Sunday, February 14, 2010

Where oh Where is the Flying Car?

I've been waiting for the flying car to get off the ground since 1975, when I first heard about the Moller Skycar. Now we hear about the Honda Fuzo concept flying car. Seems like every 20 years or so we get a teaser like this. Unfortunately there are some walls in the way, not even counting developments since 911.

There are several main obstacles:

 1) The Gubmitt - Moller has been trying to get his Skycar approved by the FAA since I was in high school, 40 years or so ago. He is still trying...

2) The Gubmitt - The FAA stupidly cites an overwhelming demand for air traffic controllers should lots of people get Skycars - the typical Gubmitt centralized command & control paradigm. If we had the huge Federal government of the current day back when the Model T was first invented, we would all be riding horses - and shoveling up after them. "Global Warming" would be mainly blamed on Methane rather than CO2 - Methane being emitted from that part of a horse's body that is clinically indistinguishable from the average Gubmitt bureaucrat.

Put collision avoidance on the CAR, not a central point on the ground! This is easier than doing it for a ground car - you have three degrees of freedom, not just two (and sometimes only one [faster/slower]).

Microcomputers have come a long way since 1975 - each car could exchange packets and agree on which one goes up, down, left, right, faster, slower... Things like "sparrow-flutter algorithms" could be implemented allowing your car to join a flock - the possibilities are vast and far beyond the capacity of the typical FAA bureaucrat's imagination.

3) The Gubmitt - The Federal and State Governments have glommed onto the lion's share of the airspace over the United States, placing classified and sensitive facilities in a geographically strategic manner, allowing them to restrict air travel in most of our sky. Flying cars would make what they are up to painfully obvious to the bulk of We the People, not just those few who actually fly small planes - and the Gubmitt would rather avoid that contingency.

4) The Gubmitt - County and Municipal Governments base their property taxation systems on street addresses - no roads, no street addresses. If the flying car took off they would have to work for a living and come up with a new system based on Geocodes or GPS coordinates for example.

5) The Gubmitt - Roadblocks are a tough job when there are no roads - pretty hard to restrict vehicular mobility in the sky using your vehicle - and tire spikes are just no good at all. Given the necessity for sophisticated electronic systems in order to put collision avoidance on the Skycar rather than on the ground, the law enforcement agent could simply be given the capability to control your Skycar remotely - but people would likely find ways to defeat any such system. Law enforcement would really hate that...

6) The Gubmitt - There are a lot of toll roads in this country - many of them paid for several times over. Lately State governments have been selling these off to foreign interests for a bucket of cash with a helping hand from the Federal government - and these foreign interests then proceed to charge us to use roads that we had already paid for but now are expected to do so all over again. The ubiquitous use of flying cars would snatch this little sugar-plum right out of the Gubmitt's greedy little sausage-fingered hands - and it is not OK with that.

7) The Road Construction Industry and its associated suppliers - Roads cost a lot of money both to construct and to maintain. It is a good-sized chunk of state and local economies. There is a large industry that has grown up to serve this market - and they employ a lot of people. If the flying car took over (and it would, if it were done well enough), this industry would be devastated and a lot of people would lose their jobs - similar to what happened to the blacksmithing and buggy-whip industries when the automobile caught on.

8) The Trucking Industry - If the flying car took off, taxation of gasoline and such in order to maintain the roads would become difficult to justify. The remaining constituency using roads after the majority of us went flitting of into the sky would be truckers hauling heavy freight that would be technologically infeasible to move by air to locations like warehouses and construction sites.

Rail and river barges could get it to the depot, but getting it from the depot to the point of use would be an issue if there were no roads. The trucking industry would have to bear the lions share of the road maintenance burden - which would render that industry economically infeasible, since they would have to pass the added financially significant expense on to their customers. It would soon get unreasonably expensive to transport heavy items to the locations where they are needed, and the resulting economic dislocation would be painful for everyone.

This last one is a tough nut to crack, unless new technology, such as anti-gravity for example, becomes generally available.

