a tree, but no one approaches you to help. If people are worried about you, they look around, see everyone else acting calm, and decide that there is no emergency and no need to intervene. People are taking cues from each other to deny and ignore your crisis. How can you call forth the emergency intervention you need?

Stare, speak, and point directly at one person and no one else: “You, sir, in the blue jacket, I need help. Call an ambulance.” With that one utterance you should dispel all the uncertainties that might prevent or delay help. With that one statement you will have put the man in the blue jacket in the role of “rescuer.” He should now understand that emergency aid is needed; he should understand that he, not someone else, is responsible for providing the aid; and, finally, he should understand exactly how to provide it. All the scientific evidence indicates that the result should be quick, effective assistance.

Humans contain a great capacity to help each other, to dutifully respond to the needs of others, and to improve the world around us. We also have a need to feel good about ourselves, and that includes fulfilling our moral obligations. When it is clear there is an emergency, and we have a vital role in responding to it, we respond vigorously.

Climate change is a crisis, and it is your responsibility. Effectively intervening in pluralistic ignorance should be considered the primary goal of the climate movement. Climate change is a crisis that demands a massive collective response. This truth will become crystal clear if we overcome the forces of denial and pluralistic ignorance.

To call forth an emergency response from people, we have to put them in the role of rescuer.  We must make clear that (1) an emergency is unfolding and (2) YOU have a critical role in responding to it.

Breaking from standard climate communications.

The environmental movement has not yet made either of these points clear. Indeed, the dominant school of thought in climate communications that says we must underplay the severity of the climate crisis to avoid “turning people off,” and we must emphasize individual reduction of emissions in order to provide people a sense of efficacy.[iii]

“Our moral obligation to fight climate change is tobuild a collective solution, notto purify ourselves as individual consumers.”

Avoiding or finessing the frightening truths of climate change is not only ethically dubious, it is also bound for failure. If we want people to respond appropriately to the climate crisis, we have to level with them, and if we want to claim the moral high ground, we cannot distort the truth just because it’s easier.

A major reason that climate communications have been so milquetoast is that they have lacked a large-scale social movement and political strategy that individuals can be a meaningful part of. Instead, individuals have been addressed as “consumers” who should strive to minimize their individual carbon footprint or environmental impact. This approach is nonsocial and nonpolitical and casts individuals as perpetrators who should attempt to reduce the amount of harm they are causing, rather than rescuers who can make a meaningful contribution to a collective solution.

This point deserves emphasis, as it is so often misunderstood in our intensely individualistic culture. Our moral obligation to fight climate change is to build a collective solutionnot to purify ourselves as individual consumers. This common response to the climate crisis can even be counterproductive in several ways: (1) it keeps the burden of responding to climate change on the individual, implicitly rejecting the idea of a collective response; (2) it perpetuates the message that there is no crisis by demanding only slight modifications to “business as usual”; and  (3) it is often perceived as “holier than thou,” which can create the perception of barriers to entry to the movement. For example, a person might be deeply concerned about the climate crisis but feel they lack “standing” to voice their feelings because they eat meat or fly to Europe.

We must create an atmosphere in which active engagement in the climate crisis is considered a fundamental part of living a moral life. To accomplish this, we have to give people opportunities to be a meaningful part of the solution; we have to give them the opportunity to be rescuers.

The Pledge to Mobilize: A tool that creates rescuers.

I have worked for the past 18 months with The Climate Mobilizationa growing network of teammates, allies, and consultants to develop a tool intended to help individuals intervene in collective denial and pluralistic ignorance and call forth the all-out emergency response needed to protect civilization and the natural world.

The Pledge to Mobilize is a one-page document that any person can sign. The Pledge is several things at once— it is a public acknowledgment that the climate crisis threatens civilization, an endorsement of a World War II–scale mobilization that brings the United States to carbon neutrality by 2025 (by far the most ambitious emissions reduction goal proposed), and a set of personal commitments to help enact this mobilization. When someone signs, they pledge to (1) vote for candidates who have publicly endorsed the Climate Mobilization platform over those who have not; (2) only donate time and money to candidates who have endorsed the mobilization platform, and (3) mobilize their “skills, resources, and networks to spread the truth of climate change, and the hope of this movement, to others.”

The Pledge provides a bridge between individual and collective action—the actions that Pledgers agree to are all social and political in nature: things that one person can do to influence the group. Most important is personal commitment: #3— to spread the truth of climate change, and the Pledge itself. This is a strategy to reverse pluralistic ignorance and social pressure, which is supported by psychological research.[iv]  People who take the Pledge start conversations with their friends and family about the climate crisis that include realistic solutions. This means that talking about climate change doesn’t mean just bearing bad news—but also showing the way forward—helping to channel the panic and despair that climate truth can evoke.

Since we started spreading the Pledge to Mobilize two-and-a-half months ago, we have seen many positive indicators of the Pledge’s ability to fight pluralistic ignorance and put individuals in the role of rescuers. Many (though not all) people who take the Pledge to Mobilize have continued to deepen their involvement from there, speaking more about climate change, reaching out to friends, family, and even strangers to discuss the topic. Mobilizers have educated themselves more deeply about climate change, fundraised for The Climate Mobilization, and taken on a variety of organizing and administrative tasks. Some have even gone as far as to rearrange or reduce their work schedules to have more time available to contribute. These are individuals who have left the fog of pluralistic ignorance, accepted the certainty that there is a crisis and that they have a moral obligation to act as a rescuer. Now they are attempting to spread that certainty to others. [v]

Conclusion: Don’t wait for Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, the United States experienced a sudden, collective exit from pluralistic ignorance. Before Pearl Harbor, the country was mired in the denial of isolationism. “The war doesn’t concern us,” we told ourselves. “Lets stay out of it.” With one devastating surprise attack, that pluralistic ignorance transformed into a culture of mobilization, in which every citizen had a role to play in supporting the war effort—every American became a rescuer—a critical part of a shared mission.

Many scientists and scholars who recognize the need for a World War II–scale climate mobilization believe that some catastrophic event—a super-storm, a drought, or an economic collapse, will similarly jolt us out of our collective climate denial.  There is reason to doubt this, however, given how much more complicated climate change is than a surprise attack. Further, we have a moral obligation to achieve this collective awakening as soon as possible.

Talking about the climate crisis candidly and our moral obligation to stand against it— whether using the Pledge to Mobilize, or not—helps prepare people to see the crisis. Conversations that seem unsuccessful may alter how the person processes climate-related disasters in the future, or make them more likely to seek out or absorb information about the crisis.

Give it a try. Talk with five people about the climate crisis this week. Talk about how afraid you are, and how you feel it is a moral obligation to spread the fact that we are in a crisis. Consider taking the Pledge to Mobilize—it will provide you with a tool to help you intervene in pluralistic ignorance, as well as a community of individuals who are committed to this approach.  It takes courage to face climate change honestly, and discussing it with other people puts you at risk of rejection and hostility. But morality demands we do what is right, not what is easy. We must rise to the challenge of our time, together.

 

[i] Selected advocates of a WWII scale climate mobilization: Lester Brown, 2004David Spratt and Phillip Sutton, 2008; James Hansen, 2008Mark Deluchi and Mark Jacobsen, 2008Paul Gilding, 2011Joeseph Romm, 2012Michael Hoexter, 2013; Mark Bittman, 2014.

