Jared Diamond often points out that, sometimes, human history serves up parallel events that, in and of themselves, come close to allowing the kinds of confident comparisons the simpler sciences obtain via planned experiments.
We are now inside a special time-window where this point becomes pretty obvious and extra-important, aren’t we?
Some fraction of that is due to reduced automobile use in Chinese cities.
And the point also applies, at least to some extent, in de-industrialized places like the United States, where wall-to-wall cars and trucks have their all-too-obvious, yet still thoroughly unmentionable, mortality effects.
COVID-19 arrives, despite a couple decades’ worth of their self-praise about the fit between BAU and data + information + technology, as a huge surprise, not just to us commoners, but to TPTB.
This — the discombobulation of history’s greatest power elite — ought to be among the things we progressive survivalists mull in these weird and momentous times. All is definitely not what we’ve been told.
Meanwhile, as today’s contribution to your cranial recalibrating efforts, we here at DbC would direct your gaze to this image from BuzzFeed news.
Contemplate, if you will, the utter centrality of the automobile, even in one of the most iconic spots for non-automotive locomotion in this very, very troubled and unprepared empire.
For reasons that ought to be obvious, flying cars are an even dumber idea than rolling cars. But the trope, which dates back to at least 1927, continues, even at this seemingly very late date. The suggestion that automobiles are futuristic, rather than sociopathic, ecocidal, and outdated, is simply too tempting to pass up.
The latest trend is to roll the “flying cars” trope up into space, in fact.
Here is Lexus trying its hand:
This stuff will horrify our grandchildren, if we manage to bequeath them a world still capable of sustaining literacy and the study of history.
There are now more than 200 million SUVs around the world, up from about 35 million in 2010, accounting for 60 percent of the increase in the global car fleet since 2010, IEA data shows.
As a result, SUVs were the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010 after the power sector — ahead of heavy industry including iron and steel, cement, aluminum, as well as trucks and aviation, it said.
The standard EV apology is the claim that battery-powered vehicles are merely in their early days, and are about to explode into conquering the roads.
Leaving aside the question of whether this eventuality would be a good thing, this claim is starting to get a bit stale, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, the facts are there:
In the year 2018, for every one new battery-electric vehicle on the world’s roads, there were 30 new SUVs/pickups.
If you are seeking something to think about, ask yourself: Which is more played-out at this point: automobiles or the Star Wars franchise?
The answer, of course, is automobiles, but DbC would nonetheless point out the laughable tie-in between the hateful ecocidal operation that is Porsche A.G. and the omnipresent, increasingly incoherent mess of a Disney marketing platform.
There is, however, a rather glaring gap within the U.N.’s own analysis and reportage: its remarkable softness-of-head when it comes to the technology that is now the leading source of GHG emissions in the society that remains Earth’s clear per-capita leader in GHG emissions.
That technology is, of course, the automobile.
Without counting either a) heavy trucks and buses or b) all the secondary activity and material that exists or is swollen because of the automobile’s importance in the United States and elsewhere, cars, according this report itself, “contributed around 14 per cent or 7.5 GtCO2e to global GHG emissions,” as of 2018.
What is to be done, according to the Gap report’s authors, about this major GHG source?
For the United States, on the topic of transportation, it is just this:
Strengthen vehicle and fuel economy standards to be in line with zero emissions for new cars in 2030
Zero-emission automobiles, of course, do not and cannot ever exist.
All automobiles require fuel, and even solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-electric dams, and nuclear power plants produce GHG emissions in their construction and maintenance. The emissions, in these minor examples as well as in the coal and natural gas plants that are the major sources of “EV” power, merely occur at locations other than a tailpipe. But occur they most certainly still do, despite automakers’ labels suggesting otherwise. Shame on the United Nations for missing and obscuring this crucial fact.
Meanwhile, there’s also not a single word in this report about reversing cars’ centrality in transportation and urban design. Nor is there a word about the foolhardiness of relying on automobiles as a primary way of accomplishing everyday locomotion.
There is some major juju behind the continuing taboo against straight talk about cars. If we survive to tell the tale, this sponsored unknowing will likely be judged as one of human history’s greatest ideological blindnesses. First, though, it may be the death of us.