Sunday, June 12, 2005

our lucky number is below one

Dropped balls
I dug through some old files recently and found that I've been talking about the merits of plug-in hybrids for thirteen years.
That's a fairly long time. It's three design cycles in the auto industry, maybe four. It's I don't know how many rounds at various boards and bureaus. Six and a half Congresses.

Federal and state policy makers and auto companies have known - have to have known - about the feasibility of partial grid power for vehicles and the substantial if not complete freedom from petroleum that they would allow. The auto companies had to know it, because their own engineers were talking about it. I was one of them.

Yet every time the opportunity came to them, they dropped the ball.

A course of inaction is being carefully charted by our energy dependant civilization.

Though I have ranted about some of the proposed alternatives, I am not trying to stall progress. I mean progress in an uninflected sense. I do think it is fair to ask that technology optimists such as Amory Lovins apply the same skepticism to their bright ideas that they apply to thinkers such as James Kunstler.

Consider the personal versus civic life and duty.

On a personal level, I would tell all my readers out there in blogistan, and thus remind myself, to prepare for bad times. If Kunstler says it is going to rain frogs, damn it, don’t scapegoat him because he is a bearer of bad tidings or angry frogs.

Post depletion, one could visualize our energy driven civilization as a pit, dug by ourselves, requiring human cooperation and ingenuity to climb out of.

Which leads me to the civic level.

There are many interesting and driven people working on the problem of energy in a post petroleum future. I applaud them and their efforts. This could include everything from New Urbanism, (a blueprint for conservation) to the Hypercar concept (speaking of Amory Lovins).

The reason I give ink to the negative is because all the momentum in our culture is negative right now. Those who fail to see that – and there are many - live in an idealized world. Mythology takes many forms. A handful of years ago I would happily extol the virtues of a hydrogen economy to anyone who would listen. Now I know better: X, Y, and Z need to happen before this hydrogen scenario is even a possibility. A big string of maybes topped by unbuilt nuclear power plants and natural gas terminals.

I don’t wish to live and write in a sea of negativity.

For now, I call it as I see it.


At 7:03 PM, June 12, 2005, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Neither jaundiced eyes nor rose-colored glasses.

We're going to have to live in reality; it behooves us to see it as it is, including the exact obstacles (and workarounds) in our way.


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