[ii] Rifkin, 2014. “Climate Change Not a Top Worry in US.” Gallup Politics.

[iii] For example, “Connecting on Climate” created by Columbia University and EcoAmerica which is widely considered an authoritative applied synthesis of the psychological work on climate. This 30-page document does not contain the words “crisis,” “emergency” or “collapse.” It encourages communicators to emphasize the benefits of solutions, rather than the severity of the problem. It also emphasizes behavior changes that individuals can make in their own homes and lives, rather than explicitly political solutions.

[iv] As psychologists Roser-Renouf, Maibach, Leiserowitz & Zhao (2014) put it “Building opinion leadership on the issue – e.g., by encouraging those who are concerned about the issue to discuss it with their friends and family, and eventually with other more socially distal people – may be one of the most effective methods of building public engagement and political activism.”

[v] For a fuller description of The Climate Mobilization’s strategy, read our strategy document,Rising to the Challenge of Our Time, Together.

Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-12-21/what-climate-change-asks-of-us-moral-obligation-mobilization-and-crisis-communication

Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities. Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Original article: http://theclimatepsychologist.com/?p=784  Published by The Climate Psychologist 12-21-14.


The Oil Price Crash of 2014

 

The Oil Price Crash of 2014 

by Richard Heinberg

Oil prices have fallen by half since late June. This is a significant development for the oil industry and for the global economy, though no one knows exactly how either the industry or the economy will respond in the long run. Since it’s almost the end of the year, perhaps this is a good time to stop and ask: (1) Why is this happening? (2) Who wins and who loses over the short term?, and (3) What will be the impacts on oil production in 2015?

Read more The Oil Price Crash of 2014

Support the Broadway Coalition Petition Drive

NOTE: This petition is an initiative of the Broadway Coalition which is solely responsible for processing and managing the results. Sustainable Tucson hosts this online petition drive as a community service.

[gravityform id=8 name=Please sign petition here title=true description=true]

We want a thriving, vibrant Broadway Boulevard that is a destination for all of Tucson.

Local, regional and out-of-town residents flock to this unique cultural asset for delicious Best-of-Tucson cuisine and quirky boutiques found only there, as well as for services that locals rely on every day. Currently, this street boasts 287 businesses generating over $4 million in sales and real estate tax revenues, nearly all of them in historic or architecturally significant buildings.  And in addition to the sense of place, the mid-century modern architecture and design generates $1.5 million tourist dollars annually.  Excessive widening of the road puts all of these assets in danger. International transportation expert Jarrett Walker recently said in Tucson that widening Broadway would be “economically ruinous.”

Therefore, we call on you, our elected officials, to select an alternative for Broadway that:

– protects the economic vitality of the hundreds of existing small businesses along Broadway and provides safe, convenient access to them;

– promotes accessible, efficient use of public transit and other alternative modes of transportation, giving particular attention to pedestrian and bicycle activity and safety;

– promotes a safe and pleasant envirionment for all users–pedestrians, cyclists, transit and wheelchair users, as well as cars;

– continues to offer residents in the area a range of services and amenities while preserving and enhancing the connectedness and quality of life of surrounding neighborhoods and residents;

– is environmentally sustainable;

– incorporates innovative approaches to transportation that recognize changing public attitudes and behaviors; and

– is a fiscally sound, affordable approach that recognizes that people are driving less (travel on this stretch of Broadway is down over 15% from 2010) and doesn’t waste $74 million on excess roadway capacity.

Cities of the US and abroad are realizing the benefits of renovating their urban cores on a more human scale and are moving away from car-centric designs. Cities that are human scaled promote community. The Sunshine Mile could become this human-scaled neighborly place. The foundation is already there.

I therefore petition the Tucson Mayor and Council members to select a design alternative that locates all improvements substantially within a 96-foot crosswidth (which City staff has stated can be done), or less where possible, so that Central Broadway can regain its role as a great, attractive, historic Tucson destination with an enhanced sense of place while safely supporting all modes of mobility so that Central Broadway can regain its role as a great, attractive, historic Tucson destination with an enhanced sense of place safely supporting all modes of mobility.

Tucson Talks Transit – with Jarrett Walker – July 11

at Tucson Electric Power Company, 88 East Broadway, Downtown Tucson AZ (two blocks south of Ronstadt Transit Center)

Tucson Talks Transit – with Jarrett Walker

Friday, July 11, 2014
5:00 p.m. Sign-in and Reception
6:00 p.m. FREE Public Presentation

Jarrett Walker, the preeminent transit planner and transit thinker, will visit Tucson for a town hall the evening of Friday, July 11.

Jarrett Walker is renowned as a public transportation planner and consultant, leader of major transit planning projects around the world, and facilitator of community dialogue. He is author of the book Human Transit: How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives and the blog HumanTransit.org

For more info contact Suzanne, 520-289-4088, chelcdavid(at)gmail.com

also download the print flyer – Jarrett Walker 2014-07-11 Tucson Flyer (english & espanol)

 


 

Tucson Habla Sobre El Transporte – con Jarrett Walker

Viernes 11 de Julio del 2014
5:00 p.m. Registración y Recepción
6:00 p.m. Presentación Pública GRATUITA

Está invitado al diálogo con Jarrett Walker, planeador, pensador y escritor del tránsito, el viernes 11 de Julio.

Jarrett Walker se reconoce mundialmente como consultante y diseñador de transporte público, líder de grandes proyectos de planeación, y facilitador de diálogo comunitario. Es autor del libro Human Transit: How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives y el blog HumanTransit.org

Tucson Electric Power Company
88 East Broadway en el Centro de la ciudad de Tucson
(a dos cuadras al sur del Centro de Tránsito Ronstadt)

Si tiene preguntas contacte a Suzanne, 520-289-4088, chelcdavid(at)gmail.com

also download the print flyer – Jarrett Walker 2014-07-11 Tucson Flyer (english & espanol)

What climate activists should learn from the Monterey Shale downgrade

What climate activists should learn from the Monterey Shale downgrade

by Kurt Cobb

Published by Resource Insights on 2014-06-01

Original article: http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-climate-activists-should-learn.html

 

There is an important hidden lesson for climate activists in the vast downgrade of recoverable oil resources now thought to be available from California’s Monterey Shale. Almost all climate activists have rejected any talk that the world’s oil, natural gas and even coal supplies are nearing plateaus and possibly peaks in their production. That’s because they fear that such talk will make the public and policymakers believe that climate change will be less of a problem as a result or no problem at all.

 

Any yet, for obvious reasons climate activists rejoiced when the Monterey downgrade was announced. But this only served to highlight the fact that climate activists have lost control of the public narrative on energy and can only steal it back by including constraints on fossil fuel supply as part of their story.

 

In fact, climate activists have been content to accept fossil fuel industry claims–the two parties agree on little else–that we have vast resources of economically recoverable fossil fuels, the rate of production of which will continue to grow for decades–unless, of course, climate activists stop this trend. This stance makes for an heroic narrative, but misses what is actually happening in the minds of the public and policymakers, minds which must be won over in order to address climate change effectively.

 

Let me explain.

