Sunday, April 20, 2008


It doesn't really matter whether we think of it as Saving the Planet, or saving the country. It doesn't really matter if we're Environmentalists, or conservationists. What matters is acting responsibly. As long as there are Red Chinese and a burgeoning southasian subcontinent, and a third world Brazil that razes its jungles and an Indonesia that plows under its trees so it can grow biofuels -- well, we can't save the planet. Just like we can't really make other people's kids be responsible. Our power is limited to our own actions and actual responsibilities.

Driving an SUV is unpatriotic. There, I said it. If you actually really truly need one, cuz you're rescuing stranded mountain climbers or hauling cement over storm-swollen creeks, well, then you're okay, and not a fool and a pig. But gas guzzlers undermine national security. It doesn't matter that we get only a relatively small fraction of our oil from the Middle East. Mostly we get it from Canada, then from, yuck, Venezuela. So good and bad. What matters is that the oil is going to be sold, and the individual buyer is actually faceless. Demand is what counts, not personalities.

No, of course there is no actual energy self-sufficiency. There is a global market, and as demand rises, as from the afore mentioned China and India, prices will rise. Do I need to explain that? If we were to suddenly somehow produce in the United States all the oil that we needed here, right here, in the United States, well, do you imagine that the producers would charge less than the oil's global going rate? That would hardly be consonant with everything we know about the profit motive. It's naive and absurd. I'll sell to you for a nickel, when I can sell to him for a dime? Cuz I like you? Once in a while, maybe. Never always.

Even if we reduced our own demand, with hybrids and solar and other intelligent, responsible, virtuous and patriotic options, international demand will still be rising, and with it, prices. High prices are stifling to the economy. That's bad for America, and thus the world. What ever is to be done?

Well, obviously, for all that using efficient cars rather than grotesquely wasteful ones won't make a huge dent in global demands, it will decrease the demand created by actual individuals. Get it? You'll use less fuel, and so you'll save your own money. Not a hard concept. Less cash burned in the tank means more spent at the mall. See?

Some environmental issues are tough. No, we don't want actual unique species to become extinct. But we also want our loggers to make a fair living and provide necessary raw materials. Both sides are reasonable -- excluding the nonsense of protecting mere breeds, rather than actual unique breeding types. What's easy, though, what's not all that tough, is understanding that water is a far more potent "greenhouse gas" than carbon dioxide. Evaporation, then, is a much graver Threat to the Planet. So your decadent American pools should be banned. QED.

We consume because we are biological and social entities. We conserve because it is good stewardship. Thrift is a virtue. We understand that we have an effect on our neighbors and on those who live in far off lands. So we are generous as well as frugal. If we have two cloaks and give one to the needy, perhaps it will be returned. Even if it isn't, we will get another, because we are virtuous. That is economy.

The lefties have their Goddess. We have God. There is no actual rivalry, as Baal was no match for the Lord. We must ignore or oppose many of their rites, of abortion and perversion and general confusion. But there are means of theirs, if not ends, with which we can agree and cooperate. Alternative fuels and technologies. I love solar. After startup costs, it's effectively free. You can sell excess energy back to the grid. Cool. And my next car is gonna be electric. I rarely need to go farther than 120 miles at a time, and I don't need to go faster than 75 miles an hour.

The Goddess is a bloodthirsty bitch, red of tooth and claw. How don't they see that? But we gave up the Inquisition centuries ago. I don't care about your religion. I care about what you do, insofar as it affects the world.

We find common ground, and we cooperate to achieve worthy ends. Thus we see coyotes and rabbits fleeing side by side from wildfires, or sitting together on floating logmats during floods -- they are not enemies, at such times. They need not understand the nature of the catastrophe that has overtaken them. They only understand their danger. The lefties think the Planet is Dying. True, someday the Lord will roll up the heavens. But the danger I see now isn't from melting icecaps, but from empowering terrorists with our wasted petrodollars. Use less oil.

There should have been a Manhattan Project for solar power, starting from back in 1973, the first Energy Crisis. Our "leaders" were too busy being corrupt and stupid and venal and egotistical. Well, it is 35 years later, and we use more oil, and our vehicles don't generally seem to be any more efficient. I call it treason, and if not that, certainly dereliction of duty. Why else would a man seek public office, than to do good for his people? But we should be used to betrayal. It is the coarse of history.

You didn't know that about me, did you. I'm an alternative sort of fellow. Then again, that's what virtue is -- going against the general tide. The alternative is to sit next to pestilential beasts floating on a mass of knotted weeds whither the tide would take us. In other words, going to hell. Everything turns out to be about warming.



akfox said...

People are free to make their own choices and spend their money however they see fit. To suggest otherwise is unpatriotic.

Jack H said...

