The Roads Less Travelled Posted by: MichaelW
on Tuesday, August 05, 2008
If Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGM) is supported by such unshakable science, why are "feel good" methods so popular amongst the its combatants? A case in point:
In an effort to create a more livable city and combat global warming Seattle’s Mayor, Greg Nickels, announced three additional street closures that will take place on Sunday’s in August and September. This is the latest addition to the City’s Seattle Climate Action Now, “Give Your Car the Summer Off” plan.
In announcing the new closures the Mayor claims;
“Neighbors will have three to six hours to experience our streets in a new way and to see how livable a city can be when people drive less,” Nickels said. “This is our chance to experiment and to evaluate how these events work for people. And we’ll be fighting global warming at the same time.”
Of course, as anyone in the DC Metro Area can tell you, fewer routes to travel does not equal anything like fewer cars on the road. Instead, it just means longer commute times, and lots more sitting in traffic rather than moving towards your end destination.
In the post cited above, Brandon Houskeeper observes:
The patch work maze of street closures might actually cause more vehicle miles to be driven. A fallacy in the City’s action plan is that cars will simply stay off all other roads as a result of a few closures. Simply by closing streets the Mayor is not changing the need one may have to get from point A to point B. Instead the inconvenient closure will more likely result in forcing the same users to take alternative and probably longer routes.
That sounds about right to me. In fact, when Pennsylvania Ave. was closed down right in front of the White House for safety concerns, it didn't result in any fewer vehicles in downtown DC at rush hour, it simply created more complexity in an already difficult commute, and left people sitting in their idling cars for longer. It led Mayor Tony Williams to complain to Congress in March of 2001:
Prior to the closure, the United States Department of Transportation designated Pennsylvania Avenue as a thoroughfare on the National Highway System. With the closure, traffic progression was diverted to adjacent streets — like “H” and 9th Streets, Northwest - which were already carrying 27,000 vehicles per day. And today, the increase in traffic has left more vehicles sitting in idle, emitting carbon monoxide and other toxins into the air. The District is already a non-compliance zone with the Environmental Protection Agency for ozone. By opening the avenue, we will reduce emissions and air quality will improve.
I'm sure there are plenty more examples similar to this, so it's not immediately clear why Seattle's Mayor Nickels thinks ordering these street closures will (a) get people out of their cars, and/or (b) do anything at all to combat AGW.
Actually, I take that back. It is pretty obvious that so long as the appropriate nemesis is targeted (AGW, cars, Big Oil, etc.) then any method of attack is kosher. Which, as I indicated at the start, seems pretty silly for a movement that's supposed to be so grounded in science. As Houskeeper concludes:
Before the City adds to their current closure schedule it would be interesting to see the data that supports the claims that less vehicle miles are driven as a result.
But if they did that, then logically speaking they might very well examine the data regarding the underlying cause. And if they did that, then their entire belief system might be crushed, and their "feel good" social engineering would have to find another nemesis to harass in order to keep the movement alive. Next thing you know, people might start living their lives they way they want to, thinking for themselves, and acting on individualist impulses, instead of being forced to think of the "greater good" (and The ChildrenTM, of course), thus robbing mayors of their assumed raison d'être.
Not only did closing those streets cause more emissions to be put into the air by cars driving longer routes, but if any of those families had cookouts on those streets, well that’s even MORE gaia-killing spew unleashed thanks to the mental midget mayor!