Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another sign of a sick society

I just read on Yahoo news that car enthusiasts are investing in condos for their cars. These condos are enclosed, environmentally regulated, spaces where they can keep their investments secure from thieves, vandals, and the inconsiderate neighbor, as well as protecting them from the assaults of the weather. These folks are spending upwards of $200k to keep their vehicle collections safe and pristine.

This irresponsible extravagance makes me ill.

Millions of our fellow citizens suffer from inadequate food, housing, and health care. My ire is about more than how these people squander their personal fortunes. While I have leftist leanings, I am not so far left of center that I don't have a healthy respect for personal property. However, none of us are own this planet alone.

Every pile of wealth acquired by individuals was not earned solely by the sweat of their single brow, regardless of how bright or hard working or self-centered that individual might be. Wealth is merely one kind of measure of relative position. In order to have a "relative" to anyone there have to be other "someones" to be measured against. And, no one changes position by their own actions alone, whether they go up or down relative to the others whose position they are being compared to.

A large part of my ire is borne out of this fascinating book I am currently reading: The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler. Like many others before it, the book focuses on the imminent depletion of fossil fuels and the radical, and I mean RADICAL, change in the nature of human existence that will result. The author puts the current crisis in historical context, examining the role of fossil fuels in many major historical events over the last 150 years. He also makes convincing arguments against every major alternative energy source and the pure fantasies that any or all of them will ride in like some white knight and save our collective industrialized bacon.

The book is quite sobering and frightening. Even if he's only partially right, I probably won't have to worry about Social Security running out before I get old. There probably won't be enough food to buy to feed our teaming billions, regardless of how much money anyone has. And, there definitely won't be enough fuel to keep me warm in the wintertime, if I continue to live in NH.

I'm only about half way through the book, and it has massively changed my perspective. I am now embarrassed by the fact that I drive a six cylinder SUV (a mere 21mpg). I am in the process of swapping out every incandescent bulb in our house for energy saving bulbs (about half were, any way). I turn off things that don't need to be on. And, most importantly, I'm paying attention and thinking about ways to conserve. My efforts and yours won't really save us. And, I don't think a huge swell in conservation will buy us enough time to come up with viable alternative energy sources. I've pretty much accepted that we've jumped out of a plane without a parachute. However, for as long as I have a working light above my bathroom mirror, I want to be able to look myself in the face and know that I tried at least a little to stave it all off.

Sorry to get morose and preachy. I'll try not to bring it up again. But, I couldn't help the rant after reading about the car condos.

1 comment:

Rusty said...

Hey, look at the bright side... maybe bird flu or ebola will kill off a couple hundred million of us and leave more stuff for the ones who are left.