Published: 08/09/2022 15:42:30
Modified: 08/09/2022 15:39:14
It’s 95 degrees and Spain limits air conditioning. I see a future where the heat becomes inevitable and more deadly as people say “Why hasn’t anyone done anything to stop this?”
Forty percent of Massachusetts emissions come from transportation, especially private automobiles. We can make cars unnecessary for most people by combining accessible walkable bicycle infrastructure, responsive electric buses and trains, and centralized village growth that includes affordable and equitable housing. And we could get that started quickly if the federal government committed to funding a national electric bus system.
Current plans to fight climate change, relying on electric cars, are too slow, too expensive and dependent on individuals. In short, this is not the concrete and committed response we need to the climate crisis. Additionally, it does not address the many ways our car-centric system is not accessible (for the elderly, youth, disabled/other disabled, and non-drivers), does not consider emissions of carbon and the resources needed to build new cars, does not take into account the toxicity of the battery, its lifespan and the fossil fuels we currently burn to generate electricity.
The scientific modeling that so dimly predicts continued global temperature rise does so based on the idea that what is needed to save ourselves cannot be implemented. I simply do not agree with this fatalistic attitude. We need the commitment of our elected officials, yes, but even more we need a change of culture.
Two important pivots happened in my lifetime: same-sex marriage and the banning of smoking in public. In both cases, what seemed impossible became essential, and it began with citizens’ intolerance of the status quo. Our current infrastructure is based on the settings and thinking of the 1950s and 1970s – cheap gas, endless growth, the American dream of a home in the suburbs. But we now know that fossil fuels come at a huge price; that infinite growth is an impossibility and that the suburb has its roots in racism and inequality.
Let us unite our voices to demand a real commitment to addressing the climate crisis and climate justice from government, each other and ourselves. We can do it.
The writer is a doctor and climate activist.