Thursday, 14 February 2013

I Drive, Therefore We're Doomed to Self-Destruction

(Re-written to remove excessive and irrelevant verbiage.)
I've rarely driven for five minutes on any road that I did not see someone doing something stupid, rude, inconsiderate, usually illegal, and definitely selfish.
I have driven from Toronto to Vancouver and back four times. I've gone to Missouri, to Kentucky, to Montreal. I've never been to the Maritimes, but I'll bet the drivers are just the same there. Most people are good, but a huge minority speed, tailgate, and play slalom through traffic and cutting across four lanes of traffic to get to the exit.
As far as I can tell, the people of every civilization, every empire in history has behaved much the same way. There is some mental switch goes on at some point and the comfort of the individual takes precedence over all other considerations, even when it is evidently a bad idea. If people drive like that, what makes anyone think that they will voluntarily reduce their energy use to save the planet?
We depend on fossil-fuel to run our industrial economy. Fossil fuel is finite. Cheap, plentiful fossil fuel is almost entirely tapped out. In 2005 every conventional oil-producing nation went into decline. What is being produced is plentiful, but expensive, unconventional oil; oil from deep water, oil from the arctic, oil from fracked shale. Economists insist that the only way to maintain prosperity is to continually increase production and have no theory on how to function any other way. A six-year old can figure out the next obvious point: if the oil runs out, what then?
Then there is the pollution. The CO2 that is altering the climate. Deniers love to pretend that because 3% of people with science degrees have expressed some skepticism, that there is some kind of debate about the issue and therefore we should just keep on as we have been for the past three hundred years. Published media, owned by people with an interest in the economy as it is, pretends that there must be two sides to every story and insist on playing up the 'other' side.
There is no other side.
We are pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere than has been there in human history, once-rare weather events are becoming more frequent (as predicted), rainfall patterns are changing around the globe (as predicted), arctic and antarctic ice is melting (as predicted) glaciers are much shorter now than 50 years ago (as predicted -- although there has been some re-growth in the past couple of years) and yet our preferred leaders and their learned advisers would rather destroy records and data than admit their quasi-religious ideology is not true.
So, I drive. Everyone else drives. No one wants to be first to give up this luxury. I know, I tried to live simply for many years and all I got was feeling miserable and foolish. All I got from wearing a hair shirt was itchy. Sadly, under our current economic system, land which should be available is unaffordable so I'll just have to go down hard, like everyone else. The only difference, I'll be ready for the landing. I hope.

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