Toronto reverses climate change by 2050—with the carrot—and the stick

Full disclosure–I’ve visited Toronto and it’s a beautiful city. We parked our car at the hotel and part of the time got around town using the city’s mass transit system. But when we were crunched for time when meeting folks out for dinner—you guessed it–we used Uber.

With that in mind, NPR imagines the year 2050, the year in which climate change has been conquered, with Toronto leading the way. Some people might find it idyllic; I personally find it more than a little scary. Why? Because with carrot comes a stick:

“2050? It’s a wonderful life!” says Daniel Hoornweg, another one of my guides to this zero-carbon world. He’s a professor of energy systems at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Years ago, he wrote a big report on cities and climate change for the World Bank.

He also can describe this new city, and how it took shape. Local governments created it, he says. First, they gave people new ways to get around: subways, bike lanes, buses and streetcars.

But along with those carrots, there was also a stick. Cities took control of the precious real estate known as “roads” and started charging for the right to use them. “Maybe the most powerful thing that got us here, is [that] we got the pricing right,” he says. “So, you want an autonomous vehicle? Bless your heart, but it costs you more to drive that autonomous vehicle on the road by yourself. If you ride-share, it’s a little bit less.”

…The basic recipe — densely populated neighborhoods linked by mass transit —has been the same for cities all over the world, Hoornweg says. But the details came from constant experimentation. If an idea worked in one place, other cities snatched it up. For instance, way back in 1991 the city Curitiba, in Brazil, built dedicated roads for fast buses, kind of a train system running on wheels. That kind of system has now spread around the globe.

…In part, people are forced to share things; cars are scarce and homes are smaller. (Scores of home builders went belly-up in the 2030s when millions of people suddenly decided that big houses weren’t just expensive; they were lonely, too.)

Another housing industry collapse—great–just what the country will need, considering how well we recovered from the first one (insert sarcasm). But wait –there’s more:

Some people hated losing their yards and their solitary commutes at first. Others loved the changes. Eventually, Hoornweg says, it just became normal. People stopped talking about it.

This is scary stuff, folks–presented in the soft tones of NPR. This shows us the true agenda of climate change advocates—-gaining control of every aspect of our lives.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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