Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The auto drains valuable resources - Frank Fisher

...our approaches to resolving Australia’s urban transport difficulties are piecemeal and that what limited success we have (notably in Perth) arose from the remarkable generalising influence of an outsider, environmental scientist, Prof. Peter Newman. So far however, the successes have not involved any large scale inroads into the use of the private urban commuter vehicle, or DODO, as Australia’s primary means for urban commuting let alone into the use of trucks instead of trains for goods transport. The DODO or Driver Only Driver Owned commuter car exercises its seductive hold over urban commutation through its very dedication to a single person. In the first instance it does it by privatising ownership to its (owner-)driver which secures and ensures his/her continuous access to it. The apparent freedoms provided by that dedication, by the widely accessible monetary resources to secure (owner-)dedication and by the equally widespread (if nowadays wilfull) ignorance to the planetary consequences of DODOs, are among the many difficult binds we must unpick in the effort to wean ourselves off default use of DODOs for all transport duties.

Currently the dedication to the DODO accounts for something like a third of all our energy use. In saying this i am including the energy costs of building, maintaining, monitoring and deconstructing the motor car and all its supporting infrastructures. These costs cover such diverse activities as a good proportion of hospital emergency activities, a significant proportion of government bureaucracies, one part of which will be the defence forces dedicated to maintaining oil supply lines and another being provision of foreign relations services to facilitate them. Were we to attempt to cover all the energy costs of the car and its supporting infrastructures, we would need to offset the energy demands of rectifying environment and human health damage inflicted by its many-faceted emissions only one of which is CO2! Other emissions from its operation are a variety of noxious gases, particulates, heat, vibration, noise … . Beyond its operational environmental costs are the pollution implications associated with driving its infrastructures, their construction and all their supporting infrastructures in turn. To make good these extensive and comprehensive environmental damages would likely take more energy than we currently use for everything. Taking implications such as these into consideration implies an operational efficiency in moving that Driver very close to zero. On top of this, governments desperate to reduce their fossil fuel dependency are now beginning to support fuelling this process from foodstuffs (corn, sugar, canola …) forcing up the price of foodstuffs. The use of foodstuffs to drive DODOs moves us way beyond the inefficiencies in using grain for feed lot beef because a far smaller proportion of the fuel provided to a car (<1%[ii]) actually goes to move its driver, than goes to “fuel” a grain fed steer’s production of meatIf grain-fed beef is a reprehensible use of grain, how much less acceptable are grain-fed DODOs?...
Read the whole document

No comments:

Post a Comment