Saturday, July 10, 2010

Images of a Less Oil-Dependent World

This is #20 in a series of blog posts about recovering from the Gulf oil spill and from oil dependency overall. The first introduces the series.

Surrounded as we are by highways, cars, motorboats, jet planes and video feeds of yet more crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, it can be hard to imagine a modern world free from dependence on petroleum. Still, visualizing our recovery from oil addiction is an important part of achieving it, and good photography can help.

The world already contains counterpoints to oil dependence: ingenious uses of human power, like the cargo bikes in this post of mine and this one from Alan Durning; less costly and more efficient systems of mobility, like the carsharing I wrote about yesterday; places and events where pedestrians and cyclists take precedence over cars, like the street conversion organized recently by the World Carfree Network to top off its Towards Carfree Cities Conference in York, England. Good photography can remind us that such things exist, and can help us visualize more of them.

Enjoying the day on a pedestrian boulevard in Asheville, North Carolina.
Photo credit: /Dan Burden

One very nice source of reduced-petroleum pictures is the Image Library of the Pedestrian and Bicycling Information Center (PBIC). The images in today's post, downloaded from that site, illustrate pedestrian boulevards and fit my perception of what a world recovered from oil dependence could look like. It's encouraging to see these pictures and know that there are, in fact, places in the world – and even in the U.S. – where people can live, work and socialize without cars and without using so much oil.

A street for people in Utrecht, Holland.
Photo credit: / Ryan Snyder

The PBIC Image Library includes a wealth of shots by several good photographers – one being Dan Burden, a former National Geographic photographer who now consults around the world to help make communities more livable and walkable. PBIC's photo collection features views of all kinds of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, as well as pictures of transit and other urban design features. The images are free to download for non-commercial use; the service asks users to include photo credits.

It's a great source of inspiration for visualizing our recovery from petroleum dependence, and for achieving an oil-free future.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, visualizing is the first step--and it addresses Al Gore's observation that many people move directly from awareness to despair (when first exposed to information about huge environmental issues), rather than take action. Having a vision of something better, something that would work for the human community, is essential for change to take place.