Drumbeat: June 21, 2013

One million march across Brazil in biggest protests yet

(Reuters) - An estimated 1 million people took to the streets in cities across Brazil on Thursday as the country's biggest protests in two decades intensified despite government concessions meant to quell the demonstrations.

Undeterred by the reversal of transport fare hikes that sparked the protests, and promises of better public services, demonstrators marched around two international soccer matches and in locales as diverse as the Amazon capital of Manaus and the prosperous southern city of Florianopolis.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Middle Eastern Turmoil

Some 24 million barrels of oil per day or 27 percent of the world’s daily production comes from countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Until recently the oil markets have paid remarkably little attention to the deteriorating political and security situation in the region. With the intervention of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia on the side of the Assad government and the announcement from Washington that the West was going to become more actively involved on behalf of the rebels, the situation changed, the oil markets reacted, and prices started to rise.

Developments in the region and their effect on oil exports seem likely to be critical to what happens to the world economy within the next 5-10 years. While there may eventually be increasing amounts of energy from other than fossil fuels, political and military developments in the Middle East are moving rapidly. It is hard not to imagine that some, and perhaps even a substantial portion, of the region’s oil exports will be affected by the growing turmoil in the next few years.

A new kind of ‘peak oil’

Few investors can have missed the debate over ‘peak oil’. As emerging markets consume more energy, prices will inevitably rise because all the cheap oil has already been found, making it hard to boost production. Or so the theory goes. But now there’s talk of a completely different kind of peak for oil: in demand, rather than supply.

WTI Trims Weekly Drop After Biggest Slump in Seven Months

West Texas Intermediate crude rebounded after the biggest drop in seven months yesterday. Prices are headed for the first weekly decline since May.

Futures advanced as much as 0.7 percent, trimming the week’s loss to 2.4 percent. Oil fell yesterday after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled it will scale back economic stimulus. China’s central bank injected funds to alleviate the worst cash crunch in at least a decade. WTI’s discount to Brent widened after closing yesterday at the smallest since 2011.

U.K. Natural Gas Drops Most in 10 Weeks as Norway Supplies Surge

U.K. natural gas for same-day delivery dropped the most in almost 10 weeks after supplies from Norway surged and temperatures remained above normal for the season.

Exxon joins West Coast LNG race, seeks 25-year export permit

CALGARY • ExxonMobil Corp. has joined the race to export liquefied natural gas from British Columbia with a monster proposal that would process the equivalent of nearly one-third of Canada’s current daily production.

Morgan Stanley Said to Exit Energy in Three East Europe Nations

Morgan Stanley (MS) will exit power and natural gas trading in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Poland as it scales back in commodities, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The bank, based in New York, will leave markets in eastern Europe where it doesn’t have a competitive advantage, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are not public. It will continue to trade western European power and carbon permits, according to the person. Charles Rankin, the bank’s London-based head of European commodities, declined to comment on job cuts today when reached by phone.

Natural gas used less than predicted

The share of natural gas in the global energy mix is increasing more slowly than first predicted by the International Energy Agency.

Supply growth in the Middle East will slow, says the agency, but gas is playing a significant role in curbing the use of oil to generate electricity at home and, therefore, boosting crude exports.

SandRidge CEO Tom Ward Fired as CFO Bennett Takes Over

The termination of Ward is the latest in a series of shareholder campaigns that have shaken up the U.S. oil and natural gas industry in the past year. Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon, who co-founded that company with Ward in 1989, stepped down in April after shareholders criticized personal loans he got using company wells as collateral.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. Chairman Ray Irani was forced out in May after almost three decades at the company when shareholders questioned his role in the decision to replace CEO Stephen I. Chazen. Hess Corp. and Transocean Ltd. have also agreed to board changes after shareholders questioned management.

Total developing new oil field off Nigerian coast

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Total Nigeria is developing a new offshore oil field that it expects to produce 200,000 barrels a day.

Costa Rica Halts $1.3 Billion China-Funded Refinery Plan

Costa Rica’s government halted a $1.3 billion refinery modernization largely funded by the Chinese government due to a contractual violation, paralyzing the Central American country’s biggest investment project.

Russia’s Oil Champion Shunned as Putin Weighs Share Sale

OAO Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin addressed shareholders today for the first time since his $55 billion acquisition of TNK-BP created the world’s largest publicly traded crude producer. The shares are down 18 percent this year, under-performing Moscow’s benchmark index as well as competitors OAO Lukoil and OAO Surgutneftegas and wiping about $22 billion from the value of the company.

The slump widened the valuation gap between Rosneft and the global oil producers it wants to emulate and may stymie Russia’s plans to sell a further 19 percent of the company. Concerns range from corporate governance -- Rosneft’s refusal to buy out minority shareholders in TNK-BP rankles some investors -- to capital spending plans and rising debt.

Russia to sack under-performing state sector managers: deputy PM

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - The Russian government will dismiss senior managers in underperforming state-owned companies in a bid to improve performance, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Friday.

He did not say how advanced the plans were, but named oil major Rosneft, gas producer Gazprom and Russian Railways among companies which need to cut costs.

Gazprom says won't bid for Greek gas firm DEPA

(Reuters) - Russia's state-run gas export monopoly Gazprom will not bid for Greek natural gas company DEPA in a possible new privatisation tender, said the head of Gazprom's export arm.

Rosneft to boost oil flows to China in $270 billion deal

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) - Russia's Rosneft agreed to double oil supplies to China, in a deal it valued at $270 billion on Friday, as the Kremlin energy champion shifts its focus to Asia from saturated and crisis-hit European markets.

Rosneft will supply China with 300,000 barrels per day over 25 years starting in the second half of the decade, on top of the 300,000 bpd it already ships to the world's largest energy consumer.

Rosneft inks pacts with trio

Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft wrapped up joint-venture pacts on Friday with heavyweights ExxonMobil, Statoil and Eni covering exploitation of resources in the country’s Arctic region, as well as other areas.

Norway opens Barents Sea area to offshore oil drilling in new move into Arctic

STOCKHOLM – Norway's Parliament has opened up a new area on the fringe of the Arctic Ocean to offshore oil drilling despite protests from opponents who fear catastrophic oil spills in the remote and icy region.

Fracking Pollution Probe in Wyoming Cast in Doubt by EPA

The only finding by U.S. regulators of water contamination from fracking was thrown into doubt yesterday when the federal government halted its investigation and handed the probe over to the State of Wyoming.

BP wants inquiry into alleged payments to oil spill lawyer

(Reuters) - Oil company BP called on Friday for an inquiry into an allegation a lawyer working for the administrator of compensation payments for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill referred claims to a New Orleans law firm in exchange for a share of subsequent settlement payments.

TEPCO reports new radioactive water leak at Fukushima

TOKYO — The tsunami-battered Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has suffered another radioactive water leak, its operator said Friday, the latest in a series of incidents at the crippled plant.

About 360 liters of tainted water leaked from a desalination unit although it did not escape from the complex, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said.

Tanks, a lot: Nevada gas thieves on drilling spree target vehicles

Police say the gas thieves have hit more than a dozen vehicles the past month, drilling holes in gas tanks and likely draining the fuel into buckets. In addition to a newspaper truck, tanks were tapped over the weekend at a car dealer, a laundry and a grocery store.

Previous targets included a city councilman's truck and a state-owned SUV.

How Long Before America Hits 'Peak Car' For Real?

Economists, scientists and titans of industry often talk about "peak oil," the idea that one day we'll reach a point where oil supplies begin to decrease and will never rise again. But what about "peak car"? A new study argues that while the peak in cars on U.S. roads may be temporary, the peak in the number of cars per household could be permanent.

The future of natural gas is the car?

Rising use of natural gas in the transportation sector will offset a global slowdown in the growth of natural gas to produce electricity, according to a report released Thursday by the International Energy Agency. That timely boost will mean that America's boom in natural gas is likely to continue for several years, even if the focus begins to shift away from power plants and toward cars and trucks.

Panel Adopts New Rules for Taxi of Tomorrow

Last month, Justice Peter H. Moulton of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled that the plan violated New York City’s administrative code, which stipulates that the city “shall approve one or more hybrid electric vehicle models for use” and that any approved model “shall be eligible for immediate use” by all owners. The NV200 is not a hybrid.

Even before the ruling, in an apparent concession that its initial rules ran afoul of the code, the city had begun discussing an amendment that would allow a limited selection of hybrid vehicles to be bought.

J.D. Power ranks hybrid as worst car for quality

One heavily touted model has the worst quality of any single nameplate in the auto industry's most closely watched index for problems in the first 90 days of ownership, USA TODAY has learned.

It's the Ford C-Max, a five-passenger crossover that comes both as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, according to three independent sources who have access to the full list of models in J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study. The C-Max had 222 manufacturing flubs or design flaws per 100 vehicles in the survey, nearly twice the industry average of 113.

Pump vs. Plug: The True Cost of Electric Vehicles

Pump prices have the ability to make or break an average American's day, month, or year. But while gasoline stations fight over tenths of cents to tempt your tank, electric vehicle "plug prices" have remained a mystery – until now. A new tool reveals all, and the results are astonishing. Let's take a look to see whether pump prices or plug prices are the real pocket pinchers.

Cities still favor cars, study says

A new report by a group studying climate change suggests cities and other governments too often encourage or allow development that results in more consumption of fossil fuels.

The report, released Thursday by the Local Climate Change Initiative at UCLA and not-for-profit group Next 10, identifies 15 policies common in much of the state that work against reducing oil consumption and create more greenhouse gasses.

The humble cycle making a comeback on Dhaka streets

Once seen as a poor man's transport, cycles are now gaining popularity with urban workers fed up of traffic chaos.

