Monday, 28 April 2008

NOVA Disappoints

Last night I was in a rather vegetative mode, so I was channel surfing on television and I happened to stop at a PBS presentation of NOVA. I generally enjoy that show, since it tends to be intelligent, informative and evocative.

Not last night.

I could barely suffer through the first quarter of an hour. The show was entitled "The Car of the Future". I sent the comment to the NOVA folk at their website. Let's see if I get a reply:

Might I be so bold to suggest that the "car of the future" is indeed, no car at all? Why was the most obvious solution to our dependence upon petroleum altogether ignored? I was very disappointed in this program's complete lack of vision and denial of the myriad problems that automobile-centric culture has created. We don't need cars that burn other fuels, what humanity needs are cities and transit networks that negate the need for automobiles entirely, and give back mankind the independence he enjoyed for millennia.

We have evolved over millions of years as bipedal creatures, and civilization has existed for tens of thousands of years based essentially on pedestrian transportation; indeed, man covered the entire globe by walking to his next destination! We are also social beings that require contact with our fellow neighbors in an environment that fosters such on a human scale. The automobile just further isolates one person from another and creates a scale that is unfriendly to social interaction. In the suburbs, the only place you can see people gather is in a shopping mall!

Suburban sprawl is not only unnecessary and resource intensive, but it also paves over land better used for farming or simply left in its natural state. The automobile has its place in the countryside. Yet this incessant love affair with the automobile must come to an end, if we are to live in a just, harmonious and sensible world that values a clean environment. All this program accomplishes is to further the illusion that automobiles are necessary in urban areas, and by not addressing this fundamental question, it does a tremendous disservice to us all.

I also left my website address. I'd love to see NOVA do a report on Car-Free Cities. That would make an interesting show.

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