Toban Black's blog

Post-Carbon photos

Post-Carbon London (Ontario) Flickr photo

Post-Carbon Photo "pool"


Post-Carbon London now has photo pages on Flickr.

We have a section for more local photos submissions -- from around the London, Ontario, Canada area -
The images at the top of this post are thumbnails of these local photos.
(Here's a slideshow of those photos -

We also have a section of bookmarked photos outside of the London, Ontario area -
(Those photos also can be viewed as a slideshow -

Additional photos will be added to those collections before long.


These images are tangible examples of issues that our group focuses on. 
(So far some issues are covered more than others in the photos; in part, this slanted focus is a result of what other people have and haven't posted to Flickr -- given how the photos on the Post-Carbon London photo pages generally were already posted on Flickr before the Post-Carbon London photo project was actually set up.)

I hope that people will find this photo collection inspiring. 


This photo project is very new, and our group may take a different approach to it in the future.  The photo collections were set up after our last meeting, so our group hasn't had a chance to discuss these Flickr pages in-person.

So far I basically have been selecting the photos. Although I have tried to take into account the other organizers' approaches to Post-Carbon London, my perspective on this group and the issues we focus on is my own personal point of view;
but I'll be trying to draw others into making the photo page editorial and administrative decisions.

Other group discussion about what Post-Carbon London is or could be
also will have a bearing on the photo pages.

Fossil fuel industries

Andy Rowell at the Oil Change blog -
“So its heads I win, tails you lose”
"The oil companies are beginning to look like the banks." ...

Andy Rowell at the Oil Change blog -
Despite the Crunch, Shell Makes $86 Million a Day

Clara Ho in The Edmonton Journal -
Ft. Chip Residents, Activists Protest Oilsands Intrusion (November, 2008)

Michael A. Weber at the Planetsave blog -
Activists Detained For Taking Ash Spill Photographs (December, 2008)

John “Ahni” Schertow at the Intercontinental Cry blog -
Groups Denouce ExxonMobil in the Philippines (January)

Jesse Jenkins at the It’s Getting Hot In Here blog
Coal is NOT the Answer

Andy Rowell at the Oil Change blog -
“I Will Point Out Hypocricy” (November, 2008)
Chevron greenwashing

Mitchell Anderson at DeSmogBlog -
The Heartland Institute touts a long list of global warming "experts" (November, 2008)

Gwen at the Sociological Images blog -
After the oil boom: Images of an oil bust

Drought and flooding

Andy Rowell at the Oil Change blog -
"Sea-Level Rise to “Substantially Exceed” Projections" (December, 2008)

Joseph Romm on the Gristmill blog -
"Rising sea salinates India’s Ganges"

Andrew McGraw at The Rural Blog -
"Texas in the grip of worst drought in a decade"

Joseph Romm on his Climate Progress blog -
"Drought land “will be abandoned”" (November, 2008)

"SocProf" at The Global Sociology Blog -
"Water Wars in Spain" (September, 2008)

Emily on her urbanwren blog -
"Water Wars"

Victims of global warming

Joseph Romm at the Climate Progress blog -
"The Human Toll of Climate Change — The Map"
(Approximate estimates)

Mitchell Anderson on DeSmogBlog -
"Australia Government Blames Deadly Heat Wave on Climate Change"

Margarita Windisch in Green Left Weekly -
"Climate refugees — the hidden cost of climate change" (December, 2008)

Prime Sarmiento for the Inter Press Service -
"Phillippines: 'Women Take the Brunt of Climate Change'" (October, 2008)

Stacy Feldman at the Solve Climate blog -
"Atlantic Rising: Sea Swallows Ghanaian Village, More to Come" (August, 2008)

Kristin Underwood at the TreeHugger blog -
"On Climate Change, Africa Votes As One Country And One Continent" (November, 2008)
... Figures from "53 African nations met recently to develop the Algiers Declaration, stating that they will vote as one bloc during climate change negotiations"

March 28th Climate Collaboration and Creativity event poster

(Click that thumbnail to see a larger version)


The poster is about a free March 28th event at the Aeolian Hall here in London, Ontario --
between 10am and 3pm on that day.

This event is being organized through the Council of Canadians London Chapter.

