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Philosophical discussion about busses and pollution

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Philosophical discussion about busses and pollution

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Old 04-25-18, 07:10 AM
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Kevkev
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Philosophical discussion about busses and pollution

I'm a college student in the process of making an 18-year-old mountain bike into a commuting rig because I can't afford both a car (or the insurance, or the gas) and tuition, and I also like the ideas of being independent of a public transit timetable and minimizing the amount of pollution I produce. I've been using a mix of public transportation and cycling, and the other day I realized that once I start exclusively using my bike, the busses aren't going to stop running. They're going to consume fuel and emit pollutants whether I ride them or not.
For that reason, I think the question of whether or not to use public transit is more about self-reliance than about pollution, but in your opinion, is using public transit consistent with a pollution-minimal lifestyle?
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Old 04-25-18, 07:24 AM
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Using public transit is consistent with a pollution-minimal lifestyle. Using your bike is even more consistent.

Generally speaking all the philosophy I need is I look after what I'm doing and I don't have much control over everyone else.
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Old 04-25-18, 12:21 PM
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I am multi-modal myself. I bike mostly, but do use busses and the train. I don't worry so much about how much my carbon footprint is affected by using a bus or train for a couple reasons. Obviously the commuter train is electric, and at least here in California the grid is getting powered more and more by renewable resources. The busses here in Long Beach and in Los Angeles (the ones I use the most) and powered by cng, and Long Beach has started adding electric and hybrid busses to boot. The carbon footprint using public transportation, while obviously bigger than that using my bike, is small enough to be pretty statistically insignificant compared to a personal car. We do what we can while being practical is how I see it.
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Old 04-25-18, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevkev View Post
I'm a college student in the process of making an 18-year-old mountain bike into a commuting rig because I can't afford both a car (or the insurance, or the gas) and tuition, and I also like the ideas of being independent of a public transit timetable and minimizing the amount of pollution I produce. I've been using a mix of public transportation and cycling, and the other day I realized that once I start exclusively using my bike, the busses aren't going to stop running. They're going to consume fuel and emit pollutants whether I ride them or not.
For that reason, I think the question of whether or not to use public transit is more about self-reliance than about pollution, but in your opinion, is using public transit consistent with a pollution-minimal lifestyle?
Buses have a complex relationship to pollution. If they run mostly full, and carry people who would otherwise drive, they reduce pollution. However they are also used by people who can't afford a car and thus assist those people in participating in the economy and of course there is a pollution cost to that. However it's in many ways a social good thing that affordable transit is available to people on tiight budgets.

In some cases buses are mandated to run at odd hours or to serve remote locations where ridership is low, and a nearly empty bus generates more pollution than the same passengers would riding in cars, but again they allow people to participate in society who otherwise might be limited. Suburban/rural bus routes, like roads, may also encourage people to live a long way from work and thus contribute to sprawl and attendant pollution.

When you opt out of using the bus, you can't take it for granted that the bus will still run anyway. Sometimes bus routes are canceled or service is reduced due to low ridership. Also there may be some people who want to ride the bus but find it too crowded, and if you don't use it, they may be able to squeeze on, so you are not necessarily leaving an empty seat when you stop riding the bus.

When you ride a bike, you expend a bit more energy than if you were riding a bus or driving, and thus you might need to eat a bit more, and there is actually a high pollution cost to a modern western diet - a lot of fossil fuel and fossil fertilizer is consumed in modern agriculture. So you actually do indirectly generate some pollution when you ride.

So, like with many things in the real world, it's complicated.

Last edited by cooker; 04-25-18 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 04-26-18, 10:12 AM
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Philosophy is questioning whether producing different amounts of pollution in different ways is better or worse than producing other types in different ways, or discussing to what degree each individual is responsible to and for the activities of others, both groups with which one identifies or participates willing or unwillingly, or .... whatever.

if you live somewhere with a transit system , someplace which can support a transit system .... you cannot live a "pollution-minimal" lifestyle.

