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and the dawning of the post-carbon eventuality...

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Kyotomotors Revisited

You may never have thought to ask “what is a kyoto-motor?” since it clearly isn’t really a “thing”, but that is exactly the question I aim to answer with this blog over time. If a “kyoto-motor” is not an invention in the technological sense, I like to think it represents a contribution to the re-invention of how we think about energy. I hope to demonstrate that a “kyoto-motor” is any method, tool or practice that puts this way of thinking to use.

The original impetus for kyotomotors was satire: what started as a parody of the automotive industry’s use of marketing to maintain the trance of those caught up in the lauded “love affair with the car”, has since evolved (okay, devolved) into this marginal commentary on the problematic nature of the collective dependence on fossil fuels. What I have come to understand is multi-layered: that the dependence is utterly total and totally encompassing, cannot be overstated; whether we like it or not (and it’s best not to like it too much – or at all, if possible), fossil fuels have made everyday life what it is today, including the obvious advantages and advances, but also a great many of the challenges of the times – including the issue of the age known as climate change. So, while it’s easy to appreciate fossil fuel’s place, role and value is extremely important to put it in the context of its negative impacts – of which there are many.

With this in mind, it’s sure that many of us level-headed, well-meaning people would expect action and change from governments and business alike, and are motivated to effect, and otherwise inspire such change. The most common manifestation of this has been through the United Nations, the scientific community, and from a full spectrum of activists ranging from anarchistic to corporate “green”. For more than 20 years, this tail has tried to wag the dog of global industrial civilisation with a sadly minimal degree of success, when measured against annual global emissions and consumption of fossil fuels, which continues to rise: Looking ahead to 2020, we as a planetary species, are set to burn through another 35 billion (that’s like million with a “b”) barrels of oil – not to mention coal, and natural gas and the many other industrial sources of GHGs such as livestock.

So, while the political pressure coming from this line of attack is important and necessary, it is not wholly effective when left alone to fight this colossal battle against the inertia of the global industrial project. As another line of attack, I’d like to suggest that a “kyotomotors culture” could play a significant role in eroding the foundations of that project, and could allow for a sea-change that will make it culturally acceptable to not burn fossil fuels at every turn. This is the approach that is sadly missing in a world where activists vote for the ruling party, and hop onto inter-continental flights several times a year, and otherwise consume above their weight. As an alternative, a kyotomotors approach is one that leads by example – assuming that, no matter how modest, example is the stuff of leadership, and is potentially more effective than what has passed for action until now.

In the upcoming posts, I will explore the most appropriate technologies that have the greatest potential for reducing one’s carbon footprint, starting with the most obvious of the “kyoto-motors” – my personal favourite, the bicycle.

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