Post-Carbon London will be there.  Shane and I have agreed to speak at the event.


The poster was made by the Beehive Design Collective -

Priorities in our streets

On a suburban street in London, Ontario, Canada


Monika Warzecha at the Spacing Toronto blog -
"Think of the children" (November, 2008)
"In the district of Greenwich in London, England, a lot of the speed limit signs in residential areas have pictures beneath them drawn by children." ...

Brad Aaron at Streetsblog -
"Safety in Numbers" (October, 2008)

Brad Aaron at Streetsblog -
"Traffic justice" (October, 2008)

Ben Fried at Streetsblog -
"Study finds cyclists need safer streets" (November, 2008)
That post is a response to a study which was "presented in a way that feeds into the worst stereotypes about cyclists and a blame-the-victim mentality toward traffic injuries and deaths"

A post at -
"Cyclists subsidize motorists"


A couple of related posts at my blog -
- "Mass bike ride"
- "car subsidies"


Toban Black

Creative Commons License

Common lands


That message is a Digger perspective from the tail-end of the Middle Ages --
during the English Revolution.

I'm posting this because of the message about local autonomy (which some prefer to describe as "relocalization"). As a message about local community food, I think this statement is timely.

I don't mean to celebrate gruelling peasant field labour, and I certainly don't mean to reinforce assumptions about a supposed need to try to return to pre-industrial ways of life in order to reject modern industrial agriculture -- among other modern societal conditions. Even without fossil fuels, I'm sure that we can do better.

As for the rest of the approach of Winstanley and the Diggers, I'm not going to take a position on them right here and now.


A related YouTube video about scythes -

The video is titled "The End of Cheap Oil and The Rise of the Scythe" --
which seems to convey a vision of pre-industrial living conditions.


Toban Black
Creative Commons License

"Great cars"

'Get a car;
don't take the bus'

Isn't that message implicit here? --
given how an advertisement about "great cars" was displayed on a bus in that way

At a more implicit level, that auto industry funded advertising also suggests that cars are a superior form of transportation


The photo was taken here in London, Ontario, Canada. I since have noticed a different car advertisement on the back of a local bus, and yet another car advertisement on the side of a local bus.

In the past, I also have noticed car advertising in a Toronto area "GO Transit" station.

Toban Black
Creative Commons License

On the "World Energy Outlook" IEA report

About the International Energy Agency's 2008 "World Energy Outlook" report --
an authoritative report on oil depletion statistics -

Richard Heinberg -
"IEA: Everyone Gets to Be Right"

George Monbiot  -
"At Last, A Date"

Andy Rowell at the Oil Change blog -
"It’s Official: Oil Will Peak by 2020"

Hamilton report and task force

Two posts at the Post-Carbon Cities site -

"Hamilton, Ont. creates task force to study city's energy vulnerabilities"
"The City Council of Hamilton, Ontario approved $35,000 for the creation of a Community Energy Collaborative to explore the city's energy supply vulnerabilities. The task force will look at economic, social and environmental sustainability and urban planning"

"Hamilton, Ont. report and recommendation regarding Peak Oil study"
"This report and recommendation were submitted to the City Council of Hamilton, Ontario on November 18, 2008. It details the steps Hamilton has taken to date on the issue of peak oil, and recommends the creation of a volunteer peak oil task force based on the model of Portland, Oregon. The council approved funding for the task force on December 8, 2008."

Save the humans

(By Erland Howden)


From Mark Hertsgaard's article
"Our Polar Bears, Ourselves" -

"What's missing from most discussions about endangered species is that preserving other species is not an act of charity; it is essential to our own survival. 'Endangered species issues are usually seen as humans versus nature--we act in favor of one or the other--and that's just not the case,' says Aaron Bernstein, a fellow at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard and an editor (with Eric Chivian) of Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity. 'Polar bears hold tremendous value to medicine, for example," explains Bernstein. 'There is something about the metabolism of female polar bears that allows them to put on tremendous amounts of fat before winter but not become Type 2 diabetic. We don't understand how they do it yet, but this research is hugely important for the tens of millions of people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes.'

