Monday, May 19, 2008

gas and geography

In the NYT today, Paul Krugman says he sees the future.

He's in Berlin, and he's talking about a future where people own more fuel-efficient cars and drive them less, because they live in a place where they don't have to:

"To see what I’m talking about, consider where I am at the moment: in a pleasant, middle-class neighborhood consisting mainly of four- or five-story apartment buildings, with easy access to public transit and plenty of local shopping.

It’s the kind of neighborhood in which people don’t have to drive a lot, but it’s also a kind of neighborhood that barely exists in America, even in big metropolitan areas. Greater Atlanta has roughly the same population as Greater Berlin — but Berlin is a city of trains, buses and bikes, while Atlanta is a city of cars, cars and cars."

And Atlantan soccer moms behind the wheel, cursing every minute of it.

I mention that because what Krugman is talking about is a huge cultural shift, one that will only happen as individuals change their behavior. And sometimes those take time to build critical mass. But if there's any group that can enact a cultural shift, it may be soccer moms.