Friday, April 20, 2007

Blazing Funnels

All you need to know about the Alabama state hating and Automotive Purchase Funnel inventing Art Spinella's 458 the Dust to Dust energy report, an eclectic mix of emails, cartoons, photographs of classic cars and endless, endless tables of makes and models and dollars -- is that Myron Ebell referenced it. Now you know it's very bad.

Let's begin with the reference:
"The fact is, most of these products sold as 'green' cost more than the alternative," says Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank that dismisses climate-change warnings as scare tactics not based on sound science. "You're already pricing people at the lower end out."
The logic already fails for long-life lightbulbs that last six times longer, use five times less power, but cost twice as much, so you can't afford that extra packet of cigarettes today if you buy one. Ebell always stands up for the lower-enders' right to get screwed. Continues the article:
He cites a study by an automotive research group, CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore., that calculated total energy use for several car models. Ebell says the overall energy outlay for the Prius — from design to the junkyard — is costlier "than for an SUV like my Chevy TrailBlazer. It takes a huge amount of energy just to fabricate those batteries."
Ahhh, that old made-in-Moraine TrailBlazer which comes with a 291hp/277ft-lbs all-aluminum 4.2 L "Atlas" LL8 inline-six engine standard and an optional 302hp/330ft-lbs aluminum small-block 5.3 L V8 with Active Fuel Management. The inline-six makes the TrailBlazer the most powerful six-cylinder SUV in its class. The Active Fuel Management system on the V8 engine shuts off 4 of the 8 cylinders during highway travel and idle to save fuel. The 6-cylinder versions of the TrailBlazer get up to 20 miles per gallon highway, according to refreshed EPA estimates. The TrailBlazer can tow up to 6,800 lb, which gives it a huge advantage over unibody crossover SUVs. Expected to burn 12 thousand gallons of gasoline in its lifetime of moving our children.

Well, that explains Ebell's amazing leap of creativity last year when he said:
"[GM is] one of the companies that has lead the way in developing a new internal combustion engine that, when it's idling or just sitting, some of the cylinders will turn off. So, for example, if you had an eight cylinder engine and you were just sitting at a stop sign, six of the cylinders would stop and there would be just two of the cylinders keeping the thing going until you needed it, which would save a huge amount of fuel for people who drive in stop-go traffic."
That's the problem with uber-Capitalism; as Spinella's analysis inadvertently demonstrated, it directly favours technological stagnation according to all measures since "Designing and developing new vehicles and/or updating old ones are among the most energy expensive parts of the new-vehicle production process."(p.179)

The study purports to analyze the "real energy cost" per lifetime ownership of each make of car in great detail, and then lump mental energy, muscular energy, and toxic fossil fuel energy into one single dollar amount figure to put it into friendly consumer terms. The wholistic approach takes account of the fact that Germans use public transport to get to the car factory and need high wages to fund their welfare state, while Yanks prefer to hold a futile traffic jam on the way to their common work-place until their jobs go to Mexico.

Not only does the report entirely fail to feature the words traffic congestion and its real cost, there's no concept of air pollution, which kills and thickens as massively as smoking. Or has lead suddenly become good for you? Maybe they can't be bothered to reduce life down to a dollar amount, because it would ruin their figures, since most of us out here at the lower-end value our lives more than the big business guys do.

So, if you ignore the toxic air pollution, the huge penalties against deploying new technology, the long term climate change, storms, droughts and sea-level rise, dying young because you haven't got enough exercise, and the mindless drive to fetishize cheap-to-make trash because it's bright and has a lot of chrome, Have you hugged your Hummer today?


Anonymous Mike said...

Am I along in wondering if Myron and Goatchurch are one and the same?

Myron is the parody of the oil industry spokesman. Not content with defending quite rightly, our right to travel, which with the dire state of public transit in many places, inevitably involves the use of private vehicles, he defends our right to use urban SUVs when nippy little turbo diesels, using less than a quarter of the fuel would be a far more suitable choice. Maybe Myron is really hoping for fuel shortage leading to government regulation of who may travel and where. His supposed masters in the oil industry will only be in business as long as there is oil, so they really should want to conserve supply, rather than burn it all at once. Why not hike the price a bit then? And stop trying to drill in the Arctic Reserve - the oil will still be there in a few tens of years, when shortage elsewhere may make drilling there a bit more acceptable to the public.

Goatchurch on the other hand is the parody of the environmental campaigner. We don't hear much about insulating your house, low energy lightbulbs, wind turbines and photovoltic cells, because these things have no impact on your freedom. And freedom is what he really hates. If you travel at all you should be using public transit or bicycling, no matter how inconvenient, far or incliment the weather. No low cost flights for you of course. Best not mention his holiday in China then. Maybe he fancies himself as the fuel tsar, ruling on the worth of proposed journies.

But then Myron is working for the same thing. Is Goatchurch a front for Myron, or is Myron a front for Goatchurch?

6:26 AM, May 02, 2007 Permanent link to this entry  

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