Change the Way you Travel
Fancy a Sequel? The hydrogen-powered Honda FCX (fuel cell) has been used by the city of Los Angeles since December 2002. Hydrogen power is taking off in a big way. A hybrid hydrogen-powered bus is used by SunLine Transit. Hydrogen can be generated by a wind-powered facility.
At AngelsNest, water is captured from the roof and is recycled. Power is generated by solar panels, wind turbine and hydrogen.
Communities without roads
Why not be more radical? Have a look at the Segway and imagine it - communities without roads! Instead of driving a car, just walk to your local restaurants or meeting places. Also have a look at the iBot which is great for people who need wheelchairs - because it can climb stairs it gives easy access to many places. How about letting everyone who needed it use an iBot, instead of pouring money into improving wheelchair access to buildings?
Think about it! About half the urban area is taken up by roads and greenstrips between roads. A substantial part of roads, buildings and gardens is also used to park cars. Without cars and roads, we could live closer together; that would be great for people who complement each other in one way or another; they could live closer to each other and see each other more often.
If we used personal aircraft such as helicopters, microlights and the Skycar for long disance travel, we could also do without airports, and instead take off and land in our backyards. Removal of the legal restrictions on taxi services would stimulate development is this area.
Change the Way you Work
Instead of working in an office, we could do most things from home. In fact, you could work anywhere. The cell-phone motto appears to be: anything, anywhere, anytime!
And what about your watch? You can have a TV-watch or a GPS locator watch. You can have a watch with built-in flash-memory and a USB-cord that folds back into the armband. Dick Tracy eat your heart out! Have a look at the watches list for more!
Change the Way you Learn
Of course, the same goes for learning. Why go to University, when you can follow courses online? Homeschooling has long proven to be much more effective than school.
Change Health Care
Once the grip of the University over health care has been broken, we can also have a closer look at how we deal with health issues. Just have a look at the excellent DVD called Patch Adams. Isn't health closely related to lifestyle, to what we eat, the way we eat, how we move around, how we meet people? Read on!
Change the Way you Live
Do you see a picture emerging here? In communities without roads, urban design could be changed dramatically! Houses could be smaller, as there's no need to put cars in garages. Without roads, houses could also be built much closer together - that in itself could reduce travel time. Simple pathways would be sufficient! Imagine it: communities without roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railway tracks and railway stations! Such a new lifestyle could result in huge savings on cars, roads, office buildings, carparks, garages, petrol stations, etc. How much time and money could we save by reducing our daily travel between home and work? And how many lives would be saved if we had less car-accidents?
Afraid that without roads, you won't have other infrastructure, such as sewerage, running water and electricity? Here in Australia, we've got a long tradition of waterless toilets, composting, rainwater tanks and dirt-roads. Alternative lifestyles have, in their aim for self-sufficiency, often rejected high-tech solutions. But why not use technology to our advantage? A mud-brick or sand wall can indeed provide excellent insulation to protect you from heat or cold, and it can also block out noisy neighbors. Add headphones and we can further avoid unnecessary animosity and enhance privacy; noise-cancelling technology in headphones and speakers can reduce background noise to a fraction. Security systems can further help avoiding hostilities between people. Solar-powered motion sensors can trigger floodlights and alarms, which in combination with cameras can enhance security and lower health risks. Why not use satellites and interconnected WiFi LANs, instead of Cable-TV and phone lines? Mobile phones and GPS-technology can make great contributions towards our safety and security. The iPod shuffle fits in the palm of your hand and looks great around your neck. With the Flash Trax you can back up your files, view photos and videos and listen to music. Store your photos and data at multiple places and you need to worry less about theft or loss in fire or accidents.
All such devices need ever less power, while new technologies extend the usage-time of rechargeable batteries. If we used more GPS-enabled devices, motion detectors and surveillence cameras, we could increase safety and security in and around the home, thus requiring less emergency services. Indoor and outdoor lanterns, solar-powered by day, can light up the home and garden in the evening. A combination of a rechargeable battery and a wind-up clockwork is successfully used by FreePlay in products such as radios, flashlights and mobile phone chargers. Grundig has a radio that is powered either by either AC, by 3 AA batteries or by hand crank - a built-in charger can be "cranked up" by hand. At MultiPowered Products, many such items can be ordered online. Solar panels can now provide enough power to run run 12V lights, pumps, fans, and small appliances such as TVs, VCRs and stereos. The ColdMate, a small portable fridge, operates quietly and ozone-friendly on a thermoelectric (peltier cooling) system and comes with a 9 ft detachable 12V DC power cord.
Change the Way you Eat and Shop
Currently, the most fertile land is taken for urban use, most of it for roads and gardens (with grass as the dominant crop). With more land available for hobby farming, growing fruit and vegetables could be cheaper and the cost of food could come down dramatically. In a new urban design, houses could be built around restaurants and meeting places. People can more easily go out to eat in restaurants, because there's no traffic and parking hassle, it's just a short stroll or ride on the Segway instead. Many restaurants have embraced wireless services, so take a notebook with you and you're really connected for a business lunch! Or, take a Tablet PC and use a stylus to scribble down your notes and share them! Eating out means less shopping, since food makes up most of our shopping. It also saves a lot of time - no more shopping, cooking, diswashing and cleaning, no rubbish to get rid of. Most items we need can be ordered by mail-order, so get a good mailbox and get a Post Office box at a post office. By the way, why should we have to pay extra to get such a box? After all, doesn't it save a lot on postal delivery cost? And shouldn't we similarly get a discount when posting the mail at the Post Office, rather than at a remote mailbox?
You would Change the World
Wouldn't all this change the world? Wouldn't dictatorial government have less control in communities without roads? Speed-cameras, parking fees and fines, tax on cars and petrol, all too often they have become revenues that government has become dependent on. Roads are typically government-owned, police are most visible on roads, people are controlled by traffic rules, car licence plates and driver's licences. Further control is exercised through public transport, taxi licencing, etc. If we wanted to make people free, wouldn't it make sense to start looking at roads?
[Earlier versions were posted in November 2003 at the Optionality and the Libertaria groups at Yahoo! It can also be found as the guide Change the World at Amazon.com. Also see the novelties list.]
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