Remember Peak Demand?

The amount of delusion surrounding cars-first transportation is stupendous. I suppose that’s no surprise, given that it has been by far human history’s largest, most heavily-promoted boondoggle.

Anyhow, it turns out that demand hasn’t been destroyed at all. More like demand destroying us:

vehicle-miles-usa

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Are They Stupid or Evil?

cliff-drive They know what’s happening, even as they insist we keep speeding for the cliff:

“Electric motors are good for acceleration and for the stop-and-go of urban duty cycles. Internal combustion engines are great for highway driving because gasoline is an incredibly dense power source,” he said. “What you’re seeing at this show is that automakers are combining the two, in a wide variety of ways, for the benefit of consumers.”

“The EV strategy is still alive and well,” he said. ”Fuel is a finite commodity” and prices “will go up again.”

Source

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The Limits of Debate

nero-fiddling As it kills the planet and renders American society ever more unprepared for the increasingly inhospitable future it is doing so much to worsen, that epic, world-historic boondoggle, cars-first transportation, remains utterly undiscussed and undebatable in our mainstream institutions. Witness the recent spat between Killary Klinton and Bernie Sanders:

“He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry,” Clinton said.

No, I didn’t he insists, saying “In terms of the auto bailout, of course, that made sense.”

Nero had nothing on our leaders. Nothing whatsoever.

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Annals of Misreporting

car skull The East Coast Blizzard of 2016 is killing people, report the corporate media. Balderdash. By keeping people from driving their cars, the snowstorm is saving lives on a big scale, as is very occasionally almost acknowledged in self-same media.

“I think in reporting any story, journalists are taught that human life is the ultimate value,” said Joe Saltzman, professor of journalism at the University of Southern California. “So the first question we ask on any story is, what’s the death toll?”

Yes, quite so, except when the story is cars. There, the ultimate value is profits for corporate capitalists, so the basic facts are not newsworthy.

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Dead End

“[T]he internal-combustion engine that has powered cars since the 19th century is a technological dead end.”

The New York Times, December 1, 2015

None of which stops the system from doing what it will and must do, which is pursue the obvious dead-end until the wells run dry.

Courting Carmageddon. That’s corporate capitalism.

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Double Fail

Apparently, this meme is making the rounds among the gun nuts:

Car Blame

We’re indoctrinated and thoughtless about one form of mass murder, so let’s stay that way about another one!

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Cars Can Be Hacked

Turns out there’s another problem — you know, other than their wild, ecocidal unsustainability — with the cars of the future. The integration of computers is rendering them externally controllable.

Andy Greenberg reports in Wired:

I’d come to St. Louis to be Miller and Valasek’s digital crash-test dummy, a willing subject on whom they could test the car-hacking research they’d been doing over the past year. The result of their work was a hacking technique—what the security industry calls a zero-day exploit—that can target Jeep Cherokees and give the attacker wireless control, via the Internet, to any of thousands of vehicles. Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country.

Greenberg’s piece is worth reading.

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Blue Dog Coalition’s Transportation Nonsense

puppy-logic DbC‘s editor lives in the Congressional district of one Rep. Kurt Schrader, the estimable co-chair of the Blue-Dog Coalition, a group who claim to believe that (wait for it…) the Democratic Party is too far to the left.

Within the Blue Dogs’ pathetic attempt to ensure themselves lifetime tenure as well-paid D.C. placeholders, here is what such types have to say about transportation policy in the USA:

“It is the position of the Blue Dogs that any comprehensive infrastructure package should be fully paid for in a fiscally responsible manner and a hearing would allow Ways and Means Committee members the opportunity to explore avenues for providing sustainable, reliable, and responsible transportation funding and planning well into the future.”

This is Congro-Speak for continuing the long-running practice of unanimously shoveling more cash into cars-first transportation “into the future.”

On behalf of our grandchildren, one has to ask: This is what passes for “sustainable” and “responsible” politics in 2015?

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Google Cars: A Terrible Idea

car-skull As undoubtedly planned, Google is getting huge ideological and marketing mileage from its Self-Driving Car Project.

The idea being peddled is that Google is going to figure out how to have computers take over all the tasks involved in driving automobiles, so that “a self-driving car that can shoulder this burden for us.” The main promise of such an outcome seems to be a big jump in the safety and convenience of riding in personal automobiles.

To promote this promise, Google not only downplays the collective-choice dilemma it faces — who will own a self-driving car unless and until everybody else does? — but tells only half the technical story. Drivers make mistakes and do stupid (heavily sponsored) things while behind the wheel, Google reports.

What Google does not report, meanwhile, is the profound complexity of automobile driving, both in terms of the environmental conditions and mental processes involved. As Google knows all too well, there are huge numbers of ways to generate big failures in dealing with such complexities.

Of course, Google also never mentions an even bigger elephant in it’s technogasm: the one great catastrophe that would undoubtedly result from the success of its Project.

Here is how Google frames the ultimate question, under pictures of giggling, hand-holding, rejoicing passengers enjoying robo-rides:

Why self-driving cars matter

Imagine if everyone could get around easily and safely, regardless of their ability to drive.

Yes, by all means, do imagine this!

What would the triumph of Google Cars mean for the ongoing reign of the automobile as the main mode of personal travel in the world’s richest societies? It would deepen and extend that reign, would it not? And what, dear Google, you supposed pursuer of reason and science and true human interests, is THAT likely to mean for us humans?

True catastrophe.

Of course, Google is just about as genuinely interested in human welfare and the deployment of science for social betterment as are other capitalists, which is to say: not bloody much.

Anybody who actually cares about these things has to face up to the radical unsustainability of cars-first transportation.

Google, meanwhile, is busy polishing its brand and positioning itself to sell hundreds of millions of automotive navigation systems.

Our grandchildren, should they somehow inherit the ability to sustain print-literate societies, will not look kindly on Google Cars.

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McKibben’s Limit


Q: Is there a fundamental disconnect between capitalism, or what we call capitalism, and the mandates of responding to climate change?


Bill McKibben: I don’t know.

ostrich

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