Tag Archive: Sustainable Development

Jul 15 2013

Sunday Train: Why Does Congressman Mica Lie About Amtrak?

cross-posted from Voices on the Square

Congressman John Mica, Republican from the Florida 7th district and member (former chair) of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has been on the attack against Amtrak again. During the testimony to the committee by John Robert Smith, head of Transportation for America and Reconnecting America, and former Republican mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, faced aggressive questioning by Congressman Mica promoting his desired defunding of Amtrak:

… But Mica spared his real invective for the next part, where he let Smith know he’s seen “your little memo that you sent to my mayor.” Something about the belittling, eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head tone there was just chilling, like he’s saying he found the love notes Smith was writing to his wife. “House of Representatives slash Amtrak funding, putting the future of the national system in jeopardy!” Mica read the line in a high-pitched tone, mocking the hysteria Smith was clearly exhibiting when calling Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley’s attention to the House cuts.

 

Does Smith really think a cut of $1.4 billion to $950 million is such a big deal? Well, yeah, actually. “Don’t you think the United States is under threat when you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, when you’re borrowing 40 cents on the dollar to underwrite your service?” Mica exploded. “You’re aware that every ticket on Amtrak last year was underwritten more than $40 per passenger ticket? You’re aware of that?”

 

Mica railed against Amtrak’s “Soviet-style operations” and the money losses on food service aboard the trains and asked Smith if he should “go back and tell that mother [of the soldier not getting hot breakfasts], ‘You know, we need to put this money into Amtrak; we can’t take any cuts out of Amtrak.'”

 

To which John Robert Smith firmly replied: “That’s a false choice, Congressman.”

Indeed, you don’t have to take the word of DC Streetsblog about the exchange, as it has been put up on youtube:

Oct 18 2010

Questioning Growth: “I Want You To Imagine A World”

Crossposted from Antemedius

Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must.

“the only thing that has actually remotely slowed down the relentless rise of carbon emissions over the last two to three decades is recession.”

— Tim Jackson

British Economist Tim Jackson studies the links between lifestyle, societal values and the environment to question the primacy of economic growth.

He currently serves as the economics commissioner on the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission and is director of RESOLVE – a Research group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment. After five years as Senior Researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Jackson became Professor of Sustainable Development at University of Surrey, and was the first person to hold that title at a UK university.

He founded RESOLVE in May 2006 as an inter-disciplinary collaboration across four areas – CES, psychology, sociology and economics – aiming to develop an understanding of the links between lifestyle, societal values and the environment.

In 2009 Jackson published “Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet”, a substantially revised and updated version of Jackson’s controversial study (.PDF, 136 pp.) for the Sustainable Development Commission, an advisory body to the UK Government. The study rapidly became the most downloaded report in the Commission’s nine year history when it was launched in 2009.

Filmed in July at TEDGlobal 2010, here is Tim Jackson’s economic reality check, a 20 minute talk he gave for the TEDGlobal audience…

I want you to imagine a world, in 2050, of around nine billion people, all aspiring to Western incomes, Western lifestyles. And I want to ask the question — and we’ll give them that two percent hike in income, in salary each years as well, because we believe in growth. And I want to ask the question: how far and how fast would be have to move? How clever would we have to be? How much technology would we need in this world to deliver our carbon targets? And here in my chart. On the left-hand side is where we are now. This is the carbon intensity of economic growth in the economy at the moment. It’s around about 770 grams of carbon. In the world I describe to you, we have to be right over here at the right-hand side at six grams of carbon. It’s a 130-fold improvement, and that is 10 times further and faster than anything we’ve ever achieved in industrial history. Maybe we can do it, maybe it’s possible — who knows? Maybe we can even go further and get an economy that pulls carbon out of the atmosphere, which is what we’re going to need to be doing by the end of the century. But shouldn’t we just check first that the economic system that we have is remotely capable of delivering this kind of improvement?



..transcript below..