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Driving Change

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Editor:

Thank you for honoring Earth Day by reaching out to the folks who are best placed to give eco-friendly advice to the public — the hard-working staff of our local environmental agencies and nonprofits ("A Listicle to Save the World," April 19). There's a good reason that many of the responses you got from these local experts focused on transportation. Transportation has long been the biggest source of climate-changing emissions, both in California and on the North Coast, exacerbating what is undoubtedly the greatest environmental threat of our time. In addition, transportation is the biggest contributor to local, health-harming air pollution in many communities.

So what can be done to address transportation's environmental impacts? I'll summarize the advice from your "listicle": drive less (and if you have to drive, go electric). Good advice, and it sounds simple enough. But most of the local environmental experts also said something else important: They pointed out that individual choices are not enough. That's why they emphasized things like voting, holding elected officials accountable and supporting environmental groups.

Most experts agree that the biggest driver (pun intended) of transportation-related emissions is poor land use planning — i.e., sprawl. Individual transportation choices are limited by the options the landscape presents. It's much harder to walk and bike when land uses are spread out over large distances, and when all the transportation infrastructure is designed for cars and trucks. It's much harder to take the bus when you have to travel a long distance to a bus stop.

It takes a concerted, long-term community effort to redesign the places where we live and work and play for more eco-friendly transportation. The Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities is a local group focused on that effort. I hope your readers will get involved!

Colin Fiske, McKinleyville

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