free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 45. CARS ARE A VIRUS

Monday, August 22, 2005


A few years ago, I read a Richard Dawkins book called "The Extended Phenotype". There was a section where Dawkins said we could regard cars as a virus, which exploits human behavior and production machinery to replicate itself.

I remembered this, and it got me thinking...

The virus ("the car") infects the "cells" (cities) of its host ("the earth") and packs the cells with copies of itself. This is similar to the phenomenon seen in Ebola, called "bricking" where everything in the cell is converted to virus, until it ruptures with bricks of crystal-like virus:

Virus bricks

Ebola and Marburg multiply extremely rapidly and powerfully that within no time the infected cell becomes packed with crystal like blocks of virus particles (Ref fig 2). These virus particles are themselves getting ready to replicate.

The crystal like blocks, or bricks, form at the centre of the cell and begin to grow outwards, migrating to the cell wall. On reaching the cell wall, the brick dissolves into hundreds of individual virus particles (Ref. fig 1)

The Ebola virus particles then infiltrate the bloodstream of the host and keep attaching themselves to cells everywhere. Here the procedure of replication is repeated until the tissue becomes saturated with virus crystal bricks.Source

Here are the Figures from the above article. Notice the parking lot like structures inside the red boxes. Those are the "bricks" of ebola:

Fig. 1: Particles bursting the cell wall

Fig. 2: Ebola brick particles in the cell wall

In the terminal state, the entire body has been converted to bleeding bricks of virus. This would be the equivalent of using all our resources and productive machinery to pack the surface of the earth with cars:

Fig. 3: More viral bricking

In the end, the host dies because it wastes all its resources replicating the virus.

Cars are a Trojan horse, not unlike the "ILOVEYOU" computer virus. They appeal to people's vanities and ego, so people "click" on them. Like "ILOVEYOU", the car is designed to press a very specific emotional button which turns the human into a robot. That is how a dumb object with no nervous system can manipulate an intelligent organism. People can't stop "clicking on it" and thereby furthering its replication and consumption of critical resources.

Ironically, the car production statistics are the equivalent of the "viral count" readings AIDS patients get. We should be trying to get them down, not up.


I was out naked in the sweat lodge today, and had another vision on this topic. I realized that, indeed, cars are a virus, and that the poor machinery (us) of our cell (the earth) has been totally bamboozled by the car virus, and that we are going to spend the next 50 years frantically liquefying all of the resources of our cell to fuel replication of the virus.

Future extra-terrestrials visiting the solar system will observe the surface of the earth bricked over with viral particles, and note the presence of the suspiciously car-like lunar rovers on the moon's surface. All the classic symptoms of a virus burning through its host and making aborted attempts to infect new hosts:

But JD, aren't cars useful?
Look at it in retrospect, from a point in time where all the liquid fossil fuel is gone. You're standing on top of a sea of cars, a gridlocked worldwide traffic jam of car carcasses, the endpoint of the exponential replication of cars. Other than the cars themselves (and their infrastructure like roads, parking lots, filling stations, tire stores, car washes etc.), what can you point to and say: "Thank god we spent all those resources making cars. Otherwise we wouldn't have THAT (where THAT is something that benefits mankind). What would you point to? The emission-choked atmosphere? Global warming? The empty oil/coal/gas reserves? The pile of cars themselves? Nothing positive and useful is left over. It's very suspicious -- almost as though the car is using us, not the other way around. As dub_scratch so eloquently put it, "Cars are to American civilization what Moai were to Easter Islanders."


At Monday, August 22, 2005 at 9:05:00 AM PDT, Blogger James Shannon said...

And the vaccine to the car virus: Mass Transit, not just in the cities, but across North America. Think bullet trains. For applications where driving is unavoidable, incentives for carpooling, and fees/tickets/penalties for driving alone. Fees for taking your car onto downtown streets (already in practice in London, England).

At Monday, August 22, 2005 at 4:15:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peak oil is principally at transport problem (70% of oil use) with cars making up nearly 50% of the use, most of the rest is mainly air and trucks. Car culture can be successfully cured by decent planning, attractive alternatives, clever use of IT and a combination of sticks and carrots.

Cars essentially make people lazy - most car journeys are less than 5 miles. In the UK only 10% are over 50 miles. In the past, out went town centre and local shopping and in came out-of-town shopping and business which requires cars for the most part, hence the problem. This problem has been engineered into and can be engineered out of.

Most of the problem with producing electric cars is range, typically around 70 miles. This is technically possible today, therefore most journeys are covered, assuming you can generate the power or provide alternatives such as light rail and trolley bus. It is the industry obsession of producing cars with 300 mile range and customer choices why we haven’t seen more EVs. This could all change however when the economics make ICE powered cars less attractive.

