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Old 03-07-02, 09:00 PM   #1
roadbuzz
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Oil and Dependence

Did anybody catch the series on NPR? I think it's the first time anyone in the public media has raised the possibility of reducing demand since, I dunno, Carter was president?

NPR Special Report: Oil And Dependence
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Old 03-07-02, 10:27 PM   #2
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I believe that people use their cars a lot more than they need, because there are so many fixed costs in owning a car, that are not reduced when other means of transport are used - Depreciation, licencing, insurance etc. I think gas taxes should be increased to equal this cost for an average car user, then the government should rebate this average sum to each car owner. Car use would then be limited to when it is really beneficial to the owner.
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Old 03-07-02, 10:54 PM   #3
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if there is one thing for sure, Americans love their cars.. The oil companies really control the market with the car makers, in fact it is my belief that they make more effiecnt vehicles only to make bigger cars. i.e. more effiecent engine = more cost effective big engine. :confused:

As for America being oil independent, I guess it could happen but then again we have to tear up a aweful lot of Alaska to do it. I think a better strive would be to be totaly independent from oil all together, i.e. electric cars/hybrids. and who ever said bicycles couldn't work as transportation.

I guess it won't happen though, anyhow cars are expensive and I don't see any change with oil coming anytime soon, prices go up and down (basically regulation of the market to make money) and Americans will keep paying to keep driving
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Old 03-07-02, 10:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by roadbuzz
I think it's the first time anyone in the public media has raised the possibility of reducing demand since, I dunno, Carter was president?[/URL]


I think the media, the government and every other powerful entity should have the nads to tell the truth about this issue.

Until then, we little people must.
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Old 03-08-02, 08:24 AM   #5
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It might be interesting to hear from the Europeans, British, Scottish and Australians on this subject.

We scream and rant and rave over our gas (petrol) prices in the U.S. Heck, when we think the prices get too expensive, the subject is Headline News! It might be interesting to see what the prices on the other side of the Atlantic and Pacific are.
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Old 03-08-02, 09:42 AM   #6
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Absolutely, Gus.

And something else I often wonder: how is it possible for us to burn as much fuel daily as we do? It mind boggling how many millions of gallons go up in smoke every day.

I understand how we got here, and why we stay here: we got here because the motorized transport system we designed actually fueled the growth of the world's most massive economic
machine yet. We stay here because without that transport system, our economy would collapse, or at least reshape itself quite radically and painfully (in the form of lost jobs.)

However, our dependence on oil, especially for silly things like driving unnecessarily, has put us in quite a vulnerable position.
Just like an angry wife withholding [something] from her husband,
oil could be withheld from us. Of course, the suppliers are as dependent upon us as we are upon them...

I still say, ride a bike if you can. Take mass transit if you can. Walk if you can. Carpool if you can. It may be the most patriotic thing you can do.
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Old 03-08-02, 10:03 AM   #7
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Asking my colleagues (why would I know ) Un-leaded petrol is apparantly around 70 pence a litre (I'll leave the maths to someone else), I guess its a fair bit dearer than the US?

Their's certainly no downturn in car use over here. We have more cars per square mile than most of the world I seem to recall....

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Old 03-09-02, 07:19 AM   #8
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So instead of America being dependent on OPEC for oil, it will be dependent on Russia - this is an improvement ?
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Old 03-09-02, 07:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Richard D
around 70 pence a litre (I'll leave the maths to someone else
I'll bite.

70 pence ~= $1.00 US
1 litre ~= .264 Gallons

So, I make it about $3.76/gallon. We pay around $1.00/gallon for unleaded in Virginia (gas prices vary significantly from state to state in the US, but $1.00/gal is on the low end.). Obviously, US oil is subsidized out the wazoo.

My opinion? In the US, gas tax should contribute significantly more toward the infrastructure required to support autos. Save the subsidies/tax breaks for the freight haulers (that's how we get our food, after all), and public transportation. That's a start.

