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Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
"Driving is ruining our lives, and triggering environmental disasters. Only drastic action will kick our dependency"



"One of these emergencies is familiar to every hospital. Pollution now kills three times as many people worldwide as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Remember the claims at the start of this century, projected so noisily by the billionaire press: that public money would be better spent on preventing communicable disease than on preventing climate breakdown? It turns out that the health dividend from phasing out fossil fuels is likely to have been much bigger. (Of course, there was nothing stopping us from spending money on both: it was a false dilemma.) Burning fossil fuels, according to a recent paper, is now “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”.

In other sectors, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen sharply. But transport emissions in the UK have declined by only 2% since 1990. The government’s legally binding target is an 80% cut by 2050, though even this, the science now tells us, is hopelessly inadequate. Transport, mostly because of our obsession with the private car, is now the major factor driving us towards climate breakdown, in this and many other nations.

The number of people killed on the roads was falling steadily in the UK until 2010, at which point the decline suddenly ended. Why? Because, while fewer drivers and passengers are dying, the number of pedestrians killed has risen by 11%. In the US, it’s even worse: a 51% rise in the annual death rate of pedestrians since 2009. There seem to be two reasons: drivers distracted by their mobile phones, and a switch from ordinary cars to sports-utility vehicles. As SUVs are higher and heavier, they are more likely to kill the people they hit. Driving an SUV in an urban area is an antisocial act.

There are also subtler and more pervasive effects. Traffic mutes community, as the noise, danger and pollution in busy streets drive people indoors. The places in which children could play and adults could sit and talk are reserved instead for parking. Engine noise, a great but scarcely acknowledged cause of stress and illness, fills our lives. As we jostle to secure our road space, as we swear and shake our fists at other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, as we grumble about speed limits and traffic calming, cars change us, enhancing our sense of threat and competition, cutting us off from each other.

New roads carve up the countryside, dispelling peace, creating a penumbra of noise, pollution and ugliness. Their effects spread for many miles. The deposition of reactive nitrogen from car exhaust (among other factors) changes the living systems even of remote fastnesses. In Snowdonia, it is dropped at the rate of 24kg per hectare per year, radically altering plant communities. Wars are fought to keep down the cost of driving: hundreds of thousands died in Iraq partly for this purpose. The earth is reamed with the mines required to manufacture cars and the oil wells needed to power them, and poisoned by the spills and tailings.

A switch to electric cars addresses only some of these issues. Already, beautiful places are being wrecked by an electric vehicle resource rush. Lithium mining, for example, is now poisoning rivers and depleting groundwater from Tibet to Bolivia. They still require a vast expenditure of energy and space. They still need tyres, whose manufacture and disposal (tyres are too complex to recycle) is a massive environmental blight.

We are told that cars are about freedom of choice. But every aspect of this assault on our lives is assisted by state planning and subsidy. Roads are built to accommodate projected traffic, which then grows to fill the new capacity. Streets are modelled to maximise the flow of cars. Pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed by planners into narrow and often dangerous spaces – the afterthoughts of urban design. If we paid for residential street parking at market rates for land, renting the 12m2 a car requires would cost around £3,000 a year in the richer parts of Britain. The chaos on our roads is a planned chaos.

Transport should be planned, but with entirely different aims: to maximise its social benefits, while minimising harm. This means a wholesale switch towards electric mass transit, safe and separate bike lanes and broad pavements, accompanied by a steady closure of the conditions that allow cars to rampage through our lives. In some places, and for some purposes, using cars is unavoidable. But for the great majority of journeys they can easily be substituted, as you can see in Amsterdam, Pontevedra and Copenhagen. We could almost eliminate them from our cities.

In this age of multiple emergencies – climate chaos, pollution, social alienation – we should remember that technologies exist to serve us, not to dominate us. It is time to drive the car out of our lives."
cars  georgemonbiot  2019  environment  safety  health  policy  transportation  emissions  freedom  climatechange  globalwarming  society  cities  urban  urbanism  isolation  pollution  alienation  masstransit 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Opioid crisis: Suicide, alcohol, drug deaths reach all-time high
The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since federal data collection started in 1999, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by two public health nonprofits.

