Portland’s Transportation Future: Back to the Past?

Portland’s Transportation Future: Back to the Past?
By Jeffrey Carlson
Cascade Policy Institute

In the optimistic decades of the 1950s and 60s, Americans had bold visions for the future. In the area of personal transportation, flying cars, spaceships, and even Star Trek transporters seemed just around the corner. Today those ideas might seem fanciful, but they were forward-thinking concepts.

Contrast these forward-thinking concepts to Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams’ vision presented to the City Club last Friday. Adams asked, “What would Portland look like if we implemented solutions to global warming and peak oil? It would look a lot like Portland circa 1920, a time when the main means of motion were your feet, streetcars and bikes.”

Adams’ vision for Portland’s future is essentially to bring us back to the past. While Americans in the fifties saw personal transportation and endless possibilities as their future, Adams wants people to be dependent on fixed-rail streetcars.

Adams laments the lack of funds for repairing city roads and bridges used by all Portlanders, but he also advocates using antiquated and expensive streetcars to solve congestion and maintenance, and other problems. It is like asking people to switch from PCs back to typewriters to save electricity.

Adams should drop this antiquated vision and look to make Portland’s road system safe and efficient. He should help us travel freely around town, not saddle us with yesterday’s technology.

Jeffrey Carlson is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

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  • David

    The world is changing, and typical of reactionary conservatives, Carlson prefers to keep his head in the sand. We now know that greenhouse gases will cause dangerous changes to the world’s climate, yet Carlson ignores this inconvenient fact and calls only for more and more greenhouse-spewing automobiles on the roads. That’s, in a word, dumb.

    • Steve Plunk

      Dumb is modern day environmental luddites looking to undo progress in order to save mother earth. Technology is allowing us to reduce pollution and keep our lifestyle. A lifestyle that has lengthened our life span, allowed us to live like the kings of yesteryear, and give huge sums of money to those less fortunate.

      Climate change is a ruse to get exactly what those types of people want. Hemp clothes, straw bale homes, and cycling to work in sandals. Unfortunately it’s not what most of America wants. We want the freedom of the automobile and the economic advantages that it provides.

      This is not reactionary, the global warming kooks are reactionary. Recognizing the importance of cars is getting your head out of the sand and into the 21st century.

  • Carla

    David, you could not be more of an ass. Jackass that is.

    But you certainly touched on the core insanity of Adams’ “dream” that he is saving us from peak oil and global warming.
    The problem with naive people like you is you don’t read and bone up on left wing reactionaries and their issues to discover the ultra false nature of them.
    Your declaration of what we “now know” is a demonstration is complete foolishness. It is you who has your head hidden somewhere and there isn’t a shred of reality you see.
    The only way you can possibly cling to the deliberate deceit of global warming is by ignoring such things as the fraudulent “Hockey Stick ” theory and other tools of deception global warmers and peak oilers rely upon.
    What we “now know” more than ever is the wholeasale fraud involved in human caused global warming scenarios.
    If you haven’t seen the real science explainations of the extensive abuse of graphs and measurements by the global warming alarmists you have a severe reluctance to learn the truth.
    Your tiny minded, nit wit fall in line zombie-like support for the Sam Adams agenda is sickening.
    Shut up.

  • CRAWDUDE

    Hey, I think Sam should get rid of the downtown elites condo. tax abatement and donate the money to repairing the roads. That will increase the ability to get to where we are going thus eliminating mass amounts of pollution. The last estimate was that the tax abatement for his pals downtown cost the city 25 million a year!

  • Jeff

    Adams was having fun talking about bridges yesterday… as I was telling my TV, “Yes, well stop giving all the funding to Light Rail instead…”

  • Richard

    No Horses? Ah the smell of manure on the streets.

  • je

    Personal mobility is the essence of freedom, yet “progressives” want dependence on state owned and operated transit.

    We’ll never go back to the “vision” of Sam Adams because cars will evolve to electric power or other means (hydrogen fuel cell), if oil runs short (peak oil is many years away).

    In the mean time, “progressives” take your dirty, stinking hands off my car and put the money into bridges and other car transit modes, instead of your fantasy rail projects.

    Doesn’t democracy mean anything to you: Over 95% of commuters drive cars.

    Oh yea, I forgot that when the votes on lightrail went against you, the response was to ignore the vote.

    Hypocisy, thy name is “progressive”.

  • David

    Global warming is a scientific fact, established by experts. Evidence is happening all around us. Some people don’t want to accept that because it clashes with their world view. It is not the first time science has forced people’s heads to swivel, but science has always won in the end, and it will this time as well, no matter how much conservatives stomp their feet and whine.

