Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do We Really Have to make this trip?

Linda Armstrong left such a great comment on our post "2,000-Watt Society...could we do it?" that I had to share. Sometimes I feel like not too many people read the comments, so I wanted to make sure to share this one with you all. I confess I don't agree with all her points 100%, but that's what debate is all about. At least she got me thinking:

Get a copy of the July 7 and 14 New Yorker. The article begins on page 69. It also discusses an energy efficient building in Switzerland. I think we could save a lot by requiring such efficiency in the construction of new government buildings and schools. Solar is problematic at this point. The panels do not last long enough or produce enough power to pay for themselves. Passive solar heating (south-facing windows) and geothermal are more promising. I think the question we in the US must ask ourselves first is, "Do we really have to make this trip?"

1. Do office workers have to commute when they could work at their computers and answer work phones from home?
2. Do business travelers have to fly when they could hold conference calls or do virtual conferencing in local TV studios?
3. Do children have to be bused to distant schools and sporting events? In LA, busing for integration is a joke. Less than 2 percent of students in the city are white. It isn't doing anybody any good and it's spewing carbon into the atmosphere.
4. Should public servants such as police officers and teachers live 40 miles away from their jobs? Wouldn't they understand the people they worked with better if they lived within 5 or 10 miles?
5. Should doctors and other professionals live 40 miles from the people they serve? Shouldn't neighborhoods be better balanced? They used to be when I was a kid.
6. Should film stars be celebrated for having lots of kids (and thus encouraging others to follow suit)? Shouldn't people think about the resources consumed by a person during a lifetime? It's not an act of generousity to, um, multiply. What's wrong with just one loved child?
7. Shouldn't we be supporting the expansion and improvement of passenger train service in the US? So what if it doesn't make money? Public roads don't make money, either.
8. Shouldn't we be expanding and improving our national railroads? Trucking is fine for local loads. Freight belongs on trains. Trains can be powered in a number of different ways. Europe is way ahead of us in this regard.
9. Shouldn't we be promoting local travel and ways to have fun closer to home?
10. Should't we be developing fashions that wash easily and dry quickly?
11. Shouldn't we be tapping our national imagination for holding competitions for ways to generate and save evergy? For example, how about a sculpture competition--moving sculptures that generate energy--tides? wind? How about an architecture competition for a new government, church, or business building that would be self-sustaining? Gates, are you listening?--offer a prize!

Posted by Linda Armstrong

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