Posted by: energyblogwalter | February 12, 2010

Re: Scientists should stick to science :: Toronto Star Feb 12, 2010–scientists-should-stick-to-science

email reply to Richard Gwyn:

Hi Mr Gwyn,

I’m concerned that the reference to scientists shortcomings are only a
means to cover up and justify the continuation of planetary pollution
and ever increasing population unabated.  Where was the importance
given to take the opportunity now to get off our polluted ways because
it would be now cheaper to do?  This was a colossal opportunity lost.
Thus readers may pass the buck further along for those smug in their
polluted lives.  Yes scientists made mistakes, but not all of them.
This is like saying because some math is wrong somewhere, all math is
wrong everywhere.  A stronger teaching moment was possible here in
that as science moves back and forth that any followup conclusions
must be accepted and can no longer be denied.  The goal posts can move
a step further by quashing the denier mentality, at the expense of
overreaching propaganda, and a caveat to each that conclusions are
subject to change.  That seems to be an ideal outcome here and I was
surprised you missed this opportunity to accept science over drama.

I can’t believe this is your desired outcome.  We have now an even
better chance to change our ways with the best possible result at a
far lower cost, but instead that idea is surprisingly missing, and
conspicuous from its absence.  Can this generation do nothing but
leave me their crap to clean up?

Recognizing failure is one thing.  Justifying continuation of
pollution is quite another.  Given a reprieve of this magnitude, we
are instead prepared to sit on our hands and do nothing, smirking
(hatefully so?) towards the generations around us who are destined to
suffer for it.  Thanks a bunch!  But again I think you don’t mean to
write off all responsibility?

I’m no longer young myself but still I argue with my dad all the time
about climate change.  A topic I have been aware of since 1994 or so
and given a science background I am not at all surprised of the human
factors.  Yet science continues.  It’s like democracy though, it needs
an infusion of purpose from time to time.  This is one of those times
and a wonderful teaching moment.  The goal posts move along at their
own pace, and not by their practitioners.  For a non-science public to
continue to miss the point can only continue with these missing
perspectives in an article such as yours.  If Canadians can become
aware of funny words like proroguing, then probabilistic outcomes
can’t be the chore it once was.

I enjoy your articles as they often highlight an important topic with
eloquence, but the curious case of the dog not barking here to
highlight the greatest opportunity in human history, to prevent global
suffering, leaves me stunned.

Best Regards,

Posted by: energyblogwalter | December 26, 2009

Re: Hume:Condo’s future needs mature debate–hume-condo-s-future-needs-mature-debate

Hume: Condo’s future needs mature debate

(email to Mr Hume)

Let me try to shape how such a debate would work from my perspective,
brain dump though it may be.  It might be useful, maybe not.  I’ll try
not to ramble too much 😉

First off, what kind of debate?  Not online when thestar doesn’t have
comments turned on, or with character limits and moderators with hours
between allowed posts which kill any online conversation.

How about comparison?  Find another writer to compare with in dueling
columns, over a few months.  Cities in Europe without condos are
liveable, walkable, bikeable, and have numerous market squares.
Copenhagen in the news was really cool.  A piece comparing issues
between cities would be interesting.  Mention Google Streetview.  Both
of you can then take us on a tour of a real citizen-based city.
Condos are also around but seemingly not designed as out of place low
quality mono-packing crates with windows on them.  Pride in city with
an eye towards improvements would be nice comparison and bring out
interesting merits from a mutual expert resident perspective.  It
might shake out the flaws and give us what remains, as a workable

However this runs the risk of creating a debate when there is no
debate to create, like climate change.  Why justify a debate if the
answers are based on having useful knowledge?  Without commonalities
then, the debates only waste our time.  Therefore no debate is
necessary, only increasing knowledge as used elsewhere.  Only
increased perspectives.

