Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Friday, July 23, 2010
perspective - and a new threat
I didn't even realise 'anti-car' books existed. I certainly never expected to read one!
But I have just finished the above. Now, to me, being 'anti-car' is a total waste of energy. The end of the car is now probably less than three decades off, so there's really no reason to waste a minute of one's time trying to hasten the inevitable.
But like most books it did give out some information that I'd never even thought about before. It covers the actual damage and change to our urban, suburban and rural landscape that the car has brought about. Not only the need for roads, but for parking spaces both at home and at work, as well as the destruction of 'real' town centres as out of town shopping areas, really only accessible to cars, became commonplace.
I've never been the slightest bit anti-car, and the book hasn't changed that at all. I'll still enjoy driving for as long as I can. But like most people I realise that the car (and the lorry and bus) are living on borrowed time. The usual refrain that the petrol and diesel-powered car will simply be replaced by LPG, electric and biofuel powered vehicles doesn't make sense as these alternatives will never be anywhere near as commonplace, and nowhere near as cheap, as oil. They are a sop to the simple man in the street, still worried about 'climate change' or 'the environment', rather than the real big issue of Peak Oil.
In reality the cost of running a car, which has been falling for decades, will soon begin to rise inexorably. No one disputes that oil is running out - it is a finite resource after all. The actual timing of the peak is still in doubt, it may have been several years ago, it may be as much as ten years into the future. It will only be clear with hindsight. Once the peak is reached the cost of oil, and all oil-derived products, will start to rise, slowly at first, but at an ever increasing pace.
The outcome is inevitable. As cars become more expensive to run less and less of us will be able to afford to run one. More of us will need to localise our lives and use public transport where available. The tax take from cars will start to fall, less money will be available to repair roads. There'll be a vicious circle of less cars, less money for roads, worse roads, less incentive to drive, more expense etc. I think when the end of the car comes it will all be over very quickly. And there's the threat. Will we be able to build the railways and tramways we need quickly enough? Will the skills, money, material and energy be available?
We can't worry about the wider picture though we obviously need to be aware of it. We can only concentrate on our small part of it. It is so important to get everything in place NOW so that we are prepared and ready to act when the decline comes. If in the meantime we can buy up trackbed, stations etc, and operate some sections of the route then all the better. What we are doing is so incredibly important, it's impossible to overstress our case.
There will be big news about the S&D over the next few months with the purchase and restoration of Midford, hopefully the restoration of Spetisbury, the launch of our new glossy Right Lines and a big media push. As always I'd like anyone who would like to take a more active role in what we're doing to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org