But you are probably somewhat lowering your impact ... who knows? Do you eat more, shower more, wash more, change and launder clothes more often? How do you wash yourself and your clothes? What do you eat? maybe you are actually using more of stuff and maybe just distributing your consumption differently.

or maybe there is stuff you would Rather use less (and now we edge dangerously near the septic pit of philosophy) in exchange of using more of other things.

Imagine if you eat one more bag of rice each month ... but that one bag puts a local store over its tipping point---if it sells 49 bags it orders 50, but if it sells 50 bags it orders 60. Now you are increasing the load on the truck, and burning more diesel.

"Better" cannot be defined objectively .... ask Plato .... or everyone since who has argued with him. On another hand .... personally i think you will probably enjoy life more if you ride more... based purely on personal experience, which in no way translates to anyone else's experience.
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Old 04-26-18, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
if you live somewhere with a transit system , someplace which can support a transit system .... you cannot live a "pollution-minimal" lifestyle.
I say the complete opposite. The best way for humans to minimize pollution is to live in clusters dense enough to support public transit. That also means dense enough to walk or bike to everything you need. Some people may live off the grid in a low impact manner in rural areas but that cannot be scaled up to accommodate billions of people, so for those who aren't self-sufficient survivalists, the best way to lower their impact is by occupying a lot less land.
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Old 04-26-18, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I say the complete opposite. The best way for humans to minimize pollution is to live in clusters dense enough to support public transit. That also means dense enough to walk or bike to everything you need. Some people may live off the grid in a low impact manner in rural areas but that cannot be scaled up to accommodate billions of people, so for those who aren't self-sufficient survivalists, the best way to lower their impact is by occupying a lot less land.
Sure ... except, you know ... Reality.

Concentrations of humans equals concentration of waste and pollution, but does Not include a lessening of impact such as you describe Might be possible. And while the square footage might be lower, in terms of energy use, I don't see a great reduction. Maybe heating bills go down per cubic foot in the winter ... maybe ... though given when and how most urban dwellings are built ... and cooling costs are commensurately greater in the summer.

On a single-person level, a person can live a spartan life anywhere ... ask the homeless guys camping under the bridges.

And I don't know which city you live in but most of the cities i have lived in ... leaving a bike was not the best idea, and in some cases, even riding a bike for much of the year was about the equivalent of driving nails through your feet and pulling your own teeth with pliers.

Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Some people may live off the grid in a low impact manner in rural areas ...
Try living off the grid in an urban area ... can't make a fire, for one thing. Sure, you could squat in an empty apartment ... but you would be using city water and plumbing .... compost what? And you would be adding to the traffic, to the mass of humanity ...

Though a very few could do rooftop gardens ... most are not so lucky. And where does one put one's solar array?

Cities are not designed for either energy efficiency or low environmental impact ... most were never much "designed" at all.

But it is possible, as it is possible anywhere ... depending on one's commitment and willingness to sacrifice ...
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Old 04-26-18, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I say the complete opposite. The best way for humans to minimize pollution is to live in clusters dense enough to support public transit. That also means dense enough to walk or bike to everything you need. Some people may live off the grid in a low impact manner in rural areas but that cannot be scaled up to accommodate billions of people, so for those who aren't self-sufficient survivalists, the best way to lower their impact is by occupying a lot less land.
Maybe, but you need more resources supported from more land outside of your area. You create heat islands, undisputed by obsrevation. You build structures if steel, concrete, glass and plastic rather than natural material. You change the weather patterns as they have in Chicago. You trap your own polution and need assistance to dispose of your waste.

As you stated earlier with mass transit you must force high energy consuming buses to operate at times when they are least efficient by choice to provide services for those who might not be able to transport themselves. All of those are choices to raise the carbon footprint for social reasons rather than lower them by individual effort.

You cannot or will mot use the most efficient, or green, building materials because you need the group to approve the retrofit and a committee to approve the budget.

