Things of Note

First off, there are some roster additions coming over the next weeks to TOD. The first you have probably noticed is the addition of Jeff Vail to our staff; please join me in welcoming Jeff to TOD as a contributor.

Second, I hope you are all aware of World without Oil. It's week 14, gas prices are over $7/gal. Things are getting pretty bad over there.

Third, TOD will surpass 5 million unique visits and 12.5 million page views (since our inception a little over two years ago) some time this week--and that doesn't even count those of you who just read us in RSS feeds, which is another 2500/day!). Well done all! My best to all of our staff and to our readership. Thank you all for being a part of this.

Fourth, we have almost reached our goal rank of being in the top 2000 blogs on Technorati, but we need a bit of a link push to get there. I'll be mentioning this over the next couple of weeks off and on.

Fifth, reddit and digg, etc., have not been as kind to us of late. In fact, many of our posts just get killed the moment they are submitted. A lot of that, we think, is due to our success on those sites--and that the same people submit our stuff each time--which means a "blacklisting" of sorts. If you are one of the people who frequents those sites and haven't submitted our links in a while, feel free to push them over there, we all appreciate the help.

I have a funny feeling that this summer will be an important time for our entire community. Let's do all that we can to get people the word.

ed by PG: (and Happy Mother's Day!!)

I suspect that by the end of the year, given what most of us expect over the summer months and into the Fall, that TOD may very well rank in the top 500 on technorati. BTW, Happy Mothers Day!!

It's good to know that Mr. Vail is going to be here for the long haul. His take on things are always interesting and are bound to generate lots of useful discussion here--at least, among non-curmudgeons unlike myself! =]

I duly welcome Jeff Vail and also wish to send out my gratitude to all TOD contributors and editors--you guys really have dedication, curiosity and honesty that rivals anywhere else on the web.

... and I can't help but wonder how many mothers read TOD?

Sorry to be a curmudgeon but I can't myself rejoice in the decision to have Jeff Vail on staff. If one checks his bio, he seems rather unapologetically to have involved himself quite a bit in the current administrations illegal war on Iraq. I quote from his bio

"Planned over 210 successful combat mission while deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Awarded Air Force Commendation Medal three times for combat leadership.

Led teams of up to 23 Intelligence Analysts, analyzed and targeted Iraqi infrastructure, briefed senior leadership, including US Air Force Chief of Staff."

I'd like to hear Mr. Vail's views on whether he believes we're in Iraq for their oil or, if not, why he thinks we are there.

Hi Devon. Although Mr. Vail has been quite involved in the Iraq war, as have many military officers, I am not sure that you can draw the conclusion that he has done so "unapologetically." And although I was never in favor of the invasion of Iraq, the "illegality" of the war is far from established. In any event, I believe it is his current position in the Dept of the Interior that makes Mr. Vail an interesting addition to the contributors list. He should have some very interesting insight into the state of energy in the US and the world. Whether he can tell us everything is another question. Hopefully he can be very candid. FYI, I was also a military intelligence analyst many moons ago [not energy related unfortunately].

Hi GL,

Thanks for your comment. One thing I'm interested in, if it doesn't detract from gratitude toward the editors and contributors here (of course)...

re: "...the "illegality" of the war is far from established."

I'm curious about your opinion on the following: What would be required, one way or the other, to establish the "illegality"? (Or, legality, for that matter?)

The war is entirely illegal. No UN Security Council authorization. The vast majority of the worlds *population* was and is against it.

As Richard Posner has made a strong case for, laws are not writ in stone by gods. Laws are simply made by people, and for them to work people must agree on them. The world is in agreement. The Iraq was is illegal.

[edit] Let me add a caveat to that... By US law the war is certainly not "illegal", since it was authorized by the CONgress. So, as usual, terms like "illegal" come down to petty semantics. What really matters here is not that the war is illegal, but that it is a catastrophe. Whatever window dressing you put on it... Hell, even Bush, I believe, said it is "a successful catastrophe" or something along those absurd lines.

