Car spa – the rejuvenating qualities of the drive

Post by Theresa Harada and Gordon Waitt

Naomi Klein’s (2014) book ‘This changes everything’ documents the lack of political will to address climate change in any meaningful way. While she points to the neo-liberal capitalist system as the underlying problem she also makes some interesting points about why it is so difficult motivate people to change their behaviours in the light of climate change. One of her arguments is that change involves a certain level of discomfort and that many people are unwilling to give up their comfortable high emission lives. This is why government strategies that encourage individuals and households to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by for example, reducing the amount of car driving they do are not particularly successful. We argue here that it is not just physical comfort that is significant but also the emotional comforts that make it difficult to reduce driving for the sake of the environment. Continue reading

Sustainable Mobility?

Sustainable mobility?

This is the first in a series of posts by AUSCCER authors on mobility and questions of sustainability. In this post, Gordon Waitt and Theresa Harada discuss cars, concepts and experimental methodologies.

Driving in Wollongong
(source: participant #5)

Wollongong is an archetypal Australian regional city in that the car dominates everyday life. The car is integral to its very geography, particularly since the 1960s when its residential population boomed and new suburbs and undercover shopping malls were built away from the old town centre. In Wollongong there is an underpinning assumption that if you are going anywhere, you are going to travel by car. Cycleways do exist. However, they are mostly oriented around leisure activities and thus provide access to places valued for their aesthetics – like beaches or Lake Illawarra – rather than workplaces like the Central Business District. Likewise, there is a train line that dates from the late 1800s and is closely aligned to Wollongong’s coal mining legacy. Hence, the rail infrastructure while connecting Wollongong with Sydney, does not connect many Wollongong suburbs with the city centre. Roads and cars dominate the transport infrastructure rather than train lines, cycleways or even pavements. Car parks are ubiquitous; you find them at the shops, the beach, the university and the steelworks. In Wollongong, people spend a lot of time going places in their cars.  Continue reading