Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Air You Can Trust

Vester Voldgade, Vesterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark

St Valentine's Day, February 14, 2014

This essay, Air You Can Trust, is the sixth in a group of eight written on St Valentine's Day: It is also the first in a group of three written in Denmark / Sweden, February 2014:
  1. Air You Can Trust
  2. In Churches, Museums, And Castles
  3. Spirit Of Generosity
in that order.

The group of three written in Denmark / Sweden, February 2014 is the prequel to Listening: You Never Have And You Never Will.

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt and to Philip Tokmak and to Anne-Mette Bauer who contributed material for this conversation.

Denmark is known to be one of the most environmentally friendly countries on our planet.

Some of the first land based structures large enough to be clearly discerned from a high altitude coming into view as our Scandinavian Airlines wide body Airbus A340-300 descends over the Baltic sea to land at Copenhagen's Kastrup  airport, are the giant wind turbines which punctuate the landscape and the Kattegat. They're using wind, a non-polluting, renewable source of energy to generate electricity. And later as we stroll around the Vesterbro  district, Copenhagen's historic area in which Alexandra and I are staying while she puts the finishing touches to her second Masters degree with her deans at Roskilde universitet, we notice something which at first is very unusual for a big city: the air smells fresh and clean here.

It's quite obvious that with regard to being environmentally friendly, Denmark has put its money where its mouth is - and it shows. I can tell from the unusually quiet sounds the motors of the big city buses make that they're not your typical gas or diesel guzzling polluters. My guess is they're probably hybrids, or totally battery powered, or even fueled by natural gas.

Then there are the bicycles. Hundreds of them. Thousands  of them. In Copenhagen the bicycle is an enormously popular mode of transportation. Everyone rides a bike here. We even spot a couple just leaving the theatre, he dressed in a tuxedo, she in a floor length fur coat which she deftly keeps from becoming entangled in her bike's chain (you can tell she's done this sort of thing once or twice before ...).

There are bicycles everywhere. They're stacked on double decker racks at the entrances to the train stations. They're leaning against the walls of city buildings. They're parked outside stores and apartments, slotted into curbside bike racks. Suddenly I notice something else, something even more remarkable than the sheer volume of people who use bicycles to get around in Copenhagen, additionally sparing the air from the ravages of pollution.

What I notice is most of the bicycles aren't locked. And those that are locked, have a simple clip around one wheel. That's all. In any big city in the United States on the other hand, a long, stout steel cable is threaded between the spokes of both wheels, then through the frame of the bicycle, then around a nearby tree or a pole (if there's no rack) or another bike, and then back around some other part of the frame. That's because in any big city in the United States, there's a (unfortunately arguably justified) paranoia that your bike will get stolen (or worse, that it'll get dismembered)  if you take your eyes off it for one single moment. Here in Copenhagen, you leave your bike at the side of the street when you go to work or go shopping. You may  lock it, or you may not. Either way, there's not the slightest doubt you can trust it will be exactly where you left it when you return to it again.

Denmark, it would seem, has cleaned up the environment, the space in which we live. That's for sure. The wind turbines which proliferate, the hybrid buses, and the resulting clean, fresh smelling city air are eloquent testimony to this, and that's totally awesome. I'm interested in how the Danes accomplished this. But tell me: how on Earth did they clean up the space in which we trust?  That's what I really  want to know. That's what I really admire.

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