I’ve been interviewing interns recently, and decided to ask them how they imagine the world looking in 50 years from now. It is a very hard question. What I wanted to know from the question is if these young people had vision for the future. I only thought it would be fair if I have a vision, myself, and if I can articulate it.
I imagine that in 50 years world will look more physically like my grandma’s world. I think there will be more trains and busses (and they will be faster and more convenient!). I think more land will be farmed, and on a smaller scale. I think we will use fewer pesticides. I think homes will be smaller. I think more work will be done from home and the daily commute will look very different.
I also think we won’t be living off this literal dinosaur of an idea – fossil fuels. This brings me to the re-imagine a world without gas stations. The corner gas station will become something else. Maybe it will be a tool-sharing station where I can go borrow a saw and some craft supplies. Maybe it will be a community center, where we watch movies or local plays together. Maybe it will be a B’nB for travelers who have more leisure time. Whatever happens, I am imagining the end of gas stations.
I think there would be some additional benefits too, besides the improvement of air quality. Gas stations are often paired with “convenience stores.” Our gas addicted country has so many stations that they ARE relatively convenient. These stations are filled with “convenience” foods, too. In 50 years I think I’ll see and end of unhealthy food. I think “convenience food” will change, too. No more gum, soda, and chemically infused potato chips (and milk that costs 25% more than a grocer). Instead, maybe this location is a corner store with healthy and local alternatives.
When I think about the amount of my life I have spent at a gas station when I would have rathered to be doing something else, I am a little saddened. I did not consent to this relationship, but I don’t have much choice but to participate in my system. There was no day in drivers education class that said that if I get my license that I would be connected to the fossil fuel economy for as long as I need (or want) personal transportation. From the day I got my drivers license, I had given tacit consent to the system. I had traded it for other opportunities. I am of the belief that this type of trade off is unfair to burden upon others, and other generations.
My only option is to request more renewable energy and step away from the fill up culture. With renewables, the energy comes to me. The waves turn (hydro), wind blows (wind), and the sun shines on the planet (solar). I don’t have to go out and catch the sun. I don’t have to stop on my way to and from work to pick up the wind I need to light my house. Even coal fired plants have to fill up by transporting the coal (via fossil fuels) to the existing power stations. That time could be used doing something better, like swimming in the ocean.
I am looking forward to a life without fill ups.