Looking over a cliff at the End Of The World.

When your world is falling apart, it is little consolation that you are undergoing a paradigm shift which is going to bring about far better things than what you have known before.    Because making the shift means ending old ways, and learning new ones.

If we were smart, we would put the big car companies to work building buses, mini-buses, and passenger vans.    They also could team up with the aircraft manufacturers and begin building high speed trains.  Right now, there are trains that are capable of traveling long distances at 300 miles per hour.  Without any high technology gambles, like magnetic levitation.  Just steel wheels on steel rails.

Riding in an airplane or an automobile is very likely to become a rare thing.  Many people will still own cars, and airlines will still fly, but the numbers are going to be small percentages of what they were, for a couple of reasons;  we are in no danger of running out of oil, but it is getting much more expensive to extract it than it has ever been.  Oil drilling equipment now has to work in thousands of feet of water, to drill miles under the seabed.  Burning hydrocarbons for energy produces a great deal of carbon mon- and di-oxide, gasses which we are hoping to reduce the emissions of.  Everything we do leaves a carbon footprint, and the tracks of the automobile are huge.

The ages of the automobile and the airliner have come to an end, which has been forecast for decades, but no one wanted to believe it could actually happen.  So, we are completely unprepared for switching over to mass transit, or building high speed rail networks.  Because the automobile industry is so deeply rooted in the American culture, the unemployment rate is quite likely to be much higher than at any other time since World War Two.

We will have to, as a nation, recognize that impossibility of continuing to use cars for transportation everywhere before we will accept paying for alternative transportation systems.  As unemployment rises, and incomes shrink, travel by air will become something unusual, except for some business people.  Teleconferencing via broadband will come into its own, and light rail, monorails, and electric buses will take over the streets.

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