Hi Aniya. I suppose I overstated it by saying the illegality of the war is far from established. What I meant, is that there has been no final adjudication of its legality. As far as I am concerned, however, the war in Iraq violates international law, whether or not the US Congress approved it. I don't think that its "legality" can be "established" however absent a trial and adjudication by a sanctioned international court. That may not ever happen. Although I am a lawyer, I am not an expert in international law and I just do not have the time to do the exhaustive research to give citations. :)

Hi GLT149 - I've scoured his bio and can't find an apology, only a resume loaded with references to his "targeting" expertise. I agree that his position at Interior can provide insight and I'm not suggesting he shouldn't be on staff, only that the exploration of energy issues, of which TOD is providing admirable leadership and quality analysis, should never lose site of the sobering and tragic human suffering caused by our involvement in this war, a war thats very clearly about control of the last remaining oil reserves. 655,000 innocent Iraquis have died since the beginning of our latest involvement, which brings the total to well over a million since Bush One's foray. I normally appreciate how TOD sticks to the energy facts, but I believe it's time we all pull together to end this thing and this community has a lot to say about why we might concievably be there in the first place. As far as the legality vs, illegality of the war. I know the U.S doesn't recognize International law anymore but the Nuremberg judgement spelled it out pretty clearly. Agressive wars are illegal. This is an aggressive war.

"The Nuremberg judgment, encoded into international law, is sharp and clear. Aggression is the 'supreme international crime,' differing from others in that it encompasses all the evil that follows; all the evil. The US-UK invasion of Iraq is a textbook example of aggression, as defined by US Justice Robert Jackson in opening the Tribunal, also encoded into international law. Justice Jackson's final words were also sharp and clear. We are handing those convicted at Nuremberg a "poisoned chalice," and if we sip from it, we must be judged by the same principles, or else the proceedings are no more than farce. One prime responsibility of an aggressor is to hold the perpetrators accountable. If state power is unwilling to meet this responsibility, it falls to others to do so: to the citizens of the country carrying out the crimes, more than any others."

--Professor Noam Chomsky

For those interested, I'd also check out the status of the Lt. Ehren Watada trial

Seems as if the government doesn't want his defence to be able to argue legality at all. I wonder what they're afraid of.

I think your concern is understandable. However, I would suggest that *if* I have an ideological slant with which you strongly disagree, does that make my analysis any less valuable provided that I am up front about myself and any agenda that I may have? I have tried to be transparent about my name, my past, and my views (see my blog, for nearly 4 years of writings on topics like our involvement in Iraq).

I'm not sure, however, that you've correctly identified my bias or agenda (we all have one at some level). You might want to start by taking a look at my book, "A Theory of Power," which was positively reviewed by Noam Chomsky, John Zerzan, and Daniel Quinn. You can read it free at my site.

Other than that (and I hope I don't sound defensive--not my intent, and I'm sorry if so), thank you to everyone for the warm welcome!

Mr. Vail - Thanks for that reply. I certainly will take a look at your book. And I'm sorry if I got the bias / agenda wrong. I'll check it out. I will also give you a warm welcome because its especially valuable to be able to discuss these issues with the broadest possible grouping of opinion. I did check out some of your writing and found it very thoughtful. I just want to make the point that the human suffering in Iraq is something not often brought up on this site, and I think its important to remember that dimension, and come to some understanding of all of our complicity and the connection to our level of consumption. I'll look forward to your articles and the chance to respond.

Hi Devon. I want to thank you for your comments and the discussion that followed. It's been beneficial on more than one level. I think we can all agree that the Iraq war has been and is complex and a disaster that has touched the lives of millions and destroyed the lives of too many.

I am an ardent opponent of the war and of the empire that wages it. I am not an opponent of the nation in which the empire is based any more than those who opposed Hitler were (necessarily) anti-German. However, I have close friends who very much disagree with me on all this. Moreover, I respect their opinion on various other issues no matter how strongly we might disagree on the empire project.

Likewise, the TOD is not an anti-war or anti-empire site even though there might be a lot of that kind of sentiment here. There is no reason to exclude someone for their views on the Iraq war if they can bring something to the party on the issue that is central to TOD. People with expertise, or just interest in PO, range all over the political map. That has to be reflected in TOD.

Mr. Vail,

Would you mind giving me a source for the Noam Chomsky review.
I followed your link :

positively reviewed by Noam Chomsky, John Zerzan, and Daniel Quinn.

And found the lonely and solitary word "Fascinating", I am sure Mr. Chomsky said more? I would like to see what context this positive review of "fascinating" was used.

As well on a quick scan of the positive review:


--Noam Chomsky, author of Hegemony or Survival, described by the New York Times as "arguably the most important intellectual alive."

on that quick reading, I would get the idea that this fascinating book was written by "arguably the most important intellectual alive"

I would think that this sort of self promotion a reason to be wary of your opinions.


