Sunday, July 03, 2005

No trade-offs in Portland

I suppose that one must put up with public discourse that does not acknowledge trade-offs. How about forbearance for the discovery of big-time "solutions" that are perfectly obvious but that the rest of the world had not noticed? And all this from the authority of a NY Times columnist?

Nicholas Kristof writes about Portland: "A Livable Shade of Green ... Tackling global warming need not wreck the economy ... Newly released data show that Portland, America's environmental laboratory, has achieved stunning reductions in carbon emissions ... What's more, officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has entailed no significant price ... This was achieved partly by a major increase in public transit, including two light rail lines ..."

Mr. Kristof must dig beyond the assertions of these Portland officials. Portland's light rails are among the most lightly traveled on the planet. And they are not cheap. The literature on all this is quite public and volumnious (,,

Randal O'Toole likes to share the famous photo of a coyote relaxing on the seats of one of Portland's MAX trains (taken Feb 13, 2002). Confronted with the fact that there several photos of notoriously people-shy coyotes in and around these light rail cars, Portland officials dismiss this as having taken place before the trains were open for business. Well, no. The photos were taken five months after the trains opened for business.