In effect you can only be as carbon free as the city will let you.

That is the collective “you”. Not the personal you.

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Old 04-26-18, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevkev View Post
...once I start exclusively using my bike, the busses aren't going to stop running. They're going to consume fuel and emit pollutants whether I ride them or not.
If you're not on the bus that's less weight on the bus and less energy consumed. Most buses around here are natural gas powered and don't pollute much anyway.
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Old 04-26-18, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I say the complete opposite. The best way for humans to minimize pollution is to live in clusters dense enough to support public transit. That also means dense enough to walk or bike to everything you need.
I live out in the country and near a small town.

Why in the world would I want to live in a dense cluster next to a million other people just to support public transit?

I like to go places on my schedule. Not the schedule of public transit.
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Old 04-26-18, 01:44 PM
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I see two only vaguely related issues here.

First, if this person (OP) wants to lower his footprint, by whatever amount, that is not bad at all.

It might not end up meaning anything as far as saving the world, but if it works for him, that is enough. If he does something to do good and feels good about it, he will reflect that in all his interactions … he will be more positive, which is itself the greatest gift we can give the species.

Whether it has the expected result of in some way creating less pollution … I wouldn’t even know how to measure that.

As for living in cities …. I don’t think the problem here is whether people ride the bus.

Our whole society is so toxic … it is massive over-production, massive over-consumption, toxic production techniques, massive energy inefficiency … the whole thing end to end is ridiculously damaging.

Not sure of where one lives makes a difference. Unless one really does go off-grid and raised animals and vegetables ….

But i sure hate living in cities ... hot and dirty, cold and dirty, packed with people living too close together and driving each other crazy.

I am not sure mankind was meant to live in clumps that dense ... not sure that the collected psychic energy, all the hate and negativity and stress, ever leaches away ... it just pools, and drowns people.
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Old 04-26-18, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I see two only vaguely related issues here.

First, if this person (OP) wants to lower his footprint, by whatever amount, that is not bad at all.

It might not end up meaning anything as far as saving the world, but if it works for him, that is enough. If he does something to do good and feels good about it, he will reflect that in all his interactions … he will be more positive, which is itself the greatest gift we can give the species.

Whether it has the expected result of in some way creating less pollution … I wouldn’t even know how to measure that.

As for living in cities …. I don’t think the problem here is whether people ride the bus.

Our whole society is so toxic … it is massive over-production, massive over-consumption, toxic production techniques, massive energy inefficiency … the whole thing end to end is ridiculously damaging.

Not sure of where one lives makes a difference. Unless one really does go off-grid and raised animals and vegetables ….

But i sure hate living in cities ... hot and dirty, cold and dirty, packed with people living too close together and driving each other crazy.

I am not sure mankind was meant to live in clumps that dense ... not sure that the collected psychic energy, all the hate and negativity and stress, ever leaches away ... it just pools, and drowns people.
Look at that. We can be philosophical.
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Old 04-26-18, 02:29 PM
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We repeat this discussion often
Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
Maybe, but you need more resources supported from more land outside of your area.
The total land footprint is less for people in a dense urban areas - it includes the land you occupy with your home and lifestyle, and the land that feeds you and provides resources. People who live outside the dense city core mostly don’t draw significant resources from their own land, especially if it is mostly lawn. Thus, thyy use a lot more land for living (and driving and shopping on) than the city folk, plus the same amount as the city folk for food and resources. And in most cases, just like city people, a lot of it comes from far away.
Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
You create heat islands, undisputed by observation.
It hasn't been shown that this is more harmful than the even higher amounts of heat non-urban first world people create, where the effects are a bit more dispersed and thus less immediately obvious.
Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
You build structures if steel, concrete, glass and plastic rather than natural material.
Per person, far more concrete gets laid down in non dense areas served by massive networks of rural roads and freeways, than in cities, and far more building material is used in 1000 ranch homes than in 1000 apartments/condo units.
Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
You change the weather patterns as they have in Chicago.
That's a local effect. Global weather patterns are changing thanks to greenhouse gases, and you generate more of those, if you live non-densely, thanks to more miles driven by cars, delivery trucks, school buses etc. and higher home, office and shopping mall energy usage.
Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
You trap your own pollution and need assistance to dispose of your waste.
Bad air quality is now regional and not confined to cities, but even where it is worse in cities, that is not an indication the cities are creating more pollution than the same number of people living in outlying areas – they’re actually creating less - just that they aren't dispersing it as effectively. I honestly don't know if a sewage plant that serves a million homes is more or less “green” than digging and servicing a million septic systems – do you have data on that? As for household garbage, most of us have it trucked away wherever we live – it’s not some special city thing. And the garbage truck has to drive a lot further between homes, outside the city than inside.

