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John Urry on Social Networks
(video and audio)
Julian Darley, Global Public Media
John Urry, Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University and Director of the Centre for Mobility Research, speaks with Global Public Media’s Julian Darley about the sociological value of personal networks, travel and tourism, and the effect peak oil will have on how we interact with one another.
(8 Oct 2006, but just posted)
UPDATE: just posted this

Australian Transport Planners Asleep at the Wheel

Elliot Fishman, New Matilda
The state of California recently announced that it was suing the world’s six largest auto manufacturers. The lawsuit focuses on the car industry’s significant contribution to climate change. Bill Lockyer, the state’s attorney general, accused Toyota, Honda, Nissan, General Motors, Chrysler and Ford of creating a “public nuisance”, and said that, “Global warming is causing significant harm to California’s environment, economy, agriculture and public health”.

The dominance of car dependent transport and land use planning in California is to a large extent replicated in Australia. As urban planning professors Newman and Kenworthy have described, Australians emit a comparable volume of transport-related greenhouse gases to Californians. Like California, Australia has a strong history of car centric transport planning, where the overwhelming majority of transport funds are allocated to car based infrastructure.

This article argues that we need to take a fresh look at transport planning, by identifying the benefits of diverting the focus away from cars and towards bicycles.
(5 Oct 2006)
Excellent article. Elliot Fishman is the convenor of Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) Melbourne. He has another more recent article at New Matilda which is behind a paywall, Costello in for a crude awakening. Elliot discusses peak oil, and the Dutch system of combined bicycle and train transport, concluding:

Refocusing transport policy away from the car towards walking, cycling and public transport would offer multiple, synergistic benefits, impacting on more than one important area of government responsibility. Not only will it reduce Australia’s exposure to high oil prices, it will assist in the fight against obesity and reduce our contribution to climate change. There has never been a more important time for government to deal with this confluence of emerging issues through creative transport policy. Urgent investments in sustainable transport present our governments with an opportunity to provide a legacy to future generations. Once Australian governments implement these measures, our socoety will be far less oil vulnerable, not to mention healthier and more sustainable.

Peak oil may be the biggest challenge ever to face the global economy. If we fail to take action now to soften its impact, then the G20 Summit’s motto ‘Building and Sustaining Prosperity” will be very difficult to achieve.


The rain in Spain

Pedro from Madrid, EnergyResources
Two weeks ago, a single crane had an accident in a tunnel in a periphery motorway in Madrid, blocking for three critical hours two of the three lanes there. It was a rainy day. The whole city collapsed and the traffics jams reached this day 100 miles. I was trapped for a couple of hours and I could only drive 1 mile. All the radios were insisting that the CAUSE of the traffic huge collapse was…guess what: THE RAIN. The rain, a natural element, a very normal, not exceptional day of rain. A very positive and essential atmospheric agent, very desirable in a country that had had the longest drought in many years. An atmospheric element present since the dawn of humanity, an element that has made humanity viable and possible; that makes living things possible. No one single speaker mentioned the system, the stupidity of vomiting more than one million new private cars every passing year to the roads from the factories and the demented obsession to vomit a 3% more every year. Nobody mentioned the absolutely inefficient system of transportation, in a city where 90% of people travel alone in a 2,000 kg private car. No one. The problem was the rain. Similar minds those of people accusing population growth of being the driver (not a simple follower) in the transformation of nature. Fingers pointing to the moon and eyes looking to the finger.
(26 Nov 2006)
Pointed out by Dana over at EnergyRoundTable

Please fasten your seatbelt and cross your legs…

BEIJING – A Chinese airline has calculated that it takes a liter of fuel to flush the toilet at 30,000 feet and is urging passengers to go to the bathroom before they board.

As Chinese airlines come under increasing pressure to cut fuel expenditures, China Southern’s latest strategy is to encourage passengers “to spend their pennies before boarding the aircraft,” Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

“The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10 kilometers,” Captain Liu Zhiyuan, who flies regularly between Hangzhou and Beijing, was quoted as saying.

Citing a survey by the company’s logistics department, Liu said carrying one kilogram of items such as blankets and pillows by air for one hour uses 0.2 kg of fuel.
(30 Nov 2006)
One suspects that Reuters is running this story with tongue-in-cheek. However, the joke may be on them, since energy awareness of this sort is what the future will bring. -BA