Tuesday, January 20, 2009

an open letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on your victory and kudos for the manner in which you've conducted the transition.

Rather than ticking through a long list of issues on which we agree, allow me to focus in on an item of your agenda that in my humble opinion deserves even more emphasis than it has already received, retooling.

Not only do our factories need to be retooled to produce the wind machines and solar panels that will help us towards sustainability, but all elements of our infrastructure need close examination.

For instance, in urban core areas, it is not enough to resurface existing streets and highways and maintain mass transit in the face of state and local budget cuts, although these things are needed in the short term. For the longer term, however, a very different approach is needed, one which combines the complete exclusion of conventional private vehicles from the densest areas, with the provision of convenient, fast, comfortable, and affordable transit systems, of the sort described here http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/, with sufficient capacity to handle even peak demand without congestion.

In suburban and rural areas there is an opportunity for vast improvement in the manner in which we manage land, at once dramatically reducing dependence on petroleum products and improving the sustainability of our agricultural production, through the applicaton of a combination of robotic hardware and expert system software, described in general terms here http://cultibotics.blogspot.com/.

Of these, the former is essentially ready for deployment, having already been the object of much engineering work, whereas for the latter that work remains to be done, and the only proactive decision available at the moment is to set about it, making funds available to underwrite joint projects involving ecologists, agronomists, horticulturalists, and agricultural, mechanical, electrical, and software engineers. This project is very likely one of those that only government can accomplish.

You've inspired us to believe that the previously undoable may now be doable. I hope I've managed to return the favor.

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