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@dam
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It is the beginning of the end of the oil age post #1  quote:



This week, regular gasoline is $3.50/gallon at the station down the street from me. It might go down a bit temporarily, but overall fuel prices have skyrocketed in the past few years, and will continue to do so from now on.

It is the beginning of the end of the oil age. People don't realize how MASSIVE our energy useage really is. Oil has been so cheap and plentiful that people are oblivious to it's true importance. There will never be a comparable replacement for oil, either. Nothing will have the combination of availability, affordability, and energy density that we've enjoyed with oil for the past 50-100 years. Hydrogen, which is President Bush's latest smokescreen, is a pipe dream. It takes more energy to make the hydrogen than you'll ever get back from it when you use it, so hydrogen is, essentially, just a way to store electricity. Bio fuels are another dream. They provide little more energy than was required to produce them, they deplete and increase the salinity of the soil in our farmland, and there isn't enough farmland in the country to replace our fossil fuels with bio fuels (as 50-100f the biofuel produced would be needed to produce more bio fuel). Photovoltaic solar is so expensive that it doesn't come close to paying for itself in electricity savings. Essentially, they take about as much energy to produce as they provide back in their lifetimes. For alternative energy sources to even begin to take up the slack we need to drastically reduce our energy usage and increase efficiency and conservation. There simply aren't enough practical alternative energy sources out there to replace oil, and even if there were it is going to be far more expensive than oil (otherwise we'd already be switched over).

This goes far beyond the cost of merely filling up your tank. The cost of pretty much anything you buy is proportional to the cost of the energy it took to make that product. This is applicable to everything from the oil itself to food to the computer you're looking at right now. Here are two easy examples...

Food: All the vehicles on a farm use gas. The pesticides and fertilizer are pertroleum based. These are the three things that brought about the "green revolution", which is what makes todays high world population possible. Storage of perishables in a freezer/fridge. Shipping lettuce and everything else accross the country (the average distance for any peice of food you eat is generally about 2000 miles), etc, etc, etc.

Aluminum: Extraction of metals is very energy intensive (about the equivilent 392 barrels of oil to produce a ton of Aluminum) Moving raw materials to the place of manufacture, welding, fabrication, shipping to you etc. etc.

Oil is the slave whose back our society has been built on. It has done our work for us, and now it is dieing. The oil age is what has made our massive global population possible. We are WAY beyond our global carrying capacity, and our population MUST decrease. Many numbers put the global carrying capacity at about 1.5-2 billion, compared to today's 6 billion.

Soon, we will hit "peak oil". This is the point where oil production maxes out, and no matter how hard we look, we'll be unable to discover as much new oil as we used the day before. What oil we do find will be in difficult locations, making production more expensive. Meanwhile, due to the growing population and growing demand in Asia, demand will continue to increase while supply continues to decrease, which will cause prices to skyrocket. It doesn't take much either. In the oil crisis of the late 70's, demand only outstripped supply by a few percent, but price increased by hundreds of percent. This is because everyone still REALLY wanted what oil was available, and it basically led to a bidding war. Everyone was willing to pay for that last gallon of gas. We're beginning to see the same thing again now, but this time the shortages are a real, geological fact rather than an artifical, political creation. A global depression is likely as are more oil wars, and a total rethinking of our continous-growth based economy (I'm not sure what to do about stocks!) "Standards of living" will have to be reduced, but having to compete in a global economy is beginning that anyway.

Some may think this outlook is pessimistic. Surely, something will come along, right? We're up against geology and physics here. No matter how bad we want it, we aren't going to be able to extract cheap energy from where there is none. My view is realistic. The real pessimistic view is heald by those that think we'll see a total meltdown of society, "Mad Max" style. The only chance for my view to be more pessimistic than reality is if we have some SERIOUS technological breakthroughs- in other words, something like cheap, controlled nuclear fusion and another breakthrough that allows us to convert electricity into a fuel that is as storable, inexpensive, energy dense, and easy to use as fossil fuels are. Either of those, let alone both, are unlikely to happen any time soon. We'd be foolish to count on it. For more information, see lifeaftertheoilcrash.net.

