Whenever I come back to NJ, I expect to see changes. Not so much people, as of course there are always changes there, but I’m speaking more about changes to this place; suburban NJ, the suburbs of New York City and Newark. I expect to see some new buildings, new construction projects, and generally speaking.. signs of a new era… new ideas… the future. Among those changes for the new era, I keep a close eye out for developments related to energy conservation, pollution, and sustainable living.
As is typical for much of the US, this region is especially a hub for car culture. You can hardly do anything without an automobile, so while in Amsterdam it seems that everyone rides a bike, in New Jersey it seems that everyone drives a car.
Every year I return and end up, naturally, in a car on a highway. This year it is no different, but considering the fact that global warming has finally reached the mass audience and seemingly has been accepted as a problem, I expected to see some changes. Smaller cars perhaps. More of those hybrids people talk about. Less people driving or at the very least, less cars with only 1 person in them. In each of these cases, besides the occasional hybrid, I’ve seen almost none of these things. Just like 7 years ago, back when I still lived here and global warming was a myth, there is nothing but cars and traffic jams. If anything they’ve gotten worse, more cars leading to traffic jams all over this state at any given time of day.
As I visit people’s houses and walk the streets, I look for signs of energy conservation. Solar panels? I guess that was wishful thinking; there are none. More people turning off lights and turning down the heat? No one seems to mention it or think about it. Plenty of those little flourenscent bulbs, that is about the extent of the energy saving practices I see adopted.
At any shop you find lots of green labels and references to all-natural, clearly people want to feel better about their choices and actions. But seeing the amount people here consume; whether its goods or energy, despite everything they know about their impact on the planet… none of it has slowed down. If anything, this state, like much of the world, seems to be marching even more quickly towards environmental holocaust.