Last Gasp of a Dying Breed

16 January 2008

Has anyone else noticed that car drivers are becoming more agressively defensive lately?

I'm not referring to road rage here (I've personally always felt that road rage is a brilliant idea), but drivers getting snarky about driving itself. Overwhelmed by reports that car exhausts are causing global warming, not to mention birth defects, they're like addicts in denial about the effect of their addictions; coming up with ever more elaborate excuses about why they need to drive.

And they really mean it. Australians bought a record number of cars in 2007, over 1 million. The impulse is understandable - a "last stand before dying". I myself started smoking more in the last few days before I quit. You know when your position is untenable, but the rebel in you clings on ever more desperately before being able to finally let go.

For the opinions of "the masses", it's hard to go past those commenting blogs on (for a start, most of them are unaware of the difference between a blog and a comment on a blog). This post about pedestrians in Sydney ignoring the road rules turns into a general discussion of the "need" to drive - some commenters ever seem to be saying that they drive as an "up yours" to the Iemma government, who runs the NSW public transport system. The author is rather more moderate, but recommentds readers write to their local MP, demanding tougher penalties for pedestrians who flout the law - even as he blames the state of the public transport system for his own need to drive. The idea that readers might start a letter-writing campaign demanding a better public transport system seems not to have occurred to him (although, as the Daily Telegraph's motoring writer, that might put him out of a job...)

Even if the global warming thing isn't substantiated (and I hadn't realised how unsubstantiated it is until I went looking for links), humans just can't keep on using oil the way we're currently doing. Heads up people, petrol prices are never going to come down: prices are determined by the laws of demand and supply; as long as there is high demand, the price will stay up. What will the price of oil be if China starts to achieve American levels of car ownership?

People know all this, or at least sense it. But they don't want to give up their cars. You could almost feel sorry for them, till you realise that they're just being selfish and lazy and, lets face it, a walk to the bus stop would do them good.


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