Looking back on the harsh conditions around July 4th in Washington D.C. this year, it all seems a bit ironic.
The Fourth of July, a day that is meant to represent the continual preservation of our freedom, was met with bad thunderstorms, bad traffic and a widespread blackout, leaving millions sweltering in overwhelming heat. At least 26 people died in the storm or the aftermath that caused the blackout.
These conditions dampened the spirits of potential revelers, causing them to give up their plans to celebrate, thus, indirectly restraining their independence. Even Fast Trains: American’s High Speed Future author Emy, canceled her plans to celebrate in D.C. because she wanted to avoid the 90-100 degree weather.
There are current conditions in our nation that are prohibiting our freedom to travel with ease whenever we desire. Temperatures are ever increasing and causing us to evaluate how we use energy and how we can combat climate change. It is a vicious cycle in transportation, and it needs to stop.
I think it is interesting to contrast these conditions to the possibilities of high-speed rail. A fully functioning HSR system would take a considerable number of cars traveling from city to city off the roads, decreasing gas emissions and traffic congestion.
The irony of the Fourth of July in Washington D.C. this year serves as a strange foreboding omen to me of what is to come if we do not stop the cycle of harmful transportation practices and push towards sustainability. How are we to celebrate independence in blacked-out neighborhoods, 100+ degree heat and congested high-ways?
High-speed rail in this case wouldn’t just make travel more convenient. On a deep level, it exists to preserve our freedom and foster the great innovation in America to keep moving forward and moving faster. In order to celebrate and continue our independence, we have to depend on accessible and renewable energy sources that are reliable forever. Only then can we truly celebrate Independence Day.