Charles Kettering was the guy who gave us planned obsolescence.(1) As a top bod at General Motors in the 1920s, he oversaw a cunning competition strategy. GM was unable to compete with Ford’s Model T on price. So instead, they made minor stylistic differences to their models every year. This meant that people could (and did!) buy the latest models as status symbols, keeping up with – or ahead of – the Joneses. This played on – and amplified – the basic human need to know where you are in the pecking order, via consumption.
Annual incremental change, subtle and almost un-noticeable, gradually removes wiggle room for sensible solutions to problems. (2)
Thirty some years later, Charles David Keeling started collecting data about atmospheric carbon dioxide, in Hawaii (no idiots, these climate scientists). Guess what. It’s going up.
Annual incremental change, subtle and almost un-noticeable, gradually removes wiggle room for sensible solutions to problems. (3)
(1) This is a blog, not an academic paper. I can make these sorts of sweeping generalisations because it is tabloid, not broadsheet.
(2) I am not saying the Model T was the be-all and end all of the “problem” of individual mobility. Fordism was always going to end in tears, I suspect. It’s a topic for another post.
(3) We are rapidly taking options off the table. Even if we stop emitting carbon tomorrow (which we ain’t gonna do), t’planet will keep warming for 40 years. If you want to stop the speeding bus going off the cliff, you need to slam on the brakes more than 5mm before the edge …