Both houses and condos in our current design require 100% of energy
from external sources but not in Sweden or elsewhere.  As well, only
condos have zero allowances in their contract, such you cannot reduce
your monthly condo fee if you put solar on a window or if you happen
to receive winter light and don’t need heating.  Death by fine print.
Houses however have a lot of options for reducing energy as well as
gardening potential, if land is available.  Some do not.  But many
streets are full of potential.

We cannot be green and solve climate change at 50, 25 or 10 stories.
Try 1-3 maybe 5 stories.  Try gardening.  What is the carrying
capacity for a building house or condo, with zero configuration to the
sun shining on this planet, zero geothermal, and zero solar panels?
Pretty low I’d imagine.  Include all these however and it will
probably go way up.  By how much?  What type of engineering is needed
to improve on that?  If its cheap relatively then there is no reason
to ignore it.  But ignoring the rational only serves to prevent
knowledge of it.

I’m reminded of a view from an apartment balcony in the Annex
somewhere.  Below me was a house at a 45 degree angle different than
from every other building on the block, including the apartment
building, streets, backyards, everything.  The shadow of the building
fell across the house and it lost all sunlight.  Trapped in time and
space.  This I found strange but then it dawned on me, that this house
was older than all of these buildings and infrastructure and had been
built back in the day with the planet in mind.  Winter sunlight.  If a
solution to building doesn’t even include the planet in which we live,
or with respect to the surrounding buildings that share our
neighbourhood to not block sunlight, this is then a definition of
total failure.  What retrofitting is needed?  What about other cities?
What is the plan of Tyson’s Corners and what will be the outcome?
What is their orientation compared to their geographical properties?
How does the respect of their neighbours improve their buildings of
similar design here?  These are more worthy comparisons.

As a design, having fewer stories to begin with means more overall
energy via geothermal and solar split between fewer people.  Paris has
5-7 stories and more than enough space because it’s spread out.  We
insist on packing it all together for a lesser result, which needs
more inputs.  Too many people in a lot means too much compensation,
delivery and transport.  However, fewer stories, more surface area on
the roof to support fewer number of people works and reduces 100%
external dependencies.  It isn’t zero, but it is at least not wholly
dependent, full of options, and can be done by a few people not
requiring teams of specialists.  Spread around that former tall
building on the street instead (we have the land).  Local economies
and local scales of construction.  Pride in appearance and location.
No more faceless glass.

I don’t see how any condo lasts the next 10 years due to peak oil and
energy crisis.  They will have to be renovated on the fly, with local
materials, without or with limited diesel, upwards of 15 stories, by a
few skilled people.  Really very unlikely and will represent the
epitome of Boomer Uselessness.  You could put up a plaque with the
names of every author that loves them for fame now but easier future

Boomer’s have failed to “debate” anything that interferes with their
“non-negotiable” way of life.  The fact is, we live on a planet with
specific utility and we need to reconnect to what that is again, not
dreams of limitless energy.  Local examples need to get the light of
day again.  I can’t debate against dreams and fallacies of a
generation of people who live only to pass the buck to others, even
their kids.  A criminal legacy?  I’ll not pay for it.  You can have
your condo.  The only future debate I’ll have is which building to
demolish first for the needed recycling.

The only reason condos exist is because of cheap abundant energy.
Take that away and their construction, maintenance, community
connection, let alone the supermarket capacity transportation imports
required to feed all those people drops like a stone.  Total denial is
required, as well as full reliance on nuclear energy and not the
planet.  Return to markets, not supermarkets, return to streets not
windtunnels, return to living not running away.  It could be quite
modern, European, fun, clean and green not to mention less depressing.
Make that normal.

There are some lower story condos that can be renovated to reduce
their dependencies, but those are few and far between compared to the
outright waste of current construction, “rules” and our future outlook
that is not based on reality of any kind.  Those rules have to change.
What rules are different between cities we like versus ours?