BP Defends Renewable-Fuel Rule Other Oil Companies Oppose

As Congress considers scaling back or abolishing U.S. rules that mandate the use of renewable fuels, it has the full-throated support of the petroleum industry -- with one major exception.

BP Plc, one of the world’s biggest oil companies by revenue, is part of a joint venture with DuPont Co. that is set to start producing a new alternative fuel by the end of the year. In order to preserve a market for that fuel, the venture’s officials are busy in Washington trying to convince lawmakers that the current system doesn’t need an overhaul.

Qatar set to buy stake in Germany's SolarWorld

Qatar is poised to invest into Germany's Solarworld, a loss-making company that could provide valuable technology and sales infrastructure.

Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), a subsidiary of the Qatar Foundation, could reportedly spend close to US$50 million on a 30 per cent stake in the ailing producer of photovoltaic (PV) panels. It is also said to be ready to buy a €200m (Dh983.9m) convertible bond issued by Solarworld.

On summer solstice, my £100 bet against solar power ends - who won?

Three years ago, in the course of our debate about the best means of generating electricity, I bet £100 against a claim made by Jeremy Leggett, chairman of the company SolarCentury. He had asserted that domestic solar power in Britain would achieve grid parity by 2013. This means that it would cost householders no more than conventional electricity.

Growth in crop yields inadequate to feed the world by 2050 – research

If the world is to grow enough food for the projected global population in 2050, agricultural productivity will have to rise by at least 60%, and may need to more than double, according to researchers who have studied global crop yields.

They say that productivity is not rising fast enough at present to meet the likely demands on agriculture.

Autism Linked with Air-Pollution Exposure During Pregnancy

Pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of air pollution may be more likely to give birth to children with autism, according to a new study.

The researchers found that the pregnant women in the study who lived in the most-polluted areas were up to two times more likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), compared with those who lived in the least-polluted areas.

Marijuana Crops in California Threaten Forests and Wildlife

The idea that the counterculture’s crop of choice is bad for the environment has gone down hard here. Marijuana is an economic staple, particularly in Humboldt County’s rural southern end, called SoHum. Jennifer Budwig, the vice president of a local bank, estimated last year that marijuana infused more than $415 million into the county’s annual economic activity, one-quarter of the total.

For the professed hippies who moved here decades ago, marijuana farming combines defiance of society’s strictures, shared communal values and a steady income. “Marijuana has had a framework that started in the 1930s with jazz musicians,” said Gregg Gold, a psychology professor at Humboldt State University. “It’s a cultural icon of resistance to authority.”

“In 2013,” he added, “you’re asking that we reframe it in people’s minds as just another agribusiness. That’s a huge shift.”

Storm Wreaks Havoc in New Zealand as Power Cut, Schools Shut

A polar storm caused chaos across New Zealand, shutting schools and the airport in the capital city of Wellington and blanketing the South Island in snow.

Winds gusting to as much as 200 kilometers (124 miles) an hour felled trees and cut power to about 30,000 homes in the capital overnight. Some 8,000 homes were still without power at 2 p.m. today, supply company Wellington Electricity Lines Ltd. said in a statement. The city’s international airport said departures resumed around midday after dozens of flights were canceled due to the wind.

Heavy rains in southern Alberta force mandatory evacuations in areas of Calgary and surroundings

The Alberta Energy Regulator reported flooding may have caused a sour gas leak near Turner Valley. The flow of the potentially deadly gas was turned off, but late Thursday a small amount was still seeping into floodwaters submerging the line. The Alberta Energy Regulator said public safety was not threatened.

The toxic leak caused evacuations and confined other residents to their homes on Thursday. Residents of the southern Alberta town were advised to stay in their homes and keep the windows closed after a pipeline leaked poisonous hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere.

FAO Statistical Yearbook Paints Picture of Food, Agriculture

GLOBAL - The 2013 edition of FAO's "Statistical Yearbook" sheds new light on agriculture's contribution to global warming, trends in hunger and malnutrition and the state of the natural resource base upon which world food production depends.

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture grew 1.6 per cent per year during the decade after the year 2000, new FAO data presented in the yearbook show, with the sector's total annual output in 2010 reaching 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 eq, a measure used to compare and aggregate different greenhouse gases). This equals ten per cent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Indonesia plans air tactic as Singapore haze worsens

SINGAPORE (AP) — Air pollution in Singapore soared to record heights for a third consecutive day, as Indonesia prepared planes and helicopters Friday to battle raging fires blamed for hazardous levels of smoky haze in three countries.

The blazes in peat swamp forests on Indonesia's Sumatra island have sent massive plumes of smog across the sea to neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, both of which are growing impatient with Indonesia's response to the problem that occurs nearly every year.

Record US coal exports fuel climate change debate

With cleaner-burning natural gas cutting into the their market in the United States, coal companies have found eager customers in the East, fueling urbanizing economies in Asia with cheap steelmaking coal. Coal's future in the US may have dimmed over recent years, but exports are hitting record highs.

It's why coal export terminals are emerging as a flash point in the fight against climate change. Don't be surprised if instead of reading about the Keystone XL pipeline, you are soon inundated with polarizing reports on Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, the Gateway Pacific Terminal, and the Morrow Pacific Project.

Belief in Global Warming Drops After Cold Winter

After an especially cold winter across much of the United States, the American public was slightly less convinced that the planet is heating up, a new survey shows.

Blind, starving cheetahs: the new symbol of climate change?

So-called bush encroachment has transformed millions of hectares of Namibia's open rangeland into nearly impenetrable thicket and hammered its cattle industry. Beef output is down between 50 and 70% compared with the 1950s, causing losses of up to $170m a year to the country's small economy.

Bush encroachment can also be bad news for cheetahs, which evolved to use bursts of extreme speed to run down prey in open areas. Low-slung thorns and the locked-open eyes of predators in "kill mode" are a nasty combination. Conservationists have found starving cheetahs that lost their sight after streaking through bush encroached habitats in pursuit of fleet footed food.

Sea level rise in South Florida: expect floods, sea wall woes

President Obama's top environmental adviser came to Fort Lauderdale Thursday to express the administration's commitment to fighting global warming and protecting the nation from rising sea levels.

The president considers climate change "the global threat of our time and that for the sake of future generations the world has to get together to address this challenge," Nancy Sutley told the Association of Climate Change Officers at the Westin Beach Resort & Spa, about a mile from where pounding waves collapsed part of State Road A1A last year.

Will Climate Change Destroy New York City?

Released this month, the report, nicknamed "SIRR" for Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, presents an ambitious plan for managing the worst effects of global warming, which include flooding, rising temperatures and extreme storms.

The potential disasters laid out by the plan, however, could easily overwhelm New York City: Searing heat waves, pounding rainstorms and vast acreages flooded by seawater are all expected for the city and the surrounding region.

And as dire as these situations are for New York City as a whole, the implications for the city's most vulnerable populations — the elderly, children, disabled people and those with special needs — are even more ominous.

New climate strategy coming within weeks: Obama adviser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will target carbon emissions from power plants as part of a second-term climate change agenda expected to be rolled out in the next few weeks, his top energy and climate adviser said on Wednesday.

Federal report backs carbon tax for climate goals

A federal report is endorsing a carbon tax as a far better method to combat climate change than the current web of energy tax provisions.

Despite spending billions of dollars on energy subsidies, the federal government’s Tax Code has done little overall to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to a National Research Council report out Thursday, which concludes that a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system would be much more effective.


Musing for the day.

The Giant mine is probably the reason for Yellowknife's existence. Cleanup costs to simply stabilize ~ quarter of a million tons of arsenic trioxide are expected to be about 1 billion dollars, paid for by the Canadian taxpayer.

The government made about $500 million dollars in taxes, royalties etc using some fairly broad counting.

It would seem it would have been a better deal to just pay out the investors, workers and owners rather than lose money dealing with enough Arsenic to kill every human on earth; however you feel about that.


“Therefore, total direct, indirect and induced employee earnings from Giant have exceeded $1,200 million. Assuming personal income tax rates averaged 30%, some $360 million in personal income taxes would have been generated over the mine life.

Corporate income and mining taxes generated by Giant mine totaled $78 and $16 million respectively over the life-of-mine to 1986"

It seems the Bitumen Sand & Coal; Red Chris,Colomac & Discovery Mines; GM, nuclear power, the banking system all work on this system.

What is the point of Capitalism, again?


The point of capitalism is to aggregate capital into large compilations, establish corporations, then hide behind the corporate veil and despoil the environment if necessary in order to aggregate more capital. Meanwhile, if there are some smaller aggregates of capital, feel free to rape and pillage... make a buck is what it's all about!

What is the point of Capitalism? In a word, Greed.

Rinse and repeat. Ad nauseam...


It's not just capitalism. The same thing happened in communist and pre-industrial countries.

Workers in the Soviet Union and the US had the main problem in common, in that they were alienated from production, and it was not in their control (very non Marxian).

The USSR it was the State, the US corporate owners.

"What is the point of Capitalism, again?"

Debt as money is the culprit. Capitalism is like crack to debt as money.

Every dollar DEMANDS to become 1.5....2....3.....4....etc.

Feed me Seymour.


What is the point of Capitalism, again?

To make the owners filthy rich. Whether society in general gains or loses, that's besides the point.

And other economic systems like socialism and communism are better for the society? LOL.
The owners of capital are not a fixed group of people, at least in the western world. Education and basic stuff like food, electricity, clean water and indoor plumbing is still accessible to almost everyone. You can work hard and climb the ladder or start a business. If you are less ambitious and satisfied with what you have, more power to you, but then why be resentful of the rich? Jobs are created by successful entrepreneurs. If they get filthy rich in the process more power to them. I am glad I live in a country where people like Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page can create jobs and wealth and invent products we all use.

