Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bike-sharing in Brașov, Romania

You have to leave some form of ID though and return the bike to the same place. A start though.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Environmentally-friendly hot water in Bucharest, Romania

Below is a cityscape photo I took of Bucharest. The building in the foreground has black pipes which absorb the sun and heat the water inside them. Cool :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Water in yoghurt pots

I keep going places in Turkey where water is given to you in these little plastic containers, like yoghurt pots. It probably uses less plastic than a small bottle of water, so that must be 'a good thing' if that is the right comparison. Only, I think that the alternative should be either filtered tap water or else a large bottle of water. Unfortunately, I've been in a few restaurants where the water is poured into your glass from a really small bottle of maybe just 200ml. I grit my teeth when I see it...

Istanbul bike lane Fail

A good effort though:

(the bus is parked - it seems you should cycle straight into the doors)

It reminds me of this NYC video:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Air pollution in Ankara, Turkey

Here is a photo of Ankara taken from my temporary office window. Notice the thick layer of smog over the city. 

I found an article from a Turkish newspaper taking about Ankara's air pollution:

"The large increase in natural gas prices and the distribution of free coal by municipalities prior to local elections has led to an enormous jump in pollution levels in Ankara, reaching 9,350 micrograms per cubic meter in the Sıhhiye district. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, the acceptable level of pollution is a maximum of 300 micrograms. "This is one of the highest levels in the world’s history. When pollution rose over 4,000 micrograms per cubic meter in London in 1952, approximately 4,000 people died," Dr. Recep Akdur, an expert in public health, said yesterday." (December, 2008)

Air pollution seems to be an issue for Ankara and elsewhere and can have significant negative health impacts - in cities more than elsewhere. A research paper recommends switching away from coal (rather than distributing it free, as has happened in the past in Ankara-before elections, I am told). Given transport is also partly responsible, efforts to switch to electric cars can also have a beneficial impact on urban pollution and hence public health.

Good economics is about wellbeing or happiness (utility), not only about getting rich, although this is obviously an important component. Pollution on these levels reduces life quality, life expectancy and the negative impact on health likely causes lost work days and school, reducing human capital, economic output and wealth. This youtube video shows the true cost of fuel which takes into account these negative side-effects:

High-pollution development models are reaching their limit.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living with limits: growth, resources and climate change

"The affluent economy enjoyed until recently by just a small proportion of the world's human population is now becoming global. Billions of hitherto poor people not only aspire to the standards of living of the advanced countries, but expect to achieve them within their lifetimes. But such a leap will, on anything like current trends, impose vastly greater demands on the planet's resources and threaten profound changes in the global environment. Is this tension between human aspirations and natural limits manageable technologically, economically, socially and politically? A way must be found to combine economic dynamism with respect for natural limits. This, in turn, will demand profound changes not just in the economy, but in governance at all levels. Of all these challenges, climate change is the most intractable. This is the most difficult collective action problem in all of human history - inherently global, extremely long term, technologically demanding and replete with deep distributional questions. The lecture will ask whether humanity has any hope of addressing these challenges successfully."

The Grantham Institute for Climate Change Annual Lecture 2011 by Martin Wolf of the FT on the 3rd November in London.

Full information HERE.

(HT: JT)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Green car sharing

I was wandering around the streets of our fine European capital the other day and I snapped a photo of these great zencars:

It's a carsharing scheme like zipcar but the cars are all electric. How great is that?! You can see that the cars are plugged in and charging in the photo*. Electric carsharing is coming soon to Paris through Autolib (see also THIS interesting article in the Economist about the man responsible). 

These are all a bit like the bike-sharing schemes like Capital Bikeshare (in DC), Vélib (in Paris), Boris bikes (in London - yes not the official site, but I like this better), and, happily, Mejor en Bici in Buenos Aires.

It would be great if ways to encourage urbanites in polluted developing country cities to use electric cars as an alternative to petrol ones could be found. 

*As an aside, note the bits of Berlin Wall in the background on Place du Luxembourg.