Why must we be the canary in the coal mine?

I'm old enough that half the people in my address book are marked "died." And I'm old enough to remember this messy, overgrown town as it was before the viaduct and before the I-5 freeway and before the 1962 World Fair.

Way, way back when I entered the then new University of Washington School of Art as a student; before successions of on-the-make developers and politicians and boosters made it the self-important, fractious, gridlocked, inhospitable, "world-class" wannabe monster it is today.

I wish the address book names, and old Seattle, still lived.

Consider this, the monorail debacle that this bungling city was forced to sell and the harm it did to the taxpayers and the property owners. Consider the mayor's insistence on the most costly, and possibly most unsafe, viaduct solution, a tunnel through the landfill muck underlying an earthquake area. Consider the latest zoning-rigging to allow more, taller, upscale downtown buildings in a downtown already so clogged many of us will not go there now with the new, more expensive and extensive city-street parking charges.

Consider the big population increase which seems comprised mostly of the haven't-enough and the have-way-too-much, and they all want more. This whole clueless, overpopulated world wants more.

Are there leaders who'll actually deal with that before the weight of the stuff dug and piped and sucked out of the globe's insides falls back into the emptied cavity? Has anybody, except some forlorn, unheeded scientists considered that? Hell no. We're talking more roads when the real problem is too many people, here and everywhere.

This insatiable need for roadways on and under the earth, and through the air, identifies humans from other animals, against whom they competed - and frequently lost - back when the natural world was a level playing field. Now, the few humans whose imaginations and dissatisfactions with the natural state produced miraculous, unnatural devices have equipped billions of people with vehicles and contraptions few of us can use constructively or fix.

Although we pay shallow homage to nature, few people think of nature as anything but the source of oil and iron, or it's an afterthought nature preserve trip to some still undestroyed area, or as insufferable movies about the animals: a pox on us all.

I've just read - and re-read because I couldn't, and still can't, believe it - that 90 million Americans watch "Deal or No Deal." Does a population that vacuous deserve these techno-marvels? Even if the figure was erroneous and it's 9 million, it's shameful. For this we deserve more roads? More anything?

This bungling burg of ours is one big, fat canary in the world's coal mine. The road wrangling ignores the real problem: people don't matter any more than any other animal form. In our present, ignorant expansion of populations and despoilments, we could pave ourselves into extinction.

And who would miss us? We are dancing down the Yellow Brick Road, but this time there's no Kansas at the end.

Rainier Beach writer, artist and self-described car-nut Gordon Anderson may be reached via editor@sdistrictjournal.com or by calling 461-131.[[In-content Ad]]