Fatal Attraction: Will Our Obsession with the Automobile Kill Us?

Ronald Reagan had his “killer trees” when it came to air pollution. We’ve heard that bees kill when they travel together in a swarm and descend on innocent victims. Aside from depleting our finances, and looking for alternative ways to make them run, we rarely bring up a mass murderer in our society-yeah “killer cars.” Considering the mainstream’s affection for the classic car, or the umpteen trips we make for our kids activities, not to mention the social diseases such as “road-rage” and other forms of unhealthy gesturing, the automobile and its priority in our lives may be the ruin of our society.

According to the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention and estimated 1.26 million are killed in car crashes each year, while an additional 50 million people are injured. While many are feeling the pain at the pump these days, our society seems to be having a difficult time weaning ourselves off of a dependency and addiction to a mode of transportation that may be an overall failure environmentally, economically, and as a safety risk. Is our love affair with the automobile a fatal attraction?
In order to keep the relationship alive many have looked to either hybrid cars or alternative fuels. The idea is that some of the fuels would spark the farming industry in providing a new bumper crop that can be turned into ethanol. In Australia there is a program that offers incentives to farmers of bio-diesel crops. According to their website, Bioethanol is a fully renewable fuel alcohol made from Australian grown agricultural products including wheat and sugarcane. Simply put, it is the same alcohol that is in beer, wine and spirits, which is purified and dehydrated for use in petrol fuels. Bioethanol is also called Ethanol and has been used successfully as a fuel improvement additive in eastern Australia, USA, Brazil and Europe for several years. If we deem the interstate system as a But is it time to throw the automobile out with the interstate?

There are several blog sites that have been throwing this idea out with mixed reaction. There has also been a trend in telecommuting, kinetics transportation, and carpooling. But when it comes down to it who is willing to give up at least one of their cars for the greater good? There seems to be a lot of finger pointing to the corporate world of big oil and Detroit’s auto makers but when it is a lifestyle choice how many people do you know that would strap on the walking boots and walk the talk? And then there’s Italian Architect Paolo Soleri, the 87 year old former protÃ?©gÃ?© of Frank Lloyd Wright. His major project is the automobile free town of Arcosanti, Arizona.

The prototype town is still a work in process. Originally designed to house a community of 5,000 people the town started construction in 1970. It is based on Soleri’s concept of what he calls “Arcology,” architecture coherent and blending with ecology. Not only are cars banned from the town the main purpose is to maximize the interaction of community and foster accessibility by minimizing energy, raw materials and land, reducing waste and environmental pollution; and allow interaction with the surrounding natural environment. It all seems a bit extreme. Or is it another example of our own self-greed that stares back at us from our bathroom mirror?

Considering the amount of deaths from automobile accidents, pain at the pump, and how communities have been severed by the needs of a four wheeled, sheet metal member of the family perhaps we could kiss the car keys goodbye. Since many can find work on our computers, or within walking distance of our homes maybe it won’t take a fender bender on a snowy day to find out our neighbors name by exchanging insurance information.

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