"And other economic systems like socialism and communism are better for the society?"

I hate to say it, but the progress that was achieved in the Soviet Union from 1917 onwards was pretty unparalleled in human history, going from a nation of mostly illiterate serfs to a widely educated industrial superpower in such a short timeframe. The same goes for (capitalist, but still politburo-centrally-planned) China today.

I think others, like S. Korea and Japan, did just as well.

It would be interesting to see numbers.

You can't have capitalism without money, and we don't have money. We have symbols which we falsely call money.

The individuals you mention use debt financing to push products with planned obsolescence onto a public who line up like lemmings to be part of the latest thing. These products bankrupt the end user and waste tremendous amount of nonrenewable fossil fuels, and meanwhile vast sums of fake money are concentrated into their hands.

Let's see how well these products perform without cheap electricity which is made possible by public investment and resource waste.

All of the advantages that you assign to capitalism doesn't change that it, and the other economic choices you mention, are self-limiting due being highly extractive and open-cycle processes that ignore their increasing dependence on finite resources, not to mention their waste streams. All of our current choices will render themselves (and us?) obsolete in due time. The successful folks you mention find it convenient to ignore limits to growth. We are at the point where one group's growth is another group's contraction, but contraction will be our only collective option, whatever label you choose to assign to it.

Unless, of course, we switch to closed-cycle processes using renewable energy.

Don't let the resource extraction company owners tell you that it can't be done. It can, and it wouldn't be that hard. Except of course, for the part where they lose their investments...

Chris Nelder has an ope-ed in Nature.

Communication: Positive energy

To change attitudes towards energy scarcity and climate change, focus on transitions and solutions, not danger and loss, says Chris Nelder.

Didn't link it up top because it's behind a paywall, alas.

I agree with this thesis, there is nothing as boring and divisive as a message of warning without a positive plan for mitigating or avoiding the danger.

This holds true for everything from Climate Change or energy scarcity to teaching a child how to cross the road safely or making progress up the corporate ladder.

The Brazilian protests are very encouraging to me as they directly involve Green public transit and the public sector not just past protests by truckers protesting fuel prices. We need to stop the march of privatization by the banksters and plutocrats taking away the commons and public shared goods for their profit and as Krugman points out today, rent-seeking only profits. It also shows what I have been preaching to my local Rail groups for years: the only way to get Green public transit is to light a grassroots fire of protest and demand from the people who want to use it. Half-measures and brown-nosing with politicos to curry their favor gets you nowhere strategically. In a week of protests Brazilians succeeded in rolling back transit fare hikes. Yet since 2008 Americans in 150 cities still face drastic public transit service cuts and fare increases all over the US. US auto sales are rising because Green Transit options have been under assault even as ridership has been steadily and relentlessly increasing IN SPITE OF cuts. E.g. in New Jersey ridership has risen on my Rail line despite the cut of 28 weekday trains.

An interesting point made by a project manager coworker of mine about subsidies to the Olympics and sports spectacles for short term projects - look how well that worked for Greece!


I think you've argued in the past that suburbs don't pay their fair share of for public roads and services.

How much of those costs are paid for by the suburban cities and counties in which those people live? Are maintenance costs reasonably proportional to traffic levels?

Do we have data to support the idea that suburban roads are subsidized by urban residents?

I've always had the belief that most of road costs were paid through fuel taxes; since suburban folks drive more, they pay more.

Also, perhaps a myth, but I am of the belief that heavy trucks are the source of far more expense than they pay with their taxes.

Does anyone have any evidence one way or another?

Input, Stephanie... I need input.


Also, perhaps a myth, but I am of the belief that heavy trucks are the source of far more expense than they pay with their taxes.

Does anyone have any evidence one way or another?

The evidence is very clear!

Road damage rises steeply with axle weight, and is estimated "as a rule of thumb... for reasonably strong pavement surfaces" to be proportional to the fourth power of the axle weight. This means that doubling the axle weight will increase road damage (2x2x2x2)=16 times.

So, how much of road maintenance is related to commercial traffic, vs passenger traffic? If it's mostly commercial traffic, then how does that change the city vs suburbs argument?

I would say roughly around 8 times since doubling the axle weight reduce the number axles to half.

It would be a very good idea to calculate the optimal number axles to minimize the total cost. Deviations from the optimal should pay an extra road tax to cover the cost for extra maintenance.

Trucks do pay extra. In some states, they pay for all the damage they do; some states require a GPS, so they know how much each truck is using their roads.

On the flip side...the reason trucks don't pay their fair share is that they are efficient. That is, they use less fuel to move a given mass. In the post-carbon age, it might be reasonable to subsidize trucks over personal car use.

That's why I said 8 times instead of 16 times, double the load roughly double the mass moved.

That's why I said 8 times instead of 16 times, double the load roughly double the mass moved.

That doesn't quite give the full picture of the actual impact, a typical compact car might have an axle rating of 1500 lbs while some truck axles are can be rated at quite a bit more than that, if you compare that to the Dana S 110 axle that might be as much as 9 times more, see table below from Wikipedia:

The gross axle weight rating (GAWR) is the maximum distributed weight that may be supported by an axle of a road vehicle. Typically, GAWR is followed by either the letters FR or RR, which indicate front or rear axles respectively.
Importance [edit]
Road damage rises steeply with axle weight, and is estimated "as a rule of thumb... for reasonably strong pavement surfaces" to be proportional to the fourth power of the axle weight. This means that doubling the axle weight will increase road damage (2x2x2x2)=16 times.[1][2] For this reason trucks with a high axle weight are heavily taxed in most countries.
Examples of GAWR on common axles.

Axle GAWR (Max) Manufacturer
Dana 30 2,770 lbs Dana Corp.
Dana 35 2,770 lbs Dana Corp.
Dana 44 3,500 lbs Dana Corp.
Dana 50 5,000 lbs Dana Corp.
Dana 60 6,500 lbs Dana Corp.
Dana 70 10,000 lbs Dana Corp.
Dana 80 11,000 lbs Dana Corp.
Dana S 110 14,706 lbs Dana Corp.
Ford 9-inch axle 3,600 lbs Ford Motor Company
Ford 8.8 axle 3,800 lbs Visteon
Sterling 10.5 axle 9,750 lbs Visteon
10.5" Corporate 14 Bolt Differential 8,600 lbs American Axle
11.5 AAM 10,000 lbs American Axle
10.5 AAM 9,000 lbs American Axle

Any estimate of the median or average axle weight for a US semi?

Hi Nick, don't know about average but I personally sent a few semis with 40 ft. containers out on the road. That can be a considerable amount of weight per axle.

Gross Weight: Maximum allowable total gross weight for trucks on U.S. Interstates is 80,000 lbs, including tractor weight, chassis and container weight, cargo weight, etc. Off-interstate limits are typically lower. Please refer to to the American Trucking Association's "Summary of Size and Weight Limits". 2. Axle Weight: Allowable gross weight on a single or set of axles is regulated by individual states. States typically allow 34,000 lbs per tandem axle and 20,000 lbs per single axle. Please refer to the American Trucking Association's "Summary of Size and Weight Limits". Note : Over 50% of all U.S. citations issued are for axle weight violations, usually the result of uneven distribution of the load inside the container.

In some states, they pay for all the damage they do; some states require a GPS, so they know how much each truck is using their roads.

Do trucking companies pay the state? How does that $ get back to the urban or suburban cities and counties doing the road maintenance?

trucks don't pay their fair share is that they are efficient. That is, they use less fuel to move a given mass

But they move different things - freight vs passengers, which aren't interchangeable.

In any case, it would be far better to tax fossil fuel consumption than to subsidize any single mode. Then, shippers would move to rail and local EV trucks, for instance.

Do trucking companies pay the state? How does that $ get back to the urban or suburban cities and counties doing the road maintenance?

It depends on the state, of course. I'd guess it's most common for it to go in the general fund, where it's parceled out in the usual fashion. It's not unusual for road projects to have several funding sources: federal, state, county, city, etc.

But they move different things - freight vs passengers, which aren't interchangeable.

But should we subsidize moving people over moving freight? Is it perhaps better to subsidize trucks bringing food and other goods to the city, rather than subsidizing people driving an hour to Wal-Mart every week, or an hour to work every day?

most common for it to go in the general fund, where it's parceled out in the usual fashion

In my experience, Federal fuel taxes go into a Motor Fuel Tax Fund, which is parceled out to local government based on various formulas. Trucking fees and over-weight penalties, on the other hand, tend to go into the General Fund, which tends to be kept by the state.

More importantly, if trucks cause 90% of the wear, shouldn't they pay 90% of the cost? Do state trucking fees really generate that much money? In a large state, MFT funds can add up to $10-20 billion - I bet trucking fees are less than 5% of that.

should we subsidize moving people over moving freight?

No, I wouldn't subsidize anyone at all. I'd tax the stuff we want to go away (CO2 emissions especially, liquid fuels secondarily due to security concerns). Think of it as a Pigovian tax, which allocates external costs properly.

I don't think we need to subsidize trucks - better to tax them according to their FF consumption, and let freight naturally move to lower-cost rail and EV local trucks.

The tax revenue can be used to reduce other taxes (sales taxes, or FICA, for example), or used for sustainable R&D/infrastructure - whatever combination makes sense.

More importantly, if trucks cause 90% of the wear, shouldn't they pay 90% of the cost?

