Saturday, August 29, 2009

Indian Environment Minister Says Westerners Need to Live with Only One Car Not Three

With the countdown to the UN’s climate meeting in Copenhagen reaching the 100-day mark yesterday India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, gave a speech in Delhi in which he reiterated that India will not agree to a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to an article in The Guardian, Ramesh said that “For us this is about survival. We need to put electricity into people’s homes and do it cleanly. You in the west need to live with only one car rather than three. For you it is about luxury.” Luxury? Wait a minute! Perhaps if Ramesh has a family with a teenage driver he should rent a McMansion in one of our cul-de-sac suburban developments for awhile and try to live with one car. Good luck! He would quickly find out that to get to anything other than a nearby neighbor’s house that he would have to drive. If he takes the car to work his wife would be either stranded at home all day or unable to get to her job. If the teenage driver takes the car to see a friend in the evening or on weekends they would both be stranded at home. Ramesh would quickly come to realize that two cars are a necessity and even having that third car avoids a lot of conflicts. These houses don’t have three-car garages for nothing. To really change things Ramesh would have go back in time to the 1950s and stop our government from building the interstate highway system and subsidizing mortgages through the GI bill. In other words, he would have to stop the things that made building our sprawling suburbs possible. We can’t now in 2009 turn back time. “The die has been cast.” If Ramesh and India are waiting for us to go from three cars to one car it promises to be a very long wait.

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