An immodest proposal about fuel efficiency

This is a guest post by Kiashu, advocating an alternative to hypermiling.

Recently there have been a few articles on hypermiling - driving your car to make the most efficient use of fuel. They mention taking junk out of your car so it has less weight in it, not hitting the accelerator hard, and so on. What's remarkable is that none of these articles suggested, "don't drive". Not even "don't drive so much." So that is my immodest proposal: "Don't drive, or at least not so much." I realise that this is insane radicalism, but there you go.
"But I need to drive! I have no options!"
"Perhaps. But do you need to drive so much? Is every kilometre you drive essential?"

As noted by the World Health Organisation [1Mb pdf],
More than 30% of trips made in cars in Europe cover distances of less than 3 km and 50% less than 5 km. These distances can be covered within 15–20 minutes by bicycle or within 30–50 minutes by brisk walking.

The short journeys use up a disproportionate amount of fuel, so even if your six a week 5km trips to the shops are just 6x 5km = 30km of your weekly 200km of driving, they'll make up more than 30km/200km = 15% of your fuel use. This is because engines reach their peak efficiency after fifteen minutes or more of driving, and short journeys involve more stopping - your engine burning fuel for you to stay still is as inefficient as you can get.

Eliminating these short trips in your car can save you a lot of fuel, as well as improve your health. A little while ago a friend was explaining to me how he drove 1.5km to the train station every day. "If I walk, I get sweaty, I can't be sweaty in the office."
"Take off your tie! Put it on at work. And anyway, if you get sweaty with a 15 minute walk, then you need to walk more."
"No, I'm okay. I just need to get something more fuel-efficient, perhaps a motorbike."
The next week he told he'd been to the doctor. "He says I need to lose weight and walk more."
This, I think, a fairly common thing. Your arse widens to fit into the seat you sit in all day.

But as well as short trips, at least two-thirds of trips are discretionary. You can do without them. The following is the data of purpose of journey by car from 1992, the most recent year available for such data for Australia as a whole. [source, ABS]

  • Shopping, 25.7% of all trips, 13 minutes average trip time
  • Work, 22%, 31'
  • Social activities, 18.7%, 20'
  • Voluntary & community activities, 9.3%, 18'
  • Active leisure, 7.4%, 32'
  • Child care, 9%, 13'
  • Domestic activities, 5.4%, 16'
  • Education, 2%, 22'
  • Personal care, 0.5%, 16'
  • Passive leisure, 0.1%, 22'

We have here figures for the percentage of all trips taken for that purpose. The average time spent driving each day is 1hr27'. The average time per trip doesn't add up to this 87' because not every trip is done every day; but when the trip is taken, that's the average time of it.

Only about a third of trips (work, child care, and possibly education) are non-discretionary and more or less unavoidable, assuming zero public transport and not able to bike, walk, etc. The rest can be set aside ("passive leisure", driving just for fun) or rearranged for efficiency - shopping from distant shops can be done weekly all in one go, etc.

Next to how much you use the car it's irrelevant whether you keep an extra spare tyre in the back, hit the accelerator hard or not, and so on. It just doesn't matter. The most effective way to save fuel is not to drive.

I suggest a couple of experiments. Keep a logbook in your car, and over a month note each trip, start time, end time, odometer at start and finish, and the purpose of each trip - like in the table above. After that month sit down and look over your logbook. Figure out how many of your trips were discretionary - driving 1km to the shops, going for a Sunday drive, etc - and how many avoidable - you went to the shops for the fourth time this week, you could have taken the bus but got up late so had to drive to get there on time, that sort of thing. Now divide those trips into your monthly fuel bill. So you get a figure for how much you're spending on trips you didn't have to take.

This expense is only going to get greater. Peak fossil fuels is simply that over time demand for fossil fuels goes up while their supply goes down, so naturally the price leaps up. And any rational response to climate change means that the price of polluting will go up. So you couldn't be bothered walking to the shops, it was late and you had a long day. That trip may look fine at $1.50/litre fuel, but how about at $3/lt? $10/lt? That's $40 a gallon, by the way. If you say that it's still worth it, then next time you go to the pump, set aside that extra money you're willing to spend. Do that a few times, and see if you can really do without that extra cash and not spend it on something else. If so, I suggest the Red Cross. If not - well then it's time to stop those unnecessary trips.

Now the second experiment. For just one week don't use your car at all. Just imagine that it's broken and in the workshop. What do you do? Give up on life, quit your job, stay at home? Nope - you find a way to cope. After the week, imagine that you've just learned to fix it will cost more than you can afford at the moment - you won't have the money for another three weeks. Now what? Well, another three weeks go by... are you dead yet? Or did you find a way to cope?

So, here's my fuel-saving tips, my immodest proposal.

1. Get rid of your car.
2. Or at least, stop trips you could do some other way.

Radical ideas, I know. Probably communist or Islamofascist or something. But with peak fossil fuels and climate change, we're facing a radically new world whatever we do. We simply won't be able to keep on truckin'. May as well get used to it.

I think it's better to do by choice what is going to be forced on you one day anyway. It's better for me to do a light walk which is comfortable every day in my thirties than to not walk, have a heart attack at 58, open heart surgery, and then do a light walk which is very painful. It's better to live on less money than I earn (rather than spending it all or getting into debt) because one day I may earn less, and then I'll be used to it, or have savings to tide me over. It's better to grow a few pots of fruit and vegies now so that if food is really expensive later I can just grow more then, than it is to grow nothing now and have to learn it all very quickly later. Sharon Astyk recently noted that two-thirds of Americans "die in debt, in pain and alone." We should be able to do better than this, and a lot of it depends on how we choose to live our lives.

I was once taught the Seven P's: proper preparation and planning prevents piss-poor performance. We don't all have to rush out and live on our own self-sufficient homesteads, or form lobby groups to hassle the government, or anything like that. But as Edison said, we live like squatters, not as if we owned the property. We have to stop that. Get rid of your car, it's an albatross around your neck.

I know, I know. "I can't, I'm the exception, lots of people can do it, but I can't, it's impossible, I'm helpless, poor me." I know, I know. Just try the two experiments I suggested. Many things seem impossible, then we try them and they turn out to be possible - not easy, but possible.

Cross-posted from GWAG.

A couple of thoughts. Firstly personal mobility is a buzz which is why the developing countries want it so much. I'd frame the problem this way; if the world has too many people to eat steak, drive a car or enjoy air conditioning then maybe there should be fewer of us.

The second thing is that some people are now trapped into car dependence; example shift workers living on the rural fringe. Whether they moved out there because the kid wanted a pony or housing was cheaper they may no longer be able to move closer in to public transport. The depot of a bus service I used in 2004 had lines of parked farm utes from which people emerged to take the 6 am bus into the city. That bus ticket for non-season holders is now $28 a day I believe. If people have to work back late or do a night shift then they have to drive the whole way. I don't know what palatable options these people have.

Changing tack I think Rudd's $35m subsidy for the Camry hybrid is too little too late with 4% annual crude depletion. I think the suggestion of petrol/CNG dual fuel could save $10k per car and could run for many years.

I couldn't agree more with your comment about Camry hybrid, 6 years too late, but then the Liberals were in power then.
Now, if Rudd can persuade GM to build 10,000 Chevy Volts, could really make a start, but not enough to reduce fuel use by 4% per year. Better still, >500,000 duel Petrol/CNG vehicles per year, is definitely one way of buying 20-30 years extra time at least in Australia. My understanding is that one of the problems with CNG is the tank size required for 400-500km range. Why not have a small CNG tank for all those short trips, and top up at home from domestic NG just like PHEV use short range battery power?

Aren't the home filling stations $8k? Feds will want x cents per gaseous litre so an extra meter may be required. Presumably the tank and fuel tweaking will cost around $2k per car same as LPG. I think Rudd took away Howard's LPG conversion rebate. If a million cars adopted it we would have to inject Qld coal seam methane into the southern NG network so some days might have 'hotter' gas than others.

On SBS now I see that Rudd is giving $35 million of our money so that Toyota will build a Camry hybrid at Altona. The auto freaks are saying diesel is better. Nobody has come up with this radical idea of "drive less", but they did roundabout say it by mentioning public transport.

Too much fuel being burned, and yet 30% of trips less than 3km, 50% less than 5km... and Australia has an obesity problem, third fattest country in the world after the US and UK... wow, wouldn't it be great if we could join these up somehow... hmmm, I wonder... could we walk a bit? Surely not, it's unAustralian, isn't it?

It's not like our climate is unsuited to walking. But perhaps the government could install a few long range travelators to ease us all into it ;)

While I'm all for walking, riding bikes and public transport (and have only rarely driven a car to work in the past 5 years - or never, in earlier years when I lived in London and Hong Kong), the simple fact is that these options aren't available for everyone.

For those who really are stuck in the god-forsaken, public transport free outer suburbs (or in rural areas), they really do need cars for the time being - hybrids (and eventually electric vehicles) are a step in the right direction, so I don't see them as a worthy target of criticism - they are just one more necessary option to exercise to deal with decreasing availability of fossil fuels...

And again, people living in public transport-forsaken outer suburbs vast distances from shops and work are not the majority.

If they were, the average time driving to work would be more than 31 minutes for each trip, and the average for shopping much greater than 13 minutes. And we wouldn't find that 30% of trips are under 3km and 50% less than 5km.

As I said, we can always drag out some poor bugger as an exception. "Oh but what about the elderly legless living in Dubbo?" But they're not the majority. Why focus on them? Why not focus on the majority? The majority can change, and their change can have a significant effect - more significant than making sure your tyres are pumped up.

Let's have people look seriously at their lives and how they live them, they're quite capable of coming up with excuses for themselves, we don't have to do it for them.

I think you overestimate how much public transport exists in the US. I am thinking of midwestern/great lakes area states with cities around 20-40,000 people. These places do not have viable public transit. The best most of them have is Dial-A-Ride (on-request, mini busses) which is so inconvenient as to be useless in my city. It doesn't start running early enough or stay running late enough to get you both to work and back home. You have to schedule your pick up several hours in advance, which effectively means the night before. They will not guarantee a pick up time within an hour and cannot guarantee a destination time. The only purpose of the Dial-A-Ride system is to provide disabled people a way to get around so they don't have to move into assisted living.

