Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Struggle to Connect Climate and Transportation

Making connections between our autoism and climate remains elusive.

Today on the front page it was apt to see a story on climate next to the story on the recruitment for a new ODOT Director.

Front page today: Climate and Transportation
So close. But still something of a miss.

The stories were essentially merely juxtaposed, not threaded into each other and integrated.

You have to get fourth and fifth paragraphs into the ODOT story to read that
The new Oregon Department of Transportation director will face other expectations.

Policymakers want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
Greenhouse gas and climate gets framed up as some other, secondary matter, a special interest.

Deep into the piece is the relevant subsection, "Planning for the Future," and it's all about "they," about special interests:
Environmental advocates say Oregon's new transportation director will need to continue work already started to combat climate change. In short, they want an agent of change who looks to the future, not someone focused solely on keeping roads paved and vehicles moving....

"When we think about climate change, we know that transportation represents the largest amount of climate pollution in the state, so it's really incumbent on ODOT to lead the charge on how do we reduce emissions," said Chris Hagerbaumer, deputy director of the Oregon Environmental Council.
But, again, transportation is the biggest sector for greenhouse gas pollution.

It's absolutely central. This is not some fringey, special interest thing. We have a climate emergency, and transportation and our autoism is at the center of it. We should be past the "he said, she said" style of "balance" on this.

And any climate strategy that does not envision a structural shift in our mobility, beyond merely electrifying the fleet and keeping business-as-usual amounts of driving, is a Potemkin one, just for show.

At some point the emphasis in these stories will have to pivot, from managing congestion and new infrastructure to climate and driving reduction. We will more clearly see that transportation is a centrally constituted as a climate problem.

Front pager on traffic violence (2017)
This should also help us with seeing the costs of road carnage, the lethality of our autoism, and more generally all the ways our autoism harms us.

All in all we will have to figure out how to be critical of our autoism, which we still do not see and instead take for granted as the normal, even natural order of things.

(For more on the recruitment, see this from January, "State's Chief Autoist Resigns; Time for New Leadership at ODOT.")

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