1) Freedom and wisdom are two different things.

2) Sorry if I slaughtered one of your sacred cows.

3) "...however they see fit"? Um, drugs? Child porn?

4) "To suggest otherwise..." You must be against laws, then, since they limit choices.

5) " unpatriotic." Oh, I see. Um, because the suggestion is so damaging? Or something?

Not your finest moment, A. China is going to add 100 million cars in the next year or so. I don't want to be in that gas line. You do remember gas lines, don't you? Odd/even days? Rationing? Blind blind blind.


Indiana Joan said...

Amen and amen. I'm financially stuck driving a minivan (22 mpg), but have drastically changed my driving habits -- slow starts, gliding to a stop, driving at the speed limit (gasp!). Not quite a hypermiler, but I'm trying. Teenage boys don't like getting stuck driving behind me.

I am appalled at how stagnant the automotive technology is fuel-efficiency-wise. My first car out of college in the early 80's got 35 mpg -- which is now being touted as Save The Planet mileage. Gah.

Yes the Carter fuel lines reeked. And now the fuel rationing is being driven financially -- not everyone has an extra $50 to fill up the tank. Do you think this time maybe we will learn?

Jack H said...

One hopes. We are allowed a certain blindness. We don't after all have eyes in the back of our heads.
But our *next* car -- that's what decides whether or not we're idiots, and whether or not we're PATRIOTIC!


akfox said...

I'm sorry, I thought we were talking principles rather than semantics. I'll remember that in the future.

Jack H said...

No need to apologize. My tone was too abrupt, and miscommunicated my intention. But I disagree with your principle. There is no freedom without responsibility, which is the implication of your non-semantical formulation. That's why I almost always use the word "liberty" instead of "freedom". Liberty contains within it the idea of duty within society, whereas "freedom" has been polluted by shoddy thinking and outright love of vice.

As for patriotic, it is a problematic word. Time was we knew what it meant. But when some pretend to believe that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" -- well, that's just stupid. Like love, patriotism is best expressed through self-sacrifice.

SUVs are just a handy symbol. I find my philosophical roots in the Puritans of New England, rather than the Cavaliers of the southern Atlantic seaboard. Hardscrabble rather than slaveholder. Waste, to me, is a moral failing, and when it flies in the face of obvious issues, like feeding supporting enemies -- well, aid and comfort to enemies is unpatriotic.


Will C. said...

"Driving an SUV is unpatriotic. There, I said it. If you actually really truly need one, cuz you're rescuing stranded mountain climbers or hauling cement over storm-swollen creeks, well, then you're okay, and not a fool and a pig. "

A bit of a slippery slope isn't it? You could also call me unpatriotic since I like to eat bananas as well. After all bananas aren't grown in the U.S. so they have to be planted in South America, harvested, imported by ship, and trucked to distribution centers where they are finally delivered to my grocery store. All of which consumes a great deal of oil, no? And I don't "need" bananas as I am not the monkey-keeper at the Greenville Zoo. Now we could go into the whole "drilling for bananas in Everglades National Park" thing, but you know how that upsets the Sierra Club.

"High prices are stifling to the economy. That's bad for America, and thus the world. "

I take a contrarian view. I think high prices spawn that great American invention...enterprise (n. a project undertaken or to be undertaken, esp. one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy). Prices are high enough now that it is worth the time and effort for mom & pop oil companies to revisit old oil fields and drill deeper as well as testing in new areas. Why just the other day I heard about a huge depost discovered in the Dakotas. Also Jack you need to eat your french fries because some industrious folks are pumping used cooking oil from the fertile archs, processing it and selling it to truck drivers as biodiesel. High prices also make inefficient solar PV panels more and more attractive. There is ongoing research into spherical solar cells such that no matter the position of the sun, the photons strike at a high absorption rate. I think you once wrote about a compressed-air powered car too.
Tell me if gas were $0.90/gallon would companies be investing in diversifed energy? I see a golden opportunity in the here and now.

"Well, it is 35 years later, and we use more oil, and our vehicles don't generally seem to be any more efficient. I call it treason"

I would say they are quite a bit more efficent. From Honda's CVCC head design (heard of the Civic?) to the revolutionary VTEC head. The GDI engine (Gasoline Direct Injection) which allows a gas engine (Otto Cycle) to emulate the more efficient Diesel Cycle. Variable-vane turbo-chargers which give more power to big trucks as well as smaller displacement gas engines. The contrast between the inefficient behemouthes of the seventies couldn't be more night and day to the 1.6 liter B16SiR2 DOHC VTEC packed into my little EG Honda. My Cruiser may only get 14 mpg, but I can haul 7-8 people in it unlike a 1979 T-bird. I think the distinction you are missing is the weight (and clutter) we've added back from all the safety equipment (Do I really need seven airbags?) and all the Gov't regulation nonsense (See "CARB" as you live in California) which hurts efficiency and innovation.
We use more oil simply because there are more of us now than 35 years ago. Say we increase the efficiency of all new autos to 40 mpg, OK, in a decade or so we'll be right back to the same consuption level and growth rate. Problem not solved.
No my friend, innovation is the ultimate solution, NOT conservation.