I personally want the flying car rather badly. I hate roads. The entrenched road industries consume significant recurring expenditures that are largely financed through taxation. These industries tend to be bastions of city council and county commissioner "Old Boy Network" chronieism, encouraging influence peddling and nepotism. Roads are what give Human civilization the appearance of a staff infection on the face of the Earth when seen from above.

It would be so much nicer to see a forest with little clearings in it for the houses and no nasty black/grey/white lines running everywhere. No nasty grids of close-packed Man-Hiveage, with all of the houses all lined up looking like an array of Chicklets from the air.

I'd even put up with a few beer-cans on my roof if it meant that I could fly my car like a bird...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Carbon Eugenics

The powers that be are of the opinion that the useless eaters emitt too much carbon dioxide and the world would be much better off if enough of them died - or were not born in the first place.

Take a look at The Breathing Earth, a particularly nasty little simulator.

More people DIE than are born: G-O-O-D.

More people born than DIE: B-A-A-D.

And, when people are born there is this termite-munching sound...

Antropogenic Global Warming is the latest vehicle being used by the Powers That Be (if you want to know who THEY are, just follow the money) to further their Malthusian population reduction agenda. AGW research is funded primarily by foundations, which in turn are funded by The Powers That Be.

From the George C. Marshall Institute:
"...According to his report, which he shared with National Journal, three philanthropic organizations -- the Energy Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation -- provided nearly $66.5 million in funding for climate-change research from 2000 to 2002. That's more than half of the $112.1 million in climate-change money that was passed out by the top 20 private foundations during the three-year period.

According to the report, most of the money went to groups that favor "restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions and believe that climate change requires dramatic government action."The top recipient was Strategies for the Global Environment, which is the umbrella organization for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, an Arlington, Va.-based advocacy group. The foundations also heavily favored the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Environmental Defense..."

Top 20 Private Foundations

1. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (WA)

2. Lilly Endowment Inc. (IN)

3. The Ford Foundation (NY)

4. J. Paul Getty Trust (CA)

5. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (NJ)

6. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation (CA)

7. W. K. Kellogg Foundation (MI)

8. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (CA)

9. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (NY)

10. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (IL)

11. The Pew Charitable Trusts (PA)

12. The Starr Foundation (NY)

13. The Annie E. Casey Foundation (MD)

14. The Rockefeller Foundation (NY)

15. The California Endowment (CA)

16. The Annenberg Foundation (PA)

17. The Kresge Foundation (MI)

18. Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Inc. (GA)

19. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (MI)

20. The Duke Endowment (NC)

The Impact of Population on CO2 Emissions: Evidence From European Countries
Abstract: This paper analyses the impact of population growth on CO2 emissions in European Union countries. Traditionally, researchers have assumed a unitary elasticity of emissions with respect to population growth. In this study population is treated as a predictor in the model, instead of being included as part of the dependent variable (per capita emissions), thus relaxing the above-mentioned assumption of unitary elasticity.

We also contribute to the existing literature by taking into account the presence of heterogeneity in the sample and considering a dynamic specification. The sample covers the period 1975- 1999 for the current European Union members.

Our results show that the impact of population growth on emissions is more than proportional for recent accession countries whereas for old EU members, the elasticity is lower than unity and non significant when the properties of the time series and the dynamics are correctly specified.

The different impact of population change on CO2 emissions for the current EU members should therefore be taken into account in future discussions of climate change policies within the EU.


Effects of population and affluence on CO2 emissions

ICBE CarbonDatabase CO2 by Population

The Optimum Population Trust: The crucial limit: Nine billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year

Population control called key to deal
By Li Xing (China Daily)

"COPENHAGEN: Population and climate change are intertwined but the population issue has remained a blind spot when countries discuss ways to mitigate climate change and slow down global warming, according to Zhao Baige, vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) .

"Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of CO2 emission reduction but a comprehensive challenge involving political, economic, social, cultural and ecological issues, and the population concern fits right into the picture," said Zhao, who is a member of the Chinese government delegation.

Many studies link population growth with emissions and the effect of climate change.

"Calculations of the contribution of population growth to emissions growth globally produce a consistent finding that most of past population growth has been responsible for between 40 per cent and 60 percent of emissions growth," so stated by the 2009 State of World Population, released earlier by the UN Population Fund.... "