No, you really don’t need to drive everywhere

Matt Yglesias laments the traffic and high cost of “free” parking in Acadia National Park.

Frankly, there is a better way. At some parks your admission fee includes passage on shuttle buses which provide a convenient alternative to driving your own car in the park and having to park it.

At Zion personal cars are prohibited unless you have a reservation to stay at the in-park lodge. At Bryce Canyon cars are discouraged due to parking constraints, and most people choose to take the bus.

The chaos is not part of the fun. These parks have millions of visitors and that many cars adds noise and pollution. Acadia might not be as heavily visited, but the same principles would apply.

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Speaking of new rules…

Another advocate that we stop pretending there are two sides to every issue.

Read Bill Maher’s commentary on it here.

That’s the problem with our obsession with always seeing two sides of every issue equally — especially when one side has a lot of money. It means we have to pretend there are always two truths, and the side that doesn’t know anything has something to say. On this side of the debate: Every scientist in the world. On the other: Mr. Potato Head.

There is no debate here — just scientists vs. non-scientists, and since the topic is science, the non-scientists don’t get a vote. We shouldn’t decide everything by polling the masses. Just because most people believe something doesn’t make it true. This is the fallacy called argumentum ad numeram: the idea that something is true because great numbers believe it. As in: Eat shit, 20 trillion flies can’t be wrong.

No clue how bad it’s going to get

A sad but enlightening piece at HuffPo that sheds some light on the BP disaster, and highlights that optimistic rhetoric coming forth from government and industry officials notwithstanding, the harsh reality is we have no clue when, if ever, the spill will be plugged, and therefore no clue how bad the environmental damage will be.  This has potential to be a catastrophic event with impact worldwide.

The Ixtoc disaster, however, is spit in the ocean compared to the British Petroleum apocalypse. Estimates are the current blowout is putting 200,000 gallons or 5000 barrels of crude per day into the waters of the Gulf. Ixtoc’s blowout was not capped until two relief wells were drilled and completed at the end of those nine months, and regardless of optimistic scenarios from the federal government or BP, relieving the pressure on the current flow is probably the only way to stop the polluting release of oil. The only way to relieve that pressure is with additional wells. No one is going to honestly say how much time is needed to drill such wells but consider the scope of environmental damage we are confronting if it requires at least as long as Ixtoc. Nine months of 5000 barrels of crude per day ought to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a lifeless spill pond and set toxins on currents that will carry them to deadly business around the globe.

NOAA apparently believes the situation is on the verge of getting worse. A leaked memo suggests that the tangle of pipes on the ocean floor are covering and constraining two other release points. Pressure is likely to blow those loose and, according to NOAA, the gusher will increase by “orders of magnitude.” In most interpretations, that phrase means a ten-fold rise in the flow, which will replicate the Ixtoc disaster in three days.

It’s not really been discussed enough, but this deep sea drilling is bleeding edge stuff, not the slam dunk that has been sold to the public, and the US regulatory apparatus simply isn’t up to the task of providing adequate oversight and demanding adequate safeguards.

Mr. Obama, can we PLEASE start moving on a sane, defensible, forward thinking energy policy?