Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for May 2nd, 2007

Global Dimming

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Global Dimming

This is a video from the BBC’s Horizon programme. I just stumbled upon it. I thought at first it was some odd attempt at satire. I was wrong. It is entirely serious and as important as Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”

It is not often that accidentally coming upon a tv programme I will stop everything for the length of the show and sit all the way through without moving. This documentary really scared me – but it also made absolute sense.

Air pollution – releasing particulates into the sky – by burning fossil fuels, has not only hurt our lungs, it has been helping to hold back global warming. Now that Europe is finally getting a grip on air pollution, the run away effect of more rapid warming can be seen. So it is not enough to make our smoke stacks and tail pipes cleaner, we have to get to grips with our energy use, and we have to do it quickly. Because the global climate models largely ignored global dimming. And they now need to be adjusted. Because without the dimming we have had, the warming is going be much faster than it has been. And the feedback effects will accelerate this change.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 2, 2007 at 3:44 pm

JetBlue employees arrested for credit card fraud

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| Oddly Enough | Reuters

I cannot for the life of me think why this falls into the “oddly enough” category

But I don’t think this would happen at WestJet.

But I have had a boarding card “retained” by an over officious “security” person at YVR. A whole bunch of them were standing around doing nothing as the line got longer and she didn’t like the fact that I drew attention to it. Of course, she denied it when challenged.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 2, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Air Travel

Westminster Wisdom: Netroots and Politics

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Westminster Wisdom: Netroots and Politics

Part of politics is self doubt- part of politics is questioning your own views as much as other people’s views- is realising that changing your mind is a sign of maturity and that beleiving you have reached a truth that you need not doubt is a great sign of arrested intellectual development. This isn’t a call against principle or against argument but it is a call for tolerance- all the phenomena I listed above seem to strike against that fundemental principle underlying all democratic discussion. In the end you might just be right and I might just be wrong- lets have the debate in those terms instead of hurling insults at each other and treating politics as though it were propaganda.

Every so often I click through my blogroll both to make sure the links still work but also to catch up on what these people are saying. This blog quoted above is about UK politics but the chunk I have quoted is one of those statements which so neatly sums up what I would have said if I had thought about it for long enough.

So instead of just posting a “right on” comment to his blog, I have put the quote here in the hope of spreading the word a bit wider.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 2, 2007 at 10:08 am

Posted in politics

Annie Leibovitz: one of the most gifted photographers alive

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Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog – art:

This is about photography, not about The Queen. For what it’s worth I look forward to the UK becoming the UR before Charlie boy takes over The Firm.

But please click the link to see the stunning pic and read Jonathan Jones

If ever there was a case of photography challenging painting, and winning on its chosen battleground, this is it. Liebovitz’s portrait of the Queen is a real work of art.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 2, 2007 at 8:02 am

Posted in Art, photography

No bridge cameras: Les

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Jeff Nagel Black Press, April 29, 2007

[I would put the link in to the portal but it seems to be crippled to deter bloggers]

B.C. Solicitor General John Les says he remains opposed to putting automated speeding ticket cameras on the dangerous Pattullo Bridge, despite new calls from police to reconsider the idea.

No. Well, saving lives is obviously much more important than defending stupid partisan decisions. Photo radar was unpopular with drivers who speed. Surprise! But that did not mean that after the election you had to reward them.

Since the BC Liberals care nothing at all about keeping election promises (see BC Rail sale for instance) or being consistent (sudden recent reverse to going green) I offer the following suggestion as something which will not only reduce the number of deaths on this bridge, but could also be implemented elsewhere where speeding and collision severities are highly correlated. [see note]


Average speed cameras are widely used in Britain. They began to be installed after it was noticed that while drivers would slow down where photo-radar boxes (“Gatsos”) where posted, they would speed up again in between the camera locations. So choosing a length of road carefully they installed two cameras,  one at each end of the stretch of road to be monitored. They did not use radar. They used image recognition technology to compare number plates, and matched the time records of the two cameras, to calculate the speed of the passing vehicles. If you get through the length of road too quickly you get a ticket. They are also used to monitor construction speed zones on freeways (motorways).

So now you know about an effective solution, let’s get to what Les really cares about. Spin. Optics.

Easy. It’s not photo radar! No radar speed detecting devices are used in this installation. It also releases police manpower to deal with other issues. Everyone thinks that police should have better things to do than slow down speeders.

This has also the benefit of being truthful. Unlike the spin put on the sale of BC Rail (“it wasn’t sold it was leased”).

Oh and it might save a few lives. Not that I expect Les to care about that, but the press lap that up.

[note] Speeding and collision severities are highly correlated everywhere.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 2, 2007 at 6:13 am

Posted in Road safety