The national rate for deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide rose from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, a 6 percent increase, the Trust for America's Health and the Well Being Trust reported Tuesday. That was a slower increase than in the previous two years, but it was greater than the 4 percent average annual increase since 1999.
suicide  deaths_of_despair  opioid_epidemic  alcohol  drugs  alienation 
13 days ago by perich
A nation ‘bored of Brexit’ risks sleepwalking into disaster | John Harris | Opinion | The Guardian
In the event of another referendum, should the remain side belatedly improve upon the hopeless campaign that led to disaster in 2016, people might finally hear about things that should have always defined the national conversation surrounding this country and its place in the world: the inarguable benefits of an open economy; the complex and often fragile trading arrangements that keep the economy in business and people in work; the fact that our history is not one of isolation from Europe but of being at its heart.
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  noDeal  disengagement  scepticism  misinformation  alienation  dctagged  dc:creator=HarrisJohn 
9 weeks ago by petej
Why we stopped trusting elites | News | The Guardian
If a world where everyone has their own truth-tellers sounds dangerously like relativism, that’s because it is. But the roots of this new and often unsettling “regime of truth” don’t only lie with the rise of populism or the age of big data. Elites have largely failed to understand that this crisis is about trust rather than facts – which may be why they did not detect the rapid erosion of their own credibility.

Unless liberal institutions and their defenders are willing to reckon with their own inability to sustain trust, the events of the past decade will remain opaque to them. And unless those institutions can rediscover aspects of the original liberal impulse – to keep different domains of power separate, and put the disinterested pursuit of knowledge before the pursuit of profit – then the present trends will only intensify, and no quantity of facts will be sufficient to resist. Power and authority will accrue to a combination of decreasingly liberal states and digital platforms – interrupted only by the occasional outcry as whistles are blown and outrages exposed.
elites  representativeDemocracy  trust  politics  media  business  honesty  norms  authority  liberalism  technology  Internet  populism  lies  alienation  disillusionment  UKIP  MPs  expenses  wikileaks  phonehacking  MurdochRupert  Libor  finance  BBC  Tesco  Volkswagen  exposure  whistleblowing  FOI  BlairTony  transparency  Brexit  Leave  MetropolitanPolice  RobinsonTommy  conspiracyTheory  relativism  dctagged  dc:creator=DaviesWill 
november 2018 by petej
Opinion | Discovering the Great Indoors - The New York Times
There’s a hidden world we have yet to plumb in our very own homes. Dr. Dunn is an ecologist.
Nature  kids  alienation 
october 2018 by marshallk
Netflix Star Samin Nosrat’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ Is a Marxist Fantasy - Eater
SFAH doesn’t make an argument for local or slow food per se, but that’s what we see. The dishes are simple, with few ingredients, made traditionally and with pleasure. For a certain kind of Marxist, this all reeks of conservatism or the hippie primitivism that some on the left call “folk politics.” Better to abolish our dependence on food through technology and automation — then we can cook if and only if we feel like it. Just as Shulamith Firestone wrote that artificial wombs would free women from gendered oppression, so could Soylent free them from the kitchen. There’s plenty in Marx to support this scientism, but he’s got his ecologist moments, too. “All progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the labourer,” he writes in Capital Vol. I, “but of robbing the soil.”
alienation 
october 2018 by s218611
Reading Dangerously - Ian Corbin (The Weekly Standard)
Boston friends—a small minority—have maintained a basic equanimity as the
great Trumpian disruption crackles across our shining screens, day after
#ThisIsNotNormal day, but a larger number pronounce themselves unable to
sleep, mired in depression, crippled by rage, or sick with worry for the
future of our country. The less perturbed often are those who have been
blessed to live some part of their lives as ideological insurgents. I count
myself among them. In my case, I was born to hard-living hippies who, when
I was 2 years old, became teetotaling evangelicals, and before long became
the pastors of a small, impoverished Pentecostal church. Through my
childhood and adolescence we supported Republicans, laid hands on the sick,
eschewed secular music, and mistrusted science. All of this would be
unremarkable but for the fact we lived this wild religious melodrama in the
Boston area, the bleeding heart of blue America.
In the public schools I attended, my teachers spoke nonchalantly of
evolution, abortion, gay rights, and the enslavement of housewifery, with
perfect confidence that they and their pupils had been given the sight to
see the simple right on every issue of consequence. There was no felt need
for doubt or discussion, and for most of my schooling I was too shy to
broach any. I’d sit with hot skin, incapable of forming a clear sentence,
while the Good, True, and Beautiful were maligned with breezy
self-satisfaction by some cross-country coach with a Boston accent. A big
part of me believed— *knew*, in fact—that my teachers and classmates were
blithely pounding nails in their own spiritual coffins with every word,
descending further into a doctrinal darkness I could barely fathom, but I
was too cowardly and inarticulate to save them—and the few times I tried
they turned on me with wild, angry, uncomprehending eyes. As if I were
insane. A small but persistent part of me wondered if they were right. The
feeling of alienation was terrible and palpable; it hung around my gangly
teenage neck like a chain.
Looking back now at the role that inhibiting chain has played in my life, I
would wish it most fervently on anyone who wants to opine in public or to
consider himself a citizen of the world. Provided that is, that he finds
himself unable to write off his neighbors as monsters, as I was unable to
do. Out of raw animal loneliness I gradually became adept at explaining and
eliciting explanation. As I learned how to unpack the deep motivations for
my unthinkable opinion X or Y, I never once failed to find a sympathetic
ear. Disagreement was common and sometimes ineradicable, but enmity was
reliably dispatched if you looked people in the eye and spoke sincerely and
candidly. Or so I found. It made me think that while some of us are
undoubtedly wrong on question X or Y, most people are pretty decent,
uncertain, and, deep down, doing their damnedest. This is the sort of
understanding I was hoping would emerge from a book purporting to explain
the philosophical roots of contemporary far-right thinking.
Ayjay  GrowingUp  Alienation  theChain 
october 2018 by mgubbins
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power a
"The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power against children. Everything else is secondary.

