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Re: Foreign Policy Author's Insight into American Oil Policy

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  • dubluth
    The sniper episode has passed, but it illustrates something very disturbing and ironic about risk perceptions and behavior. I heard reports that parents were
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 19, 2002
      The sniper episode has passed, but it illustrates something very disturbing and ironic about risk perceptions and behavior. I heard reports that parents were driving their children to school rather than letting them take the bus because of fear of the sniper. A couple months ago a study came out showing how much safer buses were than automobiles for transportation to school. This difference was really great if the drivers were high school students transporting themselves to school. Still it seems that those parents who were taking their kids off the school busses were reducing their safety. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the article and get numbers for making a quantitative comparison of risks. Perhaps Joel discussed this on nightwaves, to which I have yet to listen.

      Bill Carr

      --- In carfree_cities@y..., "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...> wrote:
      >
      > Actually, in the case of the DC population statistic, I had some
      > trouble. The 5 million is from memory; all I could find on the
      > net was for the SMA (7.x million), which includes Baltimore, so
      > I thought that I would trust my memory on this one; don't take
      > the number as gospel!
      >
      > >Just another datum for the pile. Noted J.H's comparison of car
      > >fatalities in the DC area for the same time period as the Sniper
      > >period. I had been using 2.5 Million as the DC are population,
      > >yielding 1 car fatality a day on average. I'll use the 5 million
      > >basis carfree.com used, assuming J.H. did his usuall due diligence.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > -- ### --
      >
      > J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      > mailbox@c... Carfree.com
    • Mike Harrington
      I think fuel cells are the last desperate attempt to impose the exclusive use of the highway internal combustion engine, as opposed to electric rail, as North
      Message 2 of 12 , Nov 19, 2002
        I think fuel cells are the last desperate attempt to impose the exclusive
        use of the highway internal combustion engine, as opposed to electric rail,
        as North America's method of surface transport. Even if engineering
        progress on fuel cells enables automakers to get the price down by a factor
        of four, likely a rosy prediction, fuel cell-powered cars and trucks will
        nevertheless be more than twice as expensive as they are today. In other
        words, before mid-century, the whole transportation system, and therefore
        civilization itself, will grind to a halt if twentieth-century attitudes
        towards energy and land use continue be applied. It is likely that more
        economic displacement due to rising petroleum imports and the cost of
        maintaining an aging road system will precipitate an economic correction
        before then. To assume that the world will perpetually experience low oil
        prices like it has in the past twenty-odd years, that the good times will
        last forever, takes much for granted. To a certain extent the same could be
        said for natural gas for electric power plants. And, unlike 1941, the US
        has almost no railway alternative in a national emergency. Almost no one
        remembers now that railroads saved the Western Hemisphere in the 1940's, and
        that they generally ran much faster than they do today. The Feds are really
        grasping at straws in modern times and agribusiness, for example, is
        profiting from taxpayer largess for ethanol:
        http://www.townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/mm20020828.shtml
        Government's measures will get more expensive and lobbying from interest
        groups will get increasingly desperate to preserve this 1960's-style economy
        of their youth, at least past these politicians' political careers. Like
        Louis XV said, "after me, the flood." Après moi, le déluge.

        It might have been different if government had reacted differently to the
        oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 by funding fusion energy research. Too many
        opportunities have been missed, and government is far too paralyzed to act
        on fusion energy development, which required marshalling of resources, like
        a latter-day equivalent of Kennedy's Apollo program. I believe that door is
        now closed to the US, that the necessary long lead time to find out if
        fusion would even work is no longer there.

        Most people here in Texas have realized for a long time that the US has
        little choice but to develop the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. It's a
        shame the North Slope had to be pumped dry already, but what can you expect
        from a country that doubles its motor vehicle use every twenty-five years?
        If there's a continent that was ever set up for a fall, it's got to be North
        America. Of course, like before, if an 8.5 shock ever hit us like 1929 and
        following, the US would take the rest of the world with it.


