Saturday, July 1, 2023

Problems for young people to solve. A geezer's perspective.

There are some big doozy problems in the world nowadays. Global Warming is the likely winner among existential disasters coming down the pike to kill and destroy.

I know, some readers will with every justification put up an immediate thumbs down about me delving into politics and bummer shit. K. Sorry.

I wanted to point out some things that the younger generations are going to need to deal with, particularly here in 'Merica. I'm not going to do the obvious and bellyache about climate change and how much nicer it was back when I was a whippersnapper. I choose to bring up some things that should be obvious but obviously are not.

The United States Senate

A great deal of power resides in the Senate. The Supreme Court nightmare we have right now is a direct result of Senate power being used by ideologues who are not representative of the United States' population.

The Senate is un-democratic. Every state gets two representatives. California gets 2 and Wyoming gets 2. I lived in Wyoming for four years and married a native (oops). I promise you, it is a FAR simpler place than California with far simpler problems and culture.

The framers of the Constitution could have never imagined that we'd have a Wyoming and a California. Or a New York and a North Dakota. In their world, it made sense for each sovereign state to have a strong voice in that body. But damn. So many low-population, low-tech, less educated states have an equal say. Which is, for example, why we can't do anything about guns.

One of two things needs to happen: the structure of that body needs to change to be more representative or the big states need to break themselves up.

Driving and flying

First-world people and Americans in particular feel very entitled to travel around as much as they can afford to, as if there were no side effect. We drive stupidly big vehicles, we're willing to drive them really far even for just a weekend, and when we go to work we go by ourselves in those big honkin' F350s. 

Air travel is out of control. It's a HUGE consumer of fossil fuels. If you fly in an airplane especially for pleasure more than once every couple years you are having a big impact on the planet, even though nobody really talks about that.

The freedom to own your own vehicle has been part of first world culture for over 100 years. Generations of us have loved our freedom buggies. I have owned 11 of them, Eleven! I have lots of good memories from tooling around the American West in my various rigs.

The material, water, and carbon cost of manufacturing internal combustion or electric vehicles is a significant portion of their total lifespan cost. If you buy one new off the lot, depending on how efficient it is the carbon cost for it's full lifetime will already be 30-60% incurred. If it's gas or diesel and you put gas and oil in it and burn that up, and tires, etc. for 10 or 20 years and 80-200 thousand miles, the consumptive output of greenhouse gases will be on the same order of magnitude as what it took to build the damn thing.

Now we've glommed on to the idea that the electric vehicle is our savior. We'll be able drive anywhere, for any trivial reason whenever we want. Like always. So we all need to sell our dinosaur-juice rigs and get shiny new EVs. We'll scorch earth to provide a new EV for every first world driveway on the whole planet. And all the internal combustion ones will still be on the road until utterly worn out, blowing blue smoke.

Time to change this paradigm homo sapiens.

As I say, this is for the new generations to solve. All of it. Fixing the Senate could help us do things like clean up the Supreme Court, who went on their own scorched earth tirade this week. Solving the travel-on-a-whim problem would change the way the whole world works in a way that I think would slow us down and make us more thoughtful. And cleaner. We would focus on being here rather than on going there.

If we don't do anything radical to turn around our carbon problem, blue death may come from the sky to find us all and end the problem. Floods have already shocked much of the world. And fires. I've seen it change in my 50+ years observing. It's changed. But especially in the last 10 years. It's changing faster now.

Happy Independence Day!

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