However, weaning ourselves off of oil will ultimately be a good thing, as our climate couldn't handle an unlimited supply of oil anyway. It would cause a total runaway greenhouse effect. It will hurt us in the short term, but will eventually be better for future generations. It'll involve some major lifestyle changes on our part (I'll miss cheap air travel and cheap synthetic materials the most), but people will still be able to live happy, fulfilling lives if they make the proper changes. Anthropologists have realized that people in "poorer" or "less civilized" cultures are often just as happy as we are if not more so (so long as their basic needs are met). Our communities will have to be designed around bicycles and pedistrians rather than cars. Food and other staple-goods will have to be produced locally to the greatest extent possible. Buildings will have to be built in efficient, sustainable manners (e.g. rammed earth construction, passive solar heating, etc.). See greenbuilder.com/general for more information.

Scary thoughts, but doable. It must be- we have no choice. There are tough times ahead, but the sooner people become aware of the situation the better prepared we all will be. I'd love to hear others comments and thoughts on this.

-Adam


Old Post 05-07-2006 10:34 PM
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EUCLID
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post #2  quote:

Tonight, NBC Dateline just informed us that the problem can be solved by ethanol production with Brazilian technology and U.S. produced prairie grass. It will give us all the fuel we want at about $1.00 per gallon at the pump.

Old Post 05-08-2006 12:11 AM
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post #3  quote:

What a coincidence! Tonight CBS 60 Minutes just informed us of basically the same thing as that from Dateline only ten minutes earlier. Like Dateline, CBS also went to Sao Paulo, Brazil and looked at the flex fuel cars, and told us that their ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. Unlike Dateline, however, CBS did not mention that the ethanol does not provide as many miles per gallon as gasoline.

CBS also mentioned the use of prairie grass as a possibility, but they said that ethanol from corn is the sure fire solution, however, they failed to mention the current government subsidies that make corn ethanol economically viable.

Both NBC and CBS mentioned the future technology that will produce ethanol from cellulous, which can be obtained from almost any plant material. Both NBC and CBS probed the supposed ?Big Oil? conspiracy to thwart the use of E85. In summarizing their pieces, both NBC and CBS said U.S. produced ethanol fuel is a win-win solution. I guess there will be no more pain at the pump.


Old Post 05-08-2006 12:42 AM
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@dam
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post #4  quote:

please see my comment in the Brazil Ethanol thread.

Old Post 05-08-2006 04:25 AM
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EUCLID
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post #5  quote:

quote:
@dam said this in post #4 :
please see my comment in the Brazil Ethanol thread.


Yes I had previously read your comments about Brazilian ethanol yesterday before I posted above, and I believe your position on it is accurate. But the approach to the oil problem will move forward according to the collective will of the consumer/voter, and they were instructed last night by two of the three major TV networks that U.S. ethanol is indeed THE MAGIC BULLET SOLUTION.

So what are we to believe?


Old Post 05-08-2006 01:31 PM
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Diamond Member
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post #6  quote:

quote:
EUCLID said this in post #5 :


Yes I had previously read your comments about Brazilian ethanol yesterday before I posted above, and I believe your position on it is accurate. But the approach to the oil problem will move forward according to the collective will of the consumer/voter, and they were instructed last night by two of the three major TV networks that U.S. ethanol is indeed THE MAGIC BULLET SOLUTION.

So what are we to believe?

No, the media and experts have consistently said there is no magic bullet. What news do you watch?

The only problem with ethanol is that they'll probably use corn because their lobby is very strong in America, and corn isn't as good a source as sugar, which Brazilians use. Is this another poor attempt to find that "liberal media bias"?


