Earlier today the Obama camp revealed a new plan to increase funding to the highway and transport sector in the U.S. as part of a national economic recovery plan. The details are still under debate in the senate, but at present $25 billion has been set aside for infrastructure projects, namely building new roads.
This all smacks of hypocrisy to me. Obama has long been lauded as a new “green” president. There has been speculation that he may refuse oil and gas products from Canada due to the “dirty” nature of our extraction practices. He recently created a “green task force,” lead by vice president Joe Biden, and charged with the task of creating green jobs for middle class Americans that pay well and can’t be outsourced. Yes, Obama is green. Or at least he’s green on paper.
While a $25 billion dollar road construction project will create jobs, those jobs will only be temporary. On the other hand, the long term costs such a project would have on conservation efforts within the U.S. will last several generations. Roads expose wildlife to human encroachment. They barricade animals and divide up roaming territories. They contribute to emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. And while infrastructure is certainly a critical component to nation building, arguably the U.S. already has more than enough roads.
It was not long ago that Aldo Leopold advocated against the creation of transport infrastructure in his Land Ethic. Have we forgotten what it takes to truly go green? Or is today’s environmental movement just a lot of hot air?