Drivers Need to Learn to Share

Bicycles are an amazingly fast way to get around cities and countries, as a cyclist I often roll past cars idling in bumper to bumper traffic. The cars (and their single occupants) aren’t getting anywhere anytime soon yet drivers as a group demand more and more infrastructure when really they should learn to share.

In the Globe and Mail, it’s argued that drivers shouldn’t be so selfish and support things like public transit, bike lanes, and other initiatives that actually help people get around. The car as an individual transportation solution needs to go away.

The truth is there’s no immediate solution to traffic congestion. We can wait for trillion-dollar infrastructure projects to get completed. We can wait for a new subway line or bike lane. We can wait for autonomous cars to make better use of the available road space. But until then, we’re going to have to learn to better share the space we’ve got.

Roads are for moving cars as quickly as possible. Pedestrians are a danger and cyclists are barely tolerated. But what if, as drivers, we changed the way we thought about roads? If they’re public space – a quarter of Toronto’s total area – then shouldn’t they be for moving as many people as fast as possible? Sometimes that will mean prioritizing automobiles. Sometimes that will mean giving up a lane to cyclists. Sometimes that will mean giving up a lane to buses.

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30 Minutes in Your Local Park is Perfect


Urban parks are great and now some Aussie researchers have found another reason to create more of them: it’s really good for your health. We’ve known for years that spending time in nature is good for people but his research augments that knowledge with a timeframe. It takes only 30 minutes of being in an a park to see benefits to one’s health. Which means that you can get enough nature on your lunch break (you should get more though).

“If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure,” she said.

“Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at $A12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense,” she said.

UQ CEED researcher Associate Professor Richard Fuller said the research could transform the way people viewed urban parks.

“We’ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits,” he said.

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And over at Reddit a user posted a good summary on why nature is good for you:

It’s probably a combination of things. Sunlight allows the body to produce vitamin D, which has been linked with a reduction in depressive symptoms.

When you’re in a park you’re likely walking and doing physical activities, and exercise is positively correlated with improvements in mood and reduced depressive symptoms, not to mention it’s good for the heart, blood pressure, and physical health in general.

Via Reddit.

Solar Sales Soaring Sixfold

Bloomberg is reporting that they anticipate a sixfold increase in star capacity thanks to the efficiency of a having a naturally-occuring ball of fire in our solar system. The sun is an abundant resource which shines its rays on us and now we have the industrial means to convert the sun’s rays into a powerful electric resource.

The growth of solar installations over the last decade of furthered their adoption in a positive feedback loop of success. As more places adopt solar the cheaper it becomes and the more incentive there is to make the whole system more efficient.

The “most attractive” markets for solar panels up to 2020 are Brazil, Chile, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, according to Irena. Global capacity could reach 1,760 to 2,500 gigawatts in 2030, compared with 227 gigawatts at the end of 2015, it said.

Smart grids, or power networks capable of handling and distributing electricity from different sources, and new types of storage technologies will encourage further use of solar power, Irena said.

As of 2015, the average cost of electricity from a utility-scale solar photovoltaic system was 13 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s more than coal and gas-fired plants that averaged 5 cents to 10 cents per kilowatt hour, according to Irena. The average cost of building a solar-powered electricity utility could fall to 79 cents per watt in 2025 from $1.80 per watt last year, it said. Coal-fired power generation costs are about $3 per watt while gas plants cost $1 to $1.30 per watt, according to Irena.

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No Need to Shower so Much

Showering is something that a lot of North Americans do everyday: and if you’re one of them then you should stop. Showering daily can actually do more harm to your health than good. So relax about your daily urge to cleanse and just roll with your micro biome!

As we learn more about the relationship between the microbiome and our health, some scientists and journalists have begun weaning themselves from cosmetic products like soap and shampoo. In taking away the bad bacteria, we could be losing too much of the good.

In this episode of If Our Bodies Could Talkthe final in a three-part miniseries on the microbiome—senior editor James Hamblin investigates the health of the microbes on our skin.

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China Aims to Decrease Meat Consumption by 50%

Consuming meat as part of your diet increases your carbon footprint by a large factor. It take a lot more energy to produce meat than it does to produce plants. Indeed, many institutions have called for people around the world to consume less meat while increasing their fruits and veggies intake.

China has issued new dietary guidelines that encourage less meat consumption in hopes that it frees up resources (land, energy, etc.) for other means. Given the size of China’s population even a small percentage of Chinese changing their diets will make a difference.

New dietary guidelines drawn up by China’s health ministry recommend that the nation’s 1.3 billion population should consume between 40g to 75g of meat per person each day. The measures, released once every 10 years, are designed to improve public health but could also provide a significant cut to greenhouse gas emissions.

Should the new guidelines be followed, carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from China’s livestock industry would be reduced by 1bn tonnes by 2030, from a projected 1.8bn tonnes in that year.

Globally, 14.5% of planet-warming emissions emanate from the keeping and eating of cows, chickens, pigs and other animals – more than the emissions from the entire transport sector. Livestock emit methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, while land clearing and fertilizers release large quantities of carbon.

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