Good news about gas prices?

Kenman Wong

Antoine RJ Wright
May 12, 2011

We might be better off, but the assumption is also that we all live and work in a manner better served by modes of transportation or in areas designed around multi-modal transport schemes. Unfortuntately, that isn't the case, and even with the growing sizes of metropolises, we aren't seeing the landscape change to give incentives to those alternate modes of transport.

I like to ride. And aim to at least plant myself in areas where stewarding my body and resources works out better. But, there are downsides to such closeness as well, which we'd also have to be as ready to steward no matter the cost of living.

May 12, 2011

So if we agree that gas should cost more—if for no other reason than to include in the cost of a gallon of gas all of the externalities related to auto travel that are right now being either subsidized by those of us who don't drive very often, or being subsidized by future generations when the pollution and climate change bill comes due—what can the Church do to mitigate the effects of higher gas prices on the poor, who often drive older cars that aren't as efficient, and who are more and more often (particularly in cities) priced out of the "transit hub" areas, which are quickly gentrifying with new urbanist developments for middle-income people?

Might it be time to bring back the "church bus," but on a much larger scale, maybe with "park 'n' rides" much closer to neighborhoods from which the church draws for less walkable communities? Perhaps encourage carpooling by church members by "un-paving" a few church parking lots and turning them into community gardens (which could then feed the poor—another mandate from the Gospel)?

On a larger scale, is it time to see the promotion of mass transit and community planning that allows for multiple modes of transportation as a social justice issue that God commands the Church as a whole to involve itself in? Is it time for the Church to stand up in city council meetings or planning commission meetings, or to physically stand in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, against planned developments that don't provide a full transportation menu—including options for walkability and mass transit—to occupants or patrons?

With every mile we drive on cheap gas, we build up debts—a debt for the building and maintaining of roads, a debt for the pollution our cars spew into the atmosphere from raw materials mining through manufacture and operation, a debt for the pollution and massive environmental damage (like the Gulf oil spill) caused by the continued drilling for and refining of petroleum, a debt for the political, social, and economic violence wreaked upon the people of the two-thirds world in order to keep the petroleum flowing to the USA, a debt for every coughing asthmatic child whose family can't afford to live anywhere but right by the freeway, a debt for the moral and social damage done to our communities by the atomization of the individual in a closed automobile and shielded from interaction with others, a debt for the massive death and devastation that will be inflicted on future generations as a result of climate change.

I believe it's a moral imperative for the Church to see to it that those debts are paid by those who owe them—not by others in this generation who make healthier choices, or by those in future generations who will suffer from our choices. But I also believe that many people have been denied the economic opportunities to make other choices, so it's also the moral imperative for the Church to see to it that the poor and the workers don't suffer for the choices the marketplace, created by and for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful, has imposed upon them.

Dan Walker
May 14, 2011

Oh I agree with jamesggilmore.  We need to go back to the horse and buggy days.  In fact, let's just scrap all of civilization and go back to prehistory when man lived in total oneness with nature.

I'm reading "The Fatal Shore" about how Australia was colonized.  The author reviews what we know, and don't know, about the Aborigines.  They were naked, spread fish oil all over themselves for protection against mosquitoes, and therefore stank so badly that even 18th century British sailors voluntarily refused to attempt "relationships" with the woman.  Oh, and woman were valued solely by Aborigine men for sex and food gathering. 

But I'm sure their impact on the environment was negligible.  Oh for the good old days!

May 19, 2011

Dan, I think jamesggilmore and the author are both  presenting a modern---futuristic, even---picture of urban/suburban life, not advocating horse & buggy use.  Lancaster Co. PA is a rare alternative, although I have heard of folks in western US riding horses to work and school, to save on gasoline.   Can US society sustain current levels of consumption and automobile use---let alone deal with gas prices?  Europe in general, American urban centers, are using public transportation as a practical even necessary alternative to increasing traffic jams, travel times, smog, rising costs, etc. A step back, or a step forward? (and just when we had paved over all the street-car/trolley lines . . . .)
My reading of Fatal Shore also included a brutal 18th cent. Brit. penal system, colonists who hunted Aborigines for sport, when they were'nt enslaving them---and recall that Brit women of the time were hardly better off socially in their own culture. Ingenious use of (hygenically-challenged)sailor-repellant by the Aborigines---I think they also used tea-tree oil (melaleuca) as a cure-all beyond anything the civilized nations possessed.

Dan Walker
May 21, 2011

If people want to build themselves their version of utopia, they can.  But I read the author and commentators to demand that their utopia be forced on everyone else.  I'm personally not interested in living in it or paying for it.

I'm not defending the British.  But too many people like to idolize prehistory without having the slightest idea of what it was really like.  "The Fatal Shore" presents a small picture of it, and it's not pretty.  Gas is one of the things that has allowed us to advance far beyond prehistory, and I have no desire to go back. 

I also reject the idea that we have to solve a problem before it exists.  There is no shortage of oil in the world, in fact new sources constantly become available.  Shortages today are the result of gov't restraints on the market.

But if/when the day comes that prices rise because oil becomes less available, that will be the day that alternatives become viable.  Problem solved, without any artificial interference.

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