W: "It's Going to Be a Tough Summer" (and a late night open thread)

US President George W. Bush has warned rising oil prices will mean a "tough summer" for US consumers as the high cost of gasoline (petrol) showed signs of becoming a big political issue. But even as more Americans expressed discontent over the price of filling up their gas tanks, Bush suggested there was little his government could do in the short term about the problem. "We're going to have a tough summer because people are beginning to drive now during tight supply," Bush said as he toured a California facility developing hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Article link here.
Interesting diary at dKos on carpooling:

Computer-matched car pooling -- the next "killer app" and good energy policy

Way back in the 1960's or 70's I read that almost any mass transit system looked good compared to people commuting one to a car, but if you could average four riders per car, almost nothing imaginable was as efficient, at least for fuel and probably for capital outlay as well.  After all, the cars are already bought, the owners already know how to drive them, and the current road system is more than adequate if commuting traffic is cut by three fourths.

Hmmm.  Is that true?

He suggests a computerized carpooling system, similar to one truck drivers already use.

Though what I found most interesting was that even on dKos, full of lefty treehuggers, most people said they wouldn't use such a system.  

It is not true. Running is far more efficient and is quite imaginable.

Peak oil will inevitably cause so much pain and dieoff that we have a moral responsibility to take the positive opportunities it offers which are to reorganize ourselves into small tribes living in harmony with the land. Carpooling is just a way to prolong this ugly mess.

Running is far more efficient and is quite imaginable.

And a bicycle is even better than running.

Though what I found most interesting was that even on dKos, full of lefty treehuggers, most people said they wouldn't use such a system.

People always say that they don't want to carpool, or give up their SUV or their home 100 miles away from work. And ofcoarse, cycling is completely out of the question, because it is not practical in the good ol' US of A. It's just Un-American!

However, in the end, it is all just talk. I know for sure, because it happened already 30 years ago in Europe and in Japan.

Large portions of Plano, Texas (suburb of Dallas) had no gas this weekend.  One station had been dry for four days.  They are expecting (hoping?) that things will stabilize shortly.  
Fox was reporting that Houston, home of Exxon?, had the highest prices in the country this past weekend ($4+).  That must suck for the non-Exxon employees, but from out of state I've got to admit it seemed poetic justice.
This is nonsense.
I live in the Houston area, and bought gasoline this weekend at below $3/gal, and most of the gas stations I passed by had regular unleaded for less than $3/gal.
Yeah well, it was Fox "news."
And not ONE headline or even article
in my hometown newspaper on oil/gas

That tells me that we're no where near the
peak price.

Kunstler has the same opinion-

This morning's electronic edition of The New York Times displays not one home page headline about oil or gasoline prices, despite the trauma of the week just passed.


I was hitting google news a few times yesterday morning, and gas prices did not rise very far up their front page.  There was an "oil prices" article in the business section.

Given that google placement is driven by clicks/links, I think that means it wasn't getting much online attention.

On the other hand, it was fun to flip cable news channels about mid-day yesterday, when they were all running concurrent gas price stories.

Hello odograph.

Yes, the news is there.  but I still have to
hunt for it.  

It just doesn't have that "panic" feel to it.

You know, like when the cities turned off their skyscraper lights at night.  That sort of thing.

And the focus seems to be on windfall profits
tax.  Yea, that'll get more gas to the consumer.


I think there's a lot to be said for carpooling, and think people may change their tune as prices rise.

Take the outer limits of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as an example. Yes, that's the suburbs, but fortunately they are blessed with the GO Transit commuter train & bus system. If you're travelling on your own, it makes sense to leave the vehicle at home and take the train downtown. But if you are already paying to maintain a car it is cheaper to drive as soon as you can find just one other person who is going your way - this remains true even if gas triples in price.

For example, the current cost for two people to take the GO Train 50kms to downtown Toronto is $24.00 ($12.00 per person, return fare). So it's cheaper for two people to carpool the 100km round trip  (provided, of course, one has free parking and an efficient car).

To illustrate, let's imagine that the price gas increases from $1.00/litre to $3.00/litre. Two people in a Toyota Yaris averaging 7l/100km would pay just $21 in gas - that's still $3 less than two train tickets. Bump that up to four people in a car and it's just $5.25 per person, per day: so even with $3 gas that's less than half the current public transit price.

The cities of the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, along with Transport Canada, have already started a carpool site at http://www.carpoolzone.smartcommute.ca

Well, we have a Prez, VP, and Def Secy, none of whom can be removed, it seems, no matter what happens. The poll ratings are in the dumps, two wars have disastrously failed while they plan and threaten yet another much worse one. Now they warn the American public of a tough summer gasoline-wise. (I was going to make the usual snotty remark about the price of a fix going up -- but what is the poor slob who has to drive 40mi to his job going to do?) All this with the November elections coming up.

We are in the eye of a storm. A wrathful electorate, a military-industrial machine bent on war, political leaders who have committed outright crimes, and an election coming up that could prove to be a very adverse plebiscite. How can this play out? I mean this as a very serious question. What are the possible scenarios?

There are going to be elections in America?? I thought we dispensed with those at the turn of the century.

The Republicans will "win" with 51% of the vote, and 70+% of Americans will scratch their heads wondering why their side didn't win. The landslide majority voting for John Kerry certainly experienced this in 2004.

Rigged elections won't change anything.

Perhaps they don't even need to rig in 2006. So many of the people I know who actually got out and voted in 2000, 2002, and 2004 don't see the point in driving to a voting station. We can write our votes on a piece of paper and burn it ourselves and save the gas money.

This is silly.
Not silly at all, see my post below.

The evidence is in - the Republicans stole the 2004 election.

Read Fooled Again by Mark Crispin Miller.

More like the Dems handed it to him, Kerry was and is an unstable nut - more so then Bush. Why didn't the Dems run Gore again? They'd have won with him IF he were against the war.

I'm getting sick of seeing the Dems say they're not happy with the way the war is being run because...... .they'd draft more working class kids (not their own kids!) and send 'em over there and kill more Iraquis. Why, Kerry'd have had us in Iran and Syria by now.

It never occurs to them that maybe no wars for oil and looking at an orderly powerdown and a flattening of the class structure might be the way to go.

Today I heard that the Dems are behind a movement to subsidize cheap gas in the US even more than it's already being paid for. Motor on! Drive your SUV down to that polling place and vote Dem! And since you're passing the army recruiting office on the way, better sign up your kid(s), we're gonna need them....

I am not at all happy with the neocon takeover of the Republican party but I think the Dems are dead as a political party.

To tell you the truth, I think the Republicans are dead, too.

Bush seems to rule by naked power, fear and lies. Maybe that's the only thing that will work any more.

Well that does lead up to where I was going, both parties are more the enemy than the friend of the common man. A new party that really takes off will be populist.
Where's the American Chavez when you need him? [insert sarcasm...well...maybe not]
Not that populism will help.

Here's the result of populism:

Specter: U.S. should consider windfall oil tax

Leading GOP Senator blames reduced competition for high oil, pump prices

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said a windfall profits tax, along with measures to stem concentration of market power among a few select oil companies, could offer eventual relief to consumers hurting at the gas pump.

"I believe that we have allowed too many companies to get together to reduce competition," Specter said.

They get together, reduce the supply of oil, and that drives up prices," he said.

A Republican, calling for more taxes on big business.  Amazing.  

But it won't help...unless we use those taxes to prepare for peak oil.

Of course it helps,and in many ways. Direct taxes on oil companies reduce profits and therefore reduces their incentive to look for oil, thus driving prices higher. This in turn reduces consumption/gw. Meanwhile, higher taxes will (mostly) reduce the deficit, just as it did when Clinton raised taxes, which puts the us in better position to do something when po becomes widely accepted.
  A new party that is not only populist, but reveres constitutional rights as well as individual liberties. I've had this rather insane idea of late of running for congress as a 'guerilla' candidate, complete with three piece suit and ape mask. Considering the incumbent in my district (a true mountain of intellect Virgil Goode (R) Virginia's 5th congressional district) and the sorry assemblage of Democratic challengers, I fear the election shall be little more than a tag-team cage match between the traditional parties. As always with professional wrestling, 'The Fix is IN!'

  Subkommander Dred

Your comments do nothing to add to the dignity of a discussion on the sanctity of elections and the election process.

If the election process is easily compromised by electronic voting systems, then all is lost.

I don't think Kerry's an unstable nut.  He seems very stable and grounded to me, all things considered.  Also very smart, and very decisive when push comes to shove.  He has a talent for quickly and correctly analyzing a situation, and acting when everyone else is still trying to figure out what's going on.

But he's not the best public speaker, and his New England style is a bit off-putting to the rest of the country.  He's not a very good candidate, I freely concede.  I think he would be a very good president, though.  He could be made to understand the problem we face in peak oil.  (Simmons thinks Bush just didn't get it, and I'm inclined to agree.  The man has simply lost too many brain cells to drugs and alcohol.)  

Whether Kerry or anyone else could do anything about peak oil is a different question, of course.  I suspect we need another Clinton - someone with far more political skill and charisma than Bush, Gore, or Kerry have.  Someone who could win people over, and convince them of the need to make changes.

  As much as I hate to admit it, Brother Fleam is correct;
   The Republicans are goons, and the Democrats are all on the take. As for me, I am taking my money out of politics, real estate and the stock market and have started betting heavily on junior high soccer.

Subkommander Dred

Regardless of whether you believe there was widespread systematic election fraud, there are millions of us who do - and that alone ought to be enough to scare the heck out of everyone.  This is not the forum to get into such theories, but I have plenty of evidence that goes way beyond "silly" to back it up.  When combined with what I see as the utter failure of both political parties, I feel totally disenfranchised from the US political system - and I'm not alone in that either.  How do you expect any effective solutions to any of the crises we face with a large part of the public feeling so marginalized?

When I worked for the DoD, we were told we had to avoid even the appearance if impropriety.  It was good advice, and it's telling that our present electoral system isn't even bothering to try.

I have never missed voting in an election - it was important to me.  I may vote this time too, but it is far from important to me now.  Mostly I'll be just going through the motions because it costs me little to do so - I have no expectations that it will matter at all.

I always vote, though it sure seems that the past two elections were as rigged as a Saddam Hussein election, just a little slicker. I vote just to get my 2 cents in on a political season of unintended comedy. On a more serious note, I sure can't blame you or others with being disgusted with the process.
I still work at the DoD, and they still tell us to avoid the appearance of impropriety.  Talk about hippocracy!
If voting could change things, it would be illegal

It's not who votes, it's who counts the votes.

As Prole so adequately lays it out what else besides
the end of the Age of Oil could make sense of the Utter
disregard of the American People's opinions.


I worked as a voting clerk in Dallas, County Texas during the 2004 general election.

I witnessed several occasions where the ES&S touch screen voting machines flipped straight party Democratic votes to straight party Republican votes.

This occurred when frustrated senior citizens asked for assistance after the inexplicable changes.

All was brought to the attention of the Republican election judge who refused to impound the suspect machines.

One can learn more about the flawed voting machines and 2004 election at www.brdablog.com among other sites.

