How much travel is 'enough'?

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reikiman
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How much travel is 'enough'?

On a thread posted moments ago in a forum nearby, DaveW wrote ...

Right now what I hope for is a future where people travel much less and much less often. Then BEVs become a very good choice.

Yesterday I picked up an interesting book, Divorce Your Car! : Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile, so I'm thinking about this right now. Dave, I think the 'Circles' blog posting you made months ago fits very closely to this book. Most of the book goes over various strategies to decrease dependence on cars for getting around. I've tried most of the ideas..

I think a key to having it work would be a return to densely populated urban areas. This book goes over the history of how Americans adopted automobiles, and how there was essentially a propaganda campaign selling us on cars. To make it feasible for Americans to own and drive cars the powers-that-be had to reshape cities to make wider streets etc. It resulted in non-dense suburban areas where it's not very feasible for mass transit to be effective. Mass transit is effective in places where population is densely enough packed that there's enough ridership to pay for enough mass transit that you can expect the bus/train/etc to just be there.

At the same time I love traveling and seeing foreign countries. That's one of the advantages we have today - because travel is ubiquitous it helps us understand the ways other people live. It seems to me the travel that needs to be optimized is the travel we do every day. My daily commute is the most travel I do, so optimizing how I do my daily commute would give the biggest benefit.

davew
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Re: How much travel is 'enough'?

The answer to this question is going to be personal. My plan is to travel out of my county/state (by rail if possible) every three years or so and out of the country once more in my lifetime (to keep a promise to my wife). This answer fits my comfort zone, but I wouldn't impose it on anyone else. What I would be in favor of is a national plan to "fix the problem." The problem is that oil is finite and burning it is ruining the planet for human life. So we need a plan to get completely off of fossil fuels in a reasonable time span -- say 30 years. This plan is likely going to have some large costs. These costs will be paid by the people who consume the fuel. So if a plane ticket to Patagonia costs $1000, you'll pay $1400 with the extra $400 going to "fix the problem." If you choose not to travel that year the problem just got incrementally easier to solve.

I am aware that such a plan will cause economic upheaval, but if it is our plan we can manage it. If we wait for way past peak oil, a civil war in Nigeria, a revolution in Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait deciding they'd prefer Russian military protection to ours the consequences will be worse and not under our control.

"we must be the change we wish to see in the world"

Ben
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Re: How much travel is 'enough'?

I think the reality is that BEV will become acceptable and effective in the not too distant future. Coupled with green energy sources, it becomes quite sustainable too. Costs of such an environment will take care of itself with market forces as per usual. All of the technology exists now to do it and will keep improving of course. What does not exist yet is the end result.

Just keep moving towards that end and it works out nicely.

davew
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Re: How much travel is 'enough'?

Coincidentally enough, this article on paying for the privilege of polluting showed up on Treehugger today.

The relevant bit is:

"One-time registration fees of up to $2,500 would be levied on new gas guzzlers, such as Hummers, Dodge Vipers and Chevy Tahoes. Some cleaner sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans would be exempt from any charge, while the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and other fuel-efficient cars would get hefty rebates."

I like it, but of course, I would like to see the law broadened to include all forms of travel. I also liked this bit:

Ironically, the Bush administration's decision to strike down the state's emissions rule may provide the necessary impetus to get this new bill passed.

"we must be the change we wish to see in the world"

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