Everything up to this point is just speculation. I admit there might not be a lot of action out of this one, but nevertheless: My first thoughts were geared toward the ultimate car that gets 100 mpg, but i soon realized that it really comes down to our dependence on oil. I figure most of us can save a ton of energy if we took a hint from Europe and used trains to go everywhere (it occured to me on a packed interstate) if everyone is going in the same direction, why not all ride the same train. It’d work well for commercial trucks too. High Speed Trains. I’m stickin with that.
It works in Europe because for one most countries are much smaller, and because cities tended to grow around the main lines of travel—roads & rivers. Creating a rail network that connects them effectively is much simpler, they’re laid out in long lines more often. The cities themselves are more centralised, the most important parts are usually next to the train station so travelers can find everything they need in walking distance from any station.
In the US roads became so easy to build that we ignored any such kind of planning. Space was much more valued and personal transportation was common, so we put things whever we wanted and made our roads go all over. Our cities sprawl, and important parts are often far away making navigating a city by foot (once you leave the train) nearly impossible.
For mass transportation to be effective, our cities need a serious re-design.
chicken or the egg
so in order to do this, would you think first to redesign cities, or first transfer travel dependencies to railways? Reminds me of: whitch came first, the chicken or the egg.
there's a third factor too
Lifestyle changes & our society’s willingness to embrace them. By which I mean generally people the world over are damned stubborn and not willing to change thier comfortable habbits very quickly.
You can’t force anyone to change either, try to convince them, yes—but start trying to do some arm-twisting with laws and you’ll meet the fiercest resistance you’ll ever know (which you can see applied to a ton of other issues)
You’re right that it is a catch-22. Without the public infrastructure then people are unlikley to redesign thier cities, and w/out the city redesign the infrastructure doesn’t help anyone much.
Both offer hopeful scenarios. But the former more than the latter. Changing the way cities are made can be done bit by bit, that is one of the advantages of the European sytem is that they mix commercial and residential. High density often with stores on the ground floor and living space above. This means you can create self-contained communities. Improve buses locally and it beocomes possible to make a neighborhood your home and have all your needs met in a small area. It’s a matter of density though. European cities, even small ones build UP, they cover much less area. Our cities are suburban sprawl.
This can be done as a commercial developer, and be made profitable (which is the easiest way to promote it as a viable option). I see it happening in a few cases, where mixed use commercial & residential complexes are being built in convenient locations. It helps.
However I’m a bit of a cynicist, and a staunch capitalist. As much as I cringe every time I fill up my gas tank, I really think economics is the only thing that will really drive change. When it’s cheaper and more effective for people to use alternative fuels then the market will full-on embrace it.
The downside in that scenario is this: when the market is in transition and it becomes evident that other solutions are profitable, who do you think will have the billions of dollars in capital, the armies of political lobbyists, and the experience in the energy market already? Thats right—the big oil companies. They’re going to be the ones feeding us “green” power when it becomes viable and making a profit off of it. Something about that is a bit depressing.
I see you’ve put a lot of thought into this, much more than i have at least. As far as accomplishing my goal, I might have to singlehandedly change the economic structure, political power, and millions of peoples’ minds.
Outside the box: what do you think would be the effect of a teleporter set loose on todays economy. I mean a safe means of instant travel through some portable medium (light, electricity, air, water). It’s a bit far-fetched, but nonetheless I wonder.
Iron Man is one busy hombre
I would worry less about a teleporter...
set loose on our economy than on our lazy, yet greedy society (if you’re thinking of the Star Trek type thing). That would be the worst thing a society like ours could have.
People would use them to to extort all of our savings and then some. Look what they’re already doing to us with oil. “sign over you firstborn for the next seven generations and you can get a ride to work in our teleporter.”
Because a teleporter is so fast, (instantaneous), people would use that as a reason to wake up later and consequently leave for work later. Then instead of cramming up the freeways on the way to work, people would be crammed in lines waiting for it to be their turn to get on the teleporter.
Sometimes when it was someone’s turn to get in the machine, some greedy self-centered pushy SOB or just plain B would shove his/her way in with s.o. else and their molecules would be all mixed up forever. It would be a mess.
In the same way that elevators go out while people are on board, so would the teleporters. Again – messy molecules.
Since the teleporters would be public transport (or more likely Fedrally subsidized with the profits going to special friends in the private sector), the contracts for building them would go to the lowest bidder. More messy molecule potential.
Disgruntled teleporter workers – need I say more?
Organized crime (and unorganized crime too) would have an easy way to dispose of bodies without a trace. Heck, it would work better than putting them in a pig pen.
People would use them to break into other people’s homes and steal their stuff.
And who would be operating these things anyway? People just like your coworkers. The ones who can’t refill the paper tray on the copier. The ones who take all but the last sip out of the coffee maker without making more, and leave the rest there in the pot to burn. The ones who are on the assembly line tightening a certain bolt, and stop in the middle of tightening it because it’s just about “break time.” The ones who make work “work.”
No sir, I’m not in favour of mankind getting ahold of that technology at all.
This is a technology which could change things significantly, and may be the most important development made in a long time:
After reading that you may think “Oh great, now oil will never go away” But when you combine it with this:
It starts to look like that may not be such a bad thing.
It would change the economics of the whole situation, imagine if we could produce all the energy we needed domestically, by recycling our most troublesome waste products?
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