Rolling Car Outs

By now you’re aware that the Earth’s atmosphere is heating at an alarming rate due to an excess of carbon dioxide, the byproduct of more or less every energy burning transaction on the planet. We’ve been transacting at a precipitous rate, we humans, and now the planet is taking steps toward getting rid of us. Can you blame it?

Life threatening heatwaves and extreme weather events are the new normal. Just last week upstate New York and Vermont experienced their second 100-year flood since 2011. Smart people say that’s not a coincidence.

Another hallmark of our species is the tendency to highlight problems such as this one (see also: nuclear weapons proliferation and failure to live up to the social contract) without being able to implement policies that might mitigate the damage therefrom. We will likely burn every drop of petroleum we can find and cut down the rainforests to graze cattle, because we demand cheap beef, regardless of the environmental costs.

But you know me. I’m a real visionary. An optimist. A futurist. A polymath of fractallic dimension (so clever I just invented the word ‘fractallic’). And so, here’s a modest proposal that maybe some of my bike friends can get behind.

In New York in the ’70s and in many large cities in the rest of the world, where there is often not enough power to go around, they implement what are called “rolling brown outs,” periods when the power supply is greatly diminished or cut off altogether to designated geographic areas.

I’d propose the same kind of thing for automobile travel (and possibly also meat eating). We’d call them ‘rolling car outs,’ times when you’d just not be allowed to drive your car, violations punishable by high-cost ticket (or being forced to listen to modern country music). For example, maybe in the Eastern time zone, you wouldn’t be able to drive your car on Mondays, with exceptions made for people going to doctor’s appointments, municipal vehicles, etc. In the Central time zone, it’d be Tuesdays. Etc. Etc.

Is it practical? Not very. Would cyclists adapt pretty easily? Yeah. Would it make a difference? Some. Would it be hard on lots and lots of people, most of them poor? Unfortunately, yes, because most things are. Would the wealthy complain and seek dispensation not to follow the rules? When don’t they?

Hard problems usually have difficult solutions though. Something’s gotta give. Our governments are showing precious little appetite for change. Asking people to make sacrifices doesn’t poll very well as it turns out.

So what do we do? Maybe we take it upon ourselves. We commit to some sacrifices. We talk about them, hoping to inspire others. We ride our bikes, because, as is often the case, it’s the solution to so many of our problems. Pick your day.

Join the conversation
  1. trabri says

    I’m writing you in for president. This should be your first executive order! Robot 2024!

  2. khal spencer says

    Spot on.

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