Nano, Nano: World-Beater Car Turns into a Dust-Eater.

The Tata Nano: When does affordable become too cheap? (Photo by Anugrah Adams/Wikimedia)

When India’s Tata Motors announced its plans to sell a car, the Nano, for under $3,000 to the rising millions of the Third World, there were in general two negative reactions. One was to giggle at the funny names, but that stopped when Tata bought the flagship auto companies of the British Empire, Jaguar and Land Rover. The other was to assume that the Nano would hasten the destruction of the industrial world by bringing to the masses of Asia the benefits of American society they crave so much: smog, gridlock, petroleum addiction and car payments. Turns out that was wrong, too, but not in a good way. Continue reading

Money Beats Brains Again: EPA Gives Up on Smog

smokestack in Chicago

The EPA was thinking of restraining air pollution such as this, into Chicago's air in January. But it has thought twice. (Photo by Andrew Ciscel/Flickr)

Since industrial America lost its grip on the White House, when its first wholly-owned and -operated president, George W. Bush, was replaced by the upstart Barack Obama, it has been pouring money into reasserting its grip on the Congress in order to prevent governmental interference with the making of profits. And Wednesday was payoff day. The Environmental Protection Agency surrendered. Continue reading

Peak Fish: We’re Running Out of Them, Too

Fish

Industry reports of steadily increasing fish catches over 40 years, it turns out, left something out.(Photo by ezioman/Flickr)

A new study of industrial fishing practices has found that the world’s fish catch peaked 20 years ago and has been declining since. Worse, it finds that the steady increases in the catch prior to the 1980s were achieved not because there were lots of fish, but because the industry constantly moved to new fisheries, leaving behind depleted ones. Now, they have run out of places to go. Continue reading

Digression: How to Handle a Palin

Sarah Palin

When Sarah Palin speaks, you must not listen. It's a celebrity trap. (Photo by sskennel/Flickr

There is one overwhelming worry — and one only — that is shared equally by today’s Democrats and Republicans: not war, not deficit spending, not climate change, but what to do about Sarah Palin. Here, as a post-partisan public service, is the answer.

Continue reading

Food Fights Coming Soon

National Guard riot training

US National Guard troops train for riot control duty. Several new reports on the world's food supply indicate their services will be needed. (US Army Photo)

Crop failures and food-price shocks, often leading to food riots, are eroding world food security — which is to say they are threatening the existence of a growing number of countries — according to a number of new reports. Climate change is implicated in the most catastrophic of the crop failures this year, but scientists blame industrial agriculture for some of the gravest threats to our food supply that lie just ahead. Continue reading

Reflection: The New American Evolution

Useless TV

After the evolution, there will be no use for TV sets. (Photo by Robbt/Flickr)

The imminent collapse of industrial society, an unavoidable consequence of its destruction of the web of life that supports it, is not the same thing as the end of the world, or the end of humanity. It is simply evolution at work. The world will shrug off its wounds — the only thing we underestimate more profoundly than the harm we do, is the ability of the natural world to recover from what we do. Humanity will persist. too, in a reduced, altered, and much improved form. Continue reading

Nightfall in America

US Capitol dome

As night gathers in Washngton, the Capitol dome shines a beacon of total ignorance over the nation. (Photo by David Iliff/wikimedia)

The triumph of ignorance and greed in the November elections is about to complete the paralysis of the United States government that has been the clear objective of the right wing since 1980, and has been almost within its grasp since 2000. Virtually free at last from the constraints of objective journalism, effective opposition and a shared public sense of civic duty, the right wing no longer needs to be restrained, or rational, in completing the destruction of a once great nation. Continue reading

Lakes Warming Toward Danger Point

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada, is North America's largest alpine lake. Like most other lakes in the world, it's warming up. (Photo by NASA)

The world’s major lakes have been warming at a “rapid” rate since 1985, according to a survey released this week by the National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA). Using data from infra-red sensors mounted on satellites, the study found average surface-temperature warming in large lakes around the world of up to one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. Continue reading

Solar “Farms” Keep us in the Dark

solar farm

In this type of solar "farm," mirrors focus the sun on the tower to boil water. Lots of sun in the desert, but water? Photo by Bardot/Wikimedia

The relentless industrialization of renewable energy continues, now with the support of government at all levels. The case for solar “farms” and wind “farms” (note how the word “farm” summons bucolic images that have nothing to do with these immense factories), dripping with greenwash, obscures the fact that industrial renewables are no alternative for a petrochemical-addicted society, simply another industrial dead end. As an example, consider the solar “farm.” Continue reading

Sea Water Rising at Norfolk, Va.

The harbor at Norfolk Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia, on one of the world's great harbors in the world's largest estuary, has long prospered because of its proximity to the sea. That tide is changing. (US Navy photo)

While the rising oceans of a warming world eat away at, among many other places, the city of Norfolk Virginia, the state’s wingnut attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, spends his days suing the federal government to prevent it from regulating greenhouse gases, and trying to convict a University of Virginia scientist of fraud for having the temerity to conclude that the world’s climate is being changed by pollution. Continue reading