Kibbles in Bits

obiepipes In one of the least surprising pieces of news you’re likely to hear, Zerobama spiked Bill McKibben today.  Obummer went to Cushing, Oklahoma and, posing in front of stacked pipes, announced he is expediting construction of the southern segment of the much publicized Keystone XL oil pipeline. Once that happens, what would you say are the odds the northern section gets blocked by McKibben’s windmill tilters? Only slightly better than those of McKibben admitting he has been multiply wrong in this whole tempest in an irrelevant teapot, I’d say.

Speaking of being epically wrong, here is McKibben’s latest analysis of the meaning of today’s move by Zerobama:

It’s clear that the power of the oil industry drives political decision-making in America–that’s why we need to go after them directly. The first step is an effort to remove the subsidies that they and the rest of the fossil fuel industry enjoy. is helping coordinate protests at Ohio State University this afternoon, where students will call on President Obama to stop Keystone XL, fracking, and other “extreme energy” projects

As ever, McKibben makes nary a mention of the actual reason for the centrality of the oil industry — cars-first transportation policy. “Doc, I’m worried I might have lung cancer.” “Not to worry,” assures good Dr. McKibben, “we’re going to stop that chronic cough of yours!”

Alas, mere superficiality and woefully erroneous target selection are not enough for McKibben. Having been clearly slapped down, he now promises to squander further political energy pursuing a blend of gestures both hopeless — stopping Keystone and fracking — and simply absurd — taking away a small tax subsidy from one of the planet’s most profitable industries and suggesting that will somehow change a damned thing.

What a flippin’ nightmare.

Fortunately, it looks like the Occupy proto-movement might be heading in the proper direction, albeit rather timidly. Check out the plans for April 4.

Fisker Goes Volt

Remember when the Chevy Volt was going to be an “electric” car, meaning one powered (confining one’s attention to the car itself) only by a battery? Remember how that worked out? Yep, a crappy, overpriced hybrid car with a gasoline-burning engine.

Remember, too, when Fisker Automotive was the cutting-edge “electric car” manufacturer that was going to put GM to shame with its sleek, truly high-tech products? Guess what’s happened to that publicly-subsidized promise? Yep, it, too, is vaporware. The next wave of Fisker products is going to have gasoline-burning engines.

Neither that fact, nor the laughable business performance of Fisker stops it from blowing massive smoke up the public’s backside. The model name for its (supposedly) forthcoming over-priced, gas-burning hybrid? The Fisker Nina. That’s right, Nina — as in the ship from the mini-armada that launched the Columbian Conquest/Columbian Exchange, a transition rightly described as the most significant event in human history since the rise of agriculture.

That’s about as subtle as a rock, and 100 percent pure baloney to boot.

The Wages of McKibbenism

ostrich Tom Zeller, Jr. is Arianna Huffington’s “senior energy and environment writer.” Here is Mr. Zeller’s take on the meaning of the Keystone XL ruse:

This debate pits rich and powerful fossil fuel interests, which, for both good and ill, have shaped and dominated the last century of American economic, industrial and political life, against a growing swell of citizens who insist that it’s high time — for the sake of the planet and everyone who breathes — to turn the page and support cleaner alternatives.

Wrong — radically wrong — at both ends, Tom.

First of all, not only is the Keystone XL scuffle a minor issue to the ruling class, that ruling class is absolutely not organized around “fossil fuel interests,” as if the system is just randomly corrupt. In reality, we live under corporate capitalism. As such, the most important systemic and practical factor is maximum salable waste, not the random promotion of one or another “bad apple” industry. The ultimate problem — the one that makes fossil fuel interests so crucial — is cars and the geo-spatial sprawl they engendered. The oil companies are certainly a major part of the automotive industrial complex, but they are secondary, not primary, in it. The point, to the overclass, is to find a way to keep selling 10 million new cars every year. Change that, and oil becomes a minor issue. Fail to even mention it, and oil is certain to keep flowing in present patterns, Keystone or no Keystone, until there’s no more oil left.

Second, what cleaner alternatives? The so-called “electric” car, pathetic as it is, is actually running on hydrocarbon combustion and nuclear fission. If you are going to paint “cleaner alternatives” to oil as so readily doable, then you are obliged to offer evidence of their viability. Of course, you can’t, because your suggestion there is even more dishonest than the silly idea that the Keystone XL project is somehow vital to the national interest and/or the human future.

Leaf Blows Smoke, Too

It takes amazing chutzpah to try, in the 21st century, to imprint the word “innovation” on anything having to do with the automobile. So it’s no surprise that the Nissan corporation is also aggressively preying on the public’s enforced energy ignorance. Here is the current form of that effort, an ad being run in heavy rotation during NFL football games:

The Nissan Leaf, of course, is barely selling, given its exorbitant price and pathetic performance. But the haloware effect is, given the otherwise inexplicable existence of this expensive TV ad, obviously of great value to car marketers.

