Listen to the podcast; join the follow-up teleconference at www.compression.org. This podcast topic is “Transportation: Stuck in Traffic.” Learn how to address complex issues, think from alternate viewpoints, originate solutions, and dialog with others.
Teleconference: Only 28% of US energy is used by vehicles, but in American society it is hard to do anything without a car, and we’d be desperate without long-haul movement of materials. The US landscape is now spread out in automotive layout; most destination too dispersed for viable pubic transportation routes. Reducing fuel use has deep implications for changing that layout. What we might do raises open ended questions like:
- What would induce you to drive less? To give up driving entirely?
- What emerging features of vehicle use might discourage driving? Complexity? Software vulnerability? Prices and debt? Lack of fuel — or inability to recharge batteries? Traffic, travel time, and parking space? Inability to repair yourself?
- What would cities look like if they had no parking spaces?
- From whence would a community obtain food and other materials, and how?
Breaking ourselves of “automobilitis” is tough because so much modern living depends on it. Drastically reducing vehicular travel hangs on compressing the area we would like to regularly traverse by compacting into more local economies. Even if goaded by extreme urgency, re-locating, downsizing, and re-purposing buildings takes time and thought. As for consequences, the companies and jobs that serve transportation — or that assume automotive transportation — would shrivel. Our culture would have to change.
This opens a big range of deep questions:
- Is such a transition possible without sinking into chaos?
- Could we; would we redefine what work is?
- Value? And values?
- Purposes in life?