Remember, we were already in a pandemic—geo-bio-aero-aqua-pandemic—before the corona virus came along and shocked us into a complete behavior change. That shock knocked us off our busy habits, our multi-tasking, our phone worship (1.6 million car crashes a year come from texting while driving—in the U.S.) Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. A quarter of car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. Just think: We might be able to give that up!

The electronic village awaits us. In fact it is already here. We live in it now. Aren’t our cottages wired for multiple “devices?” Doesn’t everyone have a complete snarl of wires and black boxes in some dusty corner before which we must kneel in supplication at odd moments—always at night—begging the God of All Wires to somehow show mercy because we have some imperative—No, I mean IMPERATIVE that we have to see, share, complete, send, receive RIGHT NOW? And instead of that singular service some !@#!@#%^&* message appears and tells us to go screw ourselves?

Yeah, that’s it! You got it. (Send me your picture of your God of All Wires altar.) Let’s expose them to the rude scrutiny by daylight! To strangers! I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours!  Don’t tell me we don’t worship there!

That place is our connection to the greater world. Through that orifice–that altar–lies the Solar Age. We get to stay home because of that. We get to be part of that world, connected to everything possible and already in place on planet Earth because of that mess of black boxes and wires and plugs. It is literally the place behind the curtain from The Wizard of Oz.

Welcome to the Solar Age. Back in the 1970s when environmentalism was new (the Environmental Protection Agency was founded in 1970. Look for my 50th anniversary book, If You Would See Their Memorial, Look Around: Edmund Muskie, Richard Nixon and The Founding of The Environmental Protection Agency, 1970 out in November of 2020.) we looked into the misty future (where we are now) and dreamed of clean air and clean water, an end to automobile exhaust and noise, the powering of our world by nuclear power . . . well, not everything has worked out, but much of it has.

We yearned for an electronic village. Some were actually designed and built: A row of townhouses with front yards bordering on a common green where children frolicked, and rosy, blemish-free apples fell from trees and all you had to do to them was shine them on your pant leg and take a big juicy bite because they were DDT-free. Common houses where the residents often ate together hummed with vegetarian chatter and aromas of onions and tofu delighted the hungry patrons waiting for a platter of squash with a little  je ne sais quoi spice from Samarkand. That was the future we were sure we were going to create. We may yet. Things are going to change more and more as we drive less and less.

First we have to give up gasoline and all that it stands for: cost in so many unacknowledged ways, debt, pollution, deaths of many kinds of people and animals . . . .

That’s not to say we can’t have conveyances—battery-powered cars would be a step in the right direction—better yet bullet trains to whisk us across the country. . . .

In 2008 I attended a conference in France. Trains ran everywhere. Once we were out in the country, stopped at a little kiosk and bought a ticket, then walked on a gravel path over to a concrete platform in the grass beside the railroad track. A yellow line on the edge warned us not to be stupid.

We waited a very few minutes. A silent bullet train appeared out of nowhere, stopped at the concrete platform. We stepped over the yellow line into the carriage. The doors closed behind us and we sped away toward the city.

We need that kind of service here.

That makes the electronic village work as well as screens and headphones.

We shouldn’t have to trade mobility for planetary survival!


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