But they're not the majority. Why focus on them? Why not focus on the majority?

Because any real social change must be effective for everyone except the true outliers. It isn't good enough to have a system that works for 50% of the people, you have to have a system that works for at least 90% of the people, preferable closer to 97%. This is why bicycling doesn't work as a solution. I'm not going to ride my bike to work when it's 10F or when there's 5" of snow on the ground. And there is a large segment of the population that can't. It's not a majority, but it is too many.

A final thought. Telling someone to move is easy, and is in fact the best overall solution. However, finding a place to live that is: close to work, schools, and stores; Large enough for a family; and affordable isn't nearly as easy as we'd like it to be. Moving is expensive. I can buy a lot of $5 gas for the cost of moving, not even counting the higher mortgage and insurance payments.

I think you overestimate how much public transport exists in the US.

Not at all. Firstly, I was responding to someone talking about Australia, not the US - I am not an American. As for the US and public transport, I realise it's mostly shit. But lots of parts aren't.

My point is that many options already exist, but because people reflexively jump in their cars, they don't consider those options. My immodest proposal is that people make themselves aware of how much they use their car, and how often they're ignoring other options.

For some people, this will lead to no change at all; for most, some change.

Because any real social change must be effective for everyone except the true outliers.

In this case I'm not talking about social change. I'm talking about how you can save fuel. And for the vast majority of people, how much they drive is far more variable and easy to change and will have a greater effect on fuel consumption than messing about with accelerators and tyre pressure.

I would be surprised if a gas compressor costs 8K, would depend upon pressure required.Low range tanks could use lower pressure. A 2K cost for conversion would be a faster payback than the 10K extra for batteries in a hybrid. The real value would be if petrol imports are just not available. It doesn't seem to make sense to be importing petrol from Asia, and refrigerating, NG as LNG and exporting it back to Asia. Piping CSM from Narrabri or even QLD is always going to be cheaper. There would be lots of pressures not to tax NG because of the lower carbon content than petrol.

What you're saying is backed up by this website
which I only heard of this week. Scroll down to see the article on NG as fuel. There is also a map of the pipeline network.

Again, you're talking about people driving to work.

And on average that's 22% of all trips taken.

Okay, so for some people that's going to be 90+% of their driving. But that's not the majority, that's not the average.

I mean, you can always drag out cases of people who genuinely have little or no choices. But the vast majority of people do have a choice, they're like my mate - too lazy to walk or bike or whatever.

I'm just suggesting that each of us take a detailed look at our driving, record our trips and see how many are trips we could do by some other method, or which we could roll in with another trip.

So the guy whose only driving is to and from work from his godforsaken McMansion with no public transport in the area, he records that in his little logbook. But the guy who drives 15km along the railway line to and from work, 1.5km to the park, three times a week 2km to the gym, and six times a week 2km to the shops and then on Sunday goes for a drive to see the country, he records that, too.

Just take a look at your driving. Don't tell us fairy tales about the Poor Little Aussie Battler, just take a serious look at it and see what you can do without or reorganise.

And that'll reduce your fuel use a heap more than buggerising about with the accelerator pedal or any nonsense like that.

"And that'll reduce your fuel use a heap more than buggerising about with the accelerator pedal or any nonsense like that."

Sorry, but you're focusing too narrowly on one particular solution. As gasoline prices have a greater impact on people, they will resort to a wide range of responses, and everyone will adopt them differently, at least at first. A lot of people in the US are already using more public transportation, where it's available, driving less (combining and eliminating errands), using the most efficient vehicle in a household, etc. Very few are hypermiling today, but as the cost of fuel becomes more onerous, they will. They'll also feel much more downward pressure on the number of miles they drive, so they'll make even more changes to drive less. The optimal destination is to drive as few miles as possible and as efficiently as possible. Different people will take different paths to get from their present behavior to that optimal state. Insisting that one solution (driving less) is better or worse than another (hypermiling) as a first step without knowing the details of an individual's circumstances is just silly.

And by the way--I wrote about hypermiling just today over on TCOE, and I pointed out that people should do it in addition to those other steps, so someone has indeed said it:

I'd frame the problem this way; if the world has too many people to eat steak, drive a car or enjoy air conditioning then maybe there should be fewer of us.

I couldn't agree more. For those of us who don't need to eat steak, drive a car, or have air conditioning though there's plenty of room on the planet. So what do we do? This is a matter of economics. I say we should price energy intensive lifestyles appropriately. If someone wants to eat steak while driving a Hummer with the AC on full blast, sure thing. I also think they should be allowed to heat their home with paper money. The thing is, that our infrastructure, taxes and government foolishly subsidize the Hummer, the AC and the steak. The war in Iraq is about securing access to oil and all US tax payers are paying for it. There are all sorts of tax subsidies for huge cars if you own your own business, regardless of whether its a construction company or a nail salon. There's this amazing transportation network of highways that you can't walk or bike on which tax payers paid for. And coal burning electricity plants produce tons of mercury, CO2 and other nastiness which ordinary folks and critters the world over suffer from. But the people sitting in front of the AC only pay for the cost of making the electricity.

The earth is plenty big enough for people to live simply. In fact the earth could support probably 10 times as many people as there are now if we didn't need to destroy the environment for a buzz.

I was interested to see the breakdown of the vehicle use, even if 1992 data. Was surprised that only 22% of use was for work.These figures are giving a breakdown in time not necessarily km traveled or fuel use.This probably means that more than 22% of km and fuel is used for work related travel. It would really be useful to have those figures based on fuel use per activity rather than time spent per activity.
Just the same it makes no sense thinking that a fuel shortage will mean we have to abandon the suburbs and live closer to work if >70% of travel is "non-essential", it also means that we have the capacity to drastically reduce fuel use. It also illustrates how sensible PHEV or BEV would be for at least 70% of our driving, even if these vehicles can only travel at 60 km/hr and have a maximum range of 30km.
I think the reason many do not walk is because of available time, while many are too scared to be on a bike with SUV's driven by people without a truck license. Same reason it's dangerous to ride on the footpath, poor viability of SUVs backing out.
Shopping seems to be the big activity where we could make the most savings, any other ideas?(Sunday closings, home delivery,charge flat rate for parking to encourage fewer trips?)

It's hard to judge how the time driving translates to fuel use. You seem to be imagining that when people drive to work it's along easy freeways, and driving anywhere else is chockers with traffic jams. It ain't necessarily so.

I wouldn't say that more than 70+% of travel is "non-essential", rather that it's "discretionary" or "avoidable." A lot of people go to the shops a few times a week, it's not very difficult to sort yourself out and go just once. And there are other things which can be combined like social/education/active leisure - okay, so Jane goes to night school on Tuesdays and Jim goes to soccer, let's say Jim drives Jane to school, goes to soccer, has a brew or two with his mates afterwards, and Jane goes for coffee with her friend Mary from class. That's better than Jane and Jim taking their separate cars, and going out on different nights, and so on.

How about buy less useless stuff from concrete jungle malls!

No seriously we ahve to look at how people actually live in a typical suburb, where they work, how they get their food supplies, how they fill in all the spare hours they have now that FF does most of their household work and what they are doing when they leave their locales at all.

Then when we understand this, we can start to take a look at the avaialble resources in the suburbs themselves adn see if any of the infrastructure can be adpated so that people don't have to do as much travelling.

I fully agree with Kiashu that we should first look at not driving the car or reducing it as much as possible. Lecturing people about it is likely to be counterproductive and waiting for petrol to hit the screaming pain barrier is agaonisingly slow for some of us, but get over it, you can't control the oil price anymore that the next guy so just accept it and do what is within your own control.

Here is my personal list of goals I can achieve in my own community:

1. Set up a point to point ad-hoc car pool from the neighbourhood to the CBD (regional city). We can add other popular routes later like down tothe local shops and back from them if it works out.

2. Start a neighbourhood association with the intention of running the above car pool and maybe extending it in the future to pooled ownership of fewer but better cars shared amongst more people. (big goal)

3. Lobby to build a community wood fired oven in the local park. We teach all the local kids how to bake bread which is done once or twice a week saving people from having to buy stale commercial bread trucked from 300Kms away and save all those two kilometre trips tothe shops to buy it.

4. Around the oven, take over some of the unused grass areas in the park and start growing food. Co-opting the kids again.

5. Germinate and give all my neighbours a fruit tree to plant this Christmas. I ahve peach, nectarine and cherry in the fridge at the moment seeing as we just don't getreally coldwinters anymore.

6. Eventually I would like to see a community workshop built around the garden/park/oven which may be the germination of work opportunities. Small cottage industries with small shops.

7. The community hub is a bustling social hub which attracts home based workers who have learned to telecommute to their slave jobs. Far more people will stay put if they can walk to the local market in five minutes from their house.

8. Build resilience in the local community (as much as I like you guys, real people are also cool) to share knowledge , provide support to those doing it tough, i.e elderly, unemployed, mortage defaulters.

9. My favourtie - start a beer brewing network with all my new found friends and neighbours. Drink locally - no taxis, booze bus etc.

Everything on my list is doable, reduces car use by the whole neighbourhood and will make this a better place to live.

Another element of this should be entertainment / recreation.

I was involved in several human powered propulsion projects over the years (got several patents) and although I have given up hope for any of these to replace existing propulsion requirements or even be widely implemented in mainstream society I do know that many of these devices are fun as hell.

Not sure of the numbers but I am sure there is a fair amount of FF waste in leasure time activities, both the activities themselves as well as the travel to these activities.

IMO alternatives for high energy consuming distractions are going to be more important than ever to maintain a civil society.

Some ideas;

Miles of dedicated, easy route, bike trails through park & forest areas with camping, swimming, etc.

Mountain bike trails.

A near by hillside dedicated to “mountainboarding”, its like a snowboard or long skateboard only with big wheelbarrel like inflated wheels.

On lakes and rivers having lots of small boating opportunities kayaks, sail, HPVs, etc.