You did mean http://www.bradblog.com/ right?
And thank you for relating your eyewitness to what was going on too. People want to write these off as small irregularities, but clearly we have documented how widespread it was that the "margin of victory" for Bush is ridiculously meaningless.
Thank You For The Correction.
The evidence of US Republicans stealing votes in the '00, '02, & '04 elections is pretty extensive, and the systematic disinterest of your media and courts is positively chilling. The flatulent US Democrats was robbed, and the inability of most yanks to even consider the possibility is .. bracing.
How can so many hundreds if not thousands of documented witnesses be wrong? Because the nice christian men and their unexaminable black box machines said so.. please redeem brain for alliegance pin at participating grocers.
I read about claims for stealing elections and claims that both parties have essentially the same kind of people, financers and middle-of-the-road politics.

If the later is true why take the risk of stealing elections? And why manipulate it at all, honesty in the system is the insurance for making loosing an election a learning experience and not a disaster.

Both sides benefits from a large ammount of honesty in the system since that gives a stability one can depend upon for quite some time. Otherwise you end up in the dictators trap, unable to loose the grip on power and get a life in fear until old age catches the individual or organization. If you fuck it up enough neither your grandchildren or young friends will have reasonable future.

This thread is drifting from peak oil. :-(

Disclaimer: I am Canadian. Most Canadians live close to the States so we know a thing or two about the USA.

Anyway, the main thing to remember is that a company will give to both parties as it represents an hedge against the risk of choosing which will win. A company might have a prefered candidate, but why risk all the money on him?

The last decade has also seen great consolidation of the media. This dynamic changes the politics immensely, allowing near perfect suppression of opposing POV and endless repetition of truthiness and propaganda.

The most important element here, however is Bush's absolutely insane lust for power, with a complient public inane enough to think he will step aside in 2008.

This thread is drifting from peak oil. :-(

But it's not.  Stolen Elections would be one of the first signs of PeakOil.

Honest Elections would put actual reps in power
who would do the Common Sense things.

Such as Carter's Malaise Speech.

The Military /Industrial Complex was determined
to keep the Status quo (Redistribution of wealth to the
Top 1%) as long as possible.

Meaning gas guzzling cars/no passenger railroads
and debt/war to lubricate the machine.



It probably didn't affect the outcome of the Texas vote in 2004. But if that happens in the 2006 election, it could matter.

What needs to happen is this: you or someone like you, and the disenfranchised voter, or someone like her, need to hire a lawyer and go downtown and start swearing out affadavits. You may not even need a lawyer. You know all the oaths you signed as an election worker? They are legally binding and taken very seriously.

Of course you and the voter will take a lot of flack from the Dallas County Clerk, but this sort of stuff needs immediate publicity. If possible, keep the election tied up in courts until it's settled. Get the Observer involved; call Laura Miller.

That said, I'm not sure what I'd do in a similar situation.

Note that if it's a deliberate programmed error, which we suspect it was, impounding the machine would accomplish nothing. The troubleshooter would run hardware selftests which would show it in working order.

Hi DIYer,

I no longer live in Texas.

Nevertheless thanks for the suggestions.

At the time the ES&S machines failed, I represented the Martin Frost congressional campaign.

They decided not to pursue legal recourse at the time.

It all boils down to what the candidates want to do.

I think you underestimate the sway Republicans have over large segments of the population.  Where do you live?  If you lived in the midwest, anywhere rural or in the Bible belt you might be less suspicious.  Maybe there really was fraud and not just computer glitches and flukes and maybe that won it for Bush but the democrat/ republican split right now in this country is awfully close to 50-50, that's why a little fraud could go a long way.  There's no way that 20% of the vote was fraudulent.  In my little city of 15,000 people, Bush signs outnumbered Kerry signs 3:2 and we're a city historically composed of lots of blue collar union democrats.  Most people around here are also pro-gun and pro-life, mix that in with a lackluster democratic candiate and you tip the balance for our tiny block of votes for the Republicans.
I think you underestimate the sway Republicans have over large segments of the population.

Merle Haggard has a new tune:
A new Merle Haggard song that's critical of the media's coverage of the war in Iraq

The same Merle who was singing 'love it or leave it' about America.

And Demopublicans laying down with Republicrats
over how the budget is being done.

So.... where is "large segment", because from where I sit as a member of the 103rd fighting keybordists....that segment is shrinking.

Here's your large segment, Bush won over 90% of the U.S. land mass:


I agree that this "large segment" is probably (and hopefully) shrinking but Fox News and Rush Limbaugh aren't exactly going out of busines.  This large segment is found in rural counties, in mega-churches, the military, etc.  Remember by square mileage, Bush won

Here's your large segment, Bush won over 90% of the U.S. land mass:

  1. Land mass can't vote.
  2. Bush was the loser.  The majority of people eligable to vote opted to not select Mr. Bush.

Thanks for trying.  
I'm not saying Bush won the popular vote or even that he should be president, but to pretend that really only 30% of the population votes republican and the other 20% is fraudulent is ridiculous.  

Glad you see that your claim was such.

The reality is that in the last election the overwelming majority did not opt to vote for the present person who claims the mantle of The Presidantacy of the United States.

Also, is it really true that U.S. presidential elections really aren't based on land mass.  Well not exactly, but it is based on ELECTORAL COLLEGE, which is to say land masses called states NOT BY POPULAR ELECTION.
Oour population has so outgrown the number of electors that the electoral college should be unbalanced in favor of the less populous states.  Neverheless, it is the large swing states that everyone campaigns for, not the little ones.
I think that's the real point, ohio, and again florida  were the swing states and also the most controversial in terms of rigging
You are not aware of this, but just as the electoral college favors low population states over high population states, it also favors urban areas over rural areas. Rural people in New York see their electoral college representation go to urban people because of this.
For instance, the Republicans can't win an election without stealing Florida, and Florida hasn't voted Republican (whatever the Supreme Court says) since 1988. The numbers simply aren't there. The first time they lose the governorship in Florida they lose their ability to steal an election and it's all over. Permanent Democratic presidential victories forever.
But the Republicans still have Senate overrepresentation, and parity in the House.
New Merle Haggard Tune Blasts US Media Coverage of Iraq War

 wow! merle's a peaker? this is getting stranger by the minute

I don't even know the Dixie chicks, but I find it an insult for all the men and women who fought and died in past wars when almost the majority of America jumped down their throats for voicing an opinion. It was like a verbal witch-hunt and lynching. Whether I agree with their comments or not has no bearing.... As a country we need to look inward for the answers to the energy of the future. We need to bring down our demands for oil, rebuild some bridges and highways and allow the farmers to grow something that replenishes the soil. Those who don't know what that is, should do some research. The problem is not in Iraq and the answers are not in Iran. I hope were not buried alive beneath this pending financial collapse if the pipeline doesn't get through. Surely everything doesn't depend on oil!

Merle Haggard
June 2003


You are listening too well to your own propaganda.

The Afghan war has gone very well indeed and if it was the ONLY war we had on our hands it would be very easy.

Put the smoke down and listen to reality a bit.

The NYT had a very good graph on Friday that pointed out that the Bush voters travel 10-miles to their job on average, while the Kerry voters travel 6. No need to exaggerate.

TOD is reality based, not fantasy based.

I'm curious what you think the exaggeration was... even if those averages are correct, it seems to me not unreasonable to consider the clearly significant number of people who commute 40 mi or more.

And Afghan war is going well? Certainly it's been nice for Osama who has just released a new recording from his comfy home there. Not that I miss the Taliban, but now it is just U.S. controlled territory harboring the perpetrator of that most aggregious attack against our citizens in 2001.

U.S. controlled territory?  The only part of Afghanistan that's U.S.-controlled is the city of Kandahar.

And how can you miss the Taliban when they're not even gone?

Good points. So I guess consensus is that war is not going well. Can I pick the smoke back up and stop listening to reality now? :-)
Kabul would be better fit than Kandahar.
Exactly what has gone so well about it that couldn't have been achieved by simply bombing the AQ training camps and/or taliban? Opium warlords now control the country outside the immediate confines of Kabul. We turn our head because without the drug trade, there goes 50% of their economy and the civil strife would be a nightmare. We allied with the north, who were simply another faction fighting for control of the drug trade. You get a terrorist sposoring theocracy, or a narco-puppet government. Six one half dozen other.

The poppy crop after we ousted the govt hit record levels after being way down the prior year. The CIA has a proven history in drug running. Mena, Arkansas might ring a bell to you. Russian mafia and/or govt interest also have proven connections to the heroin trade. Convenient, since it's being made practically next door.

Masood was the only guy left fighting the Taliban back in 2000 so (despite him being the major source of poppies in the world) Bush Jr. backed him after the 2000 election and sent in CIA to destabilize the Taliban.
So they hired Al Queda to take out the WTC, the Pentagon, and the Capital in a preemptive strike on us, and Masood himself the day before.
Preemptive war rarely works out for the preemptive side as evidenced by the fact that we killed a lot of Taliban in the next four years. They achieved nothing by their alliance with Al Queda. Even all that extra money from the oil price hike only made the Arab Sheikhs and the Iranian Mullahs rich, which didn't help either Al Queda or the Taliban.
reading your post made me wish...well it made me angry.
until  here "TOD is reality based, not fantasy based."
Then I remembered; there are well over six billion realities on this planet and mine isn't even in the same city as yours. that said thanks for contributing to TOD, as diversity will lead us down the shortest path (maybe)

one more time

Oh that link is sooooo good. Thanks for it!

6 billion realities is good. Let's all do good things so that we can keep as many realities as possible. Doomer I may be, but I have to believe we can keep a lot of realities alive and happy if we work together on the right things rather than consumption, competition, profit, and war.

What a great song.  I bet John Lennon is smiling in heaven (if you Imagine that there is a heaven).
The Afgahn war is going well....

Maybe. But then again, it's Canada in there dying, not the States.

You are listening too well to your own propaganda.
The Afghan war

War?  War?   Please show the actual declartion of War as called for in the Constitution for what you are claiming is a "war".  

TOD is reality based, not fantasy based.

So I look forawrd to your linking to ther Constitutionally correct War decliration.

"...a Prez, VP, and Def Secy, none of whom can be removed"

Has anybody read the fine print on the 'Stop Loss' orders?  How far up the chain of command does it reach?

Looks like it's becoming politically incorrect to drive a gas-guzzler, at least in the U.K.:

David Cameron will tomorrow pose for pictures next to his new government-issue £40,000 hybrid car - but behind the smiles for the camera lurks private grief.

The Tory leader is using his choice of official car for maximum PR advantage, staging a special test drive of his new Lexus GS 450h. No doubt, his transport and environment spokesmen will look on approvingly as Mr Cameron repeats his soundbite that we must all "be the change".

But for Gregory Barker and Chris Grayling, that phrase might strike a discordant note - The Independent on Sunday has learned that both have been forced to sell their private gas-guzzlers.

Mr Barker, Mr Cameron's environment spokesman, waved a regretful farewell to his Porsche Boxster at the beginning of the month. Then, two weeks ago, Mr Grayling, the Tories' transport spokesman, sold his Land Rover Freelander.

They are the latest victims of the political "car wars" raging between the parties as each struggles to be "greener-than-thou".

Maybe people will be bragging "Mine's smaller than yours" soon...

Hilarious. The Boxster probably gets better MPG than the Lexus hybrid. It's a small roadster vs a hybrid SUV.
Whoops the 450h is actually a sedan, but a "high performance, high HP" one.

"The Lexus 450h will be the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class. Its fuel economy will be in the high-20s, similar to the average 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder compact sedan."