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "paulparma" <info@...>
        To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, November 15, 2002 5:52 PM
        Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Foreign Policy Author's Insight into American
        Oil Policy


        > --- In carfree_cities@y..., "Mike Harrington" <mike@p...> wrote:
        > >
        > >Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve, apart from any environmental
        > concerns, has a potential of sixteen billion barrels on the outside,
        > representing only two and a half years' worth of US petroleum
        > consumption.
        >
        >
        > I've beenn most concerned that once oil allocations become worth
        > fighting for in the minds of US decision makers, even if China is the
        > entity we may fighting against, ANWR oil will be too far removed (that
        > is Northern Alaska is too far away and a damn horrible place to
        > experience something as inherently hellish as combat; recall
        > Stalingrad, Moscow (twice -- Napolien and Hitler) and the Arden
        > forest.) to be a dependable and defendible supply to sustain war level
        > (limited) domestic non-war oil use and most especially war level
        > military oil use. My own idea is to go ahead and use ANWR oil now,
        > with constraints on pipeline configuration (possible using phasing of
        > multiple plots of the total ANWR field in sequential time intervals;
        > when one plot is sucked dry you clean it up, remove your stuff and go
        > the the next plot) realizing that business entities can be bad little
        > boys and girls with out bounds (its a #@$%#*n shame). I would also
        > like to see oil rights in the contigous 48 states, including off shore
        > oil and gas, to be bought up by the US government for reserve. We
        > could sell our oil right in the ANWR to help pay for this
        > nationalization of nearby oil. Its our ANWR, not Exxon's! It would
        > send a signal to everyone that this is serious and could keep us out
        > of a war, knowing we have enough to get us through a decade on our own
        > if needed (then we would be out of domestic oil). Of course
        > nationalization would be unlikely to happen with GW in the saddle (how
        > do I look Pa?!).
        >
        > Unlike J.H., if I understand him correctly, I don't think attacking
        > Iraq would lead to a bigger, badder war or necessarily to a noticable
        > push on further terroist attacks, though more terroist attacks should
        > always be expected; I had wondered why a 9/11 hadn't happened yet
        > with our laxed security then. If we attacked, which isn't guranteed
        > now, a US friendly regimem would QUICKLY be in place with only the
        > Kurdsh question left as a decision or long term problem or both. Oil
        > prices would go down with the substantial new Iraqi oil in the pipe.
        > It would help a US recovery, and GW would look really good. However,
        > lower prices and US recovery without oil conservation measures will
        > deplete oil reserves faster and then.....
        >
        >
        > >We are also to be comforted by
        > optimistic news splashes about motor vehicle fuel cells and the coming
        > hydrogen economy, which will enable us to drive forever. In the more
        > detailed articles however, the main problem with fuel cell technology
        > for cars and trucks is that it costs about nine times as much as
        > petroleum-powered implementations.
        >
        > The main problem with Hydrogen fuel cells is that Hydrogen is a
        > oil/gas derivative; hydrogen as a yet relatively unsellable
        > by-product somewhere in almost all petro chemical products'
        > development is currently burned off with flares, a relatively
        > non-polluting method of dumping. J.H. points this out succintly.
        > This should be the most salient, highlighted argument against
        > consideration of Hydrogen as a 'fix all' I think. Hydrogen IS Oil or
        > Gas. Your other points were well taken however regarding hydrogen.
        >
        >
        > To Post a message, send it to: carfree_cities@...
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        > Group address: http://www.egroups.com/group/carfree_cities/
        >
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        >
        >
        >
      • dubluth
        Perhaps this discussion isn t worth having but maybe a bad idea shouldn t be left unquestioned. There may be a valid case to be made for the nationalization
        Message 3 of 12 , Nov 19, 2002
          Perhaps this discussion isn't worth having but maybe a bad idea shouldn't be left unquestioned. There may be a valid case to be made for the nationalization of oil and gas rights but paulparma doesn't detail what would be the objectives of nationalization, how nationalization would achieve those objectives, or why nationalization is a prefered means for achieving those objectives. Of course the questions remain, how could nationalization be achieved and at what cost.

