Ethanol-blend auto emissions no greener than gasoline

According to CBC, a Canadian study says Ethanol-blend auto emissions no greener than gasoline. Of course, using farm products for energy will drive up the price of food, a point the keen economic analyst Fidel Castro makes .
An interesting book on the consequences of energy extraction is Peter Huber’s Hard Green . The book makes the point that the consequences of oil extraction on the land are quite small, as an oil drill is not large, compared with the visible environmental consequences on the land of extracting energy from other sources.

From Today’s The Guardian

From Today’s The Guardian:
No Not Coal:
Coal comeback pushes up UK emissions | Climate change | Guardian Unlimited Environment
No, Not Biofuels:
Castro warns poor will starve for greener fuel | Energy | Guardian Unlimited Environment
Yes, let’s get a soccer coach to spread the word …
Sir Alex Ferguson joins Gore’s climate A-team | Climate change | Guardian Unlimited Environment
The Oblivous
BMW unveils assembly plant in India | | Guardian Unlimited Business
So if Britain has an annual uptick in carbon despite long term progress (presumably because of trends not government policy), there is a round of self-flagellation. If the western countries think about substituting bio-fuels for petroleum, there is condemnation (from Fidel Castro, what else is he going to say, the US is pursuing the right policy?), and if Al Gore meets with a football (soccer) coach to propound his messianic (Cassandric) propaganda campaign, there are cheers. But if BMW builds a car factory in India, a country 20 times the size of England which is growing quickly and will eventually consume more cars, produce more pollution, and be stuck in traffic far longer, nary a peep on the environmental consequences is mentioned.

London’s only 24-hour pharmacy

Can it possibly be that London, England, a city of about 7.5 million people, has only one 24-hour pharmacy. London News : 24-hour London. For a city that is a contender for “capital of the world”, this is surprising. The reason this question comes up is the birth of our daughter Olivia, and the need for some medical equipment for my wife on a Sunday evening. Coming from the United States where the “I want it and I want it now” culture has produced a significant *spontaneous* 24-hour expectation, I was surprised to find that all of the typical suspects in pharmacy: namely Boots and Superdrug were closed, not merely in Putney, but almost everywhere.
Fortunately Zafash Pharmacy (near Earl’s Court at 233 Old Brompton Road SW 5) was open, and I got from home there, did the transaction, and got back in 67 minutes via transit (The 22 bus and walking there, the 74 and 22 buses back). Google Maps puts it at 3.4 miles via road, and says 8 minutes (not a chance, even if I were in my car, even at 7 pm on a Sunday night).
One could talk about Zafesh, run by immigrants or maybe 2nd generation Londoners who have a unique entrepreneurial spirit, and how great that is. Though of course it would be par for the course in the US. In my mind the question isn’t why they are open, but why the others are closed.
Perhaps regulation has something to do with it, I don’t know the extent to which neighborhoods have imposed zoning regulations limiting hourly openings. Perhaps it is the costs of paying overtime. Perhaps is is the draining of the entrepreneurial spirit in this home to capitalism. In the US pharmacies are in fierce competition with supermarkets (which have been 24 hours in many locales for a couple of decades now, starting since they were doing overnight stocking anyway).
While I could understand why the local card shop isn’t 24 hours, cards are not an emergency item, medicine is.
In addition to being bad for customers, it seems that business here is leaving money on the table.

Topology of Urban Transportation Networks

The Urban Economics blog has an interesting post by Efrat Blumenfeld-Lieberthal, who I met while visiting Michael Batty’s CASA shop at UCL: Topology of urban transportation networks. It was nice to see correlations between economic development and network structure for intercity networks.

Mapping Accessibility Over Time

A new paper with Ahmed El-Geneidy publishes some of our results from the Access to Destinations Project … Mapping Accessibility Over Time is now available for download from the Journal of Maps
The Journal of Maps is freely available, though registration is required (user name = email … this is not immediately obvious).
The abstract notes:
“This study compares the changes in levels of accessibility over time in the Minneapolis – St. Paul region using two different modes (car and public transport). The importance of accessibility as a measure of land use and transportation planning performance in the region is revealed by comparing it over time. The longitudinal analysis being conducted shows increases in accessibility by car in most areas in the studied region, and a drop in accessibility by public transport over the period 1990 to 2000. The findings are compared to the levels of congestion in the region between the same time periods. This comparison shows the difference between the two measures and strengthens the importance of accessibility measures as a tool for monitoring and evaluating regional land use and transportation planning performance.”

Too Expensive to Meter

Mr recent paper with Andrew Odlyzko, Too expensive to meter: The influence of transaction costs on commuications has obtained some external notice:

Google transit

In addition to owning the search market, Google is also a private mass transit operator: from the New York Times: Google%u2019s Buses Help Its Workers Beat the Rush “The company now ferries about 1,200 employees to and from Google daily — nearly one-fourth of its local work force — aboard 32 shuttle buses equipped with comfortable leather seats and wireless Internet access. Bicycles are allowed on exterior racks, and dogs on forward seats, or on their owners’ laps if the buses run full.”
Note: Google is not operating a light rail system.

Ted Stevens’ Polar Express

This is why the federal government should be restricted to projects with interstate significance.

The Co-Evolution of London’s Land Use and Transport

updated August 25, 2009:
For those of you who doubt I am doing work over in London, I have completed two other papers (in addition to “Too Expensive to Meter” based on my research over here):

  • Levinson, David (2008) The Orderliness Hypothesis: Does Population Density Explain the Sequence of Rail Station Opening in London? Journal of Transport History 29(1) March 2008 pp.98-114.[download]
  • Network growth is a complex phenomenon. Some have suggested that it occurs in an orderly or rational way, based on the size of the places that are connected. David Levinson examines the order in which stations were added to the London surface rail and Underground rail networks in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, testing the extent to which order correlates with population density. While population density is an important factor in explaining order, he shows that other factors were at work. The network itself helps to reshape land uses, and a network that may have been well ordered at one time may drift away from order as activities relocate.

  • Levinson, David (2008) Density and Dispersion: The Co-Development of Land use and Rail in London. Journal of Economic Geography 8(1) 55-57.
    JEG: [doi]
  • This article examines the changes that occurred in the rail network and density of population in London during the 19th and 20th centuries. It aims to disentangle the ‘chicken and egg’ problem of which came first, network or land development, through a set of statistical analyses clearly distinguishing events by order. Using panel data representing the 33 boroughs of London over each decade from 1871 to 2001, the research finds that there is a positive feedback effect between population density and network density. Additional rail stations (either Underground or surface) are positive factors leading to subsequent increases in population in the suburbs of London, while additional population density is a factor in subsequently deploying more rail. These effects differ in central London, where the additional accessibility produced by rail led to commercial development and concomitant depopulation. There are also differences in the effects associated with surface rail stations and Underground stations, as the Underground was able to get into central London in a way that surface rail could not. However, the two networks were weak (and statistically insignificant) substitutes for each other in the suburbs, while the density of surface rail stations was a complement to the Underground in the center, though not vice versa.

Perhaps more interesting for the non-academic, we (Ahmed El-Geneidy, Feng Xie, and myself of the Nexus group) have put together three quicktime movies

  • 1.The co-evolution of London population density and surface (National) rail
  • 2.The co-evolution of London population density and the Underground
  • 3.The co-evolution of London population density and surface (National) rail and the Underground

These can be accessed from here.