Monday, February 12, 2007

A Life Beyond ExxonMobil

Last month in a burst of true believer euphoria, the Madison Peak Oil Task Force announces the end of civilization as we know it and calls for drastic changes in how people live their lives. When the ‘report’ is released, Jenna posts a collection of links to the radical anti-car movement. I might add, what exactly is utopian in a future of "rickshaws, walking, pedal cabs and horse drawn carriages"?

The sincere and earnest proposals, including a ban on automobile advertising and prohibition of parking spaces in buildings, are so extreme the twist in the wind editorial board of the Wisconsin State Journal finds the courage to call for resistance.

Put the brakes on anti-car drive: The city of Portland, Ore., - one of Mayor Dave's favorite models - has succumbed to pressure from Peak Oil activists and appointed an official committee to study how Portland should prepare for the "post- carbon" age. So far, Madison's Peak Oil Task Force remains strictly an unofficial group spouting unofficial nonsense. Surely, Madison and Dane County leaders will be smart enough to keep it that way.

The Capital Times, however, feeling the need to speak truth to power, decides the immanent and inevitable collapse of the oil economy deserves an airing. What is most interesting is not the goal of a car free city and massive taxes on individuals who insist on driving. It is the reaction of Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s administration.

Oil crisis requires drastic changes in Madison: Cieslewicz hasn't met with Sweet, but the mayor's spokesman, George Twigg, said the mayor got a copy of the report. Twigg suggested that peak oil activists get involved in the sustainability initiatives the city already has in progress, including the Sustainable Design and Energy Committee, chaired by Sherrie Gruder, which is working on initiatives to reduce emissions and energy consumption for city government as well for the community.

The mayor's "Building a Green Capital City" blueprint for sustainability also seeks to address the same issues, he said. Madison is one of the first cities in the nation working on a program designed to "re-engineer city government to make principles of sustainability a part of everything we do," Twigg said. That program is called "The Natural Step."

The administration is smiling at the enthusiastic embrace of the message while pointing out they are working at implementing the vision. Politics means playing games with words and quietly working the levers of power at your disposal. Peak Oil activists are simply groups of the larger New Urbanist view of life which Cieslewicz believes completely. All evidence points to the conclusion that Mayor Dave whole heartedly shares the vision of a car free city, where government protects and provides services to residents living happy healthy lives in a world free of ExxonMobil.