Highway to hell: control the car
February 25, 2008
Abuse of power and social control is a far greater threat than cars and cigarettes, argues Michael McFadden
I believe motorists should be treated just as fairly as smokers. Taxes should be roughly triple the cost of the basic litre of fuel and hospital campuses should be car-free with parking available a minimum of four blocks away to encourage healthy exercise and avoid physical threat to normal non-driving visitors and patients.
Children should be taught that if their parents love them they won’t insist on driving them around in pollutomobiles, leaving them off at school stinking of petrol fumes and all the lovely chemicals that make up that delightful “new car smell”. College scholarships can be offered to those students who remain “car-free” to graduation, and employers can restrict job openings to non-drivers only.
Surgeons should refuse operations to accident victims who refuse to sign a legal commitment to surrender their drivers’ licenses and significant speed bumps should be put at every intersection to discourage automotive commuting.
Movies should forbid anything resembling car chases. It’s been shown that teens and people in their twenties who watch movies with such content tend to have a much stronger belief that fast or reckless driving can be engaged in with little consequence. And car advertisements using images of sex and success to entice many who would normally be quite happy with public transport and bicycles should be banned from the airwaves and sports sponsorships.
While the recent health ministry prohibition against using children to advertise eggs makes sense, every possible use of children should be made in the campaign to educate the public about the dangers of driving: images of children choking on roadside fumes and pictures of dismembered young bodies should be par for the course on billboards, and perhaps even be mandated decor on car doors to serve as a reminder to those thoughtless enough to remain behind the wheel.
Mercedes Manglers and Rolls Reapers will likely continue to kill and maim the young and innocent for years to come no matter what we do, but a properly designed and managed campaign to make driving less respectable, more difficult, and more expensive will reduce the ghastly toll on our roads and help return them to their proper role of pedestrian and bicycle transport.
Before I became a smokers’ rights activist I spent a good number of years as a bicycle activist. I still do not drive, and still have some fond feelings for the propaganda I’ve written above. The difference is that nowadays I realise I have no right to play God with other people’s lives and choices and I’ve come to understand that the greater threat to all of us doesn’t lie in cars or in cigarettes, but in abuse of power and social control.
Michael J McFadden is author of Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains. See www.thetruthisalie.com
Dirty Air Poses Threat To Boston Commuters
Car Exhaust Causes Heart Disease. By Colin Grainger.
Dirty Air Poses Threat To Boston Commuters
January 17, 2008
There’s a health concern for commuters driving into Boston that has little to do with speed or road rage.
The problem is in the air.
The problem lies with diesel fumes pouring out of vehicles, and it’s taking a toll on our health.
“It’s getting into the bloodstream. It’s causing heart attacks. It’s causing premature deaths all across Massachusetts,” said Danielle Connor of Clean Water Action.
The problem comes from tiny particles in the fumes that we breathe in. Dr. Bruce Hill of the Clean Air Task Rorce has measured diesel pollution on Boston roadways, including the southeast expressway.
“We found the levels were roughly four times higher in your car than in the downtown area at the same time,” Hill said.
When Hill used a device that measured exhaust particles as he followed a truck in traffic, the particle levels rose dramatically.
“It’s just flat unhealthy to be following this truck right now,” Hill said.
Massachusett is fifth in the nation for diesel pollution. Suffolk County is the third worst county in the country.
“Everyone is affected — taking a train, driving a car, school children going to learn,” Connor said.
Some Chelsea High School students want people, including lawmakers to know about the problem.
They recorded the number of diesel trucks driving through a Chelsea neighborhood.
“We counted 33 diesel trucks passed by in about 35 minutes,” said Rebecca Kelly of Chelsea Green Space.
But there is a simple solution to all the pollution. It’s just a matter of installing a particular filter in the exhaust system.
Woburn-based GEO 2 Technologies developed a filter to retrofit diesel trucks. The cost averages $5,000 and effectively eliminates about 90 percent of the particles coming out of the vehicle.
“The problem is real. The solution is here,” said Jeremy McLarmid of Environment Northeast.
A bill is now before the legislature that would require retrofits for all state-owned and contracted vehicles. The problem is the cost.
“What would be the cost of lives if we do nothing,” WBZ’s Mish Michael’s asked McLarmid.
“It’s 500 premature deaths a year in Massachusetts alone,” he answered.
That’s a high price to pay for simply commuting to work.
Drivers can protect themselves from harmful fumes during your commute by keeping the windows shut and the air on re-circulate.
As for state school buses, money has been allotted to retrofit all of them within the next two years.
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