chapter  4
18 Pages

Enabling systems in consumption

ByRobert Crocker

The exponential growth of system-enabled consumption since the 1950s has led directly to an expansion of global greenhouse gas emissions. Various attempts, usually initiated by health authorities or voluntary groups, to encourage more walking, more cycling, and more 'incidental exercise', are often undermined through the very efficiencies of the road system. Developing and deploying most technological systems is costly, involving massive 'sunk costs', or irrecoverable investments, sometimes running into billions of dollars over many years. The vision and ideology that originally inspired the system can also disappear from view, and the system itself can become normalized – an expected regime in everyday life. The story of the rise of the automobile to social and spatial dominance as the modern means of transport is suggestive of how the Modernist vision of the 'future' took hold. In the 1930s, the first golden age of motoring, regulations aiming to separate two clearly incompatible means of transport were applied everywhere in Europe and America.