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10224Re:grim climate numbers

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  • Karen Sandness
    May 3, 2007
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      Climate change is a fashionable topic here in the States, as well, but
      I see almost no one addressing the elephant in the garage, namely,
      America's overwhelming dependence on the automobile, supposedly
      responsible for 1/3 of all U.S. greenhouse emissions.

      The "helpful hints" given in popular newspapers and magazines include
      replacing conventional light bulbs with fluorescent ones or paying
      one's utility company extra to subsidize the use of wind power, and
      some even refer indirectly to the problem of automobile exhaust by
      saying, "Keep your tires properly inflated to increase gas mileage" or
      "Combine errands into one trip" or "Replace one car trip a week with
      transit or cycling," or "Buy a Prius" or even, misguidedly, "Buy a
      vehicle that runs on ethanol."

      However, I have never seen a popular article that says, "Get rid of
      your car" or, for people trapped in car-dependent communities, as I
      currently am, "Have no more than one car per household and use it as
      little as possible." Another suggestion that I never see is, "Urge your
      local government to adopt pedestrian-friendly and transit-friendly
      construction, zoning, and retrofitting standards, and to ban all
      sprawl-engendering development."

      Meanwhile, suburban sprawl continues unchecked, with only a few "New
      Urbanist" designs scattered among the strip malls, and even some of
      these New Urban areas are essentially car-dependent.

      This is especially sad because another hot topic in the popular press
      is the problem of elderly people who keep driving after their eyesight
      or mental acuity dims. Having faced this situation within my own
      extended family, I can understand how not driving reduces an older
      adult to the helplessness of a child, but writers on this topic
      concentrate not on expanding alternatives to driving but on
      psychological strategies for getting older people to surrender their
      driving privileges.

      I feel as if I'm in a country that is walking over a cliff with its
      eyes open.

      In transit,
      Karen Sandness
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