          Before I drop the topic of energy I will suggest that more power isn't necessarily a good thing. If fusion power were achieved it would theoretically not directly produce the sort of toxic emmisions associated with hydorcarbon and coal use. It would give humans more power to alter the planet, a power which no-one should expect would be defered. Is concern that the last of conventional nature would be squeezed from our world only a cerebreal matter? If we understood that there are consequences of our actions, we might learn to accept the concept of enough.

          Fusion also also has one product for certain -- waste heat. Enough of that will cook you.

          The topic of this thread seems to be specifically covered in the group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Towards-Energy-Independence/
        • Mike Harrington
          Cheap power can lower the cost of living and make the American economy more competitive. I m not against energy development, just overreliance on fossil
          Message 4 of 12 , Nov 19, 2002
            Cheap power can lower the cost of living and make the American economy more
            competitive. I'm not against energy development, just overreliance on
            fossil fuels. Most of the planet lives in darkness, anyway. Have you ever
            seen an African city from the air at night? I certainly wouldn't want to
            live there, and the life expectancy is only age fifty. Altering the planet
            is not always a bad idea. For example, if the Sahel Desert were irrigated,
            rainfall and tree cover in sub-Saharan Africa would probably increase. A
            low-energy, low-tech future is an impoverished one, and two-thirds of
            humanity lives under those conditions. If energy doesn't come from fossil
            fuels, nuclear fission and fusion are about the only sources left. Solar
            and aeolian energy, low density, intermittent energy sources, will never
            amount to much, in spite of the hype we hear about them. The main problems
            with solar energy are that sunlight is low-density energy, meaning you need
            prohibitively-sized solar collectors to get a significant amount of return,
            and that the sun doesn't always shine. Wind power also has very low energy
            yields for the investment required. Both solar and aeolian energy were
            discussed to death in the 1970's, and I doubt anyone will ever be able to
            make a go of them on a grand scale, in spite of massive government
            subsidies. Even with subsidies to offset their inherent limitations, solar
            and wind still require backup power sources.

            Regardless of the possible energy substitutes, one thing is certain. Five
            percent of the earth's population won't be able to use twenty-five percent
            of its energy indefinitely. Something's got to give sooner or later, either
            gradually or all at once. The first thing to do to fix the problem is chalk
            up the last fifty years of runaway highway construction and urban sprawl as
            a bankrupt lifestyle. We won't have the luxury of another fifty years to
            procrastinate.


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "dubluth" <dubluth@...>
            To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2002 7:01 PM
            Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Foreign Policy Author's Insight into American
            Oil Policy


            > Perhaps this discussion isn't worth having but maybe a bad idea shouldn't
            be left unquestioned. There may be a valid case to be made for the
            nationalization of oil and gas rights but paulparma doesn't detail what
            would be the objectives of nationalization, how nationalization would
            achieve those objectives, or why nationalization is a prefered means for
            achieving those objectives. Of course the questions remain, how could
            nationalization be achieved and at what cost.
            >
            > Before I drop the topic of energy I will suggest that more power isn't
            necessarily a good thing. If fusion power were achieved it would
            theoretically not directly produce the sort of toxic emmisions associated
            with hydorcarbon and coal use. It would give humans more power to alter the
            planet, a power which no-one should expect would be defered. Is concern
            that the last of conventional nature would be squeezed from our world only a
            cerebreal matter? If we understood that there are consequences of our
            actions, we might learn to accept the concept of enough.
            >
            > Fusion also also has one product for certain -- waste heat. Enough of
            that will cook you.
            >
            > The topic of this thread seems to be specifically covered in the group
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Towards-Energy-Independence/
            >
            >
            > To Post a message, send it to: carfree_cities@...
            > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
            carfree_cities-unsubscribe@...
            > Group address: http://www.egroups.com/group/carfree_cities/
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >
            >
            >
          • dubluth
            I am slow posting this response. Mike Harrington attempted to defend the idea that low priced energy is a good thing. Evidence suggests that given more
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 3, 2002
              I am slow posting this response.

              Mike Harrington attempted to defend the idea that low priced energy is a good thing. Evidence suggests that given more physical power humankind may well do itself, and certainly other species, more harm than good. The points Mike raised skirt the central question. While he also sheds some light on his preferences, the question of environmental consequences of cheap energy isn't settled.

