Monday, November 23, 2009

Global Warming: Fact or Fraud?

Climate Change has been the less alarmist moniker for Global Warming. Of course since the beginning days of Earth, climate have been, is and will be in constant change. Global Warming on the other hand has been a direct accusation that anthropogenic (man made) green house gas emissions have altered Earth's climate.

I have been a skeptic of Global Warming since U.S. Vice President Al Gore received the Nobel Prize and evidence of fraudulent statements in his movie and writings were revealed. Then I read "Blue Planet in Green Shackles" by Czech Republic's President Vaclav Klaus whom Al Gore has never agreed to debate. When I bring the subject of anthropogenic global warming subject up on the radio I get polite reminders from some of my university colleagues about my misunderstandings.

Today's announcement by the Global Warming Policy Foundation signals the beginning of the end of one of science's biggest errors. Error or not, Global Warming has been a tremendous source for political and business profit based almost entirely on hot air, real or manipulated.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation is an all-party and non-party think tank and a registered educational charity. Their data, interpretations and positions have effected British, European and international policy on climate change through the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC findings are broadly disputed by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

On November 23, 2009 Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Global Warming Policy Foundation called for a rigorous and independent inquiry into leaked revelations of fraud. I quote from the Global Warming Policy Foundation website (see source below):

"Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that
(a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend;
(b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data;
(c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and
(d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals."

It is not a coincidence that issues (a) through (d) are exactly what NIPCC scientists have been pointing out all along. The authors of the NIPCC report "cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC." The NIPCC finding can be summed up as follows: The warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.

Lord Lawson's announcement also includes a passage that is highly critical of scientific honesty. It is highly unlikely that he would have included the sentence ... the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished... in the absence of mounting evidence of fraud. "There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay."

The media have made Global Warming a household issue, although in most surveys generally a minority is interested or concerned about the subject. However, many real and fake green (or blue if you are in Europe) initiatives have been started to help "avert global warming." None were successful enough since Hollywood in the recently released 2012 movie proclaimed that the end is near: Both the Kyoto Protocol and the U.S. Congress' proposed Cap and Trade legislation were too little too late.

Quite likely 2010 will be the year to leave Global Warming behind us and tackle real issues such as the supply of adequate food, water, energy, mobility and health-care for an ever increasing population and an ever improving standard of living on Earth.

SOURCE: Lord Lawson Calls For Public Inquiry Into CRU Data Affair

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is There a Plan to Solve Traffic Congestion of Oahu?

Unlike most other urban areas, where congestion decreased slightly from two years ago, the latest Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute shows that congestion has gotten worse in Honolulu:

  • The number of hours per person spent stuck in traffic increased from 24 hours to 26.
  • The travel-time index increased from 1.22 to 1.24, so it takes 24% longer to make a trip at rush hour than at other times, on the average.
  • The annual cost of wasted time and fuel ballooned from $166 million to $199 million.
  • Honolulu is the 28th most congested urban area in the United States.

Of course it is not new to residents that Honolulu is a congested city. Honolulu is one of the nation’s most lane deficient cities. It has a traffic congestion problem; not a transit ridership problem. A traffic problem cannot be solved with transit solutions.

Some say that Honolulu has such severe congestion because its car ownership is very high. Some politicians even claim that Honolulu is number one in car ownership. This is totally wrong. Honolulu’s car ownership ranks 64th in the nation, much lower than its rank in population!

So are we going to see an improvement in congestion? The rail proposal clearly says that:
(1) TheBus carries 6% of the trips on Oahu now, and
(2) TheBus and TheRail together will carry 7% of the trips 20 years from now.
What’s the end result? Much worse traffic congestion.

I had a brief “exit interview” with 2nd ISFO speaker and presidential advisor on transportation Robert Poole. He noted that:

“Listening to the city and state transportation planners at the conference, I was struck by how passive they were in the face of Honolulu’s serious, ever-worsening traffic congestion.”

“Highly cost-effective techniques that have long been routine in mainland cities—such as ramp meters on freeway on-ramps and synchronized traffic signal timing—still sound like new and controversial ideas in Honolulu.

“Brand new billion-dollar-scale high occupancy vehicle and toll (HOT) lane projects are under way in a dozen cities. Yet HOT lanes are barely a subject for study in Honolulu.

“Has reducing congestion—i.e., targeting a congestion level lower than today’s – even been suggested as a transportation goal in Honolulu?”

I also had the opportunity to talk at length with the 2nd ISFO keynote speaker, renowned transportation historian and congressional transportation policy analyst Alan Pisarski, author of the series Commuting in America. Here are his summary comments:

“The fragility of Oahu’s transportation system is staggering. It is a system sharply constrained by geography – both water and mountains. Just one strategically placed fender-bender can disrupt a large area for hours.

“Every tool in the traffic operations toolbox should be examined for application to the island’s daily needs. Any opportunity to upgrade and modernize the system around the freeways and their corridors must be seriously considered.

“A special events planning team integrated with the operations function is a critical step.”

Oahu is lacking in both event planning and hands-on 24x7 traffic management. The result is regional chaos with parade closures, accidents and special events at UH-Manoa campus and Aloha Stadium.

Pisarski added that “it should go without saying that traffic on the island must accommodate the two major industries of national defense and tourism. Any assessment of needs and goals must recognize that there are at least three major layers of transportation needs on Oahu: Daily life of its residents, Tourism, and National Defense.

