Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Life in Zürich.

Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 10:15 AM
Subject: WWO: Life in Zürich.

April in Switzerland this year has been the warmest on record.

As a result of that and the mild winter (just one snowy day in Zürich), some of the high passes were already open. Which allowed me and a German friend, Heinz, to go from Canton Zürich and across the Oberalppass in his car last Sunday. Perhaps the last car he will ever own. We had to turn back soon after we entered the Italian part of Switzerland because we were concerned about the remaining fuel.

We were stopped by the Cantonpolizei three times on the way out, and four times on the way back. Luckily, Heinz had the receipt to prove he had bought the fuel before the restrictions on buying came into force.

Heinz had been working in Zug, to the south of Zürich, for a couple of weeks. With the banning of the sale of petroleum and diesel fuel for domestic vehicles in Switzerland and most of the rest of Europe, he knew he would not be able to drive back to his family in north Germany. He was due to return by electric train in a few days, so he decided we might as well use up the car fuel by seeing some of the countryside. And abandon the car.


My journey to work by public transport is only slightly affected at the moment, since the trams and many of the bus routes are electrified. The frequency of buses and trams is being increased as taxi drivers re-train and the new stock arrives. I just try to leave for work earlier than I used to.

Many people have already opted for bicycles. Zürich looks like an Asian city sometimes when the lights go to green and the bikes surge across the road. I have a bicycle on order, and am trying to look forward to the prospect of a bit of pollution-free exercise to and from my workplace. The crowding on the buses and trams is helping me there.

As someone who has never owned a car, I have difficulty understanding the withdrawal symptoms and side effects of those who have depended on the availability (never mind the cost) of petroleum or diesel to function. At least we don't seem to have it as bad the USA. Now there is a nation that has been in denial for a long time. I just hope their President doesn't start another war to:

Support his oil buddies/
Damage someone's real estate so he can give the reconstruction projects to Halliburton (Dick Cheney's old company)/
Boost his popularity or the Republican Party's

You know - like he did the last time.

The Swiss government say they are accelerating their expansion of nuclear power and looking at wind or solar renewables with more interest. Climate change has already affected hydroelectric generation, as the lack of winter snowfall leads to decreased meltwater rates in Spring. Not to mention the effect on ski tourism. They want to encourage domestic take up of solar, geothermal and wind. Building regulations are to be revised up and even made retrospective. Electrification of remaining public vehicles is to begin, and mandatory quotas for commercial vehicles to begin to electrify are on the cards.

As an Auslander, I hope the Swiss don't start to send non-Swiss workers home. I don't want to go back to the country I left to come here!

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