I'm sorry if the wording was misleading--the "arguably most importany intellectual alive" is the NY Times describing Chomsky, certainly not me!

I'm sorry if the wording was misleading--the "arguably most importany intellectual alive" is the NY Times describing Chomsky, certainly not me!

For what it's worth, I found the wording abundantly clear.

Hi Pitt,

Abundantly clear would read:

--Noam Chomsky, author of Hegemony or Survival, who is described by the New York Times as "arguably the most important intellectual alive." (sloppy writing by the publisher or ?, anyway not of all that much importance I would agree).

I notice that my prime question, or request, for access to, the full review by Noam has not been addressed.

I have had only a slight chance to look at Mr. Vail's book (took a look at chapter 5 on but what I have read so far I find interesting in its variance with my thoughts in this area. A book which I have been reading lately might be of use to Mr. Vail:

Plant Technology of the First Peoples in British Columbia, Royal British Columbia Museum Handbook, by Nancy J. Turner.,1947-. UBC press Vancouver

About Mr. Vail's views and involvement in the war in Iraq I would expect more transparency here in the form of a direct statement. I have a hard time with agreeing to any censorship other than that which involves children, and do not wish at all to muzzle Mr. Vail and even *if* his views and aims were to prove morally or ethically reprehensible. I would still accept him as a commenter, in that case, but I do not think being 'elevated' to a position of authority would be appropriate. This is merely my view and nothing to get too excited about. I hope we can have reasonable discussion here.

you want the guy to roll around in cow-dung and then self-flagellate himself or something? come on now.

What is the 'or something'? I usually like your posts, Chimp, and this one was no exception.

Please don't jump to conclusions about Vail's participation in our organized violence in Iraq. Note that the USAF only got 5 years' return on their AF academy investment and that he got out in June 2004, fairly early in the game when our political process was in the middle of re-electing W... Ask instead, "Why, Jeff, did you get of a promising AF career so early?"

This feels like an approprite place to repeat a heart-felt THANK YOU to the editors, contributors and readers of what I consider to be the most important and prescient blog on the internets.
I've been mostly good about reddit and digg--I assume I should continue the excercise? In other words chronic submitters aren't causing the "blacklisting" as you term it?
Jeff Vail--great! This place improves with age! And about this summer--I have had the same strong feeling for months.

honestly, no clue really as to what's up with reddit/digg and us--other than there's been a lot of cutting down by self-submitters on the sites. In other words, if you submit JUST TOD stuff, you're likely hurting...if you're a part of what they do over there and just happen to submit TOD stuff, then it's a good thing. (at least that's my guess...)

As for uprating and downrating, I don't think that's what's doing the blacklisting--at least I hope not.

honestly, no clue really as to what's up with reddit/digg and us--other than there's been a lot of cutting down by self-submitters on the sites.

At a guess - and this is little more than a guess - links which get a huge burst of positive bumps from their own site are considered likely to be ideological spam.

I know that some political sites, for example, link to things like polls and ask their members to vote for the express purpose of skewing the results of that poll. Over-representation of votes coming from a single source, then, is correlated with attempts to manipulate the process.

Digg and the like are probably concerned about similar attempts at manipulation. Essentially, I'm guessing that their view is "if people outside your community aren't interested in it, it's not interesting". Everybody thinks their own personal obsession is crucial information, but passionate-but-narrow support is less likely to represent information of general interest than shallow-but-broad support, even if those produce the same number of diggs.

At a guess.

thanks KP. :) we're doing what we can...this would be a lot harder if I didn't have such talented people around me.

(and absolutely spread the word as much as possible--we'll try to figure out the digg/reddit thing and keep all of you posted.)

I had a little trouble loading TOD pages earlier today.

Slashdotted, perhaps?

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

naw, we had an apache problem this am. I think it's fixed now.

Congratulation to the whole TOD staff ! and to american mothers too !

Sure the summer may be hot. BTW, does anyone have news from Freddy Hutter? he doesn't seem to have updated his site recently. Looking for another formula replacing "Global extraction is growing on pace"....?

Talking of 'Things of note' and having 'funny feelings'; this was included in the Oil Market Report for April by the IEA (dated 11 May). I made it bold in the 'call on Opec' sentence.