90% of the wear is a gross underestimate. Heavy trucks, as discussed earlier in the thread, typically have an axle load 8-10 times the axle load of a small car, which means for the same number of axles and the same distance traveled they will do 10,000 times as much damage. But they usually travel much further in a year, and have more than twice as many axles, so a typical 18-wheeler probably does around 100,000 times the damage done by a typical car. I pay about $65 a year tax on my car, which means an equivalent tax on a truck would be $6,500,000 per year if the tax was proportional to damage done. As I often see a sign on the back of an 18-wheeler saying something like "THIS TRUCK PAYS $9,000 IN TAXES EACH YEAR" I suspect they do not pay their fair share.

Given that there are about 100 times as many cars as Class 8 trucks, and assuming they drive five times the distance of cars, the multiplier would be reduced to about 5,000 for the amount of damage done in total. So the heaviest trucks account for perhaps 99.98% of damage caused by vehicles.

They don't pay a whole lot in fuel taxes, either. The average light vehicle gets about 20mpg, while the average Class 8 truck gets 8-9mpg. Everything else being equal, they would pay a bit more than twice as much in fuel taxes per mile as a light vehicle does, but the tax on diesel is generally a bit higher than on gasoline, so they probably pay about three times as much fuel tax as light vehicles, while doing about 20,000 times as much damage to the road.

Frankly, none of us pay our fair share. People love to point to Amtrak and complain about how it only exists because of taxpayer subsidies, but that is true of highways and airlines/airports, too.

I think that's true: income taxes are used to pay for services, *most* of which should pay for themselves with user fees (exceptions might include schools, libraries, and medical services, where there is a public policy reason to ensure easy access).

We'd all be much better off if everybody paid the true cost of goods and services. Consumption would be lower, and resources would be allocated more efficiently.

That would include pigovian taxes to internalize the costs of pollution, supply security, etc.

I suspect you are overestimating these trucks a bit (actually a lot) (not that they don't do the bulk of the damage). Not too many axles carry 10x of a car. Bigger tires for the same load should also do less damage as the weight(force) is spread over a greater area, and truck tires are larger, and sometimes you have dual wheel arrangements. Also some of that cost if for stuff like the highway patrol, and putting up roadsigns etc. The cost ratio truck versus car for this other stuff is going to be much closer to 1 to 1.

You're right about the axles. That's one reason this issue is so confusing. More axles = less damage. Some states tax by weight, some by number of axles.

This report is a bit outdated (from 2000, I believe), but it covers some of the issues. There's a table showing which vehicle classes underpay and overpay for their highway usage.

A good overview of the various phenomena is here:

It doesn't bottom-line it much, though. Really, it seems there are still differing views on the damage modes, and a longage of models and a shortage of empirical testing.

After reading a bit more, I'm less convinced of some effects than I was, but the dynamic factors are indeed significant.

Around here, many old roads and all new highways now have coupling bars between the slabs, longitudinally with travel direction, to reduce slab transition damage.

I bet it varies by road type and construction, and possibly the weather (wet/dry frozen/thawed. Asphalt's mechanical properties are temperature dependent too.
I remember one afternoon a couple of years back (110 in the shade -if you can find any). An 18wheeler pulled onto the road in front of me and executed a slow sharp turn. His tires left one inch deep canyons on the roadway! In normal weather you wouldn't be able to see a visible effect.

I don't think so. The pressure damage is partially a function of subsurface compaction and slab motion, which are not affected by the size of tires or even closely spaced axles. The surface spall is likely a function of point pressure, but there are several dynamics at work. Or so say my Civ E contacts anyway.

There are indeed many, many dynamics at work. Weight, number of axles that weight is spread over, speed, acceleration/deceleration, number of vehicles, freeze-thaw cycles, etc.

Water is a huge problem. I once got in argument with an engineer who insisted that concrete pavement lasted nearly forever, and we must be doing something if ours isn't.

Turned out, all his experience was in Saudi Arabia. Where the kinds of water issues and freeze-thaw cycles you get in New York or Chicago are unheard of.

Do you think concrete composition also plays a role? I used to read up on fly-ash additives and so forth to reduce surface porosity, but I don't know where that research landed.

Roadway thickness is important. I read a study years ago comparing durability and thickness of US highways vs. the German Autobahn. In US units, the Autobahn (originally designed for heavy wartime traffic) is around 27 inches (on average) vs. less than 18 inches in the US. One is virtually indestructable, the other needs constant maintenance. The study posited that the US was being "penny wise - pound foolish", but that, with US growth, most major roads were obsolete in a few years anyway. No point in building things to last when they're going to be replaced every decade.

Search "US highway thickness vs. Autobahn".

Yes. "Perpetual pavements" are the way to go if time and money no object (and Europe is where it's used most). Basically, it's a super-thick pavement.

Permeable pavements can actually make the frost heave problem worse.

More importantly, if trucks cause 90% of the wear, shouldn't they pay 90% of the cost?

I could see arguments against it. One, if they are more efficient then cars, should they not get a benefit for that? Two, it's regressive. Poor people who can't afford cars or homes in the suburbs still pay fuel taxes when they buy anything trucked to their local store, which is everything. Three, people who are doing the right thing and driving less or driving a hybrid still pay fuel taxes when they buy anything.

Do state trucking fees really generate that much money? In a large state, MFT funds can add up to $10-20 billion - I bet trucking fees are less than 5% of that.

It depends on the state, since not all states track trucks by GPS and they don't all charge the same. However, in some states trucks do in fact pay for the damage they do.

Your claims about people paying taxes for goods brought to supermarkets can be put this way:

Having trucks pay for the damage they do to roads would encourage people to buy groceries produced locally.

You could argue that it is "more efficient" to produce everything centrally and distribute it, but that ignores the cost of maintaining the transportation infrastructure.

Sure, but maintaining the transportation infrastructure is kind of the point of the discussion.

Some would argue we shouldn't maintain it, and or can't.

But if we are maintaining it, I think it's a fair question to ask for what: freight or people.

In Cuba, they chose freight. Because starvation was a much bigger concern than personal transportation.

In Cuba, they chose freight.

In the US they choose freight for the railroads. And that makes sense, since railroad freight carrying is very efficient, railroads carrying passengers -not so much (at least with standard seating -pack um like sardines into a cattle car and trains become efficient people movers.

Or water, which is even more efficient.

But people don't live in that pattern any more.

And personal vehicles are even more inefficient than trucks.

If the externalized factors were integrated, heavy freight would move to rail once again. Small trucks are fine for local delivery, but long-haul trucking should be rail instead. Then the highways would last a LONG time, relatively speaking, for buses and cars.

That 4th-power factor is pretty significant. Anybody who spends time on interstates with the uneven slabs and worn ruts in the concrete are seeing that damage. I don't think there is any argument about regressive effects or public value that can really cover that factor of 16.

I don't think there is any argument about regressive effects or public value that can really cover that factor of 16.

What if you think of the highways as actually built for trucks, and cars can use them, too?

This debate has gone on for decades. Every state, and the feds, are well aware of the issue. If the answer is for trucks to pay more, why don't they fix it? It's easy here in the U.S. Trucks use diesel, most cars don't, so to tax trucks, you raise taxes on diesel but not gasoline. There is a differential already; they just have to increase it. So why don't they do it?

Because they see trucks as worth the damage they cause. They're the backbone of the economy. Conservatives don't want more taxes on businesses, liberals want to protect jobs.

Agree about the "goes on for decades" part, but why pay more for highways (public dole) versus move freight to rail (not as subsidized, anyway)? Once you add in the added people cost for truck drivers, it's even more lop-sided in favor of rail.

The mitigating factor, of course, is speed. Rail is slow, but far slower than it "should" be. It's not the rolling speed that matters so much, but the time spent stopped, plus the on-load/off-load trucking legs still needed at the ends.

On the one had, time is money, so rapid delivery via trucking carries the day. On the other hand, even driving across town I must dodge through-trucking and delivery trucks of various sizes, with their massive impacts on traffic flow and occasional horrendous wrecks. At the least, I'd like to not see trucks on the highways during high-traffic times.

Certainly businesses save money by using rapid publicly-supported road trucking to minimize inventory in transit, but from a societal perspective is that a net savings over less public support and slower delivery? Externalities always color the picture.

Agree about the "goes on for decades" part, but why pay more for highways (public dole) versus move freight to rail (not as subsidized, anyway)? Once you add in the added people cost for truck drivers, it's even more lop-sided in favor of rail.

Because rail doesn't go everywhere trucks need to go. If it did, the costs alone would drive the move to rail, wouldn't it?

And on the flip side...if we really think transportation will be a problem, maybe we should encourage people to move back to the settlement patterns that existed before the car...by not subsidizing use of personal vehicles.

True enough rail doesn't go where roads do, nor even where rail once did. Around here, along the old rail lines there were towns every 10 miles or so (for some the towns were there first, along cattle and wagon routes). These towns are almost dead, on average, while a few miles away along the interstate there are healthy towns that grew up at not much different spacing. For sure, access to transportation is critical, but in flyover country rail would seeminly work (if not as conveniently).

I think time (latency or delay) of rail versus truck is enough to favor trucks in many situations. FedEx could never make a go of next-day delivery via today's rail. Probably the slow rate of tech adoption and union mentality of rail work contributes to the inefficiency, but the flexibility of trucking in going directly from point A to point B without rail transfer points in between is significant. Rail takes 7-10 days coast to coast, yielding an average speed of just 15mph.

Perhaps trucking is to rail as driving is to bus or tram. Trucking gives you flexibility on schedule, pickup, and drop-off. Rail leaves you at the mercy of the rail schedule, your stuff is co-mingled with other stuff, and you still have to plan transport on both ends. Similarly, driving gives you flexibility to leave when you want, go from garage to work with any side-stops you might want, and choose your co-travelers.

