July 1, 2009
How did we fall into the habit of needing a cart, powered by 50 horses, to go and buy a bottle of milk ? Who needs to light the equivalent of 15 radiators, or 50 hair dryers, or 300 light bulbs, or 30 microwaves to collect children from school in 2000 kg steel tanks ? Let’s not forget that the best half of the human body is made up of legs… Not simply meant to fold under steering wheels and screens. Laziness, is this what we call progress ?
Are we aware that the energy contained in 1liter of petrol (36MJ) is approximately equivalent to the energy spent at climbing Mont Everest (10 MJ) four times -A level physics-, or 120 kg of straw ? 100 kilometers by car, equivalent to at least climbing Mont Everest 20 times ? Or, 4 kilometers by -sober with no traffic- car equivalent to climbing Mont Everest once ? Cars are simply unfordable from an energy point of view. We cannot organize our societies with such energy intensive tools as top priority, such inefficient and resource intensive burden. We cannot afford 6 billions of engines burning the oil left in traffic jams, while congesting our cities and suffocating the population. The car model is an old fossil in our brains. An absurdity in an era of energy scarcity, a crime in an era of climate change, an unfordable non sense in a sustainable future .
Let’s face it, unless we burn the furnitures left, there is no sustainable energy available for cars. Unless there is plenty of extra arable land on Jupiter, cars are far too energy intensive to be generalized and mass produced. Whatever progress we make with their exhaust pipes, the earth cannot produce sustainable energy for 6 billions of cars. Cars will only deteriorate the situation faster by accelerating energy scarcity. Their noisy engines will not improve the situation of one single inch. Only dig a deeper out of control labyrinth. Urban sprawling is the straight result of 50 years of pro cars round the world blindness and innocence. It is now a immense mental and energetic trap we must extract ourselves from.
Shall we believe in old fashion politics investing in motorways, steel tanks, traffic jams, passive outgrowth and out of control urban sprawling, while ignoring e-working, pedestrians, cycle lanes ? How can we spend so much of our resources in dead locks ? How can we find colossal sums of money and top political support to build ever more motorways, to sacrifice limitless agricultural land to parking space, but not a penny and no political will to maintain pavements, to replace parking space by children playgrounds ? How can we give top priority to energy non sense ? How can we abandon the future of our children to an exhausted XIXth century model defended by arriere-garde lobbyists ? Why should our children waste their youth in solitude videogames instead of playing in our streets ? How can we prioritize cars over our own children ? How can parking space be a priority to children well being, and overall conviviality ? How can we ignore endemic asthma of the young generation ? Shall we tackle western systemic obesity through 30 min daily walking or more artificial molecules and hours wasted in a car at developing ulcers ? How much space do we plan to abandon to steel tanks with our elderlies not able to find a single bench to seat under a tree ? How foolish is this ? Cars are literally killing our cities and replace their potential vitality by non sense, harming-everyone-traffic-jams. Cars are far too aggressive for life. They come at too expensive societal price. They are too dangerous for anyone that cannot sprint on zebras. Millions of us run for their life to go and buy bread. Our elderlies, our children must spend their life inside. To them, it is a matter of life or death. Do we care ?
Each and every neighborhood that got released from car oppression suddenly boils of vitality and humanity. What are we waiting for ? Higher energy prices ? Irreversible climate change ? Bigger trucks to invade streets up to the windows ? How much longer are we planning to deny the obvious ? Passive urban sprawling is energy absurd. A natural resource black hole. And, structurally, cars are distorting our cities into hostile, inhuman suburbs.
The presence of cars in our cities is an historical bug, a huge mistake that we inheritate from the previous two generations, obsessed by productivism to the point of denying space to human beings in cities. Cars in our cities are the sad result of taylorist thinking, obsessed with mass production of anything. And never consider consequences, never acknowledge the outgrowth of growth, or the waste of this stupid taylorist algorithm: produce and sell limitless number of cars for ever, whatever the consequences, including hostility and aridity of cities. Not mentioning wars of the future. Cars are the worse source of waste, lazyness, conflict, agressivity and debts we have ever invented. We are sabotating our cities in their name. Instead of finding inspiration in our pedestrian medieval cities we are massacring them with our steel tanks. We became so blindly dependent and fetichist that we would rather sacrifice the next generations but not walk a mile. How smart a progress is this ? How smart is it to elect politicians supporting such absurdity because they don’t know any better ?
Are we going to find the strength to correct this stupid -cannot learn from mistakes- consumerist programming ?
If we want to preserve the most incredibly beautiful jewel of the universe, our planet, hosting the most incredible form of life, us, we may have to go back to walking for a while.
Adoring cars while despising the planet ?? There must be a bug somewhere. A taylorist implant blocking our brains somewhere.
Technology and politics can be slow mid term solutions. We also need to buy time by changing behavior.
Dividing the number of cars rather than multiplying them is the only obvious gain of comparable scale to our central energy addiction problem. The productivists among us will complain. But we know by now the heavy price of their obstinate mistaking.
If productivism was to be the ultimate sophistication of the universe, maybe we would have been given a infinite, flat, shopping mole as an ecosystem. Ours is circular, interrelated and finite. There must be reason, in’it ?
Why wasting so much time to adapt our concepts to this given topology ?Author : herve