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Old 04-26-18, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
You change the weather patterns as they have in Chicago.
Originally Posted by cooker View Post
That's a local effect. Global weather patterns are changing thanks to greenhouse gases, and you generate more of those, if you live non-densely, thanks to more miles driven by cars, delivery trucks, school buses etc. and higher home, office and shopping mall energy usage.
Global weather is the combination of many local weather patterns.

Arizona, because of air conditioning and lawn-watering, has a drastically changed regional climate—but that doesn’t affect anything outside the borders, because the atmosphere respects state lines, right?

Florida, because of paving and because of the harm done to the everglades, has had its climate changed … but that doesn’t affect anywhere else, I am sure.

Sorry … but the idea that changing local weather patterns doesn’t change regional, and global weather … not quite sure that is what you meant to say.

I mean, if there was only one atmosphere, and one ocean, and energy flowed around from higher to lower concentrations, like, in an entropic situation or something … but that’s’s not how it is. Climate change in Chicago ends at the city limits. We all know that.

Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I honestly don't know if a sewage plant that serves a million homes is more or less “green” than digging and servicing a million septic systems – do you have data on that?
No, but a septic tank is basically a storage tank for waste, which processes itself naturally. The sludge doesn’t need the degree to treatment that city sewage does. Same with water. City sewage plants need to use huge amounts of chemicals and energy to sterilize and filter waste and water … and the water needs to get back into the system pretty quickly.

I don’t have numbers on pollution, but it seems pretty clear that less pollution going into more water requires less treatment than more pollution going into less water. Some towns don’t even need to have water reclamation or water treatment plants ….. and some cities pump wastewater right back into the system non-stop.

Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
You trap your own polution and need assistance to dispose of your waste.
Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Bad air quality is now regional and not confined to cities, but even where it is worse in cities, that is not an indication the cities are creating more pollution than the same number of people living in outlying areas – they’re actually creating less - just that they aren't dispersing it as effectively.
Oi.

Yeah, as LA, Mexico City, and Beijing residents could all tell you. You freely admit that all those people living that close together creates a tremendously unhealthy environment … and then you recommend it? Go move to Beijing and after several years ask me if you think local air quality matters.

I didn’t mention just volume of waste … I mentioned Concentration of waste.

Same with factory farming as opposed to open-range farming. Talk to the people whole live near those pork factories about concentrated versus dispersed pollution.

Free-range people can live much healthier lives. Pack people closely together and they can do just the opposite.

Not trying to argue … I don’t have science to back up my observations and thoughts any more than you do. But if you think living packed together is a good thing, I suggest you get a very small apartment in a very dirty city and report back when you have science.

Your points about lawns are well taken. Nothing is so stupid or wasteful (that’s hyperbole, so don’t even think about taking it otherwise) as spending fresh water, and time, and effort, and plant food and all that on grass … particularly non-native species.

No food value, very little value at all …. Beats pavement but doesn’t beat native vegetation, and certainly doesn’t beat a food garden.

But space is a good thing. Packing people too closely together strikes me as a bad idea, mostly born out of economic need (I notice that as soon as people can they get larger apartments, or move right out of the city, or both.)

