Putting brakes on short-sighted transport policies

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One factor that must be borne in mind in discussing future transport in the Borders is the impact of short-sighted policies of encouraging individual automobility without regard to its impact on climate change, global warming in particular, and the rapidly-approaching exhaustion of the world’s hydrocarbon supplies.

Road transport in Scotland emits annually 10 million tons of carbon dioxide annually – two tons for each Scot – a greenhouse gas which contributes to growing climatic instability. In Britain this may paradoxically lead to colder winter weather, such as the conditions which knocked out all public and most private transport in the Borders for days on end.

We are also now into the domain of Peak Oil. In 1994, when I wrote my Fool’s Gold for Penguin, Americans still rejoiced in their $1 gallon. Crude oil was $10 a barrel in 1999, the $100 barrel was expected in the 2020s. It has now been more than $100 for more than a year ($4 a gallon for the American motorist) and is not expected to come down.

The Financial Times talks of conditions – increased demand from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations, Middle East instability, natural disasters – which could accelerate the $200 or even $300 barrel, not at some remote date, but perhaps within a decade.

No wonder the places that actually build cars are radically improving their public transport, particularly their railways.

Chris Harvie

High Cross Avenue