I am old enough to remember gasoline at $0.18, yes, eighteen cents a
gallon, when I was going to college in Kalamazoo, MI in the early
1970s. A few years later we heard rumors that gas was going to be
$1.00 a gallon, and we couldn't believe it! It sounded like the end
of the world!
But when the Arab oil embargo happened and there were lines for gas it
became evident that there were limits to the amount of oil in the
I never forgot that, and so for the last 35 years or so, as I have
seen the enormous urban sprawl spreading out with no intelligent urban
planning in ugly big box seas of asphalt it has made me sad to see our
national treasure and the construction of my lifetime being wasted on
a mess that was utterly dependent upon the automobile, because it has
been apparent to anyone who paid attention that oil supplies were
finite and when they ran down to the point of making gasoline and
diesel too expensive for the average guy to afford unlimited amounts
of them a large portion of the structure of our country would become
obsolete and would end up having to be largely abandoned.
So when I have seen all these big box monsters of ignorance under
construction farther and farther out into the desert I have always
seen them as the next set of ghost towns that are destined to stand
crumbling as monuments to short sightedness and idiocy. I hope I am
wrong, but it sure is starting to look that way.
Electrically powered mass transit is going to have to replace the car
at some point and retail and housing will have to be redesigned with
walking in mind. If we get serious in changing the mind set from the
one that we were given by GM and Big Oil after WW II when GM bought
many of the streetcar systems around the country and junked them and
focus on mass transit and renewable production of electricity and
livable high density urban design we can have a much more pleasant
setting in which to live.
Not only is this car centered model doomed because of Peak Oil, it has
also turned out to be pretty much a drag. Driving the freeways of LA
in my opinion is a horrible experience and I wouldn't miss it if I
never have to again. Nobody talks about it, but 40,000+ people die on
the roads annually in the U.S. and half a million are maimed. It's
kind of a lonely society too. You can't mingle with the other
passengers on the freeway like you can on the TGV fast trains in
I only bought one new car in my life, a 1985 Toyota Corolla, which I
still drive. I like to say to myself that I am voting no with my non
dollars to the untenable societal model of the car centered society.
Strange posts these are for a car listserve . . .
I still love my Mercedes and two Toyotas, of course, and I enjoy
working on them.