Old Post 05-08-2006 08:45 PM
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post #7  quote:

quote:
Inner City Blues said this in post #6 :

No, the media and experts have consistently said there is no magic bullet. What news do you watch?

The only problem with ethanol is that they'll probably use corn because their lobby is very strong in America, and corn isn't as good a source as sugar, which Brazilians use. Is this another poor attempt to find that "liberal media bias"?


Well last night both CBS and NBC said there was a magic bullet. They used the term, win-win proposition. They both said that the U.S. could satisfy its fuel needs with ethanol, and that the cost would be $1.00 per gallon at the pump. They said that we have the technology and infrastructure with the exception of filling station facilities. They said that such facilities could be installed without any problem, and they quoted the price for that work. Niether network cited any downside to the proposal.

Although I could go into depth of how their message is an example of liberal bias, there is no need to debate that matter. The important point is whether or not their message is true. From what I know about the cost of U.S. ethanol production, I would say that while much of their message is true, they grossly misrepresented the economics in favor of the proposal. Without viable economics, the proposal has no practical merit. So I conclude that the near identical ethanol pieces on both CBS and NBC last night were false and misleading.


Old Post 05-08-2006 10:31 PM
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post #8  quote:

Nowhere in either newscast did they say it's a magic bullet and interviewing supporters of ethanol doesn't constitute NBC and CBS saying it's a win-win proposition. You seem to think that because they interview someone that is a proponent of something, the newscast itself is saying the same thing, it's not. There is great interest in ethanol, they went and found supporters of it. You could come down on the newscasts for not presenting the other side, but I think that's negligible unless the whole newscast is devoted to ethanol.

And what's the misrepresented economics? I'm sure it's not as misrepresented as drilling in ANWR won't affect the area of the oil commercials that show nature (mountains, blue water, animals, forests) in every commercial they make.


Old Post 05-08-2006 11:33 PM
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EUCLID
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post #9  quote:

quote:
Inner City Blues said this in post #8 :
Nowhere in either newscast did they say it's a magic bullet and interviewing supporters of ethanol doesn't constitute NBC and CBS saying it's a win-win proposition. You seem to think that because they interview someone that is a proponent of something, the newscast itself is saying the same thing, it's not. There is great interest in ethanol, they went and found supporters of it. You could come down on the newscasts for not presenting the other side, but I think that's negligible unless the whole newscast is devoted to ethanol.

And what's the misrepresented economics? I'm sure it's not as misrepresented as drilling in ANWR won't affect the area of the oil commercials that show nature (mountains, blue water, animals, forests) in every commercial they make.


I am not sure what you mean by newscasts. From the way you are defending them, it sounds like you must have seen them. However, you say that unless the whole newscast was devoted to ethanol, it is not important to give both sides of the story. I do not understand your point in that regard. In any case, the newscasts were Dateline, and 60 Minutes segments, and they were entirely devoted to ethanol.

Neither of the networks gave any indication that they were merely a neutral observer interviewing a biased proponent of ethanol. In fact, CBS even stated that skeptics might think they were merely interviewing an advocate who was seeking publicity to further his agenda. Then the person who they were interviewing seemed to discount that potential invalidation, and CBS let it go. Both networks teased their stories by asking the viewers how they would like to fill their tanks for $1.00 per gallon.

You can twist this any way you want, but there is no question about the message from these segments last night. Both had the same message. Both misrepresented the economics.

Obviously they misrepresented the economics, since you and I both know that ethanol cannot possibly be produced and sold in the U.S. for $1 per gallon, at the pump, with existing technology and corn production.


Old Post 05-09-2006 01:49 AM
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post #10  quote:

You don't just have to use corn, and the guy they interviewed wasn't just talking about corn on Dateline, he had a much more expansive look from orange peel to prairie grass.

Old Post 05-09-2006 05:16 AM
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post #11  quote:

All of this is scarily depressing

Old Post 05-09-2006 06:02 PM
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