Long slides. Santa Cruz boardwalk had a varnished wood, 6 lane, with whoop-de-doos every now and then, slide that was about 100 yards long (at least it seemed like it when I was 10) that people of all ages would slide down on burlap bags. YeeeeeHawww!

I know this all sounds corny but I have been looking for ways of implementing something along these lines in my area to keep the natives from getting too restless if you know what I mean.

Great ideas. My idea of a community hub is to give people something to focus on rather than canned entertainments. A good long yack with your buddy while you are mixing up some home brew could be just as fulfilling as watching the latest blockbuster movie with a barrel of popcorn and a bucket of slushy! Probably more so.

I would love to cut out the short trips, but where I live it is not safe at all, to bike anywhere... What am I to do?

Wow, most of the people (in the Twin cities, Minnesota) I talk to on biking complain their distances they need to travel are too far, but there certainly are places (and times like rushhour) where I don't like to bike at all because of nonexistent shoulders (or parked cars) for safe biking.

We have an extensive biking community in the core cities and inner suburbs with interest in making roads safer for biking. (We also have usually senseless "critical mass" bike rides that purposely ride in the highest traffic times and ignore all traffic rules - not helping with any greater cooperative spirit with drivers.) But it seems improvement comes from participation - people interesting in biking need to get together and express their frustrations and difficulties to local governments/councils/boards and it surely takes time for change. Our buses and LRT also can carry bikes which I see frequently used.

WORSE than unsafe biking, unsafe walking is an even greater craziness of modern cities designed for cars. Getting a safe path for people walk a half mile to a bus stop is a hurdle too. Many neighborhood streets curve around in long blocks to discourage through-traffic, but also discourage walking when you have to go way out of your way just to get around a block. Insane stuff everywhere.

So "Get Political" is the answer in most cases, but change is slow.

HARTFORD, Conn. - A 78-year-old man is tossed like a rag doll by a hit-and-run driver and lies motionless on a busy city street as car after car goes by.

Pedestrians gawk but appear to do nothing. One driver stops briefly but then pulls back into traffic. A man on a scooter slowly circles the victim before zipping away.

To be fair, the pedestrian was jaywalking, and did not appear to be watching for traffic. You've got to be careful, folks!

The hit and run driver is worse than scum though. I do hope they catch him and lock him away for life.

Hate to say it but have you considered moving?

"considered moving?"

I don't think you have a concept of what it is like to live in most suburban areas:

There IS nowhere else to move! All the suburbs are the same, except some are gated, some are junky, and in some only half the denizens cut the grass; they do all have cars, though! There is no other place to live but in your suburb or in another suburb in the area; there is no "in town" because there is no town, just scattered suburbs. There is a city, but it has very few apartments, and they are all taken! I could move from my suburb to another suburb in the area, but I would still be in a suburb. I've lived in my suburb for 40 years; I could move to a new suburb and start over, but I couldn't move to a new town unless I also moved to a suburb of that town; I couldn't move to a new city without moving to a suburb of that city! Then there are those little matters of a job, finding an affordable place to live, and maybe locating a town full of bike trails that hasn't already been runover by everyone else looking for a town full of bike trails!

Nice perspective, thank you. We have an inner city here, but most people wouldn't deign to live there..the schools are substandard, and the housing stock is in "original" condition. People here have no conception of what they are about to face....

You are right. I don't really know what it's like to live in a typical American suburb, nor do I fully appreciate just how wretched it must be to feel completley powerless to change your own environment. Nothing about this crisis is going to be easy. Hard choices will have to be made and making a concious decision to relocate will be one of them. Re-skilling ourselves and becoming self employed rather than relying on a slave-job will be another one and it is diffcult to contempalte this if you are beyond a certain age. Nothing is going to be easy and there will be much ganshing of teeth and hysterical outbursts, escalating to real violence in a fight for survival. It may actually be that serious for you. If you don't move now regardless of teh current hardships, the future hardships may be overwhelming and even life threatening. Of course it is your choice to reject if you choose.

Why move now? I have seasonal access to water, and the ability to store what I will need for cooking and drinking (though sponge baths may become all the rage). I have a garden that we've planted for as long as we've been here, and I grow my own plants from seed, and have started growing heirloom varieties to get away from the generational degradation of the hybrids. Live like a king in the future? Just survive? Die in the rush? Who knows...those are questions that can only be answered during the events to come. The Pacific Northwest USA may be one of the best places in the world to survive what is coming -- if these volcanoes don't start going off -- and that ain't no joke: I can point to five of them from my house...

See there is always some upside and hope if you look for it. If you have volcanos can you tap inot geothermal power?

While driving today I was passed by small, medium, and giant SUVs and pickups, and by expensive midsize autos doing ten or more miles per hour over the speed limit. I was tailgated by a small car driven by someone who was angry because I wasn't driving over the speed limit. I was given a hard stare by a driver who had to pass me to the right because I was in the left-hand lane, doing the speed limit, to make a left-hand turn. Even at that, I drove only about 10 miles during the day, doing the following:

  • took my wife to work, a fifteen minute drive that takes about 40 minutes by bus (one transfer necessary, and fare has to be paid at each boarding); my wife can't walk, and to pull her in a wagon to her school, and then pick her up to pull her home would take about a 2 hour round trip, morning and evening.
  • took the dog to the dog-park on the way home, a slight swing south; I could have walked the dog to the park in about 40 minutes; however, knowing it would take another 40 minutes to get back, would I be supid enough to stay another hour at the park with the dog?.
  • in the afternoon, I drove back to pick up my wife at work, dropping by a post office box on the way because a letter can't be left in the mail box because of the danger of it being ripped off.
  • yesterday I had about the same schedule, but took a slightly modified route on my way to pick up my wife to do a quick shop at Costco; if I had walked to Costco earlier, it would have taken about 15 minutes to get there, though I would have had to pull that wagon again to collect all my loot, and would need a cooler and some ice in the wagon to keep the frozen goods through the trip back.
  • eventually, if I kept up a wagon-wife/dog-park/wagon-shopping routine, I would probably attract the attention of the local newspaper and get my picture in the newspaper (Youtube?) as that eccentric who lives in north-county, or I would attract the attention of muggers (probably the same one's ripping off the mail), or I would get run over by one of those vehicles doing 10 mph over the speed limit.

I really do try my best to save gas by combining trips, and don't go anywhere unless I have saved up things to do during the trip, but beyond that the car-based life style around here isn't going to end until the gas does. In addition, for most people, there is a disconnect between buying gasoline and using it. When people are filling up, they grumble and shake their heads and blame everyone else for the problem. However, when they are driving, the gasoline becomes like air, always there and used without thinking.

I've been conducting an informal experiment by driving 65 mph (I believe that's actually the speed limit on the highway here) on my commutes, and noting the vehicles that I pass (none, save for an occasional school bus). Comparing that to the bitching and whining about gas prices is...enlightening. It apparently occurs to no one in my benighted city of San Antonio Texas that driving slower will save them gas money...sigh. Reason #23 why i am a doomer....

Bumpersticker Candidate: Speeders Raise The Price Of Gas!

Probably get yelled at for this, but would it be such a bad thing to just let things just play out; BAU? Let humanity's reset button (if there is such a thing) press itself? No doubt it's all about cramming as much into the day as possible at present, but one way or another, life-styles for the lower/middle-class are going to slow down. And whether we get there gradually or not is uncertain at the moment. My question is, will it matter? Would a rapid change be a guarantee for resource wars?

I dunno. I just like the idea of electric golf carts and motorbikes, with millions of general-use solar panels everywhere to charge up. But of course, probably need oil to build the things.

And I'm still of the opinion we have a few decades up our sleaves.

Regards, Matt B

Not yelling at you but a few decades of what? The high consumption high energy lifestyle we have grown very fat on? This is rapidly changing. The speed is relative though. In historical terms it is very rapid, in day to day terms it is hardly noticeable. 12 months ago petrol was $1.20 a litre and that seemed high. Today it hit $1.69 and that seems high. In another year who knows? There is already competition for resources and there are already resource wars, it just hasn't come to our doorstep yet. China is unlikely to invade Australia for its coal, but it can and will buy large chunks of Australian mines in hich case the price they are paying is irrelevant if the profits are repatriated to China. It makes more sense than an actual war. Very cunning Maoist strategy - use your enemies strength (open free markets) against him.

Yes, I know, I understand. Kinda regret what I wrote, but just a little frustrated when every morning I see/hear such things as the traffic reports with their bumper-to-bumper mayhem; even at $1.69 (just filled up on that myself!). And people not asking why...

At the moment, I just don't see man's ingenuity saving the day in time.

Have you considered hitching up your dog to a wagon? That could be another way to combine some trips! :-)

1. He's a Beagle, and while energetic, couldn't tow more than his weight in cats.
2. He's stubborn, and would sit all week rather than pull anything other than his weight in cats.
3. He doesn't have the slightest interest in peak oil, and therefore has absolutely no motivation to help out...

When my wife and I moved to Eugene Oregon last year one of our top priorities was to find a house within walking distance of a:

o bus stop
o grocery store
o public library (we get all our dvds for free at the library)

Even though we are 4 miles from downtown, we are also within walking distance of our credit union, a local medical center, and a pharmacy. We are within biking distance of downtown and many of our friends, and Eugene is very bike friendly being pretty flat and having many bike paths.

We do still have two vehicles, a 1990 Geo Metro that gets 54 mpg on the freeway (average, best is 57 mpg), and a 1995 Ford Ranger XLT pickup, only 24 mpg. We're using the truck (and a trailer) only as needed to haul wood, wood chips, straw bales, mulch, etc., and have a project underway to share the truck/trailer with others.

Every month we take a look at our mileage/gas consumption, which we record every time we fill up the gas tank. Since gas has become so expensive, we've installed locking gas caps on both vehicles.

"Since gas has become so expensive, we've installed locking gas caps on both vehicles."

1) Don't those caps just twist off with a little pressure, for example a wrench, for safety reasons?
2) Wouldn't you rather replace your tank of gas than a drilled out gas tank?

Or are the criminals dumb and lazy?