    (Oh, yes, there’s nothing wrong with the Hockey Stick: see what a legitimate science publication has to say about it and not one of your know-nothing Web sites:
    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn11646-climate-myths-the-hockey-stick-graph-has-been-proven-wrong.html . And by the way, similar Hockey Stick graphs have been determined in about six different ways by six independent sources of data.)

    And Steve Plunk: technology has not reduced our emissions of greenhouse gases, which are at record levels and rising globally.

    • jim karlock

      *David* Global warming is a scientific fact, established by experts. Evidence is happening all around us. Some people don’t want to accept that because it clashes with their world view.
      *JK:* Of course, we are warming up after the last ice age. And after the little ice age. Where is the problem?

      *David* It is not the first time science has forced people’s heads to swivel, but science has always won in the end, and it will this time as well, no matter how much conservatives stomp their feet and whine.
      *JK:* Or how much crap Al Gore spews to kite the shares in his mutual fund. Start with the Generations Mutual fund and the Alliance for Climate Protection. You are being sucked into the early stages of the Baptist Minister’s second presidential campaign. And by a bunch of “scientists” on the government dole (it is easier to get funding to “research” global warming than it is to disprove it.)

      *David* (Oh, yes, there’s nothing wrong with the Hockey Stick: see what a legitimate science publication has to say about it and not one of your know-nothing Web sites:
      http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn11646-climate-myths-the-hockey-stick-graph-has-been-proven-wrong.html .
      *JK:* You apparently missed the end of that article: *”it is true that there are big uncertainties about the accuracy of all past temperature reconstructions, and that these uncertainties have sometimes been ignored or glossed over by those who have presented the hockey stick as evidence for global warming.”*

      *JK:* Here is something that the article somehow missed. (The following is complete from that same NAS report, but I added few clearly marked comments:

      *National Academy of Sciences Report on global climate change*
      ( Report is at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11676.html )

      The below is cut and pasted from the report with our comments in [brackets]

      *Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years*
      Committee on Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years,
      National Research Council
      From Page 111 (sheet 126) bold added:

      *OVERALL FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS*

      Based on its deliberations and the materials presented in Chapters 1-11 and elsewhere,
      the committee draws the following overall conclusions regarding large-scale surface temperature
      reconstructions for the last 2,000 years:

      >> The instrumentally measured warming of about 0.6ÌŠC during the 20th century is also reflected in borehole temperature measurements, the retreat of glaciers, and other observational evidence, and can be simulated with climate models.
      …….[This verifies that there was about a 0.6ÌŠC temperature increase during the 20th century (see below)]

      >> Large-scale surface temperature reconstructions yield a generally consistent picture of temperature trends during the preceding millennium, including relatively warm conditions centered around A.D. 1000 (identified by some as the “Medieval Warm Period”) and a relatively cold period (or “Little Ice Age”) centered around 1700. The existence and extent of *a Little Ice Age from roughly 1500 to 1850* is supported by a wide variety of evidence including ice cores, tree rings, borehole temperatures, glacier length records, and historical documents.
      ……[This re-affirms the existence of a “little ice age”]
      *Evidence for regional warmth during medieval times can be found* in a diverse but more limited set of records including ice cores, tree rings, marine sediments, and historical sources from Europe and Asia, but the exact timing and duration of warm periods may have varied from region to region, and the magnitude and geographic extent of the warmth are uncertain.
      ….[This re-affirms the existence of a “medieval warm period”]
      …. *[Remember the famous “hockey stick” chart? It DOES NOT show either the “little ice age” or “medieval warm period”. This omission disproves the “hockey stick” chart and the data/methods used to create it. Much of the climate field uses similar data and methods.]*

      >> It can be said with a *high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries*. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.
      ….[This is the headline for many newspapers. *Most forgot to mention that the “preceding four centuries” started in the middle of the “little ice age (above). In other words, we are warming up after the little ice age.*]

      >> Less confidence can be placed in large-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600. Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. The uncertainties associated with reconstructing hemispheric mean or global mean temperatures from these data increase substantially backward in time through this period and are not yet fully quantified.

      >> *Very little confidence can be assigned to statements concerning the hemispheric mean or global mean surface temperature prior to about A.D. 900* because of sparse data coverage and because the uncertainties associated with proxy data and the methods used to analyze and combine them are larger than during more recent time periods.
      …..[ This says that we really don’t know enough about climate before A.D 900. This suggests that we are incapable of judging today’s climate in a proper historical context, considering that there has been 12,000 years of ups and downs since the last ice age. We only know about 10% of this time span to a sufficient degree.]