The Boxster stats I found had: 21city/29hwy. So, no improvement really.

4x4s have been getting a lot of bad press over here, mostly because some are driven in central London (AKA Chelsea tractors - a comment US readers probably won't get. Chelsea being a very rich area in London with absolutely no connection to the countryside where 4x4's have a reason to be driven) where there is unlikely to be snow, rough terrain or livestock to put in the open top rear of the Land Rover. However, Jeremy Clarkson a very good motoring correspondent, pointed out that a cow contributes more to global warming than a single V8 Range Rover being driven 10,000 miles per year (I think - can't remember the actual mileage per year). Something people might not think about. A cow produces so much (z kilos) methane a day, which is 8 times worst than CO2. A V8 Range Rover being driven x miles per day (10,000 ,or whatever figure JC quoted, divided by 365) produces y kilos of CO2 which is less than the equivalent rating of z kilos of methane. Can't remember the exact figures, hence the x, y and z constants, but the mathematics are valid. His suggestion as a motoring correspondence is to drive the Range Rover and shoot a cow (or a few sheep) a day in compensation to offset the CO2 emissions. Solves the global warming issue, but doesn't do much for the peak oil theory.
Another reason for hatred of 4x4s is that they are very good at killing pedestrians. A fuel economy argument is not the biggest factor in the hatred of 4x4s, at least at the moment. Global warming and pedestrian safety issues are more important in the 4x4 debate than oil depletion per se.
very VERY good at killing pedestrians.

Drivers can't see around themselves whein in an SUV very well, the high seating position seems to encourage aggressive driving, and the type of people who buy SUVs tend to be aggressive and irrational anyway.

I refer you to the book "High And Mighty" about SUVs, it's been out a while now so your library may have it, or on amazon for cheap.

So has this turned Clarkson into a non-beef eating, soya milk only type? I very much doubt it.
Clarkson - a very good motoring correspondant.

That he may be, but he also typifies the glorification of the car culture.  Fast is good, faster is better.  His flip remarks concerning methane from cows are intended to raise a snigger from the worshippers and divert attention from the fact that a Range Rover gulps fuel at up to 17.7 mpg (depending on model).  I look forward to the demise of programmes such as his.

Putting a few figures in there. According to D Adam, D. in 2000 Nature article. How much brown cow?, subscription required but results quoted here
cows in a barn emit 542 litres of methane per day and 600 litres per day in a field. At 25°C methane weighs 0.645g/litre so that works out to 0.351kg/day of methane in a barn and 0.388kg/day in a field.

A land ranger V8 according to the Department of Trade and Industry emits 389g/km of carbon dioxide. 10,000 miles per year  equals 16,100km. That works out at 6,260 kg/year or 17.15kg/day.of carbon dioxide.

Methane is a much stronger absorber of infra-red than carbon dioxide but does not persists in the atmosphere. For the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol gases are rated relative to carbon dioxide by their Global Warming Potential (GWP). According to this site methane  has a GWP of 23. From this you have to subtract the carbon dioxide that was not generated by decay of the grass. This gives a net GWP of 22.
This gives a cow as equivalent to 7.72kg/day in a barn or 8.54kg/day in a field.

A cow is therefore equal less than half a Range Rover. Jeremy Clarkson may be an amusing presenter but he is a fool about hard facts and has neolithic views on the environment pedestrians and cyclists.

That should read Range Rover not land rover
Thank you for providing the figures. I guess it depends on the quoted V8 engine size, 3.9, 4.2, 4.5 or 4.6 litre engine. If the Range Rover drove less than 5,000 miles per year it would be about the same as a cow in the field and driven even less, it would be the same as a cow in the barn. I didn't realise there would be a difference between field and barn based cows. But the point being made is that cars are not the only source of greenhouse gases. Driving any car with a V8 engine is not the best thing for oil depletion, and not good for global warming, but other cars can be just as bad or worse. 4x4s are generally hated in the UK for the environment (read global warming) and pedestrian safety, not for oil depletion which is my point and the point of Leanan's article. Gas-guzzlers producing large quantities of CO2 warming the atmosphere is the articles point, not gas-guzzlers depleting oil reserves quicker than if people cycled instead.

One of the reasons for me cycling and walking most places is to stop paying Brown 70% tax on petrol. I have also noticed some cars are now (past few weeks) being driven slow enough in town to be a nuisance to me on my bicycle, so I have to overtake them going up a slight incline (which indicates how slow they are going) which is the easiest point on the route I take.


I've been feeling guilty about my fuel consumption (and, of course, feeling the pinch of travel costs)

So I thought, What about a hybrid? Smart move surely, and good for my conscience!

Nothing much available off the shelf here in France. I looked at the specs of the Prius, to see how much I would save :
4.3 litres / 100 km: C02 is 104. Costs about 25K euros.

It's bigger than I want. There are no SMALL hybrids around (talking small in Euro terms, mind).

What else could I get... Well, a small Citroen, the C3, will get :
4.3 litres / 100 km : CO2 is 113. Costs about 15K euros.

Oh, did I mention? It's a diesel (like about 40% of private cars in France)

Suddenly I understand why nobody buys hybrids in Europe :

Nobody's making them to European specs, and they're barely competitive in consumption with diesel anyway.

My impression of hybrid technology is that it works independant of wehicle size exept for small wehicles where the overhad weight and space gets large compared to the effect. This minimum size should shrink as the technology is refined.

But it is important how the wehicle is used. It is obviously best for stop and go traffic such as in congested cities, busses and manny kinds of heavy work machines. And you have other bonuses if the drive train is electric.

There are no technical problem with combining a diesel engine with hybrid technology. We will probably get hybrid wehicles over almost the whole scale of wehcle sizes and types and then plug in wehicles.

You're right, it is important to remember that you can hybridize cars with different fuels.  CNN ran that "you were warned" show last night and the GM CEO prattled on about ethanol being more important than hybrids.  He (hopefully) knows that you can make an ethanol-hybrid, but wants to drive this idea that gasoline-hybrids are in opposition to other fuels (diesels, etc.).

For what it's worth, these guys ran a 2003 Prius on E85 and report higher HP and lower emissions.  That's a bit of Prius abuse because there is no guarantee that the fuel system components will not disolve in ethanol.  Still, it is an interesting proof-of-concept:


The Prius can now be retrofitted for CNG.
Fill er up with Biogas and you run CO2 free. All I´m waiting for now is the plug in version.

follow the link:

When I was first reading about Hybrids in the early-90's, I saw a Volvo (I recall) Brochure for new prototypes which had a multifuel hybrid concept using a high-speed turbine directly running (same shaft, no gearing) an alternator, and the drive system was all-electric.  Regen Brakes, etc, etc..

Wondered if any of the gearheads had followed the path of this form of Hybridization.  I liked the simplicity, but don't know if the turbine was too noisy, finicky, whatever..


The small diesels are great, we just have a different trade-off in the states, and moreso here in California.

I think our "impact safety" restrictions keep vehicle weight up, and emission restrictions keep those diesels out.

Given that "everybody drives" diesels there, that's probably what I'd choose too.

Read about this on UrbanSurvival.com site:

Lormo  auto gets 157 miles to the gallon of diesel.

I'd settle for one hundred miles per gallon for a bigger car so I can get a wider field of view through the windshield. This guy trys too hard.
thank you for that...

honestly, if it were available, I'd buy one tomorrow.
2009 they say... 11000 euros they say... we'll see.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist by temperament, but objectively, car manufacturers conspire to over-dimension what they sell us. Renault make a cheapish family car in Slovakia for the eastern European market. No frills, no electronics, robust for bad roads. My ex-wife wanted one, she got it in the end, but there was a three-month waiting list. If they made it easily available in France, they would be undercutting themselves as well as the competition.

Moral of the story: the car industry have the technology to halve fuel consumption, and substantially lower purchase prices, but not one of the big companies has the guts to make the first move, because when they do, they will downsize the whole industry, which is hideously over-dimensioned.

When I got rid of my BMW 540i/6 last summer, the choice was between a hybrid, a Jetta TDI and a Smart car.  I loved the Smart, but since we still have one child at home it just didn't have enough room, so we'd have had to keep a second vehicle anyway.  They are apparently extremely safe, and you just can't beat the cuteness.  

I looked into hybrids, but the total life cycle energy cost for manufacturing, operation and disposal was unclear, and the marketing left me more than a little suspicious that there were hidden costs.

So I went with a used Jetta TDI, and I'm very pleased.  I'll likely never drive a gasser again.  Once the last kid is gone and I've put the requisite half-million kilometers on the Jetta (at the rate I drive that should be in about 30 years...), I'll probably look at the Smart car again.

Nope the Prius is not a small car - it's a midsize, and in terms of carrying capability the only way to get more room is to go to a minivan or truck with a topper. Or a Lincoln Town car, I've driven those and they're really roomy - if you're ever traveling with a group and need lots of room, you can come out better renting one of those than the minivan the rental places offer.

Small would be like the Honda Insight, they're really the mileage kings and about the room inside of a Mini Cooper.

And even in the U.S., smaller cars are in:

Four cylinders power up in popularity

NEW YORK -- After years of wooing customers to big, asphalt-scorching engines, automakers are starting to think small again as gas prices rise.

More buyers are showing interest in economical four-cylinder engines rather than those with thirstier six or eight cylinders, said executives at USA TODAY's Automaker Roundtable.

"We have seen some shift, and we are reacting to it as fast as we can," said Mark LaNeve, General Motors' North American marketing chief.

I smell demand destructing...

Ain't it great?

As I said the the guy at the gas station on the corner, this ain't a gas crisis. When I see lots of scooters, bicycles, bus ridership up, etc then I'll call it a gas crisis.

Check out all the new cars (just out at the recent auto shows) sporting 400+ horsepower engines.

Not everyone is on board yet.  You can bet some of these will sell (to people who can afford a $100,000 cadillac, poor gas mileage is not a concern)

    The Dems had better hang tis one on W neck,and any supprter of this administration.If they dont,odds are it will mousetrap them.I expect somekind of major upset/attack ect. as it looks so grim for incumbents something has to happen.
The standard game would be for the Republicans to blame environmentalists for high prices ... and within their core they can demonize those environmentalists.  I hope the middle doesn't buy it.
You may be right, odograph.

At the rural coffee shop this morning the quote was: "There's lots of oil in the ground if the damned environmentalists would just let them drill for it."

Sorry I know this is off-topic, but thought this would be of interest:

Chávez Plans to Take More Control
Of Oil Away From Foreign Firms
WSJ, April 24, 2006; Page A1

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is planning a new assault on Big Oil, potentially taking a major step toward nationalization of Venezuela's oil industry that could hurt oil-company profits, reduce production and put further pressure on global oil prices.

Venezuela's Congress, made up entirely of Mr. Chávez's allies, is considering sharply raising taxes and royalties on foreign companies' operations in the Orinoco River basin, the country's richest oil deposit. Major oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips of the U.S. and Total SA of France have invested billions of dollars there to turn the basin's characteristically tar-like oil into some 600,000 barrels a day of lighter, synthetic crude.

Mr. Chávez, a left-wing populist who favors greater state control of the economy, also wants to seize majority control of the four Orinoco projects and force private companies who run them to accept a minority stake, according to a top executive at state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA.

