September 22, 2017

World Carfree Day



Yes, we live in a car dominated system. Yes, you may need a car as things are currently set up. But that doesn't mean we can't envision different, better ways of getting around that are less car focused. That is the idea behind World Carfree Day.

The following is from World Carfree Network:

Every year on or around 22 September, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don't have to accept our car-dominated society. 
But we do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to "normal" life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars. It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars. 
Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars…365 days a year. 
As the climate heats up, World Carfree Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile.

Cars may be necessary in our car-oriented culture. If they are, they are a necessary evil. They are loud, stinky, expensive, and a huge hassle to maintain. If one had a car, but reduced the number of voluntary, or "pleasure" drives, huge gains in a cleaner environment would result. The car owner would also save money, and possibly live longer.

Car travel is one of the most dangerous things that the average person does in any given day.

Annual Global Road Crash Statistics 
- Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year (90% of deaths are in low-medium income countries), on average 3,287 deaths a day. 
- An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. 
- More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15-44. 
- Road traffic crashes rank as the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally.

Happy World Carfree Day. Let this be the beginning of our liberation from the tyranny of the personal automobile. Contrary to advertising hype, they are NOT "freedom machines".


Note: Happy Fall Equinox (northern hemisphere)/Spring Equinox (southern hemisphere). While the season shifts we are enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures in Nova Scotia. My acorn squash, beans, and peas started growing again, so it looks like the garden is not over yet.



September 20, 2017

What Will We Choose?

Door #1 - Pandemonium. Door #2 - Paradise.


In a hyper-consumer environment, any time we buy something we calculate how much money it will cost us. "How much will this cost me?" The only limits to purchase are dollars. If the consumer has money in the bank, or access to credit (increasingly the choice many make), the transaction takes place.

But wait. We fail to ask the most important question.

Where is the attempt to calculate the costs of the purchase to the greater environment? We should be asking,


"What is the ultimate cost to people and the planet for buying this service or item?"


I am convinced that most people do care about this, and will change their behaviour in compassionate ways when confronted with the facts (yes, I do believe those still exist).

Many Cassandras have been warning us of the final reckoning for the planet since industrialization and capitalist consumerism took over. They all come up with the same message - Earth can not afford these ways, and unless we change the way we do things, ecological collapse is the likely outcome. 

This was the conclusion of The Limits To Growth by Donella H. Meadows, in 1972. Unfortunately, it has been largely discredited since its publication, by pro-growth pressures, and we largely missed an opportunity to act.

Certain opportunist optimists would like us to believe that we are smart enough to transcend all limits to growth. But can we, really? Look at the results so far. From what I can see, not so good.

We have a simple and basic choice to make, as outlined in Limits To Growth so many years ago. Think of it as Red Pill/Blue Pill.

Or Door #1/Door #2.

Door #1 - If the trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on the planet will be reached sometime in the near future. 

Door #2 - Arrest growth trends and establish a condition of ecological and economic stability that is sustainable far into the future. The state of global equilibrium would be designed by the people, for the people. In such a system, the basic human rights and material needs of the whole human family are satisfied in environmentally sensitive ways.

What happened since this 1972 red flag? The infinite growth system became an unstoppable juggernaut. The planet lost, as did the majority of its people. However, Mother Nature does seem to be fighting back, and "" are "Pissed Off".

We need a new paradigm in order to slow, then reverse our current slow-motion collapse, and I don't think governments are the answer. Their track record is increasingly sketchy, too, just like their corporate friends.

I'll take what's behind Door #2, please. Let's at least try it. If it fails, then we can go back to greed, poverty, a lack of genuine freedom, and an increasingly hostile environment.

What are the true costs of our consumer habits? Each purchase we make is an opportunity to choose  between pandemonium, or paradise.





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