      ———————————- From page 21 (sheet36) Bold Added ————————————
      Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, *the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium*.
      …..[Note that this claim is only “plausible”, not likely or probable or “supported by a wide variety of evidence” (see above)]
      The substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. *Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium”* because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods, and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.
      ….[Here is the often heard statement that we are the warmest in 1000 years. It is given “less confidence” than “plausable” (see above). Effectively, it is shown to be baseless.]

      *David* And by the way, similar Hockey Stick graphs have been determined in about six different ways by six independent sources of data.)
      *JK:* They all use the same data sets and the same methods, that is why the have similar conclusions.

      *David* And Steve Plunk: technology has not reduced our emissions of greenhouse gases, which are at record levels and rising globally.
      *JK:* In the meantime you can read about the coming ice age as reported by Newsweek, Time, Science, Science News and the New York Times. See: http://www.saveportland/Climate/index.html

      Can we now drop this argument until the ice uncovers those Viking farms in Greenland?

      Thanks
      JK

      The NAS report is at:
      http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11676.html

      The Wegman report is at:
      energycommerce.house.gov/reparchives/108/Hearings/07192006hearing1987/Wegman.pdf

      Additional links:
      http://www.junkscience.com
      http://www.co2science.org
      http://www.climateaudit.org

  • Jerry

    Many of those so-called experts who say global warming is a “fact” will also tell you, if you would only listen, that the number one contributing factor to the warming we are experiencing now is the sun. Gee, I wonder how that could be? Did you know that temps on Mercury and Mars are going up, too. I bet not. I wonder how many cars they have there?
    I wonder how often our little David, who is so wise, rides the light rail himself? Or rides his little three-speed bike to work (if he does work), or walks instead of drives to the library so he can check out videos I paid for?
    If only we were all as smart as little David then the world would be safe.
    Oh, the despair….

    • jim karlock

      *Jerry* Many of those so-called experts who say global warming is a “fact” will also tell you, if you would only listen, that the number one contributing factor to the warming we are experiencing now is the sun.
      *JK:* They also don’t like the nagging little *truth that water vapor causes much more warming than CO2*
      They also don’t tell you that *most CO emission is natural*
      Considering the above two truths, man is responsible, at most, for a tiny portion of the warming.

      Thanks
      JK

  • DMF

    One thing I’ve noticed about the doom and gloomers is they can’t see past the gloom. Yes they probably are doomed, but I’m not gonna join them. I believe in tomorrow. It must be an awful life when you are so fearful. I believe they are scared to death. They need to open their eyes to the world around them. You have my sympathy David.

    • CRAWDUDE

      Hey guys, this might not be scientific but I set my AC at the beginning of June at 75 degrees every year. This year my energy use for the June bill was 1/4 of the norm. July is looking like it’ll be close to the same.

      If someone wanted to make and argument for global cooling I might be a little more inclined to believe it. Or is this one of those arguments that no matter whether the temp. drops or rises from one year or another it’s all due to algores movie?

      • jim karlock

        *JK:* There is a serious group of scientists who think that the earth quit warming in 1998 and has been cooling ever since.

        check out:
        http://www.icecap.us
        scienceandpublicpolicy.org
        http://www.junkscience.com
        http://www.co2science.org
        http://www.climateaudit.org

        Thanks
        JK

        • CRAWDUDE

          That may be, I probably agree with them. The EARTH has been through at least 5 ice ages………………apparently some elitist human feel that it shouldn’t have another, since they’re alive now, lol!

          An argument could be made that an ice age should start because people like Algore are talking about it!

          • Anonymous

            Makes sense. Al Gore probably is behind it.:)

          • CRAWDUDE

            Not behind it but exploiting normal weather condition changes in a few places throughout the world and ignoring the fact the majority (according to ships logs) of areas have raised an average of 1 whole degree over the past 40 years. Wow, what a heat wave!

  • David

    > One thing I’ve noticed about the doom and gloomers is they
    > can’t see past the gloom…. You have my sympathy David.

