2016-02-04 Thu

Toronto GTHA Transit

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I thought it a bit disingenuous of Edward Keenan to mix the two representations of quantities; Memo to Edward: Use “5” and “15” OR use “five” and “fifteen”.

But based on my experience in France, more important than frequency is to make the service predictable.

Example: I missed my train from Provins by, literally less than two minutes. I knew that trains ran once an hour from Provins so I knew that I had enough time to walk back to a café, or to type in a chunk of my diary.

Likewise on the line through Gif sur Yvette I knew that the trains ran every 15 minutes; seeing a train pull in while I was still two minutes walk away from the station meant that I may as well stroll; no point in running.

There is a limit to the utility of frequency; if trains ran every minute then (a) by 10:30 a.m. there’d be nobody left in Stouffville and (b) any sort of delay would throw the entire line into dis-array.

If trains run every five minutes, a sick passenger can throw the next five trains out of whack.

If trains run every fifteen minutes, a sick passenger has little impact on the schedule for the following trains; that is, the following trains are predictable.

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Ooooh!

Look!

Thinking!

Just imagine if each line (Kipling to Yonge, Kennedy to Yonge, Finch to Union, Downsview to Union) were split into THREE portions, with the core portion shuttling every two minutes (or less with the new signaling), and the central portion every four minutes and the outer portion every six minutes.

Close your eyes (when you’ve finished reading this paragraph) and visualize what you would do, standing on the platform at, say, College subway station wanting to travel all the way to Finch.

Not only do we not need to buy any extra trains, we are, by a thought process, making better use of the existing stock!

Clear Thinking on Climate Change

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Here we go again! A lake is drying up, which is a good enough reason for newspapers across the globe to run around waving their ink-stained hands in the air.

Lakes dry up frequently, and lakes fill up frequently, the frequency according to the lake’s schedule. Not Man’s.

We humans with our huge brains and huge egos are so self-centered that we imagine that the universe runs on OUR clock.

It doesn’t.

“I have never known this lake to dry up in my lifetime” says a 70-year old. Here is what that means: It means that in the past 70 years the lake has not dried up (or that the guy wasn’t around the year that the lake DID dry up, or ...)

We should keep our fears to ourselves and think instead of geological time.

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I understand that the article I read is condensed to fit into a quota of column-inches, but as always I am suspicious of statements that are supposed to be causal links, or that at the least, the writer’s hope we will make causal links.

In the first place, climate changes. Climate is an average of weather over a specified period. You could say that the average temperature in Toronto over the past 100 years as 15º. Then if next year you calculated the average it would probably be different. If next year was slightly warmer than the preceding years, the average would rise; if lower, it would fall.

The year after that, the weather might be slightly cooler; the average would fall; or would rise.

So “Climate”, being an average, will always be changing. It’s what averages do.

As well I am not shown that the burning of fossil fuels is a significant challenge to Bolivian Glaciers. For starters I’d like to see Dirk Hoffman factor OUT the impact of the dust belched up from all the world’s volcanoes over, of I don’t know, say a ten-year period.

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AhHah! Significantly almost everybody (not just The Authorities) agrees that the Colorado River expires in the desert sands because so much of its water is diverted to feed major cities on the Californian Coast. Also for irrigation.

Apropos lakes: The Salton Sea was formed when a canal under construction burst its banks. When (not “if”) the Salton Sea dries up, you can bet that someone angling for a research grant will claim that the Salton Sea is disappearing because of human influence, whereas the truth is that the Salton Sea appeared because of human influence.

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Again, we are limited to column-inches, but I’ll need to see a reproducible demonstration and calculation that shows the relative contributions of (a) a 1c rise in temperature against (b) the impact of mining activity.

Bear in mind that when, say, mining activity increases sediment load, where that sediment falls out you get alluvial plains with a huge increase in surface area, area available for evaporation, so that while a 1c increase in temperature surely increases evaporation, its impact is not as great as a hundred-fold increase in surface area.

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I have swum in wheat belt “dams” that are deeper than this. Western Australian Wheat Belt dams are holes in the ground scooped out by a bulldozer, about 50 metres across, rectangular in shape. You can picture a bulldozer operator dragging the work out to three days just to be fed by the farmer’s wife.

Fifteen-foot deep dams dry up often enough.

Then they are replenished by the next Good Winter’s rains.

A naturally-formed lake should be no different.

My understanding of The Great Lakes system is that Lake Erie was particularly vulnerable to human pollution because that lake is so shallow. The other lakes (Superior, Ontario, Huron, Michigan) are significantly deeper and run a lesser risk of corruption or drying out.

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Back to Climate Change (ostensibly the topic of the newspaper article): What do mining operators upstream in the jungle care about downstream problems?

There are local solutions to Human Impact that do not require us to embark on Carbon Sequestration, Carbon Caps, and Expensive Junkets to Jazzy Capital Cities.

Stop doing what you are doing!

Or find a better way to do it.

As far as rivers go, I’ve been a keen fan of insisting that users of river water return the output water (“waste water”) upstream of their operations.

Apart from the impact on quality of their rejuvenated input, it forces operators to consider the energy cost in pumping water (grit-laden water?) uphill for re-use, and that might drive research into making use of less water, so that you have less water to pump upstream.

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If I were truly cynical I’d say that since I’d never heard of Lake Poopo before this article appeared, let alone seen Lake Poopo, its loss is hardly on my radar.

I have been alive 70 years, and in that time lakes have formed and lakes have disappeared. Islands have been washed away and new islands have been created. Glaciers have flowed and glaciers have retreated. Summers have been hot and summers have been wet and winters have been warm and winters have been bitterly cold.

During my 70 years we have started driving SUVs and at the same time invented technology that reduces our need to drive-into-the-office.

We should start by making better use of what we’ve got.

And stop throwing Grant Money at students and researchers. The bandwagon just isn’t big enough!