But human dependence on other species is even broader. 'We need [ants] to survive, but they don't need us at all,' notes naturalist E.O. Wilson in a quote Bernstein and Chivian include in Sustaining Life. Without ants (and countless other underground species that will never be the subject of impassioned environmental appeals) to ventilate the soil, the earth would rot, halting food production. Without trees and other elements of a healthy forest, water supplies would shrink. Take away coral reefs and you destroy the bottom of the marine food chain. Global warming is on track to make as much as one-quarter of all plant and animal species on earth extinct by 2040, threatening general ecosystem collapse. To study the natural world is to realize, in the words of the environmental axiom, that everything is connected. What we do to the polar bears, we do to ourselves."


I addressed similar issues and imagery in this post -
"Endangered species"


(Photo by Steven Lee)


I'm connecting these 'save humans' messages to global warming, more than other issues.

If you think this 'save the humans' message is too over-the-top, I challenge you to go through these posts -
- "More global warming"
- "While we consume fossil fuels …"
- "Global warming and other energy & carbon -related crises — as well as associated interests"


Another 'save humans' T-shirt design -

(Those t-shirts are sold from the "It's Getting Hot in Here" web site.)


'Save the humans' messages also are warranted in light of nuclear technologies --
to give another important example

Toban Black

Homeless polar bears

More polar bear protestors -


Those photos are from September, 2008; and there are more of them here.

There are videos and background information here.

An artist named Mark Jenkins was involved in this project
( -- and in another street scene that is part of this blog entry -
"Highlighting not-so-hidden homelessness")



As I've said before, I don't think it makes strategic sense to stress how global warming threatens polar bears and other arctic wildlife.

Even if we should care about those animals, how many of us ever will care (much)
about them?

And how many of us would act on those feelings?

I think it's clear that most people wouldn't do much for the sake of those animals;
so we should focus on other problems and opportunities as we confront global warming.


Toban Black
Creative Commons License

An auto. industry bail-out?

Andy Rowell (in this post) -

"After years of growing fat on the back of profits building ever bigger cars, trucks and SUVs, the executives of Detroit’s 'Big Three' automakers – GM, Ford, and Chrysler – are expecting seriously lean times ahead. Some say they might not even survive.

[On November 6th,] with cap in hand they raveled to Washington to ask for financial aid from the federal government because of the bleak prospects for their industry. They asked for federal aid for up to $25 billion in loans, which is in addition to the $25 billion in low-interest loans to be available from the Energy Department to assist them in developing more fuel-efficient vehicles. That is $50 billion in total.

They met the [(supposedly)] Democratic big guns such as the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. Afterwards, Pelosi issued a statement saying the group discussed 'how to protect hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees, safeguard the interests of American taxpayers, and use cutting-edge technology to transform blue-collar jobs to green-collar jobs for generations to come.'

But the industry has to take some blame for this: they have been busily building bigger cars and SUVs on which they make more money. Go to any car show and yes there would have been a couple of token green concept cars, but the main show was still built around sex, speed and power."


Saul Landau (in this article) -

" 'A healthy automobile manufacturing sector is essential to the restoration of financial market stability, the overall health of [the U.S.] economy and the livelihood of the automobile work force,' wrote [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. (NY Times, November 8, 2008)"

"In the global warming age, to juxtapose the words 'automobile' and 'health' as they do in their letter seems incongruous."


Dan La Botz (in this article) -

"The Big Three [U.S. auto. company] boards and CEOs have shown us, over the last 30 years since the Chrysler bailout of 1979, that they are only capable of running these companies into the ground. They failed to respond to the challenge of producing fuel-efficient vehicles. They failed to respond to the environmental crisis that has now become global warming. They failed to produce a humane work environment for their employees. And when the industry went into crisis, they began to take away workers' health and pension benefits, to attack union contracts, and generally to take out their problems on the workers."


Julian Darley (in this post) -

"A contracting auto industry is likely to mean less cars on the road, less petroleum used, and less GHG emissions, all of which has been predicted and all of which will help the climate, the environment, and in theory could lead to a much better world for humans. The trouble is this contraction is happening amidst more or less blind ignorance" (generally speaking).


