Will Loop and Hyperloop kill Metros and High Speed Rail?

I started writing the draft for this post last year as a follow-up to this post. At the time, I was quite heavily focused on technological solutions to transport and the climate crisis. Things have changed a lot since then. But before I go into how and why, check out the draft first paragraph I wrote before.

Hyperloop looks to be a serious threat to high speed rail. As a rail fan, this is a somewhat bittersweet realisation. But not only is Hyperloop a threat to rail, the Boring Company Loop system and the Tesla RoboTaxi Network that would operate within it is also a threat to metro systems and commuter rail.

I intended to write about how hyperloop and the boring company loop systems were going to give metro and high speed rail systems a hard time. I don’t want to write these systems off entirely, but now that we’re a year later and the climate crisis is looking like an imminent threat to the functioning of society, these types of solutions can’t be the priority. We have to drastically change the way we live now to be somewhat like full lockdown in terms of living more locally, with empty roads and more cycling. The time just isn’t there to be able to wait for self driving RoboTaxis to come along.

Perhaps the loop system could be great in the future when full autonomy is realised, but so far the Las Vegas Loop has been roundly criticised. Currently it’s being driven manually and quite slowly, so it’s not really doing anything a bus lane couldn’t do much better and more cheaply. And if we just banned private cars as I keep saying, then you’d get rid of the traffic which was the main driving force behind the loop concept to begin with.

With that said, maybe the Boring Company should instead focus on their plans for creating special small tunnels for running utility pipes and cables through. That really does seem like a great idea.

As far as Hyperloop is concerned, I saw a YouTube video that made me think a lot about it. It was on the channel “Adam Something” which I strongly recommend. I’m happy that I was able to still be open minded despite having most of my savings bet on Tesla (that might change soon, we’ll see). The video on Hyperloop compared it to High Speed Rail and maglev trains. Adam pointed out that Hyperloop cost estimates per mile are far lower than maglev, despite Hyperloop being effectively maglev technology plus a vacuum tube. The cost is therefore very likely to be significantly higher, and because of the way the vacuum tube works, you would assume that the maintenance will be a nightmare as well. Especially for really long routes.

From my perspective, if we’re to live more simple and low consumption lives, the most obvious thing to do for long distance transport would be to run more sleeper trains. We need to stop living the fast life and start enjoying the journey, not just the destination.

But for right now, the absolute priority must be to reduce emissions as fast as possible to zero. That doesn’t mean 2030 and it definitely doesn’t mean 2050. It means right now. During the first lockdown, we were told that global emissions dropped by about 13% during that time before climbing back up. If we were to do that on a permanent basis and improve from there, we might actually have a chance.

The Nightmare Scenario

I got to the point a few years ago where I was hoping for the extreme weather to get worse and worse, because I knew it was the only way we’re ever going to get sufficient climate action. And it seems now that we’re rapidly approaching the point where it will finally force massive change. But then we got the news that methane is leaking from limestone bedrock underneath thawing permafrost in Siberia. This made me question everything, because if this gets as bad as scientists have speculated for years, then we could be in for massive warming in a very short time. If the climate is still in our control now, then it definitely won’t stay that way for long in this scenario.

It would no longer matter if tomorrow we ban private cars, planes and everything else we could do to reduce emissions immediately. Nothing we do would matter as it would be the ultimate tipping point. The nightmare scenario.

Imagine far-right nutters telling us climate change is still imaginary as the methane spews out of the bedrock, rapidly heating the planet and leading to societal breakdown at a speed so fast that no one can even understand it before we’re living in the apocalypse. I can honestly imagine it and that’s the nightmare.

I always thought that we would get to the brink and be able to turn back at the last second, but this news took that assumption and trampled all over it.

I keep saying that the left might only finally take power when the climate is so fucked that there would be nothing left to win. But now, could it even be that the far-right / corporate centrists could govern us all the way to our collective demise?

Is that the ultimate “owning of the libs”? To despise the people with the facts to such an extent that you’re willing to destroy all of life on Earth? Is that the grand ambition of Rupert Murdoch? To end life on Earth to teach those lefties a lesson in neoliberal corporate capitalism?

The Loud Minority Aren’t the Problem, the Quiet Majority Are

The other even smaller minority that desperately needs to be heard.

Most people want bike infrastructure and a green recovery, but the loud minority don’t. And they’re the ones that always get listened to. And not only that, the nice people even assume that most people disagreed with them. The tiny minority of sociopaths dictate the narrative in the media and the direction society takes.

I keep hearing this type of thing. Greta posted a while ago when I first started writing this blog saying that climate deniers are no longer the issue. The problem is with “general ignoring and belittling of the climate emergency”. And it’s no less true a year later.

This is becoming increasingly obvious as a problem in almost every aspect of society. The bad people run the show and the good people let them. I don’t believe for a second that there are more climate deniers in this country than people who care deeply about protecting our future. I mean why would you want to hurt your own future and that of your children and the rest of the future generations?

Same with politics. I can’t imagine that there are more people in this country that when fully informed would choose to vote for Boris Johnson over Jeremy Corbyn. The reasons they didn’t were that many of the good people were either not paying attention, or they were tricked by the media and the evil people who want nothing to change.

The only way we can move forward is to ignore these people and get everyone else properly informed. People like Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage will never have an epiphany and change direction, or admit what they’ve done was wrong. They will continue all the way to us roasting, drowning or starving to death in the climate chaos to come.

If we’re to have any chance for a better future, the quiet majority need to get the fuck informed and engaged. And fast.

The Climate Change Pact

It often feels like everyone knows we’re at the end of our involvement in the climate crisis before it gets out of control, but there’s some kind of pact where everyone denies its existence in order to avoid shaking up society. They would all rather die than give up their cars or stop flying away once or twice a year.

A tiny group of climate scientists and normal citizens think that they’re the only ones who understand how much trouble we’re in and have to spread the message to everyone else. But in reality, they all know, and we’re the only ones who are in the dark about the pact.

It sounds ridiculous, and it is. But it’s not much more ridiculous than the world we’re actually living in. Meteorologists present today’s weird weather with a smile, not a word uttered about climate change. Maybe a nod to the heat or rain being unseasonal for the time of year, but that’s the most you can expect. Even when records are (frequently) broken, they are careful to avoid making it sound alarming in the slightest. Don’t want viewers to spit out their tea and make a mess do we?

During the insane heatwave in Western America and Canada recently (the last one, not this one), BBC News showed some people in a fountain trying not to roast to death, and when the camera came back to Fiona Bruce, she had a smile on her face as if they were frolicking on a 25 degree day. Not a 50 degree dangerous situation where hundreds of people were dying.

In Japan is where this situation is most unbelievable. They get so much “climate change rain“, landslides, typhoons etc. And yet, when you watch the weather forecasts on NHK World, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is completely normal and expected. Yes, you get the daily red boxes of doom where they show any weather records. They should be enough to terrify viewers, but they’re delivered in such a lovely calming way by the presenters that you barely notice it unless you’re climate change obsessed like me.

I don’t know what the reason for this is. I’d like to think that the meteorologists are being expressly told not to talk about our impending annihilation, rather than their own personal decisions. But no matter the reason, it’s got to such an insane point now that something has to immediately change.

People have to know the true extent of what we’re facing, and if they do know, they need to get their heads around it so we can act in a way that will give us a chance of a future on this planet. Time is running out and meteorology is betraying all of us.