The moves would up the ante in Mr. Chávez's long-running battle with foreign oil companies, which he accuses of making outsize profits amid high oil prices at the expense of a poor nation. The stakes are high because Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, holds the world's biggest oil reserves outside the Middle East and is the third-biggest supplier of crude to the U.S.

The Orinoco plan mirrors the terms of a recent takeover by PdVSA of some 32 smaller conventional oil-production projects previously run by private companies. That effort culminated in the seizure of two fields run by Total and Italy's ENI SpA. Yesterday, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Venezuela has no plans to compensate Total and ENI for the lost fields.

If the latest initiative succeeds, it would eliminate the country's remaining privately managed oil fields.

"We would like all of the [Orinoco] associations to migrate to mixed companies," said Eulogio del Pino, the executive in charge of PdVSA's relations with private companies, in an interview published Saturday in Venezuelan newspaper El Universal. Mixed company is the government's term for an enterprise in which it owns 51%.

Under terms of the government's plan, oil royalties in the Orinoco region also would rise to 30% from the current 16.7% and taxes would jump to 50% from 34%. Higher royalties translate into less revenue for private companies and taxes take a bite out of their remaining profits.

Action could come as soon as this week, when the country's lawmakers are scheduled to review the results of a congressional investigation into the country's decision in the 1990s to open up parts of the oil industry to private investment. That policy has been steadily rolled back by Mr. Chávez.

Oil companies reacted cautiously to the latest signals from Caracas. A spokesman for ConocoPhillips declined to comment, and Exxon Mobil spokesman Mark Boudreaux said: "It's not uncommon for us to have difficult issues that we have to work with the government to resolve, and we take a long-term view of that."

Any final congressional action could be weeks or months away, but analysts expect lawmakers to take a tough line against foreign companies ahead of December elections, in which Mr. Chávez is running for a third term.

Whatever the final plan adopted by Congress, any move against the Orinoco projects would have significant effects, both on the global market and on the dynamics of Venezuela's oil industry.

For starters, it could cost oil companies like ConocoPhillips billions of dollars in lost profits. The big Houston-based company has a controlling stake in two of the four existing Orinoco projects, an investment value of about $7.5 billion, according to Deutsche Bank.

The four projects cost a total of about $17 billion to set up, but are valued at much more these days because of the high price of oil. On Friday, oil prices rose $1.48 to settle at $75.17 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

At a time when new oil supplies are harder to find, Venezuela's moves could also slow the development of what is believed to be one of the world's largest remaining pools of oil. Venezuela says the Orinoco's 235 billion barrels of extra-heavy crude make the Andean nation's reserves the largest in the world, a claim that hasn't been independently verified.

Less investment means less oil reaching international markets in coming years, keeping pressure on prices. Growing output from the Orinoco area has recently been making up for a decline in production elsewhere in Venezuela, where exports are falling about 1% a year.

"The stakes are clearly rising in this game because of the value of the Orinoco projects," said Paul Sankey, an oil company analyst at Deutsche Bank in New York.

When oil prices were low in the mid-1990s, Venezuela opened up its industry to private companies in a bid to ramp up production to produce more revenue. But as the price of oil has gone up, the profitability of the private companies' investments has risen, as has Mr. Chávez's incentive to claim more of the spoils.

The Orinoco area was identified as a vast source of oil as far back as the 1920s, but development there didn't start until the late 1990s. In contrast to conventional fields, the oil deposited in the area is so thick it is as much a solid as a liquid. Because processing the oil is costly and complicated, Venezuela initially gave foreign companies favorable terms: Under the original contracts, the companies paid a 34% tax rate and a modest 1% royalty on their Orinoco projects.

But Mr. Chávez has been changing the rules of the oil game since taking power in 1999. In 2001, his government tightened the terms on new investments in conventional oil fields, cutting the tax take to 50% from 67% but raising royalties to 30% from 16.7%, as well as limiting private companies to a minority stake. In 2004, the government unilaterally raised the royalty on the Orinoco heavy-oil projects to 16.7% from 1%.

Last year, the Venezuelan leader angered oil companies by ruling that the non-heavy-oil projects signed in the 1990s -- some 32 conventional oilfield deals -- had to retroactively comply with the 2001 law, forcing the companies to hand over a greater share of the profits as well as give up control over the fields.

Now it appears the Orinoco projects are back on the target list. Rodrigo Cabezas, the head of the influential congressional finance committee, said he will present a report this week on all of Venezuela's 1990s oil deals. The report contains a chapter on the Orinoco projects and also includes personal attacks on former officials responsible for offering cut-rate taxes to foreign firms.

"There are moral and political sanctions against those who managed the oil opening," Mr. Cabezas said in an interview.

Some of the companies pumping heavy oil in the Orinoco basin are already calculating 2006 tax payments based on the higher tax rates.

If Venezuela raises taxes and royalties as well as reducing private companies' stakes in the four Orinoco projects, it will cost oil companies dearly. According to recent estimates by Deutsche Bank and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, changing the terms of the Hamaca project alone to comply with the 2001 law would cost ConocoPhillips an estimated $4 billion in lost profits over the life of the project. In that project, ConocoPhillips has a 40% stake, together with a 30% stake for Chevron Corp. and a 30% stake for PdVSA.

So far, Mr. Chávez's moves against private companies have provoked a limited response. Exxon Mobil sold out of one of its 32 operating deals, rather than submit to the new conditions and Total and ENI also resisted, leading to the recent seizures. But analysts have said foreign companies need Venezuela's reserves too much to abandon the nation altogether.

"Some oil companies may walk away, but others will stick around because they need Venezuela's reserves," said Matthew Shaw, a Wood Mackenzie analyst. Besides, he added, because of high prices the oil companies have been making much more money off the heavy-oil projects than they initially expected.

Write to David Luhnow at david.luhnow@wsj.com and Peter Millard at peter.millard@dowjones.com

It's not off-topic; this is an open thread.

Next time, though, you might want to link to the article and quote only a few paragraphs.  Copyright issues, not to mention it being a lot to scroll through.

From a purely climate change point of view anything which slows the development of all this heavy oil must be good. Not really what Chavez has in mind I'm sure, but a pretty good illustration of the conflict between trying to continue with oil as much as possible and the external consequences. Pretty "bullish" for oil prices though as they say on Wall Street.
If it goes through, a military or response (covert or overt) looks very likely.
A military occupation of Venezuela is likely to be a debacle like Iraq. OK, the military gets crushed by ours in short order, like Iraq. But unlike Iraq, an insurgency will not be bickering between factions. Chavez supporters as insurgents would be popular with the populace.

The result is that the insurgents will fight occupying forces with undivided attention. Worse, such an attack is liable to create Hispanicist terrorism! Since there are guerrillas all over in Latin America, an "El Quaeda" could easally crop up, complete with an "Osama del Laden". Creating Hispanicist terrorism would be a big mistake, what with a nearly open border for the terrorists to get through - and blend in with existing immigrants. There are some ruthless Hispanic gangs, what with the illegal drug industry, and don't forget they know about IEDs. Between cocaine and heroin production, no telling if the Hispanicists merge with the Islamists to fight a common enemy - us.

That leaves us with a coup option, one of which already failed. Surely, Hugo has taken precautions to make subsequent attempts harder. The only option is we learn to live with Hugo, lest we make matters against us a lot worse.

Bill Schneider, CNN's political analyst, had his car siphoned.  He said he parked his car at the airport, and when he came back from his trip, there was no gas in his car.  He said it was like the '70s all over again.  He warned CNN viewers to get a locking gas cap.  (He didn't have one.)

Dunno how much good locking gascaps do.  They're made of cheap plastic these days, and are easily broken off.  Plus, some people at PeakOil.com said back in the '70s, if they couldn't get the gascap off, they'd just punch a hole in the gastank and drain the gas that way.  

Hopefully no one will be interested in the pocket-sized gastank of my little car...

Born in 1976, I am glad to remember vaguely the late 70's ... mostly just the very pretty beads hanging in curtains even in the local Wendy's fast food restaurant.
If they're gonna be ciphoning the gas again, I for one want the beads back.
I'm not sure I would love all of Bill's politics ... he is MSM at any rate ... but I do get a strangely likeable vibe off the guy.
And have you noticed? Oil prices have plummeted to $74.63, so perhaps we can relax now.

Just curious - what kind of car do you drive? I have an 02 Subaru Impresa OBS.

I have to get to work in bad weather (meteorologist), which is how I justify the gas milage which runs 23 city 30 highwyay.

I hope to get a used 06 Civic in about a year if I can find one.



I have a Toyota Corolla.  Sold my aging Ford Taurus last year, and gave serious consideration to going car-free, but it's just not possible around here.  Too many speeding SUVs, too much snow and ice, not enough public transportation.  So I bought a Corolla.  Small, cheap, reliable.  

I expect this to be the last car I own.  If the gas stations go dry this year, well, at least I didn't spend too much on a car.  If the happy motoring lifestyle continues on, I figure I can drive this car 20 years or more, until I retire.  (I don't drive much.)

Thought about buying a hybrid, but they cost more money, and I wasn't sure how reliable they'd prove to be over the long haul.  Since I only drive 3,000 miles a year at most, it just didn't seem worth paying a premium for a hybrid.  

I don't have a locking gascap, but the Corolla comes with a gas door that can only be opened from inside the car.  I'm sure judicious use of a crowbar could get it open...but hopefully, would-be thieves will be more tempted by the monster Expeditions and Monteros in the next row.

I am debating leaving my 11-year-old car at work, and biking from home, thus having the car available for unanticipated meetings.  But, this car doesn't have a locking cap and local kids use the lot for skateboarding in the evening. Except for security, it makes perfect sense.
Buy a locking gascap.  They're only a few bucks.  It doesn't have to be bulletproof, just enough of a deterrent that they siphon someone else's car.  ;-)
Back in Year 2000, when gas prices started their climb, I got a locking gas cap and affixed a hasp and padlock to the little door. The idea, obviously, is to get the syphoner to find an easier target, like that big fat Ford Expedition. A "DIESEL" sticker is a nice syphoner deterrent.

The ultimate deterrent would be a gas-turbine car that burns half gas, half Diesel. Useable only in gas turbines, it will not work in any piston engine. Sure, the syphoner gets his fuel, but his car dies in short order!

Put a big "Ethanol" sticker on it. ;-)
lol i hope your joking!

cause the last thing a bunch of kids hanging around down the skate park want to get their hands on is a couple of litres of ethanol... ;-)

If you want to keep up the biking, dont have the easy way out (way home) at hand... You´ll be tempted for the quick ride home and next morning wont have the bike at your door.

Leaving the car at home you can afford an occasional taxi when needed, the price tag will keep you motivated for biking.

Anyway thats my approach, doing 2*26km from april to ice.

Motivation is not a problem, I simply have a job where I usually stay in the office all day, but may have to drive to a meeting at any time.  I don't have to drive at all in the evenings, so why have a car at home?  I guess I'll pick up a locking gas cap somewhere.

And my folding bike easily fits in the trunk. :-)

Your vehicle choice is very well thought out Leanan.
I ... gave serious consideration to going car-free, but it's just not possible around here.  Too many speeding SUVs, too much snow and ice, not enough public transportation.
Here in Manhattan it's actually cheaper and less frustrating to go car free than to have a car, probably one of the few places in the United States where that's the case.