The above ad shows people in various settings dealing with smoke and inconvenience from an imaginary world in which small appliances burn gasoline. “What if everything ran on gas?” intones Robert Downey, Jr., Nissan’s voice-over actor.

“Then again, what if everything didn’t?” Downey smugly concludes, suggesting that the “electric” car isn’t every bit as toxic and stupid as a petrol-powered dentist’s drill would be.

So, okay Robert, what if all cars were electric?

A few images relevant, for rather basic reasons, to that suggested reality:


coal plants



Multiply as needed to create a world of a billion+ new “electric” automobiles…

Here Comes Propaganda

They Might be Giants is a pop music group who fancy themselves intellectuals and teachers of children. Here is one of their supposedly smart and educational offerings:

Excuse me, but this is (tuneless) ignorance on very creepy stilts.

The lyrics, amid a string of familiar phony green pablum, include the line “no diesel, steam, or gasoline.”

Okay, TMBG, tell us: Where does the “electric” car gets its electricity? Is it magic? Spontaneous generation? Something, as TMBG would apparently have the kiddies conclude, “verdant green”?

Nope, not even close. It’s 90 percent from nuclear fission and the combustion of coal and natural gas.

Meanwhile, what’s the title of the album from which this amazing piece of brainwashed brainwashing emanates? Here Comes Science. ROFL.

Daily Dross

magic_hat It’s a bit cruel to pick on people who still think the Democratic Party serves a human purpose, but it’s nonetheless interesting that the Daily Kos is fully on board with the practice of publishing blatantly unfounded promises of impending physical miracles bound to rescue cars-first transportation from its own massive internal contradictions.

The latest example is from Kosnik Keith Pickering, who yesterday ran his piece, “The Edible Battery That’s Too Good for Electric Cars.” Reporting on “aqueous sodium batteries,” Pickering would have his readers join him in thinking that these items could be put into “electric” cars, save for the fact that doing so would be a waste of the batteries’ potential.

Problem? There is no existing sodium-ion battery that could be used in an automobile:

Researchers have looked into sodium-ion batteries in the past, although typically they have used high voltages and organic electrolytes. Using lower voltages reduces the amount of energy the batteries can store–a problem for electric vehicles, where space and weight are limited.

“I hope [the] DOE funds the nonaqueous [potentially usable in cars but presently non-existent] work, too,” [comments an interested professor.]

So, the proper title for Pickering’s article is “The Non-Existent Edible Battery That’s Too Good for Electric Cars.”

When the Vapor Meets the Road

Remember these?:


The left image shows Chevy’s erstwhile claim that its Volt model would be getting 230 MPG. The right one is the EPA playing along and saying it would be getting some blend of 93 and 37 MPG.

Now that the Volt exists (albeit barely, and without its promised all-electric power system) in the real world, what MPG does it actually get?

41, according to

Neither the miniscule sales nor the pathetic results, of course, are stopping GM from exploiting the contraption as halo-ware. [Note the highly curious inclusion in this ad of almost-questions about why the Volt isn’t all-electric. What’s up with that?]

Bill Quixote

quixote Like Don Quixote, Bill McKibben is militantly unserious, and entirely unaware of and uninterested in his own comical inadequacy.

On September 9, the bony Señor McKibben graced the stage of the Commonwealth Club of California, at an event dedicated to explaining how McKibben and co-star Paul Hawken “advocate a cleaner and healthier form of capitalism.”

McKibben’s diagnosis of our main problem?

“Our problem is far and away caused by the fact that the fossil fuel industry, which is the most profitable industry on Earth, has all of the financial means at their disposal to keep us from taking action….It’s people versus very concentrated pockets of money.”

Such quixotic superficiality is music to the ears of yuppie pseudo-radicals and capitalists alike. Its repetition signals that cars and capitalism are still safe from scrutiny, despite the accumulating facts of the matter. Fake activists can continue to buy Priuses and strike poses, while business as usual rolls along, unmentioned and unthreatened.

Open Fools Standard

oil_logo You can’t make this stuff up:

Nearly five months after the Open Fuel Standard Act was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Dick Lugar, R-Ind., have introduced a companion bill in the Senate. “For too long oil has had a monopoly over transportation fuel and American drivers have had no choice but to pay volatile and elevated prices at the pump,” Cantwell said. “Phasing in vehicles that can run on fuels other than petroleum will allow a whole host of new domestic sources of transportation fuel to come online, which should reduce our dangerous overdependence on foreign oil and help keep American dollars here at home.”

According to the Set American Free Coalition:

Two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption is due to the transportation sector, and 97% of our transportation energy is oil based. The best way to break oil’s monopoly is to transition to alternative fuels and vehicles that can utilize them, such as flexible fuel vehicles and plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. These vehicles let consumers and the market choose the winning fuels and feedstocks based on economics.

But wait. It gets even better: Switching to ethanol and methanol is going to bring gasoline prices down to $2/gallon!

While we’re busy re-legislating the laws of physics, why not go ahead and outlaw death and gravity? That has precisely the same odds of working as this hare-brained demagogy.

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:


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?