An example of how peak oil awareness is imperative

Many of the peak-oil aware support freight rail as an effective substitute to trucking and method of mitigating the effects of resource depletion. Along with nuclear power, windmills, public transport and hybrids/EVs, freight-rail could be part of a future less dependent on hydrocarbons.

Unfortunately, enacting policies to facilitate a shift towards these alternatives is not as easy as realizing their existence. As everyone knows, politicians depend on the support of their constituents, and as a result are depending on the knowledge and values of these very people. The prevailing view among most voters, despite the current news, is that high energy prices are temporary and someone is to “blame”, leaving most to value style, status and comfort instead of sustainability. Due to this lack of knowledge, people continue to drive gas guzzlers, refuse to conserve, and vehemently reject the presence of anything “noisy” or “unsightly” whether it be an nuclear power plant, windmill, or freight train.

Canadian National Railway Co. is seeking to buy the line running through 30 Chicago suburbs, avoiding congestion and increasing efficiency of the freight-rail system. This is much to the dismay for many residents of Barrington, Il. The Mayors’ office was flooded with phone calls as soon as the announcement was made.

“There should be a way not to impact these communities like this,” Darch, the mayor, said. “To have 20 or maybe 40 trains going through here — it’s a lifestyle issue. People came here for this town, for the surrounding nature, not for trains.”

Unfortunately, “the way” not to impact communities like this was a congested and inefficient rail system which CN is now trying to improve. Somehow, a mutual exclusivity appeared where you cannot have an increase in rail traffic without maintaining your ‘surrounding nature’. Suburbanites are sheltered with ideals of a quiet and easy life and fail to realize how short-lived their dream will be. These ideals need to be shattered by harsh reality so that “quiet and peaceful” can be put aside in order to prevent “dark, cold and hungry.”

Let the facts about resource depletion be known to your friends, family, local government in order to help help us ease the upcoming transition. Hopefully, larger scale efforts directed at reducing the impact of peak oil can be met with public approval, not dissent.

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3 Responses

  1. Barrington is up there with Coal City on my “worst towns in Illinois” list. This sort of “not in my back yard” justification reminds me of Long Grove blocking the IL-53 extension which congested surface streets all over the NW suburbs and cost residents of the suburbs millions upon millions of hours in traffic.

  2. […] Those Barrington residents don’t really know how bad it is Posted on May 30, 2008 by Brian Cesarotti Yesterday, we saw how a lack of awareness led the residents of the suburban town of Barrington, Illlinois to protest an increase in freight traffic through their town. […]

  3. Somehow people have decided that a healthy environment means bright green, tightly-cropped grass (even in Arizona), and having huge open spaces between your home and the pollution that you helped to create. Rather than creating healthy habits, people want to put a thin veneer over it.

    Hide those train tracks somewhere else, and suddenly the environment is ‘healthy’. Put them close to a rich person’s house and you’re ‘destroying the pristine wilderness’. As is usually the case, maintaining this appearance artificially comes at a cost (less efficient railroads). Ironically, not only are we ignoring the problem, but by paying this additional cost, we are making it even worse.

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