Whilst it is taking a frustrating amount of time, increasingly people are starting to realise that perhaps the motoring generation may have been a mistake.
We have entered an era of desperate measures, with those who wish for things to carry on the way they are looking at ever more implausible options to justify their place.
White elephant projects
There are plans to remove all diesel cars from our streets by 2040, a whole 23 years away. Aside from this being incredibly unambitious, it kicks any hope of us having clean air into the proverbial long grass.
In the meantime, car manufacturers are hoping that we will buy their new “electric” cars, forgetting of course that they’ll still be charged up using mostly fossil fuels and will ultimately just move the emissions elsewhere. However, for the gasoline-powered cars on the roads today, highways engineers are apparently taking a drive on the desperate side.
Major roads could be turned into tunnels covered with pollution-absorbing material in an effort to cut emission fumes and improve air quality.
Highways Agency officials are studying a Dutch scheme in which cantilevered canopies are constructed over the most polluted sections of road to prevent local residents breathing in noxious car fumes.
Whilst it is tempting to laugh at such an idea, if you think about it, it really is quite sad. There are powerful forces so desperate to keep our cities car-centric that they will look at ridiculous schemes like this to try to lessen the damage they do.
They are of course forgetting that the problems with a car-centric city extend beyond mere fumes, even beyond the problems of inactivity and social cohesion. The main problem is that a car, regardless of the fuel used, takes up just as much space. When cars spend the majority of their time idle, it means that space which could be used for something productive is wasted to accommodate someone’s car.
People will continue to curb their movements to avoid being hit by a motorist, but unlike a conventional car, an electric one is virtually silent, potentially making the roads even more dangerous. Yes, there are definite positives to electric cars, particularly with the impact traffic noise has on human health, but it does mean you probably won’t hear one coming.
Ultimately, people are still going to sit in queues; they’re still going to be inactive; we’re still going to be mining finite resources from the ground; we’re still going to be shipping parts around the world; we’re still going to be depriving people without driving licenses their independent mobility; and we’re still going to be trapped by stationary vehicles.