If the answer is for trucks to pay more, why don't they fix it?

Because Federal and State Departments of Transportation are run by and for highway builders (aka regulatory capture).

liberals want to protect jobs

Well, unions want to. That's entirely understandable, but still not a good idea.

Because Federal and State Departments of Transportation are run by and for highway builders (aka regulatory capture).

If that's the case, they should be for higher taxes on trucks. They're always hurting for revenue, since not even cars pay their own way.

That's a good point.

I think that they do in fact support higher fuel taxes. But, on the one hand, fuel taxes (for road maintenance) are a national thing, where they've been defeated by the oil/automotive lobby, and on the other hand, their culture is pretty in tune with the oil/automotive industries, so they don't really push the issue that hard. Instead, they focus on minimizing the share that goes to mass transit, and capturing other revenue sources to supplement fuel taxes.

if they are more efficient then cars, should they not get a benefit for that?

They do: their efficiency lowers their cost. If fuel were taxed properly, that efficiency differential would be even bigger, and that would be a direct beneift.

Poor people who can't afford cars or homes in the suburbs still pay fuel taxes when they buy anything trucked to their local store, which is everything.

That cost isn't a big percentage of the price of goods. If it rose sharply, Walmart etc would knock it back down, with NG, rail, more efficient trucks, etc, etc.

The current mix of rail and trucking was set during a long period of dirt cheap fuel. Now that fuel is moderately expensive, that mix is changing. It would change much faster if freight companies and shippers had certainty that fuel prices would stay at this level, or get much higher. That wouldn't hurt consumers - net shipping costs wouldn't change much.

That cost isn't a big percentage of the price of goods.

Depends on which goods, of course, but the numbers I've seen have 50% of the cost being transportation.

The current mix of rail and trucking was set during a long period of dirt cheap fuel.

A bigger problem, IMO, is that the current settlement pattern was set during a long period of dirt cheap fuel. The way people are living now, it is no longer possible to go back to the rail/waterway model that makes sense when fuel is not dirt cheap.

Or just tax fuel. That would shift people and freight to trains, which can easily be electrified.

Or to trucks. :-)

During the "special period" in Cuba, they packed people into trucks as public transportation, since oil scarcity made personal cars untenable.

There are a number of studies on whether roads pay for themselves which demonstrate conclusively that they do not. A recent study by US PIRG is aptly titled
"Do Roads Pay for Themselves" with the following trenchant fact:


Highways “pay for themselves” less today than ever. Currently, highway
“user fees” pay only about half the cost of building and maintaining the
nation’s network of highways, roads and streets.
• These figures fail to include the many costs imposed by highway
construction on non-users of the system, including damage to the environment
and public health and encouragement of sprawling forms of
development that impose major cost son the environment and government

Also more clearly this article from US PIRG:


Quite a while ago Mark DeLucca wrote one in a series of studies which showed that the
gas tax would have to be at least $2 per gallon to pay all the true costs of Auto Addiction. As I have pointed out those costs are not just the roads themselves but
the football field of asphalt per 5 cars calculated by Lester Brown for parking, etc.
Mark DeLucca does some estimates of the costs of ambulances, traffic courts, traffic cops etc. Car accidents comprise a very large portion of all ER visits and result as we know in over 30,000 deaths, hundreds of thousands of injuries etc.

Auto Addiction has also been proven to be correlated factor in the increasing obesity in the US.

Our own esteemed AlanFromBigEasy has done some excellent work on this:


I could go on and on...

Thanks for that info. I agree that there are significant external costs which aren't captured by tolls and fuel taxes. But...

My real question is city vs suburbs: what makes us think the core cities are subsidizing suburbs?

The Federal Highway Administration

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/091116/03.htm (my italics)

The need for road surface maintenance is greatly attributable to the heaviest vehicles. Based on the findings of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) road test, damage caused by heavy trucks was long thought to increase with approximately the fourth power of the axle load. This means that one axle of 10 tons on a heavy truck was 160,000 times more damaging to a road surface than an axle of 0.5 tons (car scale).

In recent years, however, it was determined that the relationship between axle weights and pavement damage is complex and varies based on numerous variables, including environmental factors, type of terrain and roadway design. The National Pavement Cost Model (NAPCOM), which is the pavement model currently used by FHWA, estimates that for some types of pavement deterioration, doubling the axle load causes 15 to 20 times as much damage; for other types of deterioration, doubling the load only doubles the damage.

The U.S. Department of Transportation in its most recent Highway Cost Allocation Study estimated that light single-unit trucks, operating at less than 25,000 pounds, pay 150 percent of their road costs while the heaviest tractor-trailer combination trucks, weighing over 100,000 pounds, pay only 50 percent of their road costs.

Re: Belief in Global Warming Drops After Cold Winter

As if we didn't know:

The NSEE also found that religion may be increasing doubt in the reality of global warming. Among those who expressed disbelief in climate change, 16 percent cited religious factors in their skepticism, compared with less than 1 percent in the fall 2008. Some examples of these religious-minded skeptics included an elderly Alabama man who said "the Lord controls everything," and a middle-age Arkansas woman who said "the good Lord makes the weather," according to the survey.

Hey, Congress (and industry) wants to allow more immigrants with science and technical education, since the US can't seem to educate enough engineers to meet the need. Can we convince those without such education that the US would be better served if they leave? Just asking, rather like Mrs. Merkel suggestion that the unemployed should move out of Germany.

Oh, BTW, Happy Summer Solstice. Stay cool...

E. Swanson

Whilst we are on the same page on the issue, I don't agree that asking them to leave accomplishes anything. You do not get rid of ignorance by moving it around. Any more than moving unemployed people to another country creates jobs for the unemployed.

The ignorant remain ignorant, the unemployed remain unemployed, wherever they go.

In a way that sums up what is happening worldwide. We try to hide our problems rather than dealing with them, until finally there is neither a way to effectively deal with nor to hide them. And they become our predicament...

Reaction: ask the symptoms to kindly leave.

Beam me up Scotty! There is no sign of intelligent life on this planet.


Beam me up Scotty! There is no sign of intelligent life on this planet.

So then, your solution is to have the intelligent ones leave, and leave the place to the ignorant and/or unemployed? ;-)

Yes. They have ruined it. Let them keep it.

Actually, the real difficulty is that there is no way to leave. Scotty ain't up there, guys. We're trapped doomed.


"Oh, BTW, Happy Summer Solstice. Stay cool..."

Oh we are, we are; 25 degrees (F) below normal yesterday, about 20 degrees below normal today. The heat pump is back in heat mode.

I actually have measurable rain in our forecast for Monday. That is practically unheard of for this time of year. If it actually happens people will be making comments about the end-of-days, and pigs flying....

OTOH our temperatures are between average and equalling the record for the day.


Police Order 100,000 People to Leave Calgary After Floods

“The Bow is moving higher and faster than I have ever seen in my lifetime,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at a media conference posted today on the Calgary Police website. Nenshi said 100,000 people have been ordered evacuated. “Avoid all travel that is not absolutely necessary.”

50,000 trapped by flooding and landslides in 'Himalayan tsunami'

Indian troops and rescue workers are battling to help 50,000 people still trapped in the Himalayan foothills after massive monsoons triggered devastating flooding and landslides. The Indian media has reported that up to 14,000 could still be unaccounted for and that the death toll of the "Himalayan tsunami" of around 150 people could soar.

Massive dust storms hit southeast Colorado, evoking "Dirty Thirties"

... Small dust devils kicked up, and within moments, a punishing dust storm slammed into Hixson Farms at full force, trapping Hixson and her husband, Dave Tzilkowski, in their home for 15 hours to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.

"You hear sand and dirt pounding against the window," said Hixson, a fifth-generation farmer whose land and home are 4 miles south of Lamar. "You know that it's your crop that's hitting the windows and blowing away, and it's not just affecting you, but also everyone else."

By the time they woke at 6 a.m. Saturday, the storm had passed. They opened the front door and saw 3-foot drifts of dirt everywhere.

The storm was the worst of seven that have scoured the farm since November, Hixson said. "We had periods of blowing soils in the 1970s that required tractor work," Tzilkowski said. "But this is ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it."

Dust Bowl In 2013? Marlene Cimons Thinks The 1930s Weather Phenomenon Could Happen Again

We are at 0.8°C (1.5°F) and are committed to another 0.8-1.2°C from atmospheric dimming, 1.0°C from lagging equilibrium heat, and 1.5°C from positive carbon feedback (permafrost melt and arctic albedo loss).

Crop yields begin to collapse at 1.5°C

Committed Unavoidable Global Warming and Northern Hemisphere Food Security Impacts to 2100

As Woody Guthrie once sang ... "So Long It's Been Good to Know You"

According to the IPCC, if we continue along our present paths, many equatorial areas will have wet bulb temps in excess of survivability.

If you detect any deviation from that path, be sure to let us know. Meanwhile, sell Texas and move to Hell.

also, that 'endless El Ninos and La Ninas' piece sounds like fibrillation in the Pacific Ocean. How do we "defib"??? Where do we put the paddles, and, when you think about it, who's got 'em?


Just imagine the steady drumbeat of these kinds of events, even increasing in rate and severity. The accumulating cost of it, the damage to infrastructure, the pace of it preventing real recovery.

The areas that get hit hard enough and often enough with whatever their particular curse is (drought, fires, floods, storms, etc.) will become untenable for large portions of the population that live there, putting significant portions of the population in motion. But where will they go? To other places beset by plagues of their own, ill equipped to handle refugees.