With enough willingness and some help, we can learn almost anything we want at any age, but some emotional scars take a lifetime to heal and some never heal.

As I said once before, teachers' experiences and knowledge of students are limited, biased and fragmented. They didn't know them when they were just happy kids living life. They don't know what they are like when they are at home. They stop seeing them after they leave school.

And considering that our world's most threatening problems have not much to do with lack of knowledge, but much to do with power imbalances, violence, lack of empathy, alienation, property rights, and the commodification of human beings...

The emphasis of conventional schools on having well managed classrooms and making children learn is shortsighted and misguided.

If anything, schools should be about communities where children are allowed to co-exist as equals and where they are given access to the resources they need in order to learn for their own purposes and on their own terms, not those of the structures seeking to exploit them.

And if our main concern is social justice, schools could be meeting places, places of discussion, places of access to information, places of access to learning resources that most people would not be able to afford on their own.

However, the maintenance of strong hierarchies and attempts to control what children should learn and how they should behave are contradictory to the notion of wanting create a world of equals were people are not treated as tools or commodities for someone else's purposes.

In fact, if we were truly serious about social justice, schools would be open to their communities, people could keep attending school throughout their lives as fellow learners or fellow teachers, and schools would transcend their walls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkiX7R1-kaY

It is only in an unequal world in which we are valued in terms of the economic value we produce, in which we are disposable, and in which many are deemed arbitrarily as undeserving or useless...

that we learn to think of ourselves as something with a useful life, an expiration date and in need of a certificate or letter of acceptance...

that countless human beings are forced to obtain a diagnosis in order to be able to exercise some of their most basic rights...
The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis. http://boren.blog/2018/07/29/the-right-to-learn-differently-should-be-a-universal-human-right-thats-not-mediated-by-a-diagnosis/

It is only in a world in which competition, scarcity and exclusion are normalized that we learn to think of learning as something happening exclusively within schools' walls in which there is not enough space or enough money for everyone to attend.

It is only in a world in which competition, scarcity and exclusion are normalized that we learn to think that assigning grades and sorting children is okay."
isabelrodríguez  sfsh  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  hierarchy  horizontality  community  lcproject  openstudioproject  agesegregation  2018  rynboren  mitchaltman  hackerspaces  makerspaces  dignity  parenting  children  power  control  exploitation  coercion  race  racism  prejudice  abuse  empathy  alienation  labor  work  capitalism  solidarity  propertyrights  commodification  humanrights  humans  learning  howwelearn  school  schooliness 
july 2018 by robertogreco

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