It's getting around the suburbs that's the problem. So I bought a folding bike last weekend with the idea that I could fold it up and take it on the train. But I don't like the bike very much. It's too heavy to be a good piece of luggage and too small to be an enjoyable good ride. I want to sell it on eBay and try again. Does anybody have any recommendations for a good model?

Yes, I love Manhattan's public transportation system.  And my sister lived in Boston for four years without a car.  

We had a discussion about folding bikes a few weeks ago.  (I am looking for one, too - an electric one.)

If a light bike that quickly folds up is what you want, check out Dahon.  They make very light bikes that fold up in flash.

This looks like a good shop:


... maybe you know of others.  I don't have a folding bike but I know it's nice to try a few bikes before you buy - until you get one that just feels right.

Here's the thread where we discussed folding bikes:


Just out of curiosity, which folding bike did you get and not like?  Can't you return it for store credit, or something?
Thanks all for the comments.  I'll have to study this at greater length. I got a Zport ZP2005UST. It would certainly be a better ride if I was shorter. (I'm 6'0".) If I don't decide to sell it, I'll modify the seat pole to make it taller, which would improve the ride. My girlfriend liked hers though.  (She's shorter.)
Oh, and part of the problem was that I didn't buy it at a "store" in the conventional sense. I bought it off a guy who was selling bikes out of one of those mini-storage facilities. Passing the savings on to me, I suppose. If I returned the bike, I'm not sure what I'd buy with a credit.
Thanks Leanan. Wow, 3,000/year! I'm impressed. Certainly in your case a hybrid would be overkill. I'm embarrased to say how much I drive. Though living in a newer southern US city, there is simply no other way to go about one's life. It really is a culture of gasoline down here.

I envy folks who have put themselves (or found themselves) in urban areas that support that kind of low energy footprint. Well, urban areas that aren't sinking into the ocean, but that's another topic :)

Talked the Nieghbors today,  Sunday is cook out day around here.  I planted a tree with one nieghbor.  While earlier the other side cringed as I put the hot fatty pork chop on a pile of bigger mulberry leaves so it would not burn my hand,  only to have him cringe more when after I got down to the bone, I ate a few of the saucey mulberry leaves.  His wife just smiled, knowing why I ate them.  Most of them think I am the crazy guy that lives next door.  Not afraid to eat plants our of their or my yard, offering them advice on how to deal with the flying stinger missles otherwise known as bees and wasps.  The nickname my Girlfriend calls me is now common knowledge and readily approved of amount them,  "Bear".  Mainly cause I eat like one and am pretty big and strong like one.  On our limited budgets we have helped each other with gas and food over the last several months.  The Energy "Tough Summer" Is going to kill some folks, and make others just not trust any politician at all.  I am thinning my to take items to a Bare min. and Hopeing the Gas to get up to Colorado does not strap so much that I end up walking.

The Tough Summer is going to see the housing bubble explode, and the Recession come into full swing, but the numbers will be hidden and we will have a great time till sometime next year when the reality of it all hits home.  In the mean time, the world gets that much more populated and that much more filled with folks wanting to live the American dream of Consume till you drop.

Dude, call me paranoid but I've had a locking gas cap for years now... Checker sells them for about the price of 4, no wait 3, well soon 2 gallons of gas.

Seriously, summer driving will be tough, and the government is flat out lying if they say they can do nothing about it. That statement is so ludacris I won't even debate it.

However I will suggest we quit worrying about this Ethanol bullshit. So what if MTBE seeps into groundwater... we're already gonna get cancer from all the coal powerplants or die from birdflu first. Seriously, I don't see as burning 15% more gasoline or other additive would harm the environment that much, especially just for summer... we don't have enough oil left in the world to really cause global warming.

Unless... we put the MTBE in the BIRDS' drinking water, throw the coal at them, and kill two birds with one ...
Maybe not enough oil, but plenty of coal. We get to watch the Arctic Circle melt!
Yeah, gonna be a tough summer for young adults looking for work with gas likely 3.50 and up. Think of the large amount of discretionary spending being diverted from the normal monetary flow and impact on the velocity of money throughout the macro economy. That's around $1/gal more Y/Y, and at 400M gallons consumed daily, we get the figure of $146B--not counting the other distillates, diesel and jet fuel for example--sucked from the monetary system over a year. Clearly in some areas, this sort of capital drain when combined with the large amount of downsizing has the local economy mired in an endless recession. I'd also mention that the firing-up of the immigrants with the most recent draconian-racist legislative proposal could lead to a long hot summer--the likes of which haven't been seen since the 1960s. And of course we should sprinkle in another thousand tornadoes and however many dozen tropical storms between now and election day in November. Here on the Oregon coast its time to plant the garden. Our ocean wave energy project's construction continues, biodiesel distribution and production grows, and I'm ready to start a project producing ethanol from  forest-related biomass on a small--20,000 gallon--basis to promote small town/rural enegy independence.

Th Clock is ticking.

I just finished reading (new edition) Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies. Fantastic. I shall certainly have to pick up a copy of Powerdown now too.

I think that he is making the case which is similar to the conclusion that I have come to that our present economic system is designed in a way that cannot handle the coming oil decline in a reasonable way. He seems to avoid suggesting an alternative though, and perhaps he envisions many small tribes on barter systems as I do.

He seems to belive that we might somehow mangage a controlled population reduction to carrying-capacity through some kind of regulation of birth rate without any particular plan of how to do so. I hope some brilliant person does think of something in this regard because a messy loss of 4 billion people is the real horrendous part of peak oil with most other results being very beneficial. For instance, I might even be sleeping right now if it weren't for all these electric lights and computer.

If you liked Heinberg, I believe you'd also enjoy "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" by Thom Hartmann.

A wonderful book that sees the Big Picture. Endlessly fascinating.

I swear by H&H. Heinberg and Hartmann, you can't go wrong with those two.
From the WaPo 'Leaders Question Gasoline Prices'

How do you like this guy:

"The speaker is very concerned about compensation packages given to executives like Raymond at a time when families are facing choices between putting food on the table and filling their car with gasoline," Bonjean said.

I have a vague feeling that if I have to choose between food and gas, I might choose the food ...

... and cycle to work, saving app $6000 a year, although I realize that cycling is very Un-American and supports The Terrorists.

I think as per AAA figures, going without a car would save you $13k in after-tax dollars. Cycling and walking (yeah walking to the bus stop is ok) instead probably pays at least that in health benefits.
Cycling to work is not an option for everyone.  And if you don't go to work, you can't buy food anyway.
I hope this isent a silly question:

What is the american way of life?

Ah, that to which they refer as non-negociable... I think it is to believe and act so that those who have more money deserve more, and those who have some money deserve a lot, and those who have no money deserve nothing.

If we point out that Europeans have more vacation and free time, we are reminded that only by working as much as possible and surrendering the surplus value of our labor to the capitalist owners do we earn any right to exist at all.

Also to clarify for any non-American who would wonder why we would not revolt against a system like this is that if we question anything, they shout "Communist" at us, which is generally seen by Americans as somewhat more morally reprehensible than bestiality, but slightly less offensive than cannibalism.

I am paid less per hour by my employer than the price of a gallon of gasoline, and it is important that I smile as constantly as possible lest I be taken for a subversive.

Despite my attempts to look contented and try not to question the "system," the Department of Homeland Security has requested a copy of my credit report, and most Americans try to stay as quiet as possible given this kind of intimidation.

Might be worth it to review your purchases. If DHS is developing "profiles" from a data-mining exercise... something you bought or somewhere you patronized might have triggered interest.

Eating at the Falafel Palace again?
Buying prepaid cellular minutes?

You gotta believe DHS has someone reading here...

No kids to kidnap here, they'll move right along.
2 cars, 2 children: boy and girl, a dog, 1400fts home, one acre lot with 100 feet to the road.  Oak trees planted in the 10ft border between the the sidewalk and the curb.  A garden in the back, and a hedge.  Standard "Leave It To Beaver stuff we haven't really seen since the 50's.
No, I think it's more like...3 kids, at least 3 gigantic SUVs, one 3500 square foot house on a 1/4 acre lot (developer chopped land into smallest bits possible for larger profits). No oak trees--these were bulldozed under when subdivision was developed. No garden or hedge, just water-thirsty grass.  At least a 20 mile round trip to nearest grocery store, church, shopping center, 30 miles or more to work, uncountable hours spent in traffic jams. Oh, and loads of debt.
Ah, but the subdivision is probably called "100 Oaks" or "Shady Grove" in memory of the trees that were once there, though none remain today.
CRJ -- I'm interested in Costa Rica.  Could you provide me with some contact info so we could get in touch?  My email address is in my profile.


Sometimes a lot more than 30 miles to work:

The Long and Grinding Road

The rat race is turning into a marathon. Inside the lives of 'extreme commuters.'

...The drive to get away from it all is turning us into a nation of nomads. As we're pushed to the edge of civilization by runaway home prices and a longing for wide-open spaces, the daily rat race is turning into a marathon. "Extreme commuters" who travel more than 90 minutes to work, one way, are the fastest-growing group of commuters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 3.4 million commuters take that long road to work every day, double the rate of extreme commuters in 1990. And the fastest-growing departure time is now between 5 and 6 a.m. Even $3-a-gallon gas and growing gridlock aren't slowing the rise of this group, which is changing the way we live as we spend more time in our cars and less time in our communities. This endless commute is becoming the defining characteristic of the 21st-century working stiff. So much of what we worry about today--volatile real-estate prices, sleeplessness, our overstressed lives--all merge together on the road, as we search for the elusive simple life in some suburban Shangri-La. "We're obsessed with the commute," says Joy Mander, 42, a nurse who drives 45 miles to work the over-night shift at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif. "How much is it worth to own your own home if you end up spending four hours on the road and not playing with your kids, not sleeping enough and rotting in traffic?"

Good question!

Let me have a try at this, been a 'murrikan all my life.

It seems to involve:

(1) Increasing standard of living over time
(1a) So if yours isn't, you're doing something wrong, work harder!

(2) Freedom to strive upward, if your daddy was a shoemaker, you can be a rocket scientist
(2a) Hence, if you're daddy's a shoemaker, there's something wrong with you if that's all you want to be also. And Heaven forbid your daddy's a rocket scientist and you want to be a shoemaker! Strive, dammit!

(3) God, the Christian God, has blessed us as a Nation and others' rules don't apply to us.
(3a) No shit. People really think that here, although mostly subconsciously. Europe etc the old countries we came from experienced genocidal wars, starvation, etc and the resources in the new (to us) continent were so rich, this belief seemed to match reality for most of our country's history. Surprise! We're not any different from the Romans, the Easter Islanders, the Norse.... and as far as that goes, well.... don't get me started on the experiences of the Indians.

(4) It is bad to deprive yourself. It is psychologically unhealthy and you'll probably become a serial killer or something Really Bad For Society if you don't go on ahead and indulge! Our literature is full of examples, some of them actually real, of people who were deprived or deprived themselves and then went on to do horrible things. So have that donut, if you feel like the whole box you probably need it, deprivation is bad!
(4a) Just look at all the spoiled, obese, debt-ridden Americans......

(5) We live in a class-less society.
(5a) Orwell would love this one, we live in a society that's becoming very class stratified, but we're taught from birth to never talk about it. Or think about it. Just know your place.