Pisarski said that a simple question provides the fundamental guide for directing transportation resources: “What share of our resources are we spending on what share of our problem?” Oahu now plans to spend over 40% of its transportation resources on a mass transit system that will serve 7% of its trips, at best.

One of the basic duties that local transportation government has not done is take a fundamental look of transportation needs and allocations. This deficiency is pointing the finger at the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization, but OMPO, thanks to its Policy Advisory Committee, operates as a political arm of the executive and legislative bodies, and not as an impartial regional transportation agency.

Persistent congestion, insane road closures from accidents or parades, communities like Waianae depending on a single road, roads full of potholes, the smelly and clunky Wiki-Wiki, the dirty and late buses are all outcomes of wrong priorities. The people in charge are not asking the right questions, and they are not working on real solutions.

Pisarksi conluded that: “Given all of its constraints and challenges Hawaii should be a national leader in understanding and addressing mobility needs for Defense, Tourism and Residents.

“It should be pretty obvious that a flexible, highway based system is at the core of the solution to provide needed mobility for defense, deliveries and tourism, with express toll lanes added in the plan for express buses and carpools to serve school trips and peak period commuters.”

Does Oahu do this? No! The priority of its disconnected government is “smart growth”, rail transit and Transit Oriented Development or TOD. Not surprisingly, the recent Urban Land Institute survey on Oahu shows that this is not what the residents want. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

In January, 2009, ULI Hawaii commissioned a survey of housing attitudes among the public. The phone survey was of 600 Oahu residents.

… there is relatively much less support for the “smart growth” idea of higher-density use of existing urban areas – perhaps in part because people here generally still would rather live in suburban/rural settings themselves. [Source:]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lessons for Hawaii from International Conference Held In Honolulu

The 2nd International Symposium in Freeway and Tollway Operations was held in Honolulu, Hawaii from June 21-24, 2009. More than 200 experts specializing in freeway and tollway operations gathered from around the world to share their research knowledge and experiences. These series of articles summarize some of the major presentations with useful lessons for Hawaii. Our thanks to Hawaii Reporter for publishing these articles.

1. Challenges of Hawaii’s Private Transportation Companies, James K. Tokishi, 10/20/2009, LINK

2. Maintaining and Increasing the Benefits of Managed Lanes, Alireza Abrishamkar, 10/21/2009, LINK

3. Experiences with Managed Lanes in the United States, Lambros K. Mitropoulos, 10/22/2009, LINK

4. Public Private Partnerships for Highway Projects, Laxman KC, 10/29/2009, LINK

5. Intelligence for Smarter Roadways, Alyx (Xin) Yu, 10/31/2009, LINK

6. Intelligent Highway Systems for Rural Roads, Natasha Soriano, 11/10/2009,

7. Green Travel for Highways, Lambros K. Mitropoulos, 11/3/2009, LINK

8. Sensing the Future of Traffic Detection, Alyx (Xin) Yu, 11/4/2009, LINK

9. Lane Control with Active Traffic Management for Congestion Reduction, Laxman KC, 11/12/2009, LINK

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Irrelevance of Transit—A Brief Translation from Portland to Oahu

Randall O’Toole is one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to government subsidized transportation and transit systems in particular. He is an analyst at CATO Institute in Oregon and he dubs himself the AntiPlanner who is “an active cyclist and avid rail fan who nonetheless recognizes that the automobile is the greatest invention of the last 200 years.”

His recent article is titled “The Importance of Cars; The Irrelevance of Transit” A which summarizes a new study published by the Cascade Policy Institute authored by Randall Pozdena, one Oregon’s most respected economists. The study is titled Driving the Economy: Automotive Travel, Economic Growth and the Risks of Global Warming Regulations.

The study’s primary findings may be actually summarized on one line only: People in wealthy economies drive more; people who drive more live in wealthier economies. In other words, in any way you wish to look at it, the auto is the key to prosperity.

In the same article I also found a paragraph about Portland’s transit agency, the TriMet, and I could not help myself from translating into the Oahuan Rail Language because it precisely paints the picture of Oahu with rail in 2030.

Here is the Portland version:

Even as it loses hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on this Toonerville trolley, TriMet is cutting bus service — again. “The purposeful degradation of downtown-centered bus service in favor of goofball streetcars and trains to nowhere marks a real decline in mass transit in Portland,” comments Portland blogger Bojack. “How the people responsible for this — people like [Representative] Earl the Pearl [Blumenauer] and [TriMet General Manager] Crocodile Fred Hansen — pass themselves off as champions of transit is beyond me. Champions of pork and condos is what they are.”

Here is the Oahu Rail version:

Even as it will be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on the heavy rail, Oahu Rail is cutting TheBus — again. “The purposeful degradation of downtown-centered bus service in favor of goofball rail cars to nowhere marks a real decline in mass transit in Honolulu. How the people responsible for this — people like [Senator] Espero Earl of Ewa and [Rail Plan Manager] Barracuda Toru Hamayasu — pass themselves off as champions of transit is beyond me. Champions of pork and condos is what they are.”

In all seriousness, time and again rail transit outside megalopolis is irrelevant. When Hannemann, Caldwell and Apo talk about Transit Oriented Developments or TOD they literally talk about Taxes Offered to Developers. Who is really behind Mufi’s train? Developers, contractors, banks and construction unions.