Neat Stuff from Elsewhere Friday Jan 18, 2013

  • PLOS ONE: How Large Should Whales Be?
    PLOS ONE: How Large Should Whales Be?:

    The title implies that one can consider this as a sort of abstract idea for one’s own judgement: really, how large DO you think a whale really should be?

    The article, sadly, is about the usual sort of size-regulation issues in mammals. But never mind. The title is such fun.

  • Should Hybrid and Electric Cars Have to Sound Like Regular Cars? – Commute – The Atlantic Cities
    Should Hybrid and Electric Cars Have to Sound Like Regular Cars? – Commute – The Atlantic Cities:

    Earlier this week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finally published its proposed “quiet car rule,” mandated by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, setting out standards for what the quiet cars of the future must sound like. And the long-awaited answer: They must sound like… cars.

    A very disappointing decision. There must be ways to protect pedestrians other than adding to ambient noise pollution.

  • Algonquin Park is no place for a cottage. Or is it?
    Algonquin Park is no place for a cottage. Or is it?:

    “These aren’t cottages that are flipped every two, three or five years,” he adds. “A lot of these cottages have been there for 60, 80, 100 years and have been in the same family over that period of time.”

    Their presence, however, restricts the park’s use. Most of the cottages are on lakes close to Highway 60 — Cache Lake, Canoe Lake and Smoke Lake. And people aren’t allowed to camp on lakes with cottagers.

    Twenty-one of the leased lots are in the park’s interior. Winters says the government should phase out those leases. Canoeists who make the effort of portaging their way deep into the park should be rewarded with an environment more natural than lakes with cottages, Winters says.

    The debate over cottagers, Winters argues, distracts from greater pressures threatening Algonquin. Fully 51 per cent of the park is open to logging. Winters’ concern is the 6,000 kilometres of gravel roads mostly built and reserved for logging. As roads proliferate, so will the demand for their use for reasons other than logging, he argues.

    “There’s no bigger issue in Algonquin Park than roads,” he says.

    Good, evenhanded article. They’re entirely correct, although (I did a huge piece of research on this way back in grad school) from the article it’s not clear that Algonquin does work quite well as a multi-use park. Trippers rarely see or hear any logging… unless they go more than 150m inland, which they seldom do, and the logging roads are not typically marked on canoe maps. The roads would be excellent for biking, horse-riding and other similar pursuits if such uses could be deconflicted with the logging-truck use.

    As things stand, both cottaging and logging are critical to the whole area’s economic success. And I do say that as an environmentalist and a canoe-tripper! Algonquin is a great example of how one space can accommodate multiple uses with a bit of compromise and thought.

    If the government does eventually take over the cottages I’d suggest we rent them out instead of destroying them. They’d be a nice Night 1 or end-night for serious trippers and would be a great stepping-stone into the woods for the less-experienced.

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