 

The hype surrounding the now vastly downgraded treasure trove of oil once thought to be recoverable from California’s Monterey Shale acted as a siren song on a state long devoted to energy innovation and a gradual transition away from fossil fuels. After all, California is the only state that has a climate change policy that will force businesses, localities and households to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions drastically and thus reduce their fossil fuel use drastically.

 

Sirens, mythological beings who are part woman and part bird, are said to send sailors to their demise through irresistible singing that lures them to crash on rocks they would normally attempt to avoid. It turns out that the thought of large amounts of readily available hydrocarbons under California has had a similar effect on the state’s sustainability-minded population.

 

Of course, large deposits of readily available oil would have spelled large amounts of money, both as income to individual Californians and as tax revenues to various California governments. And, such oil deposits would have also spelled large contributions to California politicians in whose hands the fate of drilling and production regulations lie.

 

But the siren song of oil in California ended abruptly when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that, based on new information, the Monterey Shale actually contained 96 percent less recoverable oil than previously thought. Climate and anti-fracking activists were overjoyed. This vast resource in all likelihood will not be heavily exploited, and most of the oil in it left unburned. (Yes, the oil is still down there. The EIA just doesn’t think anyone will be able to recover it profitably using known technology.)

 

Since the 2008 spike in oil prices, the oil industry had been looking for a way to convince the public and policymakers not to abandon fossil fuels in favor of renewable, sustainable alternatives. When the so-called “revolution” in hydraulic fracking provided a temporary bump in U.S. oil and natural gas production, the industry found its message. With rising production America would now become a new oil and gas superpower, ending its fossil fuel imports and even exporting some of its largesse to the rest of the world. (This claim is proving to be a wild exaggeration, but that doesn’t keep it from being effective.)

 

The other purpose of this narrative–which has been heavily touted in the media–is to change the conversation from climate change to rising fossil fuel supplies and the benefits that such supplies will bestow on America and ultimately the world.

 

So far, the oil industry’s strategy has worked famously. The media and the public are abuzz with the message of renewed American strength and prosperity resulting from fracked oil and natural gas. Yes, there are stories about the environmental and health hazards of this process. But, the vast majority of Americans remain far away from and therefore unaffected by these hazards.

 

As long as the news is about the success of fracking and even about its hazards, the public will fixate on the question of how to obtain the country’s supposed newfound abundance safely rather than on the unfolding horror of climate change.

 

But, there are, in fact, two justifiable reasons for us to move away from burning fossil fuels: climate change and supply constraints. We need to transition to other energy sources because fossil fuels are accelerating climate change AND because we simply do not know when these fuels will decline in their production rates. Current evidence suggests that the risks of such a decline are mounting.

 

Unless climate activists embrace this dual message, they will be ceding the argument to the fossil fuel industry. With its huge financial resources the industry will continue largely unopposed to spout the abundance narrative which experience now tells us trumps discussion of climate change.

 

Read for yourself any glowing account of America’s new oil and gas abundance and you will ALMOST NEVER see any mention of climate change.

 

But, the Monterey Shale downgrade is not an isolated incident. It’s part of a pattern of downgrades that are making expectations about the trajectory of oil and natural gas production in the United States more realistic.

 

Moreover, world prices for oil when measured using the average daily price have hovered at or near record levels for the past three years despite the shale boom in America. Worldwide oil supplies have barely grown since 2005, even as China, India and the rest of Asia have increased their demand. (That demand has been in large part accommodated by declines in U.S. and European oil use resulting from sluggish economies and changes in driving habits due to declining incomes.)

 

U.S. natural gas production has been stagnant since the beginning of 2012 even as prices have more than doubled. The shale gas miracle is gradually unravelling and we may even be headed for a natural gas supply crisis in the United States.

 

The evidence is compelling that the risks to fossil fuel supplies are rising and that the world’s and the nation’s reliance on them is a dangerous dependency. That combined with the national security implications suggests that the United States (which remains a huge importer of oil) and all other energy importing nations are far better off moving toward energy supplies that are entirely homegrown and can be relied upon indefinitely.

 

This is a forceful argument when combined with concerns about climate change. And it is a necessary addition to the arsenal of climate change activists if they expect to refocus America and the world on the imperative of addressing climate change effectively.

The great imaginary California oil boom: Over before it started

The great imaginary California oil boom: Over before it started

by Kurt Cobb, originally published by Resource Insights  | May 25, 2014

 

It turns out that the oil industry has been pulling our collective leg.

 

The pending 96 percent reduction in estimated deep shale oil resources in California revealed last week in the Los Angeles Times calls into question the oil industry’s premise of a decades-long revival in U.S. oil production and the already implausible predictions of American energy independence. The reduction also appears to bolster the view of long-time skeptics that the U.S. shale oil boom–now centered in North Dakota and Texas–will likely be short-lived, petering out by the end of this decade. (I’ve been expressing my skepticism in writing about resource claims made for both shale gas and oil since 2008.)

 

California has been abuzz for the past couple of years about the prospect of vast new oil wealth supposedly ready for the taking in the Monterey Shale thousands of feet below the state. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) had previously estimated that 15.4 billion barrels were technically recoverable, basing the number on a report from a contractor who relied heavily on oil industry presentations rather than independent data.

 

The California economy was supposed to benefit from 2.8 million new jobs by 2020. The state was also supposed to gain $220 billion in additional income and $24 billion in additional tax revenues in that year alone, according to a study from the University of Southern California that relied heavily on industry funding.

 

But that was before the revelation by the Times that the EIA will reduce its estimate of technically recoverable oil in California’s Monterey Shale by 96 percent–almost a complete wipeout–after taking a close look at actual data for wells drilled there already. The agency now believes that only about 600 million barrels are recoverable using existing technology. The 600 million barrels still sound like a lot, but those barrels would last the United States all of 40 days at the current rate of consumption.

 

Americans had been counting on the seemingly oil-rich Monterey Shale for more than 60 percent of a supposed newfound bounty of domestic oil locked up in deep shale deposits. But it turns out that the Monterey is rich with oil in the same way that seawater is rich in dissolved gold. In both cases the resource is there, but no one can figure out how get it out at a profit. The EIA previously estimated that resources of so-called tight oil, the proper name for oil from deep shale deposits, could reach 23.9 billion barrels for the United States as a whole. Overnight that number shrank to 9.1 billion.

 

The firm hired to do the original estimates, INTEK Inc., was saying as recently as December that it planned to raise its estimate for the Monterey to 17 billion barrels, presumably based on representations made to it by the industry.

 

The firm assumed, apparently without any justification, that the Monterey Shale would be just as productive as other shale deposits such as the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas.

 

But the geology of the Monterey is riddled with folds and far more complex than other U.S. shale deposits, something that wouldn’t have been too hard to find out from existing geological studies and well logs.

 

We cannot be sure whether those who wrote the wildly overoptimistic INTEK report were eager to encourage drilling and investment in the Monterey, something the oil industry certainly favored. But the colossal miss suggests the possibility that INTEK and its analysts have grown too close to the industry and are serving it rather than the EIA which commissioned the report.

 

It’s no surprise that those who work in the oil industry are perennially optimistic. This high-risk business isn’t for the timid. And that optimism is necessary if the industry is going to raise the capital it needs from investors. But it should be obvious that relying on the oil industry for objective information that will form the basis for public policy is a mistake. Independent sources and objective data are important cross-checks on the industry’s understandable but often misleading enthusiasm.