              Mike Harrington wrote:
              Altering the planet is not always a bad idea. For example, if the Sahel Desert were irrigated, rainfall and tree cover in sub-Saharan Africa would probably increase.

              Me:
              I agree that local alterations in the natural environment can materially benefit humans. To disagree would be to say that the cultivation of the land for crops is a bad idea. Regional alterations may also be found to be beneficial to populations of humans. The short term benefits of some alterations will be greater than the future costs. However, the converse is true. We often fail at predicting some of the most significant consequences of alterations in the environment. Prehistoric and modern cultures have gone extinct after calamities such as famine, brought about by man-made alterations to the environment.

              No doubt, there is a tendency to believe that applying modern technology virtually always reaps benefits and that conservatism on that score is foolish and harmful. It is reasoned that it is the less advanced societies' lack of energy resources and technology that causes their failure to master the environment. Mike might agree in principle that such a bias is unwarranted. Yet, while he is opposed to the highway culture, he is wanting another national industrial policy, fusion energy research and development. He believes that its success would guarantee no less than a continuation of modern 1st world habits of consumption.

              Our experience with cheap energy is a great deal of environmental destruction. Energy for war machinery and conquest. Energy for single occupancy vehicles with a resulting demand for roads and exurban development. Of course, energy provides great benefits also. In principle, energy should be priced at its cost of production and the price of damaging uses be charged seperately to the user. In practice, energy production is subsidized and no attempt is made to recover third party costs from users as they cause the damage. Hit and miss regulation that variously moderates behavior and positive energy prices that DO moderate damaging behavior are all we have.

              An attraction of this car-free cities idea is that it simultaneously offers a very beneficial environmental regulation -- banning the automobile from the city -- while directly improving the space where people live and do business.

              We should put technology to its best uses. If such a thing as correct pricing were achieved, it would help guide proper uses and development. In general, the achievement of ecologically sound practices doesn't imply a low tech future. My own bias is that people should live long enjoyable lives and that that should apply across nations and into future generations. Cheaper energy would provide immediate benefits but, with no curb, would also empower one generation to thoughtlessly gut the very environment which would otherwise provide vital services to its progeny.

              Bill Carr



              "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected."

              From letter attributed to Chief Sealth, 1851.
            • Mike Harrington
              Actually, I said that it is probably too late for fusion energy research to do any good, given the tremendous hurdles to be overcome, i.e., huge expenditures
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 3, 2002
                Actually, I said that it is probably too late for fusion energy research to do any good, given the tremendous hurdles to be overcome, i.e., huge expenditures over a long period of time, before it could be economically feasible. As far as fusion energy "gutting the environment," it sounds to me like it would be a lot cleaner than the hydrocarbon-based technology we have now. If you go back and check the note, you'll see that I'm not even sure it would be feasible, not being gifted in plasma physics.

                The point is that a either a sudden or a long-term, inexorable increase in energy prices would be the necessary ingredient for a depression, and since it's been such a long time since one of those has hit, people have forgotten just how bad that they can be. Your home would be very cold in the winter or roasting in the summer, you wouldn't have a job or it wouldn't pay enough to live on, and there probably wouldn't be enough food for most people to eat. How could it happen? Hostilities in oil-producing regions causing market instability are a possibility. It's true that the military and foreign policy of the US is heavily funded to make sure that doesn't happen, but I wonder how long the US will be able to keep it up. Ten years? Thirty years? Forever is a long time. The one flexibility that President Bush doesn't have that Franklin Roosevelt did was that the US was an oil exporter in 1941 (we rode trains and streetcars and could walk to the store then), not an importer of nine million barrels per day, so a "fortress America" was possible. Furthermore, I think increasing world-wide energy use will see Saudi Arabia depleted in about fifty years, and most oil fields will be played out long before then. There's bound to be a point where demand overtakes supply and an economic correction sets in. The effect could be much worse than the 1930's because we consume so much more energy per-capita than we did then, since cheap energy has been built into the model since that time. The global economy today certainly isn't very encouraging, and energy shock under these conditions would certainly have us all on our knees.