Joseph Romm (in this article) -

"When you bail someone out of jail, there is no guarantee [they] won't jump bail, and even less of a guarantee [they] won't ultimately end up back in jail anyway. And when you bail out water from a leaky boat, everyone still sinks until you plug all of the leaks."

"In the past quarter-century, G.M. has spent millions of dollars lobbying to stop [the U.S.] Congress from increasing fuel economy standards -- standards that might have forced them to build the kind of cars people actually want when oil prices are high. And despite the recent temporary drop in oil prices, there's little doubt we will be above $4 gasoline in a few years, headed for $6 and higher within the decade.

Also, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change requires cutting automobile oil consumption." "Yet [U.S. auto. companies have] been waging a four-year legal battle against efforts by [the California government] and other states to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases.

In other words, [U.S. auto. companies have] not only been suicidally lobbying against [their] own inescapable future, but [they] has been lobbying against the future of all Americans who want to end our oil addiction, and against the future of all humans who want to preserve the health and well-being of our planet for future generations.

And for this they are to be rewarded with billions in taxpayer money?"

"The potential risks the bankruptcy of Detroit poses pale in comparison with the all-but-certain risks of continuing on our path of ever greater oil consumption and ever greater greenhouse gas emission."


Richard Littlemore (in this blog post) -

"The Detroit auto industry has spent the last decade lying to its audience and, apparently, to itself. People like GM's Bob (climate change is a 'total crock of shit') Lutz have told auto dealers and auto buyers across [North America] that oil would remain forever cheap, that climate change was an unproven theory of no concern, and that trucks and SUVs were the only safe conveyance for American families.

Ford backed think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which were busy misleading the public about the nature and danger of climate change. And having paid the think tanks to say stupid, self-serving things, the automakers apparently bought into their blather, making no plans for a world in which the F150 truck was [rejected as] a hugely and unnecessarily wasteful version of the personal automobile."

"Propping up businesses that have been incompetent and disingenuous - that have endangered themselves, their shareholders, their employees and the world environment; well, that seems like a fabulously bad idea."


P. Sainath (in this article) -

"It's unfair to call the US auto industry dinosaurs, as some now do. It's certainly unfair to the dinosaurs. The 'Terrible Lizards' did not lay the basis for their own extinction or that of myriad other species. The original dinosaurs (who scientists now tell us were neither all that terrible nor lizards), were great examples of success and adaptation, good enough to rule the planet for 150 million years. The US auto industry is the opposite. It's not just that the Terrible Metal Lizards opposed fuel efficiency standards. Of course, they did. They also promoted gas-guzzling SUVs as a lifestyle must. They cranked out cars many did not want to buy. They wielded heavy clout in Congress, and were able to sponge off [state] funds in the name of saving jobs as they have yet again. Having received $ 25 billion earlier, their hats are in their outstretched hands again."

"The Metal Dinosaurs of Detroit"'s "asteroid hit will impact on far more than the nearly quarter of a million workers directly stranded on their turf. There are also more than a million retirees and dependents in trouble."

"Meanwhile, the logic of 'too big to fail' keeps Big Auto and others of its ilk going. There is never any debate here of whether they should have been allowed to get as big as they did. President-elect Obama says he will aid the auto oligarchs who he calls 'the backbone of American manufacturing.' Sure, with that many jobs at stake, any government must worry about the consequences of letting them sink. No question about it. It's on the basis of that very fear that the Terrible Metal Lizards are able to bargain for handouts from [state] money."

"There is a good chance that more [state] money will be thrown at the auto giants, and that, without larger strategic shifts being imposed on them. Yet ... this does not mean an industry saved. They could be back soon with demands for still more. At which time, with things being even worse (quite likely) the pressure to save jobs by pouring in [state] money will be still greater. This is the United States. The money given out in the bailout so far has delighted the tuxedo dinosaurs -- CEOs and senior executives."


Another post about the automobile industry -
"General Motors automobiles in Oshawa, Ontario"

Additional posts about automobiles -


Toban Black


This post is a response to hype about Obama as a supposed agent of 'change.'

(I've posted about that hope-hype here, here, here, and here.)


Marjorie Kelly and Paul Raskin -

"What is unfolding today is a systemic crisis, heralding the beginning of a large-scale shift at the deepest levels of [societal] organization."