In my personal opinion the serious manifestations of climate change have begun. While I expect variations and even brief respites, I believe this is but a taste of the future and that the severity and impacts will in general increase.

And still we have "Belief in Global Warming Drops After Cold Winter" upthread.

Chickens 'cleverer than toddlers'
Chickens may be brighter than young children in numeracy and basic skills, according to a new study.


A lot of people never close the gap IMHO.
Smarter than yeast or more clever than chickens? You decide.

Just imagine the steady drumbeat of these kinds of events, even increasing in rate and severity. The accumulating cost of it, the damage to infrastructure, the pace of it preventing real recovery.

In the book Eco-Economy published in 2001, Lester R. Brown writes:

Andrew Dlugolecki, a senior officer at the CGMU Insurance Group - Britain's largest insurance group - reports that property damage worldwide is rising roughly 10 percent a year. He believes that we are only beginning to see the economic fallout from climate change. At this rate of growth, by 2065 the amount of damage would exceed the projected gross world product. Well before then, Dlugolecki notes, the world would face bankruptcy.

My emphasis

Does anybody know of more recent information?

Not more recent information on this particular angle, but I'll relink to

Climate Change: The 40 Year Delay Between Cause and Effect

The purpose of this article is to clearly explain, in everyday language, the two key principles which together determine the rate at which temperatures rise. The first principle is the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide and other gases. The second principle is the thermal inertia of the oceans, sometimes referred to as climate lag. Few people have any feel for the numbers involved with the latter, so I will deal with it in more depth.

I'm not sure whether Mssr Dlugolecki factored this math into his calculations or not, but I think the point seems pretty clear. What we're seeing is just the beginning of the problem. We're seeing the consequences of what was thrown up in the 70s.

It is this inconvenient truth which keeps leaning me back towards nuclear. I get raked each time, but I just don't see how we can even begin to grapple with this problem without it. I think it's easy to say stop producing CO2 now. Fine. Let's say we do. Build out renewables now. Fine, let's say we do.

The stuff we threw up yesterday, the last day we had fossil fuels, will hit around 2050, give or take. In the mean time, all that past gas is going to continue to roll over us like a slow motion tsunami of absolutely epic proportions. With each wave being larger than the last.

Which brings me to another topic folks get raked on. Geoengineering. How on Earth we deal with this problem without actively drawing down CO2 now is utterly beyond me. And how we do that without nuclear is also completely beyond me.

But I am certainly more than happy to listen. Solutions wanted. :)

Ok, Templar, in the spirit of the old R&D beginning bullsession where we kick off a new solution by throwing out wild/fun/maybe ideas, here's one for starters.

President of US- "Now, as of today,I am declaring a nationalemergency, that gives me powers to do what I am gonna tell you to do right now,

First we drop all the nonsense and waste things we are so happily doing at the moment, like, for example, drilling thru miles of ice and ocean to get to oil we absolutely must not burn if we are going to have a livable planet.

then we take that huge pile of resources not being dumped anymore on nonsense, and put it all on solar/wind, which we know how to do, and we know will last longer than we will.

And in the meanwhile we take the hit on our so-called lifestyle, which won't be anywhere near fatal, since you and I know full well that we have enough stuff right now in our garages, warehouses, junkyards and those stupid little stuff-storage sheds outside of each and every little village , to last us for a decade, easy, and not make even one more of the stuff we are stuffed with.

So we have even more moxie to stuff into solar.

And we end up way richer than we could ever be doing what we are doing,

In fact, do this and we will be, the other way we won't be."

I thank you for your kind attention.

Now, getyrass in gear."

Good, precisely what I had in mind. But remember - I'd already said we ain't drilling anymore, we ain't producing anymore. No more CO2. Yesterday was it. So the oil stays where it's at.

Okay, so mebbe that won't work. We need at least some petro to make all the panels and the windmills (same would go for nuclear plants). My base presumption is we need to meet, more or less, current energy needs. Let's assume we're gonna be nice, and we're gonna decrease energy use by we overconsumers in the OECD by 50%, and allocate the other 50% to the non-OECD, so they have at least something.

Okay, so we're being generous on modding current behaviors in this thought experiment. Now, we need to build out some amount of energy base which will allow us to draw down CO2. That's all it does. Back of the napkin, I'm thinking that has to be at least what we're producing for consumption, so we're in a carbon neutral state at some point - for current use.

We still have 40 years of stuff in the bank we've got to pull down, or its game over. So we have to eat into that at some percentage above the total.

So we need double current use, plus a percentage beyond that. How many windmills and panels will that take? And Wimbi, you've seem my past posts. I'd love to do this all renewable. It's be awesome.

How many square miles of land do we have to devote to the mills and the panels? How much raw material? Water? If we go nuclear, same considerations apply.

Can this be done on the renewables alone? If we could declare today to be the day, and we only had to move forward, I think yes.

But we've got this huge backlog to deal with. How? I don't see how. I think we're gonna need every conceivable form of non-GHG producing form of energy we'eve got.

Back to you.

I think we may not have the same concept of "needs" in our heads. Last month I got a bill for 26kW-hrs from the grid, and on top of that I used about 6kW-hrs per day from my not-yet done solar.

I understand that the average home in USA uses about 25kW-hrs of grid (ff) electricity per DAY.

I am most certainly not feeling the least bit deprived of anything.

So from this I get a prejudice to the effect that the average joe around here is godawful wasteful. Which means that if we quit wasting so much- of everything- we would have lots to put into solar/wind and get immediate return on investment, no waiting around.

So, I think I see a simpler problem than you do, since I think we could go a very long way down from "current energy needs".

As for putting all that carbon out of the air and back into the ground, I like the idea of leafy plants doing it for us. All we have to do is stand back. But again, this is a prejudice based on my own experience.

When we moved out here about 50 yrs ago, this place was a wasteland of barren ripped up hills. Today it is hardwood forest. We did nothing but watch.

Maybe it helps us that we don't ever eat anything for breakfast but one bowl of oatmeal. Plus those strawberries. I cook it for 5 minutes on propane. Working on biogas generator.

To get enough people to actually cut the waste, is even tougher than building excess capacity. I had heard a figure more like 30KWhours/day. Of course the average house has three or more people in it.

30 kWh/day is an average U.S. residential consumption which is skewed upward by some houses powered entirely by electricity (i.e. heating, cooking and air conditioning).

Even tougher? But not impossible. History shows lots of examples of real leaders in really tough situations getting people to do what they themselves are too stupid to see they have to do.

Of course we know we don't happen to have any real leaders around at the moment, so that means we ourselves gotta do it.

And, I am astonished to see, around here people are in fact doing it. Just today some of them came to me asking tech advice on a great plan to get our little town off fossil fuels. They did that plan themselves. It made sense.

tech advice on a great plan to get our little town off fossil fuels.

Even a few places of decent size:
Palo Alto Goes Solar, 80 Megawatts at 6.9 Cents per Kilowatt-Hour

And now it's home to a municipal utility which has approved 80 megawatts in solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) to meet approximately 18 percent of the city's load.
The city has a goal of 100 percent carbon-free power from the utility. These solar plants are a big step.

When the three solar projects come on-line in 2017, Palo Alto will generate almost half of its electricity from renewables. The city estimates that meeting its goal of being 100 percent carbon-neutral will cost the ratepayer about $3 per year.

Of course a few islands of sanity don't make for a sane world. These islands will have to grow and multiply.

I actually think this sort of thing is sorta, kinda, maybe, starting to grow. It's only been a few months, but some folks here in Grayslake, IL are starting to build a network of interested locals. I've joined the merry band. It's pretty inchoate at this point, but I think it'll gel together. We're going to have Richard Heinberg Skype in at a book club a week from tomorrow. We're discussing The End of Growth now, so he should be an interesting addition (being the author and all ;). Another group vaguely based on Transition Town thinking met again this week. A couple of older teenagers, one who works on a local farm, attended. Actually, the meeting was at one of the kids parents house. There is overlap between the book club and this group already.

It's all really super vague and nebulous at this point, but we've all been amazed at the level of interest. One of the leaders thought she'd have to come up with a way to "sell" the idea of community involvement. Nothing of the kind. At least some folk are aware we're in trouble, feel isolated, and want to know more. It's been pretty amazing so far. I drove one of my neighbors home from the transition meeting. She's a federal judge. She's worried as hell.

Our local community college, College of Lake County, has a sustainability curriculum already. They can crank out energy efficiency specialists and home energy auditors at will. Those folks can't find any work yet. Big problem, but I have to think that is going to change soon. The college has a full blown mechanical and electrical engineering department too. All sorts of very local potential.

I've hesitantly raised the issue I've raised in this discussion. That GHG overhead. I've hinted we might need to rethink nuclear. No one was immediately opposed to the idea, but we're at a very early stage. Mebbe we can crank down the C02 with other methods. I think Freeman Dyson thought a trillion trees would do the trick.

At the very least, we're gonna need some shovels. Any way you look at it, we're in deep...


I too am helping two communities in Ireland with their plans to make FF optional in their communities, one of them is a very challenging project because of geographic and environmental designation constraints, but the benefits of success are proportionally larger.

It really turns my crankshaft to see people being proactive about their own economic and energy future.

I would love to compare notes and ideas if you had the time, my email is pat gill energy info (all one word without spaces) at gmail dot com

Please drop me a line if you can find the time.

Or indeed anyone else with an interest in this subject.

I think you're right. We have different concepts of "needs" in our heads. Mebbe I should have used the expression current energy levels instead of current energy needs. It might have better represented the strategic level I'm trying to get at. And I deliberately threw in a 50% decrease for the developed world to the thought exercise. Yeah, I gave that back to the not-so-developed side, but that only seemed fair.