 

The other explanation for the Monterey miss is that the analysts at INTEK are simply colossally inept. Note that INTEK was also responsible for the overall U.S. assessment of 23.9 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil lodged in deep shale formations. The California miss alone reduced estimated U.S. resources to 9.1 billion barrels, a cut which by itself calls into question the entire premise of renewed American oil abundance. But, the gargantuan misreading of the Monterey Shale’s resources also suggests that the firm’s estimates for other areas of the country need review as well.

 

A February 2013 comprehensive report on U.S. tight oil and natural gas from deep shales released by the Post Carbon Institute presaged the Monterey disappointment by pointing out how little oil had been extracted per well using advanced techniques in the Monterey Shale. A follow-on report issued in December focused exclusively on the Monterey and concluded that the INTEK/EIA estimate was vastly overblown. Not surprisingly, neither of these independent reports received any oil industry funding.

 

It is well to remember that the above numbers are all just estimates, and that they are for so-called technically recoverable resources. The estimates tell us little about how much oil from the Monterey or elsewhere might actually be economically recoverable, that is, profitably extracted. For that reason, the oil that is ultimately extracted from the Monterey and other deep shale deposits will likely be less than any estimate of technically recoverable resources. That means that even the 600 million barrel estimate for the Monterey may turn out to be too optimistic.

 

The industry counters that improved technology could change what seems unobtainable now into accessible oil. But, it cites no specific developments that are not already in use and therefore reflected in current estimates of what we can hope to extract. And the idea that we should base our public policy on innovations that no one has thought of yet seems more than a little unwise.

 

Moreover, while technology can improve, the laws of physics don’t. The industry is already moving from the so-called “sweet spots” in shale deposits to those that are more difficult to exploit. That process will continue until the laws of physics and economics team up to make drilling unprofitable, and that will be the end of the shale boom in the rest of the country.

 

________________________________________________________

 

P.S. In a previous piece I asked, “Will anyone who is currently predicting U.S. energy independence be punished if the story turns out to be wrong?” My answer was probably not. Now, we will find out if that turns out to be the case. My guess is that the oil industry will redouble its efforts to convince the public and policymakers to continue to believe something which cannot be supported by the evidence.

 

P.P.S. Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle the following in response to the Monterey Shale revision: “People forget that the boom taking place in Texas and particularly North Dakota did not happen overnight. There were decades of operators trying to understand the technology and the geology.” He seems unable to recognize that in the decades that it may take to figure out how to unlock the Monterey Shale, California and the world will be working hard to create an advanced energy infrastructure that will make the Monterey irrelevant. Technology isn’t standing still in renewable energy either.

Request to RTA Board — April 25, 2013

Request to RTA Board

April 25, 2013

Honorable RTA Board:     Thank you for my reappointment to the CART as an original member. I continue to be honored to serve the RTA and larger regional community in this role.

Having closely followed the Broadway Blvd Project at public meetings and interviews, I want the following comments to be considered by the RTA. These comments reflect my sense of responsibility regarding the role of the CART to oversee the fiduciary mission of the RTA and reflect significant changes in the larger community.

The 2006 RTA Plan is essentially a plan to increase the regional capacity for safe modes of mobility. While economic and political constraints did limit acceptable RTA projects to correcting deficiencies in the existing system, PAG and regional jurisdictions in 2006 were anticipating high future growth,  more than 50% increase in population near the end of the Plan period. One RTA campaign piece warned voters that a 550% increase in vehicular congestion would result if the Plan did not pass.

Needless to say, these and many of the original assumptions did not play out and most probably will never play out, in particular driving behavior due to high vehicle fuel costs indefinitely. Indeed, we have observed significant changes in travel mode preferences as well as population growth rates. Walking, biking, car sharing, and bus ridership have all increased much more than proportionally and population movement to urban centers has been significant.

Interpretation of the voter will as expressed in the 2006 election results therefore should come down to implementation of “equivalent functionality.” This means that what we plan and build for the Broadway Corridor Project, as well as any RTA project for that matter, should reflect the ballot plan in terms of  equivalent “trips” summed over all modes rather than simply car lane capacity.

Currently, the RTA is overly concerned with the notion of funding roadway lanes and roadway cross-sections instead of multi-modal corridors and multi-modal alignments. The RTA Grant Road Improvement Project did include parallel bicycle boulevards and recently did find funding for their construction. In the case of Grant Road, PAG’s own published data shows vehicular traffic counts on the segments of Grant Road included in the 2006 Plan declined 20% between 2004 and 2010. Yet the RTA Project is increasing roadway lane capacity at least 40%.

An overwhelming and growing group of Broadway Blvd stakeholders question the significant roadway lane expansion and associated removal of structures given all of the assumption changes since 2006. While Broadway’s role as Tucson’s most important multi-modal corridor and high capacity transit designation continues to be strongly supported, the somewhat rigid position taken by the RTA is not. The ringing cry at the Broadway Blvd Taskforce public forum a month ago was: “This is Tucson’s last chance to get it right.”

I truly believe that it would be madness to ignore the preferred vision the community is saying it wants and continue to plan and build and spend scarce resources for a future that will most probably never exist. If that becomes the case, Tucson will suffer irreversibly.

The bottomline is this. We live in a very different world than seven years ago. We have a voter-approved mobility plan and funding source that no one wants to scrap and redo. We don’t need to bring in the lawyers. We as a region have immense obstacles to overcome in order to attract the young skilled workforce that will attract better paying jobs going forward. Smart, sustainable development which is urban, multimodal and mixed land-use is what the new generations prefer. Our region has already begun to move in this direction. The RTA needs to loosen up and join with the active parts of our community including the Broadway Taskforce and Coalition to find every possible way to make this happen.

Thank you for your consideration.

Bob Cook,  RTA Citizens Accountability for Regional Transportation Committee

Request to RTA Board — April 7, 2011

 

A Request and Proposal to the RTA Board

by  Bob Cook,      April 7, 2011

 

Honorable Board members, I come before you as a planner, engaged citizen, and veteran of many local planning efforts. I was an active participant in the RTA planning process and because of the generous treatment for transit expansion, the streetcar project, and making our communities more walkable and bikable, I enthusiastically supported the final plan. I wrote three affirmative ballot arguments and personally paid for two. I am currently an original member of the RTA CART committee.

 

I am here today to repeat a request I made two years ago that the RTA establish a transparent, contingency planning taskforce with citizen members. While most people now agree that some of the original 2006 planning assumptions have not been borne out and may no longer apply, there is still strong adherence to the notion that the fundamental basis of the 20-year plan is valid and should remain intact as the “will of the people” even though the world is dramatically different now, just five years later.

 

During the past year, different aspects of the RTA Plan have been the subject of discussion by the public in various media. I want to draw attention to the letter Rick Myers, original Citizens Committee Co-chair, wrote to the Board on March 18, 2011.

 

First, he states that none of us could have anticipated the current economic climate. I take exception to this. Some of us, myself included, argued passionately that the region’s two greatest risks going forward is our transportation system’s vulnerability to peaking oil production and our region’s lack of competitiveness with respect to other regions which have aggressively implemented smarter development patterns. Some of us saw our current predicament coming.

