Wednesday, April 27, 2005

an energy budget

Looking at the ASPO charts for oil depletion, we see that barring geopolitical events that curtail oil and natural gas depletion, we will soon be working within the constraints of an energy budget. Peak energy is at hand.

This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but one thing is clear.

All the grand ideas for what's next - be it more nuclear plants, windmill farms, or what have you - will be scrambling for crumbs of energy like pigs feeding from the same trough.

I wonder what will win the energy sweepstakes? Tanks maybe? That would be a disaster.

More humorous are the local boondoggles - I guess - in the sense that they represent huge missed opportunities. In Seattle, my hometown, we tried for light rail, and ended up voting for an useless monorail, an art installation. (Not the 1962 world's fair monorail - gonna build a new one.)

And then there is this, courtesy of Cascadia Scorecard:
Traffic Jam by Clark Williams-Derry
I think that (Seattle's) preferred option for replacing the Viaduct with a tunnel -- which would cost $4.5 billion to replace 2.2 miles of highway, plus some work to reconnect the street grid -- is wildly expensive, especially given that transportation planners think that they could raise at most $100 million by tolling the facility.
One hundred years of highway. Ugh. I'd much rather have nothing than that. It would be much better to use the $2 billion to replace the seawall, tear down the Viaduct, and invest in a plan to move people into and through downtown without a gold-plated highway.

I think every American city has similar tales of megaprojects, a continued slathering of progress layered over progress.

From where I sit, I hope the Seattle Viaduct money is used for something useful, because by 2007, when the project is slated to start, it will be blazingly apparent to everyone in the world that cars are doomed.

Not humanity; cars.

I can live with that. So let's take on city hall!


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