Friday Link List

1. How Green Is Telecommuting? {andrew sullivan}.

I doubt the premise of this article based on my personal experience, but it’s an interesting observation, if true:

It might … be that, contrary to some early expectations, telecommuting is not necessarily good for the environment. A 2011 article in the Annals of Regional Science found that, on average, telecommuters end up putting in more travel—on both nonwork-and work-related trips—than those who don’t telecommute. In other words, that they don’t drive to work doesn’t mean that they drive less overall. As Pengyu Zhu, the article’s author, put it, “the hopes of planners and policymakers who expected the promotion of telecommuting programs to substitute for face-to-face interactions and thus reduce traditional travels remains largely unmet.”

I hardly ever drive my car save for my commute to work, so my ability to telecommute saves me two long drives every week. I have a hunch that those who telecommute and end up driving the the same amount (if not more) are also living typical suburban lives. A similar study could be done across all non-urban dwellers who drive to work whether or not they telecommute. Suburbanites don’t just drive to work, they also shop and pick up the kids from school, too.


2. Caffeinated Seas Found off U.S. Pacific Northwest {national geographic; via stephen marche}.

The Pacific Northwest may be the epicenter of U.S. coffee culture, and now a new study shows the region’s elevated caffeine levels don’t stop at the shoreline.

The discovery of caffeine pollution in the Pacific Ocean off Oregon is further evidence that contaminants in human waste are entering natural water systems, with unknown consequences for wildlife and humans alike, experts say.


3. In Praise of Urban Density {andrew sullivan}.

The denser the city, the more productive, efficient and powerful it becomes. The theoretical physicists, Luis Bettencourt and Geoffrey West calculated that if the population of a city is doubled, average wages go up by 15%, as do other measures of productivity, like patents per capita. Economic output of a city of 10 million people will be 15-20% higher than that of two cities of 5 million people. Incomes are on average five times higher in urbanised countries with a largely rural population. And at the same time, resource use and carbon emissions plummet by 15% for every doubling in density, because of more efficient use of infrastructure and better use of public transportation.

How to Pick the Perfect Park Bench

  1. 1. Assess the weather. Determine optimal Shade Level (direct sun, under the cover of a tree or a mix of both). Note: Shade Level subject to change with or without warning.
  2. 2. Begin walk around perimeter of park, traveling clockwise if possible. Walk slow enough to enable a complete and accurate assessment of Bench Candidates, but fast enough to avoid appearing Creepy. It’s a fine line.
  3. 3. When approaching Bench Candidate with desired Shade Level, make your final choice based on the following Hazards & Annoyances: mysterious or unexplained puddles, cell phone users, homeless persons, bird feces and proximity to trash receptacles, pets and/or children.
  4. 4. When final Bench Candidate is identified, make haste to claim your bench. Do not break eye contact with Bench Candidate.
  5. Helpful notes & tips: Bench Candidates near minor thoroughfares are preferable to main arteries. Bench Candidates near fountains provide pleasing ambient noise but may attract unwanted neighbors, namely small children, their parents and teenagers.

Related: Long/ Live/ the/ Benchigram.