To avoid shark attack, you don't have to swim faster than the shark - you just have to swim faster than the other swimmer in the water next to you... ;-)

Good post Kiashu and some good comments.Unfortunately,here on TOD we are all preaching to the choir.Not that there is anything wrong with that,of course.But how many of the lumpen proles read TOD or even know of it's existence?

In Australia we have an infrastructure which is built around cheap liquid fuel.As cost pressure increases there will be people who can and will change their behaviour.There will be others who are in a trap,not necessarily of their making,who can't reduce their fuel consumption without a lot of suffering.Example - unemployment,destruction of social networks and in remoter rural areas,the inability to survive unless they move.A lot of people simply can't afford to move.I can see a third world scenario of slums growing near cities and towns.

In Australia there seems to be a near total disconnect from reality in our "leadership class".There are solutions but they will require a massive effort,similar to the sort of mobilization for war which occured in 1939 and intensified after the Japanese entered the war.
As a nation we are still capable of pulling together but this situation is not going to provide the kind of shock which brought results in the past.

We are slowly being boiled alive,like the well known frog.The frog needs a jolt of electricity to get it out of the pot.That can only come from leadership,possibly encouraged by vocal pressure groups.

There has to be an atitude change by a lot of people.How that is to be acheived without a full on meltdown,I don't know.

This is utterly stupid ... let's analyse the "misses" in this statement :

More than 30% of trips made in cars in Europe cover distances of less than 3 km and 50% less than 5 km. These distances can be covered within 15–20 minutes by bicycle or within 30–50 minutes by brisk walking.

First of all, most of those trips are trips to the supermarket. A car has a carrying capacity of about 500 kg. A bike can maybe take 10 kg.

The problem is that for one of the most common trips, replacing 1 car trip would take 5 trips (per week) of bike rides.

Furthermore, for certain classes of the population going to the supermarket would become prohibitively difficult and/or expensive. If you can't walk 5 km, like a lot of pensioners, never mind wakling 5 km carrying 10 kg of food and goods.

Now let's see. Would it lower CO2 output ? Would it lower demand ? Running a bike costs, depending on the speed, between 70W and 260W (260W is reserved for the tour de france, but is within theoretical possibility for young people). 120W will get a normal person at 15km/h on a relatively well maintained bike in normal weather (and over 200W in bad weather, but let's assume you never go in bad weather), so going 5 km, allowing for red lights and such, will cost an average human being about 20 minutes. Going one way will therefore have a cost of about 500 Btu in perfect weather, 1000-1500 in bad weather. Since we also have walking up to the bike, stopping at red lights, carrying the groceries, let's call it 1000 Btu.

My car uses 5.1 liters/100 kilometers (it's quite a big car). So it will use about 200 ml @ 33 000 Btu/litre = 8415 Btu is used.

Now this seems a nice difference. However that 8415 is calculated taking into account that the car is about 30% efficient. So even if cars and people would be equally efficient, the human would need about 3000 Btu energy intake on average for going to the supermarket.

However humans are nowhere near 30% efficient energy converters. At best guess we're near 1%, 5% if you eat exactly right (which you don't). So you need to put not 3000 Btu into the human, but 20000 Btu to get the equivalent trip going.

And he/she needs to go 3 times to carry the same amount of goods. A human will need 60000 Btu for a week of supermarket by bike, and 8000 Btu for doing by car.

So the car is about 2x as efficient energy usage (that's obviously why cars took off : they're cheaper in real world currency (in energy cost) than walking. Same reason trains took off before that : they consume less energy than horses would have used for the same amount of goods. Boats - ditto, ...).

"utterly stupid"? Methinks this is a case of bullshit trying to baffle brains.Or are you just stirring?There is a name for this.

The simple answer to this rubbish is - A car may be a more efficient energy converter than a human or a horse but both animals use renewable fuel.Since when was oil renewable?

You've forgotten an essential component of this, how much more food will someone have to consume to live a life this way? I suspect barely any on average. All to many people are grossly fat, they could cut the food intake and start doing this and not starve. Fit people will probably find they have enough spare energy to do it without eating much more anyway.

Also renewable != oil.

Were Americans to cut back on their driving 33%, we would be driving only as much as Americans did in 1970. Population control makes conservation so much easier. Lack of it makes conservation an ultimately futile endeavor. But of course, no need to worry, population is gonna peak at 9.3 billion in 2050 per some pundit at the UN... Except Australia, Canada and the US in their lunacy have no population target for their immigration policies - there is, in the immortal words of ExxonMobil - no peak in sight.

Global population is what matters, not where it is distributed - particularly if net migration is towards food exporters.

Global population is what matters, not where it is distributed - particularly if net migration is towards food exporters.

An Indian uses less resources than his brother that emmigrated to Australia. A Mexican uses less resources than his brother who emmigrated to the US. In addition, resources are not distributed on a per-capita basis and shifted as people migrate. If the US has sufficient coal for 300 million people for 20 years, and they allow population to go to 400 million, then they now have insufficient coal, regardless of whether someone in Switzerland has enough coal.

So the solution is for the US to reduce consumption, then the Indian will have no motivation to move there. "What's the point? It's just like home."

Conservation helps keep out immigrants! Tell that to those Minutemen guys :D

Some companies have gotten labor unions to agree to a form of wage concession by going easy on existing workers and making things much different for new hires. That is, the current employees will get a nice increase and have a range of say $20 to $30 per hour for various job categories, but newly hired workers will start out $10 lower and maybe have a lower maximum and/or lower range. Maybe you have hit on a similar solution for the US to make peak oil and global warming "concessions" - current citizens and their descendants can use x amount of energy, while immigrants and their descendants can only use x/10.

India, China, Mexico, the Phillipines, to name a few countries, are overcrowded and have many millions of poor people, and yet ironically, are increasing their populations. I think it will be a long time coming before the phrase "What's the point? It's just like home." will apply to the people in those countries. However, if one were to project given current trends of US immigration, I would agree that the US is seeking to reach a parity with them.

Maybe you have hit on a similar solution for the US to make peak oil and global warming "concessions" - current citizens and their descendants can use x amount of energy, while immigrants and their descendants can only use x/10.

No, I was suggesting that the whole US use x/10 energy (or x/5, or whatever - just heaps less), and then people would have much less motivation to move there.

If you're against immigration, you should be a conservationist :p

Gee....For all those years I didn't own a car or bike I walked and/or used transit to carry up to 25-30kg of groceries and fermented beverages, and I suffered not, nor did any of my foodstuffs spoil. And yes, this was done for several years during Colorado winter snows and freezing temps, and during other years in the sweltering heat and humidity of Hawaii.

People make choices. I chose to do without a car, which meant I also chose to shop on foot or via transit, which didn't exist in my Colorado town.

I don't really care for Nike, but their mantra I found useful: "Just Do It."

This is utterly stupid

I assume you are refering to what you wrote, right?

To call this pure bullshit would be to miss an opportunity to call it what it really is, The Most Finely Refined Yak Dung Ever Produced.

At 55 I can easily out walk and out bike most 25 year olds and I do walk to the supermarket and I can easily carry my weekly provisions home on my back in a small knapsack.

Disclaimer I do use my car to drive my kayak and scuba gear to beach at least once a week.
and last week I took second place in a 12 mile kayak race in rough seas and strong winds.
@#$%!&* I was beaten by a 25 year old who took first.

So the car is about 2x as efficient energy usage (that's obviously why cars took off : they're cheaper in real world currency (in energy cost) than walking.

What a hot steaming pile that statement is!

Ride a Bike or Take a Hike!

"I can easily carry my weekly provisions home on my back in a small knapsack."

It's relatively easy for a single person. However it's a lot harder for a working mom (especially a single working mom) to carry the week's shopping for a large family. The only car-free option is to use home-delivery for the bulky stuff: toilet paper, diapers, bleach, cleaning products, bulk frozen foods, soft drinks, rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals; and then use a small local shop to top-up on fresh produce.

Here in the UK home delivery is increasingly popular. All the major supermarkets offer delivery, at prices ranging from £3.75 ($7.30) to £6.50 ($12.70) per delivery. That may seem like a lot, but if you're only getting one large delivery every couple of months then it's certainly cheaper than owning a car. From a Peak Oil point of view, the delivery drivers can optimise their routes to choose the most fuel-efficient (the Travelling Salesman problem). This will normally be more efficient than each individual shopper driving to the supermarket and back.

So the car is about 2x as efficient energy usage

The bicycle is undoubtedly the most efficient vehicle in terms of energy usage. It has the least surplus weight (typically 20 or 30 lbs, compared with a 3000 lbs car) and very little energy loss in the transmission. As peak oil intensifies, we can expect to see a lot more bicycles on the streets.

The increased food consumption from bicyclists is negligible. People like competitive athletes and bicycle couriers do need to eat extra food to maintain body weight, but the rest of us could use the exercise and probably won't be biking more than an hour a day. Maybe someday in the peak oil future we'll have to worry about starvation and feeding ourselves to bicycle the next 10 miles, but we're nowhere close to that.

When I was 12 or so I used to deliver wine and liquor to the folk who lived close to the off licence that was in the town where I lived. I used a bike that had a basket at the front. it was a job that gave me enough money to buy the model kits that I wanted to build.
It is now 50 years later and I wonder about the rush that we are all seemingly in to do ourselves in.
What is so important that we need to rush around in vehicles from home to grocery to home to watch TV to sleep to.....

Mate! It's important to get home quickly to turn on the tv! Or check your email!

I wonder if there is a correlation between kilometres driven per person and hours of tv/monitor watched... My friends who are bike fanatics watch hardly any tv and barely use the internet... Hmmm.

Hmmm - well, I do plenty of kms on my bike and almost never watch TV (Swans and Wallabies games excepted), but I think my monitor time may be a little above average...

If one doesn't have a bike or some sort of motor vehicle, an option I have considered for dealing with the grocery problem on foot is a cart. The type that I have seen that would appear to be most useful is convertable between a hand cart and a dolly. You would probably also want a few plastic milk crates to put the groceries. If you just needed a small amount of stuff that fit in a couple of crates, you would use the upright hand cart. If you needed more stuff, convert it to a dolly/pull cart and bring four or five crates.

