Sunday, August 13, 2006


Help Michigan DOT---they desperately need it

State of Michigan's new long-range strategic plan for transportation is here.

You can leave comments about the plan here.

This "plan" is the kind of thing that will be held up for future Michiganders to consider in the same way that airport security people are going to study the 9/11 attacks and that medical students look at Galen's idea of all health proceeding from four "humors."

Essentially, the values gathered propose a state in which we have MORE of everything, and where no transportation choices--say, more freeways--reduce the amount of any other choices (say, bikeable communities).

The "values" represent perfect Democratic interest-group politics: the values listed mention every single identifiable group with any interest in transportation--manufacturers, the handicapped, people who want to fly, people who want to take trains, people who want less congestion, developers who want to build "corridors," etc. etc.

There is not even one mention of CO2 emissions or global warming. There is no consideration of limiting CO2 from transportation. There is no recognition that the best scientific analysis suggests that we have less than a decade to REVERSE COURSE on CO2 and only until about 2050 to reduce our CO2 emissions by 75%.

Nor does the values document suggest that anyone connected with the enterprise is even slightly aware of the rising concern about "peak oil," the name given to the point at which the rate of oil extraction peaks and then begins to decline---a point that would seem to require a radical change in your ideas of transportation planning. A number of serious geophysicists and oil geologists say that we are at peak now; the rest say we will be soon--within a generation at most, which is about the time scale for this plan.

The US Government-commissioned "Hirsch Report" avoids taking a position on when peak will occur, but does say that we would need a 20 year headstart on the problem via a crash program on the scale of the Manhattan Project to avoid catastrophic consequences from peak. In other words, no matter when it occurs, we need to have started planning for a radical increase in the efficiency with which we use oil 20 years before.

You can read a summary of the Hirsch Report here.

If you wanted to do something important for the long-range health of Michigan, it would be hard to find an easier thing to do than to go to the comment link, and say something along the lines of "Any long range transportation plan has to address global warming and peak oil."

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