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Is it just me or is anyone else noticing a greater amount of pedestrians on roadsides these days? Maybe they’ve always been there and I’m only now noticing them, but that’s unlikely. People walking in Central Pennsylvania tend to stick out, even in our urbanized areas. But I’m seeing them in suburban and rural stretches.

I saw a middle-aged couple today pushing a shopping cart full of groceries. They were going against traffic in a right-turn lane along Route 30 at the intersection with Memory Lane, not exactly a pedestrian-friendly zone. (hint: there’s no sidewalk within several hundred yards and it’s right before Route 30 turns into a high-speed autobahn between York and Lancaster. In this photo, they would have been up ahead along the guardrail where you can see the arm of the traffic light sticking out. They were heading towards the camera.)

I imagine at least a few people are choosing to walk rather than drive, what with gas prices being, uh, high. I wonder if we’ll soon be seeing news stories about higher-than-normal deaths among walkers.

It looks like poor Harrisburg, Pa. is a major contributor to climate change, according to this Brookings Institution report. Each of us belches more than three tons of carbon a year. It’s true that, per the report’s findings, we live in big houses powered by coal and drive a lot. But I’m a bit skeptical, since those are only part of what it means to be an American these days. And I wanted to deal with the report since, earlier, I decided big cities are like big coal plants — relics of a centralized, industrial past.

Brookings says people in big cities emit less carbon than us non-urbanites, at least some of us anyway. However, I’m guessing that people in places like Honolulu, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles (all cities with relatively small per capita carbon footprints according to Brookings) wear clothes and eat food. And I’m guessing that only some of the food is grown in their own kitchens and that only some of the clothes are made at dining-room tables.

Even food at a city farmer’s market has to get to its destination somehow, and I don’t think Ford is making any hybrid box trucks.

Stuff doesn’t come from nowhere. It takes factories and planes and ships and trucks to produce and deliver this stuff, all of which produces carbon. I wonder what the carbon footprint is of the average sushi restaurant in midtown Manhattan or the average department store in Los Angeles.

It’s this kind of analysis that’s missing from the Brookings report. And as long as it’s missing, we can’t hope to get a realistic grasp on climate change that empowers people instead of alienating them.

It baffles me that John McCain can’t scrounge up at least one supporter to post a yard sign along Route 30 between York and Gettysburg, Pa. It’s not like people aren’t enthusiastic about the April 22 primary. I see tons of signs for local races and a bunch for Ron Paul. And it’s not like people aren’t overwhelmingly Republican. Every single sign for the local races is from a GOP candidate. In fact, the only Democrat with a sign on that stretch of highway is Barack Obama. He has one.

I do see a few McCain signs elsewhere in Central PA, but there are none along that 20+ miles, suggesting he may have the same problems as Obama in appealing to white, rural, working class voters. It’s telling that both Obama and McCain seem to be media favorites. They both appeal to college-educated types who believe — a bit too smugly, perhaps — in their own independence. Conservative folks may respect McCain for his military service — who doesn’t? — but his political views may be too hard for some to swallow.

I used to think conservative Republicans who disagreed with McCain would vote for him anyway. But I’m less sure of that as time goes on. I just don’t see the sort of enthusiasm that will bring out the reluctant on election day. That makes McCain vulnerable to a third-party challenge from the right, even if it’s not Ron Paul.

So I was driving north on Interstate 83 this morning between York and Harrisburg when I noticed a large brown pickup truck. Yellow letters identified the vehicle as belonging to an “Espresso and Coffee Machine Repair Service.” There was a large extension ladder clamped on the roof. Must be some kickass coffee machines these guys have to repair.

Or, as my wife suggested, maybe he does the odd job on the side for which a ladder is necessary. I like to think the coffee machines in Central PA are far larger than you would expect.