Sunday, December 03, 2006
Displays of environmental conservation in Vancouver
Two shots from my evening run in Vancouver. On the left is a bicycle parked next to a natural foods store. It's got electric assist. On the right is the little four door hatchback version of the Toyota Yaris. In the US we just get a sedan. And I could have shot any of many two seater SMART cars. And the Prius taxis. The point? It's just a little easier here to spot a conscious connection between transportation and conservation. These two images illustrate the visual prop you receive in Vancouver for the city's image as especially environmentally conscious. But of course these images represent a tiny seed compared to overall consumption, even here in "Lotus Land". Downtown Vancouver, and especially West Vancouver, are wealthy cities, and there's a generous and obvious share of V12 Mercedes and fast Ferrari's flying around. In reality the tipping point seems far far off. What products are needed to shift overall consumption more significantly? In terms of vehicles, will those few that produce even modest reductions in fuel consumption ever be more than niche sops to vague feelings of concern for the environment? And will any fuel efficient cars ever substitute for the display of power that cars provide? Because that's a large part of what fast and luxury cars are, the biggest, most obvious way that we can display our feathers for all the world to see. Strangely, though I've been looking, I haven't spotted here any of the Lexus hybrids (450h or 400h) that I often see in Massachusetts. But I would expect my first sighting of the new ultraluxury 600h to be here.