Monday, December 10, 2007

NAFTA Union Arrives

With 2007 fading into history, this post fast forwards to a view of the North American geo-political landscape around Sweeney's 100th birthday.
By that date, the 3 main NAFTA nations melded into a quasi union akin to the European Common Market. From Panama to the Arctic, a common currency and a totally metric economy prevails. Because of birth rates and immigration, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish lingo flourish south of the Great Lakes and the 49th parallel. Because of failing infrastructure in heritage cities -overflow of joint storm and sanitary sewers, rupture of water mains and lead contamination- new sustainable cities are beginning to crowd the shores of the northern lakes.

Northern polar waters became ice-free in the summer of 2016. Given a year-round ice-free North West Passage fifteen years later, Churchill Manitoba with its strategic location -ready access to both Asian and European markets- is now the largest port in the world. This center is the trading gateway to the continent and is the administrative capital of the new geographic entity. The 20-lane, mid-continent, trade corridor stretching from Hudson Bay to the Panama Canal is quite visible from the orbiting Inter-Galatic launch pad which was completed in 2023.

In preparation for super-nation status, duplication of place names disappeared, e.g., London and its neighbour Woodstock Ontario are no longer on the map: their respective monikers are Londont and Toyotown. The 10 lane expressway connecting Toyotown with the burgeoning city of Strathroy is called the DeCicco-Best Visionary Freeway. Although, Old Sweeney had a good run, dementia ensured he didn't make it to 100. Regardless, the name lives on with the dedication of the freeway loop connecting Strathroy via Wingham, Mount Forest, and Markdale to Barrie: Sweeney Memorial Turnpike.

Yes, the biggest changes are in transportation. Interstate highways and Provincial freeways are now seamless. The freight handling revolution started with trucks around 2022 and by 2030 auto traffic was pretty well automated. For the last ten years all new cars and trucks have factory-installed transponders which are monitored by a National Grid Authority using sophisticated GPS technology. Key feature is a "user pay" system permitting the various provincial/state jurisdictions to automatically collect toll rates and speeding fines. Municipalities will soon tie into the International Grid and be able to extract user fees based on kilometers actually travelled on all streets and local roads.
And, of course, much of this only came to pass because parochial-minded politicians were the first passengers on the one-way inter-galactic space ship.

Dire turn-of-the-century predictions of droughts, floods, and starvation never materialized. Following the 20-year period of rising temperatures (1978 to 1998) northern hemisphere temperatures plateaued. Now, a new crop of alarmists claim diminishing co2 emissions are about to percipitate another little ice-age. Indeed, the latest tempertature modelling report predicts temperatures will fall over the next decade.

Blog archives contain the first post on NAFTA highways. Related essays can be called up by clicking on labels at bottom of this piece.
England is first to test GPS -based toll collection.

To end 2007 on a nostalgic note, transportation-obsessed and car-crazed readers are directed to the Le70Sabre site. Have an enjoyable trip, and slide into a happy and sober NeW YeaR.

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