Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happily Motoring

More and more these days, I tend to avoid doomsters like Kunstler who have made it their stock and trade to entertain those of us who somehow enjoy knowing that we are a lot smarter than all those other dumb bumpkins out there who don't know just how totally screwed and glued we are.

However, the "prophet of the long emergency", can still tell it like it is as good as anyone.

The Big Chill

February 19, 2007

One of the farmers who organized the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's annual meeting put it nicely: "The ethanol craze means that we're going to burn up the Midwest's last six inches of topsoil in our gas-tanks."

The American public is in chill mode in more ways than one. We are finally freezing our asses off in the Northeast after a supernaturally mild December and January, and the heating oil trucks are once again making the rounds of the home furnaces (and running down their inventories). But we're also chillin' on the concept that there is an energy problem per se. The public is convinced that we are one IPO away from attaining the sovereign rescue remedy that will permit us to continue running our Happy Motoring utopia. clip

The truth is, we will never be energy independent as long as we remain a car-fixated society. It's that simple. If we can't let go of the sunk costs associated with Happy Motoring, we're probably not going to make it very far into the future, either as a nation or a viable economy or as an orderly society. By sunk costs I mean our previous investments in car-oriented infrastructure.

For the moment, I blame the Democrats (and I am a registered Democrat). One shouldn't expect rational thinking from the current generation of Republicans. The sheer fact that so many of them have sold their allegiance to the Born Again dominionist fold, where magical thinking rules, means that they are incapable of evaluating the energy predicament -- in fact, if they are sincere in their apocalyptic dogma, then many of them would probably welcome a global struggle over oil, with all the military mischief it would entail in the vicinity of the Holy Land.

No, I blame the Democrats. The Democrats are supposed to represent the reality-based faction of the general public. They should be able to do the math without getting sidetracked by Jesus-haunted visions of WalMart running on biodiesel. They should be willing to tell the public the hard truth before it's absolutely too late to make some collective decisions that would lessen the hardship in the circumstances we face -- like allocating some federal funds to passenger rail, or reforming codes, incentives, and subsidies that favor suburban sprawl, or replacing the FICA taxes with a gasoline tax (as proposed by oil man Jeffrey Brown of Dallas), or by aggressively promoting local agriculture. more

Kunstler goes on to say,

"This may be the Democrat's last chance to get their shit together. The Republicans are already done. You can stick a fork in them. But the Democrats have an opportunity to lead America back into a reality-based channel of history's stream. They can tell the truth about climate change, about oil-and-gas, and about the terrible misinvestments that we have to put behind us.

They can prepare the public to deal with the new facts of life."

I had lunch with a Democrat today. And she still thinks that we can use coal to make fuel. It will be clean coal they say. Using coal to solve our climate problem is like using water to stem the tide.

Maybe the Democrats will show some real leadership.

Maybe my skin will stop aging.

Vitamin E will help my skin.

But if the Ds don't find a big dose of C,

We may all find ourselves happily motoring

right into the Kunstler abyss.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hurray for Kunstler, "reality based" trumps "faith based," in my book. Poor Republicans, unable to get it right.
I believe that city codes are the most insidious of all the sprawl mechanisms. I once was in St. Louis and found it interesting to find countless blocks of residential two and three story multi-family housing units and at the corners of every street there were small drug stores, convenience/grocery outlets, and laundries all clustered around the intersections. All these places that people visit frequently somehow had the zoning to be interspersed alongside the housing, so people wouldn't have to drive the car to get to them. I was so impressed.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daddy was with Exxon from the time it was either Standard or Pure Oil, (I wasn't around that far back,) before it morphed into Humble, Esso, Enco, and then Exxon. He had an informal collection of all the little advertising accourtrements throughout the changing corporate monikers. The graphic touched a nostalgic nerve. Thanks.

8:36 AM  

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