"April world oil output rose by 55 kb/d to 85.5 mb/d, with OPEC supply levelling off near 30.3 mb/d. Non-OPEC growth in 2007 is trimmed to 1.0 mb/d, plus 0.2 mb/d of OPEC NGLs, which leaves the 2.3 mb/d rise in the ‘call on OPEC’ by 4Q running well ahead of expected OPEC capacity additions. This implies lower spare capacity later in the year."

Of course, I have long since stopped giving much regard to what they actually say in this report, it is always revised, usually downwards, a month, two or three later. But it is interesting that they included this sentence. My guess is that there are some worried people, peering at lots of spreadsheets, in Paris.

I have long since stopped giving much regard to what they actually say in this report, it is always revised, usually downwards, a month, two or three later.

I was skeptical of your claim, so I checked.

Each quarter's oil production figure is in the 6 reports immediately following it. I looked at the difference between the first reported number - immediately after the end of the quarter - and the last reported number, 6 months later, for the last 10 quarters for which full data exists (i.e., Q2 2004 to Q3 2006).

The average difference between the first and final numbers is 0.0010 Mbbl/d, representing an overestimate of 0.0011%.

So you're right that the numbers are revised - the standard deviation for the ones I looked at was 0.3Mbbl/d or about a third of a percent of the total - but the mean of the revisions is so tiny (well under one percent of one percent) that there does not appear to be a consistent bias.

Congratulations to TOD on this milestone. It doesn't seem that long since i saw a 3 million visits post - this site is definitely gaining popularity at the moment, keep up the good work.

I've been reading most of the article posted here, but i often feel i don't have anything to say, which wouldn't lower the quality of the thread.

Ah, shucks, you've never seen Oil CEO on this forum after he's taken a few hits of ice.

I say contribute away, the more the merrier.

Happy Mother's Day to all da Mom's out there and hoping all the sons and daughters are doing their duty to make it a nice and relaxing day for them.

A special shout out to the biggest "Mother" of them all...Moma Gaia...may she be kind to us and teach us thoughtful and nurturing lessons. I'm sure there will be some tough love coming our way here in the near future.

Angels Dancing on the Head of a Pin

I love this site. Because it is so relevant and yet can be so stupid. Me, BS Physics MS Geology Ph.D Xray Crystallography. Professional life; Securities Analyst, Venture Capitalist. It's a great background to watch these threads. Three gallons of oil per pig per day. That's a good one. But even stupider as was debate over solar cells as a net cooler of the earth. If there is an effect the net effect is less than 0.001 of a degree. Angels on a pin head. There is a real problem coming, but please let's try to analyze solutions...

I'm getting the word out on MySpace. Thank you for developing what is in my opinion the most important site on the web!


I dont know when Congress will accept the importance of
peak inspite of the site reaching the top 2000


Despite protestations that the U.S. dollar is a garbage currency, no one as yet is turning them down or using them for toilet paper (well, at least no one I know! :-).
The biggest complaint right now seems to be in having to give up too many dollars to buy fuel. We know of course, being aware of the thoughts of the intelligentsia, that oil and fuel is, when one compares it to inflation over the last 30 years, still relatively cheap
But that does not keep the protests of pain at bay, witness two of the links in today's Oil Drum:'tremendous'+impact+on+local+truckers

Once again, we see that people who must consume fuel to make a living are being squeezed hard by the rising prices.

Of course, huge improvements in fuel economy for commercial vehicles has been proposed and in design for several years:
If all goes well, the company plans to make this a standard replacement vehicle in its weight class of 30,000 medium-duty trucks.

Eaton and FedEx, partnered with the group Environmental Defense, have already put some 20 of these trucks on the road, and see big potential:
“For example, if 10,000 hybrid electric vehicles were on the road rather than current standard vehicles, substantial reductions in emissions and fuel use would occur annually:
• Smog-causing emissions of nitrogen oxides would be reduced by 1,700 tons annually—the equivalent of taking passenger cars off New York City roads for 25 days.
• Carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 83,000 tons annually—the equivalent to planting 2 million trees.
• Diesel fuel usage would be reduced by 7.2 million gallons, which requires 1 million barrels of crude oil to produce.

Now in having given the link I have just given, I have little doubt that I will send those who see no potential solution as workable into a tirade. “It’s a drop in the bucket!”, “it’s a silver bb!”, that won’t end America’s dependence on oil!”, and for the neo-primitive deep greens, “it allows Western society to believe it can survive!”

