Saturday, July 29, 2006

Extended Stay

The case for why bicycling may end up costing the environment more than it saves it from is interesting. The main argument being :

  • Human-powered transportation can substitute for trips by single-occupant automobiles. This substitution has a direct and immediate benefit of reducing energy consumption, even accounting for the latent energy content of the food required for human power.
  • A substantial increase in the use of human-powered transportation would engage a substantial number of currently sedentary people in physical activity.
  • Physical activity by previously sedentary individuals increases their longevity, and therefore their overall energy consumption.
In the grand scheme of things it seems better for people to consume energy freely, live unhealthy lifestyles in a polluted environment and die early. Once dead they cease to burden the planet entirely. This line of reasoning is akin to domestic situations involving an eighty year old matriarch who is in the pink of health. She is a thorn on her family's side because they know she may have twenty more years left in her and may well outlive some of them.

When one starts of live on borrowed time, society bears the burden of this extended stay same as the immediate family and clearly it is not a burden borne cheerfully by either.


SGary said...

Well, that's a very narrow prism to look through. What if healthier older people decide that retirement is not enough and continue their work years well into their 80's or longer? For one, their health care expenses are low and they are being productive. Is this a real study or a spoof? I can't believe he was serious.

Heartcrossings said...

That what I thought too - a very narrow view and an insensitive one too. Before you though they will be researching on how our 80 year old grannies are crippling the economy and how we can save ourselves from them - Orwellian...