Over 50 miles the technology is there to replace cars (for all but the most rural journeys) and planes (provided no major oceans are covered) in the shape of high speed rail and even maglev. The latter more suited to the US, which has a less developed passenger network than Europe and greater distances.

In some places, principally the US, there is a cultural problem with using ‘public transport’, even though many fail to realise planes are equally public transit, yet they are happy to use those. Again, the perception is wrong: Traditionally train travel, along with cruise ships was/is the most luxurious forms of travel on the planet and in Europe generally the fastest on distances less than 300-400 miles city-centre to city-centre. Much associate luxury with a bygone age, pointing to the average commuter train with its high seat density and functional appearance. Yet most of the modern ones have plug in internet and air conditioning and have proved very successful in attracting people out of cars, especially as speed is usually greater and passenger flow is always greater.

Light rail is also a successful way to get people out of cars as are quality bus links.

Longer distance modern trains have Sleeping compartments, high class restaurants, nurseries, changing rooms, showers, Business or family compartments audio and video entertainment, internet and shops.

Intermodal freight and container/pallet traffic is a well tried technology and can be useful in using more fuel efficient rail freight at least part of the way.

The technology is here now to run this very efficiently from electricty (generated from renewable energy or nuclear?) and has been for the last 100 years or more in the case of rail. With better planning there is no crisis. Teleworking and the internet ensure people don’t always have to make journeys and an effective way to organise car pools and mass transit tickets through printable bar code and smart cards.

Steel and metals for rail lines and cables and wind turbines is of course full recyclable too.

At Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at 12:53:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cars as a virus.

I can point to several things that make me say "thank god we built those things".

One is the distributed community. I can live halfway between 2 metro areas, work in both of them and be part of a professional community that covers a circle with a 70 mile radius.

I'd love to be able to use mass transit. Unfortunatly it's not there. It probably won't ever be there in the US. It certainly wouldn't have expanded enough for me to have my half acre to live on while still working in cities.

The other thing that I think of when I think cars is the American attitude about individual rights and our views on property.

It seems unlikely that, in a world of universal mass transit, the idea that you own things and society has no right to appropriate them for its own use would have evolved or survived the transition to mass transit.

Granted we could have stayed at the horse point of transportation (and maybe I wouldn't cry for us if we had) but that's not the underpinnings for an industrial society.

At Monday, December 19, 2005 at 4:48:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

The other thing that I think of when I think cars is the American attitude about individual rights and our views on property. It seems unlikely that, in a world of universal mass transit, the idea that you own things and society has no right to appropriate them for its own use would have evolved or survived the transition to mass transit.

I don't think cars are the underpinning of individual liberty at all. After all, you still share the road with other people. You still work in a building with other people. You walk around in a supermarket with other people. When you walk to the shops (if you still walk to the shops), you share the footpath with other people.

The internet or your home's furniture is more essential to personal liberty than the car (although I accept that the American attitude towards liberty contributed to the car's popularity).

But let's face it: a car is basically just a way to get to work. Whether you get to work in a small box by yourself or in a big box with others, it doesn't mean you no longer have personal liberty.

At Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 10:59:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

these are just my opinions, NO offense:

These would be all symptomatic medicines, not vaccines.

We need to re-evaluate what we are trying to achieve in our lives. Is the goal to survive and live a nice simple yet sublime life, or is it the pursuit of some "mindless life of self-gratification"?

To achieve the first we don't need all this running around on four "wheels" [or legs]. A simple life of an agrarian nature will suffice... that is - all we really need to be satisfied is some foods [we can grow ourselves, with some know-how], some simple shelter to sleep, and some sex-life [everywhere available].

If we just run around chasing the elusive "will-o-the-wisp" - we will never be happy, and will continue to be part of the disease, not the vaccine.

We seriously need to look at our lives in a new light, for change, if we actually care. If, on the other hand, we don't actually care, then it doesn't matter what we say or do, nothing can improve.

As the rabbit in "alice in wonderland said" - "where do you want to go now?" Alice replied... "I don't know!", then he said... "That's easy... if you don't know where you are going, ANY ROAD WILL DO!"

Would'nt you agree?

At Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 8:49:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait please, why don't anybody to consider an thorough examination of the views many ordinary people weigh on the options neccessary for both public & personal mobility? Would you really understand?

As James said, "fees for taking your car onto downtown streets" which is already in practice not just in Singapore and London (U.K) but also in some other urban areas around the world. Another is railway-based and bus-based public transport and taxicabs. Those are the things people can use.

As for the "simple life of agrarian nature", well, it is fine for some people. But please, don't impose the sort of change to others, ok?

I suspect it is a reverse form of change (meaning to say, going back to the "Stone Age" of a modern sort). So think carefully before undertake any changes, thank you very much.

And finally, look to a better future for - SLOWLY. That is for a change.
Thank you very much again.


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