North East Link: An Environmental Catastrophe

Since the ending of the COVID lockdowns, I see more cars and trucks than ever before, the increase being mainly diesel and petrol powered.  The increase in obesity and sedentary lifestyle induced by the encouragement of car culture is a major health problem.  All cars and trucks cause pollution from tyre wear.

Electric vehicles’ advantages for health are a lack of exhaust, and therefore little to no PM10, PM 2.5 and PM1.0 air pollution from exhaust itself. But they need the same infrastructure as internal combustion (ICE) vehicles and have a significant carbon cost in their manufacture, infrastructure in roads, absorption of space, including for parking, as well as battery charging. They also require the mining of Li and Co for their batteries, with the terrible stories of the mistreatment of Co miners in Africa.

I cannot legally drive as I am recovering from brain injury and epilepsy. This has given me great insight into the parlous state of our public transport, particularly in the North East of Melbourne. And the infrastructure for cyclists is so deficient it is embarrassing. High quality safe bike trails for commuting are rare and most are discontinuous. (As we age, eBikes are very useful, as they supplement the energy required to pedal, very easy to charge, taking very little energy to be fully charged, and are otherwise just like bicycles.)

Small particle pollution and DALYs

The small particle pollution from motor vehicles causes more deaths than road trauma. There is a clear relationship between this pollution and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) without taking into account road trauma itself, nor the accelerating greenhouse effect caused by the greenhouse gases released. We are daily witnessing these costs with misery from floods, droughts and forest fires, climate wars and refugees (all predicted by CSIRO scientists and others in the 1960s).

Many people I speak to say that the North-East Link is a “done deal”. But why should 20 billion dollars of our money be poured down the drain of an obsolete hugely destructive road project? And when authentic solutions are staring us in the face.

More to come

We are furthering our examination of Disability Adjusted Life Years and there will be more to come on that on the Stop North East Link Alliance website.

John Merory