by JD Adams
I settled comfortably into the seat of my electric Harley as it came up to speed. It was the summer of 2025, and the climate probes had predicted another scorching day of 115 degrees. Wheeling past the offices and shops of downtown Salem Oregon, the skyline was a silhouette of rooftop gardens and darkly gleaming silicon tiles for solar air conditioning. Hurtling over the Willamette River Bridge, I could see that the golden pioneer on the Capitol Building still watched with approval.
The only way to stay cool outside was to keep moving; thousands of cyclists thronged to the eco-bahns, roadways designated for human-powered vehicles. The old highways were still busy, dominated by the latest electric and hybrid vehicles that created their own fuel from biomass. Some still clung to the old ways, running on small quantities of special blends and high-priced imported petrol. There was black-market gas, often riddled with contaminants and moisture. The rusty hulks of old gas-guzzling SUVs, stripped of parts, dotted the roadside. New laws targeting the worst carbon offenders, making their use illegal, had brought some of them down.
The cost of creating a sustainable transportation system had been stumbling block. But then as parts of it were put in place, it started paying for itself. The oil-saturated environment began to restore itself. The health benefits combined with clean energy inputs from solar, wind and hydropower, translating into a sustainable equation for quality of life. New storage technologies in the renewable infrastructure made energy abundant and inexpensive, keeping you warm, keeping you secure, for your children and grandchildren. And you didnít have to impose on the rights of later generations in any way. In the big picture, it was more expensive to maintain a petroleum-based infrastructure than to create a sustainable one.
My electric motorcycle moved easily with the traffic, its Super Wi-Fi connection seamlessly presenting information on a traffic hologram. Around me, a mixture of futuristic craft straight out of The Road Warrior hummed with the quiet power of electronics. With a nod, I pulled away. Thereís something about an electric Harley.
The highway angled toward the rolling hills of the coast range, passing by Grande Ronde, then through the forested corridor of the Van Duzer. The display flashed a warning of an accident ahead, but it was cleared in minutes by the traffic robots; Lincoln City lie beyond, a town adapting to rising sea levels. One might not notice the changes taking place down at the waterline. Some of the more precarious dwellings had already given way to rising sea levels and vigorous storms. Sea walls were being erected and revetment being placed to defy the ocean's fury.
The charge indicator on the Harley told me it was time to fill up. I rolled in to the ChargePump at Newport and exchanged battery modules - no waiting for charging. A few dollars on the card, a few hundred miles on the highway; some things in life never change. I swung past Nye Beach and traveled onward in contemplation of the primordial force of the sea.
I continued down Highway 101 to Bandon and the singular Face Rock Wayside. My thoughts turned to this Garden of Eden, and who would be guarding the gate.
Would Oregon remain the place that the pioneers dreamed of, or would it fall victim to gratuitous depredation, stripped of its forests, its waterways cloudy with silt and chemicals, its air heavy with toxic fumes?
I knew it would be a battle to be won again and again, with generations of Oregonians who would answer the call. I kick-started the Harley into life and headed for that long lonesome highway like in Then Came Bronson.
© 2008-2016 by JD Adams