So, in round terms, use the current energy consumption level as a baseline. In theory the needs could be reduced substantially, and thus the level lowered with it. But it just seemed kind of unrealistic to think we'd lower the needs/level overnight, so peg at current for the discussion.

I still can't see how we do everything we need using a combination of conservation, efficiency, and renewable build out. I said I think we could (maybe?) do it if we didn't have that 40 year overhang. Or mebbe the impact of all that CO2, and the way it interacts with the atmosphere, is overplayed in the article I sited. Somehow, I think not, though. I think the overhang is going to just keep washing over us until we're deep underwater, unless we can significantly draw down these various gases.

It sounds like you live in a very cool rural area. I had a chat about scale with one of the transition town group members I hang out with. He's a neighbor and a good friend. Retired legal advocate for troubled youth. When we're in our very conservation-minded subdivision in the burbs, enjoying the lake, or the trails, or our organic farm, it's easy to think some tweaks here and some there could make a big difference. And surely, they could.

But when we get on the train and head into downtown Chicago, the scale of what would need to be done just withers those thoughts. It's enough to drive anyone to start thinking crazy thoughts.

Like nuclear ;)

I understand where you are at. However I don't think we have the capital for massive Nuclear. That may be an artifact of huge safety overkill fanned by public hysteria -but given the politics that seems inescapable. I think we also have overkill in solar, requiring too much mechanical robustness in mounts, and too stringent electrical characteristics, that's one of many reasons why US solar is so much more expensive than German solar. But at least the overkill factor isn't so huge as to make the stuff unaffordable, which Nuclear has become. Given a limited capital budget for the energy transition, we are better sticking with wind and solar -because it delivers more electrons per buck.

Not sure if you're replying to my reply to Wimbi or not, Enemy. I think, based on the indent, you're reply to my original post, but I can never be sure when the posts get a bit long ;)

I hear you on the capital outlays. I was trying to stay, initially, at the overall energy requirements for dealing with current need and the GHG overhead we already have. The discussion with Wimbi is obviously at this level, of course. My point, as I think you can see, is I think we will need both renewable and nuclear to deal with that overhead.

If you think we can do it on renewables alone, give me some of your thoughts on that. Tear apart my hypothetical above. It's just a discussion at an abstract level at this point.

To get into actual capex and opex I'd think we'd need to get beyond the sandbox stuff, for sure. I'm interested in the really high level at this point.

If you're not sure which post the reply is to, click on "parent." (It won't reset your new flags.) It will take you to the "parent" of the post - the comment being replied to.

Got it, thanks. I think the issue was I was posting from an iPhone. Didn't occur to me to hit Parent tho. I kept looking at the indents. On a really, really small screen ;)

No matter what the scale, wind is cheaper and much faster than nuclear.

Death through thousand cuts.

During the recent floods in Himalayas a lot of mountain roads were washed out completely. Now those roads are not toll roads and not much commercial traffic passes through there so I don't expect a bankrupt govt to start rebuilding them, a lot of those roads might never get built, ever.

Who built them in the first place?

Worth a read: http://shalebubble.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/SWS-report-FINAL.pdf

I originally found the link to the PDF above in this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jun/21/shale-ga...

The Guardian is the only newspaper in the UK (that I know of) that regularly reports on energy and climate issues in what I'd consider to be a moderate way (i.e. without coming across as cheerleaders for industry or climate change deniers). It's considered to be left-wing paper... it's not what I'd call left wing (other than relative to other UK newspapers), but individual opinions vary...

Thanks for the report. Just started reading it but so far it's good stuff.

I do not understand the following statement in the executive summery of the above 'shale bubble' link
"In 2011, U.S. demand for natural gas was exceeded by supply by a factor of four."

Has anybody else noticed the oil price futures since Wednesday. According to the chart for CLX13.NYM at Yahoo Finance, $98.36 at roughly 6:00 am. Wednesday, down to $92,26 at 1:08 today and a slight uptick to $93.16 at about 1:50. The chart in the right hand column of this web site looks very similar. What's the story this time?

Alan from the islands

It's the comments from Bernanke plus "disappointing" data from China. "The Markets" are expecting an economic downturn, so the oil futures price declines (as expectation of lower demand).


Yeah, it was an across-the-board market crash. Down down 300+ points. Gold went down 6%. Oil was just down with everything else.

Solar PV threatening nuclear renaissance in US
"As currently proposed, Georgia Power’s future designs include no provision for increased use of solar energy — beyond a 210-megawatt allocation already under way.
But one PSC member, Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, served notice this week that he’ll demand that Georgia Power add 525 megawatts of new solar-generated capacity over the next three years — 100 megawatts from smaller projects such as Dublin High School and 425 megawatts from solar arrays of large-acre, utility scale.
The result, opponents say, would be something close to chaos. In testimony this week, utility executives said Georgia Power currently has 25 percent to 30 percent more generating capacity than it needs — and has two new nuclear power plants in the works. Ratepayers are already picking up a portion of the costs associated with the new nuclear plants."


In testimony this week, utility executives said Georgia Power currently has 25 percent to 30 percent more generating capacity than it needs — and has two new nuclear power plants in the works.

If they already had 25 to 30% more generating capacity than they needed, then why did they did they think they needed an extra two new nuclear power plants to begin with?! Let me guess, they believed in the mythical infinite economic growth fairy.

Yeah, right, evil expensive solar, threatening the too cheap to meter nuclear renaissance. That could be chaos indeed!

FYI I am not a fan of nuclear power. The risks are borne by the taxpayer, ratepayer and future generations while the returns are to bondholders and shareholders.

I am intrigued with TerraPower http://www.terrapower.com/

"If they already had 25 to 30% more generating capacity than they needed, then why did they did they think they needed an extra two new nuclear power plants to begin with?!"

Watch the time scales. They have 25% more than they need now, but what will they need when the plants come on line in a decade? What is the population growth rate of their service area? What can they sell outside the area? What will the economy look like in a decade?

As Yogi said; "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future."

As Yogi said; "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future."

I'm going to stick my neck out and put it on the chopping block. My prediction is that in a decade there will be contractions in both the economy and the population, and that they won't have anywhere to sell outside the area.
More people will be off grid and decentralized and their current business model will not hold up.

BTW, since even posting a TOD permalink to a post that has been already screened puts me in the moderation queue, I won't post it again but if you can find it, watch 'Growth Has an Expiration Date' on Fora TV by Tom Murphy of the 'Do The Math' blog.

"My prediction is that in a decade there will be contractions in both the economy and the population, and that they won't have anywhere to sell outside the area."

It seems entirely plausible for this to happen. After the next economic crash, which I expect within a couple of years, the demand should decrease again as it did in 2009. However, if this crash doesn't lead to complete disaster then there's a possibility that demand will begin to increase again as transportation begins to use electricity in earnest. For household numbers this could increase the demand by ~30%.

That article at ajc dot com does not tell the whole story.

According to Wiki: Georgia Power owns "20 hydroelectric dams, 14 fossil fueled generating plants and two nuclear power plants." According to Georgia Power plans to close coal-fired power plants, favors nuclear for replacement (Power Engineering, June 20, 2013):

Executives from Georgia Power are seeking to close 15 coal-fired generators across the state or convert them to natural gas, which would remove 2,100 MW of generating capacity.... That number is roughly the amount that will come online in 2017 with the addition of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro and would still leave a 25 percent excess in capacity.

The power capacity must be overbuilt to provide for maintenance shut downs and peak loads. Georgia Power would be wise to make those new natural gas powered generators peaking plants that can provide backup for PV. The claim that the PV will increase cost is dubious because the cost of natural gas is on the rise. They do not like competition.

Blind, starving cheetahs: the new symbol of climate change?

It's not only Africa where bush encroachment is a problem. Experiments in Colorado have confirmed the same effect -- shrubs benefit more than grasses from rising CO2. Which affects cattle farmers as well as cheetahs.

Carbon dioxide enrichment alters plant community structure and accelerates shrub growth in the shortgrass steppe

Growth at the doubled CO2 resulted in a 40-fold increase in aboveground biomass and a 20-fold increase in plant cover of Artemisia frigida Willd, a common subshrub of some North American and Asian grasslands. This CO2-induced enhancement of plant growth, among the highest yet reported, provides evidence from a native grassland suggesting that rising atmospheric CO2 may be contributing to the shrubland expansions of the past 200 years. Encroachment of shrubs into grasslands is an important problem facing rangeland managers and ranchers; this process replaces grasses, the preferred forage of domestic livestock, with species that are unsuitable for domestic livestock grazing.

Pump vs. Plug: The True Cost of Electric Vehicles

In the early days of the motor car I'm sure naysayers used to say something like, "It'll never replace the horse. You can't turn it loose to graze in the fields."

But we have to remember, with rising incomes came increased horse ownership, which meant more land for stabling and forage, and deeper levels of muck on the roads. Eventually motor cars became the solution, not the problem.

I wonder if the motor car itself as a mode of transport is finished. When you consider the amount of land devoted to parking areas, highways and flyovers, all the prime locations taken up by gas stations, plus the pipelines and refineries and air pollution, the electric bicycle seems to be the transport of the future. Electric cars will have a brief interim flourishing, and settle down into a low-volume niche along with some ICE cars and trucks.

My bet: 80% electric bicycles and public transport in 50 years. Pity I won't be around to collect.

My bet: 80% electric bicycles and public transport in 50 years. Pity I won't be around to collect

Since I consider the velomobile to be an enclosed recumbent tricycle, I guess if you include them in the bicycle family, I would agree. Electric cars a la Leaf, Volt, Tesla are either attempts to continue BAU or rich people's toys, they will never be anywhere close to number of ICE vehicles on the road today. Just look at any major highway or road at rush hour traffic anywhere in the world today. That just isn't sustainable.

