My scintillating advice on Carmageddon, with added snark for free

Here’s my brilliant quote from the AP story: :

“It’s going to be fine, people had a lot of warning,” said Lisa Schweitzer, a professor of urban planning at the University of Southern California.

Yeah, stand back. I gots a me a PhD.

However, I have to say, this reporter for the AP, Daisy Nyugen, was a pleasant lady to chat with. I’m just sad I didn’t say anything smarter for her to use.

If you’re upset that there are no trains on the west side of LA to help you cope with the 405 going off line, here are a few words of advice:

1. Don’t kill the next subway proposal that comes along after it has a construction problem, a problem which could easily be engineered for (like an improperly capped oil site with trapped methane, which wasn’t the agency’s fault, btw–private company’s fault), and don’t use that as a thinly veiled rationale upon which to indulge your rampaging NIMBYism.

2. Don’t get your US representative to write riders into Federal law that you can’t build subways anywhere along the most-promising westside LA route.

3. Don’t get your County Supervisor to spearhead an initiative to prevent any local options sales tax funding being spent on subways in the region (thereby restricting everybody else to slow-as-molasses light rail while indulging your NIMBYism).

4. Do try to get over your spoiled, entitled gazillionaire selves long enough to pull your heads out of your fanny to recognize that transit service–particularly the gold-plated billion-dollar system you will get simply for being your special, special selves–is a residential amenity.

Because, you see, if you hadn’t done any of the first 3, and if you had done #4, you’d have a subway down Wilshire already, and perhaps a parallel route to the 405 because Metro wouldn’t have had to waste years coddling you, handling every proposal that affects the west side with kid gloves, and putting off construction anywhere near you people because every time they do, they walk into a billion-dollar political shitstorm.

Just a few tips from your Auntie Lisa.

Losing apex predators and ecosystem disruption

A new study sponsored by the national science foundation describes a manuscript that just appeared in Science. From the NSF write-up:

“The top-down effects of apex consumers in an ecosystem are fundamentally important, but it is a complicated phenomenon,” Estes said. “They have diverse and powerful effects on the ways ecosystems work, and the loss of these large animals has widespread implications.”

Estes and co-authors cite a wide range of examples in their review, including:

The extirpation of wolves in Yellowstone National Park led to over-browsing of aspen and willows by elk; restoration of wolves allowed the vegetation to recover.
Dramatic changes in coastal ecosystems followed the collapse and recovery of sea otter populations. Sea otters maintain coastal kelp forests by controlling populations of kelp-grazing sea urchins.
The decimation of sharks in an estuarine ecosystem caused an outbreak of cow-nosed rays and the collapse of shellfish populations.