We already have experience with this, if we thought about it. The way we close military bases, for example, is an orderly, deliberative process that recognizes obsolescence in the system and gives expression to eliminating it. Some stakeholders yell and scream, but calm prevails as we reconcile resources and needs. It is and should be a constant re-alignment. These bases are usually re-purposed to our advantage. A Navy Supply Corps School in our town is going to eventually become a medical school. So re-casting other obsolete elements in our society isn’t such a unthinkable prospect, only a matter of acknowledging the disconnect between original intent and present/future needs and opportunity costs. Imagine how powerful it might feel to begin abandoning a few roads here and there.
And speaking of power, there is a not-insignificant degree of helplessness wound around our dependence on extra-territorially derived transportation fuel, aka foreign oil. Well, throw your weight around. Saudi Arabia believes that $100/barrel oil is too high; meanwhile countries with more shallow reserves want to get as much for their oil as they can while it lasts. Why this disconnect? Long-term demand. The House of Saud knows high prices are tamping it down and are concerned with the many alternatives at our disposal. They’re actually afraid we might start walking to work or to the grocery, much less all the consequences that will spin out beyond that.
The winners and honorable mentions of the Science magazine and NSF sixth annual International Science and Engineering visualization challenge. Note the lack of irony in the remark from panel of finalist judges member Malvina Martin: “I remember studying very basic cell biology and being bored to death, but the fact that it was an interactive computer game you could get your hands on and see direct results of too much sun and not enough sun was very pertinent in this day and age when folks are so far removed from the plant and the planet.”