Make a donation with PayPal, VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover cards - it's fast, free and secure!

Home Page

Nonprofit founded in 1988


Culture Change Letter
via email
84 83 82 81 80 79 78 77 76 75 74 73 72 71 70 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62
61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2 1  subscribe  index  feedback

Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Why Not to Support Highway Widenings

by Randy Ghent

In fighting road projects, most activists concern themselves primarily with protecting the landóforests, farmlands, communitiesóthat would be bisected and/or destroyed.

Because of this, they often advocate reroutes, widenings or upgrades as an "environmental" alternative to construction of new roads. Here's a few reasons why we should avoid such a pitfall:

1. Subsidies to the highway-building/trucking industries via road-building expenditures undermine railroad shipping regardless of whether the road building is new-terrain or widening/upgrade. Rail is about eight times more energy-efficient than truck.

2. Traffic expands to fill available road space. When we don't refute traffic planners' assertions that increased road capacity is needed, we've lost half the battle.

3. It follows that automobile-generated pollution also expands with available road space. The U.S. car fleet is the single biggest contributor to global warming. Thus the forests and farmlands will fry from global warming even if they're not bisected by a new roadóunless we also fight road widenings and upgrades.

4. Since we can't afford to maintain the roads we already have, we shouldn't build more lanes or new roads. We are $230 billion short in maintenance funds nationally in the U.S. (Even conservatives will respect and embrace this argument, which is really the only argument we need.)

5. Traffic congestion is often a necessary condition for auto-alternatives to "compete" with cars. Drivers need incentives to eschew the caróand saving time by not sitting in traffic is a convincing one. Conversely, if driving is quick and convenient, alternatives will suffer. Thus, we must not seek to alleviate congestion by facilitating car travel.

6. It would be contradictory to promote local business as an alternative to long-distance trade if we also promote widenings/upgrades. Facilitating and subsidizing long-distance trade undermines the competitiveness of local products. This hurts local farmers, even though widenings/upgrades may not destroy much farmland directly.

7. We should not lengthen our oil supply lines (roads) since oil will be depleted domestically by 2020 and globally by 2040. More road capacity leads to more oil consumption. We will eventually not have enough oil to maintain existing roads, let alone build more and drive on them.

8. Drivers go faster on upgraded roads because of a perceived safety increase. Accidents increase accordingly, as does roadkillówhich also increases when animals have to dodge more traffic in wider lanes.

Please think about the above in the context of your local road fights. Using these arguments we can bring fundamental issues before the publicórather than reducing our campaigns to narrow, localized efforts striving to protect merely a particular special place.



Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit torganization.