And for full disclosure...I own two Toyota LandCruisers which average 13-14 mpg. If you call either of them a cow I'll have to smack you. ;)

Jack H said...

Bananas are not foundational to national security. No sane person eats only bananas. No one is dependent solely on bananas for their energy -- no nutritional monopoly. No terrorist entity depends entirely on banana revenues for their funding. A better analogy would have been heroin.

We don't object to a market economy or to the use of petrolfuels. The problem is wasting it. It's like making yourself fat on bananas. Morbidly obese. Why do that?

I think you must know you're wrong, re high prices. Wealth is created -- humanity and its enterprises are not a zero sum game -- but in real life, given the fragile human condition, we know that high prices on necessities amount to extortion. I was just talking about the old company stores with my son. Sure, it was legal. But profoundly unethical. You're arguing for the Soviet model -- big empty stores with only a few shelves of canned clams. High prices remove choice. Choice, as all us abortionists know, is a good thing.

Of course high prices in fuels will may finally encourage the enterprise we've heard so much about but haven't seen AT ALL. (Could something be wrong with our theory? How could that be possible?) It DID NOT happen after 73, or 79 -- and those were still hippy dippy days. Yes, it SHOULD happen now. Or it could just generate more mega profits for speculators. Far be it from me to be cynical, but... Alternative energies become competitive and all that. The problem is, oil prices can always come down again. Old John D and all that -- drove his competition out of business, then raised prices on his monopoly. Undermines the innovators. Theories are not laws because the real world is so unfriendly.

What happens is that high prices stop seeming so high because you get used to them. You cut out other purchases. The kids don't get their flute lessons. No worries. It's why schools don't have shop classes any more.

Yes, old technologies will be revived. Oil wells will be re-explored. Just as high gold prices reopen old gold mines. That's gonna make somebody rich. Otherwise, it's just more of the same. Not really what I'm arguing for.

Um, you think McDonalds is gonna fry us out of this mess? You are banned from these pages for 72 hours. Appeals must be submitted within six minutes of this posting. All decisions of the commissioners are final.

I just don't think free enterprise is going to bring solar panels to where they need to be. I've been waiting for 35 years for it, and it hasn't happened. This is what big government must be for. Nuclear power, space programs -- Manhattan Projects. I'd like to think otherwise -- but this is how pyramids get built. Hardly any Sisyphus is big enough to get over the monopoly hump. Or do you think Big Oil will just sit by on their cigars and watch themselves become buggy whip makers?

"I would say they are quite a bit more efficent."

Is that your way of saying you own one? I thought not. SUV. Duplicity! All your high sounding rhetoric is mere dissembling to justify your sloth and lack of true patriotism. You sicken me. It's not what other people do, mate. It's what we do. The fact that some good thing is happening somewhere doesn't cut it. There's all kinds of fantastic research going on. But velcro only takes us so far. And of course you've argue my point for me, with all your VTECs and GDIs. Not SUV tech, eh? Such innovations can be used in the monsters? Well, yes, I'm sure. But why feed the monster? As I say, rescuing stranded mountain climbers? It's not unpatriotic to NEED an SUV. It's unpatriotic to waste. Was I not clear about that?

I remember hearing in the 70s about ceramic engines and how fantastically efficient they are. Doesn't seem to pan out. Etc. Lies lies lies.

If there are more of us now, so the overall demand is higher, that is no real answer. Over grazing is not an excuse for starvation. India and China are sucking all the air out of the room, or planet, or whatever. The mindshift that needs to be made is away from oil. There is no need for it, for city driving. Even your gigantic family of seven or eight, which you are always hauling around the way you claim, in your airbagless deathtrap, could be moved in an EV or the like ... when you take your five girls and three boys and four rottweilers to the RV show or your weekly NASCAR rally.

"Say we increase the efficiency of all new autos to 40 mpg, OK, in a decade or so we'll be right back to the same consuption level and growth rate. Problem not solved."

Conservation is always the answer, when the question is, should we waste. You've argued for futility, not for innovation: the next innovation will just become another problem further down the line. The future will not save us in the present. Nobody will be buying SUVs ten years from now -- they will become the minivans and station wagons of the days of yore. But right now, when Joe Dokes goes to buy a car, his choice at the lot will say quite a bit about how seriously he takes Osama -- or rather, Iran.