Last edited by roadbuzz; 03-09-02 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 03-09-02, 05:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by AndrewP
I believe that people use their cars a lot more than they need, because there are so many fixed costs in owning a car, that are not reduced when other means of transport are used - Depreciation, licencing, insurance etc. I think gas taxes should be increased to equal this cost for an average car user, then the government should rebate this average sum to each car owner. Car use would then be limited to when it is really beneficial to the owner.
Spot-on, Andrew! I would like to see all registration, licensing, and basic (legally-mandated) insurance costs covered at the gasoline pump. The way I beat the system is to keep my cars 15-20 years, which is very easy if you drive about 4-5K miles / 6-8k km per year, as I do.
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Old 03-10-02, 07:13 PM   #11
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The price of petrol in Australia is ~89 per litre which is $4.67AUD per gallon. This is pretty expensive when Australia makes enough
petrol to export the stuff to Asia, and considering that Australia is a large country, we do drive long distances unlike most of Europe.

Early last year petrol hit $1 per litre for Unleaded and $1.05 for Premium Unleaded, it was amazing to see the trains so full of people, while petrol was so expensive!

CHEERS.

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Old 03-13-02, 04:01 PM   #12
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The idea of people driving more to "get their money's worth" out of the $ in their cars, insurance, etc., prompts a question--what happened to the "pay at the pump" idea in California a few years ago where a state insurance pool would be paid for by a dedicated gasoline surtax. This was intended to solve the problem of uninsured drivers, but could have other benefits as well. Me, much of my utility riding is to save wear on the car--why doesn't anyone talk anymore about how hard short frequent trips are on a car? Helyett miles save Subaru miles, all other considerations aside it makes sense to me.
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Old 03-13-02, 04:44 PM   #13
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people do actually talk about short trips being hard on a vehicle, unfortunatelly the solution they find for this is to buy a "newer" type of oil for their engine.... don't ask me how this circular reasoning got into place:confused:
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Old 03-15-02, 10:26 PM   #14
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Come to think of it, why are we Americans such spoiled ******* re gasoline prices? In my state (WA) the governor wants to increase gas taxes by nine cents over three years--you'd think he wanted to put heroin vending machines in elementary schools!
What most of us are in our car use are traitors who don't care that we financing the waging of war against our own country by our oil consumption.
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Old 03-16-02, 07:21 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Feldman
why are we Americans such spoiled ******* re gasoline prices
I've got a couple of guesses. Gas has been ultra-cheap for several years, now. So the population-at-large has loaded up on gas guzzlers, and have thought nothing of living far from our work-places. Gas prices rise, and it's a major reality check!

$0.09/gallon is a small price, considering infrastructure required to support the auto, but we're used to having it subsidized from other sources. A gas tax, that applied the revenue to highways, etc., would make the cost more proportional to usage.
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Old 03-16-02, 12:42 PM   #16
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I think some of it has to do with the fact that they raise prices in the summer to about 2.00 on the west coast due to the idea that "more people are driving"

just another reason to ride
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Old 03-18-02, 03:07 PM   #17
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There is a book called "Asphalt Nation" by Jane Holtz Kay. It is about the true cost of cars at every level of society and the environment. If you need facts to throw in car driver's faces this book is a must read. I will look through it again and write more about it later.

I saw her speak once and wrote some quotes down:

--1/4 of US defense budget goes to the Middle East
--It costs $50 a day to own a car
--20% of automobile related deaths are pedestrians and bicyclists
--60,000,000 square miles of the US are paved for cars
--A pedestrian requires 5 square feet when standing and 10 when walking
--A car and its access demand 300 square feet when standing, 3000 when moving at 30 mph, and proportionally more at higher speeds
--In commercial terms each shopper takes 70 times his or her floor space to drive and park the car
--Each car needs three parking spaces: home, work, and store
--33% of the life time pollutants produced by a car are created before it ever leaves the factory
--60% are created during its lifetime, and 7% in disposal

--"You're not stuck in a traffic jam, you are the traffic jam."
-German public transport campaign
--"The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city."
-Lewis Mumford, urban prophet
--"Growth for its own sake" -slogan of the cancer cell
--"Mall-lignancy"
--"Honk if you love the environment" -an actual bumper sticker
--And saving the best for last -"Drive to work/work to drive"

This book has got a million of these--it will change your life, even if you already swore off cars years ago. I'll write again with more interesting info if I find it.

