Re:grim climate numbers
- 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
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
I feel as if I'm in a country that is walking over a cliff with its
- The effect of scale on all the better alternative fuel solutions is
not generally appreciated. The greater the overall reduction in
vehicle use, the more biodiesel/ethanol/biomethane begins to make
sense. All these solutions really come into their own in a low-
demand, localized, appropriate-technology scenario. Simply unplugging
petroleum and plugging in biofuels won't work.
A 90%+ reduction in vehicle use would take both the fuel and motor
industries beyond a critical point at which their current
methodologies are no longer viable. Then, both fuels and vehicles
capable of being made using handicraft techniques and small, power-
diffuse organizational structures would be required - in vastly
reduced quantities, of course. All the biofuel processes, especially
ethanol!, are as exquisitely suited to such conditions as they are
unsuited to the conditions that currently prevail.
The fuel and motor industries derive their power from the
perpetuation and expansion of their current methodologies, which
effectively renders them technologically and therefore economically
invulnerable. That, rather than the loss of discrete operational
profits, is why they will resist any real reduction in the use or
rate of consumption of automobiles. New, supposedly efficient designs
tend to rely more heavily on these methodologies and therefore
further entrench the power of these industries. That is the real
reason not to buy a Prius.
That is also why better cities are the only real solution to the
problems of vehicle emissions and resource depletion.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Karen Sandness <ksandness@...>
> Climate change is a fashionable topic here in the States, as well,
> 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.
> In transit,
> Karen Sandness
- "I see almost no one addressing the elephant in the garage, namely,
America's overwhelming dependence on the automobile"
I agree with your point, the cure to the problem is an entire
culture change. I often wonder if it is possible in the US,
particularly the south where the mention of riding the bus gets you
a crazed look from neighbors. Sigh.
I was watching PBS last night and caught the very end of a car-free
city in Italy (not Venice). It was a small town of around 600
people, on the coast, does anyone know the name of this town? There
could be many like it I suppose, but just wondering if anyone saw
this show and has the name.