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oil-fields

Dubai is a palace of excess and contradition. It is a mushroom that paradoxically bloomed under the whithering rays of the sun. But the leadership of the UAE is a lot smarter than anyone in America today. From today’s New York Times:

[The UAE’s] new investment [in renewable energy] aims to maintain the gulf’s dominant position as a global energy supplier, gaining patents from the new technologies and promoting green manufacturing. But if the United States and the European Union have set energy independence from the gulf states as a goal of new renewable energy efforts, they may find they are arriving late at the party.

The irony that the most wasteful and oil dependent part of the globe should be on the cutting edge of green energy is unremarkable next to the ambition — characteristic of the Gulf states — to go all the way all at once. Consider Masdar City, a planned community outside of Abu Dhabi that claims it will have a zero-carbon footprint. Even though skeptics doubt this claim, it is notable not for its complete success in execution, but for its audacity.

According to the Times article, Qatar has invested $225 million into a British research fund, and Saudi Arabia has invested untold millions into American universities, including $25 million for Michael McGehee an associate professor at Stanford, to develop cutting edge technologies. That is fifty times the amount invested by Western governments or industry.

Finally, the Times tells us Masdar City “goes beyond creating new materials and is in fact exploring a new model for urban life.” To wit: “The city will have no cars; people will move around using driverless electric vehicles that move on a subterranean level. The air-conditioning will be solar powered.” As a New Yorker I take exception to this. After all, we also have subterranean electric cars that move people around. It’s called the subway. If only the city, state, and federal government could get their posteriors and capitals wired together they could see that a massive investment in the New York City subway is a necessary good faith effort to putting America into the 21st century.

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The New York Times published an editorial yesterday that argued against a $1 surcharge on taxi fares due to the spike in gas prices. They note that there are a few hundred hybrid vehicles in the 13,000 taxi fleet, and that the entire fleet will be hybrid by 2012. The question is, why aren’t all yellow cabs hybrid now, and why won’t we have a fleet of electric taxis by 2012. The answer undoubtedly has to do with politics and the T&LC. Cultural Capitol will look into the matter and report more later!

A city not only attracts all kinds — people from outside the country who have come to trade or build their fortune, people from the countryside who want the same — it encourages people to develop their persona more actively than in their home community, where the self is developed mostly through the expectations of others rather than from a desire to be seen. Or, to put it another way, in a city of millions of inhabitants, it’s easy to be invisible, and if you want to stand out you really have to work on it.

This cowboy drove his herd down from Maine. The car was parked on 43rd between Lexington and 3rd, so maybe he was rustlin’ up some shares at a stock broker’s ranch. Yippie-kai-yay, dude. Yippie-kai-yay.