Here is a speaks-for-itself map of Ireland’s railroad network, first in 1920, and then again in 2020:
Massive personal and collective harm are features, nut bugs, in cars-first transportation. Basing everyday locomotion on heavy, complex, independently-steered boxes traveling at high speeds is never going to become compatible with anything like maximum personal safety and overall ecological sustainability. The laws of physics are, as Billy Bragg once observed, very, very strict.
None of this prevents those who prosper from the sociopathic reign of the automobile from pushing, with the help (or at least the non-resistance) of those who should know better, the delusion that better roads and cars are somehow, someway going to be enough.
Witness the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility, which expresses legitimate alarm over the fact that 90 percent of the “1.25 million people killed on the world’s roads each year and another 20-50 million seriously injured” are residents of the Third World, but proposes to solve this problem by massively deepening the world’s reliance on automobiles.
According to the World Bank, what is needed in the Third World is more conventional development (“integration” in WB lingo), so that the Third World can become like the First World, where the level of “traffic safety” is, it says, just fine and dandy.
Should we somehow manage to transcend it and pass on the basis for further human progress, our grandchildren will want to laugh and vomit over such high-minded nonsense, which would be hugely obvious and repulsive in any age not utterly lobotomized by its own ruling ideas.
Cars-first transportation, the world’s #1 source of greenhouse gas emissions, is yielding its historic consequences, as nobody — not even greens — talks about it with any degree of seriousness:
As he continues his efforts to inherit a good planet, Mitt Romney has apparently been caught on video talking to some of his rich sponsors. In it, Romney not only makes some hilariously deluded attempts to flatter his backers on the topic of who benefits from government spending, but also calls peace in the Middle East “almost unthinkable.”
“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” says Romney. “There’s just no way….We sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field.”
As the late, great John Kenneth Galbraith argued, this is more evidence that Republicans are more honest that Democrats. Romney’s admissions are an acknowledgment of the sacrosanct status of one of the primary tenets of mainstream politics in corporate capitalist/cars-first America: U.S. promotion of chaos in the region that sits atop “our oil.”
Peace in the Middle East would quickly lead to the ultimate anathema for the U.S. overclass: Rational regional politics. The obvious first topic there: Who owns the oil?
Such questions are verboten, with guns.
For any true American nationalist, this aspect of foreign policy would be massively enraging, as it shows the world’s mightiest armed force professing its own impotence to compel a simple outcome it publicly professes to desire on powers that are utterly small, exquisitely fragile, and on our payroll.
Of course, as Romney’s little chat reveals, the truth is that the United States will brook no serious talk of peace and democracy in such a vital region.
So, anyhow, here we are, living in a world of Peak Oil, more and bigger impending oil shocks, and eventual extraordinary misery. What, at this very late moment, remains “the world’s primary manufacturing industry?” That’s right: the one that turns out 4,000-pound petroleum and coal burning machines that sit idle for 95 percent of their lives.
In fact, the news is worse than that. The car industry is not just still #1. It is still expanding:
A new J.D. Power forecast said global auto sales will likely set a new record this year.
The consulting firm said it expects global light vehicle sales of 76.5 million units in 2011, 6% higher than the existing record of 72 million light vehicles sold in 2010.
And somebody said capital is heedless of the health and welfare of the species, unless compelled by society!