from the Tony-Stark-you-ain't dept
If you hadn’t noticed by now — and if you’re part of his rabid fanbase you haven’t — there’s often a bit of a chasm between what Elon Musk promises and what usually gets delivered. For every notable innovation his companies deliver, there always seem to be a handful of other side products that promise the moon and deliver something more akin to a Styrofoam ball slathered in grey paint.
One of the best recent examples has been Musk’s promises in terms of revolutionizing mass transit. Via his Boring company, Musk has routinely hoovered up taxpayer subsidies in exchange for projects he claims will revolutionize public transportation, but wind up doing nothing of the sort. In Las Vegas, for example, Musk’s company managed to nab the $52 million contract to deliver an innovative new public transit option. Instead he delivered what was little more than some Teslas driving slowly through a narrow neon-lighted fire death trap tunnel.
Because portraying Musk as a real life super-genius Tony Stark is fun and drives ad eyeballs, the press tends to lend more credulity to these proceedings than is usually warranted, something made abundantly clear in the wake of the Las Vegas “hyperloop” launch. An inefficiently slow, one-way neon tunnel filled with non-automated Tesla taxis was somehow reported by major media outlets as if we’d cured cancer:
— The News with Shepard Smith (@thenewsoncnbc) April 8, 2021
This being America, where we’re not keen on this whole “learning from experience thing,” Musk’s Boring company is now bidding on a similar contract in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — a region facing looming flooding and infrastructure catastrophes in the face of accelerating climate change:
“Like all of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale faces an extreme threat from sea level rise. The ocean there has risen by up to eight inches (20.3 centimeters) since 1950. Most Fort Lauderdale residents live less than five feet (1.5 meters) above sea level, including a majority in areas deemed Special Flood Hazard Areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Things could get much worse, though. A conservative estimate forecasts up to two feet (0.6 meters) of sea level rise could hit Fort Lauderdale by mid-century, which would vastly increase the risk of flooding.”
Please note how mainstream outlets busy discussing this latest bid simply can’t be bothered to note the underwhelming, wasteful nature of the Las Vegas project, or the stupidity in digging a bunch of new tunnels in a coastal area about to be pummeled by repeated flooding. What Florida, like much of the US, needs is infrastructure programs that can withstand the test of extreme climate. And mass transit options that genuinely deliver inexpensive and efficient transportation alternatives with an eye on reducing overall traffic. What Florida, like Vegas, is probably getting is… not that:
“Part of proactive climate action is ensuring that every single new infrastructure project accounts for climate risk, and hazard risk more generally,? said [Samantha Montano, an assistant professor in emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy]. ?Building this kind of underground infrastructure in a community that is already facing persistent flooding seems like a poor use of resources.”
But we’re going to do it anyway. And when it delivers a tiny fraction of the innovation that Musk originally promised, then stops working entirely due to intense coastal flooding from climate change, we’re going to… pretend that never happened and simply roll right on to the next expensive, bad idea.