 

At the time, the response by the citizen’s committee ranged from quietly ignoring these arguments to ridiculing them. Meanwhile, governments and military organizations increasingly have been studying the implications of petroleum constraints going forward. The March 25, 2011 issue of Science, the most respected U.S. science journal, reports that scientists and analysts not under contract to the oil industry now believe that non-OPEC oil production may have already peaked and thus there may be no let up in prices going forward. The only reprieve in nominal prices will be due to demand destruction similar to what we saw in the Fall of 2008.

 

Mr. Myers ends his letter by expressing strong support and strict commitment to implementing the original plan over the next 15 years. Increasingly however, more of us are betting that housing and population growth in this region will not return to pre-2006 levels in the next five years and given the growing risks in the financial markets, probably not in the next ten years.

 

Thus , it very well may be folly to rigidly adhere to a plan when so many of the underlying assumptions remain questionable, including costs and revenues, population growth rates, the ability of jurisdictions to fund budget shortfalls, high VMT (vehicle-miles-traveled) projections, and low preferences for alternate modes. It is understandable that jurisdictions including the RTA strongly resist any tampering with the Plan given that this is the first dedicated regional transportation funding source to correct long-standing deficiencies.

 

Nonetheless, it is important and prudent to approach the future with eyes wide open. Most people want normalcy to return. But if it doesn’t, we need alternative strategies for critical public investments. The uncertainties we face entail exposure to mounting risks. I therefore request that the RTA establish an ongoing contingency planning taskforce to identify possible action plans based on emerging realities.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

Bob Cook

 

BROADWAY COALITION: Design Criteria for the Improvement of Broadway

BROADWAY COALITION:  Design Criteria for the Improvement of Broadway

Based on all the facts we have examined and studies available to us, from the RTA as well as from national studies [See our website: https://sites.google.com/site/broadwaycoalition], we have arrived at a set of criteria that should be applied to all alternatives proposed for the Broadway Boulevard Improvement Project, in order that the result be a more livable city.  We believe these criteria are in line with the Mayor and Council’s instructions to the Broadway Project Citizens’ Task Force:

 

1. Advance the notion of place (quite different from the notion of corridor), including

affording residents in the area a range of services and amenities, establish a unique

identity, etc.

2. Preserve the structures that exist along Broadway and provide safe, easy access to

them;

3. Enhance the business climate/viability;

4. Promote use of alternative modes of transportation and give particular attention to

pedestrian and bicycle activity and safety;

5. Be visually appealing;

6. Aid the movement of a people using a variety of forms of vehicular traffic;

7. Contribute to environmental sustainability, and

8. Be a fiscally sound, affordable approach.

 

 

Proposals that meet these criteria should be given positive ratings; those that do not should be rated negatively, the fewer they meet the more negative the rating.

 

100-Foot Max WIDTH Resource Page

Broadway Coalition Design Criteria for the Improvement of Broadway

Arizona Daily Star June 8th OpEd : Pro 100′ width Broadway by Robert Cook

Arizona Daily Star June 8th OpEd: RTA viewpoint by Douglas Mance

Follow-up lobby letter to public officials June 9th by Robert Cook

It is the width, not the number of lanes: Broadway Coalition notes

Broadway Coalition: Some Thoughts on Money

Major Report on Mobility Trends and Future Implications

2006 RTA inflated traffic and population projections

2007 PAG Annual Report shows population projections on steroids

Request to RTA Board — April 7, 2011

Request to RTA Board — April 25, 2013

 

 

RTA and County Should Heed Community’s Vision for Broadway Project

RTA and County Should Heed Community’s Vision for Broadway Project

 By Robert Cook , June 8, 2014

This is the June 8th Sunday Arizona Daily Star Guest Opinion without the Star’s edits. Note the Star’s edited headline is: “8-Lane Roadway No Longer Makes Sense.”

 

The two-year design phase of the Broadway Boulevard, Euclid to Country Club Project is reaching its final months. And not without controversy over funding and design elements. A successful outcome will require broad agreement between the Regional Transportation Authority, Pima County, Tucson Mayor and Council, and the many community stakeholders including residents, businesses, and visitors along Tucson’s historic Sunshine Mile and west to downtown.

 

The Broadway redesign is a bellweather project that will set a highly visible precedent for regional planning in the decades to come. The result of this process will signal to what degree local government is willing and able to scale infrastructure projects to actual needs and preferences. Importantly, the design outcome will be an indicator whether the region can flexibly adapt to significant changes in our economy, demographics, urban design standards, energy and resource costs, and serious Southwest climate change.

 

From the beginning, the City-appointed Citizens Task Force and the Broadway Coalition have questioned the wisdom of rigidly following the 2006 ballot language specifying a 150ft-wide, 8-lane roadway. This would require removal of more than 115 existing buildings in the right-of-way. Such acquisition and demolition would cost in excess of $42M, not counting the lost tax base these historic properties represent.

 

The 2006 RTA Plan was based on inflated traffic projections. The actual, lower traffic volumes have changed very little in the past two decades. The major question has been why expand car lane capacity when recent studies show that people are increasingly shifting to other modes of mobility. Should our limited public funds be invested in unnecessary infrastructure?

 

Community stakeholders support a maximum 100ft. width design that could accommodate a 5-lane option with significant pedestrian, bicycle and transit improvements which also anticipate future high capacity transit. The high capacity system would serve both local and suburban demand to the east and could be partially funded by the savings from eliminating 50 feet in right-of-way and construction costs and the tax revenues from increased destination business activity.

 

One only needs to look at the transformational investments along the Modern Street Car line including UMC, UA Maingate, West University, Downtown and the westside Mercado District to see that vibrant urban change and economic activity can happen without widening roadways.

 

Transit-oriented development not only preserves historic values but is currently the most successful type of development in Tucson. Visually beautiful places where people walk, bike, meet, and share life is what the new as well as older generations are demanding in urban settings where growth is occurring.

 

The research supporting the 100ft. width is robust. Rapid suburban population growth is no longer the key to future prosperity because of higher resource costs and climate impacts as well as the preference for urban living by the new “millennial” generation. Safety is also a big issue for roadway design. The U. S. currently spends nearly $900B per year due to automobile-related accidents.

 

The rising cost of oil itself looms large as a design factor. This impacts both road fuels and asphalt prices. The truth is that we built our economy on $20/barrel oil and we are now in the era of $100+ oil. Per capita driving behavior since World War II shows continuous increase until 2005 when it began its current slide downward.

 

It is time for the RTA, County, and City to actually address the realities of the emerging 21st Century and let go of 2006 assumptions and the wishful thinking that everything will return to the world of 10 years ago.

 

What’s needed now is a significant change of heart to match the serious choices ahead.

 

Robert Cook, a 50-year resident of Pima County, is a two-term member of the RTA Citizens’ Accountability for Regional Transportation Committee, Past-chair of the Tucson-Pima County Metropolitan Energy Commission, and current member of the Pima County Planning & Zoning Commission. Robert co-founded Sustainable Tucson in 2006 with many other committed neighbors.  Email him at unispan@dakotacom.net.

