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  1. #1
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    Another reason I'm not a purist

    So, besides the fact that bicycle shorts are made mainly of petroleum, there are a lot of reasons I'm not an anti-petroleum or anti-car purist.

    I use petroleum-derived electricity every day. There are times I'd be really irritated if I couldn't use a fan, a light bulb, a computer, or a phone. The water company uses petroleum power to pump water to me, and I pay for natural gas to heat my shower water, not to mention heating my apartment. I sleep on a bed made with the aid of petroleum for processing of metal and wood, not to mention foams and fabrics made from petroleum. I buy stuff at stores that get their stuff from automobiles.

    Which brings me to a political viewpoint I imagine many of you would share:
    A) carpool lanes are a good thing and 3000 pound vehicles transporting nothing but one 150-pound person are wasteful
    B) trucks transporting thousands of pounds of stuff can be really worthwhile and they ought to get equal status to multi-occupant vehicles and buses on roads

    A lot of motorists seem to think that cars are the best vehicle on the road and that buses and cargo trucks should get out of their way. I think the opposite is true. A bus carrying 40 people is a very efficient use of roads* and (generally) so is a truck carrying goods that will make 400 people's lives easier. These vehicles ought to be made a priority in road design via carpool lanes and maybe other means. Cars are so convenient, and that's why people use them so much. They're often an inconvenience to users of buses, trains, and bikes, but they're still made a priority in our society.

    *and fuel
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  2. #2
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    I agree, I think it's counter-productive to be a purist. We don't need to eliminate hydrocarbon use, just decrease it by a great deal.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I agree with all but B) there are way too many big trucks on the road. They need to utilize rail more than they already are. 40 ton trucks are entirely too hard on the infrastructure and DO NOT pay enough in use taxes to compensate for the amount of damage they do. According to one our local DOT engineers a single pass over a give piece of road by a 40t truck does as much damage as 5,000 cars passing over the same spot. With a few notable exceptions nothing should be trucked more than say 2-300 miles from a railhead. Pound for pound the most efficient way to move freight is by rail. But the rail systems were dismantled and weakened by the auto and oil industry back in the 50's and we are still paying the price today. Every small town used to have a rail siding and a rail freight station, maybe one day we will get back to it.

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 12-31-06 at 11:02 AM.
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  4. #4
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    When the issue is your own survival, I don't see how you can be "too pure." Saying it better than I could, here are three quotes from a New Yorker (11/20/06) article on climate change and ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide emissions:

    "Being conservative, let's say it's a million species that live in and around coral....at the moment you'd have to say that a million different species are under threat [from ocean acidification caused by CO2 emissions, in coral reefs alone]."
    --Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, oceanographer at the University of Queensland



    "You could have food chains collapse. and fisheries ultimately with them, because most of the fish we get from the ocean are at the end of long food chains.You probably will see shifts in favor of invertebrates, or the reign of jellyfish....The risk is that at the end we will have the rise of slime."
    --Thomas Lovejoy, Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment



    "And they said, 'O.K., what's the appropriate [CO2] emissions target?' And I said, 'Zero.' If you're talking about mugging little old ladies, you don't say, 'What's our target for the rate of mugging little old ladies?' You say, 'Mugging little old ladies is bad, and we're going to try to eliminate it' .... I think we need to eventually come around to looking at carbon-dioxide emissions the same way."
    --Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution, Stanford University


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  5. #5
    You know you want to. Eatadonut's Avatar
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    There is, of course, a middle ground that you have to reach. I'm not for widespread animal slaughter, but you know what I am for? A hamburger on my plate. I'm not for drilling out every drop of oil in the ground and pumping it into the sky, but you know what I am for? Boiling water and the ability to transport large amounts of goods from place to place.
    Weather today: Hot. Humid. Potholes.

  6. #6
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    "And they said, 'O.K., what's the appropriate [CO2] emissions target?' And I said, 'Zero.' If you're talking about mugging little old ladies, you don't say, 'What's our target for the rate of mugging little old ladies?' You say, 'Mugging little old ladies is bad, and we're going to try to eliminate it' .... I think we need to eventually come around to looking at carbon-dioxide emissions the same way."
    --Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution, Stanford University
    Roody, at the risk of sounding insensitive to little old ladies, Mr (or Dr.) Caldeira is using faulty reasoning. It's unrealistic to think you can eliminate all crime, and a serious attempt to do it would have huge repurcussions on civil liberties, quality of life and economic prosperity, and would end up hurting far more little old ladies than it helped. Setting attainable targets that balance cost (including human cost) and effect, is the best strategy for any purpose.

