Saturday, May 5, 2007

Change not a sacrifice. Hmmm

A scientist contributing to the latest report (One of 2,000 scientists apparently; how many scientists does it take to write a report?) on GW opines that accommodation of climate change will not actually entail sacrifice but only change in lifestyle. Since one of the changes encouraged will be to live close to public transportation I suggest that for most of us, particularly those populating the vast reaches of the western suburbs/exurbs, meeting this requirement would mean a whole lot more than a simple change. Trading in the TXS for a Prius wouldn’t be a sacrifice per se (but why did Toyota make it look so weird?); although, to be honest, I think the impact of hybrids on emissions would be a lot smaller than wholesale adoption of Smartcar-sized conventional cars. Living near public transportation though represents a challenge of almost impossible proportion.

Where to find it for one thing? Growth in the Chicago hinterland is currently following the anti-model for combating GW. Worse, I do not see how anything is going to alter the current pattern for years to come. Folks will still demand their American Dream and it is all very well for some chap who has already attained it to tell others to ditch theirs for the sake of the planet. Does dear Al travel by public transport you suppose? Trouble is, these days the Dream seems to involve new construction (as proof it’s just theirs I suppose), echoing volumes of useless empty space sold under the guise of “cathedral” ceilings, set in some recently ploughed field out near Plainfield, Yorkville or points west in order for it to be affordable. Public transportation is perhaps the lowest point on the totem pole of priorities for governments and individuals alike. Most new communities have absolutely none at all, thus enslaving their denizens to tiresomely long drives.

Nationally, the current occupant does not deem Amtrak worthy of a single cent for its operations. Locally, even the gay little blue 714 Pace bus, launched with such fanfare a few months to serve better the college population, is running on fumes. What chance any other public transport initiative if a college population of some 30,000, presumably in the lower echelons of the income bracket unless I underestimate the ergonomics of the student body, cannot support a bus in its busiest corridor?

The public and governmental antipathy towards public transportation is more ingrained than a few worries about curbing carbon dioxide are going to alter. Why is it that I can alight in a country like Germany, scarcely knowing enough of the lingo to satiate my needs for public lavatories, and find my way on a variety of trains and buses to obtain my destination in the middle of the night, while I am unable to summon up sufficient courage to board a CTA bus and attempt to purchase a ticket? I harbour a secret desire that Daley’s bloated egomaniacal fantasy of hosting the Olympics is realized just so the rest of the world can appreciate the full horror of a CTA journey.

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