 

The public is invited to the final Broadway Boulevard Planning Forum on Thursday, June 12th: 5:00 – 8:00pm,  Sabbar Shrine Hall, 450 S. Tucson Blvd

Options available for Broadway project that meet RTA’s ‘functionality’ test

 

Options available for Broadway project that meet RTA’s ‘functionality’ test

by Douglas Mance,  Special to the Arizona Daily Star,  June 08, 2014

 

The last time I addressed the Broadway Corridor Citizens Task Force, I let them know I wanted those dedicated volunteers to succeed in their efforts to come up with a design that would be acceptable to all of the funding entities: the Regional Transportation Authority, Pima County and the city of Tucson.

 

On another occasion I addressed the same body as the ex-officio liaison to my CART Committee (Citizens Accountability for Regional Transportation). I let them know that I felt that their process now was like a “bowling alley with gutters.” My intimation was that if the task force put forth a plan that ignored the 2006 ballot language, they might jeopardize the chances of it being funded at all.

 

The Broadway task force now needs regional community guidance so it can avoid rolling a gutter ball. On Thursday the entire regional public needs to participate in a public forum on this important Broadway project.

 

Prominently stated in the 2006 voter-approved Regional Transportation Plan is the overarching policy that “functionality is not to be diminished.” Some of the task force proposals would clearly diminish functionality.

 

At risk here is more than $42 million from the RTA, more than $25 million from Pima County and $3 million from the city of Tucson. The obligation that both the RTA and Pima County has is to the voters of the entire region and the entire county. The obligation attached to the city of Tucson, the Broadway project manager, seems to be to city voters only.

 

The city’s apparent unwillingness to take into account other regional vested interests could paralyze the efforts to find a common ground. Or this could be a wonderful opportunity to allow three representative governmental bodies to work together to find an elegant compromise solution for this important stretch of Broadway — a gateway to a vibrant downtown for the entire greater Tucson region.

 

I have served on the CART committee since its inception in 2006, and all of us on the committee have a stated mission to “ascertain that the Regional Transportation Authority plan is implemented as presented to the voters of Pima County on May 16, 2006.” The CART is a recommending body of citizen volunteers who will be making our recommendation on the Broadway Corridor RTA project directly to the RTA Board.

 

Like the volunteers on the Broadway Citizens Task Force, we CART members perform our duties because we believe in and we are very proud of our community. The CART committee is also dedicated to keeping the promises made to the 2006 regional voters. The Regional Transportation Plan is a comprehensive plan that contains many hundreds of incredible and visionary component projects, and naturally, not all the projects carry the same popularity levels.

 

That being said, the RTA Plan represents one of the most successful compromises that the Tucson region has ever agreed upon and funded, and if we endanger the plan now by going against the will of the voter and the taxpayer, we run the real risk of affecting the credibility of this entire plan and similar future plans.

 

Within the portfolio of Citizen Task Force Broadway Corridor design options that are now on the table, there are options that may meet both the functionality tests that the voters approved and the fiduciary responsibility that the RTA plan places upon the RTA Board. Unfortunately, there are also some options on the table that will diminish multi-modal transportation functionality on Broadway.

 

We have before us a wonderful opportunity to bowl a good score on this important transportation corridor. All we need to do now plan together and avoid gutter balls.

 

 

Douglas Mance is a longtime financial adviser and resident of the greater Tucson region. He is also a two-term member of the RTA Citizens Accountability for Regional Transportation Committee. Email him dmancerta@comcast.net

 

The public is invited to the final Broadway Boulevard Planning Forum on Thursday, June 12th: 5:00 – 8:00pm,  Sabbar Shrine Hall, 450 S. Tucson Blvd

 

 

 

Follow-up lobbying letter to public officials and community activists

 Follow-up lobbying letter to public officials and community activists

by Robert Cook,  June 9, 2014

June 9, 2014

Dear  Public Official,

I am writing in response to the Guest Opinion published in the Sunday Arizona Daily Star June 8th (see attached.) While I was the author supporting the vision of the Broadway Coalition and the Citizens Task Force, the piece represents the work of hundreds of committed professionals and activists in this community who are at the forefront of bringing forth solid analyses as well as forward-looking ideas about what is to be done.

 

We want to expand the community’s conversation about such complex issues — since that may be the only hope for making better decisions and taking more effective actions. The fundamental economic truism we must face is simple: To do what is needed for our prosperity, we have to stop public expenditures on what is not needed.  And we do not build what we cannot maintain.

 

As I wrote in the Star piece, the design outcome of the City of Tucson’s Broadway Boulevard, Euclid to Country Club Project is going to say a lot about whether we will become a more resilient and vibrant region.  There is so much good research out there to show why the community stakeholders’ vision is the direction we should go. For example, a recent study in Omaha, shows that transit incentive programs increase demand for transit and are less costly than providing parking. We have not even begun to talk about this research and its implications for better solutions here in Tucson.

 

We have heard from Douglas Mance and other proponents of the view that every specification in the 2006 RTA Plan must be rigidly followed to maintain credibility with the voters. That is nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Investing precious public funds in unnecessary infrastructure raises greater questions about public accountability. While I personally believe the RTA is one of the best performing local public agencies in managing and delivering projects, in this case insisting on a rigid interpretation of the 2006 RTA Plan can only damage its reputation. Excellence in public works also requires creativity, good design, and responsiveness to quality of life issues and the economic realities of the community.

 

The proponents of the rigid RTA interpretation also tell us that the community’s preferences for the Broadway redesign would reduce  “functionality of mobility,” a key goal of the Plan. Again, the opposite is true. As a “smart growth” strategy, transit-oriented development doesn’t diminish, but actually increases “functionality of mobility.” The recent transformation along the Street Car route is dramatic evidence that even when no roads are widened, mobility functionality as well as economic vitality can increase significantly. The UA is planning to serve 20,000 additional students in the next decades with thousands more staff and faculty as well. The Street Car will play a critical role in their mobility.

 

While the many benefits of the community-supported design are clear, the remaining question is who will pay for the consequences of an unsustainable, out-of-scale roadway if we end up rigidly following the ballot language specifying a 150ft-wide, 8-lane design?  I think the answer is clear —  it’s us, our children, our grandchildren and the generations to come.

 

Contrary to official rhetoric, the RTA and County can remove the obstacles to what is best for the region.  So please, join us and help make this project one we won’t regret, a project which will make Broadway Blvd, Euclid to Country Club, a Tucson Centro destination that the whole region can enjoy and benefit by.

 

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration,

 

Robert Cook,

Member, RTA Citizen’s Accountability for Regional Transportation Committee

April 20th: “Welcome the Third Economic Revolution”

Welcome the Third Economic Revolution

A talk on converting from a Consumer Killer Economy to a Sustainable Green Economy
by John ‘Skip’ Laitner, featured speaker at Sustainable Tucson’s December 2013 General Meeting.

Skip is a Resource and Energy Economist, International Economic Conversion Consultant, and Visiting Fellow to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Hear how he is advising the Government of Normandy, France in their conversion to an Energy-Efficient Economy NOW. They are not waiting until all of Greenland’s ice is in the sea.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Milagro Cohousing Common House at 3057 N. Gaia Place in the Tucson Mountains
Refreshments, Q A, Tours of this eco-designed neighborhood following the talk.

Bring a Friend and learn how we can achieve prosperity by reducing energy consumption through conservation, efficiency and renewables and  reduce our climate changing greenhouse gas output!

