Monday, July 20, 2009

Living in a car-less world: "Eat your lawn!"

(Photos are of my daughter Ashley getting her car towed away after it blew a head gasket and then sat in the parking lot for a year.)

This afternoon, I looked up into the vivid blue skies over Berkeley and gazed in awe at a dozen or more unusually beautiful clouds floating around up there in the stratosphere. These amazing clouds were all white and lacy and shaped like pinwheels. I shoulda taken a photo. I'd never seen clouds like that before. They looked like they were all made out of ice. Perhaps it was colder than usual up there in the stratosphere? Perhaps this is some kind of awesome new by-product of global cooling, er, global warming?

For those of us who are aware of the latest scientific research on global warming and cooling, nothing new is going to surprise us, not even lacy white pinwheel icicles in the sky. During the last few years, things have begun to look pretty sketchy regarding weather and climate changes taking place on our planet -- causing us to start desperately searching around for more effective ways to stave off all the fast-approaching ecological disasters that seem to be approaching us post-haste.

According to Rolling Stone Magazine, "One of the most eminent scientists of our time says that global warming is irreversible — and that more than 6 billion people will perish by the end of the century.... By 2020, droughts and other extreme weather will be commonplace. By 2040, the Sahara will be moving into Europe, and Berlin will be as hot as Baghdad. Atlanta will end up a kudzu jungle. Phoenix will become uninhabitable...."

Those of us not in denial about global warming are starting to become more and more resigned to the sad fact that, if we truly want to save our planet from its devastating effects, we must immediately come up with a bunch of very extreme solutions to this very extreme problem -- and the sooner the better.

Hey, I've got a great idea! Let's eliminate all cars! And let's do it tomorrow morning.

According to an Environmental Defense Fund report, "Any serious effort to fight global warming must include cutting auto emissions." So. Let's do this.

But what, exactly, would a world without cars be like?

One hundred years ago, there were hardly any automobiles on the planet, but everyone seemed to be okay with that. Our parents and grandparents survived just fine -- and even thrived. However. Times have changed since then. Things are so different now that if all of our cars and trucks were to suddenly disappear -- even if their disappearance meant saving our planet -- we no longer have an infrastructure in place that would even allow us to survive, let alone thrive.

Think about it.

Our supermarkets' shelves would be empty within the week -- and then what? Think of all those suburbanites who spend hours each week tending their lawns. They could have been tending vegetable patches instead, growing corn and zucchini -- and then they would have been prepared for the automobile's demise. But Americans have become lawn fetishists instead of farmers. Cars and trucks have allowed them to do that.

And did you know that in the City of Berkeley it is illegal to grow vegetables in your front yard? Yep. There's a $500 per day fine.

If grim circumstances forced us to suddenly eliminate all cars and trucks, we would be SO unprepared. Do I even look like I know how to milk a cow? And what am I supposed to do for food? "Eat your lawn!" Or, to paraphrase Marie Antoinette, "Let them eat grass."

"But Jane," you might ask, "why are you tripping? When we wake up tomorrow, there WILL be cars. And you yourself are planning a road trip to Reno this weekend to visit your 95-year-old Aunt Evelyn."

Sure, there will be cars tomorrow. But there shouldn't be. Not if we want to see human beings still around on this planet in another 95 years.

PS: My visiting blogger friend Bob just said, "But eliminating cars is NOT the most radical way to stop global warming. Wars are! The more wars we have, the less polluters will be left alive to do any polluting." But I like my idea of eliminating cars better.