Horses, and Camels, and Llamas, Oh My: Honoring more Ecologically Suited Transportation
Brother of early sociologist Max Weber, Alfred Weber, described a 'horse state' (not his term though his idea) as an important innovation in human/environmental capacities that allowed humans to develop larger territorial jurisdictions. It was a merging of nomadic riders who could with agricultural populations who were unable to. This lead to the first large scale states and empire in world history from the Shang in proto-China, to the Assyrians in the current Middle East. Regional variations of the horse state were the 'camel state' (how could you have Islamic expansion without in in these areas, or the Caliphates?); or the llama state (how could you have the Incan Empire in South America without this multi-purpose transport, textile, and food supply--which was a nationalized infrastructure? The politics of this empire would look very different without riding in on the back of the local's dependencies for transport controlled by the state).
So think of the horse, the camel or the llama in the same category as the automobile. Sometimes, as this video shows, the camel wins easily over the car given what suits the area involved well.
Keith Bellows: Celebrating the camel
Keith Bellows gleefully outlines the engineering marvels of the camel, a vital creature he calls "the SUV of the desert." Though he couldn't bring a live camel to TED, he gets his camera crew as close as humanly possible to a one-ton beast in full rut.
And in the Arctic areas, only sleds of frozen fish work for creating any large scale transportation. In conclusion, the point is that transportation is a major consumptive category of human existence. Much human scale and range depends upon its reliability and sustainability suited to a particular ecoregion.
However, we still pretend that the unadaptable automobile is a good idea despite it breaking down whenever we forget to build its roads or provide its oil supply.
As for removing one difficulty of oil toward more localized solutions--here we go. A water based car has finally made it to mass production? Genepax, of Japan, is looking to connect with a larger auto manufacturer. The water-based cars have been in existence for at least 20 years. None have politically made it this far however--without being bought up and shut down, or without their main inventor being killed (like Stan Meyer for instance).
Water based car in Japan
1 min 22 sec
What if you are in the desert without water? Perhaps this will make it to mass production soon.
Solar powered electric car
If it fails to make it to mass production, you can make one on demand. Build it yourself. The plans are here: http://www.sunnev.com.
What about if its dark, cold as ice, and we are without water? Well, we have air--in the compressed air car. This mass manufactured car engine runs on pure air: without thermodynamics, without pollution.
The Air Car
The MDI air car is being mass manufactured. The first location was by Tata Motors in India from March 2007. It got some American media attention when it appeared at a New York City Auto show in 2008. Next will be an American production model. That is scheduled presumably for production starting in 2009--in the New England area in the last news that I saw about it.
So we already have solar/electric, water, and air cars. Why do we have gasoline monopolies on transportation, tell me once more? I will tell you: corporate and government interlocking corruption is why we consume gasoline. It's the raw material regime phenomenon I talked about before. Read Edwin Black's Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives to get up to speed on this history.
What about smarter roads as well?
A few interesting ideas to creating a self-funded 'road ecology' for transportation infrastructure maintenance--that minimizes empty cars and creates a way to fund the infrastructure away from reliance on a cycle of institutionalizing gasoline (through gasoline taxes) to maintain roads, into different sources of road infrastructure funding based on traffic itself. Which makes far more economic sense--though it could be biased against equality of access for the poorer in society to fund roads solely this way. Just expand it as a choice.
Robin Chase: Getting cars off the road and data into the skies (13 minutes)
"Robin Chase founded Zipcar, the world’s biggest car-sharing business. That was one of her smaller ideas. Here she travels much farther, contemplating road-pricing schemes that will shake up our driving habits and a mesh network vast as the Interstate. With Zipcar, Robin Chase turned the concept of car-sharing -- and carbon-saving while you're at it -- into a reality and even a full-blown trend. If she weren't a proven start-up entrepreneur, you might imagine Robin Chase as a transportation geek, some dedicated civil servant, endlessly refining computer models of freeway traffic. Or if she weren't such a green-conscious problem-solver, you might take her for a businesswoman only. Ultimately, the best way to understand Chase is simply as a remarkable innovator. Case in point: In 2000, Chase focused her MIT business training on founding Zipcar, now the largest car-sharing business in the world. Using a wireless key system and Internet billing, members pick up [and access a choice of different 'status' and use-dependent] Zipcars [instead of access to only one type of car] at myriad locations anytime they want one. The idea is at once ordinary and highly sophisticated, with powerful technologies applied to tasks as prosaic as grocery shopping. But the result couldn't be more straightforward: fewer cars, less carbon. Since its founding, Zipcar has doubled in size every year, making Chase's biggest ideas and her latest company, GoLoco [grouped trip sharing index of others so you can travel together if desired], look mighty promising. "Robin Chase has already changed the way we drive, but she's not satisfied. Now she wants to change the way we live as well."--Harvard Gazette"
Her WiFi-microwave radiation intensive 'solutions' however are harmful to the very biological life she wants to help: us and other species. I suppose that comes from the MIT specialized training that has left her clueless about the ecological bioelectric damages caused by her solutions. However, remove the WiFi and it's a better assortment of ideas. WiFi extensions would have terrible second order effects on health as well as civic freedom since it would yield a police state. And a police state is the key to unsustainability and corruption. It is a mistake to concentrate only on the materials, because the issue of unsustainability an unrepresentative, tyrannous, political framework that encourage repression and more corruption. A surveillance grid, discriminatingly utilized by those in the pilot seat, can only be utilized for corrupt and unsustainable goals instead of open representative ones like she imagines.