Saturday 26 March 2022

Against the Traffic

Under the circumstances, cars should not be allowed.  That's a ridiculous statement, but I stand by it.  If you find it disgusting (rather than, say, eccentrically intruiging) allow me to take the edge off.  Fossil-fuel powered cars should not be allowed.  Electric vehicles are permissible.  For people who genuinely have no other option but to travel, for the time being, using a fossil-fuel powered vehicle, for reasons of health or disability, exceptions can also be made.  The emergency services can continue to operate to allow for a smooth transition to environmentally harmless forms of transportation.  These are insignificantly small proportions of the driving population, as are people already using electric vehicles.  So: individual ownership and use of fossil-fuel powered vehicles for almost everyone, in almost all situations, must stop.  It must stop immediately.

I said "under the circumstances".  What circumstances?  Well, it goes by many names.  All of these have become familar, and many contain the word "climate".  Emergency.  Catastrophe.  Crisis.  Collapse.  The imminent point of no return, past which the systematic feedback loops of human-induced climatic disruption compound on each other, resulting in a planet so hostile to human life as to be barely worth living on, and perhaps even total human exctinction in the not-too-distant (and definitively foreseeable) futurue.

Now I'm anticipating here a state of affairs beyond "the worst case scenario" of RCP8.5, under which we reach a global average temperate increase of 4.4 degrees celsius by 2100 but where human life on this planet, in some miserable form or other, still exists.  This may or may not come to pass but as the saying goes; expect the worst, hope for the best.  Whatever happens, things are going to get worse before they get better.  That's all I have to say about that for now.  The circumstances are dire, and genuinely radical action is needed.  Individual lifestyle changes are not enough.  Mass protest and civil disobedience is not enough.  Democratically determined, compromise-limited, electorally palatable legislative evolution is not enough.  Actual and immediate change is required.  

A world without cars, without even what we now recognise as roads, would be objectively better than the world we have now.  Where roads once were, transit lines would now connect one area to another, in whatever form and quantity the landscape and the population requires: trams, trains, monorails, underground systems, all powered by renewable-emmission free energy (solar, wind, perhaps nuclear, and all being well, soon enough, fusion).  To get from wherever you are to wherever you need to be, you will walk for no more than five minutes and wait at a station no more than two.  Your journey will be quiet, comfortable and free.  Traffic jams will no longer exist.  No more road rage.  No more hit and runs.  No more petrol stations.  No more petrol at all (and therefore no more price spikes or shortages).  Because no more cars.  Nothing less radical than this interests me.

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