More information from Holly at 520-743-1948

ST March Meeting: Preparedness for a World of Change

 

Sustainable Tucson’s March Meeting:
Preparedness for a World of Change

Monday, March 10, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Join the Sustainable Tucson community and extended network to hear Nicole Foss, world-renown lecturer and co-creator of TheAutomaticEarth.Com speak from their DVD on Preparedness. Time will be taken to discuss this important subject which all of us are interested in.

Topics include Navigating an Epic Predicament, Psychology of Contraction, De-Globalization, Community and Society, Energy and Resources, Goods and Services, Nutrition and Health, Entertainment and Education, Be Prepared with Hard Goods, To Rent or Own, Community Building, Depression-proof Employment, and Building Robust Systems.

This General Meeting should begin the conversation of what we actually should start doing and acting on.

We hope to see you all there.

Doors open at 5:30. Program begins at 6:00 until 8;00pm

In addition to the General Meeting on Monday, March 10th, there will be an online Whole Earth Summit March 11 -13th, featuring 42 global sustainability leaders including Tucson’s own Brad Lancaster. To see the schedule of speakers and get more info on how you can connect, go to:

    www.WholeEarthSummit.org

This should be an unforgettable convergence of like hearts and minds considering: What’s your vision for a resilient world? How are you creating it now? Food + water + community + regenerative design + social transformation!

February General Mtg: IS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Sustainable Tucson’s February Meeting:
IS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Monday, February 10, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Last November 14th, the State of Arizona ran a simulation of an emergency event that included a 72-hour power outage – the kind of event climate change may visit upon the Tucson region.

Within the first hour of this mock climate emergency county officials realized hospitals would be overwhelmed by those seeking shelter from the 110+ degree heat. With no power for air conditioners or water delivery, and with severely curtailed communications capacity, hospitals became the first option for the most vulnerable seeking safety and shelter.

In the meantime, local emergency response teams with generators powered limited operations but (as in most emergencies) the general public is left to their own resources to manage until outside help arrives. For most, the physical setting of home is where they will wait out the event.
This mock exercise was an eye-opening experience for those who participated – driving home the fact that healthy connections between neighbors will be essential to best outcomes during such an event.

But are Neighborhoods able to respond in such circumstances? Do residents feel part of a community and trust they can turn to their neighbors for assistance?  Who makes sure the most vulnerable are taken care of? Is there a method for neighborhood communication when commercial communications go down? What supplies should be stored and available?

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s February 10th meeting to find out.

Speakers will include:

Louis Valenzuela:  Pima County Health Department

Donna Branch-Gilby:  Climate Smart: Ready or Hot? Building Resilient Neighborhoods working group, and

Donald Ijams:  Neighborhood Support Network

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST Dec. Mtg: The Economic Imperative of Energy Efficiency: Leading Tucson to More Jobs and a Robust Economy While Mitigating Climate Change

XXXX

At Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

 

Sustainable Tucson December Meeting: The Economic Imperative of Energy Efficiency: Leading Tucson to More Jobs and a Robust Economy While Mitigating Climate Change

This month, Sustainable Tucson brings international expertise and vision to our community to understand how our region can move to a much more energy-efficient economy while enabling a 100% renewable-energy-powered, and a more vibrant economy.

A recently leaked portion of the upcoming (March 2014) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report endorses a CEILING ON GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. A September 28, 2013 New York Times article describes the Panel’s endorsement:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/science/global-climate-change-report.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Tucson’s regional power system and economy can be planned to produce a vibrant economy AND mitigate the worst effects of climate change. In fact the components that can make this happen work in concert.
Sustainable Tucson is proud to present two speakers with backgrounds and experience in transitioning from a carbon-intensive economy to one anchored by energy efficiency and powered by renewable energy.

John A. “Skip” Laitner is a resource economist who leads a team of consultants with his own group, Economic and Human Dimensions Research Associates based in Tucson, Arizona. He served nearly 10 years as a senior economist for technology policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He won EPA’s Gold Medal award for his contributions to economic impact assessments evaluating climate change policies. More recently, he led the Economic and Social Analysis Program for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a well-known think tank based in Washington, D.C. He has just returned from France where he works as the senior economist for a regional initiative that proposes to reduce energy requirements by half with renewable energy technologies powering all remaining energy needs.
Matthew T. McDonnell, J.D. is a regulatory and policy analyst with Economic and Human Dimensions Research Associates. He has previous experience in the renewable energy finance industry and the utility regulatory process. He has worked with former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Paul Newman, providing policy analysis; and he has given testimony before the ACC. As a consultant, Mr. McDonnell has advised clients on a variety of energy projects including independent review of generation options analysis, prospects for municipalization, as well as, regulatory issues involved with the transmission and sale of electricity–in both FERC and ACC jurisdictions. Mr. McDonnell’s clients have ranged from municipalities and energy firms, to public utilities and stakeholder groups.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Will the real International Energy Agency please stand up?

Will the real International Energy Agency please stand up?

Published by Resource Insights on 2013-11-16
Original article: http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2013/11/will-real-international-energy-agency.html by Kurt Cobb

It was as if the International Energy Agency were appearing on the old American television game show To Tell the Truth last week as it offered a third contradictory forecast in the space of a year.

You may recall that on To Tell the Truth the host would begin by reading a statement from a person with an unusual story or profession. Then, a celebrity panel would question three contestants who claimed to be that person. Afterwards, the panelists would vote on whom they believed was the real person. Finally, the host would say, “Will the real [name of person] please stand up?” (Some episodes are still available here on YouTube.)

The difference is that the contestants on To Tell the Truth would try to tell similar, plausible stories so as to stump the panel. In the non-game-show world of energy forecasting, the IEA–a consortium of 28 countries, all net oil importers except for Canada and Norway–plays all three contestants and does not even attempt to be consistent. So, it’s possible that the agency is just a collective mental case with multiple personality disorder.

However, one has to allow for the fact that the IEA is not just one person or one voice. Still, if the agency were a single person, what it has released over the last year as official pronouncements would likely have a psychiatrist reaching for the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition).

Last November in its 2012 World Energy Outlook (WEO), the agency noted rising U.S. oil production and even predicted that the United States would become energy self-sufficient by 2035 (a doubtful call, in my view). It also noted that growing oil demand in the Asia has more than outweighed declines in European and U.S. consumption, keeping upward pressure on prices. It said that growth in Iraq’s oil exports was not a sure thing. While the 2012 WEO is really a rather optimistic document on supply, it did not paint an especially rosy picture, indicating that obtaining the supplies of oil necessary to meet projected demand was not a foregone conclusion.

Then, only six months later came the agency’s so-called Medium-Term Oil Market Report which read like an ad for the North American oil and gas industry. The agency touted a “supply shock” in oil from American tight oil fields unleashed by a new kind of hydraulic fracturing–a shock that would send “ripples throughout the world.” Unlike six months earlier, worldwide supply was supposed to take flight on the wings of fracking.

This enthusiasm didn’t last long. In its latest report, the just-issued 2013 World Energy Outlook, the agency sounded like a group of Gloomy Guses noting that “Brent crude oil has averaged $110 per barrel in real terms since 2011, a sustained period of high oil prices that is without parallel in oil market history.”

