If you want to understand why reducing California’s carbon foot print won’t be easy, do what I did last week: Spend a couple of days in the sprawl of high-rise office buildings and shopping malls that define the landscape of Orange County.
Near the hotel where I was staying, there was a long, concrete bridge leading to one of America’s poshest shopping malls. (If you like Cartier and Gucci, Bloomingdales and Saks, it’s your kind of place.) With no sense of irony, someone had placed a plaque on the bridge, announcing that the span was dedicated to the creation of a “pedestrian oriented urban center.”
This is a bridge, mind you, that crosses an eight-lane city street (not counting turn lanes) before connecting to a parking lot bigger than several football fields. In two days, I never saw more than two people on that bridge or more than a pedestrian or two on any of the nearby streets. Even crossing an eight-lane speedway becomes its own challenge in the short time allotted to the lonely pedestrian.
But the parking lot was full.
These folks like their cars and they have constructed a world in which it is pretty much impossible to do anything without them.
They will be OK, of course, as long as the air, the climate and the oil supply hold out – and so long as they don’t mind spending a ton of tax money on streets and highways.