Of course, all of the above is true. FedEx and the hybrid hauler will certainly not save the world. But what it does do is put pressure on the competition. If you are in business competing against FedEx, can you afford to not seriously consider options that will reduce your fuel costs? And, if you are one of the municipalities or truckers listed earlier in the links in today's Oil Drum, can you afford not to start doing some hard research on what methods might be out there to reduce fuel consumption?

As Vinod Khosla says,
“A Crisis is a termble thing to waste”:

He may be wrong on some things, but on this he is correct.

The march on solar panels continues,

“The adoption of mass-production efficiencies have already pushed prices down for solar panels. The price for a watt of solar power, adjusted for inflation, went from $21.83 in 1980 to $2.70 in 2005, according to Applied Materials.”

But the fear of an oil price crash still hangs out there:
“Historically, alternative energy has flourished during energy crises, only to sharply contract when fossil-fuel prices drop and stabilize.”

What we can work to achieve is “confluence”. That is the point at which technology, knowledge of methods and productive capacity is so well distributed throughout the modern economies that it is almost impossible to disrupt, AND the acceptance of new methods and technologies become well accepted on the basis of efficiency, cleanliness and security that even if prices drop, and the market for renewable and alternative technology is able to hold, survive and grow.

What we must prepare for is that the propaganda by the vested interests will only get more heated, more misleading, and outright virulent. The slander campaigns against any and all alternatives have already began, but supposedly the fossil fuel industry does not yet feel a truly serious threat. As they do, alternatives will be accused of outrageous misdeeds, technology long proven will be accused of being totally “pie in the sky” and every possible barrier will be thrown up to attempt to kill other options before they can get to the above mentioned stage of confluence.

The reason I am discussing this here at TOD is because the audience here is growing fast, as indicated by today's article by Prof. Goose, “Things of Note”, to quote, “TOD will surpass 5 million unique visits and 12.5 million page views”.

What this means is that TOD is becoming a valuable piece of real estate from the point of being a “public square” from which to declare technology either a possible path to the future or at least a possible contributor, or as junk. Newcomers will not be able to easily separate the wheat from the chaff. Of course, there are those who declare any attempt to salvage a culture of the type we have known in the Western world for almost a century as a garbage culture, and thus, any technology born of that culture is to be dismissed as destructive, essentially not to be done, and even more so to be stopped if it works. This would be the most radical of the deep green or neo-primitive ideologues.
Newcomers and outsiders in most cases are not anti Western-anti technolgy-anti capitalist. That is a VERY, VERY narrow edge of American political/social/philosophical thought.

Bill Clinton once said “be careful voting against what your for, and for what your against.” What he meant by this was the easy way in which a skilled adversary can turn the words of supporters against the cause they say they endorse and defend, and cause enough confusion so that the supporters are, often unwittingly, supporting the position of the adversary.

MAKE NO MISTAKE, the fossil fuel industry is a skilled adversary. The constant attack on any alternative other than already established ones (oil/gas/nuclear/coal) will use any ammunition that can be used against the alternatives. Wind is accused of causing massive power disruptions, solar is accused of gobbling up natural resources and being completely unreliable, plug hydrids will crash the grid at supper time, and cause power plants to belch out hugely greater volumes of greenhouse gas, on and on and on...

Please, before you accept every charge made against the alternatives at face value, PLEASE investigate, learn, and see if the charges hold any truth. PLEASE.

In closing allow me to give just one example, far out on the edge of technology.
This an interesting link found along with the solar links above.
"It's the way that makes the most sense, and we have to start somewhere," he says. "If you look at it, no one has said what I'm doing doesn't work."

Now, there is a long history here at TOD, so much so that it has become almost a tradition. If someone mentions renewable hydrogen, they are immediately beset by a full force of people who will go much further than just saying such plans and designs may be over optimistic (of that I plead guilty, I am hoping for the best!), or they underestimate the cost or the complexity of making it work (again, I plead guilty of that as a common error, because IF I accept the worst case scenarios of $200 plus per barrel, then many extremely expensive options become possible. And the newest renewable hydrogen systems would be expensive, they are prototypes.

No, the attackers of the new technology declare it COMPLETELY impossible, from a thermodynamic perspective, a physics perspective. They do not stop at saying it is too expensive, or that it may be technically difficult, they go the extra mile, and declare the very physics undoable.

And yet, it is being done! Not only in the U.S., but in even more cases in Europe, and by firms, respected firms such as Honda Motor Corp. and others in other parts of the world.

