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The relentless persecution of motorists

It seems as if the Tories have grabbed the hatred of the ULEZ with both hands and are coming up with all sorts of schemes to favour motorists and to hell with the consequences.

One such is to want to get rid of the 20mph zones.

I don't understand this. You see, slower speed limits were introduced because far too many sainted drivers were unable to stick to the posted speed limits. All too many people think they have exemptions, reasons, and excuses.

Here in France, quite a number of towns have 30kph limits. That's about 18½mph.
The world hasn't ended. Some people even manage to sort of do 30kph in the 30kph zone...

Usually these limits are in places with a large number of children (around lotissements and schools) and it's not there to annoy drivers, it's there because of the risks of hitting a child. At 20mph (~30kph), a child has a 90% chance of survival (97.5% for an adult). At 30mph (~50kph), it's a 50% chance of survival (80% for an adult). At 40mph (~65kph), it's only a 10% chance of survival (same for adults).
The actual survivability depends a lot upon how the person was hit. Where they literally run over with a tonne-and-a-half vehicle? Did they suffer a head impact? Etc.

But, then, I guess the soundbites of "drivers, yay!" and "stuff the environment!" are the sort of populist nonsense that they are hoping will distract voters from:

  • crumbling schools and hospitals
  • a completely failed immigration system
  • a total inability to manage large scale infrastructure
    (serously, WTF is up with HS2? here in France there have been some major upgrades to the TGV network and, well, they've been planned and budgeted and completed and didn't end up the world-class fiasco that HS2 is turning into)
  • the biggest rise in taxes since after The War (estimated at an average of €3,500/year increase)...
  • ...while thinking up tax cuts and other generous allowances to allow their rich donors to keep more of their money...
  • ...for which they're thinking of funding by cutting welfare. But, then, it is typical Tory policy to blame poor people for being poor.

And that's not talking of the elephant in the room that even Labour doesn't want to acknowledge because it's such a sore point that having an opinion on the elephant is likely to lose them votes. At any rate, that elephant and unbelievable fiscal incompetence has pretty much ruined the economy. To the point where it is actually completely viable to stop thinking of the UK as a rich country, but more a middling country with some rich citizens.

But, hey, if you'd rather another five years of Tory rule because they'll stop those horrible horrible 20mph zones, then be my guest. If you're that bloody stupid and selfish, then the Conservatives are definitely for you.


We're all going to die!

The big environmental news is that Earth will be uninhabitable and a rather unpleasant place for humans in about two hundred and fifty million years from now when the continents crash into each other to form "Pangaea Ultima" or "Pangaea II" or "Neopangaea".
For those who don't know the geological timescales, Pangaea was a supercontinent that existed during the lare Paleolithic (Carboniferous, about 330M years ago) and broke apart in the early Mesolithic (Triassic/Jurassic, about 200M ya). This is why South America looks like it fits a little too nearly into the chunk missing from the lower left of Africa.
To call the next supercontinent "Pangaea" with some suffix (II, Ultima, etc) is, well, seriously lacking in originality. I nominate we just call it Steve and be done with it.

The theory was actually proposed in 1982. I guess taking forty years for the gutter press to shout about it isn't so bad.

The thing is... so what?

We, as a species, have barely made a quarter of a million years (and it's worth noting that until around 40,000 years ago, we weren't the only humanoids, but the others eventually died off leaving just us).
So... why should we care what happens in 250 million?

Especially when there's something fundamentally more important that'll happen first.

Just over 250 million years ago (252M) was the Permian-Triassic extinction event, Earth's largest extinction, killing about 81% of marine species and 70% of land-based vertebrates. It's also the largest known extinction event for insects. It's when the trilobite, a very successful critter in its time, was wiped out. It was so bad that the nickname for this is "The Great Dying".

About 201 million years ago, an extinction event of unknown cause (but possibly triggered by environmental changes reaching tipping point - hint! hint!) wiped out around 70% of all species. Most of the things that weren't dinosaurs were killed off, leaving the big lizards to rule the earth for about 180 million years...

...until 66 million years ago when the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event wiped out three quarters of all plant and animal species on Earth, thanks to a lump of rock 10-15km wide smashing into the planet. The exact effects are only hypothetical at this time, but one theory backed up by large amounts of soot in the global debris layer suggests that the entire biosphere might have burned as a result of the impact. In other words, everything burned. Literally, everything. That may have been followed by powerful acid rain due to the vaporising of the carbonate rock where the asteroid hit, which would have eventually acidified the oceans. The dust cloud from the impact would have behaved like a nuclear winter, with darkness settling in in a matter of weeks and lasting for more than two years. So, soot everywhere, acid rain, eternal darkness. Basically Victorian era London...
It wiped out the large dinosaurs. All that remains of the dinosaur era are birds. Yes, birds are dinosaurs. As life recovered, vertebrates developed differently. Instead of giant lizards, they evolved as horses, cats, and primates...which would eventually become us.

Yes, the land masses might well converge in around 250 million years. And it may introduce a world that is difficult for humans to survive. But looking backwards? Well, there have been three global extinctions that killed around three quarters of all of the creatures on this planet in about the same timespan.

So with that in mind, I will say that there is going to be another mass extinction event, and soon. The durations between the five main extinction events are roughly 80, 113, 51, and 135 million years. The last one was 66 million years ago. So are we living on borrowed time?
That's not to say that Yellowstone will explode as a supervolcano next Thursday and blot out the sun for years causing a total collapse of the food chain. Whatever happens may take another twenty million years, but, then, will our species last that long?



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David Pilling, 30th September 2023, 23:34
Not so sure it is getting rid of 20MPH zones, as stopping a blanket 20 zone across the country, replacing the blanket 30 limit. 
<sigh> too many people die on the roads, the situation is a lot better than it was. People were upset when they stopped drink driving, because it spoilt things and they knew they could drive after 10 pints. 
So it may be the new normal and people will get used to it and look back at the people who wanted to go faster like the drink drivers. 
The trouble is that many 30MPH roads are for getting from A to B - to get to the other end of Blackpool I have to cover many miles at 30MPH, you want to make my 20 minute journey time 50% longer. 
They are making driving harder - making roads narrower, putting in speed bumps, reducing speeds, 60 going to 40 and so on. 
Time was when the speed limit was enforced with a 10%+2 margin, so you'd have to be doing in excess of 35 to get points. Now you see people who have been doing 21 on speed awareness courses. 
There are miles of average speed cameras, with changing speed limits on the route. 
Look on the bright side when they hack driverless cars they'll only be limited by CPU speed. 
Rob, 1st October 2023, 00:17
I live in a 20mph zone.. Enforced by speed humps. They are a pain, but it's only in place within the estate, so I guess it's livable with. When it was proposed, and put to planning, I objected on the basis that no traffic surveys had been done to indicate there was any problem with speeding, there were no statistics on KSIs available to indicate injuries.. Indeed, there was no supporting evidence of any nature. 
The council passed the plans, because it was being funded out of the community support budget and the local consultation group (mostly do-gooders and nimbys) had wanted it.. 
Further out, we've got a actual urban motorway! Built in the 70s with a speed limit of 70 mph, it's been 50 for as long as its been driving. But a couple of years ago it was reduced again to 30. Because of a couple of fatal crashes, neither of which were actually on the 70mph section, and both, I think, were joyriders, a category of driver not generally respectful of speed limits, or any other road legislation. Plus the 70 section is on bloody stilts, so you can't even get pedestrians straying onto it.
Rob, 1st October 2023, 00:19
.. For as long as **I've** been driving. Bloody autocorrupt..

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