Ready, Set, Pave!

Klaus Lundholm sent the following letter

Damn the Environmentalists, Full Speed Ahead

I want you to close your eyes for a moment, but not before you have read the rest of this paragraph, because if you were to close your eyes now you wouldn't know what to do and you'd just sit there with your eyes closed, looking stupid. Now, imagine you are a cute and furry little animal withbright eyes and fine white whiskers protruding from your deliciously button-like pink nose. You are scurrying home to your cute and furry family when suddenly an Audi comes speeding by at 70 mph and you smack against its fender, leaving a slight dent and an unsightly smear before your bloodied, lifeless body is tossed onto the shoulder of the road, where it dries into a sort of small-furry-animal jerky and is eaten by crows. This sort of scene takes place thousands of times a day on America's highways, but it doesn't have to. We're bigger than them, stronger than them, and smarter than them, so what right do those puny creatures have to impede the courses taken by our vehicles? And, for that matter, what right does anything, be it tree or rock or building or large body of water or simple lack of streets, have to block the traffic flow? This and many other problems could be solved were the governments of the world to unite in a worldwide paving program.

Countless millions in the world are dead set against this idea. Does that make it wrong? Obviously not. They may miss their gardens, parks, majestic forests, mountains and all that other jazz, but they'll get used to it. They grumble that all that asphalt will consume billions of tons of natural resources, and mutter about oil refineries belching noxious substances into the clear blue skies of Iowa. Here is my solution: asphalt, being black, is going to absorb an enormous amount of heat, increasing the planet's temperature by God knows how many degrees. Therefore we will need to increase the power of our air conditioners dramatically. These will produce nearly twice as many chlorofluorocarbons as existing air-conditioning units. The unique ability of CFCs to destroyozone (as witnessed by the depletion of the ozone layer) will be harnessed to counteract the fetid clouds of smog pouring from the oil refineries into our atmosphere (the main component of smog is ozone).

Another problem raised by the choice of asphalt is that of darkness. There will be no street lights on Paved Earth, so at any given time half of the world will, due to the color of its surface, be in almost complete darkness, save that light produced by the stars and moon overhead and the car headlights whizzing by. Since no new light could be introduced, we ought to increase the light produced by what we have. One sufficiently spectacular option would be to chrome-plate the moon, incalculably increasing its reflective capability and creating the effect of a giant street lamp in the sky.

A paved earth would save countless hours of labor. Tasks that used to take up most of a summer's day would become little more than "When I was your age..." stories, told to young children by their disgruntled grandparents. Mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, weeding the flowerbed, even raking leaves--all these would be obsolete and unnecessary. Lawnboys would lie rusting and decrepit, nothing but relics of an outdatedpast. The time once spent on these projects could be used for tending underground hydroponic farms or fixing potholes.

People all over the world suffer from allergies to a variety of spores,pollens and dander. In a world covered by asphalt there would be noragweed, no pollen floating through the air to clog up your sinuses. Theair would flow through you like diamond snow. Nothing but the sharp scent of gasoline and newly laid blacktop warping the beams of the internal combustion sun.

That is my dream. A planet of endless flatness, nothing but transportation desert, burning, black, and barren. People speeding along in sleek steel vehicles, no heed to turn signals or traffic lights, the wind in their hair, the bleak landscape flowing by at Mach 3, the freedom and exhilaration that comes only with speed glowing in their eyes (or are those tears from the enormous wind that is driving their nose hairs into their foreheads?). There is no need to stop and smell the roses. There are no roses. Yes, this is my dream. I wake in the middle of the night with a single opal of a tear on my cheek and the word "beautiful" hanging wistfully from my lips. One world, one people, one slab of asphalt.

[ As Read on Car Talk ]