(6) Growth Is Good! Growth for Growth's sake! Grow, grow, grow!
(6a) Growth for growth's sake is the ethics of a cancer cell - hope I got the Edward Abbey quote right. The idea of growth turning around, actually reversing, horrifies Americans - even some very green types. The idea of gearing back, really gearing back, is hard for get one's fat Americans head around - for instance I think up the idea of experimenting with making shoes myself, out of bike tires etc., and I can't help thinking of how they'd be marketed all over the country etc etc which is of course ..... evil and wrong. If I make 'em I'll be making 'em for my own group or village, and certainly not fulltime. And my pay will be in goat milk or something. Anyway, growth is bad, mmKay?

These are just some of what I think are the underlying beliefs behind The American Way Of Life.

"Growth for growth's sake is the ethics of a cancer cell"

Is that quote yours? It's brillant.
No! It's a quote by EDWARD ABBEY now drop and give me 20 pushups and go out and read all his books!
   you had asked earlier about how America went through the oil shocks - the short answer is that the oil shocks were just a quick phase, like disco, which America was able to completely shrug off while returning to the American Way Of Life under Reagan's morning in America - a reference to a political ad campaign - after the nightmare of the oil shocks/Jimmy Carter, America woke up, rubbed the sleep out of its eyes, and kept living as before. The rest of the world actually invested in efficiency/conservation, and planning for a future with less liquid fossil fuels, but Americans didn't fall for such socialist/ecological extremist nonsense, and they kept living pretty much the same way.

But what is the 'American Way Of Life?' Ah, that is a good question, which I will try my best to answer without much commentary -

  1. Hollywood and its various products present a fairly clear view of the American Way Of Life - good always beats evil, the heroes are always rescued/rewarded, the bad are always punished. And the good can do everything the bad does, except when the good does it, it is OK.  
  2. The term has no real meaning, unless you are attempting to sell something, whether a product or a politician
  3. Mobility is a major bedrock of what the American Way Of Life represents
  4. Another major component is that the future is always better, present results are the only true measure of value, and the past is generally worth merely being forgotten.
  5. The American Way Of Life is for winners - and anyone who doesn't live it is either a loser (generally their own fault) or crazy, by definition, since the American Way Of Life is superior (see point 2 to understand this)
  6. The American Way Of Life is considered so superior, it is assumed that the entire world is desperate to live exactly the same way. (Trust me, Americans seem not to comprehend that European societies/economies are a matter of choice - Europeans expect health care, vacation time, and various rules governing what employers can do to workers. Americans think these things exist here merely because Europeans are stuck in the past, and as soon as they are able, they will live the American Way Of Life.)
  7. The American Way Of Life is about to collide with reality in a way that Europeans are unlikely to understand, though German resentment against losing WWI might give you a fair idea. And no, I am not saying how it will turn out, merely that the contrast between belief and reality will be roughly the same as in Germany at that time - several generations brought up secure in the utter superiority of Germany and its social system had to confront the reality that the entire structure they grew up in had been splintered, and the life they were currently living was the result - and that life, after the essentially senseless death and maiming of millions of young men, involved mass hunger and unemployment, total economic collapse, and a sense that 'Siegerjustiz' (not so easily translated - victor/winner justice doesn't quite cover it - try more something like 'the victor rules') and being stabbed in the back by 'them' was the reason for all the misery they suffered.

I think Americans, being normal human beings, will attempt to blame everything else for the failure of the American Way Of Life, instead of considering it to have been as stultifying and flawed as Wilhelmine Germany was in its last couple of decades. And they will not understand the Schadenfreude of so many other people in the world, since the idea of 'just desserts' disappeared from applying to anybody but the bad guys a long time ago, and since the American Way Of Life is only followed by good people, the confusion at why such bad things are happening exactly to those who followed it most blindly will be extreme (see point 1 - for example, when the American Navy shoots down an Iranian airliner, it is a tragic mistake which was really Iran's fault anyways, because they are bad). That just about sums up the American Way Of Life, though I am sure some people will have other ideas.
This is probably a good run down.

I would also say the notion of the "Rugged Individualist" (thinkn the Marlboro man, cowboy on the frontier, etc.) is central to the "American Way of Life". It is an exhaulted and romanticised figure in American entertainment and history. Tangential to this is the belief that you personally can do anything you want in life (whether or not that is acatully true is a wider discussion). Furthermore, you shouldn't need anyone's help, indeed real winners don't need anyone's help. I remember be told growing up how every needed to be a "leader". Of course, everybody being a leader doesn't make much sense, but there you go.

This does perhaps foster a sense of isolation, but does fuel keeping-up-with-Joneses consumerism, being a rather indulgent sort of mindset.

All of this is of course a huge, sometimes unfair, generalization, but it is an undercurrent you feel.

The American Way Of Life is AWOL - if you have any time left after reading TOD, this essay argues the point quite cogently. But not at all briefly :)
Anyway, after all, the truth is, I just like my life as it is here in America.  
Today in my stunningly  powerful automobile  sweeping along the beautifully banked, oh so perfectly banked  country roads curving and swinging and sailing along fast, so fast moving with the road, the engine thrumming with the thrust of its powerful engine blasting my Sirius radio   feeling invincible,  pampered and powerful...
I can't help it.  Its who I am.  I like it.   I am an American .  

Amd I do so love speeding  along our beautiful highways guzzling gas on such a lovely day.

A gocart gives a lot of the same feeling. If you can not do it with lots of power, do it with a small ammount of raw power.
Yeah,  but gocarts don't have airbags
Souped up mopeds and small motorcycles are even more fun, just wear leathers.
I think it's more fun to sweep down a dirt road on a mountain bike, but maybe that's an acquired taste ;-)
Well, when I do the same thing, I like the speed to be around 100mph, but then I ride a motorcycle and live in Germany.

And quite honestly, the cars here are better built, the roads are better maintained, and the drivers aren't as stupid.

But hey, gas in Germany is twice as expensive, so I guess America is still number 1, right?

 But Germans in fine mercedes speeding on autobahn are negotiable, me and my SUV on I-85 are not! :-)

 I have driven the autobahn, would say stupidity of drivers about equal.

You are quite right - Germans do think that driving a car is not as important as the lives of their children being bled out in some desert or jungle so someone else can keep driving. Which is why they count on people like you to send your children so they don't have to - see, they don't care about other people either. Even better, they plan to have people like you buy whatever efficient cars Germans are building in 10 years, after Ford and GM go bankrupt. And to top it all off, they are already using less oil so you can use more, since Germans do understand what finite means in reality, and have been planning and working to deal with it since the 1970s.

Realpolitik and Weltanschauung are German words, after all.

I will grant that human stupidity is pretty evenly distributed world wide, but will not grant that Germans are worse drivers in the eyes of someone who rides on two wheels.

Geez Expat, chill.
Obviously it was a joke.

No one in his right mind believes
 US lifestyle "not negotiable."
Lighten up man.

At it's core the American way of life is about making money and consumption (of anything and everything).  It was not always that way, or at least it was once about more than that, but that's pretty much all that's left.
Don't be so hard on America. This is also the Chinese way of life (they might be better at it). If you think the American way of life is based on consumption and pollution, you ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until China leads the world.
Your comparison to the Chinese is valid, as they appear to have flipped their original ideals on their heads as well.  But we originally had some ideas about freedom, etc.  Funny how, even starting form different ends, we both meet in the middle, where money and power are everything.   And that's because both have been corrupted by the same beast.

For us, this cancer began in a fabricated (illegal and illegitimate) 1886 court ruling in Santa Clara, that granted corporations the same rights as humans.  Because corporations have far more wealth and resources than  humans, and are not limited by the lifespan of humans, they now essentially enjoy rights far greater than that of people.  Because these corporations work as tools of the very wealthy, then that transfers these "super -rights" to them.

This lead to the Robber Barons and the Gilded Age, and eventually to the Great Depression, where the New Deal knocked it into remission for a while.  But it never went away, and all parts of the American life are now infected.  And we are now enslaved again to the "Powers That Be".  Serf's up!

Oh yes, the most ardent consumers by far are the new immigrants from Asia, they're like Americans were in the 1950s and early 60s - big cars, the more packaged food the better, spend spend spend, the latest fashions, etc. There's a shopping mall here (Vallco) which is kind of the Asian shopping mall, there are very few non-Asian stores in there and it's amazing. The prices for some lousy little folded over crepe with some fruit in it are outrageous, there's a big sushi buffet place (Todai) that's no doubt good but too expensive for me to feel like going in, it's all you can eat but I just can't gorge enough to make it worthwhile. (I always get "all I can eat" at the local sushi boat place and last time hadn't eaten all day and still only spent $13.) The level of consumerism is higher than native born white Americans feel like keeping up with - we're too thrifty these days. Our idea of a good time is a deal on some needed tools (these hyper-consumer Asians wouldn't be caught dead wrenching on their Lexi) and maybe afterward taking the family to Armadillo Willy's for the $8 fajitas plate.

NOT being racist, there's a real cultural thing - probably would have the same thing if say Russia were still united but had become capitalist and you had the wealthier of the Russians flocking over here to live the American Dream as all those 1950s/60s movies had taught them.  

I like Todai. Miyake is also good.
Asia is expressing concern over problems here at home.

Has anybody else seen this? It was in The Hindu, the online edition of India's National Newspaper.

E. Asia must prepare for possible dollar collapse

With the U.S. trade deficit at a record high and global interest rates rising, East Asian economies need to be prepared for a possible `collapse' of the dollar, the Asian Development Bank warned on Tuesday.

"Any shock hitting the U.S. economy or the global market may change investors' perceptions given the existing global current account imbalance,'' said Masahiro Kawai, ADB's head of regional economic integration. "Our suggestion to Asian countries is: do not take this continuous financing of the U.S. current account deficit as given. If something happens then East Asian economies have to be prepared,'' he told reporters on a trip to Japan.

Just curious -- would $3.50 gas be considered a "shock"?

As a nationwide average that becomes the new norm (like gas settled back to about $2.50 after last summer) yeah it might just qualify as a shock.

There are a lot of people who are leveraged to the hilt and simply can't stand a say $500 increase in the costs of living without losing it all - foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc. In the early 80s I lived on less than $500 a month, and it's a lot of money to most people in the US.

And people are leveraged in ways you don't think of as leveraging - such as both spouses working, so you don't have Mom at home, and you have the added costs of child care. The book The Two-Income Trap covers this subject well. You have people living far away from work with no public transportation, so they have to drive. And there's a huge, huge, class consciousness in this country - not driving, not having a new, flashy, car, not striving for as high a class level as you can, can actually keep you out of jobs, promotions, etc. Yes in the US your kids can actually go hungry because you lost your job because you don't dress right and drive the right thing. So no one wants to be the first one to start biking to work, or to be seen at the bus stop if they can possibly avoid it.

And there's a huge, huge, class consciousness in this country - not driving, not having a new, flashy, car, not striving for as high a class level as you can, can actually keep you out of jobs, promotions, etc.

Sounds like a formula for getting a boring uniform society with a lot of ulcer.

Could you not become the land of the free and behave as individuals instead? Making an ideal of fullfilling your own dreams and respecting that people have different dreams and ways to be happy? I have read some books about a very large country having such a spirit in fairly recent times...

And that's what we have, a boring society with a lot of uniformity and ulcers.

I've read quite a few books about Edison, the guy's parents were what would now be called losers, moved from place to place, did eccentric stuff like build a TOWER on one corner of their land so once in a while they could charge 50 cents to someone who wanted to climb it. They could have a chunk of land and the freedom to do something like that though, back then, when now most people will never own any land, and they're even regulated as to what kind of chairs they can have on their tiny balcony, and they'll get evicted if they put a bicycle there.