    I don’t need your sympathy, DMF, for you are in the same boat I am. Look all around you — it’s clear, and you know this from fundamental data and phenomenology, that the world is warming. People far smarter and far more educated than you have established and explained this, and frankly you just look stupid, unthinking, and anti-intellectual by claiming otherwise. Your choice, really. But the veracity of global warming is more thoroughly established than the safety and efficacy of many of the prescription pills approved by the US government and swallowed down your gullet. A few contrary Web sites thrown up by people paid by the opposition are scant competition — they are tepid and weak, nitpicking at the corners, hardly countering the fundamental reality that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, a scientific fact known now for almost 200 years. You can’t deny basic physics — such has always been a losing proposition, ever since the time of Galileo. The facts are just not on your side, and the world has come to see this in the last 5 years — simpleton contrarians like you are now in the scant minority, and you cannot keep up with the data and observations that come in against you. No need to repeat them — you know exactly what I’m talking about. The carbon era is over. It will not last much longer, and in 20-30 years, when you children and grandchildren are leading greener, cleaner, more efficient lives, you will look back on this time as the unthinking dinosaur that you were, wondering how you could have been so stupid, so thoughtless, so blinded tot he truth. You’ll see. I think you know this already.

    • CRAWDUDE

      So by your statement David, “The carbon era is over. It will not last much longer, and in 20-30 years, when you children and grandchildren are leading greener, cleaner, more efficient lives, you will look back on this time as the unthinking dinosaur that you were, wondering how you could have been so stupid, so thoughtless, so blinded tot he truth”.

      Going by your statement Global Warming has been taken care of and in 30 years everything will be better……….why is this even an issue then?

    • jim karlock

      *David:* I don’t need your sympathy, DMF, for you are in the same boat I am. Look all around you — it’s clear, and you know this from fundamental data and phenomenology, that the world is warming.
      *JK:* Right you are. The National Academy of Sciences even said so:
      >> It can be said with a *high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries.* This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.

      But they also said:
      >> Large-scale surface temperature reconstructions yield a generally consistent picture of temperature trends during the preceding millennium, including relatively warm conditions centered around A.D. 1000 (identified by some as the “Medieval Warm Period”) and a relatively cold period (or “Little Ice Age”) centered around 1700. The existence and extent of *a Little Ice Age from roughly 1500 to 1850* is supported by a wide variety of evidence including ice cores, tree rings, borehole temperatures, glacier length records, and historical documents.

      Now do the grade school math (if capable):…. 1998 – 400 = 1598, right smack in the middle of the “little ice age mentioned above.

      *In other words, we are warming up after the little ice age. Why does coming out of a little ice age alarm you?*

      *David:* People far smarter and far more educated than you have established and explained this, and frankly you just look stupid, unthinking, and anti-intellectual by claiming otherwise. Your choice, really. But the veracity of global warming is more thoroughly established than the safety and efficacy of many of the prescription pills approved by the US government and swallowed down your gullet.
      *JK:* Why don’t you just read and understand the National Acadamy of Sciences Report? In the meantime, you are the stupid one.

      *David:* A few contrary Web sites thrown up by people paid by the opposition are scant competition — they are tepid and weak, nitpicking at the corners,
      *JK:* Al Gore’s hockey stick was broken by one of those web sites and *confirmed broken by the National Academy of Sciences* in the report is quoted earlier.

      *David:* hardly countering the fundamental reality that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, a scientific fact known now for almost 200 years. You can’t deny basic physics — such has always been a losing proposition, ever since the time of Galileo.
      *JK:* I have yet to see proof of this – please cite a credible primary source for this.

      *David:* The facts are just not on your side, and the world has come to see this in the last 5 years — simpleton contrarians like you are now in the scant minority, and you cannot keep up with the data and observations that come in against you.
      *JK:* Actually the wider scientific world is just not waking up to the dangers of this warming hysteria. We are starting to see a backlash as those people who have been threatened if they speak our are now speaking out You are just a fool spending too much time with Al Gore and his band of liers. Check out some of the sited I posted above.

      Why don’t you look up the following and get back to us:
      1. In terms of warming effect, what is the most significant greenhouse gas?
      2. What percent of greenhouse warming is due to CO2?
      3. What percent of total CO2 emission is man caused?
      4. What will the temperature rise be by 2100 if: 1) man stopped ALL CO2 emissions and 2) if man continued on his current path?
      5 Why is greenhouse gas a misnomer?

      You really need to expand you knowledge.

      *David:* No need to repeat them — you know exactly what I’m talking about. The carbon era is over. It will not last much longer, and in 20-30 years, when you children and grandchildren are leading greener, cleaner, more efficient lives, you will look back on this time as the unthinking dinosaur
      *JK:* Tell us if they will have a higher or lower standard of living?

      Thanks
      JK

  • David

    Crawdude:
    > Going by your statement Global Warming has been taken care of and in
    > 30 years everything will be better……….why is this even an issue then?

