The United States is a paradoxical country like no other. Nothing underscored this more than the last fortnight I spend on the East Coast.
And nothing underscored this more than one of the biggest battles today in New York. This column has previously mentioned how New York’s carbon emissions are amongst the lowest in the US on account of its density, and its planning, which allows people to walk or take public transport to most destinations.
To further green the city, the mayor Bloomberg has added about or 402 km of bicycle lanes in the last four years. By any standards, it is a fantastic achievement because it encourages cycling and offers one more green option for travel.
But it has been greeted by such protests by car drivers and people in businesses that nearly four km of the lane is actually being removed in Staten Island!
Similar protests continue to remove an approximately three km strip in Brooklyn. What I find ironic about this is it’s all peaking during the climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico. After never co-operating with the rest of the world over climate change, in the last two years, the US has agreed it is a serious problem. But it seems the Americans won’t make the little adjustments to their lives to help the planet remain healthy.
The tradition of Black Friday, when shoppers start streaming into shops as early as 4 am to grab discounted items, is a case in point. News reports said sales worth $10.69 billion made the day historic as one.
I had imagined that after Copenhagen and Obama, the US would look less consumptive and show some efforts. But even now, apart from a crowded shopping burst, buildings leave lights on all night, shops don’t stop electric decoration and everything is over-packaged. What shall we do to help the Americans make sense of the world and their role in protecting it?