Monday, October 17, 2016

Dashboards and the Race to Tomorrow

Those ghostly hands floating in the photo are ghosts of travels past, like the invisible clouds of CO2 that rise from my exhaust pipe and mix with countless others in the air to erase all trace of my participation in collective planetary suicide.

Wow, wasn't expecting to write that! Major guilt trip to lay on folks needing "exhausting" machines to get through the day, which is all of us. But that's the box of perpetual guilt that political inaction locally, nationally and globally keeps us in, forcing us into exhausting mental gymnastics of denial and compartmentalization, just to maintain a positive outlook.

But it was the graph in the photo that was to be the subject of this post. On a Prius dashboard, you can see updates every five minutes on how much or how little you're contributing to aforementioned collective planetary suicide as you glide effortlessly forward in peace, comfort and tranquility, insulated from any negative feedback, thanks to the technological elegance of synergy drive. On the left is the first five minutes, when the engine was still cold and guzzling gas, if a Prius can be said to guzzle. Ten minutes in, the engine warm, the 25 mpg guzzles have turned to 60mpg sips, which one deep and persistent stream of thought would say is unamerican. A good American car should be able to drink lustily, take full throated swigs and slam that empty gas tank down on the counter, its weighty fossil carbon contents flown off on the wings of oxygen to hover above us, in airy peace and tranquility, while it effortlessly wreaks havoc for centuries. Carbon liberation! Combust, combust, until we go bust!

All of which was intended to say that those first 5-10 minutes of inefficiency with a cold gas engine feed the dream of electric cars for puddle jumping Princetonians, charged at home with solar panels. But oh how slow the change as we hurl forward towards the climate tyranny of tomorrow, in a nation that cherishes its freedom to pollute.

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