Guest “sarcastic reality check” by David Middleton
The Global Economy’s Fuel Gauge
Oil powers almost all transportation—and Covid-19 will only intensify its dominance.
Mark P. Mills
May 21, 2020
China is about one month ahead of the United States in exiting the Covid-19 shutdown. That country’s rush-hour traffic jams now equal or exceeded pre-lockdown levels, even in Wuhan. This quick reversal happened despite claims that telecommuting would “change everything,” especially old-fashioned commuting and, thus, oil demand.
Consider the view that communications will now replace commutes—an idea dating to the dawn of the Internet and even to the dawn of telegraphy. But most of what most people do at work requires showing up, not video conferencing.
There is one thing the pandemic will change and that’s the trend to cram employees closer together in open-plan offices, and simultaneously reduce air-exchanges in buildings to make them more energy-efficient. More space between employees and more (clean) air will boost electricity demand in the summer and heat in the winter. Meantime, in the travel sector, reservations for fuel-guzzling recreational vehicles are reporting all-time highs. That mirrors a trend seen after 9/11, when Americans bypassed foreign vacations for domestic ones, traveling to those destinations mainly by cars, which use more energy per passenger mile than aircraft.
Then there are the other energy-related trends that predate the coronavirus crisis but will now likely accelerate. Young professionals, for example, were already moving to the suburbs. Odds are that the urban exodus will only intensify, with many baby boomers joining in. Car commuting and suburbia are essentially synonymous. As for mass transit, in post-recovery China, ridership remains down some 30 to 50 percent. Absent massive subsidies, travel by (crowded) mass transit—at least as we knew it—might be finished.
No doubt, we’ll soon get back to pre-Covid debates about how best to fuel cars and power plants. But in an age of cheap oil, will a recession-riddled world show the same tolerance for subsidizing expensive alternatives like wind or solar?
Mark P. Mills, a Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow and author of Digital Cathedrals: The Information Infrastructure Era, is a strategic partner in an energy-tech venture fund.Read the full article on City Journal
OK… So COVID-19 won’t “doom the climate”… Honestly, the climate can no more be doomed than it can be denied. But, COVID-19 may have killed mass transit… “at least as we knew it.”
MAY 20, 2020
Empty trains, clogged roads: Americans get behind the wheel to avoid transit
NEW YORK (Reuters) – As Americans plan for life after pandemic lockdowns, many want to avoid public transport and use a car instead, straining already underfunded transit systems and risking an increase in road congestion and pollution.
Several opinion polls show Americans plan to avoid trains and buses as stay-at-home orders ease, with some city dwellers buying a car for the first time. A potential boon to coronavirus-battered automakers, the shift poses a challenge to city planners end environmental goals.
In an April Ipsos poll among U.S. transit riders, 72% said they would either reduce their use of public transportation or wait until it was safe again. That compared with 68% of U.S. consumers who said they will use their car as much or more than before the pandemic.
Some businesses, like the New York Stock Exchange, have told employees they are not allowed to take public transit to work.
“If officials fail to convince the public that public transportation is safe, we could see a permanent shift away from transit,” said Dan Work, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering and one of the study’s co-authors.
Could the world survive the Coronavirus apocalypse, just to be wiped out by a traffic apocalypse, long before the climate apocalypse gets us?
Is America Headed for a Post-Coronavirus Traffic Apocalypse?
Substantial numbers of people returning to work, but avoiding the buses and trains that took them there, could see urban travel speeds grind to a halt.
CHRISTIAN BRITSCHGI | 5.19.2020
America’s eerily empty highways could soon become the site of apocalyptic gridlock as people start returning to work but keep avoiding the crowded buses and trains that once took them there.
Transit ridership plunged some 80 percent in major American cities during the peak of the coronavirus shutdowns, according to the transit app Moovit. Individual transit agencies in New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have reported declines of 90 percent or more.
Passenger auto travel, by comparison, only fell about 60 percent nationwide between the end of February and mid-March, according to traffic analytics firm INRIX, and has since started to rebound. INRIX reports that traffic volumes are now back to 75 percent of their late February levels. Transit ridership, however, has seen a far less dramatic bounce back.
“People are starting to jump back faster into their cars than public transit,” said World Bank urban transportation specialist Leonardo Canon Rubiano, to The Washington Post. “Everyone is reassessing how much they need to move, even beyond the virus.”
Maybe if people stop taking mass transit, they’ll start buying electric cars to save the climate… With oil prices rebounding a bit last year and climate-consciousness supposedly on the rise, EV sales must be rising.
Well at least EV’s must be gaining ground on gas guzzling pickup trucks… Right?
|U.S. PEV Sales||U.S. Ford F-series Sales|