This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Pollution and Highways

The two weeks have seen two editorials in The Washington Post on how we get around in this country. George Will waxed poetic on our Interstate Highway System on Sunday in Interstate Ribbons of Progress. Today, Sebastian Malaby warned of our lack of progress toward reducing carbon and global warming in A Dated Carbon Approach.

A bold approach is required to get out of our carbon trap. It should be as bold as construction of the interstate highway system - much bolder than changing our tax structure. What is required is nothing less than replacing our current transporation system with something else. That something else should be capable of moving freight and passengers quickly, cheaply and modularly (meaning that individuals and firms should be able to move single families or single loads rather than relying solely on scheduled common carriers).

How do we do that, you ask? Electric vehicles with overhead or wireless roadbed power and control. Electric trains work that way. So can electric driverless trucks (in their own lanes) and private cars under computer control. To avoid cluttering the interstate landscape and our neighborhoods with overhead wires, these roads can be subsurface or partially so - although the interstates could have window spaces to view the country side. However, we can take this opportunity to assure that there is never another pedestrian accident again by closing the system. We already own the right of way. Lets bury it and save tons of money on snow removal and lost workdays due to bad weather - not to mention lost income due to auto accidents.

If we build a system in this way, we can make major improvements in power generation and bring them online quickly rather than trying to get car makers to change their models or drivers to change their habits. Fussion power, or some version of it, will eventually be practical. When it is, we can implement it quickly and build it into the grid. We can use clean burning natural gas, clean coal or nuclear - provided we can dispose of the waste (which takes political courage rather than new technology). Given the choice between global warming and a possible localized radiation leak, which would you choose?

Will this be impossible to pay for? No, as long as everyone who's ox would otherwise be gored can buy into the system - which means local governments, road contractors, the car companies and big oil. Letting them help build it (or parts of it), partially own it and reap the profits will take away the economic sting, as well as the political resistance. All it takes is bold leadership, desparation or some combination of the two. Four dollar a gallon gas may be just what is required. This is why I am not a big believer in gas conservation, which only prolongs the inevitable. I say, burn it all up, the quicker the better. Forget CAFRE, as it only delays the day when we can go electric.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home