1. Would people give up their 2nd cars if fuel was so expensive that the inconvenience of having only one was outweighed by the cost?
2. If the government gave a tax credit for giving up a 2nd car rather than for buying a car, how much would it have to be to make it worth doing?
3. How bad does traffic congestion have to get before people decide the cost and inconvenience of public transportation is less than the aggravation of getting places in their own vehicles?
4. It doesn't make sense to have all those cars just sitting at all those workplaces all day. Why can't we develop a system to 'sublet' cars for people who live around that workplace to use during the day? Or maybe that's a bad idea because it justifies the second car... and adds to carbon emissions.
I know it IS possible to get around by public transportation in my area. It is also VERY inconvenient and VERY expensive. It adds hours to a work day. When we first lived in this area (Wash DC) 15 years ago my husband tried taking public transportation to and from work. We lived within 10 miles of his office. It added an hour each way to use the Metro, but if he jumped in his car he was usually there within 20 minutes and home in 30. Now we live further out in the burbs and to use a bus and then subway to his office would add about 60 to 90 minutes to his day each way.
That doesn't even start to address the cost of Metro. For him to go and return entirely by bus would be $14.00 per day and take an hour each way. To go and return via bus/metro would cost $8.00 per day and take the same amount of time assuming he hits every connection perfectly and that Metro isn't having track problems that day (the latter is a ridiculous assumption). Extrapolate either of those over a month and it's darn expensive. But alas, the time he has to be at work -- no later than 05:00 a.m. makes this impossible because the Metro system isn't even functioning in time for him to use it.
I suspect that he's not unusual.
Susan also grows a lot of her family's food. We live in such a heavily treed area that we don't get enough sun to grow grass, much less vegetables.
There are community gardens not too far from my house, but they have been so overworked that you can only grow what the 'garden' is good for. According to my former neighbor who grew things there for years, there's some kind of blight that interferes with growing cucumbers and other things. All he could get lots of was zucchini and eggplant. Frankly, that wouldn't be enough to get me to plant the first seed, even if I could carve eggplant-o'lanterns like these.
Pony and biomass -- well, we just don't have the land or the appropriate surroundings!
But I love what Susan and her family have done. They have thought through all of the permutations of what their choices will dictate and planned accordingly. It is what works best for them. Part of it is admittedly driven by the cost of doing something differently -- being less environmentally aware.
So, not wanting to earn any kinds of awards, I ask myself, what do we do to be green?
1. I drive a hybrid.
2. We increasingly remember to take our cloth bags into the grocery store.
3. We freecycle. (This the best -- the GOAL is to keep stuff out of landfills)
4. We recycle (um...they pick it up at our house. Not sure we'd be so diligent if they didn't)
5. We have switched about half of our bulbs to the kind that's making Susan go blind. ;-)
I can't think of many more at this moment...which doesn't say much for my level of commitment.
So I'm back to the question of how much does it have to cost to make us change our ways? And I can confidently say that if my husband reads this post today he's going to be wondering what kind of "new idea" I have this time. Don't worry honey, I haven't bought a pony . . . yet