I think solitary drivers in cars should be severely ostracized and restricted. The sooner we transition to a world where the private car is the exception as a mode of transport the better!

Just tax gasoline and it will happen by itself.

That DoE eGallon calculator is trying to achieve a good thing (show that electricity is cheaper than gas) but it is pretty clumsy. It doesn't take into account the low rates EV drivers can get using time-of-use metering. And it doesn't take into account that people can 'grow their own' fuel with an EV by putting PV panels on their roof . . . that is a very satisfying thing.

But that graph is great . . . it shows the stability of electricity prices compared to the chaos of gas prices. Electricity is stable and cheap because it is regulated and it can be made from many different sources.

Airbus-Boeing $129 Billion Orders Tests Buyers’ Patience

Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS pulled in $129 billion in fresh business at the Paris Air Show with orders for 848 aircraft, straining their production lines as much as the patience of buyers forced to wait years for their jets.
Boeing’s backlog of unfilled orders for twin-aisle jetliners, which can cost three times as much as single-aisle aircraft, totaled 1,281 planes through May, compared with 1,031 for Airbus. The tallies were even larger for the smaller models: 3,253 for Boeing versus 3,850 for Airbus, the data show.

It's a mystery to me why airlines are so keen to buy more fuel-efficient aircraft, but car owners seem indifferent to fuel consumption. I guess it's because the fuel bill is a small fraction of the family budget, unlike for the airlines where it's one of their biggest expense items.

It's not a mystery to me. A big business like an airline is largely run by the beancounters. So if the more fuel efficent airplane lowers overall costs, it will be choosen. The car buyer, on the other hand is largely driven by emotion, if the less efficient model compensates for a smaller body part, he will choose it.

Actually, it's not emotion, really. Fuel costs are such a small part of the total cost of ownership that they are quite easily overcome by other factors. The rather stingy IRS allows a car to cost $0.565 per mile for the cost of using a car. I paid $3.00 per gallon yesterday to fill a car which averages about 20 miles per gallon. That's only $0.15 per mile, or about 25% or the official cost for driving a mile. The highest mileage cars currently available average perhaps 50mpg, which would save about 15% of my driving costs.

But is saving this much worth the disadvantages of not being able to carry a few friends somewhere (this car has seven seats), not being able to carry the baggage when I pick up friends from the airport, and not being able to tow the light trailer I'm renting tomorrow to take a used washer and drier to a poor relative? Especially when such a vehicle would cost a few thousand dollars more? And what about a bit more comfort? Airliners have become so uncomfortable I try to avoid them at any reasonable cost.

Fuel costs are such a small part of the total cost of ownership that they are quite easily overcome by other factors.

This is why people don't buy fuel efficient cars. Well . . . not for the reason you give but the for the fact that you and most people are just wrong and don't see it.

Let's say your 20 MPG car cost $25K. If you drive 12,000 miles a year with it for the next 10 years and pay an average of $4.25/gallon over those 10 years, that is (10*12,000)/20 * $4.25 = $25,500 for gasoline. Is that 'small part of the TCO'? If so, the cost of the car was even smaller. So you'll pay more for gasoline than you paid to buy the car. And that is using a pretty lowball $4.25/gallon number . . . that is what gas costs right now where I live . . . who knows what it will cost 5 years from now.

I agree, the cost of fuel is major expense when it comes to owning and operating a vehicle. And I would say that it's the main reason why vehicles miles and car ownership are declining in the US.

Looks pretty big, but a more efficient car isn't going to get run for free either. If you had to go rent something to do every big job that came along, that would cost time. For those who have money to trade for the time, that's what they are likely to do. Personally, an eight year old prius and a 14-year-old truck was our solution to the problem. It is also nice to have two vehicles for those times where one has to be in the shop, usually after someone or something hits it.

I'd consider an electric vehicle, but I don't want to be a power company, it might be hard to sell a house with solar on it, and my home owners insurance is already nuts.

it might be hard to sell a house with solar on it

Realtor: This house comes with free electricity.

Buyer: Oh god no! I don't want free electricity!


free? If you consider having to pay to maintain it, and likely higher home owners' insurance and property taxes free. I wonder how many systems fall into disuse with the second owner. Weird doesn't sell real estate, around here. I'm sure there are more enlightened parts of the country, but if we ever have to sell I'll do well to convince people of the reliability of our solar hot water.

In Ireland some years ago, a law was passed which stated that before a home could be sold or rented it must have a building energy rating certificate, a BER, which informs the prospective buyer or renter of the expected energy costs of the home. PV or Solar Thermal feeds into the energy rating.

At the time it was considered a green fad.

But now it has become a real part of the buying or renting decision for most people.

Just another part of the transition to a post FF world.

But why is the US falling so far behind the rest of the world in this area ?

"But why is the US falling so far behind the rest of the world in this area?"

Seems to be a running theme in the US these days.

Well you don't have to insure it if you don't want to. I don't think I am going to. Property taxes are not allowed to increase due to a PV installation where I live. Maintenance is near nil. Hose off the panels a couple times a year and look at the web site every now & then to make sure it is still working. If the website indicates an individual panel is not producing power then call up a PV guy to check it out . . . or not (the system will continue to work with all the other panels producing power).

This is an advantage of solar PV over solar hot water . . . a solar PV system cannot leak nor have a pump break down. There are no moving parts to wear out and no liquids to leak. The PV panels & inverters have 25 year warranties!

Although today most residential solar is leased third party owned. So the homeowner gets a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement, at a fixed cost per KWhour), which for me at least would be a show-stopper -I want to own my own system.

Do you know if those contracts come with a buy-out agreement? It would probably be do-able to increase the size of the mortgage to cover the purchase of the system outright.

I agree . . . that is why I'm doing my own. The lease things are nice for someone that really really wants solar, cannot DIY at all, and cannot afford or finance the buying of their own system. But you are much better off buying the system yourself. The fact that these solar installers would rather lease the system to you than sell it to you tells you everything you need to know.

According to articles I've seen recently, solar panels are a big selling point, not a drawback, for today's buyers.


According to Wikipedia the world will produce around 85 million cars, trucks, and buses this year. At say $25k each that's $2,125 billion, about 15 times the aircraft orders at the Paris Air Show.

...the world will produce around 85 million cars, trucks, and buses this year.

How much will it cost in energy terms to produce, maintain and fuel them? What are the costs of maintaining the road infrastructure that they depend on? And how much CO2 will they emit and what are the consequences and external costs of those emissions? Just wondering...

Just wondering...

I saw an estimate several weeks back (sorry I don't know the link), that computed the net futue cost of glbal warning at an even $quadriliion (million times a million).

"The car buyer, on the other hand is largely driven by emotion, if the less efficient model compensates for a smaller body part, he will choose it."

Just to slam both genders equally; and given that most of the SUV's around here are driven by women, what "smaller body part" are they compensating for?

One of our AAs asked me how I could possibly "feel safe" in my little Aveo. She drives a Suburban. Alone. She is also an empty-nester, so it's going to just her most of the time.

I have to admit, driving the pickup just feels safer -even though I know the statistics which say it isn't. You just don't feel quite so much at the mercy of those crazy drivers.

They're compensating for the smaller wallets in their fellow human's pockets. They enjoy having a disproportionate income but fear the results. It correlates quite strongly with income inequality.

I have driven mostly small cars for a long time, but a few larger ones along the way too. A 1300cc Fiat, Escort, Austin-Healy Sprite, and the Hyundai Accent I've had since 1999. It's really just a matter of what you are used to - a small car is just so much less effort/fuel/cost, and it is so much easier to control. The only safety issue is seeing past all the giant beasts on the road, but then again sometimes I can see under them.

There is a large social dynamic to cars - people wear them like fashion statements, like masks or costumes. My little Hyundai is in perfect shape and looks it, and it is usually not going slow (although it is often coating in neutral). In my auto-addicted past I learned how to drive and did some auto-crossing for a bit, so I don't slow for corners and I still take the act of driving seriously and pay attention. Nevertheless, there is a social pecking order where drivers of old Hyundais are supposed to know their place and yield to drivers of BMWs and other expensive cars, and drivers of large SUVs and trucks expect you to make way for them and will just cut you off at ay time.

I suppose one is supposed to understand the implied threat of messing with big money or big force. Of course, I ignore all of that and follow the traffic laws, use my own judgement and depend on my ability and car control. People in large and/or expensive vehicles often get quite upset at this flaunting of the costumes they paid so much for. For a real hoot try making eye contact with the driver sometime - you are not supposed to do that, because we all are supposed to recognize that the cars are our personalities.

The car culture is not really about transportation, although the automobile is mostly the only system left.

Agree with everything you said there, sir! I also drive small used compacts and probably drive a lot like you do.
I also purposefully flaunt convention and often force the guy in the Beemer to get in line behind me.

I was thinking about the safety issue further - in 1990 I was in a horrific crash in that Escort, when a Buick station wagon crossed a divided highway where I could not see it and blindsided me at an underpass. I was moving at least 70mph. The car actually performed pretty well, the main problem being that the door armrest sat right over my hip, which caused broken ribs and destroyed a kidney. If it had a lower extension to contact my hip I would have fared much better. On the other hand I have avoided many accidents due to better handling and car control. So I've been through the worst-case and I still don't think small cars are on net more dangerous than large cars.

Seeing the quality of the tin on large cars I very much doubt they are safer. Just acres of floppy sheet.


It is just to compensate for their partner.