Of course, for those who live very close to grocery stores could just do their shopping on a daily basis.

First of all, most of those trips are trips to the supermarket. A car has a carrying capacity of about 500 kg. A bike can maybe take 10 kg.

I wasn't aware that people were buying half a tonne of groceries. I've never seen it - not even when I work in restaurants where they feed a hundred or more people daily.

Shopping is a quarter of all journeys, and the journeys average 13 minutes - that suggests the shopping is relatively close to home, and that they're going there a few times a week. I didn't say that people shouldn't drive to the supermarket. I said that they could, by planning, turn four or more trips a week into one.

Furthermore, for certain classes of the population going to the supermarket would become prohibitively difficult and/or expensive. If you can't walk 5 km, like a lot of pensioners, never mind wakling 5 km carrying 10 kg of food and goods.

Here in my suburb I see many old people who have a combination walking frame/shopping trolley. They get about slowly but quite usefully with those. They're walking 2km or so to the shops and back, and I usually see them walking another kilometre or so as they meet their friends around the shops and catch up with them.

In any case, we're talking about the average, the majority. Are you suggesting that disabled and elderly people make up the majority of car drivers? Not the last time I walked past the highway near my home.

All the other stuff about humans converting energy to food is such patent nonsense that it's not even worth replying to. It's like those vegan goofballs who said that if you eat meat, you use more energy walking 5km than driving there.

"Here in my suburb I see many old people who have a combination walking frame/shopping trolley. They get about slowly but quite usefully with those. They're walking 2km or so to the shops and back, and I usually see them walking another kilometre or so as they meet their friends around the shops and catch up with them."

You've just described what it's about: Culture, specifically Car Culture

Walkabouts were once the norm, and folks stopped and conversed, or dropped into the pub for a pint and a song. Poeple knew each other and the community was tightly knit. Car Culture destroyed that, and a long rant could be written about what it's done. Life is much emptier because of it.

It's understandable that someone may want to combine all their shopping into one big trip to save time, but take a look at your grocery cart and which are the heaviest items? I'm guessing drinks. Of all the drinks, only milk is perishable and would need to be restocked regularly. What else is in the heavy and perishable category, maybe watermelons? Bottled water and soft drinks are a waste, and we'd be better off not buying them at all. That leaves alcohol and fruit juice. Those aren't perishable, and you could easily stock a month's worth in one car load if you wanted to cut back on car trips.

"A bike can maybe take 10 kg."

You can easily tow over 100kg in a simple trailer.

DIY Trailer Gallery

There are plenty of plans on for trailers with 50-200kg capacity which can be built for under €50.

Great link!
I just had a nice 45min detour at least, following homebuilt trailer links!


Heres my when I was a kid story.....

When I was a kid I used to mow lawns in my local neighbourhood which involved carting the mower around with petrol, catcher etc. It ewas tough walking it everywhere but I finally made enough money to buy a bike and my freedom. Shortly after I found some angle iron in my Dads shed and asked the next door neighbour to show me how to weld. I canibalised my brothers old bike for its wheels and built a trailer to cart the mower round in. Must have been easily another 50 kg but it rolled along pretty well. There are plenty of new lightweight bike trailers that I reckon could cart a fair bit of gear.

Having a large enough pantry to stock it well to minimsie trips is the key to best practice. That and access to a garden to grow your own fresh vegetables.

Whoa, bullshit detector just sounded the alarm. Dude, I don't know where you made up your numbers. Unfortunately I can't follow your reasoning because it is so obtuse. Plus you work in BTUs instead of SI units. But there is no way in hell that a car is going to beat a bicycle in efficiency going to the grocery store! Why can I say that with certainty? Because you're dragging around 1 (metric) ton of (essentially useless) scrap metal when you drive a car.

Let's simplify your calculation:

1 litre of petrol/gasoline contains 35 MJ of chemical energy. Let's say your car gets 5 liters per 100 km. It's a little generous, but fine. That means it takes 35MJ to move the car 20 km. Input, output, very simple.

Now let's do the cyclist. Forget efficiency, forget power output, don't screw around, pulling random numbers out your arse. How much food do I need to cycle 20 km? Unlike you I actually cycle and so if I say I could cycle 20 km with a 600 kcal meal (that equals 2.4 MJ if I'm not screwing up my conversion) I'm not making up something unreasonable. If you look at this website about the bike leg of the ironman, the guy says

Aim for 300-750 Calories per hour on the bike based on your size, training and racing experience.

So I think I'm being rather hard on the bicycle here. The real caloric intake is probably half my estimate, but I'm trying to be kind to you here. So with these VERY GENEROUS numbers (35 MJ versus 2.4 MJ), it looks like it takes about one fifteenth of the energy to ride the bike as it takes to drive the car 20 km. And you sir are an idiot.

Your calculations look okay.

However if it is true that each J of food grown has an energy input of 10J (I have seen this quoted somewhere on TOD for the US at least) then your 2.4MJ quickly becomes 24MJ of energy input and starts competing with that ton of metal being hauled around. A car could take 4 people without much loss of fuel efficiency (given that the dead load is so much), but 4 people biking could mean 96MJ of energy input! This does not intuitively seem right, but if the assumption of EROEI for food is correct, then it shows how bad our dependency on oil is.

In India, where I live, you can find a grocery store pretty much within 1/2 km of wherever you live. Many of them will do home delivery for no extra cost. They offer credit of upto a month for well known customers. The great tragedy is that Indian businesses are thinking of modern retail as more efficient and the next best thing invented after sliced bread. Peak oil will hopefully put that idea to rest.

The solution to this is to have smaller stores in the neighbourhood that people can walk to and get most of the stuff they need on a daily basis. Sure, the stuff will have to still be carted to the suburb, but rather than 100 cars bringing it home, 1 or 2 trucks can do the same job. Closer knit communities can e.g. have a schedule worked where people can pool their shopping trips together. A lot of waste remains to be eliminated.

The other thing that governments will need to do is to reduce speed limits to saner levels and thereby reduce the need for heavy cars. This will have the added advantage of making the roads safer for non car users.


However if it is true that each J of food grown has an energy input of 10J (I have seen this quoted somewhere on TOD for the US at least)

Much quoted, rarely sourced statement. I'm used to seeing them, since people are always telling me that wind turbines or PV take more energy to make than they ever generate.

Vaguely true for the most energy-intensive foods like beef burgers, not true for most food, and certainly not for most of the world - the world is not the USA, thank God.

I mean, this Iowa bloke has high fossil fuel inputs.

This Indian chap, rather less.

Between those two extremes is where most of the world is.

Also, if you're going to include the fossil fuel inputs into food production and distribution in accounting for the energy cost of cycling, then in all fairness you must include the fossil fuel inputs into automobile production (mining, refining, forging, milling, shaping, etc) and distribution in accounting for the energy cost of driving.

Which was why I said that it did not seem intuitively correct to me. A cycle weighing about 20-25 kgs vs. a car weighing 1200kg should be no contest.

On the fossil fuel input into automobiles, that occurred to me, but given that it is a one time cost spread over possibly 100,000 km it might not make or break the comparison. But worthwhile checking the figures out.

One of the incidental (and a very important one) benefits is that cycling 20 km a day will keep your heart healthy for a long time and (keep you out of the heart surgeon's theatre) and that alone should be a good enough reason to do so.


However if it is true that each J of food grown has an energy input of 10J

Much quoted, rarely sourced statement.

Which is too bad, since it's not that hard to check.

From here, we see that food production in the US takes about 2.2 quads (quadrillion btu), and everything from production to reheating your leftovers takes 10. 1 btu is 0.25 Calories, so that's 550T Calories used to produce food in the US, and 2500T Calories for the whole food-related chain.

To estimate the number of Calories of food produced, let's estimate the number of Calories eaten. This will be a substantial underestimate, both because the US is a big net exporter of food and because a lot of food is wasted, but it should give the right ballpark. The average American apparently eats 3800 Calories per day, or 1.4M/yr. For the whole country, then, that's about 420T food Calories.

To estimate, then, we can just divide. For every 1J of food in your belly, it takes about 1.4J of energy to produce it, and a total of about 6J of energy to get it grown, butchered, wrapped, shipped, bought, frozen, thawed, and cooked. That includes all foods, from rice to steak to twinkies, as well as a fair amount of non-food ethanol. Including imports, exports, and wasted food, it's probably fair to say that 1J of food requires 1J to produce, and 5J through the whole chain.

For what that's worth.

Peak Oil, the problem that will solve itself, like amphetamine addiction. You either quit or you are dead.

Eventually, auto use will be banned. The government will do this for national security reasons. Auto use during the 1940's was constrained by rationing. It will likely be done so again and sooner than you think.

Nevertheless ...

Considering externalities is good, particularly when comparing a car with a bicycle or with walking! Looking at a car as being more efficient ... than a human on a bicycle ignores some serious externalities: First of all, a person sitting in a car is using almost as much energy as someone pedaling a bike unless they are racing the bike, that is. So the biker is using energy, but the driver of the car is using energy PLUS the car is using energy, too.

The automobile really uses ALOT of energy .. it has to be made in a factory out of parts made in other factories that use resources and energy all of which add up to the total energy/material budget for each particular vehicle. A large car has a much greater total energy/material budget than a small bicycle. The difference in by any measure (btu's, Joules, whatevers) is orders of magnitude.

The fuel the aoto uses - the fuel itself - has an energy budget. A gallon of gas in the tank requires another gallon of gas to get it out of the ground, refine it, pipe it, ship it and put it in your tank. That processing gallon is on its way to being two gallons.

The automobile can only run on a highway which (in the USA) is a vast network made up of billions of tons of concrete, steel, bitumen and other materials. Like the auto, there is a energy/material budget for this netowk that far exceed that required for a bike - to walk one only needs a dirt path.