Now, most of the people here are very astute, some are extremely good technicians.
Many much, MUCH better than I am.

This is often the case on various technologies. Why is there such a priority placed on attempting to prove that any alternative to oil and gas is impossible?

Again, for those who have been coming here a long time, it is not greatly important. We dismiss it out of hand. There are always doubters. There were still newspaper columns declaring it impossible for a human to fly on a controlled heavier than air craft well after the Wright Brothers had done it weeks before.

All this has been in good fun, but think for a moment: There are people with very good energy conservation and alternative energy producing ideas who have to go before bankers, investors, and venture capitalists, as well as city councils and state governments. Many of the people thye present their ideas to are NOT well versed in the technology of energy (some have complained that as sharp as he is, this is why Vinod Khosla and other capitalists were so easily pulled into the ethanol trade.)
Please consider how continued diatribes declaring alternatives impossible undercut the very people who are trying to help break the fossil fuel monopoly.

Every attempt made to destroy confidence in potentially valid and valuable alternative energy options is a huge favor to the fossil fuel industry. As the audience here grows, we must be more aware of the message sent from such a valuable virtual “public forum”. IF an idea seems to be truly destructive, or an outright fraud, then BY ALL MEANS, people in the know should post and say so, and bring facts to the table to attempt to prove their position (i.e., Robert Rapier and others on ethanol)

All we can count on is that for every post that declares technology completely impossible, they should attempt to support their position with outside sourcing and other information. And if others here know that it can be done, they should post and say so and say how and why.

We are not at this moment arguing whether any level of technical improvement is aesthetically or philosophical desirable. If someone believes that there should be NO TECHNICAL ADVANCE allowed, that is what they have the right to say. Whether for example solar energy is “desirable” from a philosophical viewpoint is different from whether it is technically possible.
Remember, if one argues against the alternatives, it can be viewed as an argument in favor of the status quo, because the fossil fuel industry worldwide is not going to stop producing oil and gas for “philosophical” reasons, at least not voluntarily.

Do not help the fossil fuel vested interests undercut and slander potential alternatives.
And they will. And they will do it in such a coy and clever fashion, they will have many voicing their arguments for them without even knowing where the argument came from in the first place.

“Do not vote against what your for, and for what your against.”

Thank you, Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom.

Wow, Roger, okay!
How could anyone ignore such an imapassioned plea. The big (as in big-business) problem with silver BB's is that they work best when delocalized, and that doesn't bode well for those who like centralized control.
My issue with hybrids is the NMH batteries, which use silver, lots of it, and not in the form of BB's. Industrial society has been consuming more silver than it mines for years, and the situation is becoming acute - which is why some of us are long on silver, not gold. It's not that the old NMH batteries can't be recycled, it's just that so much silver (and nickel) will be commited at any one time to make all those hybrids.
Remember the CRX HF? Fifty-two HWY MPG, right out of the box, with an engine that ran full-time, and only one lil' lead-acid battery. But driving old cars, no matter how efficient, doesn't propel the economy, so the HF can't get a carpool-lane sticker like a shiny new Prius can.

"Remember the CRX HF?"

Indeed I do! One of my favorite small cars, one of the few that could get to that mileage on gasoline instead of Diesel!

My other pet was the Fiat X 1/9, right around 40 miles per gallon and great fun to drive!

On the silver issue, first, it is possible that NMH batteries are soon to be bypassed, in favor of Lithium Ion and or Lithium Polymer batteries.
We must not overlook the effect that nano technology is having on batteries.

The number of charge/discharge cycles is going up fast. It is the cost per charge/discharge cycle that is now becoming the issue. If these batteries can last a great number of charges and then they are carefully returned for recycling, the return on investment becomes very high. The problem is that the upfront costs are rather high. This is the time and the place for creative financial arrangements, for example, batteries leased to the customer by the untility company, or a deal worked between the auto maker, utility and customer, perhaps with state or federal assistance, to assure the customer of little or no risk (for example in the case of catastrophic failure of the battery)

If the "big business" instinct toward competitiveness and self preservation exist in a major way, and we know it does, then how can we "piggy back the greed"? One way is the bring the utilities into direct competition with the oil companies for the transportation energy dollar! :-)

This same idea will work in other areas: In the hybrid example I gave above for example, Eaton Corp. is salivating at the idea of getting to provide the hybrid drivetrain and engineering to convert a whole highway fleet of trucks, and does not mind a bit if the trucks consume far less fuel and cut the oil companies down a notch (the Eaton drives are Lithium Ion battery by the way)

One more thing: I absolutely agree with you about "delocalized" in that I understand you to mean "decentralized", that is, using the energy close to where it is produced. That will be a great advance forward, but your right, it will be fought tooth and nail.