    OK, you want to play dumb, huh Crawdude? You’re really going to make me spell it out…. Yes, there is a battle going on, carbon vs. non-carbon, but carbon cannot win in the end. You know it as well as I do — the era of carbon is ending. It is just too dangerous for the world’s climate. Yes, there is a battle royale, but carbon cannot win in the end, because of simple scientific facts. We are in the beginning of that now, a battle that will last for another 10-25 years, but already you can see its shape and it is easy to sense its outcome. And the outcome is a greener, leaner, more efficient world, where we emit far less carbon but (ironically) lead even more satisfactory lives. Lives that care about the entire planet, instead of greedily grabbing everything we can for ourselves. Sustainable lives, instead of consuming everything we can, as if that ever led to happiness.

    So yes, in 30 years our children and our grandchildren will be leading far better lives, just as we are today leading better lives than those in the 1950s-60s. But we have to fight to get to that place, and that means fighting (and defeating) the majority of the kind of people who post comments here. But ultimately it will not be that hard, as the fight is increasingly taken up, because all of you know deep down that I am right.

    • jim karlock

      *David:* And the outcome is a greener, leaner, more efficient world, where we emit far less carbon but (ironically) lead even more satisfactory lives. Lives that care about the entire planet, instead of greedily grabbing everything we can for ourselves. Sustainable lives, instead of consuming everything we can, as if that ever led to happiness.
      *JK:* Tell us if that “greener, leaner, more efficient world” is going to provide us with a higher standard of living. A longer life span? More labor saving inventions? Better, more distant vacations?

      Or are you going to force people into high density ghettos and declare everyone happy like Metro plans to do?

      Thanks
      JK

    • CRAWDUDE

      Therefore your previous statements are incorrect? or this one is? Please, let us know, I was ready to believe you but now, since you seem to contradict yourself I’m confused.

      Is global warming a problem or are we all going to enjoy your envisionment of greenry someday in the future?

      You verbal abuse of DMF’s ealier statement made it plainly clear that you felt their grandchildren would be benefitting from your intelliegnce dispite his or her ignorance.

      You don’t belong to ELF do you?

      I guees you may use too many big words for the rest of us cuz yur mesaig seams two com out awl a screwl win you posts its.

  • Jack

    I blame the Minnasota Bridge tragedy entirely
    on ” The We love Bikes, Bike paths, Trains, Light Rail,
    Worthless AMTRAK, etc, and Hate Cars, Hate Roads,
    Hate Bridges SOCIALIST COMMUNIST DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
    For crying out loud folks KICKKKKKKKKKKKK these Donkeys
    _ _ _ _ _ _ out of power for good, and fix the nations FREEWAYS,
    ROADS and bridges before the Communist Democrats
    Destroy them. They have been misspending Tranportation
    Funds for decade’s for other things. Kick there _ _ _ _ _ outttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

    • CRAWDUDE

      Spending Federal road money on things it wasn’t intended for caused that tradegy. That’s done by all sides not just the liberals.

  • Jerry

    I wonder how this David guy uses a computer without contributing to global warming? Maybe he should go to pen and paper…much better for the environment, eh?

  • r Huse

    Look, could we just move on from Global Warming? Its simply an inane theory since even its main promoter, Al Gore, doesn’t seem to believe in it anymore, given his energy usage. We have been down this road a hundred times before. Someone comes up with an end of the world theory, we give it a few years, it doesn’t pan out, we move on. Remember Paul Erlich et al with overpopulation causing world wide famine by the 1980’s? Remember Global Cooling? Remember the 70’s when we were supposed to be out of oil in 30 years? Wasn’t I supposed to be flying to work with a jet pack by now?

    Al Gore might not have invented the internet, but he sure did invent global warming.

  • Jeffrey Carlson

    The focus of my modest QuickPoint was not to lambaste global warming but expose the silliness of current urban planners who are constantly looking for more money to build special projects that look good on paper–and for the papers, as every politician loves the photo-op of the ribbon-cutting ceremony–but fail the test of consumer preferences. Meanwhile, taxpayers who are already and rightfully tired of paying more and more to Uncle Sam Adams are likely going to be forced to pay even more just to upkeep infrastructure, which is exactly what the money should have done.

    With our bridges aging and becoming in greater need of repair or replacement, and our roads becoming more inadequate by the day, it is time we get our leaders to get priorities straight. If they really, really want to spend money on these fixed-rail projects, which are cute but not very efficient, the *very* least they could do is do what individuals and companies do to buy expensive goods or capital: save money over a span of time, while still paying the bills and meeting obligations and commitments.

    And of course, they could listen to the voters, just this once at least. They might know something.

    • Anonymous

      yeah, the pearl is SOOOO not popular. no one wants to live there or shop there.

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