Tuesday, March 10, 2009

End of the Auto

...and all of those commercials where everybody is so happy driving their new hummer around. Not so coincidentally my own mother was just hit at a light by some maniac going 60 mph. Fortunately, she was ok. But, is this what life is? Sitting around in metal boxes, playing bumper cars, if only to have some human to human contact.

Harvey Wasserman on the end of the era of the automobile:
But the larger transition is epic and global, based on a simple structural reality: the passenger car is obsolete. Auto sales have plummeted not merely because of a bad economy, but because the technology no longer makes sense.

Franklin Roosevelt took GM over in 1943-5 to make the hardware to beat the Nazis. Barack Obama should now do the same to beat climate chaos.

Make streetcars, not passenger cars.

Hybrids are too little, too late, with problems of their own. Solar-powered electric cars will help phase out the gas guzzlers.

But in the long run, the automobile itself needs to be dismantled and re-cycled, not retooled or rebuilt.
The fact of the matter is that Car companies are broke because they can't run their business profitably, cities are broke because they over extended infrastructure and the costs to support car culture, people spend roughly 20% of their income to operate and maintain this machinery to get us around, and urban development is crippled by the cost of constructing parking. All barriers to progress.

And all of this BEFORE energy costs really start to cripple this energy-absurdly intense economy. Just wait to some real disruptions in the energy markets. How about we just rid ourselves of these burdens now???

Time Machine with Guy Pearce was a pretty shitty movie, but to this day I still have with me the scene from the near future in NYC where everyone is moving around via bicycle.

More from Wasserman:
We need to dig up roads, not build more. We need rails and coaches, bio-diesel buses and self-propelled trolleys, Solartopian super-trains and in-town people movers, not to mention windmills, solar panels, wave generators and geothermal piping.

In America's corporate-conceived “love affair with the automobile,” our first spouse---mass transit---was murdered. Now the unsustainable obsolescence of the private passenger car is collapsing a global financial system built on the illusion of its constant growth.

If the automobile and its attendant freeways continue to metastasize in India, China and Africa as they did in the 20th Century United States, we are doomed.