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

The CRX HF is a great car. It had a few tricks up its sleeve and none of them terribly complicated. The highlights: 1.3 liter engine, ~.29 Cd, steepety steep gearing, lightened weight, and EGR. Nothing technologically complicated.

There's also a very little known about Civic which was badged as the VX. It had some lightweight features and a minorly special engine that could run ultra-lean burn. This was made possible by a special oxygen sensor that could sense A/F ratios to 20:1. Lean burn generally kicks in on the highway and can turn a normally 40mpg car into a 70mpg car. It was, unfortunately (like the HF), a fairly unpopular package.

Once again highlighted, this is not a technological problem we face.

I have an 85 CRX HF. The highway rating for it is 57mpg. The best I've acheived from it is 51 mpg combined city and highway driving.
The CRX HF also employed other techniques for gas saving, such as having a special control for the alternator which would disable the alternator load when the car is under load (speeding up or going up a hill). This was due to the fact that it only has a 64hp engine in it. The EGR you reference is to reduce emissions due to it's leaner burning. My Civic HX has an EGR as well.

Given it's extremely low weight compared to other cars, it's quite peppy considering it's small displacement. The CRX's usually weight 1700-1900 lbs depending on the model. Compare that to my Civic HX at 2600 lbs, or other sedans at 3200-3600 lbs. Makes for cheap brake parts too. Let's see you buy brand new front brake rotors for a Camry at $10 each. *laughs*

I also have a 2000 Civic HX, which was the successor to the VX. The HX has VTEC-E lean-burn, with to catalytic converters to compensate for the extra NOx. It is rated at 43mpg HWY, but I regularly get 45-47 mpg combined city/hwy driving. I have made a few minor modifications to it, however, with underdrive pulleys on my power steering and alternator, I've replaced the standard exhaust header with a 4-2-1 header, and I've also replaced the standard airbox with a cold-air intake. The nice thing about those performance parts is, if you drive your car nicely, you GAIN mpg instead of losing it via the parts.

EGR does have an MPG component as it can help overcome partial throttle losses and heat losses to the cylinder wall. It has been used on other cars for emissions purposes, though. I'm not sure why you'd miss on the EPA rating...speed maybe?
(interesting fuel economy graph of a PriusII there as well)

I really don't know much about the exact differences between the HX and the VX but I do know the VX was a 1.5 liter VTEC-E with 92 horsepower, and the HX was a 1.6 liter VTEC-E with 115 horsepower. Somehow they killed the MPG with the HX transition, though.

Some interesting stuff on the VX:

I'm mainly talking about highway FE performance. Despite my recent 3 fill-ups, I normally use my car more on the highway, where the VX excels and the Metro suffers.

It's about the speed at which the 2 cars attain their EPA highway ratings.

With wheel skirts & grill block (+5% mpg), the Firefly met its EPA rating of 49 mpg at 60 mph (flat road, steady speed). At 55 mph, I saw about 54 mpg. Dan, on the other hand has shown he can keep the VX in lean burn (without drafting) and get 75 mpg at 55 mph. Nuff said.

If one of our top 10 lists was "MPG / avg MPH", the VX would be on top.

MPG (city) 48
MPG (highway) 55

MPG (city) 35
MPG (highway) 43

Some websites that might interest you:

My first car was a CRX (although not the HF). And I believe the thing about it that made it so unique was it's simplicity and low weight. I don't think an equivalent car could be sold today because safety regulations require crumple zones, air bags, etc. that drive up the "content" and weight of automobiles.

It's an interesting dilemma. Safety standards have been set when gas was much cheaper, and they are difficult to roll back. Not that I am convinced that is the right answer for everybody. But if I can buy a motorcycle, why can't I buy an ultralight car that would be a contemporary CRX and make the same mass/safety/efficiency tradeoff?