"We need a new map of the world."

"Transitions announce themselves in the language of crisis. We are in a time of turbulence as old patterns give way and new ones form. The multiple crises today signal a system transformation operating at the scale of the planet."


Bill Vitek (who tends to focus on energy & carbon issues) -

"I see cracks and leaks growing, and ever faster. I see that the past half-century's ... blazing run on the carbon bank of coal, oil and natural gas, is sputtering out. But not before we clog our carbon sinks, particularly the atmosphere, triggering global climatic disruption that is already under way.

We want to see our current problems as part of the usual ups and downs of the business and climate cycles. But in the past three years oil [extraction] has remained steady while the price has doubled. Oil supplies will soon fail to keep up with ballooning world demand. Then the other fossil fuels will flare out too. But not before adding to atmospheric carbon dioxide already a third higher than pre-industrial levels and strongly tied to a long, abnormal rise in global temperatures.

I have come to this perspective reluctantly, but am now convinced: We are living in revolutionary times! We must change to a way of life as inconceivable to us as the invention of the modern factory or heart transplant would have seemed to a peasant or professor in medieval Europe."

" 'Well, change, yes,' you might say, 'but revolution? What about [new technologies] and efficiency? The environmental and sustainability movements? Isn't all that enough?' "

"Efficiency tweaks won't save us. Ever since England in the 1800s grew efficient with coal, only to use ever more of it, efficiency has led to higher consumption and more atmospheric carbon. Even if every car in the world were a hybrid, and every light bulb a compact fluorescent, growing demand would dwarf savings.

And though Toyota, General Electric and Wal-Mart tout their green efforts, their need to profit by increased consumption of their products is not questioned. This system can't fix the problems it has created or fit our emerging realization that Earth has limits, any more than King George could have encouraged independence-minded Colonials, or medieval scriptural authority could have embraced 17th century scientific discoveries.

Our challenge is to make a new Enlightenment, rejecting belief that we can master Earth and treat it as our unlimited supermarket, playground, laboratory and dumpster. Every human enterprise and standard needs reorientation to recognize the boundaries of our sun-powered planet.

We don't have to be violent about it. But we must be as single-minded and insistent as someone yelling 'Fire!' when there is, in fact, a fire." "That's prudent and morally required.

It's so much easier to hope for a miracle. But our best hope lies in embracing revolution."


Robert Jensen and Pat Younglbood -

"If being realistic has something to do with facing reality, then arguments for radical change are the most realistic. When problems are the predictable consequence of existing systems and no solutions are plausible within them, then arguing for continued capitulation to those systems isn't realistic. It's literally insane.

[Americans] live in a country that is, in fact, growing increasingly insane."


A couple of related posts -
- "We create the alternatives together"
- Industrial agriculture

As Stephanie McMillan notes in the cartoon in that "Industrial agriculture" blog post, "revolution" is just a word --
a word that can be imbued with conservative meanings --
much like anti-"war" messages.

Toban Black

Various socio-environmental crises

Robert Jensen and Pat Younglbood -

"It's no longer helpful to speak about 'environmental issues,' as if we face discrete problems that have clear solutions. Without major changes to the way humans live, we face the collapse of the ecosystem's ability to sustain human life as we know it. Every basic indicator of the health of the ecosystem is cause for concern -- inadequate and dwindling supplies of clean water, chemical contamination in every part of the life cycle, continuing topsoil loss, toxic waste build-up, species loss and reduced biodiversity, and climate change."


Thomas Kostigen (who seems to be focusing on Americans) -

"There is more to being green than the fight to stop global warming. All of our [biosphere is] in peril because of what we do and what that does to our planet. Yet, to hear the battle cry of environmentalists these days you'd think there's only one war to be fought -- over our energy supply and its consequences.

We are facing a fresh water crisis. We are facing a food crisis. We are facing a crisis over deforestation. And we are facing crises in our oceans. While carbon emissions from fossil fuels pollute the air, so does a lot of other stuff."

"We must increase our freshwater supply by about 20 percent by the year 2025 to meet [projected] world demand, and 90 cities still dump sewage into the Great Lakes, which supply water to 10 percent of the US population."