The highway network connects spread out buildings including buildings containing grocery stores. In 'olden days' when people HAD to walk, there were no grocery stores, only (markets where people went to shop. These markets often were not in buildings. They certainly did not have asphalt parking lots, acres of fluorescent lights, tons of heating and air conditioning or high powereed computer systems. Tractor trailors were not required to bring the food to these markets, the farmers and fishemen lived close by and could bring produce to market in hand carts, horse- drawn wagons or by rail. All the 'modern infrastructure' has an energy/material budget that far exceeds that of a hundred years ago.

A car may at some level be assumed to be more thermodynamically more efficient than some other kinds of machines (certainly not bicycles which are extremely efficient at converting muscle power to work) but autos do not exist out of context. The do not drop on us from outer space.

Our way of life has been designed to gobble up as much energy/material as possible. It works, it's certainly not efficient. The bicycle industry could not deplete the world's petroleum reserves in ten thousand years. The auto industry has managed to burn though half of it in less than fifty years.

Now, that's efficiency! Shortsighted efficiency, that is ...

As my contribution to fighting peak oil, I post signs on the back of my bicycle. My sister says someone is going to run me over as a result. Here is the my latest...

Clever! You could turn your witty slogans into a cottage industry of making such signage for other cyclists.

The major problem that I have with a bicycle is that there is no place for a bumper sticker :-). It looks like we now have found a solution...

I wonder if there is a Jevons effect with voluntary mileage restraint; every once in a while you tend to blow away what you saved with a big trip. Add to that is social pressure to show at certain kinds of functions. I recently declined to attend the interstate wedding of a relative and now the family thinks I'm the world's biggest bastard. In a couple of days I'm going to drive a 120km round trip to a non-essential meeting, what I think Brits call 'making the effort'.

Of course we could have video linked weddings and funerals whereby people make speeches from far flung places. The happy couple or the deceased will have to content themselves knowing people 'made the effort' just not a very big one.

I wouldn't be surprised about the voluntary restraint part, I've made similar arguments for myself when I wanted to indulge. "Well, already I create only one-tenth the emissions of the average Aussie, so screw it, steak-time."

But it goes the other way, too. When my woman asked why we had to have wind power when it costs extra, I said, "we have to do something to balance the effect of your international flight earlier this year, that flight was four tonnes of CO2. So we won't pay for anyone to burn coal."

Your joking about video-linked weddings reminds me: in a world with less fossil fuels, families and people who want to keep in touch are going to live closer to each-other. Cheap fossil fuels have allowed us to spread out across the country and the world.

Lou was just writing about how just four years ago, fuel was 10-20% of the cost of aircraft tickets, now it's 50%. So if the fare were to go up in proportion, instead of $120 Melbourne-Sydney it'd be $600-$1,200. Instead of $3,000 round-the-world it'd be $15,000-$30,000. Will that end the airline industry? I doubt it. If at $10 oil in 1998 you'd asked people what would happen at $135 oil, they'd predict complete collapse. I don't think airline fares will go up to that much, but it's easy to imagine them doubling or tripling in the next year or two.

Unless these airlines get bailouts from public funds, either the aircraft are going to become empty cattlecars in terms of amenities as they cut down further on extras being getting you from A to B, or else many airlines are going bust and those remaining will boost prices.

So whether we want to restrain our fossil fuel consumption or not, it's going to be restrained in the future. "Rationing by price", I believe they call it around here. If we want the great uncle in Scotland we only met once when we were two to come to our wedding, we'll have to get him to live in the same state, we won't be able to afford to fly him.

Peak fossil fuels means relocalisation not only of production of food and other things, but relocalisation of family and friends, too.

I'm just suggesting we do by choice what we'll be forced to do in the future. If you've cut your driving by a lot, or even better cut it out entirely, then when the price of fuel zooms up it won't cripple you. This applies in other energy-dependent areas, too: electricity went up a few cents per kWh, but since we'd dropped our electricity consumption by two-thirds we didn't care.

City driving is inefficient in general because of accelerating, braking and idling, but some short trips are more inefficient than others. The worst is a short trip with a cold engine. Cold engines need a rich fuel mixture to start, and cold motor oil with higher viscosity means more internal friction. If you have an air-cooled engine like a Beetle or some motorcycles it takes even longer to warm up than a liquid cooled engine. It's not just efficiency either. Cold starts pollute more because catalytic converters need to warm up too.
Many short trips with a warmed up engine shouldn't be much worse than one long trip in city driving. Plugin hybrids don't have this problem until you use up the electric range.
Anyway, I agree about driving less. I live close to work. Even at $4.50 commuting solo in the car is pretty affordable, and I have choices other than the car. We need a catchphrase equivalent to nega-watts on the electricity side. Maybe nega-gallons?

An even more modest proposal:
If riding a bike to work is too far for you, consider driving only partway and cycling the balance. Work up to a greater distance as you get stronger.
Cycling to work is fun! It is the best part of my day!
I don't have to block out gym time on my schedule, not to mention gym fees.
I am trim and I can enjoy eating without guilt.

I am too chickenshit to cycle much, the drivers in Melbourne are crazy and with an enormous sense of entitlement. My neighbour told me indignantly that bikes don't have to pay registration.
"Registration goes to the upkeep of roads."
"You drive 1,200kg of sedan, plus 100kg of yourself. The cyclist has 12kg of cycle and 70kg of themselves. Do you think the cyclist causes as much wear and tear on the road as you?"

There are a few bike trails but they're designed for leisure, not commuting, and they don't go where I need to go for my work and social stuff. But unlike the insane USA where some suburbs have no pedestrian paths, we have plenty, so I can walk. And our public transport is crappy and infrequent and unreliable, but is better than many places, with planning and a decent allowance of time you can get around. And I have the time spare to wait for trains or walk because I don't have to work to pay for a car... That would take up about 6-10 hours of work for me.

I'd love to cycle, but I'm too cowardly. But again: there are always options.

Time to put your body on the line Kiashu. I spent 7 years in New Jersey (USA) and cycled everywhere. I don't know how bad Melbourne is, but trust me, I've never seen anything scarier than a New Jersey driver, and I've lived all over the place, in multiple countries. Truth is, there are very few people in the world who will deliberately kill you. You can use that to your advantage by placing yourself in the middle of the traffic lane when you cycle. Force the drivers to either kill you or pass you safely. They *almost* always choose the latter option. If I can survive New Jersey, you can survive Melbourne. The only way it will become safer for the cyclists is if there are more of us on the road.

Why should I put my body on the line? My aim is not to get more cycling done, just to get less fossil fuels burned up.

Cycling is one way to get less fossil fuels burned up, but so is walking, using public transport, bundling several car trips into one, getting home delivery, and so on and so forth.

I'm not a bicycle advocate. I'm a "burn less stuff" advocate. Whether people burn less stuff with or without bicycles, public transport, walking, cars, whatever - I don't care. I just want people to burn less stuff.

My way of burning less stuff is to walk, use the train and bus, buy wind power and so on. If your way is cycling, good on you. But I'm too cowardly :)

Why should I put my body on the line?

Maybe my biases are showing up here, but I thought your contribution was an appeal to use less fossil fuel. Why do I say "put your body on the line" like that? Because I don't believe that it is anybody else's responsibility to reduce their fossil fuel consumption, it's MY responsibility to reduce MY fossil fuel consumption by 90%. For me, the equation is simple. Any unnecessary excess energy I consume deprives some one else, or some other organism, of the right to live. When I think of it that way, the only answer is to do everything in my power to use less energy and I think cycling to work is one of the best ways to do that, especially because it is so easy for so many people to do. If only it wasn't so risky, but to me that is less important.

You're confusing ends with means.

The end, the goal, is to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and I'll make efforts towards that end, and risk things for it.

Cycling, walking, public transport, bundling several trips into one, those are all means to that end. For me, they're not ends in themselves, and I won't risk anything for them, because I have non-risky options.

Who cares how I burn less, so long as I burn less? For you, that's biking, for me that's walking and public transport. For someone else, it'll be going to the shops once a fortnight instead of three times a week.

It looks like you have not lived in Bangalore, India. Your NJ driver would seem like the epitome of friendliness.

"Truth is, there are very few people in the world who will deliberately kill you". The outcome here is what matters and not the intent.

Agree with your last statement though. I think peak oil will get us there.


If I can chime in here from Western North Carolina, USA:

I am now walking to work. It is a 1.7mi/~2.7km trek each way, which takes me about 45 min. If the route was all paved and level, I could probably do it in less time, but I live in a mountainous area, and part of the route is a steep incline, the rest is an unpaved pathway along the side of a road, so it is more of a hike than a walk. It is OK though, I really need the exercise (#1 reason for doing it).

Yes, one can work up a bit of a sweat. The answer is to wear clothing seasonally-appropriate for the physical activity, pack your "office clothes" in a backpack and change when you get to work. I pack in my lunch as well.

While I am doing this mainly for exercise, of course I am glad to not have to drive and burn up motor fuel needlessly. The bad news is that the distances that are walkable are also pretty short drives, so you don't really save a huge amount of petrol. You do save a little, though, and every little bit counts. It is nice to not have to worry about how to get to work, too, as fuel prices continue to rise.

Not everyone can walk to work, but the number of people that can either walk to work, or to the nearest mass transit node, or to a rendezvous point for a car-pool must add up to a lot.

I am probably an example of most people. I could walk to work. I have done it. Takes about 20 minutes each way. Flat and sidewalks all the way. Rarely rains where I live, Bayarea, Ca, and the weather is mild. But I don't. Shame on me. I get up at the crack of dawn, get the kids ready for school, make breakfast, by the time were ready to ship out, I have about 10 minutes, if I am lucky, to get everyone to where they need to be on time. Now, this is all sheer laziness one might say. Of course I am pooped when I get home from work and I get ready for the evening to do it all over again in the morning. So, I suspect that there are a lot of folks like me. Gassing up and getting to where they need to be , conveniently. That is the way of life that is very hard to give up. We are a convenient society and changing that will be very difficult. Being peak oil aware it still is hard. I feel like a junkie, let's just use it all up till its all gone. But I intend to change my ways. I need a 24 step program I think!

Have you considered why you do it? is it to contribute to the whole of humanity?
Is it to feel better about yourself?
is it to keep up with the Joneses?
If it is for the first option then great if it is for the others you might want to consider changeing your reasons.