    Humans give off CO2 ourselves, and activities like cooking, home heating and transportation always will too. The appropriate target for CO2 is to get emissions in line with what the planet can absorb, and/or develop recapture techniques that balance emissions.
    Last edited by cooker; 12-30-06 at 09:44 PM.

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker
    Roody, at the risk of sounding insensitive to little old ladies, Mr (or Dr.) Caldeira is using faulty reasoning. It's unrealistic to think you can eliminate all crime, and a serious attempt to do it would have huge repurcussions on civil liberties, quality of life and economic prosperity, and would end up hurting far more little old ladies than it helped. Setting attainable targets is the best strategy for any purpose.

    Humans give off CO2 ourselves, and activities like cooking, home heating and transportation always will too. The appropriate target for CO2 is to get emissions in line with what the planet can absorb, and/or develop recapture techniques that balance emissions
    .
    I omitted part of Caldeira's comments, where he did mention that "You recognize that you might not be a hundred per cent successful, but your goal is to eliminate the mugging of little old ladies." My bad.

    The point is that the planet can absorb all of the emissions. CO2 is eventually (and literally) absorbed by the oceans, where it makes the water less alkaline. The consequences of this are not fully understood, but look to be disastrous, since animals and plants will no longer be able to construct shells because the carbonate they need will not be available to them in the water.

    A world without emissions is not presently possible, but the only way to ever make it happen is to set it as a goal. It seems to be the only realistic choice we have, since we have already overloaded the atmosphere with CO2, and soon that will be absorbed by the oceans.


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  8. #8
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    B is problematic not only for the wear and tear on the roads as previously mentioned but there should also be some mechanisms to promoting trucking of locally produced goods over trucking/shipping goods over long distances. I have no idea on a good way to do that

    FWIW I found the following study interesting in how much the air quality improved in a very short order by limiting traffic downtown.
    http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r010221.htm
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  9. #9
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car
    B is problematic not only for the wear and tear on the roads as previously mentioned but there should also be some mechanisms to promoting trucking of locally produced goods over trucking/shipping goods over long distances. I have no idea on a good way to do that
    One mechanism is to stop subsidizing distant produce and make consumers pay full price. That includes tolling goods on highways, ending below market water or grazing rights, and stopping other agricultural subsidies, especially on exports.

  10. #10
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker
    One mechanism is to stop subsidizing distant produce and make consumers pay full price. That includes tolling goods on highways, ending below market water or grazing rights, and stopping other agricultural subsidies, especially on exports.
    I wonder how much that would raise food prices, and who would suffer most from it.

    But you there's definitely something wrong with the current system. For example, coffee and bananas are both shipped a long way by boat, and then trucked much further from the port of entry to the local market. But they're two of the cheapest items at the supermarket. Local growers, who bring produce by van to a nearby farmer's market--only a few miles--tell me that shipping is a big part of their costs. Why is this? If we stopped subsidizing long-distance shipping, would it make sense to start subsidizing local transport of goods?


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  11. #11
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    I wonder how much that would raise food prices, and who would suffer most from it.

    But you there's definitely something wrong with the current system. For example, coffee and bananas are both shipped a long way by boat, and then trucked much further from the port of entry to the local market. But they're two of the cheapest items at the supermarket. Local growers, who bring produce by van to a nearby farmer's market--only a few miles--tell me that shipping is a big part of their costs. Why is this? If we stopped subsidizing long-distance shipping, would it make sense to start subsidizing local transport of goods?
    To me it would make the most sense to give money (or better jobs) to the people who can't afford food, rather than subsidize the agribusinesses.

  12. #12
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker
    To me it would make the most sense to give money (or better jobs) to the people who can't afford food, rather than subsidize the agribusinesses.
    I agree, but it's difficult to sell this idea. To many people, especially Republicans, corporate welfare is "just good for business," while subsidies to poor individuals are seen as "fostering dependence." I don't know the dollar figure, but subsidies in the form of government-paid good roads must mean at least a billion dollars a year to a company like Kraft or Coca-Cola. I never really thought about it this way before, so thanks for pointing it out, cooker.