The US once had half, a quarter, a tenth, the population it has now. People didn't live like they do now - if I fart my nextdoor neighbors know it, probably smell it. But once upon a time there was a much more decentralized, self-sufficient, make-your-own-hours society and that's where you had your eccentric geniuses, your tinkerers and so on. And live and let live was more of a living concept.

Please - individuals and different dreams and ways of life are what the American Way Of Life makes obsolete.

Obviously, you still don't understand. However, Orwell wrote a guide to many of the most modern aspects of the American Way Of Life. Before you commit a thoughtcrime again, maybe you should flip though it. Americans are famous for being helpful and friendly, so I am just doing my part, pardner.

Or maybe you could fly on one of those comfy jets to where the American Way Of Life is being rigorously defended, and they could help you understand its reality.

   The thoughtcriminals, losers, the freaks and geeks are all part of the picture, too.  Those above, describing the American Way of Life seem to jump to the Donna Reid/George Orwell aspect, Stepford Wives and Menacing Picket Fences..

  Partly, they seem to be describing their image of the 'Other Guy', 'The common shmuck', and not the particulars that make their own life actually distinct from the TV-Boilerplate of today's American Gothic, which makes me think about how much of the pictures in our heads are even STILL helpfully manufactured for us, and that we often will even apply these cliche's to ourselves..

  We are certainly ensnared in a net of consumerism, and we feed it and keep those tendrils strong, but then we wave that self-flagellating protestant guilt at it (or Catholic, Jewish, Muslim guilt, you pick).. and say it's just our own greed and gluttony and idiocy.  But don't forget that like the 6 billion 'realities' mentioned earlier, there are such a vast range of realities in the US.  There are people right here, reading this site that likely cover a very complex range of lifestyles, incomes, attitudes. (Certainly not a complete 'swath' of the US public.. I relish the idea that this is one of the few forums I can be in, where there are both liberals and conservatives involved, though the conservative-bashing is unhelpful, and frequently inaccurate, I think.)

  I just think we do ourselves a disservice not to recognize that even with all the blinders on, there are a lot of smart people, concerned people, and motivated people (rich, poor, native and immigrant) who are just trying to find an edge to get a fingernail into, to start making changes they know need to happen.  But they're generally overburdened with a workethic (middle/owning class) or 3 uniquely-American jobs that don't pay enough (poor/working class), so they're waiting for someone who has worked something out to help get it started.  But this country is not Homogeneous, it's not boring.. (I could use a little 'boring' at this point.. don't think I've called my friends as much as my Senators, this year)

  Sure, most people will not initiate these changes.  You ever belong to a church or synagogue?  You'd know that it's always about 10% of the people who do the work, the volunteering, take leadership positions, end up with 'committee-burnout'.. and try to figure out how to delegate the workload better.  I don't see this as being any different.  (10% would be pretty flush, actually, na ja?)

On earthday, I hiked a small mountain and talked-up some suburbanite familymembers about peak-oil and what we need to start planning/doing, and we sang some songs together after a big meal.  Great Earth Day!  Next weekend, I'm running a DIY workshop on Solar Heat and Electric & Refrigeration; Small Retrofits for Apartment-Dwellers, at a local community-center.

Bob -  Tired Ten-percenter

I will be tiresome - show me the infrastructure to prove that 'Americans' can't be described as being trapped in an American Way Of Life utterly, completely dependent on liquid fossil fuels. Show me the hours per day that children (not all, of course, but what percent? 50? 66? 75? that sit those average hours a day in front of the TV) are not being brought up by a mass culture that is truly all-engulfing in a way that even a 50s Beat would likely find hard to imagine.

Words are clumsy, and to say 'Americans' is already as incorrect as any aggregate when viewed at the level of the individual parts.

I don't care much about conservative or liberal, personally. (As a note from somone with an unhealthy attraction to politics as practiced in DC - the damage Bush has caused to an international system which America created to ensure it remained at the pinnacle is likely unimaginable from within the U.S.)

I wish you luck trying to change anything at all. It is far beyond my meager talents, skills, and insights to change even the slightest aspect of how people live in the U.S.

But at least I do have an answer for the love it or leave it crowd.

"But at least I do have an answer for the love it or leave it crowd."

- Maybe.. 'Ich bin jetzt ein Berliner'  ..?

RE: Changing things..
I'm scared shitless, but I'm not worried..  that make sense?  If anything is going to work, it is going to be coming up with functional models that can be copied.  Getting ideas out there (ie, next weeks DIY demos), and hope they catch.  I'm one of thousands and thousands doing this stuff.   If it happens, if people start doing it with us.. it'll likely be last-minute, some 11th hour, some a day late and a dollar short..  whatever, we'll do what we can, and try to enlist who we can along the way, selling it as cool gadgets, or 'saving the world', or save a few bucks on oil next winter..  like I said before, it's gonna be a few percentage who actually plant the mines and jump through the breaches. (I just wanna feel like John Wayne and not John Denver for a minute or two, is that so wrong?)

What else am I supposed to do?  Worry about the yammerheads who disparage the very idea of working together to pull off something that seems impossible?  Bah, they'll join like the good teammembers they are in their Imaginary Football Leagues, when the wind starts blowing for real..

Bob -  
Almost Heaven, West Virginia,  nope..
and not at the end of the world either, but you ken see it from theyah..  - Portland, Maine.  

"It'll take all of us, and it'll take forever, but isn't that the point?"    W'm McDonough

I guess it was Muenchner, not Berliner, right?

As far as "Utterly, Completely Dependent on fossil fuels.."
I would say instead.. 'mostly, frighteningly dependent'.. and save my absolutes for when I absolutely need them.  There is a tendency here to make everything that ever touches or is moved by oil a complete thing of the past after the oil age.  There is precious little time, but it's not likely to be just 'click' and the lights are out.

TV watching is profligate, who can argue with that?  But that, too is a continuum.  Many more parents are taking active control of viewing habits.. and they don't call 'em Soccer Mom's because of the World Cup.  The kids ARE affected heavily, but aren't just drones, and as much as the 'Social Upheavals' of the 60's 70's seems to have been totally usurped by commercialism, sexism, materialism all over again, these are NOT the same kids as the ones in 1961, by a huge margin, like the parents.. many steps forward, and many back, but it's not the same as not having moved at all.

Jokuhl you must live out in West Verginny or someplace, out here in the San Francisco Bay Area there was no detectable presence of Earth Day. In fact I didn't know it was earth day until I read about it on here. No activities, nothing.

Consuming, however, it being a weekend, went on unimpeded.

Seriously, it's a question of cultues and branching sub-cultures.  There is a certain suburban-corporate culture that occurs around the country (and probably the world at this point).  You know: car, mc mansion, starbucks, borders, target ...

But that said, that lifestyle isnt' the only one, or probably even the majority one.  It's just the iconic one, the suburbs of ET, etc.

The real problem is, it is the lifestyle that essentially the entire American economy is built on, and the one which has been the dominant model of American culture for two generations.

Sure, America is a place with much more variety than what is reflected through the media, but when you come down to it, America has been steadily becoming a monoculture, and those that don't fit into it are generally seen as parasites or pests, a threat to the American Way Of Life.

I think most Americans are not disturbed that New Orleans is gone, since it was one of the most glaring examples of living differently. SF, LA, and NYC are other cities which many Americans are likely to feel deserved the 'punishment' they receive.

I describe a pattern (car, mc mansion, starbucks, borders, target) that didn't exist 30 years ago, and you tell me it is set in stone.

It is certainly a further adaption of the suburban model that existed 30 years ago, but obviously it will evolve and adapt again.

I grew up in a development built in the late 1950s, which could be called full of McMansions. The cars were quite huge in the early 70s, and their gas mileage was worse - the commute distance from Fairfax City to the Pentagon hasn't changed. Malls that could only be reached by driving are certainly how I grew up, without anything considered to be in walking distance, including the schools.

But true, there weren't any Starbucks - we had Dunkin' Donuts, Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips, Jack in the Box, Dairy Queen, Roy Rogers, Arbies, and McDonald's (I do believe that Ronald McDonald was first introduced in the Washington, DC area in the late 60s?)

We had Memco, not Target, and Crown Books, the first major discount book chain, is also a Washington original.

What I don't see is any real adapting - just changing brand names, and people sitting in cars longer than they did when I was 10.

It wasn't a sustainable model 30 years ago either. I stick by my opinion from then, and am still waiting for someone to point out the real infrastructure in America (excepting a few cities like NYC) which is not utterly reliant on motor vehicles burning liquid fossil fuels, from the birth of a child in a hospital that can only be reached by car to their burial in a cemetery, which can only be reached by car.

What is certainly truly different from 30 years ago is that the farmland near any urban area in America is now gone. I didn't actually see that coming in 1976, not really. Sprawl and vanishing forests/watersheds, sure, but not the utter elimination of farming.

One reason to read what is posted here - the thinking from 30 years ago provides an excellent base to deal with peak oil, but the implications and effects are now in much sharper focus.

What I recall as being different was that suburban stores, eateries and gas stations weren't open 24/7. "7-11" was a big deal because most stores opened later than 7 AM and closed earlier than 11 PM. Even TV didn't broadcast much after 1 AM.

Not many places were open on Sundays, either.  Back then the American Dream meant getting a good night's sleep, worshipping on Sunday and spending time with family after worship.  That was negotiable.

I think the Sunday thing depended on where you lived.  I remember "blue laws" on the east coast; some of them were only rescinded recently, in fact.

But in the west, stores were open Sundays as a matter of course.  I was really shocked when I came east as a college student and discovered stores didn't keep the same hours on Sunday as they did Saturday.

You are very right about 24 hour stores - even the name 7-11 tells you what the opening hours used to be.
Maybe such arguments are futile, because they really boil down to your (any my) view of human nature.  I see people doing rough, human, imperfect economic planning.  And when that imperfect planning fails, I see them coming up with a new plan.  It happened in the part of that history that you didn't tell.  That was the transition from the huge cars of the 70's to the small cars of the 80's.

So cars got bigger again.  If you can afford to switch cars every few years that might even be considered a useful response to stimuli.

It is really surprising now to look back and see how low prices were as recently as the year 2000.  No wonder I bought a car that got mpg in the 20s, and demanded premium fuel.  And prices are higher, and I respond with a car that gets 50 mpg on regular.

The key here, and this is painful for anti-suburban people to acknowledge, is that many people made the correct plan for low fuel prices.

All that remains is to see how they respond when they figure out that they will have (at some point, maybe now) lasting high prices.  I'm a moderate on this, as I am with the rest of it:  I think people are not completely smart (or they'd be adapted already), but I don't think they are completely dumb either.

No one is going to sit at the gas station flipping the pump handle like a pigeon in a skinner's box, forever waiting for the gas to come out.

I grant you the point about the 80s transition to higher fuel efficiency - which stalled utterly by some point in the early 90s, and is also somewhat a farce due to how the statistics were kept a fleet level.

'The key here, and this is painful for anti-suburban people to acknowledge, is that many people made the correct plan for low fuel prices.'

