Friday, 10 March 2017


My favourite Norm is my brother in law because he is literally the funniest person I know.

However this blog post is about Social Norms.

Social Psychologist Robert Cialdini concluded that the six basic principles for gaining compliance are known as:
  1. Friendship/liking - We are more willing to comply with requests from people who we like and know.
  2. Commitment/consistency - Once we have committed ourselves to a stance or action; we are more willing to comply with requests for behaviors that are consistent with this position or action.
  3. Scarcity -We are more likely to comply with requests that focus on scarcity because we feel obliged to obtain rather than not have. For example, there is a limited time offer in purchasing a certain item and as a result, people often buy that particular item. This seems to be a common theme in clever marketing.
  4. Reciprocity - People feel compelled to rise to a person’s defence, or to pay them back because they have done the same for them.
  5. Social validation - People want to feel understood and legitimised for their action or way of thinking, so they turn to others to gain social validation and approval.
  6. Authority - people are more willing to comply with requests from someone who holds legitimate authority.

These six principles prompt our understanding of why and how people gain compliance.(original article)

These above principles are exploited every day by marketing executives, campaigners and politicians. There is a lot of controversy at the moment about social media profiling. People's Twitter and Facebook posts and responses are being "farmed" and then analysed automatically to indicate what their personality traits are and then these people are being manipulated to ensure they vote a particular way.

"Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method to analyze people in minute detail based on their Facebook activity. In the 1980s, two teams of psychologists developed a model that sought to assess human beings based on five personality traits, known as the "Big Five." These are:
  • Openness (how open you are to new experiences?), 
  • Conscientiousness (how much of a perfectionist are you?), 
  • Extroversion (how sociable are you?), 
  • Agreeableness (how considerate and cooperative you are?) and 
  • Neuroticism (are you easily upset?). 
Based on these dimensions—they are also known as OCEAN, an acronym for openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism—we can make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person in front of us.Did a similar tool help propel Donald Trump to victory? Two reporters from Zurich-based Das Magazin went data-gathering" (link)

There is more information here.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Why does Aberdeen even have a Hydrogen strategy ?

Aberdeen City Council has just published a Hydrogen Strategy for 2015-2025, Why is that I ask?

A car running on hydrogen, made from hydrolysis of water, is only half as efficient as a car using the electricity directly in a battery.

Most hydrogen comes from fossil fuels and not from the electrolysis of water. Electrolysis of water is unlikely to supply hydrogen in significant quantities in the medium to long term.

Aberdeen has a very polluted environment because of traffic congestion.  Would it not be sensible to scrap any further investment into the hydrogen infrastructure and focus on battery electric vehicles? We can buy these battery electric vehicles off the peg and they have already got a charging infrastructure in place for them.

Stanford University said in a recent report that: "“The analysis showed that, to be cost competitive, fuel cell vehicles would have to be priced much lower than battery vehicles. However, fuel cell vehicles are likely to be significantly more expensive than battery vehicles for the foreseeable future. Another supposed benefit of hydrogen – storing surplus solar energy – didn’t pan out in our analysis either. We found that in 2035, only a small amount of solar hydrogen storage would be used for heating and lighting buildings.”

The ski resort town of Whistler, British Columbia, is ending its hydrogen fuel-cell bus program, the world's largest demonstration of its kind, and switching back to diesel because of the cost of running the hydrogen buses (link2013).

New York City has commissioned a report which recommends that they switch to battery electric buses. London has just taken delivery of 51 electric buses made in Scotland (Link).

All in all it seems ridiculous for Aberdeen City to pursue hydrogen powered vehicles when battery electric vehicles are here, now, in commercial quantities and could significantly reduce the pollution within the city now, not in 10 or 20 years.


New York City Transit has requested an analysis considering changing from
the current fleet of buses to Electric buses. NYC Transit and MTA bus have a combined fleet of about 5,700 buses for public transportation in New York City. The fleet includes diesel, hybrid diesel, and CNG (compressed natural gas) buses. Greenhouse gases emissions from transportation contribute to global climate change, and electric buses have much lower greenhouse gas emissions than diesel, hybrid diesel, or CNG buses.

Changing the entire fleet to all electric buses would result in a reduction of emissions within the city limits of approximately 575,000 metric tons of CO2e per year. 

The net savings, including the incremental power generation required for the electric buses is a reduction of nearly 500, 000 metric tons of CO2e assuming the current mix of power generation in New York City and Westchester County (EPA). 

Consideration was also given to the possibility of a change in the power generation sources. Assuming a power mix that has the highest level of greenhouse gases in the country, the EPA region designated as The Rockies, the“worst case” savings would still be about 300,000 metric tons of CO2e per year. There are some variations possible based on bus manufacturer, bus
routes, number of passengers and seasonal impacts to battery life. However, the overall and net results will not change appreciably on an average annual basis. 

The financial analysis of electric buses vs. the existing fleet of buses looks at the difference in the cost of a new electric bus vs. a diesel bus, and the cost of overall operations including fuel and maintenance costs. 

The cost of a diesel bus can range from roughly $450K to $750K depending on the characteristics of the bus. Smaller buses, 35 and 40 foot, typically sit at the lower end of the cost spectrum while 60 foot articulated buses have prices at the high end of the range. Electric buses cost about $300K more including the cost of the infrastructure. From a net financial perspective, the $39K annual savings associated with fuel (cost of diesel or CNG vs. cost of electricity) and bus maintenance more than offsets the higher cost of electric buses over the 12-year lifetime of the bus, excluding health care cost benefits. 

A sensitivity analysis was performed showing alternative differences in bus cost and in operating costs. Health benefits and associated reductions in health care costs are important byproducts of a switch from diesel buses to all electric buses. The EPA created a Diesel Emissions Quantifier tool that includes a health benefit analysis component. The health benefits include respiratory, bronchial, heart and other diseases related to particulate matter and other diesel combustion pollutants. The cost reductions from those health benefits are associated with hospitalization, emergency room cost and the cost of missing work. The projected annual cost benefit in New York City associated with health benefits of switching from diesel buses to electric buses is approximately $150k per bus. This translates to roughly $100 per New York City resident of health care savings per year if the entire fleet is converted to all electric. From the perspective of New York City residents including elected officials, this should be significant and compelling. 

A number of cities around the world are currently considering or are in the process of changing over to electric buses. These cities, including Chicago, London, Vienna and Los Angeles are gaining valuable experience in the implementation and use of electric buses, and should be consulted to gain a strong understanding of their experiences. The Antelope Valley Transit
Authority in Greater Los Angeles wrote a press release earlier this year that they will be the first all-electric fleet in the country. They are working with BYD (Chinese manufacturer) to convert their fleet of 85 buses. London has 22 electric buses including several double decker electric buses and they continue to purchase more electric buses.

The recommendation of this report is that New York City take the first steps towards purchasing electric buses. The financial case closes sufficiently, and the health benefits and greenhouse gas reductions are both compelling . As a first step, the city should consider purchasing about 10 buses from each of two different vendors to pilot or a minimum of 1 year to gain understanding of electric bus operations as well as the impacts of seasonality specifically on battery operation . The pilot tests should be run on at least two routes that could have significantly different battery requirements based on battery size and recharging time alternatives. Investigation of different bus manufacturers should include the experience of other cities. The bus manufacturers most often cited in the United States are BYD (a Chinese company with a bus manufacturing plant in California) and Proterra, (a U.S. electric bus manufacturer headquartered in California).