September 15, 1990
1147 S. Robertson Blvd. #203
Los Angeles, CA 90035
2530 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
1436 U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
40 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
Planning and Conservation League
909 12th Street, Suite 203
Sacramento, CA 95814
I scanned your recent informative, but incomplete, newsletters in vain looking for mention of one of the greatest threats to the environment: road construction. I realize that road construction is not as "sexy" an issue as rain forests, toxic chemicals, or cuddly animals. And I realise that many environmentalists have put themselves in a compromising position by personally owning and being "dependent" on automobiles. However, partly because it is so forgotten, and partly because it is the key that unleashes many other dangers, it is extremely important to speak out now, before we suffer any more:
1. Ozone depletion: the greatest contributor in the U.S. is the automobile air conditioner, via CFC leakage;
2. Global warming: the greatest contributor in the U.S. is the automobile;
3. Wildlife destruction and extinction, via road kill, habitat fragmentation, and allowing human access to fragile ecosystems;
4. Air, water, and ground pollution: the auto vies with industry for first place in destructiveness;
5. Loss or degradation of vital open spaces, recreation areas, and farmlands;
6. Wasting of vital resources (financial and otherwise) in highly inefficient road transportation, while numerous serious threats to our survival and the survival of all life on the planet continue unchecked.
We are going to end up practically alone on the planet, if we don't immediately designate large areas for wildlife, including effective wildlife "bridges" connecting them; remove the roads and limit human access -- even, in many cases, prohibiting it altogether; immediately halt all expansion of road, highway, and freeway space; and begin substituting environmentally sound transportation modes for the current oil-dependent, destructive ones. In particular, all long-distance travel should be by rail whenever possible; short-range travel should be by walking, bicycling, light rail, or (only when the others fail) bus.
Ignoring this major concern will only allow more highway construction to go on and make reversing the trend toward more automobile dependence ever harder to reverse. If we environmentalists can't lead the way, who will? Please join the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Earth First!, and many transit activist organizations in recognizing the key importance of halting roadway expansion.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.