Monday, October 26, 2009

Do You Believe In Global Warming?

According to a new report out from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, fewer Americans believe that world temperatures are warming and fewer and fewer see climate change as a very serious problem. Here's more on that study.

I'll tell you who does believe in climate change though- Governor Chris Gregoire. Earlier this year, Gregoire signed an executive order to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and increase transportation and fuel-conservation options. The order requires Metropolitan Planning Organizations like SRTC to develop strategies to reduce surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and it provides target reduction rates and goals.

For instance, in order to reduce emissions, Gov. Gregoire would like to reduce total vehicle miles travelled by 18% by the year 2020, 30% by 2035, and 50% by 2050. That means you would be required to drive 50% less than you currently do by 2050!

Some ideas on how to encourage people to drive less include:

• Significantly increasing parking fees
• Reducing the parking supply
• Basing auto insurance rates on miles driven
• Creating a tax based on miles driven

SRTC staff will continue to track the effort to reduce greenhouse gases in the coming months and keep you updated. So what's your opinion on this? Do you believe in global warming? And do you think Governor Gregoire's target goals are too aggressive at this time?


Charles said...

I am not real sure about global warming caused by man, but since government does it is rather a moot question. I do think we could conserve a lot of energy and maybe that will stop or slow the global warming. My dad bought a Model T truck in the 1920s to haul logs, and he got along pretty well with the 20 horsepower 4 cylinder motor, so do we need 350 horsepower to drive a few blocks to the grocery store? I drive a 1994 Ford Escort Station Wagon it also has a 4 cylinder motor, but I bet much more than the 20 horsepower Model T, and it gets better mileage than the Model T, so we could improve the mileage of most cars. I realize we still need the big trucks for freight, although the rail roads are more efficient so will we start using more rail transport. The other question was will we drive 50% less by 2050, I expect to be driving 100% less by then (I will be 102 by then), but will the average person? Not unless we make rail and bus and bike transportation a lot better than it is today.

SRTC Staff said...

That's amazing that a Model T truck could haul logs in 1920 but we need (or think we need, anyway) super SUVs like Hummers to navigate city streets during the winter in this day and age.

I also believe we could improve gas mileage, but figure the gasoline, and other, companies have prevented that from happening so far.

As for driving 50% less in 2050, I personally don't see it unless something drastic happens. People love their cars and don't like inconveniences of public transportation such as having to wait for a bus or changing their clothes after riding their bikes to work. Charge them per mile to drive or $20 a day to park downtown and that might change though.

Charles said...

If they charged $20 a day for parking downtown it would soon be a ghost town. People now avoid downtown because of the cost of parking while the malls have free parking.

SRTC Staff said...

I meant parking in the surface lots for commuters; people who work downtown- but your comment illustrates the fine line that planners and others walk. On one hand, they want to get people into the city centers, but on the other hand they want them to get there by methods other than driving alone.

When pedestrian advocate Mark Fenton was in town, he told a story about an area in Washington D.C. where they cranked the parking fees up to almost $40 a day! Commuters could pay that or park about 1/4-1/2 a mile away and pay $2 to park. Apparently that cut down on single occupancy drivers in the city core by almost 80%. Oh yeah, and I guess they started to see a lot of weight loss in the people who parked and walked. A bonus side effect I guess.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the first options to reduce trip miles is always a punitive one? How about first implementing workable alternatives first? If there aren't *workable* alternatives, then the punitive options just create economic chaos.

And the alternatives have to be *workable*; using a bus to transport groceries might work for a single individual (as long as the route has frequent operations, rider doesn't have to transfer and only needs to buy 2 or less bags of groceries, and lives close enough that the frozen food doesn't melt), but it's pretty much insane to expect to haul a family's groceries.

Before you attempt a punitive option, try surveying those that would be affected to find out what their transportation requirements actually are and see if you can implement an alternative that would accommodate the bulk of those requirements. When that is done, punitive options are rarely needed, a lot of folks will willingly use the alternative.


SRTC Staff said...

Thanks for the comment Dave. Those items I mentioned as possible ways to cut down on vehicle miles travelled and greenhouse gasses were merely suggestions either given to us by the governer's office or measures that were taken in other communities. Right now, the first steps that will be taken are education.

And we're not exactly sure if this executive order will stand. PSRC (Puget Sound Regional Council) did some experimenting and found that, even if they change their 'model' (let me know if you're not familiar with transportation models) to a scenario where every single vehicle on the road was an electric car, they could meet the required reduction in green house gases, but not the required reduction in miles travelled. So they ran the model again, this time cutting down the miles travelled, but then they didn't meet the greenhouse gas reduction requirement. So, we're not even sure at this point that this is a realistic goal. That's why I said that SRTC staff is continuing to monitor the situation. Of course, when we hear something like this, our first tendency is to freak out :)

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.