Lyon, France. 1 August 2015. The following is a working draft in progress. We post it at this time to invite our readers’ views, correction and eventual additions. It is part of our ongoing volunteer work to support the Sustainable Penang project.
Up until the present time virtually all of the networking and exchanges under this project have taken place within Penang and Malaysia more generally. However as of mid-2015, the leader of this mission has concluded that the role and participation of international organizations and various specialized agencies is going to be critical to bringing about a better informed and more coherent transport and land use policy in Penang.
These State and other concerned local organizations have a great deal of catching up to do, and all of this will become much easier if they take advantage of international partners and sources to ensure that their policies take advantage of past experience and leading practices in other places. The problem is not so much one of money, as it is of knowledge, vision, strategy and leadership.
Further to our recent posting on “Climate Change 101: Thinking about Illich, Energy and Equity” we have just received he following commentary from Chris Bradshaw (See author note below.)
I used your post to re-read — after, I estimate, 25 years — this delightful essay. I own two copies, one which is part of “Towards a History of Needs” published four years later in 1977).
In that volume, there is an introductory note, which might be useful to add (see end, along with the forward for the 1974 publication — Perennial Library — of this essay by itself). Two things come from these two extras: a) this essay first appeared in Le Monde (yes, probably in French), and b) his defined audience included, equally, the under-developed world.
He, of course, missed global warming as an issue that would fit nicely next to “energy crisis.”
I would add that he missed the link between high-speed and high-power and the formalities of control — rules, regulations, resources — that also disenfranchise those with less speed and power.
Peter D. Norton’s recent book, “Fighting Traffic” does a yeoman effort to show how the transition from “transit” to “transport” in North American cities took place 1915-1935.
I will continue to muse over Illich’s brilliant thinking.
In the context of ongoing work on a new book, “Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the starting point for policy and political decisions in the field often described as “urban transport” absolutely has to open up with considerations not of vehicles and infrastructure, technology and entrepreneurship, nor even of people and cities, but on the very bottom line our starting place must be climate and GHG emissions. And the other half of the climate coin is energy, and in fact equity.
So may I suggest that this could be a good time for us to have another look at Illich’s incisive and important 1974 book “Energy and Equity”. And I ask you, how do you think these remarks and views stand the test of time? We need to bear in mind the political (Vietnam, Cold War, Allende, voter registration, 1968, etc.) currents of the time, along with the Oil Crisis, Club of Rome, The Limits of Growth, etc., discussions, concerns and panics of the early seventies. But none of this detracts from the singular vision that this exceptional observer and finest of men has given us.
So here you have it. The whole thing. Print it out. Mark it up. Share your thoughts. Let me take a single phrase from the book to get the ball rolling: “Participatory democracy postulates low-energy technology. Only participatory democracy creates the conditions for rational technology.” (And this almost two decades before the phrase “sustainable development” first appeared on the radar screen. So off we go through the looking glass and into the future with Illich as our guide!)
summers pass the days cool
friendship sometimes sleeps for years
but does not forget
The following strategic commentary appeared in the form of a long letter responding to an invitation by the chief transport planner of Penang with the State Government Office to comment on a strategic presentation and commentary he was about to make at end year in Kuala Lumpur reflecting back on the Penang Transport Master Plan (2013-2030) carried out for the State by Halcrow and AKC Planning and published in a final version in October 2-12. Mr. Lim’s commentary. Cross Roads, Game Changers & Bulls’ Horns, is available here.
Update. My quick six-point “Summer 2015 Executive Summary” follows:
For a more complete view of our discussions and coverage of these improtant events, you are invited to click to https://goo.gl/P4oWJw
If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. – F. Nietzsche
On the early morning of 27 June when reading that the leader of the Greek coalition government, Alexis Tsipras, called for a national referendum to get the views of Greece’s population on the bitter on-going disputes with Europe and the IMF, and in particular whether or not to accept the Troika’s uncompromising bailout conditions to settle the country’s government-debt crisis, I decided to see if we might do our bit by providing selective daily summary and international commentary on this unfolding the topic – and, more importantly, the uncertain evolving process behind it.
This quickly took the form of a series of daily summaries of a certain number of what I regard as the key points, issues, ideas, attitudes and players shaping this debate. You will find just below the dozen-plus articles that were posted in the pages of World Streets since the 27th. They appear here in the order written, and each is hot-linked to facilitate your access.
The core of this story is the huge gap between the level of understanding of leading members of the economics and policy community and that of the troika members. The ever combatative Paul Krugman put it like this in a 5 July article in the New York Times.
– By Paul Krugman, NYT JULY 5, 2015. Full text here.
Europe dodged a bullet on Sunday. Confounding many predictions, Greek voters strongly supported their government’s rejection of creditor demands. And even the most ardent supporters of European union should be breathing a sigh of relief.
Of course, that’s not the way the creditors would have you see it. Their story, echoed by many in the business press, is that the failure of their attempt to bully Greece into acquiescence was a triumph of irrationality and irresponsibility over sound technocratic advice.
18:00, Sunday 5 July 2015 in Greece and the polls have just closed on this momentous day for democracy. The outcome of the unexpected but oh so important referendum will not be known for several hours yet. So what better time to pour a glass of cool retsina white, sit down with some friends, and sort through the accumulated evidence of these last ten days in which the eyes of the world have turned to Greece.
Here are a few observations and thoughts about the future which come most immediately to mind to this ever-curious observer:
It has been hard slogging over the last two weeks of what we hope has been balanced discussions about the economic and political crisis that is currently racking Greece, Europe and in fact the world, so before we move into our final stage of closing comment with the urns now open but before the votes are counted in Greece, what about taking a step back and seeing what would happen if we take this conflict to another, higher level? Check it out here: