Sunday, September 04, 2016


One late night almost ten years ago, I was out driving near Page, Arizona. In the dark without a GPS, I was trying to find a Best Western motel which I had been able to book at a rather incredible $40 rate which seemed like a steal since every picture on their website looked really scenic. However, the reason for the low rate would soon be all too clear as the motel had two “wings”, one facing the beauty of Lake Mead and the other a 2250 megawatt coal-fired powerplant called “Navajo Generating Station” (obviously, my room was in the latter wing). Not only was the view highly dystopic, the powerplant also gave away a fair share of noise which made sleeping rather difficult.

Looking out at the coal power plant at night, I remember thinking that this is what we are doing to the planet and ourselves. Rather than the clean high-energy future envisioned in StarTrek (which by the way is turning fifty on Thursday), we are burning through brownish-black minerals of fossilized carbon. To me, coal is somehow emblematic “Ork-tech”. It is the kind of technology that we should have left behind decades ago where it not for irrational fears of nuclear energy. Thus, it is somewhat ironic that the greatest achievement of the so called “environmental movement” may be that it has made the world safe for coal.

And now, it seems as I have had better luck and scored a more permanent upgrade to the wing with the “lake view”. As the construction of the neighbourhood is almost finished, it feels nearly as idyllic as Hobbiton with kids playing and lots of green stuff.  If now only people would share a moral commitment to making this universal rather than taking it as an unreflected privilege or, worse, pursue “feel good” policies that will keep the rest of the world trapped in fossil Mordor.


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