The question about hydrogen is, would all these corporations that are experimenting with H2 still do it without government subsidies. Bush calls for a hydrogen economy and pours money into it. Europe and Japan do likewise in order to remain competitive with the US. The inherent inefficiencies don't matter to them. MSM is just as scientifically incompetent as the neocons in the White House so they write glowing story after story about H2. The same thing is happening with cellulosic ethanol. The government is betting on new fangled enzyme technology and ignoring good old gasification. As far as more efficient use of energy is concerned they are against it because that would mean lower sales of fossil fuels. They bad mouth solar and wind because these technologies are more labor intensive than coal and nukes. Anything labor intensive is just one step away from being organized labor intensive.
Time will tell what technologies will rise to the top and which fade away. If only these choices were made by scientists and engineers a lot of time wouldn't be wasted on dead ends.

Sorry Roger but I'm going to call 'bullshit' on your post today.

The lofty stance you've taken to preach about the hazzards of slandering potential alternatives and fueling the vested interests of the FF sector while simultaneously slandering 'ethanol' in the same commentary no less, is just plain sad.

Sorry Syntac, I know you and I differ on ethanol. And I wish like hell I could find a way to make it make sense.

Ethanol is one of the few options I have had to, at least until some major new evidence comes in, put off the table, at least in my own thinking and work.

And I know given your support of it, we will just have to agree to disagree.

Ethanol, from everything I have been able to learn, runs the risk of not only not working (as I said, that is forgivable, many ideas won't work, especially at first), but of being a catastrophe. The consumption of topsoil, water, fertilizer (meaning natural gas) corn, and increasing raw material prices make it not viable.

If I lay aside ALL the other problems, the consumption of natural gas in fertilizer and distilling is an astounding error. The tar sands suffer fromt the same thing, in that they take one of the most valuable, cleanest fuels on Earth, a fuel we cannot afford to waste, and convert to a dirty fuel at a loss.

Again, I wish like crazy it would work. We need a good liquid fuel very, very badly. But I fear that ethanol is going to end up being an investor boondoggle that will suck capital out of the system in a downward spiral just when we needed the capital, the talent, and most of all. the TIME.
To go to E85, the infrastructure change for what can at best be only a small yield, temporary fuel, it defies any concievable logic.

But, I hope for new evidence that I am completely wrong. I may be. But I need some proof, ANY proof. Sorry.

Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

I have hopes for bio-butanol (with the combustion by-product of Butyric acid, with a VERY pungent and offensive odor). Minimal energy to distill from water, energy density close to gasoline, good octane, etc.

Emergency and essential services can certainly run on it; but idling on a clogged 16 lane highway would make severing the nasal nerves an appealing option !

Best Hopes for Auto Sewers,


I accept your right to disagree but lets at least get one thing straight.

There is no such thing as 'ethanol'. There are, however, many 'ethanols' that can be derived from a variety of feedstocks via differing production processes.

Corn ethanol is not sugar cane ethanol is not cellulosic ethanol is not BTL ethanol is not GTL ethanol is not XTL ethanol.

Each and every 'ethanol' has a different feedstock, with a different EROI and a different sustainability profile.

Some ethanols will be good - others will be bad.

The common denominator though, is that the end product is the same, it's derived from renewable resources and the whole world can participate in its production (the latter being a key component of ANY peak mitigation strategy).

If you are afraid of an investment boondoogle, then do everyone a favor and advocate for those ethanols that meet or exceed your -realistic- expectations.

And if you want proof, feel free to visit our lab anytime =]

“Do not vote against what your for, and for what your against.”

Whoa. My synapses connected that to "vote with your dollars", with everything you buy, with every hour you work for some corporation destroying your community, your planet, and your children's children for the short term profit of that bloodless corporation. Yeah, don't vote against what you're for; starve.

Clinton is a facile SOB. What's triangulation other than setting up people to vote against themselves?

... I plead guilty of that as a common error, because IF I accept the worst case scenarios of $200 plus per barrel, then many extremely expensive options become possible.

No they don't. Law of Receeding Horizons. When oil is $200 a barrel, rendering Tarzans will still not be cost effective; increasing prices won't make most oil replacements better. That needs investigating - what sorts of energy investments beat the Receeding Horizon?

cfm in Gray, ME

What sorts of energy investments beat the Receeding Horizon ?

Electrified rail. Roughly 20 BTUs of diesel/gasoline for 1 BTU of electricity. Straightforward calc for intercity freight moving from truck to electrified rail. Changes in Urban form usually required to get that high for Urban Rail. But Urban Rail can as well.

Best Hopes,


Congrats on teh accomplishment and welcome to Jeff.


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