Increasing heavy traffic on Interstate 5, and the suggested solution of building a bigger freeway, reminds us of the uncomfortable truth that economic growth equals environmental destruction. Urban planners have realized for decades that expanding roadways is not a solution to congestion, but instead the route to bigger congestion.
Reducing the use of motor vehicles is a real solution. But it is difficult to persuade people to change undesirable behavior while increasing accommodations for it.
The defining issue for several terms on the Corvallis City Council was parking problems created by the rapid expansion of Oregon State University and other “economic growth” in our city. Free parking on neighborhood streets and inadequate alternative transportation made driving to OSU the easiest solution for most students and faculty. Proposals for making operation of motor vehicles expensive and inconvenient were vigorously rejected by other councilors and citizens. As were suggestions to slow ”economic growth.”
We pretend to seek solutions to global climate change, but we keep doing more of what created the problem. We need a vision for a future of living within the carrying capacity of our ecosystem. Our technology must be turned toward efficient use of resources rather than more rapid depletion of a dwindling supply. Public policy needs to stop accommodating the addiction to fossil fuels. A substantial fee for carbon emissions is a necessary tool for convincing producers and consumers to find more efficient solutions to their economic needs.
Corvallis (Sept. 5)
The writer is the Pacific Green candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 4th Congressional District.