The price of most food has doubled over the past year, forcing millions deeper into poverty and malnourishment. There is now six times as much plastic as zooplankton in parts of the Pacific Ocean, and 90 percent of the big fish on Earth have disappeared.

Meanwhile, we have an ever-increasing waste and electronic-waste burden on our hands. We each create twice as much trash per day as we did 40 years ago. The average size of our landfills has multiplied 25 times in that period as well. And our e-waste burden is so bad that we ship 80 percent of it overseas to countries with weak environmental standards. These countries in turn make products from our discards and ship them right back to us. (And we wonder how lead paint gets in toys.)

As well, up to 40 percent of global wood production is from illegal timber operations. Deforestation not only displaces people and endangers species, it is the second biggest cause of climate change. (It isn't only fossil fuels that cause global warming.)

To be sure, an alternative energy supply is needed and important. But let's not forget the importance of other environmental factors crucial to our health and well-being, not to mention the [biosphere]'s."


A couple of related posts -
- "Socio-environmental refugees"
- "Social and environmental problems and opportunities"

Toban Black

More global warming

(Photo by Abdulla Alfoudry)


Writing from Andy Rowell at his Oil Change blog -


"Climate Change Happening Faster, Stronger, Sooner"

( "Just as European leaders are faltering in their efforts to tackle climate change, a new survey of the science by WWF has found that the climate is changing much faster, stronger and sooner than even the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) forecast." ... )


On indications that people aren't very concerned about global warming
(in a post titled "Talk to the birds ...") -

"The uncomfortable truth for climate campaigners is that despite the increasing urgency of the issue, and despite the huge political and media coverage global warming has received over the last two years, the public is becoming LESS concerned about it. Let’s quickly look at Britain. In 2005, polling by the authoritative polling company MORI found that 44 per cent of the British were very concerned about climate change. In 2008, that figure had dropped to 30 per cent."


"World CO2 at Record Levels" (in May)

"The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a record high, according to the latest figures."

"The figures, published by NOAA confirm that CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere faster than expected. From 1970 to 2000, the concentration rose by about 1.5ppm each year, but since 2000 the annual rise has leapt to an average 2.1ppm. Last year it was 2.14ppm.

Scientists say the shift could indicate that the Earth is losing its natural ability to soak up billions of tonnes of CO2 each year. Martin Parry, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s working group on impacts, said: 'Despite all the talk, the situation is getting worse.'"

(That writing in Andy Rowell's "World CO2 at Record Levels" post all seems to be an exerpt from an article by David Adam in The Guardian.)


Toban Black

On coal

An open pit coal mine
(Photo by Christopher Herwig)


Coal is Dirty -
"Debunking the myth of 'clean coal.'"


Other writing -

Patrick Barry in Science News -
"Carbon Capture and Storage Will Increase Pollution"

Stacy Feldman at -
"How Coal Is Not Cheap and Why It Never Will Be Again"
... "It’s hard to know where to start" ...

Kevin Grandia at The Huffington Post -
"Bees, Trees, Wind and Dynamite" (September 10th)
"There's a showdown in West Virginia ... pitting old dirty energy against [alternatives] -- and one side is armed with explosives." ...


(Photo by Stephen Strathdee)


Recent analysis from Richard Heinberg:
- New Coal Technologies (September 2nd)
- Coal and Climate (August 4th)
- Coal in China (June 27th)
- Coal in the United States (May 28th)


Toban Black

Different forms of transportation

USA Today - "More golf carts leaving greens" (July 21st)
[via Post-Carbon Cities ]

powering down blog - "my commuter cycle"
... "In this post I'd like to share my commuter cycle with readers - the bicycle I ride to work and back." ...

Lloyd Alter at the Treehugger blog -
"For bicylists, there is safety in numbers"
"The more bicyclists there are on the road, the lower the rate of accidents" ...

Michael Graham Richard at the Treehugger blog -
"D.C. bike-sharing program launches today, first in the USA" (August 13th)

Diamond-Cut Life blog - "How to save money on gas"
"The way we drive has a huge impact on our fuel consumption" ...

No Impact Man blog - "A bike races a car and wins"
... "Once a year, Transportation Alternatives, which advocates taking the New York City streets from the cars and giving them to the people, runs its commuter challenge--bike vs. car vs. transit." ...