The real problem is that everyone insists on living downtown when that
is clearly insane.  New downtowns have to be considered, with
infrastructure, including all their matching amendities of sports and
recreation.  ACC North?  Metro is full and construction infill etc
needs to be banned but not the other sections.  Other parts of
Toronto; Etobicoke, NY, Scar, would at least be the new focus of
development with a banned downtown.  Thus, a new understanding on
carrying capacity might shake people awake in order to get everyone on
the same level.

These areas can even build better, utilizing the good ideas, and not
get the full useless density of downtown but hit instead a happy
medium capable of public transportation, grids based on the planet not
a map, gardening, and winter sunlight all at once.  The downtown needs
to de-populate for any quality of life to return.  Stopping the
hundreds or thousands a day or whatever the statistic is from entering
the downtown might even bolster taxpayers from increases, from running
faster and faster to stand in place, from leaving the downtown.
Toronto is now more than just metro and no one seems to grasp this.
Council shouldn’t care on a downtwon ban because they would still get
their rents from business investing uptown.  Total win.

I realize you cannot receive a paycheque if you are telling similar
insights in print, and some articles do imply an understanding and
dread of what we will be facing in future.  But please don’t keep
pretending that this pretend way of life is grand or even one of
redeemable merit.  If you can break free of these printed delusions I
believe you would be wonderful in writing the deeper potential of our
new living arrangements far deeper than I can with far more
interesting local connections.  I would certainly welcome such insight
and rationality.  Much better and positive than the perpetuation of
reasons on why condos must truly fail and implode from the weight of
its own stupidity.

If you have read books by Jane Jacobs,
also “The Geography of Nowhere” and “The Long Emergency” from James
Howard Kunstler,
also “Transport Revolutions: Moving Freight without oil”,
also “Our Choice: A Plan to solve the Climate Crisis” from Al Gore,
how then does anyone not reach similarly shaped conclusions of
positive change, net postive carbon sinks, development, and happy

What debate would exist if people are turned on to knowledgeable
examples with knowledgeable reasons all linked together, compared to
continuing the mindset of the useless Boomer and his/her blind
stubborn ignorance?

Who wants to waste their time talking to that?

With Best Regards,

Posted by: energyblogwalter | December 6, 2009

Dear Anti Climate Change Raving Nutter…

Dear Anti-Climate Change Raving Nutter;

I’ve enjoyed these last few weeks in the blogosphere, but let’s have a time out and consider what’s going on.

If you didn’t know already, you’re being played by the Manufactured Doubt Industry who are now the Anti-Climate-Change Industry.  Apparently this has been going on since 1954 when Big Tobacco fought science that showed lung disease.  This was the reason why you received a higher education (at some point) such that you are not such a push over / shill for anyone with an agenda.

Don’t confuse.  Being skeptical is actually okay!  That’s how science is confirmed and improved upon.

Here’s a link for you showing this Manufactured Doubt history.  Excellent observations here, by a PhD scientist (sorry) and explains how this also works for the rabid anti-climate change lobbyists.  Not to play sides, he also shows where rabid environmentalists have missed the boat and why they also fail.  Perspective is golden.

Good historical post linked below.  Well thought out, points easy to follow, relevant links to topic.  Even a raving nutter, on either side, might enjoy learning from it, such that they might even return to being a useful skeptic, no longer a part of the Manufactured Doubt industry.

I’m not Morpheus, but there’s still time for you to Free Your Mind

Posted by: energyblogwalter | December 1, 2009

Real Condo Critic : Toronto’s new plan to kill the waterfront

mini-Manhattan pure fantasy, not possible in post carbon world–famed-architect-unveils-plan-for-queens-quay-jewel

Here is Toronto’s new proposed Parkside Queen’s Quay project even though we are billions in debt.  Out of touch are we?   Nothing quite like says kill the waterfront than giant buildings on its edge.  We can’t recover from Peak Oil and Climate Change at 10, 20, or 40 stories.  No possible.  Try 5 or less.  The energy available just doesn’t allow for this scale to continue.  Why not solar?  Why not something at least that looks like it cares?  This is a backward project for a backward age.