                To say that there won't be a time where the abject misery common today in the third world will be the rule everywhere due to an energy collapse is wishful thinking. That's why energy conservation in the US by means of an anti-sprawl policy could have a long-term stabilizing effect on energy prices worldwide. And, as far as cheap energy prices are concerned, nothing would please me more than cheap oil prices in continents like Africa where famine and disease are so widespread, as I have seen firsthand. The third world is composed of human beings that deserve a chance and who have as much right to live as the rest of the world. Conservation on the part of the US could be an inspiration to the two-thirds of humanity who can't afford even today's energy prices, let alone the higher prices that will come. It is possible for North America to use less energy and have a better standard of living than we do today, which I think is what the concept of carfree cities is all about. It is also desirable for improvements in the standard of living of the third world, not just for humanitarian reasons, although that should be the most important part, but for selfish ones. For instance, starving countries are bad for world political stability, and increases in diseases like AIDS due to worsening economic conditions could result in increased infection rates in developed countries. What goes around comes around.

                It is impossible for people today, you included, to survive without cheap energy prices. Attacking science and technology can be dangerous, because it is what keeps you and your loved ones alive. What I'm afraid of is that it may be past the point where science will help very much.

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "dubluth" <dubluth@...>
                To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 5:11 PM
                Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Foreign Policy Author's Insight into American Oil Policy


                > I am slow posting this response.
                >
                > Mike Harrington attempted to defend the idea that low priced energy is a good thing. Evidence suggests that given more physical power humankind may well do itself, and certainly other species, more harm than good. The points Mike raised skirt the central question. While he also sheds some light on his preferences, the question of environmental consequences of cheap energy isn't settled.
                >
                > Mike Harrington wrote:
                > Altering the planet is not always a bad idea. For example, if the Sahel Desert were irrigated, rainfall and tree cover in sub-Saharan Africa would probably increase.
                >
                > Me:
                > I agree that local alterations in the natural environment can materially benefit humans. To disagree would be to say that the cultivation of the land for crops is a bad idea. Regional alterations may also be found to be beneficial to populations of humans. The short term benefits of some alterations will be greater than the future costs. However, the converse is true. We often fail at predicting some of the most significant consequences of alterations in the environment. Prehistoric and modern cultures have gone extinct after calamities such as famine, brought about by man-made alterations to the environment.
                >
                > No doubt, there is a tendency to believe that applying modern technology virtually always reaps benefits and that conservatism on that score is foolish and harmful. It is reasoned that it is the less advanced societies' lack of energy resources and technology that causes their failure to master the environment. Mike might agree in principle that such a bias is unwarranted. Yet, while he is opposed to the highway culture, he is wanting another national industrial policy, fusion energy research and development. He believes that its success would guarantee no less than a continuation of modern 1st world habits of consumption.
                >
                > Our experience with cheap energy is a great deal of environmental destruction. Energy for war machinery and conquest. Energy for single occupancy vehicles with a resulting demand for roads and exurban development. Of course, energy provides great benefits also. In principle, energy should be priced at its cost of production and the price of damaging uses be charged seperately to the user. In practice, energy production is subsidized and no attempt is made to recover third party costs from users as they cause the damage. Hit and miss regulation that variously moderates behavior and positive energy prices that DO moderate damaging behavior are all we have.
                >
                > An attraction of this car-free cities idea is that it simultaneously offers a very beneficial environmental regulation -- banning the automobile from the city -- while directly improving the space where people live and do business.
                >
                > We should put technology to its best uses. If such a thing as correct pricing were achieved, it would help guide proper uses and development. In general, the achievement of ecologically sound practices doesn't imply a low tech future. My own bias is that people should live long enjoyable lives and that that should apply across nations and into future generations. Cheaper energy would provide immediate benefits but, with no curb, would also empower one generation to thoughtlessly gut the very environment which would otherwise provide vital services to its progeny.
                >
                > Bill Carr
                >
                >
                >
                > "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected."
                >
                > >From letter attributed to Chief Sealth, 1851.
                >
                >
                > To Post a message, send it to: carfree_cities@...
                > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: carfree_cities-unsubscribe@...
                > Group address: http://www.egroups.com/group/carfree_cities/
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                >
                >
                >


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