Monday, September 10, 2007

The Three Most Eloquent Paragraphs ...

... I've read on urban sprawl and car usage:

"By far the worst damage we Americans do to the planet arises not from the newspapers we throw away but from the eight hundred and fifty million or so gallons of oil we consume every day. We all know this at some level, yet we live like alcoholics in denial. How else can we explain that our cars have grown bigger, heavier, and less fuel efficient at the same time that scientists have become more certain and more specific about the consequences of our addiction to gasoline?

"On a shelf in my office is a small pile of recent books about the environment which I plan to reread obsessively if I’m found to have a terminal illness, because they’re so unsettling that they may make me less upset about being snatched from life in my prime. At the top of the pile is 'Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil,' by David Goodstein, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, which was published earlier this year. “The world will soon start to run out of conventionally produced, cheap oil,” Goodstein begins. In succeeding pages, he lucidly explains that humans have consumed almost a trillion barrels of oil (that’s forty-two trillion gallons), or about half of the earth’s total supply; that a devastating global petroleum crisis will begin not when we have pumped the last barrel out of the ground but when we have reached the halfway point, because at that moment, for the first time in history, the line representing supply will fall through the line representing demand; that we will probably pass that point within the current decade, if we haven’t passed it already; that various well-established laws of economics are about to assert themselves, with disastrous repercussions for almost everything; and that 'civilization as we know it will come to an end sometime in this century unless we can find a way to live without fossil fuels.'"

"Standing between us and any conceivable solution to our energy nightmare are our cars and the asphalt-latticed country we have built to oblige them. Those cars have defined our culture and our lives. A car is speed and sex and power and emancipation. It makes its driver a self-sufficient nation of one. It is everything a city is not."

Why New York is the greenest city in the U.S.

By David Owen
Published in The New Yorker

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