The reason why I do it? Drive my car you mean? Because it is convenient in my daily life. Didn't I say that? I guess the point of my post was I believe I am probably in the majority of people who will continue to use their cars because they have busy lives and taking away the efficiency and expediency of auto travel impedes on that way of live. So, I guess, how do we tackle that problem? High gas prices are working, sorta.

It's the lifestyle that has to change and that is definitely not easy, especailly if you have kids and spouse that are not yet ready to powerdown. I hear ya though.

A big problem with walking is that it does take time. For people like yourself living fast-paced, hectic lives, that is a problem. Of course, there is something to be said for deliberately trying to slow down the pace of life a little bit, but that is easier said than done.

An option you might consider is a bicycle. From what you have described about your situation, when you add in the time it takes to get the car out at home and park it at work, you probably are not saving much time door-to-door by driving vs. cycling.

That particular person may live a busy, hectic life, but the average person is watching tv for a few hours a day.

If you have time to watch Everybody Loves Raymond you have time to walk. Most people talk about being terribly rushed and busy, but when you look at how they spend their day, a lot of it is wasted with them staring vacantly into space or at some pretty pictures. That's not being busy, that's just being idle.

...communist or Islamofascist...

Might I suggest you are an ambulo-terrorist?

I too am one. I haven't given up my car, but I park it five or six blocks away and have to go turn it over once in while so the battery doesn't die. Hardly use it at all here in Jersey City, but do use it to go hiking with my wife on the weekends and on vacation. We think nothing of walking 8 or 10 miles either in Manhattan or the woods.

BUT, it's because I live in JC that I can live this way. I don't know how it is in Australia, but here, except for a few metropolitan areas, one is forced to use a car. In a lot of the newer suburbs (last 30 or 40 years), there are no sidewalks even.

It's going to take systemic restructuring, much more than just behavioral change on the part of individuals. People here, I read in the papers, are trying to take public transportation -- and at the same time it's getting cut back!! The gov't is completely hostile to doing the right thing -- at least at the topmost levels. It's completely nuts. People would adapt if they were given the right information and alternatives that were viable.

Hypermilling? I'm surprised there is a word for it. I believe the first time I heard of driving efficiently was during the mid-70's when gas rationing was occurring in the states.

I agree with your comments about not driving whenever possible.

Regarding moving to be near to work/shops/public transport:

While you might not want to move right now consider this - in a time of rising fuel prices which homes do you think will retain their value and which will lose it rapidly?

My money is on the houses in the outskirts dropping in value like a stone, while those close to facilities stay strong.

My goal this year was to use less than <60 gallons of diesel and 3,000 kWh in 2008.

Last Friday morning I filled up (hurricane season close) with 13.0 gallons and filled new 5 gallon gas can. ($4.45/9, it was $4.60/9 after I finished shopping at Lowe's next door to truck stop). My previous fill-up had been last January. I "overfilled" tank and got a low 28.9 mpg for 378 miles.

Absent an evacuation or a project that requires a lot of traffic, I am on track for <60 gallons.

Lots of walking and streetcar riding substitutes for driving. I chose my location carefully and it works ! :-)

More later on details.

Best Hopes,


The most effective way to save fuel is not to drive.

My heart says: YES!! - but there is a problem.

Cars are standing parked 90 per cent of their entire life span (any airline with its aircrafts grounded 90% of the time would go bankrupt immediately ..). And there's the rub, overseen by many: The costs from your cars depreciation. Buy a Volkswagen Golf here in Germany for, say, 20,000 Euro, use it 10 years and you'll have a monthly expense of 166 Euros - depreciation only. 149 Euros of that monthly expense (that most don't/won't notice since the car is already payed, somehow) accrued from the time where your car does just nothing.

So one could say: drive as much as you can, and preferably earn money with it (as a taxi driver for example) Or: if you don't drive it, someone else should.

Your car is depreciating, therefore you have to drive it?

You're losing money from its depreciation, so you should lose more money by burning fuel in it?

You're not by any chance an accountant for Bear Sterns, are you?

The depreciation of cars is in large part based on their kilometres driven, that's the biggest factor in their drop in price after the "driven out of the lot for the first time" factor. So the less you drive it, the less it depreciates. It might even appreciate - hell, find a Model T with o miles on it and you'll become a multi-millionaire :)

Of course, if you have no car at all then the depreciation rate is 0%...

Your car is depreciating, therefore you have to drive it?

Yes, that's what cars are made for. Airlines try to avoid grounded aircrafts like the plague, they know why. They only earn money in the air.

You're losing money from its depreciation, so you should lose more money by burning fuel in it?

Of course you pay more money when you drive it (unless you use your car in a way that earns you money.) But if you are decided to use it in an 'ecological' way, i.e. only drive what's really necessary, you'll have a comparatively great loss.

You're not by any chance an accountant for Bear Sterns, are you?

No :-)

The depreciation of cars is in large part based on their kilometres driven

A car that is not driven doesn't become better, quite the contrary.

Of course, if you have no car at all then the depreciation rate is 0%...

Right, and that's why I don't have one. But I tried to make the point that it is not that easy, telling car owners they should drive less.

One thing that can easily be done to improve efficiency is to get a manual when they replace their car.

I matched up all the cars (Australian Govt Official figures) on a like-by-like basis and compred the official fuel consumption of manual vs auto (not all cars offer both alternatives).

On average there is a 3.7% difference, but it gets interesting when you look at them by engine size.

For an up to 1 ltr engine: the difference is 7.2% (manual better than auto).
1-2 ltr engines: the difference is 7.3%.
2-3 ltr engines: the difference is 4.7%.
3-4 ltr engines: the difference is -0.4%%.
4-5 ltr engines: the difference is -3.1%.

I suspect the larger engines reflect the prestige cars, with their tricked up (and very expensive) 6 and 7 speed auto gearboxes.

Basically, if you get a small car for fuel efficiency you will give a lot away of it away if you get an auto.

Diesels are even worse at 8.5%! Probably reflecting smaller engines in many models, plus poor matching of engine characteristics to the auto boxes.

Hear hear. I never learnt to drive, and now I don't think I could morally justify owning a car to myself. It annoys me when all the tips are "don't fly, avoid unnecessary journeys, but green electricity, get a more efficient car". Why is it such a taboo to say "don't have a car"? Actually, this may well be why.

And yes, I live on the outskirts London, England with good public transport links (thanks to the mayor we just voted out). Yet there's no shortage of cars outside my window.

It is indeed cultural. Just look at all the desperate cries of pain and suffering in this thread. People are very quick to point out their exceptional circumstances which mean that change is impossible. "Of course, everyone else can change, but me? Impossible! Let's wait for Science! or The Market! to come up with a better car, or for The Government To Do Something. I can't do anything, I'm helpless."

And this on a website about peak oil. Here we are discussing how the stuff is going to run short and be stupidly expensive, but there's still enormous resistance to the idea of "burn less." Indeed, I think that if you forced the average man to choose between losing his car forever or his testicles, he would be hard-put to make the choice.

My latest little fun bit of record-keeping is to combine my bicycling log with my car fuel purchase log, to produce a combined figure for fuel used per total distance traveled. It makes for pleasing figures.

I think Big Gav is absolutely right that most of us drive much more than we need to without even realizing what we are doing. Seven years ago, when both of our children entered school (where they get bus transportation), my husband argued that we could get by with only one car. I said "no way, we are a family of 4, 2 career adults, 2 kids in multiple activities, we live in a mid-sized city in the American midwest where there is minimal public transportation, where it is cold, snowy, and icy in the winter, and hot and humid in the summer, and it rains. You are crazy!", but I agreed to a trial, and from October through December we did exactly what Big Gav suggests--we recorded each trip in our minivan and our small car, gradually eliminating the use of one, and you know, it was fine. So we sold them both and got a small station wagon, and by making no other significant change, we have reduced our annual mileage from over 20K in 2 cars to under 10K in one. We still do everying we want, our kids play sports, take music lessons, see their friends, etc. We just think about it differently. We do make some decisions based on transportation--we said no to a soccer team that practiced 3 miles out on a rural road, and chose one that practices at a nearby school. I do all the grocery shopping by bike (to a grocery store 2 miles away, and the farmer's market 4 miles away) with the trailer the kids no longer fit in (including 1 1/2 gallons of milk in glass bottles every week), and about once every 2 or 3 months we do a bulk purchase of canned goods, flour, sugar, etc, which we pick up by car.
Our kids know how to use the city bus, and how to ride safely on neighborhood streets. We are healthier, save money, and we don't feel that we have made a sacrifice.

What the hell is "Islamofascist"? How the hell you can say that islam has anything to do with fascism? What about christinofascism? History is witness that fascism was borned and taken to peak at christian heartland italy. It has nothing to do with islam. So stop making those idiotic terms and try to get some knowledge.

I used it ironically, considering that my reading audience is almost entirely Western; to them, "islamofascist" is like "communism" in that it has no real meaning, conveying no actual ideology, but only means "those guys who we think are crazy and evil."

My idea was that to the average Westerner, the simplest possible solution to high fuel prices, fossil fuel depletion and climate change - "just burn less of the stuff" - is an idea which seems crazy and evil. They would no more vote for a political leader who says, "no more burgers and SUVs" than they would vote for Stalin or Osama Bin Laden.

Irony, mate.

I'm not sure about the rest of this world. But here in the U.S.A if we would stop letting these 15,16,&17 year old kids start driving so early in life. They all have to buy cars and driving the roads so much. We would start saving millions of gallons of fuel each day. These kids today think they are too good to ride a school bus. Or buy them a bike. I'm only 51 years old and I rode both while in school.
Also, if some of these big corporations would start going to 4 day work weeks, that would help conserve fuel. But that's only if we stay at home on Friday's.
And where is everyone going all the time? I've been on the highways at 10:00 or 11:00 pm ( not often) and there's tons of traffic. People need to get some home entertainment going and stay put for a change. Or we will all be riding bikes, or a horse again.....