Generally we use around 10W- 14W per meter squared and the earth supplies us with 1W.  More than enough, but does not work with too many people in one spot.  This is an energy inequity that we need to make up for.  Thus in order to do that, we need a lot of surface area in order to utilize the planetary renewable resources.  (Y’know, the planet?  Remember that?)   Everything depicted would need equivalent geothermal drilling more than the height of the building, and that seems unlikely as a waterfront construction.  Developers barely notice.  This is a renewable renovation nightmare.

“””Moshe Safdie calls his design for a 36-storey bayfront tower, to be built on Sherbourne between Lake Shore (Gardiner) and Queens Quay, a vision for “gardens in the sky.” It will include plant-covered roofs and stepped balcony gardens to create green space on virtually every floor and in it dramatic six-storey atrium. The first project in the East Bayshore waterfront development area, will include retail on the ground floor, a daycare and office/cultural space in the 38-metre podium, with the rest residential – and at least 5% of units three bedrooms or more, to welcome families. for WATERFRONT”””

Gardens in the sky?  We need gardens.  At 5 stories or less, the available energy per building is much improved, from land and sun thus allowing people to live there who will benefit by whatever outcome of upcoming international carbon agreements.  That’s reality not fantasy.

Thousands more living in a small area, means more energy used, not less.  Residents better pray for nuclear power, or else they’ll get a polluting natural gas plant like South Oakville is fighting against right now.

Contrast with smaller buildings, smaller geothermal, more lake hydrothermal, using solar and gardens, both on rooftops and on surrounding land.  Put that together means reducing energy loads while adding convenience for food and walkable communities.  Reduce carbon and energy usage, reduce pollution.

Project zero point in retrofitting.  Full demolition and for parts during Peak Oil.

Post Carbon Rating :: gazillion FFFFFFFF

Posted by: energyblogwalter | November 25, 2009

Ryerson University offers first ever Food Security Certificate

Interesting what you find out these days.  Seems Ryerson University down the street from me is offering “…a post-degree Certificate in Food Security. This cutting-edge program is offered nowhere else in the world, and can be completed entirely through the convenience of distance education.”

Link here:

And will cover hunger and poverty, food policy and programs, community development, urban food security, and global nutrition split up into four courses:

Wow, this is great for those who want to understand what local sustainable food systems really are and how to implement them.

Note that some links on the site are not working as I type, so use the main link instead or contact the director of admissions on the page.  Once again, these are Distance Education courses.

Posted by: energyblogwalter | November 24, 2009

I am Jack’s Climate Change Denier Fight Club Guide

Didn’t Fight Club have a joke about Jack?  We need a Jack Catalogue, a trolling reference for bloggers.  This would be a listing of every cheap shot logical argument online for easy reference.

Why?  Every thread about science today is another Fight Club, full of denial and annoying posts.  I fight that fight and am glad I do on various news website threads.  I’m sure you have also hit a thread of Jack’s and I’ll note some characteristics below.

All are fallacies, errors of logic of one kind or another designed to muddle up your thinking and be confusing, all to waste your time.  This is what education was designed to prevent you from being a victim of, so you’re not taken in by a scam artist or bad ideas.

What to do? By all means be conciliatory or note doubts, ask good questions.  That is indeed how science works.  But not lies, boldface lies, and subterfuge.  Mention a link but not dozens.  Better to just mention a source by name and title and let the reader figure it out.

If online I welcome you to call them out with a Jack Fallacy.   Feel free to label a Denier to clarify how they are using their argument. Also important, if they cop up to it or explain their reasoning, thank them and apologize.  We all need to keep the conversation going, and being polite but direct I find the most effective. (It drives them crazy)

Here’s what I have so far.  Taking the “I am Jack’s..” first person motif in Fight Club, thus a Denier would have their self-aware post talk back to them with:

I am Jack’s Misguided Conclusion

I am Jack’s Mention of Different Geography In Another Country That I Have No Control Over

I am Jack’s Irrelevant Comparison.

