They really outdid themselves with their new three-part cover by Bruce McCall, titled "The Ascent of Man." This play on the old Darwinian phrase brilliantly portrays humanity evolving from the Stone Age into an ever more energy intensive way of life, which becomes a huge machine rushing through the pages of history, finally spinning out of control in the last panel, shown here (click photo to enlarge). You can see all three pages flip by in succession on the magazine's contents page. Bruce McCall is one of the magazine's quirkier contributors in both words and pictures, and this is a masterful visual portrayal of where our heedless consumption of energy is taking us.
But look at who's advertising on the alternating pages. It's Lexus extolling the evolution of their contribution to life on this planet, culminating with their luxury SUV hybrid RXh on the final spread. No, not a Prius. A big, honking 270-horsepower behemoth that's more about sheer power and performance than saving the planet. With a clean, spare layout featuring a gracefully arching flowering sprig that also sprouts miniature molecules that may or may not have something to do with emissions controls, the presentation elegantly presents this SUV as the peak of automotive evolution, the epitome of environmental friendliness. The ad copy is cleek and seductive.
Proof that nature and progress can coexist comfortably.But is it? Evironmentalists don't think so.
Very, very comfortably.
This is luxury hybrid.
This is the pursuit of perfection.
"ONE question lingers after driving the 2006 Lexus RX 400h: How did it come to this, that Toyota is now selling a hybrid gas-electric vehicle with no tangible fuel economy benefits? In my test-driving, the Lexus hybrid, which is based on the gasoline-only RX 330, did not achieve better mileage than the 2005 RX 330 that I drove for comparison. My hybrid tester's window sticker did boast a federal mileage rating of 31 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway, compared with just 18 and 24 for the RX without the hybrid drivetrain. But the government's testing procedure has a habit - one that seems to be exaggerated with hybrids - of rendering fuel economy numbers as relevant to the real world as national energy policies have been to actually reducing dependence on foreign oil. Speaking of which, isn't that what hybrids are all about: conservation, improved fuel economy, weaning the nation off its oil habit? Perhaps not any longer."Like they say, there will always be a New Yorker. Just as there will always be people smart enough to see exactly where we're headed, and rich enough not to give a damn.