A Youtube video -
Bicycle train to Amsterdam from Berlin

Lloyd Alter at the Treehugger blog -
"Slow freight joins the slow movement"
... Certain "wine sellers are keen to display the ‘Carried by sailing ship’ label on bottles" ...


A related post -
Versatile bicycle parts

Toban Black

Leaving behind the automobiles

(A photo taken by "Idiolector")


Arrol Gellner on why we shouldn't take automobiles for granted -

"Cars in their present form are no more a permanent fixture of our built environment than were the oxcart, the chariot, or the horse and buggy. We happen to live in the historical apogee of the internal-combustion automobile, but even the smallest degree of historical perspective makes plain that it's merely a temporary visitor -- and an increasingly troublesome one -- on planet Earth."

"History has a way of casually demolishing institutions that seem impregnable, and the internal combustion automobile is surely one of these. Something better, simpler and kinder to the earth is no doubt on the way, assuming that we're smart enough to welcome it."


Here on the Relocalization Network, Shelby Tay has posted about how to "curb spending on gas and all the related costs of car ownership while still getting around."

(... "some examples of community activities that help us make the transition towards reducing and replacing the ol' automobile." ...)


Toban Black

General Motors automobile murals in Oshawa, Ontario

In downtown Oshawa, Ontario (in August)

With the exception of that last image, all of these photos were taken outside of a bus terminal. The first four murals are beside a busy road -- that is, a road which lot of car drivers use. If you look closely you'll see cars reflected in windows in those photos.

(On the map on Flickr, the photos were taken around here.)


These murals celebrate automobiles in general, and General Motors automobiles in particular. They're a form of advertising.

Did the city government pay to have them put up?

Regardless of where the money came from, I think the presence of these murals downtown is telling; it's an indication of how entrenched the automobile industry is in the city.

The headquarters of General Motors Canada is in Oshawa, where there is also a General Motors plant -- and various related business operations (including at least one automobile inspection company).

(Decades ago, there were two General Motors plants in Oshawa. However, over the past 20 years, one of these plants was sold off and then eventually shut down.)

Oshawa and Windsor (another city in Ontario -- near Detroit) are the main centres of automobile production in Canada. Oshawa sometimes has been called a "Motor City." (Was that the official slogan for the city at one time? I think it might have been) (Now the city is marketed with the slogan "Prepare to be amazed"!)

There's a car museum in Oshawa.

Here's some information about the history of the automobile industry in Oshawa -

The McLaughlin mansion is a major local tourist site. In Oshawa, the main library branch and one of the high schools also are called "McLaughlin"; the only local art gallery (in a city of almost 150,000 people) is "The Robert McLaughlin Gallery"; there is a "McLaughlin" armoury; and there now is a large "McLaughlin" cancer centre in Oshawa. However, in my experience, people there don't see those connections; it seems that they don't notice those links with General Motors.

I grew up in Oshawa, where I lived for over 20 years. Now I often criticize automobiles, while promoting alternative forms of transportation.
Here are some relevant blog posts -


A post about General Motors -
GM - ‘We need cars that are a little greener’

General Motors and Oshawa also were mentioned in this post -
Gas prices!


Toban Black
Creative Commons License

A letter to city hall regarding the Meadowlily retail development proposal

A letter to the municipal goverment in London, Ontario
from the Post-Carbon London steering committee:
(regarding issues that you can learn more about here and — if you dig through recent posts at the following site — here).


London Councillors and City Staff:

The proposed big box retail complex -- far from core areas of London, at 168 Meadowlily Road South -- would further increase our dependency on automobiles and fossil fuels, while leading to further destruction of local farmlands and carbon sinks. This proposal is completely unacceptable, given how it is increasing clear that global warming and fossil fuel depletion (including worldwide "peak oil") are realities that we must face. The sooner our city recognizes these facts and begins taking major steps toward embracing this reality, the better off we will be. While we proactively face fossil fuel depletion and global warming challenges, we also can confront smog, oil spills, and various other social and environmental problems associated with the consumption, distribution, and extraction of fossil fuels.

