Wednesday, September 29, 2004

did we annex manitoba while i was out ?

in an otherwise harmlessly moronic indulgence piece in the NYT magazine this weekend, john tierney basically abandons any interest in objective, or even thorough, analysis to cheerlead for quaint 50's era american graffiti-inspired fantasies about the unique american spirit of the automobile. all the fantastic photography in this article couldn't begin to cover up the remarkable predisposition with which he approaches the subject - environmentalists and urban planners inevitably cast as closed-minded inflexible fuddy-duddies, obsessed with their narrow agenda of making drivers' lives miserable, while proponents of the car are undoubtedly visionary futurists with a keen sense of human nature and old fashioned market pragmatism. environmentalists are the city bus that's 10 minutes late on a rainy dark evening; freeway builders are the classic convertible with the top down and 'electric avenue' on the radio.

but tierney accidentally tries to drop a few facts into his car mythology, and things fall apart rather quickly. my favorite example:

The major change in land use in recent decades has been the gain of 70 million acres of wilderness -- more than all the land currently occupied by cities, suburbs and exurbs, according to Peter Huber, author of ''Hard Green: Saving the Environment From the Environmentalists.''

70 million acres ? wait a minute, we've GAINED an area the size of colorado in 'recent decades' ? or could it be that what really happened was the federal government relabeling existing undeveloped lands ? tierney wants readers to believe that some secret force in american society is reclaiming former strip malls and walmart parking lots and returning them to a primeval state. in fact, this 70 million acres represents not a single new square yard. capitalizing the 'w' in 'wilderness' does nothing to change the fact that sprawl is destroying our countrysides, open spaces, and wildlife habitats. if that interferes with john tierneys wistful teenage illusions about burning rubber and doing donuts in the parking lot, i wont apologize.

- LH


Post a Comment

<< Home