Trump’s pretensions to leadership are symptomatic of everything that ails the GOP. What’s dressed up as patriotism is, in fact, the failure to adapt to a fast-changing world.
At High School, my mate Dan was an excellent student. I don’t mean that he swotted it up while others ran and jumped and fell in love. He did all that. I mean that when exam time rolled round, Dan would dig himself out of whatever hole he’d spent the semester digging himself into and climb to the top of the class. We called him Dan the Deliveryman.
The pressure of other people’s expectations fired him up. We all told him he’d do great, and our teachers niggled him constantly about his natural abilities. His girlfriend, the hottest chick in school, pushed him like a locomotive. Dan needed it to count, and he needed others to tell him it counted.
Then Dan went to university. There, invisible to teachers and anonymous among classmates, the pressure was off. The girlfriend moved on and then suddenly, like a pizza boy with a flat tire, Dan stopped delivering.
It was as if a great big crevasse had opened up and swallowed him. Last I heard, he was drifting through nowhere jobs, struggling to climb out of bed.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that Dan lost himself in the environment of independent learning at uni. In an ever-changing world, the failure to adapt can bring disaster.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he wants to get America back on track. But his attitudes toward alternative energy promise to keep it running off the rails.
I am reminded of a story in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, Five Go Down to the Sea, which my kids love. It recounts the evil deeds of Wreckers--coastal people who guided ships onto rocks with false lights to pillage the contents and murder passengers and crews for their valuables.
Such are Trump and the GOP. These people have made fortunes in the status quo, and they want to go on milking the coal cow as long as they can. They deny the reality of climate change, dressing up their failure to adapt as patriotism. Their stance demonstrates just how tight a grip vested interests have on conservative American politics.
Fundamentally, they are afraid of change. And in a world in which change is constant, they are being left behind.
Coal is on the way out, and solar is on the way in. Even in an economic environment where coal is cheaper than dirt, during 2015 the US installed seven gigawatts of solar capacity. The solar sector added 35000 jobs, pushing the industry total to 240,000 by the end of this year. Business is booming thanks to solar investment tax credits, positive developments for solar net metering in California and, now, the agreement at COP21.
Gradually, policymakers are climbing aboard. On January 13, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to eliminate all use of coal in the state by 2020. The day before that, President Obama’s State of the Union speech announced a push to “change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
With change underway both on the ground and at the top, Trump and the GOP will find themselves increasingly isolated. Of course, Donald might win the election, and then the farce will go on. And, just as Britain’s economic dominance did not survive the colonial era, the US’s economic dominance might not survive the Trainwreck.
Proving that even bloggers can benefit from recycling of resources, to get me through the holiday season I'm posting an article I wrote long ago. Boy, things have changed. And yet, they've stayed the same...
My dad wasn’t a farmer though he very much wanted to be. He housed us on one acre of garden and two of farm and populated his lands with the Guinness World Record’s smallest herd of cows. Being the conscientious cocky that he was, he installed an electric fence to discourage the unrulier elements of the Gang of Three from acting on dreams of greener pastures.
One chilly morn, I trudged bleary-eyed and groggy through the gap in the hedge to deliver the beasts their daily hay. As I dumped the lucerne over the fence, I suffered a barbaric blow to the base of my spine. Screaming in agony, I whipped around to curse my elder brother for assaulting me. I might have added “again.” Not sure.
To my dismay, the space that should have accommodated his demonic form was bare. Had he finally been raptured downwards by a vengeful god for his beastly misdeeds, as I had so often wished?
Eventually, I realised I had touched the electric fence. The cows, themselves having suffered the torment of the wire many times, chomped away contentedly without so much as a moo in sympathy. Did I detect, rather, a hint of sardonic amusement in those sinkhole eyes?
The point is, things weren’t what they’d seemed. Which brings me, logically, to cycling.
It is the pin-up boy of environmentally-friendly pursuits. But it turns out that professional cycling is the most polluting of all sports.
The Tour de France attracts 12 to 15 million spectators, and it’s these enviro-bandits who are the problem. On TV the baddies look innocent enough, waving flags and bouncing on their toes in excitement as the peloton swooshes past in a millisecond blur of rainbow lycra and body odour.
But then they hitch houses to the back of their ageing Renaults and Peugeots and wallow about the Pyrenees in low gear belching poisonous clouds of CO2 over the mountain meadows, laying waste to wildflowers and smothering eagles on the wing.
To be sure, when a spectator plants his foot in the Alps, a dugong goes belly-up in Australia.
F1, on the other hand, is leading the environmental charge from the front. In 2014, the sport introduced rules that demanded a 33 percent fuel saving. If Toyota announced a new Camry that used 33 percent less fuel than the last one, they’d be branded environmental heroes.
The trick is that engineers have matched a small petrol-burning engine to two energy recovery systems to create a hybrid system that is relevant to the motoring industry. In two seasons of competition, the beardy-weirdies have raised the thermal efficiency of the internal combustion engine from 30 percent to 45 percent. By the end of 2016, they will achieve 50 percent.
In other words, the last two years of development has achieved 50 percent as much as the previous one hundred and twenty.
The statistics testify to the value of competition as a driver of innovation. It’s just this kind of thinking that will propel the species over the line if anything will. Hand the present to the engineers and let them forge the future out on the track, I say.
The race is well and truly on to be first into the mass market with this cutting-edge tech. And that’s a good thing because the sooner cycling fans can ditch their eagle-smothering wildflower murderers for F1-derived enviro-wagons the better. We’ll all breathe a little easier, and perhaps, then, cycling will become what it now only seems to be.