Casual observations of the downsides of car culture and climate change

Not a great time to be in Moscow, huh? A once in a lifetime heat-wave contributes to a rash of wildfires and the Russian capital is baking under a cloud of smog that has killed 700 so far. Craziness.  I’m not a huge of fan of Moscow generally, this story in the New Yorker is a good example of the reasons why. The nouveau riche and their flashy cars and sense of entitlement on the backs of a general wave of consumerism that has every Russian aspiring towards car ownership has combined with Moscow’s lack of proper urban planning to create a “terminal” traffic problem. I read this with interest and it conjured up memories from China, where the traffic was the first thing that captured my imagination and I still shake my head thinking about it. The author alludes to the abuses of the rich in terms of using their own sirens and other extra-legal means to cut through the traffic, the Chinese are the same way. It’s incredible what rapid development can do. China had something like 250,000 cars when Deng Xiaoping started the economic reforms. By the time I lived there in 2005 they 30 million and looked set to double that in 5-7 years. The way people drive and the stock they put in car ownership are a few of the unpleasant upshots of the rapid development of car culture. Russia is similar to China, from little private ownership to lots. Which leads to horrible traffic and asshole drivers. And now this deadly air. Oh, and you hear that a chunk of ice  four times the size of Manhattan cracked off Greenland??? Climate change skeptics–what’s up?

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