We must refuse to accept development projects that continue to contribute to global warming. A retail complex far from the core of the city is at odds with these important goals, as consumers will tend to reach such retail outlets in cars -- an inefficient mode of transportation.

In addition, the infrastructure required to support this new retail shopping plaza will be an enormous waste. Although proponents will say that these up front costs will be paid for with development fees and taxes, London will be on the hook for all the maintenance and surrounding upgrades required. In an energy constrained future, the cost of attempting to maintain this infrastructure will be an unnecessary burden on Londoners.

Moreover, we should be preserving precious local farmlands toward the outskirts of inhabited areas of the city -- with the Meadowlily woods, and surrounding carbon sinks. Yet, another heavily trafficked big box retail complex would be a magnet for further construction -- over what presently are important farmlands and carbon sinks that we still can preserve.

Important changes can happen at the local and community level. Our city hall should be a centre of proactive change to help residents to deal with looming energy constraints, while -- at the same time -- mitigating ongoing global warming. This means that our mode of business as usual needs to change; but London does not have to be anti-business to make these changes. Instead, we should support businesses which are suited to a lower carbon and lower energy future. We should not be making choices that clearly are a holdover from a past when we did not understand global warming and energy constraints.

Given the aforementioned grounds for grave concerns about this proposal, London city planners and councillors should stand firm by rejecting this submission, which promotes further steps away from sustainability. Approving this development proposal would be an enormous mistake.

Post-Carbon London


The Post-Carbon London steering committee co-wrote the above statement (and I don't mean to suggest otherwise by posting it on this blog).

Tonight I was the one from the group who presented a nearly identical version of this letter to the London municipal planning committee at a public participation meeting (which followed an earlier rally to oppose the big box retail development discussed in the above letter).

Oil consumption is a problem

"I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can't drill our way out of our problem."

Sarah Palin (quoted in this article)
on the future of the United States


On oil consumption and dependencies in the United States (in particular) -

by Andy Wahl


Toban Black

The Prize: Oil


A contest at a bar in London, Ontario. (I took the photo.)


Blood for oil

"The American Red Cross [ran] a summer contest where blood donors are eligible to win a year’s supply of fuel."
- Phoebe Chin at Upickreviews (in July)

"Blood banks recognize the rising prices of gas as an opportunity to pull in more donors and leveraging that in their marketing. 'Donate plasma for gas money,' is plastered across a banner outside Las Cruces Biological, in Las Cruces, N.M. [They're] not actually giving out gas, just money but they have been seeing sharp increases of donors since March and lab workers claim the new donors are not the typical drug addicts looking for some quick cash, they are regular Joes and Janes looking for some extra gas money… quick cash. 'Blood for Gas' is a strange appeal, but it appears to be working."
- Matt at greenUPGRADER (in July)


Sex for oil

"Some resourceful people have turned to bartering for gas, but generally speaking you have to have some kind of skill to offer in exchange. This didn’t stop Angela Eversole who traded sex for a $100 gas card." " Unfortunately rather than getting a full tank she got a prostitution rap.

This is the second 'Sex for Gas' incident in just a few months." ...

- Matt at greenUPGRADER (in July)


Praying for oil

Jenny (in August) on the "Praying at the Pump" movement


An oil-fuelled missionary drive

"At St. Ann’s Parish in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, $50 gas cards are given out in [draw competitions] at Sunday masses"
- Phoebe Chin at Upickreviews (in July)


"The Prize" -- the title of this post -- is a reference to the book The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, which a video series with the same titled also was based on.

In the context of this post, that title ("The Prize") is meant to be a joke about the ways that oil is pursued in the cases mentioned above.

(As for the book and the videos with that title, I found the latter worthwhile, but I haven't read the book. People have suggested to me that the author recently has been speaking on behalf of oil industry interests, but I couldn't begin to confirm or question those claims.)


A post about more constructive approaches to rising oil and gasoline costs -
"Reducing oil prices"

Giving blood for oil or sex for oil, on the other hand, entails an extremely shallow and present-minded perspective. Those approaches barely scratch the surface of rising gas prices as symptoms of much wider problems.


A previous post in which I joked about oil depletion issues -
"Lightening the loss of crude"

Toban Black
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