Recent Writings

Clear Creek needs a visionary for its next commissioner

Deniers can have their say, but scientific and technological advances never stop. Human progress in the full array of fields is inevitable. Progressive thinkers by nature push forward into unexplored terrain, while conservative-minded serve as our mothers, warning us before venturing forth to pull on our galoshes, wear clean underwear, and look both ways before crossing.

John Haas, my most-admired professor, was a visionary. He encouraged his students to think outside the box, not to be constricted by or restricted to the ways of before. He was a futurist that captivated my imagination so much that I added a futures unit to my American history curriculum. It’s thesis: How do we shape our future by acting now? Because it’s better to be creators than products, proactive than reactive. Otherwise, the future will shape us and determine our fate.

In his work Collapse, Jared Diamond demonstrates how societies throughout history chose to thrive or die by choices they made vis-à-vis their environment and relationships with others such as on trade. Its thesis: Exist in harmony with one’s environment and neighbors or go extinct.

Nearing the end of the 21st century’s second decade, we are at a juncture globally and nationally as well as here in Clear Creek about transportation modes. Several weeks ago, I wrote about how the AGS—Advanced Guideway System—would be essential for a healthy and sustainable Clear Creek community and environment. I concluded by encouraging readers to “Think Elon Musk. Adapt or go extinct.”

Musk, of course, is the maverick futuristic thinker, planner, and entrepreneur who co-founded Tesla Corp., whose mission is “to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future.” Musk is also “co-founder, CEO and lead designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), where he oversees the development and manufacturing of advanced rockets and spacecraft for missions to and beyond Earth orbit.” Its goal: Creating a self-sustaining city on Mars.

Musk is also “CEO of Neuralink, which is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers, and co-founder and chairman of OpenAI, a non-profit research company working to build safe artificial intelligence and ensure that AI’s benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible.”

Mind-blowing credentials, but more intriguing and relevant to us is The Boring Company, “which aims to increase tunneling speed and drop costs in order to build a large network of tunnels, solving the problem of soul-destroying traffic.”

“Soul-destroying traffic.” I hadn’t thought of frying emotional brain cells while nudging along I-70 creeps-and-crawls as soul-destroying, but the descriptor captures it. Musk says in The Boring Company, “pedestrians and cyclists are being prioritized over cars.” Imagine that: People over machines. And, I’ll add, money and profit.

In Clear Creek context, the AGS would be about moving people and goods rather than vehicles. Elevated above ground, it would be an earth-based version of outer-space wormholes.

The AGS would provide a viable option to the soul-destroying gridlock more-lanes enthusiasts hope to add to. In itself, it would not solve the highway congestion as there will be those whose destinations and schedules preclude a ride on the elevated train and others who would prefer bumbling with death-grips on their steering wheels under the delusion they’re in control. But then, one supposes there were Americans 100 years ago glued to their buckboard seats clutching horse reins rather than trying that new confangled Model-T.

After World War II, the foreign policy of the West vis-à-vis the Soviet Union was called containment. It took more than military might, though, to make it work; it took a “better offer”—freedom—by western bloc nations to encourage weak nations not to fall prey to communism’s allure.

It would behoove us to adopt that containment philosophy and apply it to our highway system—this wide and no wider—and offer a better option for movement: High-speed modes above and below ground.

It took Sputnik to shake 1950s Americans out of their comfy doldrums, but it took a visionary in the person of President John F. Kennedy to set and lead the course to the moon.

The primary question about our three prospective commissioner candidates: Which is the visionary, not wedded to a past simply because it was always done that way? Which candidate is prepared to lead a moonshot?

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