People used to huddle together for protection, and walled cities constrained city-dwellers to lie in tight confines … but you don’t see tight, tiny clusters of farm houses. Given the chance, most people seem to like to have a little space around them
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Old 04-26-18, 03:26 PM
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& the forces in the US want China/Asia to burn more Coal,Oil, Methane, Methanol. bought from them of course.

already selling off our fir forests in just 30 year rotations.








...
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Old 04-26-18, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Global weather is the combination of many local weather patterns.

Arizona, because of air conditioning and lawn-watering, has a drastically changed regional climate—but that doesn’t affect anything outside the borders, because the atmosphere respects state lines, right?

Florida, because of paving and because of the harm done to the everglades, has had its climate changed … but that doesn’t affect anywhere else, I am sure.

Sorry … but the idea that changing local weather patterns doesn’t change regional, and global weather … not quite sure that is what you meant to say.
You are right, it is not what I meant to say. Of course, Chicago's local effect is part of the global effect. My point was that the Chicago effect can't be used in isolation as evidence that urban density = bad. In fact, the Florida and Arizona effects are both probably due in part to low density development.
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Old 04-26-18, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Yeah, as LA, Mexico City, and Beijing residents could all tell you. You freely admit that all those people living that close together creates a tremendously unhealthy environment … and then you recommend it? Go move to Beijing and after several years ask me if you think local air quality matters.
LA's air is more polluted than New York's, partly because LA is less dense, and more people there drive. And half the pollution in cities comes from outside them. However the health of people living in cities is actually not worse than the health of people living outside the city core.
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Old 04-26-18, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
You are right, it is not what I meant to say. Of course, Chicago's local effect is part of the global effect. My point was that the Chicago effect can't be used in isolation as evidence that urban density = bad. In fact, the Florida and Arizona effects are both probably due in part to low density development.
as a plilosophical exercise could these prices for living expenses be close in your city. I am interested because i would like to see what utility costs are. https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/toronto

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Old 04-26-18, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
as a plilosophical exercise could these prices for living expenses be close in your city. I am interested because i would like to see what utility costs are. https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/toronto
Are we switching from philosophy to economics?

I'm not sure what you are asking about - the cost of utilities like sewage, electricity etc. or goods and services, or the cost of housing?
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Old 04-26-18, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevkev View Post
I'm a college student in the process of making an 18-year-old mountain bike into a commuting rig because I can't afford both a car (or the insurance, or the gas) and tuition, and I also like the ideas of being independent of a public transit timetable and minimizing the amount of pollution I produce. I've been using a mix of public transportation and cycling, and the other day I realized that once I start exclusively using my bike, the busses aren't going to stop running. They're going to consume fuel and emit pollutants whether I ride them or not.
For that reason, I think the question of whether or not to use public transit is more about self-reliance than about pollution, but in your opinion, is using public transit consistent with a pollution-minimal lifestyle?
This doesn't answer your question, but as a person who questions everything, and sees a lot more as I live on my bike (I've also toured extensively, commuted, and been car-free for 13 yrs), about a year or two ago I realized that in concept, the bus was a great idea. However, in practise, it's a pathetic invention. Oversized, gas guzzling, environmentally unfriendly, etc. And being that its 2018 and we still haven't improved on it much speaks volumes.
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Old 04-26-18, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Are we switching from philosophy to economics?

