From The Vancouver Sun:

Whitney Sharp always expected she would be driving when she turned 16. But five years later, she has yet to make it behind the wheel — or even to a driver licensing branch.

Sharp is representative of what TransLink has deemed a “noticeable drop” in the proportion of young adults aged 16-24 who are forgoing a traditional rite of passage: getting a driver’s licence.

Only 50 per cent of young people aged 16-19 and 80 per cent of those 20-29 had a driver’s licence in 2011 — down from 60 per cent and 90 per cent respectively in 1999 — according to TransLink’s latest trip diary, which surveyed almost 18,000 households on their commuting patterns, including how many trips they made in a 24-hour period.

There’s no specific reasons given for the decline, but the TransLink analysis suggests it could be attributed to several factors, including a combination of the graduated licensing program and TransLink’s U-Pass program — a cheap universal pass that gives students access to bus, SeaBus and SkyTrain services within Metro Vancouver — or a “generational behaviour change because of shifts in values and attitudes.”

“The notion of getting a car and the ability to drive as a rite of passage is really eroding,” said Larry Frank, professor and J. Armand Bombardier chair in Sustainable Urban Transportation Systems at the University of B.C. “It’s an indication that our degree of car dependence, at least in this region, is declining.”

It appears teens no longer view a restored Mustang as the ticket to independence, said Maria Su, senior manager of research analytics with TransLink. The high price of gas and car ownership, on one hand, and the U-Pass program and better transit opportunities on the other, she said, are likely contributing to the trend, which “is not unique to Vancouver.”

“It used to be when people got out of school, the first thing they did was get a used car because it was a sign of freedom,” Su said. “Now you can meet up with a friend without a car.”

Check out the rest of the article here

(Photo source: Streetsblog DC)


Thinking Globally: ‘Overview’ (Short Film)

From Vimeo:

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.

More here.

Climate change denial explained… in three short minutes

In this video clip science historian Naomi Oreskes talks with skeptic Nick Minchin about the driving force behind climate denial:

aversion to the political and economic implications of climate change leading to a rejection of the science. 

Oreskes is co-author of the must-read book 'Merchants of Doubt' and recipient of the 2011 Climate Change Communicators Award.* Minchin served as a cabinet minister and senator in Australia from 1993 to 2011.

(*H/T Climate Adaptation

(Source: Skeptical Science via YouTube)

Effectively addressing climate change will require over the coming decades a fundamental remaking of energy production, transportation and agriculture around the world — the sinews of modern life.

~ New York Times journalist John Broder, in his analysis of the recent international climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa. 

(Photo credit: Climate Literacy)

David Suzuki & Thich Nhat Hanh in Conversation About the Health of the Planet

[Sustainable ecology expert] David Suzuki, Zen Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and David Suzuki Foundation Chair Jim Hoggan in conversation about mindfulness, climate change and how to bring about the collective public awakening needed to restore health to the planet.

Read more about their conversation here.

Risk expert David Ropeik’s new post in the Huffington Post takes a look at a newly published study, ‘Cool Dudes: The Denial of Climate Change Among Conservative White Males in the United States’.

The research found that:

… conservative white males (CWMs) are more likely than any other segment of the population to deny the overwhelming body of science that anthropogenic climate change is underway, and a serious threat to the biosphere and everything in it, including human beings.

For example, the study found that:

  • 14% of the general public doesn’t worry about climate change at all, but among CWMs the percentage jumps to 39%.

  • 32% of adults deny there is a scientific consensus on climate change, but 59% of CWMs deny what the overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists have said.

  • Three adults in 10 don’t believe recent global temperature increases are primarily caused by human activity. Twice that many — six CWMs out of every 10 — feel that way

But, why CWMs?:

… partly because they’re WMs, and partly because they are Cs. The so-called “White Male Effect” in risk perception has found that white males between ages 18-59 are generally less afraid of things than white women or people of color of either gender. A famous “White Male Effect” paper suggested "Perhaps white males see less risk in the world because they create, manage, control, and benefit from so much of it. Perhaps women and non-white men see the world as more dangerous because in many ways they are more vulnerable, because they benefit less from many of its technologies and institutions, and because they have less power and control." That’s consistent with general theory about risk perception, which finds that for all of us, the more control we have the less afraid we are, and the more benefit we get from something, the less scary it is.

But what about the conservative part? Why would people who are politically conservative be more likely to deny the evidence about climate change? Well, conservatives are generally what Cultural Cognition theory calls Hierarchists. They like clear and fixed hierarchies of class and race and social structure, a rigid predictable ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ status quo. They don’t like government butting in trying to change things, and leveling the playing field, and taking from the haves who have earned it and giving to the have-nots who haven’t. Well, the solutions to climate change are going to take all kinds of government ‘butting in’, all sorts of adjustments to the economic status quo, interventions that will mean new winners and losers, changes to who’s where on the economic and power ladder, and to a hierarchist (i.e. conservative), that means somebody else’s sort of society - the society of Egalitarians who want things flexible and fair, not rigid and bound by class and hierarchy — is going to prevail.

That’s really threatening, way down deep in the psyche of the social human animal that depends on the tribe for welfare and even survival. If our tribe is on top, we feel safer. If our tribe is losing out, we feel threatened. If society is operating the way we want, we feel safer. If somebody else’s rules prevail, we feel threatened. So Cs — conservatives — who tend to be Hierarchical, feel threatened not by the facts of climate change but by what the solutions to climate change might do to the way society operates. They cherry pick the facts to support a view that will preserve the social order they prefer, and defend that view fiercely, because it’s about way more than climate change. It’s about protecting their identities, the tribe, their safety. Powerful stuff.

So, what does this mean for the rest of us? 

What is valuable about this study is what it says not just about conservative white men, but about all of us. This research confirms that who we are as people, at really fundamental levels, has a lot more to do with the way we see things than just the facts. All of us, not just CWMs. And not just on climate change. And what that means is that arguing issues based just on the facts isn’t going to get us very far, since the facts aren’t really what we’re arguing about in the first place.

Hmm… How are we going to get beyond denial and onto advancing climate solutions then?

The solution is obvious, though hardly easy. We have stop making climate change a zero sum if-you-win-I-lose battle. We have to frame the issue in ways that work within everybody’s underlying cultural/tribal perspectives. We have to realize that answers are more likely to be found, and solutions are more likely to be reached, if the goal is finding common ground, to one of the most serious threats humans - all of us - have ever faced. 

Check out the rest of the article here. P.S. If you’re interested in another worthwhile read on conservatives and climate denial check out Jonathan Kay’s, Bad science: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause’.   

(Photo credit: Huffington Post)