Coal Rolling

Hard to imagine, but apparently some people in the USA tune diesel powered engines to produce even more exhaust flumes. The goal of this very visible form of intended air pollution is to entertain and to protest against environmentalism. Popular targets are Prius- and Tesla drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, protesters,… Luckily this practice is even in the United States of Trump illegal! By the way: There’s no such thing as cancer and for sure the ears of the youngster are very well protected!!

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Idols and / or role models?

One day of media consumption, three baffling examples of role models…

  1. Wout Van Aert (2x world champion cyclocross), in Kroonprinsen van het veldrijden. In one episode Wout, who lives in Herentals, has to visit his physiotherapist in Antwerp. The distance between Herentals – Antwerp is 37 km. Perfectly doable by bike (a good training along the canal) or just over 30 minutes or 4 stops by train. What Wout chooses is to use his beautiful car and joins the traffic jam!
  2. Tom Boonen (4x Paris Roubaix, 3x Ronde van Vlaanderen) is planning his after cycling career. After the spring of 2017 he will become ambassador and distributor of the highly exclusive car manufacturer Donkervoort. Good for him. In an article accompanying this statement he claims: ‘En ik rij heel graag. In de zomer ging ik geregeld met onze pa wat bollen in mijn Donkervoort. ‘s Morgens vertrekken, een kilometer of 800 rijden op mooie baantjes, zalig’ (‘In the summer I often asked my father to join me to go touring with my Donkervoort. 800 km in one dag on nice roads, heavenly’).
  3. Usain Bolt (multiple olympic champion) likes to party. Recently he flew to Trinidad and Tobago by private jet, just to celebrate carnival.

Can role models in the current climate still claim things like this? In my opinion (no, I don’t envy their success nor money – I just talk about the real meaning of this) the answer is no. Why does succes so often equals high emissions? And what does it say to the common people? You’re a loser until you can pollute like this? Idols should more often be aware of their role as role models!

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(© Kenny Van Eyken & AP)

‘Transport is to cheap’

Hurray! The Belgian mainstream media are finally getting the concept of marginal external costs. One De Standaard article refers to a study of Transport & Mobility Leuven claiming that in the current political climate it’s not the user / polluter who pays the total costs involved in motorized transport. The solution according to the experts: increase taxes on diesel cars, stop paying employees in cars and start riding bikes!

The accompanied graph shows the percentage of costs per 100 km paid by the users. The calculation has been done for low cost flights, cars on natural gas, cars on diesel (private owned), hybrid cars, electric cars and cars on petrol. What this graph doesn’t mention is that people who use corporate cars only pay 21% of the total costs, that users of petrol cars used to cover all costs until 2006 and that public transport has a beter ratio per person concerning the marginal external costs.

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In another article Transport & Mobility claims that it’s the cyclists who subsidize the government. Every 100 km travelled by bike gains 43 EUR on health insurance (24,40 EUR for electric bikes). And the interesting part is that these figures are after taking care of the marginal external costs of the bikes.

So let us shift all marginal external costs to the users, so every one feels the true cost and can decide what’s the best solution for every kilometer travelled… Fine for me if the decision is a long distance flight or a diesel car piling up 60 000 km every year. (But I’m pretty sure things will change. Drastically!!!)

In January 2015 I’ve posted some articles on the same subject: New Timetable Belgian Railways and Marginal External Costs.

Climate of Concern

What if even one of the biggest oil producing firms (Shell) in the world knew about the effects of our energy consuming way of life and made a documentary about it? In 1991? That’s 26 years ago!

Why is it more then a quarter of a century later still so difficult to acknowledge the relation between our behavior and the climate change and do something about it???

This movie has been made public again by De Correspondent, a paying but superb news site from the Netherlands. For the full background story see here for English and here for Dutch explanation. The video beneath is the summery, the full version can be seen on De Correspondent site