Friday, May 10, 2019

Greenhouse Gas Assessment points to Cars

The City's published the full draft greenhouse gas inventory, and it's all about the cars.

55% from transport - but only 1% of that 55% from the airport!
It was interesting to see the airport's contribution. I wish they'd added in the prospect of commercial air service.

But at the same time, it may be that it's more important right now to focus on the cars, not on the planes.

There's also more on why they consider the incinerator such a small source of CO2. So again, like with planes, it may not be very important to focus right now on the incinerator. (As a separate matter, heavy metals and other poisons might be a reason to transition away from it, but CO2 is not a strong reason right now.)

The incinerator is a very small source of CO2
Here's the revised pie chart with the proportions. It's all about the cars.

55% from cars, 1% from garbage
The draft report card is less easy to summarize. It is manifestly partial, very much a first draft and work-in-progress. The yellows indicate areas in which we have not articulated a target or standard by which to judge. These require more refinement to be useful.

Red fails, yellow incompletes, and green on-tracks
In some of the areas, the assessments do not seem coherent, even when they overlap and might seem redundant.

The walking and transit friendliness score of 3 is very hard to map to an understanding of Salem having 65% of neighborhoods as "complete neighborhoods."

These scores should correlate much, much more!

Shouldn't there be a closer relation between these two?
There's also an autoist bias in the way crashes are reported. First, let's ditch the "accident" language. Then, when we discuss counts versus rates, let's be clear that more people do not necessarily mean more crashes. More driving means more crashes, but if more people walk, bike, and bus, and fewer people drive, the count and per capita rate of crashes will go down! It's the driving, not the people, that is the meaningful datum.

More driving means more crashes!
Finally, on affordability, we should not accept a miserable national average as a standard.

45% is not a desirable national standard
In comparison with other cities or with national standards, we should not mistake current averages (factual observations about the way things are) with standards and values. Many averages are crappy! We have a housing problem, and this 36% figure is implicated in it. It should not be our standard, not in a just world, anyway.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

I'd be interested in knowing where the consultants got the waste incinerator CO2 numbers. In my investigations there is apparently some dubious science being used by Covanta. I think that 176,970 US tons of carbon dioxide equivalents from the incinerator annually should not be ignored if there are ways to reduce or eliminate it. We might not be able to get cars off the road as easily as we might be able to get people to recycle, reuse or just reduce the waste they now create.

The bag ban was a start and perhaps there are other ways to reduce the garbage that is contributing to the GHG in our area too.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

There are a few other places where the numbers may need refinement, so it's not like you are at all wrong to be wary of the incinerator data!

At the same time, the frame here is Salem. And these are the current best estimates for Salem:

Cars: over 800,000 tons of CO2
Garbage: about 20,000 tons of CO2

In Salem, garbage creates 2.5% of the CO2 that cars do! Two and a half percent!

To make a statistically significant dent in that will take a lot of recycling/reusing/reducing.

If those numbers are correct (and again, they might not be), I think you really overestimate ease and magnitude of CO2 reductions possible with garbage.

(And if you want to focus on the total incinerator emissions, that 176,000 figure, then we would need to compare it to a larger, regional set of traffic emissions, which will be much larger than the 800,000 number for cars associated with Salem travel.)

Anyway, we are in the early stages of an analysis, and there is much to refine about methods and formulas, so it's not right to be dogmatic about very much.

But the best available information suggests cars are a vastly bigger problem than garbage for emissions.