The report goes on to say, “The capacity of technologies to unlock new types of resources, such as light tight oil (LTO) and ultra-deepwater fields, and to improve recovery rates in existing fields is pushing up estimates of the amount of oil that remains to be produced. But this does not mean that the world is on the cusp of a new era of oil abundance.” The most recent forecast calls for rising oil prices in real terms through 2035. This is in part because the agency expects that “no country replicates the level of success with LTO” that we are seeing in the United States today.

What’s really happening here? Is the IEA getting better at seeing the future? Not really. What’s happening is that the IEA is being asked to do something which it cannot possibly do: accurately predict oil supplies 22 years into the future. So, given this impossible task, the agency responds by following current trends (and industry hype) and then extrapolating them.

Now that the IEA has had a chance to re-examine the industry’s claims in light of more experience with tight oil development, it is backing off its previous assessment in its Medium-Term Oil Market Report from May. Fatih Birol, chief economist for the IEA, told the Financial Times that he would now characterize rising oil production in the United States as “a surge, rather than a revolution.” He expects OPEC to become dominant once again in oil markets early in the next decade. The Financial Times characterized the report as predicting an oil supply crunch.

But, will the IEA have a change of heart once again? It might, depending on what it hears from industry sources and what it chooses to believe. But, the takeaway from the last year of IEA projections is not that the agency is suffering some sort of breakdown, but that it has been given an impossible task that in the volatile world of oil supplies has it casting about for a coherent story. In short, it is trying to tell the truth without knowing the truth for the simple reason that in this case the truth cannot known. That has made it a poor contestant in its own real-life episode of To Tell the Truth stretched out over the past year.

It is a fool’s errand to try to predict the future of world energy supplies. But, it is even more foolish to base our public policy, business and personal decisions on such predictions.

P. S. There is a minor acknowledgement that such forecasts are exercises in futility in a disclaimer at the end of the 2013 World Energy Outlook summary. The disclaimer reads: “The IEA makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, in respect of the publication’s contents (including its completeness or accuracy) and shall not be responsible for any use of, or reliance on, the publication.” This is standard boilerplate, I know. But, it is not the kind of language that inspires confidence.

 

Editor: the thumbnail image, of course, is the logo from The Oil Drum website, whose work lives on.


Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.


Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-11-16/will-the-real-international-energy-agency-please-stand-up

Green Redevelopment & the Rise of 2030 Districts

at Tucson Association of Realtors conference room,  2445 N. Tucson Blvd   (one block north of Grant Rd)

 

But, could something like a 2030 District in Tucson help align many efforts to support economic re-generation in our community?    Come join us on:

Monday. November 11, 5:30 – 8:30 pm 

PLEASE NOTE: SPECIAL MEETING LOCATION

Tucson Association of Realtors

2445 N. Tucson Blvd   (one block north of Grant Rd)

Come hear our speakers, and bring your questions and opinions for an active conversation – where we go from here.

Peter Dobrovolny, architect, planner and City of Seattle liaison to the Seattle 2030 District

Robert Bulechek, Tucson building science and energy-efficiency expert

Peter will show how across the United States, 2030 Districts are being formed to meet the energy, water and vehicle emissions targets called for by Architecture 2030 in the 2030 Challenge for Planning. In response to climate change, resource depletion, and financial challenges, communities everywhere are raising the bar on these criteria as well.

Through unique public/private partnerships, property owners and managers are coming together with local governments, businesses and community stakeholders to provide a model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources.  Together they are developing and implementing creative strategies, best practices, and verification methods for measuring progress towards a common goal.

Green redevelopment is increasingly being viewed as a first tier strategy for community economic development, generating significant reductions in operating costs and climate-altering emissions and creating long-term sustainable jobs. Green redevelopment also benefits from new investment mechanisms that could provide the financial push toward developing a larger-scale redevelopment industry. With very few good alternatives facing us, green redevelopment could be the next big thing in Greater Tucson.

Robert will show how green redevelopment, at the scale of one building at a time, can practically reduce household resource consumption significantly. He will present how everyone can significantly reduce waste in electricity, natural gas, water, and gasoline consumption and do so by saving money every step of the way. His strategies are cash flow positive at every level of efficiency-mitigation down to zero consumption. At the same time, they also produce other positive benefits including improved comfort and significant reduction in climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Using the Minnesota Power Pyramid of Conservation and the HERS home energy modeling system, Robert will demonstrate that resource efficiency is the first step toward financial improvement which does not require government subsidies to advance the general welfare.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST Oct Mtg: Investing in Local Solar Energy Solutions

Sustainable Tucson October Meeting: Investing in Local Solar Energy Solutions

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

Investing in Local Solar Energy Solutions

As Tucson begins planning to reduce its greenhouse gases 80% by 2050, the largest emissions sector (59%) arises from the generation and consumption of electricity, currently 84% coal-fired. What clean energy solutions are available to connect consumers to investments in clean solar energy, ready-made for Tucson Electric Power’s utility grid? Community-owned solar is a new, innovative, customer-focused renewable energy model that is being adopted by large and small utilities across the country.

Clean Energy Collective is a new idea in power generation that is building, operating and maintaining community-based clean energy facilities. Headquartered in Colorado, CEC is pioneering the model of delivering clean power-generation through locally centralized, medium-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers. To date, CEC has partnered with 10 utilities across the US to deliver and manage 25 community-owned solar projects to respective utility customers. The company’s mission aims to: 1) Accelerate the adoption of long-term clean energy solutions; 2) provide utilities with lower risk, well located and more beneficial clean energy generation; and 3) create a manageable and mutually beneficial production partnership between utilities and consumers.

Come learn about how you can receive maximum benefits from collective investment in localized solar power for yourself and your community, how the CEC model can promote local jobs and the local economy. Join us for this very informative meeting and support renewable energy action in your community.

Meeting speakers will include:

Genevieve Liang, Clean Energy Collective’s VP of Business Development for the Western U.S.

Bruce Plenk, lately of the City of Tucson Energy Office, and Solar Coordinator for the City of Tucson

Kevin Koch, Technicians for Sustainability, local solar installer

Elizabeth Smith, StelcorEnergy, solar energy consultant

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST September Mtg: Working Together Toward a Sustainable Community Part IV – Sept 9th

Monday, September 9, 2013

5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room, 101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

ST September Meeting
Working Together Toward a Sustainable Community
Part IV

Sustainable Tucson’s “Conversations with our Public Officials” series provides Tucson community members the opportunity to meet with local public officials to discuss a wide range of sustainability issues. The venue offers a unique opportunity to converse with our public officials in a supportive atmosphere designed to build understanding and establish relationships.

Join Sustainable Tucson for our fourth Conversation with our Public Officials.

Jessie Baxter, Outreach Coordinator for Congressman Raul Grijalva, Ray Carroll, Pima County District 4 Supervisor, and Claire Zucker, Director, Sustainable Environment Program, Pima Association of Governments, will share their vision of a more sustainable Tucson. A networking session will precede the meeting from 5:30 to 6:00.

We believe that building a sustainable future will take the cooperation and partnering of residents, government, institutions and organizations. It is in this spirit that we are reaching out to our public officials by bringing them together with Sustainable Tucson and the wider public in this discussion process. Our ultimate intent for these popular “fishbowl discussions” is to build partnerships and work together toward our common goals.

We invite you to join us on September 9 for this exciting conversation with our local public officials.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.