The research articles are excellent.
But I feel that the comments section does your site no favours.
I read that most of the people commenting are probably already converts.
God help us all then.
People boasting of their 'eco-driving' skills enabling them to get 20 mpg instead of their normal 17 mpg.
Others telling me I should walk or ride a bike when they have two cars, but that's alright as they only use the 24 mpg one to collect their wood chips in.
Please tell me they are not serious.
Telecommuting - how many people can do that?
I have lived in Japan for 4 years and Singapore before that for nearly 10 years.
Neither place do/did I have a car. In Japan, as millions of Japanese do, I cycle.
Singapore when I finally worked in an office with shower facilities I cycled to work there also.
Sorry but taking my tie off would not have worked - I start to drip a bit cycling in 30 degC!
Otherwise I used public transport - reason why 'cause both have excellent public transport systems.
However if I worked in the UK I would need a car!
So don't preach then offer febble excuses as to why you still have two gas guzzlers on your drive.

Quite a few people could be telecommuting, actually, at least part-time. For example, my spouse works as a translator/interpreter at an engineering firm. She could be at home translating about two days a week and only have to go in three days a week. Most of the engineers are doing work on their own workstations most of the time, and co-ordinate with other engineers on just a couple of days a week. Certainly the finance department could do their work from home.

Usually the objections to telecommuting come from distrustful managers, who believe that without someone looking over their shoulder their workers will slack off, and that the workers will be busily selling off the company's secrets to rivals from home. Whether they really believe this or are just trying to justify their job is hard to tell. After all, if workers can be trusted then we don't need so many supervisors, do we?

I think there's some resistance, too, from genuinely slack or incompetent workers. If all the boss sees of you is what you send them each day as your work done, the boss might notice how little you actually do. In the office with endless meetings and paper-shuffling and arse-kissing it's less obvious when someone's a slacker.

But in actual practical terms, lots of people could be telecommuting. Workers can be paid according to what they produce rather than simple salaries, and there are plenty of IT solutions for security - dedicated company-supplied laptops with sealed cases (no USB ports) and dedicated work-home internet lines, and so on. And anyway if you don't trust someone why did you hire them?

Just look at websites like this - created by a group of people who've never met, and who are all working from home. Okay, it's not a commercial enterprise - but it is nonetheless a piece of productive work which is a resource used by others. Me, Big Gav, Prof Goose - we are all telecommuting volunteers ;)

So don't preach then offer febble excuses as to why you still have two gas guzzlers on your drive.

I have only one fuel guzzler on my driveway, my spouse uses it to drive the 7km to work three days a week, and cycles two days a week. Two of the driving days are because she has a hobby in the evenings, if she relied on public transport to get from work to the hobby and then home, she'd be home at midnight. Still I think she should get rid of the stupid thing, but... the days when men could command their spouses are long past.

But me, the only times I drive are when my spouse wants to drink at some social occasion. For everything else, I walk and use public transport. Our fuel use is a 40lt tank every six weeks, or 350lt a year. The average Aussie car travels 14,700km annually getting 13.7lt/100km, thus 2,000lt annually. So we use 17.5% of the average, or 82.5% less than average if we want to make it sound really good.

Do I get to preach?

To me, the point is not to say that this guy is good and that guy is bad in their fuel consumption, though that's amusing and fun. Really the point is that for most people driving is not a rational choice, they don't sit down and analyse the best possible means of transport for each particular trip, they just have a way they're used to using, and choose that reflexively.

For example, I only recently in my 30s got a car licence. I had somewhere to go, and said, "damn, only 10km but I'll need to take two buses and it'll take an hour, oh well." My spouse said, "you can take the car, you know." I simply hadn't thought of taking the car - after twenty or so years of travelling about independently on foot or public transport, "take the car" just didn't occur to me.

Likewise, for people who've been driving since they were 16 or 18, "walk" or "bike" or "take the bus" just won't occur to them. They're just used to getting straight into the car and going.

In a world where we're facing economic troubles and rising fuel prices, where fossil fuels are finite and contributing to climate change, we cannot afford to have unthinking habits anymore. We have to think about what we're doing. We have to minimise the use of fossil fuels, and eventually eliminate them altogether.

Change begins at home. It begins with looking seriously at how you live to see if you can change some things. And as the statistics show, around two-thirds of all car trips taken are avoidable or could be rearranged so that two or three trips become one. So there's a good chance we could halve our use of petrol, diesel and so on.

If you're not convinced of the need for that in terms of peak oil and climate change, there's still the economic issue. I mean, if the fuel price doubles but you halved your driving, you won't care about the price rise very much. For example us with our 40lt every six weeks, so the price went from $1.50 to $1.60 - big deal, that's another $4 every six weeks, who cares? But if it were 40lt twice a week then it'd start to matter.

Hi Kaishu,
Just a correction to start, my post should have read To TOD, not TOG.

Also my comments were not directed at you personally, they were general based on comments seen in this and other threads.

Perhaps my point was not clear, I repeat the important line:
"But I feel that the comments section does your (i.e. TOD) site no favours."

I assume that TOD is trying to influence opinion and win converts to the cause, yes?
Or is it just a chattering shop?

The leader articles, especially the researched ones are excellent and do their job.
However I could imagine that a newcomer to the site who then starts to browse the comments would wonder "who the **** are these guys, are they for real?". I know I did.

Unfortunately I think a lot of people will think what a bunch of wankers and never return.

Enough said.

I believe Prof Goose described the quality of the comments section as "having a large standard deviation." There's some utter crap, but some utter brilliance.

In this it's not really different from any other largeish website, or even a university tutorial discussion. You take the bad with the good.

I mean, obviously there a few complete nutters we could safely lose. The problem is that even among the editors there are those who think it's impossible for the US to reduce their oil consumption even 10% without the country turning into some kind of dystopia - postapocalyptic or communist, I'm not sure which - that humanity isn't causing global warming or even doesn't exist at all, and so on.

So even among the editors are some people who, if they were not editors but were simply commenting on others' threads, we would think they're nutters and shouldn't be here. But despite their nuttiness in one area, they make fine and useful contributions in other areas. Where then to begin with the purges?

In the end, it's a public discussion so you're going to get this sort of thing. But you get lots of good stuff, too. You take the bad with the good. C'e la vie, as the baguette boys say.

Oh well then, lets just get rid of all the people we disagree with! That will solve it. If you are so sensitive that we are not up to your standard of debate then we should just be off and find some other lower class chat site rather than the serious one you are looking for.

Peak Oil will be faced by all of us. Each of us will have a different perspective like that of our own situations.Some guys have plenty of time or talent to put together lead posts and some of just add our two cents worth along the way. I've learned heaps from this site and my thinking has been fundamantally changed by participating in the debates.

It is the great power of the internet that we can have these debates and as more people actually contribute, the collective knowledge is actually improved. We may even come up with some solutions that might stand a chance of implementation becasue they have been subjected to the collected mind power of everyone, even the nutters.

Me sensitive? You’re the one spitting his dummy.
Where in my two posts did I suggest getting rid of people?
Or anything to do with class?

"But save your venom for overcoming the obstacles that are in the way." Does that sound familiar?

I see that you are a very prolific poster. Now I see your name and read your recent posts I see that it was one of your posts that prompted me to write in the first place. No you are not one of the gas guzzling preachers I mentioned but your post touched me.

So when you are commissar of your Blue Mountain vunderland you will:
1. Use child labour to bake communal bread
Will you be the Masterbaker?
[Why do you need to teach people to bake bread anyway - don't you have those neat electric bread-makers in Oz yet?]

2. Use child labour to turn the park (i.e. the place where the kids are meant to play - get the concept?) into a market garden

3. Build small cottage industries with small shops.
Are you keeping them small so the kids can build them also?
Hey, I'm catching on, and then as they are small only the kids will be able to work in them - I like your joined-up-thinking

4. Help those doing it tough:
i) the elderly - fair do's that one
ii) the unemployed - who would they be? The bakers, taxi & bus drivers, market gardeners, nurserymen, publicans, etc. I won't go on I am sure you have The List already prepared.
iii) the mortgage defaulters - you could always get the kids to sew tents for them to live in
iv) You forgot to mention the kids - sounds like it is going to be bloody tough for them also!

5. Whilst 1-4 is going on you and your buddies will be loafing around the bread oven drinking flagons of micro-brew.
You know, your new-found buddies recently freed from their 'slave-jobs'.
Although I don't think their employers will think that is really what telecommuting is.

Let's hope not too many are freed as they may all want to come and live in your parish, which would then cease to be your little heaven-on-earth and grown into a suburban sprawl just like the Big City.

Hey, but to quote you "Each of us will have a different perspective like that of our own situations."

And now its time for me to eat humble-pie, 'cause crikey, I see now, you're so right:
"We may even come up with some solutions that might stand a chance of implementation because they have been subjected to the collected mind power of everyone, even the nutters."

And who is to judge who is sane and who is a nutter? Because after all its all a matter of perspective.

So kudos to you mate - I have to admit that getting the kids working instead of learning and playing is a great idea. Its back to the caves anyway when it all goes bottom up, so better to have some practical skills, an education will certainly not be required.

My experience with kids is if they ahve a neighbourhood that provides a variety of acticvities, including gardens, parks, and especially food and cooking, they will particiapate and learn heaps working alongside the adults. If your idea of educatinga child is packing them off to school each day and just giving them the consumer/industrial brand of education then your going to get a very unresilient community and society.

We all need to have multiple skills to survive a crisis. my current job uses many of the skills I learned when I was kid working along side my dad. I never looked at it as slave labour, I was just happy to be part of a something bigger than myself and to feel valued for what I could contribute. My Dad had a great business and even though he has now passed on, i treasure the moments most when we our whole family was working on the business far more than the countless number of times he dropped me off at the school gate.

I live in a typical suburb not the blue mountains. I am more interested on what I can do to change my environemtn that in waiting for some techno fix to try to keep all the cars on the road. We all have tolive with the choices we make.

As for your question "Where in my two posts did I suggest getting rid of people?"

I mean, obviously there a few complete nutters we could safely lose.

Did I misinterpret this sneer?

Goood did not say, "I mean, obviously there are a few complete nutters we could safely lose," I did - here.

When refuting what someone's written, make sure it was them who said it :)