Roads to Ruin

car-skull Per the London Independent:

[W]e are living in the most explosive era of road and infrastructure expansion in human history – from the plains of the Serengeti to the rainforests of Sumatra. By 2050, [experts] estimate, there will be an additional 25 million kilometres (15.5 million miles) of new paved roads globally, enough to circle the Earth 600 times.

Ah, capitalism…

Proof of Delusion

Buffett Warren Buffett is probably the U.S. overclass’s last and best claim to still possessing some measure of sanity and, therefore, legitimacy. Buffett, after all, is observant and honest enough not only to admit that his class conducts war on it subordinates, but that it tends to win that war.

Ah, but this is corporate capitalism, and, as such, only certain things are thinkable and doable. Building a genuinely sustainable transportation system, as DbC readers know, is not among such things — meaning the system is doomed, not too far hence, to crash on its own contradictions.

Can the great and powerful Wizard of Omaha see and plan for such a fact?

Apparently not. Not only has his Berkshire Hathaway investment empire just completed the biggest take-over of a car dealership conglomerate in American history, but here is how Buffett gushes about this transaction:

Cecil and Larry [Van Tuyl, the now-former owners of the selling enterprise] have given us the ideal platform with which to build an auto dealership business that will be thriving and growing 50 and 100 years from now. The fun has just started. [Source: Automotive News, March 10, 2015]

There is very close to a zero percent chance that anybody will be selling automobiles to ordinary households 100 years from now. The reasons for this inhere in the extreme mismatch between the automobile as a devourer of resources and planet Earth’s limited supply of resources. Obviously, this mismatch does not register on even the sharpest of corporate capitalist minds.

To amplify Upton Sinclair, it is impossible to persuade somebody to understand something, when that somebody’s fortune depends upon not understanding it.

Good News from Easter Island!

easter_car Imagine if they’d had commercial news media on Rapa Nui, circa 1499. Having gone far in using up the bird species and big trees on which they had based their class-stratified society, Easter Island’s ruling honchos responded by doing what all ruling classes do when faced with a crisis of their own making: They redoubled their efforts at what they were already doing.

In the case of Easter Island circa 1499, this involved a campaign to make bigger and bigger moai, the giant stone statues held to bring favor from the gods who were held to have appointed Rapa Nui’s rulers to their seats of privlege.

So, if there had been commercial media available to those rulers in 1499, the news shows they sponsored would have been busy reporting the good news in the area of revived and increasing moai manufacture and installation…

Leap now to the present-day United States of America. Per Ward’s Auto:

U.S. light-vehicle sales, based on the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate, improved on prior-month’s results for the third straight time this year in November, suggesting a longer-term growth trend is taking hold.

Last month’s 13.6 million-unit SAAR was the highest since 14.2 million units in August 2009, when the government launched its Cash-for-Clunkers incentive program, and noticeably improved on year-ago’s 12.2 million.

The string of stronger months sets the stage for a relatively healthy finish to 2011.

But wait! It gets even better. The average selling price of new moai automobiles is now the highest it’s ever been.

And, as the birds and trees petroleum and other chemicals dwindle, what are the best-selling moai light vehicles? Per Ward’s Auto again:

1) Ford F-Series Pickup
2) Chevy Silverado Pickup
5) Ford Escape SUV

Overall, larger moai light trucks continue to constitute more than half of all moai auto sales.

A DbC Apology

oiled bird I apologize to DbC readers. At the height of the Macondo Prospect blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, I said the following about the idea that President Zerobama would start listening to sanity about energy and ecology. “Nothing,” I then predicted, “could be more threatening to the continuance of corporate capitalism. There will be much hand-wringing, a few monkey trials, and another toughening of the regulations. Then deep-water drilling will resume in full. Nothing else is possible, barring a major social upheaval.”

Mea culpa: There have been neither monkey trials nor major new rules. And the partial pause lasted 15, not 6, months. Until yesterday, when the pre-Horizon Deepwater course was re-adopted:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday announced its proposed five-year plan for offshore oil drilling, which calls for opening new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

MSNBC reports:

The sales off Alaska, where native groups and environmentalists have objected to drilling, would be the first since 2008. And they would [include the] Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, which Interior officials called a “frontier” for drilling.

In the western and central Gulf,…the proposal puts all unleased acreage up for sale.

By the way, the semi-major social upheaval going on has been essentially silent about energy and ecology.

Gesture Clown

Bill McKibben got himself arrested, wearing a suit and tie, at another one of his microscopic non-movement photo-ops.

The cause? A hopeless and technocratic gesture, as always. This time, it’s an effort to pre-empt construction of a pipeline to deliver Canadian tar sands extracts to Texas oil refineries.

Question for Billy Boy: What does one “win,” even if this project gets canceled? The same crude oil gets trucked to Texas? How is that a victory?