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  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    I'm just finishing a very provocative book called Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It was recently mentioned here on this forum in a thread on books that had made an impact on ones thinking. This book certainly is causing me to reexamine what I eat and what its true cost might be.

    The author lays out how much of our food system is 'industrial' and can only keep itself going with the aid of massive amounts of energy input in the form of petroleum. The petroleum is used to make fertilizers and pesticides. Because industrial demands large scale crops are grown on huge amounts of acreage in a 'monoculture' and require very expensive machinery to harvest. Then there is the expense of then moving that harvest thousands of miles to market.

    If readers of this forum are concerned about energy use and have adopted a carlite/carfree lifestyle in response then I urge them to read this book. If you are proud of the fact that your bike transportation is more sustainable then personal automobile use then maybe you should also consider transitioning your eating habits to a more sustainable basis as well.

  14. #14
    Senior Member swwhite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    If you are proud of the fact that your bike transportation is more sustainable then personal automobile use then maybe you should also consider transitioning your eating habits to a more sustainable basis as well.
    I just finished that book also, and am trying to start marching in that direction. It's not going to be a quick change.
    Riding in search of the simple life.

  15. #15
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I have not read the book, but I am aware of the issues of big factory farms. My grandparents were small family farmers in the Midwest, my grandfather was very progressive in the management of his small dairy farm and was not a big believer in chemicals use. We are in the process of localizing our food chain here at home. We are getting chickens in this year for the eggs and the meat, we already raise some of our own vegetables and will have fruit and nuts in the next couple of years. Goats maybe a possibility for the dairy side of things. Unfortunately the way the laws/regulations are written they are huge stumbling block to the smaller farmer when it comes to selling products to the public. A lot of them are misdirected in the guise of public safety. We are seeing just how safe our food supply really is with the recent outbreaks of E.coli. If those had even occurred 50-60 years ago they would have been extremely localized and probably could have been traced back to the farm they originated at. One thing that we might see change in an oil short future would be a more seasonal rotation of foods, fresh vegetables may not be a available during all seasons and if they are they are going to be a lot more expensive in the off season due to transportation costs if they are available at all. I know Roody has discovered the joys of buying fresh fruits and vegetable right from the source, it is a step in the right direction. Another item that gripes me while we are on the subject of sustainability is the amount of crap that is overpackaged in plastic. Plastic is only downward recyclable, all food products that are packaged in plastic are in virgin plastics. I try to buy things that are unwrapped (fruit, veggies) or in steel cans, glass jars or aluminum (all of which are 100% recycleable)

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  16. #16
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Not all of us think the world can or should be petroleum free. It's just , its a finite substance and therefore needs be conserved for more important stuff than standing still in traffic.

  17. #17
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Not all of us think the world can or should be petroleum free. It's just , its a finite substance and therefore needs be conserved for more important stuff than standing still in traffic.
    Since it's a finite substance, the end of oil will come. It can come sooner or later. I vote for later.

  18. #18
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker
    Since it's a finite substance, the end of oil will come. It can come sooner or later. I vote for later.
    I vote that we quit pumping it into the atmosphere right now. We make a lot of great stuff out of hydrocarbons, including plastics, fertilizer, medicines and even (like the OP said) bicycle shorts. Let's save what's left for those purposes, rather than squandering it to get our butts from point A to point B.