If anyone ever actually reads this book please let me know. I have never had a chance to discuss it with anyone, but would love to
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Old 03-23-02, 11:08 AM   #18
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I just found this older topic for the first time. So, here is a word or two.

What, exactly, is the worry about "oil dependence"?

Foreign policy problems? A lot of the world's oil being controlled by Middle Eastern governments at best tolerant and at worst hostile to the West?

This is a problem that is worse at some times than others, but there's no indication that the danger of being held over the barrel by hostile Middle Eastern countries is worth the cost of ditching petroleum products as an energy source. The Middle Eastern countries need to sell their oil, and they also face competition on the world market from Russia and other significant sources. Whatever other foreign policy problems there are between the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries, too, they haven't arisen because of conflicts of interests over oil. As far as that issue goes, things are harmonious-- they have it and we want to buy it. So, even if conflict in the future is a worry, apart from ditching cars and planes there is always the possibility of political compromises to keep trade going, should that be necessary. But there's little reason to think it will be. The Middle Eastern countries haven't ever used oil as a foreign policy instrument against the West, even before the Gulf War. It's not clear we have to worry they will, even now.

And if things do get bad enough on the foreign policy front there are the alternatives I discuss under "scarcity" following.

Scarcity?

Oil isn't scarce. Common worries to the contrary, no one now alive is going to see the end of petroleum fueled vehicles filling the roads. Even if light crude, the oil now drilled in preference to others, becomes too expensive several decades from now, there are ample alternatives. Shale oil exists in nearly unimaginable amounts in the western United States, for example. The U.S. could provide nearly a thousand years' of its present oil consumption from the shale deposits on its own territory. Now it's too expensive to do. But if light crude becomes scarce we'll just start using this more expensive source of gasoline.

It's also possible to make oil from coal-- it's a well understood process that Germany used to make most of its oil during the Second World War. China makes a fair amount of its oil this way today. The U.S. has huge amounts of coal, of course.

There are tar sands, now providing oil in Canada in significant amounts. And, if it comes to it, we can always move to natural gas. It's not oil, but it's a well understood fuel now.

So, whatever else is wrong with cars, they're not quickly consuming the last drops of a scarce fuel.

Pollution?

The air is clean now in the United States, cleaner, at least, than it's been in at least a century. Is the problem of pollution so bad that we ought to start using cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships less often? I'm not sure I believe that.

And in any event this doesn't seem to be a problem specific to oil. Anything we do to provide the energy necessary for transportation anything like that undertaken now will pollute to some extent. Given the importance of ample transportation in preserving an industrialized way of life, a way of life that provides just about everything we now affordably enjoy, we ought just to live with pollution to some extent.

And of course, in any event, we can reduce pollution significantly with measures far less stringent than by coercing people out of their cars. Some such measures we ought to do now, I think.

In short, I'm not all that worked up about oil, or about cars that run on gasoline. There are tremendous benefits provided by affordable personal transporation, and just like most people I think these benefits are worth the cost of gasoline fuels.

Yes, I prefer cycling to driving, for a host of reasons others mention here. It's more fun, it's healthier, it's more convenient, it makes for a stronger character and a happier outlook, etc. I don't put a lot of weight on the alleged environmental benefits of getting out of cars, though.

For what it's worth, too, I doubt many actual cyclists put as much weight on these benefits as they often claim. Most cyclists don't ditch their computers, electric appliances, garbage-creating boxed goods, suburban homes, or modern careers along with their driving habits. In other words, the real attraction for most cyclists seems to be the fun, convenience, health, reduced expense, and what have you, of cycling. For when there is a significant personal cost in producing environmental benefits something like those of cycling in other areas of their lives they don't do it.
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Old 03-23-02, 11:44 AM   #19
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merriwether,

while your post was rather interesting, and replete with noteworthy points, i feel the compulsion to respond with a pair of VERY simple questions:

-do you honestly believe that automobiles do not produce a significantly large amount of pollution that is potentially harmful to the environment as we know it?

-do you honestly think that this pollution could be reduced significantly ifhumans drove automobiles significantly less?

i suspect you've made a complicated issue out of a very simple concern. i sincerely doubt that many bicyclists suffer from delusions that they are saving the environment with their bicycle. however, riding a bike rather than driving can do something for the environment, albeit a very tiny something. i think that's a good thing.

maybe you can find some time to read "asphalt nation"?

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Old 03-23-02, 12:03 PM   #20
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Surreal,

Indeed, your questions are simple and my answers to them are too. Yes, cars cause significant pollution, and this pollution could be reduced if driving were reduced.

But there are substantial costs to reducing driving, and they're not just costs like making lazy people ride a block to the store. In the extreme, there are all the costs associated with removing ample and cheap transporation for goods and people-- large costs, in other words.

Nonetheless, I probably agree that there are other measures worth taking now to reduce pollution, even if this increases the cost of driving.

Cheers,
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Old 03-24-02, 11:14 AM   #21
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Merriweather,
I think that your view is distorted. Based on current statistics, vast amounts of money could be saved through increased cycling. Like anything else it has inital overhead (but that is far out weighed). Driving is expensive. Point Finale. Cycling is far cheaper. As for moving goods, moving by truck to the local store will be around for a while, but those vehicules can be made much clean ( Just look at Euro IV I think we are at now (correct me if I am wrong)) and compare that to the grossly polluting trucks that we currently have here (many are from the 70s). I think you are too attached to driving and are looking for any possible way to defend it. I don't blame you, because that is what society has been told for years now.

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Old 03-24-02, 11:47 AM   #22
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spire,you're absolutely right re: truck deliveries. and they ARE making large improvements to commercial trucks. keep in mind that most of these trucks are deezle-powered, and diesel fuel is 40% more efficient than gas. plus, it produces FAR less co2 than traditional internal-combustion gas engines. much of america is up in arms about deezle fuel, due to particulate matter and cancer concerns, but the reality remains: small-particulate waste from gas engines are also highly carcinogenic, and the articulate deezle emissions are being combatted by particulate filters. i dont really like the idea of deezle fuel, BUT i do see its advantages, and i wonder why america is outlawing/discouraging deezle when nations like germany are offering tax incentives to companies that switch to all-deezle fleets of company cars. with co2 being a huge concern, as is conservation, wouldnt it make sense to use a far more efficient fuel that reduces co2? but now i guess i am woefully off-topic.

i guess i like to believe that the more ppl who commute/recreate with bicycles rather than cars, the better off the environment would be. some ppl may want to diminish the importance of such behaviour, b/c it admittedly is nopt earth-shatteringly important, but it IS helpful...
....and we need all the help we can get these days.

-rob
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Old 03-24-02, 11:52 AM   #23
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Surreal,
You are correct in saying that diesel produces less CO2, this is purely because the molecular structure of the diesel fuel holds more energy (the bonds between the atoms are stronger) (sorry for the techno-chemistry speak). However, disel DOES NOT BURN WELL at all, that's why so many of the disel cars are tubos (TDI = turbo direct injection). It generally accepted that diesel produces less CO2 but produces WAY MORE VOCs (Volitile Organic Chemicals), NOX (nitrous oxides, basically NxOy where x is one or two and y is anywhere from 2 to 8 or something like that) and other pollutants.

As I understand it gas is cleaner....

Anyone feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

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Old 03-25-02, 12:19 AM   #24
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diesel is considered greener in europe, but grody in the US. i dont know who is correct, but deezle is far more efficient, and many of the older problems have been remedied to a large extent by direct injection, forced induction, and other modern tech advancements.

but, in the end, it's all pretty filthy. i just think it's odd that the USA made a different call on deezle fuel than germany did. it's also curious that US deezle costs an arm and a leg, whereas european deezle is is cheep as compared to their gasoline. also strange is that mst major car manufacturers have deezle offerings in the european market, but only vw makes passenger *cars* with deezle options in the US anymore. sure, there's deezle pickups and uto's, but no deezle cars are imported by honda, audi, bmw, mercedes benz, mitsubishi, etc etc.

wierd.

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