Diesel train vs Car

So it turns out that the car is more environmentally friendly than the train for a family of three or more.  That's one in the eye for enviro-nutters.  It is also one in the eye for this government's completely muddled and irrational environmental and transport policies.  As for the spiralling cost of rail transport... Which reminds me, I have to catch a South West Train today, nothing could fill me with more dread.  And now it turns out I'd better off in the comfort of a car.


I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Yes, this is an important corrective - a half-empty train is worse than a full car - well what a sodding surprise. Give the people who worked this out a gold-star.

But at the point that people spotted that the previous attempts to generalise carbon-footprints of different means of travel were bogus, do you think it might have occurred to at least one of them to question the approach, rather than to use it again to produce a different result? PEOPLE ARE SO FUCKING THICK ON THIS ISSUE.

This is what this whole site is about. Should we (a) try to calculate optimal outcomes (including all supposed imperfections in all their complexity, subjectivity and uncertainty) and then try and make people do one thing or another based on those calculations, or is information too diffuse, preferences too subjective, future conditions too uncertain etc., and should we therefore (b) simply internalise externalities and then use the market to determine the least-bad outcomes? Answer: (b). DUH! It's a no-brainer except to the vast majority nowadays who seem to have no brain, and go to great lengths of pseudo-intellectual complexity to prove it.

So is this latest conclusion better than the previous one? NO. How many people are on the train? How many carriages does it have? What type of engines are pulling the train? How many people are in the car? What sort of car is it? Are the tyres inflated properly? Is there anything on the roofrack disturbing the aerodynamics? How far were they travelling? Did the train or the car have regenerative braking? Was the final destination near a station? Was there a good bus connection from the station, could they walk, did they take bikes, or did they have to take a taxi? What sort of fuel was used in each vehicle (e.g. how much renewable energy)? What was the traffic like on the roads, and were there delays on the line? Is there any bloody point generalising this stuff? NO NO NO NO NO. 

Is a train "better" than a car, or vice versa? Don't know and don't care. And neither do you or anyone else. Can we please stop wasting money and time on studies like this, and policies that follow from them? We've got soldiers dying in Iraq, large parts of the north-midlands under water, an economy that's about to collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions and stupidity, nearly 6 million working-age adults out of employment, decline in respect for law-and-order, prisons full to bursting, an impending dementia epidemic, and not enough money in the pot and workers to provide for a comfortable old-age for the next generation of pensioners etc. And we think it is worth wasting intellectual effort on this?

The only excuse is that it's stopping it being 6 million and one people out of employment, as the sort of moron who calculated this may be unemployable for productive purposes. But better to pay them to sit in a room and do nothing than produce this sort of crap, if you ask me. At least they wouldn't be influencing other morons. (Have to make sure they don't get internet access and setup a blog.) Or better still, take them outside and put them out of my misery.

Can we get this clear - carbon footprints are bullshit, carbon offsetting is bullshit, mandatory recycling is bullshit, composting good energy-resources is bullshit, picking winners is bullshit, cap-and-trade is bullshit, road-pricing is bullshit, affordable housing is bullshit, the term "key workers" is bullshit.... In fact, more or less the whole of the terms of modern debate are bullshit. If Aristotle or Plato came back, they'd marvel at the progression of our technological mastery and our intellectual fuckwittery. How the hell most of the people we listen to get to be accorded that respect, I have no idea. Perhaps Plato was right. He would certainly have the satisfaction of seeing all his worst expectations of democratic degeneracy confirmed.

Saying that "the car is more environmentally friendly than the train for a family of three or more" is picking losers. The clue is in the name of the site.