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  19. #19
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker
    One mechanism is to stop subsidizing distant produce and make consumers pay full price. That includes tolling goods on highways, ending below market water or grazing rights, and stopping other agricultural subsidies, especially on exports.
    There are too many problems with our current market system. It promotes taking advantage of people in some third world country because itís cheaper to ship long distances then to pay a decent wage. It promotes too many middlemen to insure distribution globally, nationally, regionally, sub-regionally and locally. So any locally grown or produced products have to compete on a global scale in order to be included into the distribution channels. If somebody else is selling a fraction of a cent cheaper they win and everyone else loses. Too many chain stores donít buy locally because it is a logistic and accounting nightmare as they have to supply goods for a whole quadrant of the US and not just one city. So even if the locally produced goods are cheaper they canít compete because they canít supply the quantities needed. There are so many factors against locally produced goods that I donít see any easy fix.
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  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car
    There are too many problems with our current market system. It promotes taking advantage of people in some third world country because itís cheaper to ship long distances then to pay a decent wage. It promotes too many middlemen to insure distribution globally, nationally, regionally, sub-regionally and locally. So any locally grown or produced products have to compete on a global scale in order to be included into the distribution channels. If somebody else is selling a fraction of a cent cheaper they win and everyone else loses. Too many chain stores donít buy locally because it is a logistic and accounting nightmare as they have to supply goods for a whole quadrant of the US and not just one city. So even if the locally produced goods are cheaper they canít compete because they canít supply the quantities needed. There are so many factors against locally produced goods that I donít see any easy fix.
    This is very interesting information. I never thought much about distribution before, but it sure relates to carfree philosophy, doesn't it?

    As for solutions, what about this coming from the ground up? Maybe consumers need to start considering the origin of goods when they decide on purchases. I know that I'm willing to pay more for locally grown food, for example, and so are a few other people. If there was a greater demand for local stuff, the supply would eventually catch up. Maybe more people would do this if somebody explained it to them like cooker and The Human Car are explaining it here. After all, some people already do pay extra for things like fair trade coffee and green electricity, once they understand the reasoning behind it.


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  21. #21
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    I vote that we quit pumping it into the atmosphere right now. We make a lot of great stuff out of hydrocarbons, including plastics, fertilizer, medicines and even (like the OP said) bicycle shorts. Let's save what's left for those purposes, rather than squandering it to get our butts from point A to point B.
    I think everyone can agree with Roody on that one. Not using cars for personal transport would be a huge step in the right direction. But sooner or later, we're going to have to admit the presence of the elephant in the room: electrical production. Two thirds of all human-caused greenhouse gases come from coal-fired power plants. Because of our insatiable desire for cold beer, hot showers, lights, and the ability to complain about cars on-line (all things which I personally am rather attached to), the US is planning the construction of 146 new coal fired power plants in the next decade. China is comissioning a new coal-fired plant every couple of weeks. Unless we tackle this problem, and soon, we'll have much more serious things to think about than what bike shorts are made of.
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  22. #22
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    I think semi trucks are good because they employ many americans and give them jobs. The semi trucks are also a faster means of transporting goods. I think a few bad apples in the truck driving community has given truck drivers a bad name, this is true in many venues. Also with utilizing rail it is so much more costly thus the decline of the rail and the birth of the airplane. Because there are fees for a train to utilize rail while there is practicaly none on roads. Enforcing more penalties upon drivers is completely wrong because this is going to force many drivers to quite and encrease the turnover rate so more unqualified drivers are going to be hired. Without semis I think many ways of life would be impacted. I am not against using petro I think it has many more good uses then bad I think what is wrong is urban sprawl I think it paves over nature and makes us more greedy. With urban sprawl we have to drive more which means it uses more petro needlessly also with more driving it induces more traffic accidents. I think that the auto is more to blame then anyother contributer. Because with factories and other plants we can tightly control what filters are being used to help clean up smog and how they are using petro. Where as autos they can contribute more exhuasts becuase users can modify their cars to emit more exhuast I.E. lifted 4 wheel drive truck. Or if they are not maintained properly autos can emit many more toxins. What I think we need is more biodiesel for semis and bus one it will smell a lot better and it will eliminate some of the toxins. Second biodiesel will help reserve petro to more important uses in our daily lives. I am against urban sprawl and the auto more than anything else
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  23. #23
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi
    I think everyone can agree with Roody on that one. Not using cars for personal transport would be a huge step in the right direction. But sooner or later, we're going to have to admit the presence of the elephant in the room: electrical production. Two thirds of all human-caused greenhouse gases come from coal-fired power plants. Because of our insatiable desire for cold beer, hot showers, lights, and the ability to complain about cars on-line (all things which I personally am rather attached to), the US is planning the construction of 146 new coal fired power plants in the next decade. China is comissioning a new coal-fired plant every couple of weeks. Unless we tackle this problem, and soon, we'll have much more serious things to think about than what bike shorts are made of.
    It can be reduced, by some estimates by as much as 90% using current technology. This does not come without cost, we could see electrical rate rise by as much as 20% but it might be a small price to pay. On the other side of the coin is the theory that the damage is done and we are just digging ourselves a deeper and quicker grave. I have seen estimates that even if we were to eliminate ALL CO2 emmissions TODAY it would take the planet upwards of 150-200 years to even begin to recover. (and somehow I don't think that is going to happen or is it particularly feasible). There are many promising alternative power supplies in the research stages, one being the thin solars, but they were promoting cold fusion when I was in school as the great panacea and they still haven't managed to get that to work. Like it or not it is going to have to take a major adjustment and realignment in peoples' lifestyles. The way I see it we have two choices, start on our own now and begin the reductions and adjustments to make it less painful in the future, or be dragged kicking and screaming by the government(s) when they finally wake up and realize what has happened. BTW I have little or no faith in their ability to meet this situation head on. I firmly believe it is going to be forward thinking individuals and communities that are going to be at the forefront of this movement. The old saying about "if you aren't part of the solution, you are the problem" comes to mind.

