“[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.
Apparently, this meme is making the rounds among the gun nuts:
We’re indoctrinated and thoughtless about one form of mass murder, so let’s stay that way about another one!
“It is a fundamental mistake to look at cars and their attributes in a rational way.”
— Bob Lutz
Touting the overclass fantasy that computer navigation will someday somehow rescue cars-first transportation from its own fatal flaws, that king of hype, Elon Musk, let loose this Freudian slip:
“You can’t have a person driving a 2-ton death machine.”
Quite right, yet how is it that we not only have that, but refuse to talk seriously about fixing the problem?
The answer lies in the political economy of what is and what is not discussable. Cars are as profitable and pro-capitalist as they are wasteful and dangerous. Hence, directly discussing and combating their wastefulness and danger is forbidden within the great marketing campaigns we know as mainstream media and mainstream politics.
Fortunately, Mr. Musk also has something to say about what would happen if that taboo were ever shattered:
“People may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous.”
Musk, of course, is thinking only of the immediate dangers to individuals in and around in-service automobiles, not the larger dangers of climate change, resource depletion, and petro-war. He also presumes that driving, not cars-first transportation, is the problem to be addressed.
Nevertheless, the point stands: People may outlaw driving cars because its too dangerous.
TCT hereby goes on record to say the sooner, the better.
None other than The Economist magazine says that “America’s freight railways….are universally recognised in the industry as the best in the world.” Our passenger rail, of course, would have to greatly improve to reach the level of a sick joke.
How ironic and telling, then, is this news, as reported by Automotive News?:
Railroad companies are struggling to keep up with surging U.S. demand for trucks and SUVs, frustrating Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.
The rail industry’s struggle to keep up with the car industry’s growth was felt last year, when unusually harsh winter weather forced companies to slow down locomotives and run shorter trains. That led to backlogs for commodities that make up a bigger share of cargo, including fuel, coal and grain. The disruptions left automakers with as much as about 250,000 vehicles waiting to be shipped by rail, according to TTX Co., the rail-car pooling operator. The typical industry standard is having about 70,000 shippable vehicles on the ground and waiting to move.
Once again, our grandchildren, should they somehow inherit a livable, hsitorically-aware world, will debate whether to laugh or to cry over this Orwellian technological inversion. As we squandered the planet’s last stocks of easy fossil fuels, the main engine of that squandering overwhelmed one of the main alternatives to the whole terrible charade.
May our descendants somehow forgive us…
DbC recently saw a sign that it endorses, in Berkeley’s People’s Park. Click for larger version. Copyleft restrictions only:
Google has announced it is working on a driverless car. As usual, mainstream journalists, always breathless and brainless about “tech” stories, are reporting on the project as if it is somehow a portent of major change in our wildly expensive and unsustainable transportation order. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, naturally, eggs them on, speaking of the project as if it’s somehow “in keeping with our mission of being transformative.”
The reality? As reported by Automotive News, GCars “will be electronically limited to 25 mph and will never go on highways. They will be designed as ‘neighborhood’ vehicles.”
In other words, GCars, if they are ever actually viable, will be GTaxis. As such, they will be taking riders away from existing, driver-employing public transit systems and taxi businesses, as well as further stymieing cyclists and pedestrians in the nation’s most walkable and rideable places.
Not quite transformative, is it?
Of course, in market-totalitarian America, “America” means corporate capitalists. Hence, we find the U.S. Energy Secretary out pimping for extension of the reign of human history’s most wasteful lifeblood-to-a–ruling-system product. As reported by Automotive News:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy wants auto suppliers to know that it still has $16 billion in low-interest financing available to support efficient-vehicle programs, and it wants them to step forward for a share of those funds. The department’s lending authority comes under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which Congress created in 2007. Early in the Obama administration, the Department of Energy used the program to lend about $8.4 billion to Ford, Nissan, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive. Suppliers were always eligible, but none secured funding. Now, under Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the program is being overhauled to make it easier to fund production of technologies such as lightweight materials, efficient engines and low-friction tires.
The changes that Moniz announced today include legal clarifications to show that suppliers are eligible for the program, a promise to respond more quickly to applicants and the creation of a new online application portal.
Moniz announced the program changes on Wednesday during a speech to the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, or MEMA, a trade group representing auto suppliers.
“Today we are presented with an opportunity to hit the accelerator on U.S. auto manufacturing growth,” Moniz said.
To restate: In the year 2014, the person in charge of solving the nation’s energy challenges is bragging about “hitting the accelerator” on making automobiles.
Orwell was an amateur.
Per the WHO, via Harper’s magazine:
Number of deaths in traffic accidents for every 100,000 vehicles on the road in developed nations : 11
In Ethiopia : 3,865
The New York Times today happened to run this photo of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Depicted is a street in Greenville, Mississippi. Check out the prevalence of automotive businesses even at this early date: