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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Car Free 2005?

When financial analysts say this about oil:
It is the biggest problem the world faces today.
and then when progressives like Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! say that so many of the world's problems are due to the greed for oil, we know that triangulation has started to take hold among the cognoscenti.

But what about those in the rank and file? When I heard the Goodman quote myself, in person, it did not register in me to make the same observation as John Akre:
As we were directing people into the church where the speech was to be, we heard the complaint over and over again that this was a hard place to find parking. The speech was in a church right downtown. Dozens of bus routes passed by within a few blocks. You could hear buses going by the open back door during the speech. There were bike lanes painted on the streets around here. We took the bus. There were a few bikes parked on the street poles on the sidewalk. But most of the people who came walked up from the direction of the parking ramps. Most people came to the talk by burning that oil that causes so many problems. Many of them came by exploiting that same greed and death. You would think they would have known better if they were coming to see Amy Goodman, but they did not know better. Either it did not concern them or they had some kind of block on their own implication in these wars and this misery.
Again it did not register with me to make this connection, even after biking to the event myself; I guess I just didn't hear the complaints because I slipped in there and got out without frustration. Mr. Akre had to listen to the "greedy" complainers first hand.

Conclusion: We're a long way from achieving the communal "tree hugging" stage of acceptance.

In any case, Akre has named this year Car Free 2005 in hopes of avoiding the metal beasts for the year. Even though he has not upheld his pledge 100% so far, he has at least showed diligence in reporting his progress honestly and with regularity.

Me? I wouldn't have lasted through January.

Update: Monbiot further discusses the difficulty of looking at ourselves in the mirror.


Professor Blogger JMS said...

Good post. I'd been thinking about this.

I drive 15 miles to work, often in stop and go traffic. For about seven miles of this, on particular stretches, I could safely bicycle, including on the much traveled I-90 floating bridge across lake washington.

It is half a loaf of Kung Fu - because the last leg is a highly dangerous foray into the the south seattle Sodo district, in the heart of a very active ship yard.

Getting smooshed by a cargo container truck on a road with no shoulder is not my idea of a good day.

So I'm a hypocrite.

For now.

Monbiot's final point, which I agree with, is we need to bite the bullet and get government on board as part of the solution -- individual action, purposefull living, is not enough.

if at all possible.

9:15 PM  
Professor Blogger @whut said...

Say, MG, are you going to blog on the gas tax controversy in your neck of the woods? Some news reports are starting to filter down, especially pertaining to some radio media types.

BTW, that sounds like a fun ride.

10:23 PM  
Professor Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

The only way the irony could get thicker is if the complainers drove to church in something like a Durango or Excursion.

Hmmm.  Maybe some consciousness-raising is in order.  Green-ribbon sundays for people who show up on bikes or with bus receipts?

11:19 PM  
Professor Blogger JMS said...

E-P - I recently saw a brand new SUV behemoth I saw sitting in a parking lot with an oversized native american "dreamcatcher" fetish a-hangin' from the rearview mirror.

I wonder what kind of dream the Great Spirit will send that clown.

WHT - good idea on the gas tax. I try and slip in a fair stick of local news in my blog 'cause I am always interested when other bloggers do likewise.

11:52 PM  
Professor Blogger Big Gav said...

Good post.

I liked Monbiot's column because of the honesty, but its very difficult for the population as a whole to avoid using cars as part of their daily lives - suburbia (where most people live) just isn't designed for it.

The best way to avoid excess driving is living close to work (or at least close to a convenient form of public transport that will get you there and back) - but that option isn't available to everyone, and won't be unless governments make it the economically rational choice for developers to make in future.

I would be smug about being a train commuter but I'm sure I fly enough times in a year to completely cancel that out and put me firmly in the hypocrite camp...

5:22 AM  
Professor Blogger @whut said...

I actually let my license lapse accidentally for over a year last year.
The only way I found out was when the rental car rep in France pointed it out. I tried making up some story about the European date convention being backwards, but she wouldn't buy it.

When I got back I ended up having to retake the driver's exam.

12:54 PM  
Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post on an issue too easily overlooked.
I think Jim Kunstler is correct, many Americans are still "sleepwalking", even those inclined to agree with Amy Goodman. I find that even in the environmental organization I work for that I'm usually the only one riding my bike to work (no public transit anywhere near). 'Course I live in So. California where 50 years of easy motoring has so distorted our communities that the only choices folks feel they have are between a lengthy commute by car and an even longer commute by inadequate public transit. Living close to where you work is simply not considered or, more likely, not high on the list of priorities when choosing a place to live(understandable given the $$$). When a majority of folks in So. Cal. begin placing a high priority on being able to get to work without burning fossil fuel, THEN we are beginning to make progress.

5:38 PM  
Professor Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

kwark:  Perhaps you can sell people on carbon-negative energy systems (which will also eliminate air pollution).

How would that go over in California?

9:27 AM  
Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

Engineer-Poet: Sounds interesting although I have my doubts about this process having a net positive energy return on energy invested. As to going over in California ... When gas gets expensive enough, ANYTHING that'll preserve an easy motoring lifestyle would likely be a go.

8:35 PM  

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