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 01-01-07 at 01:53 PM.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanparrish
    I think semi trucks are good because they employ many americans and give them jobs. The semi trucks are also a faster means of transporting goods. I think a few bad apples in the truck driving community has given truck drivers a bad name, this is true in many venues. Also with utilizing rail it is so much more costly thus the decline of the rail and the birth of the airplane. Because there are fees for a train to utilize rail while there is practicaly none on roads. Enforcing more penalties upon drivers is completely wrong because this is going to force many drivers to quite and encrease the turnover rate so more unqualified drivers are going to be hired. Without semis I think many ways of life would be impacted. I am not against using petro I think it has many more good uses then bad I think what is wrong is urban sprawl I think it paves over nature and makes us more greedy. With urban sprawl we have to drive more which means it uses more petro needlessly also with more driving it induces more traffic accidents. I think that the auto is more to blame then anyother contributer. Because with factories and other plants we can tightly control what filters are being used to help clean up smog and how they are using petro. Where as autos they can contribute more exhuasts becuase users can modify their cars to emit more exhuast I.E. lifted 4 wheel drive truck. Or if they are not maintained properly autos can emit many more toxins. What I think we need is more biodiesel for semis and bus one it will smell a lot better and it will eliminate some of the toxins. Second biodiesel will help reserve petro to more important uses in our daily lives. I am against urban sprawl and the auto more than anything else
    I smell T-R-O-L-L but will respond anyway You don't have a single clue on how much the trucking industry is subsidized via various taxes, tax breaks, local governments using taxes to build roads, etc. The reason rail is more expensive (not really but follow me here) is that rail PAYS it's own way, yes they do occasionally receive some subsidy but not to the tune that the trucking and automotive industry does. You also have obviously not seen the statistics on the production of Ethanol and Biodiesel. If we were even able to produce the amount required to fuel today's society as it stands we would need every bit of available crop land in fuel production and still would only be able to produce 1/3 of what is currently consumed by private vehicles. The answer(s) lie in deglobalization of our food supply, cutting long distance transportation of items that can be produced locally and total reduction of wasted energy in all its forms(use of private vehicles is very high on this list). We also need to get over the "need it now syndrome" as well as the "on time delivery of products to a given locale" both of these are highly dependent on cheap energy (read oil) and are going to go away as oil becomes scarcer and more expensive. There will be a transition and by all accounts it may well be quite ugly. Those of us that are forward looking are going to be better prepared than Joe Public who is going to have problem understanding why his local MegaMart is running out of stuff and why gas is $8 a gallon. The economic fall out is going to be monstrous and far reaching.

    Aaron
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  25. #25
    Utility Cyclist
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    Great thread! More than anything-an extreme statement, I'll grant you- we owe our modern day quality of life to the availability of cheap energy. Note that the word 'quality' is used here in a value-free way. As energy becomes more expensive, the quality of life based upon cheap energy will change. Period. Now, to make the production, transmission and usage of energy 'eco-friendly' will cause the cost to go up, with this cost reverberating throughout the global economy. The elites will fight this tooth and nail. 'Cheap labor' offshore is only cheap because the cost of transporting the goods and materials is comparatively minor. Again, this cheapness is directly due to cheap energy.

    Interesting subject. Glad that we're pedaling our way to a new possibility!

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