I'm not sure what you are asking about - the cost of utilities like sewage, electricity etc. or goods and services, or the cost of housing?
Not really, I am trying to show that what one person believes is the best way to cut back on their carbon footprint can just as easily be accomplished by another without adopting that solution at all. Someone might be able to save more in energy costs by modifying their home than another can by taking the bus. Energy costs would be a good metric. Is the gas and electric for heating and cooling in the ball park on a monthly basis based on the link I posted?
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Old 04-27-18, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
Not really, I am trying to show that what one person believes is the best way to cut back on their carbon footprint can just as easily be accomplished by another without adopting that solution at all. Someone might be able to save more in energy costs by modifying their home than another can by taking the bus. Energy costs would be a good metric. Is the gas and electric for heating and cooling in the ball park on a monthly basis based on the link I posted?
It's absolutely true that there are multiple ways to lower your footprint wherever you live. I'm not sure what the utility costs will tell you, because prices vary by jurisdiction and are often artificial, for example not including stranded utlity debt and so on, and of course you'd have to compare cities of similar climates, similar age housing stock, similar building codes etc. In general a smaller house will be cheaper to heat than a large one and an apartment still cheaper to heat. The urban island heat effect will lower winter heating costs but might raise summer air conditioning costs. Some downtown Toronto towers mitigate that using deep lake water cooling so they aren't pumping hot air out, but I don't know if that will at some point harm Lake Ontario.

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Old 04-27-18, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
LA's air is more polluted than New York's, partly because LA is less dense, and more people there drive.
prove that, please.

I had thought LA had particularly bad air because geography and wind patterns... mountains on three sides and offshore breezes keeping the pollution piled up.

if you have some evidence supporting your claim I would be open to reading it.
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Old 04-27-18, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
prove that, please.

I had thought LA had particularly bad air because geography and wind patterns... mountains on three sides and offshore breezes keeping the pollution piled up.

if you have some evidence supporting your claim I would be open to reading it.
You just posted that you have no science to back you up, but you expect it from me? LOL

Here's a first offering: "According to the Federal Highway Administration, Angelenos drive 23 miles per resident per day. This ranks the Los Angeles metro area 21st highest among the largest 37 cities. The champions (or losers) are probably Houston, followed by Jacksonville and Orlando, all of which are over 30 miles per day. New Yorkers drive the fewest miles (17 VMT per resident per day), thanks in large part to relatively high transit ridership and lots of walking trips." Los Angeles Transportation Facts and Fiction: Driving and Delay - Freakonomics Freakonomics

If LA is a natural smog trap, you'd think they would go out of their way to limit causes of smog like driving, instead of promoting it with hundreds of miles of freeways.


EDIT - I was actually surprised that the New York numbers were as high as they were, even though they are the lowest of any large American city. I guess it's because the people who live centrally are less likely to drive and the people who live farther out like Staten Island, are more likely to drive and have long commutes. I would also be tempted to speculate, but I haven't found a source yet, that New Yorkers on average also have smaller vehicles than Los Angelenos

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Old 04-27-18, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
You just posted that you have no science to back you up, but you expect it from me? LOL

Here's a first offering: "According to the Federal Highway Administration, Angelenos drive 23 miles per resident per day. This ranks the Los Angeles metro area 21st highest among the largest 37 cities. The champions (or losers) are probably Houston, followed by Jacksonville and Orlando, all of which are over 30 miles per day. New Yorkers drive the fewest miles (17 VMT per resident per day), thanks in large part to relatively high transit ridership and lots of walking trips." Los Angeles Transportation Facts and Fiction: Driving and Delay - Freakonomics Freakonomics

If LA is a natural smog trap, you'd think they would go out of their way to limit causes of smog like driving, instead of promoting it with hundreds of miles of freeways.


EDIT - I was actually surprised that the New York numbers were as high as they were, even though they are the lowest of any large American city. I guess it's because the people who live centrally are less likely to drive and the people who live farther out like Staten Island, are more likely to drive and have long commutes. I would also be tempted to speculate, but I haven't found a source yet, that New Yorkers on average also have smaller vehicles than Los Angelenos
I am not sure Cars are always the major problem. Take a look at highly dense cities in China compared to the U.S. and we are not talking a little difference. Xingtai Has a population of over 7 million people and might be the most polluted city in the world. Some might have forgotten about the olympics in China and how the residents wore masks to walk in the streets? https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmc.../#4be8b7142362
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