So how will we respond now to this post-oil future? Can we be bold enough to think beyond the single-occupant, gas-guzzling SUVs? Are we brave enough to rethink our lifestyles?
We can be a community where solar panels are on every available rooftop, where convenient, green and inexpensive (maybe free?) public transit is available to all. We can encourage building higher-density housing near transit and conveniences and we can make ours a community of walkers and bikers, transit-takers and carpoolers. Let's consider dedicating a lane on El Camino in each direction for transit and bikes, and begin putting solar panels over parking lots and garages, connected to hookups for electric cars and motorcycles to recharge. People-powered taxis could be the future, just as they are the present in Cuba, Asia and Europe.
Wind generators and biofueling stations anyone? Imagine life without that pervasive plastic because plastic will be a thing of the past. Our oil-less future will change the ways crops are grown and sold, leaving petroleum-based agribusiness behind as local organic farming becomes the sustainable food source of tomorrow. Lawns are out, edible and drought-tolerant gardens are in.
While we watch in horror as our planet convulses in catastrophic climate change, we can be doing something, each of us. And while we wait for our Menlo Park City Council to decide on our El Camino process, we can be making our personal choices to walk, bike, take transit, buy a hybrid or an electric car or scooter and support efforts to create the post-oil world of our future — now.
Elizabeth Lasensky served on a Downtown Visioning committee and lives on Fremont Street in Menlo Park.