I am Jack’s Questionable Inference.

I am Jack’s Subterfuge And Not Really Your Friend.

I am Jack’s Tenuous 5-min Conspiracy Theory Of the Day, instead of an Experienced Honoured Multi-degreed Scientist.

I am Jack’s New Unrelated Topic Change.

I am Jack’s Multitude of Website Links That Nobody Reads.

I am Jack’s Journalist who is not a Professional Scientist

I am Jack’s Incapacity to Accept Other Legitimate Points.

I am Jack’s Closed Mind

I am Jack’s Closed Conversation.

I am Jack’s Rudeness.

I am Jack’s Child

I am Jack’s Deleted Comment

I am Jack’s Failure in Math

I am Jack’s Failure in Science Class.

I am Jack’s Lovely Leader Who Cannot Be Questioned.

I am Jack’s Linear Weather System That Has Never Existed On This Planet

I am Jack’s Illiteracy When Reading A Log Graph.

I am Jack’s Love of Pollution

I am Jack’s Unliftable Finger

I am Jack’s Ignorance of Asthma Disease

I am Jack’s Uncaring Towards Others

I am Jack’s Irresponsibility.

I am Jack’s Refusal for Change.

I am Jack’s Overdue Debts

If you see any more Jack’s please leave me a comment!  If you can note the website thread and specifically how your particular Jack missed the point and failed in using his/her argument to make any sense.  A catalogue of this needs to be taken.

very thread about science is another Fight Club.  I fight that fight and am glad I do.I’m sure this thread will use all of these Jimmy’s noted below.  All are Fallacies, Errors of Logic designed to muddle up your thinking and confuse you.  This is what education was designed to prevent you from being a victim of.  King Lear: “But nothing will come of nothing” our cogent lesson here.  The lesson being that things left alone indeed cause havoc and can ruin a kingdom.  What to do?By all means be concilliatory or note doubts, but not lies, boldface lies, and subdefuge.  Mention a link but not dozens.  I will call you out (if online).  If I’m not here, feel free to label a Denier to clarify how they are not being a Jimmy.Thus if Deniers were named Jimmy they will answer any question with…  Jimmy is Missing the Point.  Jimmy is Comparing Different Geography.  Jimmy is making an Irrelevant Comparison.  Jimmy is Infering Something.  Jimmy is Engaged in Subterfuge And Is Not Really My Friend.  Jimmy believes Teniuous 5-min Conspiracies more than our own Experienced Honoured Multi-degreed Scientists.  Jimmy is changing the Topic..Again.  Jimmy Has Too Many Website Links.  Jimmy Can’t Accept Other Legitimate Points.  Jimmy Can’t Change His Mind.  Jimmy can’t Engage In Conversation.  Jimmy is Being Rude.  Jimmy is Behaving Like a Child.  Jimmy Had His Comment Deleted.  Jimmy failed High-School Math.  Jimmy failed High-School Science Class.  Jimmy Loves Leaders.  Jimmy doesn’t understand Non-linear Chaotic Systems.  Jimmy can’t read a Log Graph.  Jimmy Seems to Love Pollution.  Jimmy Can’t Lift A Finger.  Jimmy Doesn’t Have Asthma.  Jimmy Doesn’t Care about Others.  Jimmy Can’t Take Responsibility.  Jimmy Refuses Change.  Jimmy Can’t Pay His Debts.
Posted by: energyblogwalter | November 21, 2009

Designing Transit Cities Symposium Reaction

I attended the Designing Transit Cities Symposium presented by the City of Toronto and the Canadian Urban Institute over the last two days, Thur Nov 19 and Fri the 20th.  I’ll probably talk a lot about this over a while, but I’ll share some examples for now.

The first day was quite well done, the opening panel with Mayer Miller providing opening remarks, with Transit his obvious love.  His call for keeping your elected officials accountable seemed odd though, since he can’t fight for the city anymore and I suppose was a shot at any mayoral candidate to continue his interests.

