LETTER- Salzman wrong on driving, Obama

Randy Salzman's "Obama's Botch: He just asked us to drive more"[May 14 essay] is filled with his own botch of anti-automobile rhetoric and transportation prejudices.

More global warming because of more driving? In 2007, United Nation's scientist John R. Christy calculated that a worldwide, automobile mileage standard of 43 mpg would reduce projected warming by only 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. 

Global warming? Since the 1998 El Niño temperature peak, global temperatures have not risen. All four major global temperature monitoring agencies document a six-year continuing cooling trend, in spite of increasing carbon dioxide emissions. 

Last major undeveloped oil fields? The Brazilian Tupi offshore oil field, the largest oil find in twenty years, in being developed with Chinese financing. United States offshore oil fields await development. Peak oil has been a scare story for decades.

Mr. Salzman begrudges the "ease and convenience" of air-conditioned transportation to school. Will parents have school children walk or bike, Spartan-like, on country roads in sweltering heat, rain, or snow storms? 

Enamored by government-subsidized, mass transit systems in Europe and Asia, Mr. Salzman laments their lack here. He disregards obvious discrepancies in population densities, country sizes, and travel distances which allow those systems to function overseas, but not equally well here. Car drivers determine the value of individual flexibility and convenience. Most of Europe also has an extensive, superhighway network.

His reference to Atlanta echoes the Outside the Beltway, May 19, 2008 post "Mass Transit: Why Can't Atlanta be More Like Berlin?" by James Joyner. The article gives the reasons why Atlanta can't.

Mr. Salzman is aggrieved about living in a democratic society where "U.S. politicians... depend upon... self-involved voting drivers." His universal solution for "our national problems" is to make energy more expensive and reduce our freedom of choice. What a strange ideology to find a home here in Thomas Jefferson's back yard.

Charles Battig