Regarding the July 11 articles about global warming and the bullet train: In his book Collapse, Jared Diamond rated past societies by intelligence when faced with environmental degradation. Judged smartest were the 17th century Japanese, who collaborated to reverse deforestation. Judged dumbest were the Easter Islanders, who deforested completely, leaving behind large stone statues.
Are we Americans dumb or smart? The bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles is dumb, not smart. If we were smart, we would cover every roof with photovoltaic panels, producing distributed generation. Every industry warehouse has a flat roof and is attached to the grid.
In case you doubt that solar pays, our house now sports 37 solar panels, costing $0 down. The panels generate 100 percent of our electricity and an annual excess of about $1,000. The bank grows its money; we reap photons.
If we Americans would put together a Manhattan Project in solar and wind, maybe we could enter the pages of Collapse 2.0 and be judged by a future geographer as smart! To do this, we would have to rid ourselves of politicians sold out to the oil industry. A tall order.