Enslaved to the cult of the car?


Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s entertaining column (“A columnist’s job confers some privileges, and obligations”, Opinion, February 11th) refers to his “privileges and obligations” as a columnist, recalling his alleged ownership of a series 5 BMW; he successfully disabused the Sunday Times perpetrators of such vile notions and duly received a written apology the following Sunday. So far, so ecological.

But then, alas, he drops the ball: “I don’t own a car,” he states, “because, to my shame, I can’t drive.”

To his shame? He should be proud of the fact that throughout his life he has (unwittingly, as it happens) contributed positively to a sustainable future for his grandchildren.

Although unlike Mr O’Toole and his colleagues, I don’t occupy “a position of enormous privilege”, I hope I can be allowed this opportunity to remind your esteemed columnist of the virtually irreversible destruction of our planet caused by cars and their attendant industries.

An SUV can weigh up to three tonnes. It takes 99 per cent of all the energy used to propel the vehicle itself; just 1 per cent is used to move the person inside it.

A small leap of imagination conjuring up a world in which people use sophisticated public transport systems and routes that respect nature and the environment puts into perspective the recklessness of vast networks of ever-expanding roads swarmed with billions of angry, lethal vehicles, killing, maiming and destroying in the name of an illusory sense of freedom and independence.

The truth is that people are enslaved by their cars and a traffic code that enhances even more the mass hypnosis of their social conditioning.

Cars are not only lethal, causing countless deaths and injuries worldwide every day, they are alienating, anti-social and divisive; they have depleted our natural resources, destroyed our cities and our atmosphere and blighted our countryside.

Is there a columnist in the country who will finally have the courage to address this century-old horror story?

Does owning a car – or even being able to drive – preclude these columnists from daring to raise the subject? – Yours, etc,


Seapoint Road,


Co Wicklow.