Of course, the whole affair has a strong odor of Democratic Party gamesmanship to it. Koch Industries, which funds the Tea Party farce, is apparently going to be a major contractor in the pipeline project.

And catch this, McKibben’s core statement of his cause:

mckibben_arrested

So, we’ll be arrested outside the White House. But less in protest of the President, than in support of the Obama who ran for the White House in 2008, and who said the night he clinched the nomination that with his Presidency ‘the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet begin to heal.’ I’ll be wearing my Obama ’08 button when I go to jail tomorrow; we want to show him he has the support he needs to do the right thing, in the face of unrelenting pressure from the fossil fuel industry.

News flash: “The Obama who ran for the White House in 2008” was the Advertising Age Marketer of the Year for that particular annum. In other words, Bill, you get taken, bought, sold, hoodwinked, eaten alive. One would think that three years and hundreds of betrayals later, you might begin to think and learn some rather obvious things. Apparently not, however.

With greens like these, who needs the Koch brothers?

Sanctimonious Fleas

flea One of the many threats to progressive human survival is the mindless verbiage of most of those who now pass for greens.

Case-in-point? This amazing tripe on “energy shaming” from Canadian journalist Andrew Nikiforuk:

What Saves Energy? Shame

Just about every North American knows that we live as large as Las Vegas when it comes to consuming oil, electricity or natural gas. We are the world’s fattest and laziest energy consumers (and our growing corpulence reflects this bitter truth). But, hey, we can’t stop snacking, let alone employing more energy slaves.

We are also procrastinators. If we can put off insulating the attic or saving for a rainy day, we’ll do so. Like healthy dining, energy conservation typically closes a thousand eyelids and gets put off till tomorrow. We are a mañana species and our high-octane living embraces inertia the way TV watchers love couches.

Some of us consume but most of us are addicts.

After taking his turn thoughtlessly perpetuating the word “consumer” and snapping off such huge and baseless insults to ordinary people, does Nikiforuk suggest politicizing capitalism, democratizing economic decisions, or reconstructing social infrastructure? Nope. Instead, he’s a fan of hanging up signs in hotels and inserting more paper into electric bills!

OPOWER, an energy efficiency software company based in Virginia, whose political neighbor (West Virginia) removes the tops of mountains to make electricity for iPods and the like, applied that concept to electricity billing. It paired up with utility companies to create a bill that showed power users how their flicking and switching compared to that of their neighbors.

If scaled nationwide, a program like this could reduce U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power by 0.5 per cent.

Yes, good luck with that. Elitist technocratic shaming to solve less than one percent of the problem. ROFLMFAO.

Making Coal Car Batteries: The CO2 Impact

ev_co2 A London group with the comically oxymoronic name of Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership has been busy disproving its own sponsored premise. Turns out that manufacturing a battery for a typical “electric” car puts 3.8 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s two-thirds of the carbon emitted in the manufacturing of a complete medium-sized gasoline car.

What additional carbon dioxide would be emitted in the process of scrapping or recycling millions of “electric” car batteries every year? As the LCVP admits, that remains one of our “gaps in understanding.”

The inescapable fact is that no automobile will ever be “low carbon.” Merely making these rolling piles of metal and plastic and lithium is inherently energy- and carbon-intensive.

DbC will say it again: Cars-first transportation was and is a capitalist pipe-dream.

Surrender as Activism

Phony capitalist environmentalism spreads its tentacles.

If the United States still had racial chattel slavery and you were thinking of becoming an abolitionist, would you join the cause via a group advocating new and improved whip-maintenance techniques?  More pointedly, what would you make of anybody trying to foist such a tactic onto concerned citizens?

That is precisely what the shysters at Green Garage invite would-be environmentalists to do vis-a-vis the number one ecocidal product on the planet:

garage credo

Love that “they’re not going away anytime soon” line! Onward, mighty whip-softeners!

“Kibben” Must be Gaelic for “Gesture”

McKibben is “surprised” his gesture has not yet been embraced by Obama, and apparently has devoted no thought to the question of why not.

windmill tilt Bill McKibben is trying to get Babysitter-in-Chief Barack Obama to reinstall solar panels on the White House roof.

The jejunosity (hat-tip to Allan Konigsberg) of this effort is multiple:

McKibben thinks his gesture might start a new social movement.

McKibben thinks “slowing global warming” can possibly be the core issue of a new social movement at the present time.

McKibben describes Obama as “doing lots of good practical things already.”

McKibben is “surprised” his gesture has not yet been embraced by Obama, and apparently has devoted no thought to the question of why not.

McKibben thinks “the fossil fuel industry” is the ultimate culprit, and does not mention the automotive-industrial complex.

Like virtually all green activists, McKibben keeps the word “capitalism” in the closet, even as Great Depression III continues to gather sucking force, thereby ensuring his “movement” will remain an Ivy League jejunosity.