His presentation of the Transit City was quite excellent and I wish it was on Youtube to share.  The 122km of new LRTs (light rain transit) and why streetcars are better than subways.  Really, it comes down to money.  1/3 to 1/5 of the cost of a subway means many more streetcar lines.  With meager government funding committments this is the best bang for our buck.  Quite a compelling vision as well since it bridges the 13 impoverished communities also into the loop of the city and could mean a revolution in liveability for the city.

The followup panel was quite engaging and the two USA presentors showed what urban hell looks like and why transit and how transit can improve.  Both were quick to point out that Toronto has much to be thankful for and that we are still ahead of many cities in the USA.  As well, a description of San Fransciso’s as comparable to Toronto in terms of size but with multiple owned transit systems showed a strenght in our system not well known.   I’ll write up my notes about this later.  The first day, indeed quite good.

Second day was a 3 hours session in one of three topic areas.  I attended a Make It Happen event, what was supposed to be the business planning process for developments.  While this was largely correct, it had for me an oddly unsettling effect and overall pointlessness.

Planners and Developers are smart people, but they don’t seem to know that they are servicing people.  One out of four developers on the panel discussion was quite arrogant and disparaged on rate payer associations that fight developments.  He showed a dreary glass company building on one side and zero buildings on the other.  I guess the possibility that maybe the people didn’t want more faceless tripe was totally  lost on him.   He blamed the difference in city councillors holding back development, but if that’s what happened, then that councillor should have got an award.  Overall though this presentation was well done.  And I didn’t think about it more.

Except that the next day while talking to a friend about it, it turns out that it’s a complete social disaster.  The mall and building may be fine, but its connection to the community totally failed.

Don Mills Centre (6 months old):

1) The mall turns out to be plopped down as if from a different universe and has no connection to the community.  In a mixed racial neighbourhood of middle and low rise buildings with lower income people, is now a mall attracting high-scale shoppers with their BMW’s and Mercedes parking.  Thus nobody who lives there goes to the mall, and nobody who goes to the mall lives there.  To expensive and out of place.  A study in racial contrast.

2) All kinds of cycling rings but never a cycle locked up.  No connection to the community modality types.

3) High-school kids who would hang out, now have no where to go and no protection from the elements with the new store-to-store design.  With now zero local amenities some small percentage may consider gangs? They are certainly not to be thankful facing inequity everyday.

Surprisingly the day before where this project is given a goldstar from planners turns out to be a total lie and evidence of the total disconnect of what planners do, and what they influence into a community.

This was a lost opportunity.

a) Connect the community together with mixed mall tenants of varying price like a co-op housing, or to add grocery etc not just Shi-Shi tenants.  Reduce parking and build the mall close to the street, thus connecting the street to the mall.

b) Allow kids to hang out and/or provide some type of local amenity to the families there.  Make it a destination worth caring about that is not fearful from residents or tenants.

c) Build geothermal into the building so that in 7 years the building has reduced need for external energy and thus keeping rents affordable. (Every developer mentioned “sustainability” in their presentations but had zero examples or showed no knowledge of it)

Overall I felt the event was quite good, but after an external analysis  I see now that planners are not implementers, and know nothing of the impacts they create in our communities.  Worse, as a result some communities like around Don Mills Centre will now suffer for it.

We need a new vision.

Many planners are not like this developer, and do not share his vision as I found out after the talk.  There are many good projects out there, but to give praise where praise is not due, does not give oneself confidence and only undermines it further.

This makes my need to be useful and going back to school more stark than it needs to be.  I was sad to experience that change cannot happen and that so many otherwise talented people are basically wasting our time and money.

I’ll followup with some positive ideas later.  I just wanted to separate this from my mind before going into the new ideas I have from this symposium.  Seeing so many people proud of transit and their cities was quite fun and I’ll look for this again in the future.


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