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.

The Philadelphia High Line?

high line

The NYC High Line — ©Kwong Yee Cheng

Didn’t know about this project:

The Reading Viaduct soars over the neighborhood just north of Philadelphia’s Center City… Elevated railroad tracks long abandoned and overgrown with vegetation, the Viaduct has many dreaming of a park along the lines of the High Line in New York, one of the biggest urban-renewal successes of the last decade.

Good interview with Philadelphia proponents and one of the original advocates for the NYC High Line {WHYY — Radio Times}.

I think it would be a clear win for the city to turn an abandoned structure into more green space (about 5 acres). It generated a ton of money ($millions) in new investment around the high line in NYC, so the Chinatown folks need to suck it up and get on board.