Liberal Practicality as Science

pimp Just encountered a new example of our old friend, liberal practicality. This time, it’s not craven Democratic Partiers, but high-minded scientists:

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems.

How, then, does UCS justify its pimping of overclass attempts to extend the Age of the Automobile, to say nothing of its perhaps even more craven and anti-scientific shilling for “biofuels”?

Well, the answer comes right there in the same “About Us” blurb that begins with the above claims to rigor, objectivity, and seriousness:

Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

“Effective” and “practical,” of course, both mean the same thing: politically safe within existing arrangements. Or, even more plainly, hopelessly insufficient.

The results? Take a look at this chart, which shows UCS’ view of the advantages of so-called “electric vehicles” in the three power-generation regions of the United States. Not only might you find it pretty newsworthy to see that UCS’ label for the dirtiest energy-production regions of the country are the “Good” area, but check out the baseline for this bogus EV pitch — a regular car that gets 27 MPG!

What would happen to the UCS numbers if one were to use the MPG rating of the best existing gas cars?

That number is 37, which is 37 percent higher than 27. It doesn’t take much scientific rigor to figure out that a rather base trick is afoot here.

The only possible scientific attitude to automobiles is that they were and are a capitalist pipedream and also a dire threat to the future of human civilization. The only possible genuinely practical policy recommendation is for radical reconstruction of towns and cities to facilitate non-automotive locomotion. To the extent continued car-use must be a transitional part of that larger plan, the only conceivably rational and honest recommendation is to advise people to always buy the best available regular-gas car, and to push for imposition of radically higher MPG rules and heavy taxes on gas guzzlers, which should be defined as all automobiles not within a few MPG of the best available models.

Shame on you, UCS!

Strowwngg? Or Maybe Criminal?

As the planet roasts, pickup trucks remain the engine of the automobile-industrial complex, which is itself the leading source of GHG emissions in the United States, as well as the lifeblood of corporate capitalism. How does this happen? As Leslie Savan says, “follow the flattery.” (And, meanwhile, note the sexism, homophobia, and thoughtless obstinacy on which it rests.)

Another museum piece for our grandchildren, on the off chance we leave them a livable world.

New Depths of Terrible

So, The Middle is a television program on the Disney Corporation’s ABC Network. As the series’ title screams, it is as blatant a knock-off of another program, namely Malcolm in the Middle, as you could ever find in any medium, with all the usual steps down, including a huge drop-off in acting and writing talent (not that Malcolm in the Middle was ever anything wonderful itself). Obviously, the market-measurers at Disney/ABC simply noticed that the formula — ironic, navel-gazing self-pity and apolitical class resentment — still had some legs.

I mention this utterly turdy show because it just recently stepped to a new low in the multiply burned-over and reconstructed capitalist Potemkin Village that is American television. This week, The Middle aired an entire episode that was an undisguised, ham-fisted commercial for the Volkswagen Passat.

The set-up, shown in this clip, is as terrible and stupid as everything else about this series and this episode.  The premise is that the main characters’ neighbors are away doing something fun, but somehow forgot to park their brand new Volkswagen Passat in their garage, so call as ask the main characters to move it in for them.  This, of course, launches a series of scenes in which the main characters praise the various wonders of the Passat.

That’s the thing about commercial TV.  It always gets worse, despite (and because of) all the money.