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Someone who’s a self-proclaimed environmentalist wrote to me:
I don't agree that the answer is for people to stop driving or cut down on driving. People aren't going to do that. Not everyone is willing to take on the monastic kind of life you have adopted. Frugality is the answer for some but not for most I don't think.
Most people want to have the freedom to do whatever they like. We simply need to develop better systems to serve the needs and desires of mankind. We also need to get real about overpopulation since that is the causative agent of all of our problems. Yet people don't want to talk about that one.
Are you serious or being ultimately satirical? Have you considered what the daily commute of thousands of cars into Boston just on I-93 (and then out in the evening) consumes in fuel at an average forward motion of perhaps 10 mph for the last 15 miles? How about the carbon emissions from all those engines firing all their cylinders even if the vehicle is stopped, as so often is the case? Now multiply that by at least 4 arteries for Boston and how many for every other major city in the world and now increasing by those in China and India who want to be able to sit alone in a tech-lux 5-seat vehicle and "migrate" back and forth to their office building (which is heated and/or cooled even when empty thru the night) -- the while their living abode may very well be empty (but heated and/or cooled) while they and spouse are at work because they have to be to pay for all this "we want it" waste and excess.
People aren't going to give up the pleasure and entitlement of driving? Commuting is pleasure? is driving? People would still be able to drive on the weekends, touring, visiting, enjoying, consuming a fraction of what's now the noyade of fuel waste and emissions.
People must have freedom to do what they like? Like clear-cutting forests thus silting streams and decimating salmon and native peoples' survival because people of the l9th century wanted and liked what the trees were providing? Like decimating other species for beaver hats and coats. How about the "like" of feathers and even whole stuffed birds on Victorian women's hats? How about liking the soft, white, comfy of a baby seal coat? The criterion of provision, even allowance, should be what people like or expect?
People like flush toilets. People like what they're used to which is pure, potable, even flouridated water in the flush toilets into which they piss and shit. But it would be an imposition (or a "nanny-state-molestation" of self-centric "liking" to impose alternative systems to stop the usury and squandery of the past and present?
Perhaps, as advocated, alternative energies are the answer and people won't have to be crippled by driving less. Perhaps. But what if, as should be overwhelmingly obvious, any "alternatives" other than actual "petro" or "coal" substitutes via manufacture, would provide but a portion of the fuel needs for heavy industry, commercial transportation (including marine), heating, etc. Can we imagine distilling or synthesizing substance proportionate to what has taken the earth billions of years to congeal and compress as carbon compounds?
What people like. People like to take cruises on ships that provide what would have been unimaginable indulgence and gourmondry for the richest potentate of the past. While millions experience malnutrition, the stores aboard a cruise ship to feed a few over 1,000 is unconscionable. Online information is astounding, but we must be assured that people who cruise are not being denied their pleasures. The matter of what it takes to run the thing they cruise on is interesting too. Just a few facts: The Norwegian Spirit holds 1150 metric tons of fuel = 354,144 gallons. The Queen Mary moves 41' on a gallon, which converts (full capacity) to a figure of 20.6 per passenger-mile -- compared to a car's .025 per p/m (4 passengers in car). Another ship, MS Oasis, is listed as 12.08' per gallon which equals .0023 mpg and at speed consumes 11,361 gallons per hour.
That's an example of the energy demands (consumptions) of not depriving people of their pleasures, not condemning them to monastic deprivation-state.
Commercial shipping (freighters, tankers) consume similar amounts of fuel. To provide for the pleasures of the Western world, inclusive of marine shipping (and overland transport), the average (AVERAGE) distance a pound of food has traveled from source to supermarket is something like 3,000 miles. A case cited in the book Ninety Percent of Everything (about container shipping): Norwegian fish were frozen, shipped to Korea, unfrozen, filleted, re-frozen, and shipped back to Europe and elsewhere. And how about those little bottles of water that people find pleasure and probably prestige in consuming especially when they have the legacy of "imported".
WATER !!! Shipped across the Atlantic ! Bad enough interstate when in most places the water supply is just as pure and safe as the "spring water" which entails 8 mpg trucking fuel drunk by the diesel motor.
To curtail excess is not to deprive oneself. To limit sufficiency is not monastic minimalism of lifestyle.
But to insist on what people want -- without tempering that perspective by worst-case scenarios of what the eventuality might entail -- is not really compatible with conservation of the earth.
Nor of any of those who dwell thereon.