Through A Different Lens………………….. 10 Years Car-Free

Click on photo to enlarge – image © jim otterstrom 2007
headlight lens © Ford Motor Company 1937

Today marks our 10th Anniversary of living car-free.

By “car-free”, I mean that Peggy and I haven’t owned a car since January 31st of 1997.

But, we have found it necessary to rent cars on several occasions, particularly during the time our son was hospitalized and recuperating after his near fatal car-wreck in 2005.

Still, cars haven’t been part of our daily lives for those 10 years.

When we owned a car, we drove somewhere around the national average of 12,000 miles per year. So, according to this ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ CO2 calculator, our personal carbon dioxide output has been reduced by nearly 6.5 tons per year.

That’s 130,000 pounds of CO2 over the 10 year period!

But, we must also factor in the approximately 6 thousand miles we have driven during that time, which means we need to subtract 6,500 pounds from that 130,000, bringing our net infernal combustion pollution reduction down to 123,500 pounds.

123,500 POUNDS!!!

Talk about a diet, now, to me, that’s something to celebrate!

Yet, in a world of 6 1/2 billion people, does it make any difference?

Not really, not to anyone but Peggy and I.

To a planet that’s been around for some 6 billion years, and seen millions of species come and go, does it make a difference?

None whatsoever, unless you happen to be one of those species who have come, but not yet gone.

In a vast Universe of countless galaxies, stars, and planets, does it make any difference?


…unless, by some miracle of chance, you have the good fortune to be currently alive and breathing oxygen upon the beautiful blue planet, Earth.

No, a few individual members of an entire culture which is addicted to conspicuous consumption and material gratification aren’t going to make much of a difference, so why bother?

Well, that’s a good question, and one I’ve asked myself many times.

Once you know that smoking cigarettes causes cancer do you continue smoking?

Many people do, and continue doing so, even when they’re hooked up to an oxygen tank or permanently bedridden. I’ve seen people, whose vocal chords had been removed because of smoking related cancer, sucking on a cigarette through a trachea valve.

That’s what I call addiction, mental, emotional, and physical addiction.

Yet, this is supposedly a free country, and I would say that’s their business, as long as I don’t have to pay the associated medical bills.

So, what is the difference between a person who, through denial, apathy, illness, or self-loathing, commits suicide by ignoring their addictions, and someone who hastens the destruction of a planetary life support system through denial of their addiction and its consequences?

The only difference I see is that people who commit suicide through substance abuse are just hurting themselves, and those who care about them.

But people who would poison an entire planet because they refuse to face their own addictions, are not only suicidal, but homicidal, genocidal, and biocidal as well.

Are we that oblivious to reality, and to our own responsibilities?

Do we just not give a damn, or do we feel too hopelessly addicted to our old habits? Or, are we just in denial that there is a real problem, and that each one of us is a big part of it?

How many drivers, operating the thousands of cars which blow exhaust in our faces every week as we walk the narrow sidewalks of Big Bear, ever think about what they’re doing, about our health, or the stench they’re spewing into mountain air belonging to everybody?

Why is something like that legal?

Should it be legal for me to shit all over everyone and everything?

What’s the difference?

Legal or not, it’s most certainly immoral!

Todays’ infernal combustion automobile is probably the worst of our addictions, because of the magnitude of its destructiveness, but our disease goes much deeper than that.

How often have you heard the term “for the benefit of mankind”?

Humankind, blinded by its own cleverness, and imagined self-importance, values each technology primarily for the benefits to mankind.

Wouldn’t a species with the slightest bit of common sense, and some desire for long-term survival, assess technologies primarily on their benefits to all life on Earth and the lon
g term health of their ecosystem?

Isn’t survival considered a benefit to mankind?

We have grossly overpopulated the planet through the invention and use of technologies which supposedly benefit mankind. Yet it is becoming clearer every day that those very technologies may soon render our planet uninhabitable for those who would breathe oxygen, including the mankind they allegedly benefit.

And, once again, we turn to the technologies of an obsolete social & economic model—to the proponents of a failing civilization—for so-called clean car technology, alternative fuels, and renewable energy sources, so the worlds 6 1/2 billion people can, by 2041, become 9 billion <a href="

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