This is maybe the crux - low fuel prices for a few years, or even a generation, were not a reason to create an entire non-sustainable infrastructure based on a finite resource which would inevitably start running out/increasing in price. Speaking broadly, no other society committed itself to such a short term perspective, and then assumed that the solution is buying another vehicle in 5 or 10 years.

America is a profoundly wasteful society, and in the end, the words I will put in your mouth are that Americans can simply throw away things like vehicles, housing, and farmland, and then make better choices to suit new conditions.

The new conditions are that the farmland is gone, as are the forests/watersheds, and that people seem to be so desperate to living in a debt/driving treadmill, they will do almost anything to keep going. Until they can't. Peak oil means can't, though we can certainly discuss when and how badly things become before can't is unavoidable.

To give you an idea of how hard it will be to change the U.S., look at how swimmingly the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast is going - now imagine that process on a continent wide scale. I don't see it, if only because the continent sized amount of oil availalble when building the current version won't be available for building the second version.

Interesting words:

America is a profoundly wasteful society, and in the end, the words I will put in your mouth are that Americans can simply throw away things like vehicles, housing, and farmland, and then make better choices to suit new conditions.

I'm a peak oil moderate.  I expect adaption, but some economic pain and dislocation during that adaption.  Obviously the folks who trade away their SUVs while they are still worth something will fare, on an individual basis, better than those that do not.  People who are on a lease, and can cancel a lease for small money and downsize, are better off than people on a 7 year SUV loan.  Etc.

On "throwing away" housing and farmland.  I don't see how that is necessary.

On the gulf coast, if you really equate things that happen in a 24hr period with things that will unfold in a decade or two ... then sure, I guess.


Take a look at the long term plan for Miami, already local funding (50% under Bush, 20% under Clinton and those before). from a half cent sales tax.

Blue and bar green are open today, red under construction, yellow and green in design.  Dark taupe are longer term, but thet tax will be kept in force till completed.

~90% of population within 3 miles of a station, 50+% within 2 miles, a good percent within a half mile.

Denver and Salt Lake City also have good system plans.  SLC is planning a vote to triple taxes in order to speed construction of their system.  Portland OR & St. Louis deserve kudos for future plans as well.

Bleak and dismal outlook for the US, but not totally without redemption.  Urban rail was the #3 priority for rebuilding New Orleans, after rebuilding our wetlands and better levees.

Well, there is one person I can count on to point out infrastructure, and that is also correct.

But personally, I find the idea of within 3 miles to be almost absurd, if only as a measure of how spread out Americans live. A German city system would probably try to hit something like 95% within a 1/2 mile.

Starbucks, Mc Donalds etc, are they realy that bad? They seem to be natural meeting points.

Perhaps USA have a future with ten times as manny Starbucks, Mc Donalds and so on staffed with people who know food preparation and customers mostly arriving via bicycle? The pay will be lousy but something to survive on, you get a lot of meeting points, much more efficient cooking and you do not have to change the cultural pattern, only the wehicle.

Yes, IMO these places are bad.  What they offer consumers as "food" raises questions in the eyes of many.  Coffee shops thrive on the addiction of their customer's to caffeine, not on providing a wholesome or particularly nutritious product.  Fast food restaurants have succeeded in "de-personalizing" food into a consistently manufactured consumable product reminiscent of "soilent green".  Eating a "meal" from one of these establishments is the human equivalent of grazing.

Do you know how these restaurants can afford to "supersize" everything (add an additional 16oz of drink and 25 more fries) for just an additional $1.50?  Because it only costs them 4 cents, that's how.  Woo hoo!  Big bonus!  Big service to society!  "Supersizing" is just furthering the severe obesity problems in the country, and is likely a major cause of this health issue.

As for the "lousy pay" -- some restaurants have been shamed into paying a "living wage", but most still don't.  A living wage is (very basically) defined as 3x the local cost of housing as set each year by the US Department of HUD (Fair Market Rents), in exchange for 40 hours work per week.  

Many of these establishments intentionally increase their roster of part-time workers to avoid having to provide benefits such as medical insurance.  This makes that employee dependent upon society for healthcare and the other services that are generally provided to the working poor at public expense.  It's an enormous cost to society.

I'll have to speak up for Starbucks to some degree, I can get coffee, one of those awful carb-bombs with whipped cream on top, or I can get a nice tea, with a bit of milk in, and that milk organic at that. And I can get a horrible huge chocolaty bear claw or fake-creamy-filling-food stuffed whatsit, or I can get a couple of Walker's shortbread cookies or one of those teeny choccy cupcakes which if evil at least are small. Or I can get a fruit and cheese plate. Or a salad that's a meal, had one of those once and they're outstanding.

I think today calls for a regular coffee with milk in it and one of their egg salad sandwiches.

The place is a natural meeting place too, you get to meet people who live here locally. If I'm selling something on Craigs list or something, I often arrange to meet people there since it's easy to find.

They seem to offer their employees if not as much as they "should" in pay etc., at least more than any other shop around here - $10 an hour or so and health insurance, 401k, etc.

You can always go in and find a clean bathroom. I've seen ppl working at starbucks give a free coffee to the local homeless on a cold night. They give away coffee samples at day's end and give out used grounds for gardens. They have more fair trade coffee than I've seen anywhere else (in fact the only I've seen although I may find one type if I dig around, at just the right health food store).

They are expensive, but not much more so than places that are far inferior. They sell cheap junk cups etc from China, er, actually rather nice ones, but from China. The parent company is alleged to be Zionist which disturbs me quite a lot, but the whole neocon government, any business allowed to get large at all, etc. is Zionist because the US is a Zionist country, so the only way to protest THAT is to leave the US. Need a million bucks or transportable skills to do that and haven't got either yet.

I'd prefer a decent locally owned local coffee shop, but that's anti-American.

They don't need to build more Starbucks ;-), it's a 1.75 mile walk to the nearest, a 4 mile bike ride to another, and ... I guess it's about 4 miles in the other direction to the other ...

I'm a coffee snob, but I think Starbucks hits about 7/10 on my scale.  Given a unknown town, and not knowing who treats coffee seriously, they are a safe bet.  I also have a credit card that gives me my 1% each month as Starbucks money.  I hit Starbucks rarely enough that I only spend my credit.

On the other hand, yes McDonalds is bad ;-)

Check this article:
FOREX-Dollar falls sharply as G7 calls for stronger yuan LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - The dollar slid sharply to a three-month low against the yen and a seven-month low versus the euro on Monday after Group of Seven powers said China should let its yuan appreciate as a way of fixing global imbalances.
I'm an American expat working in Japan, and as a dutiful American, owe a stake of income to the credit card company. (It served as a useful cash 'buffer' while I was underemployed and overworked last year - the story of America - incidentally, what's to make one change their driving habits, when they can just pay with plastic?)  Anyway, now I have a pretty good job teaching English and job security for a couple more years, so I'm looking to get my financial house in order, and hopefully save enough to buy a purse of gold.

Can anyone tell me, if I have debt in USD and am earning Yen, am I in a good relative position should the US take an economic hit in the next few years, or could Japan (and Asia by extension) get taken down with it?

The fact that Asia consumes so much less oil per capita than the US has to be good, but on the other hand the US buys so much stuff from Asia with its credit cards!

I have not yet grasped the enourmous problem with producing a lot of stuff other people buy on credit. If this stops one end of the deal got an idle production machine and a pile of stuff, the other end have nothing. Surely one side have more options for what to do the next day then the other?
It is a very good deal to be paid in Yen with your debt in US dollars. The Yen is a fundamentally strong currency. As for dependence on the US market, Japan is (slowly) diversifying away from the US consumer market toward the Chinese consumer market.
Debt in USD and earning yen... sounds optimal to me!
A couple of years ago I was earning USD and spending euros... tele-work, optimal at the time...

I wonder if I could convert my Euro-debt into USD?? Any practical hints?

I found the movie "Century of the Self" (4 parts low quality) over at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article12642.htm
an interesting take on the psychology of the US or perhaps pyscholgy in the US.
People who did not like "The power of nightmares" may not like this film.

Another film "The History of Oil" by comedian Robert Newman (http://www.energybulletin.net/15104.html)
was also an amusing take on the subject...

I'm glad you brought this up. I've been researching an article on Thailand and there is considerable concern there about the stability of the dollar. In particularly, the Thais want to diversify their export markets away from the US should a crash occur. Therefore , they are taking steps to increase their percentage of exports to other Asia markets like Japan, Korea, et. al.

These warning signs from other countries should be taken seriously in my view. They are not part of the US financial sector "groupthink" and take an objective view of the current perilous situation regarding the current accounts deficit and the enormous trade deficits.

That's why news and analysis resources like the Asian Times and the The Hindu are invaluable to us.

   I'm a long time lurker, first post. I really appreciate all the information here at TOD.
   I was talking at church yesterday to a friend who is in Exxon-Mobile middle management, in the area of long-term planning. He said that thier long-term price estimate for oil, for planning purposes, was $28 per barrel. I said, "That seems disconnected from reality. It's $75 a barrel now!" He agreed, but said Exxon is a very conservative company, and if they make a long term investment and the price drops, they would be left with a poor rate of return on their investment. They feel a lot of oil may come on line from West Africa, things may settle down in the Middle East, and China's economic growth may sputter. My friend agreed that it does seem disconnected from reality, though.
   I thought it was interesting to know that $28 was their price, for planning purposes.
Thanks for the info.  Two things:

 - I think $28 is at least up from the $20-25 I've heard previously.

 - You don't eat your lunch, someone else will.

Meaning, a company with a higher estimate will be out there making commitments.  Maybe it will be a Chinese company!

It would be pertinent to ask: when was the figure of $28 set, how often is it reset, when is it expected to change next?

There are implications. More oil is likely to be left in the ground for future exploitation. Exxon-Mobil upstream profits should continue to baloon as the price of oil goes up. Economically recoverable reserves should increase with the oil price.

I do have some sympathy for their $28 position - it takes several years to bring a field into production and a major global recession could reduce demand sufficiently for the price to halve from current levels in that time. I would have thought a planning price of around $35 would be more reasonable now, even though I think $40 oil is extremely unlikely in future.

We need to remember that $40 was the price less than 18 months ago so if the $28 planning price was set then it seems reasonable. If the current price of $70+ holds for the rest of 2006 they might reset their planning price to around $40.

Well, if the dollar drops 90% next month, then 28$ a barrel may well be the world price without US demand.
Actually, a US dollar drop of 90% would raise oil prices dramatically.
And would it be at this point that oil became priced in the output of some other printing machines? Just wondering...
Only for the US, Brian...

A 90% drop in the dollar would not, in itself, affect oil prices for the rest of the world (oil producers would probably switch to pricing in euros), except that prices would probably take a nosedive in anticipation of the demand destruction to come in the US?

I was referring to the oil price in dollars. Actually, one of the reasons the price is high currently is because of the continual devaluation of the US dollar.    
Cover story of USA Today right now:

Drivers switch to public transit

WASHINGTON -- Soaring gas prices appear, once again, to be leading some drivers to park their cars.

Public transit systems across the USA are seeing an increase in ridership. Although it's difficult to directly link the gains to higher gasoline prices, officials say rising prices at the pump are at least partly responsible.

Just talking to a neighbour about Chinese investment here at 43 degrees below the equator. The Chinese have just bought 50% of a big wind farm company and helped a rich new nickel mine startup with forward contracts and soft loans.  Maybe I'm reading too much into this but I think they may be a step ahead of the game. In ten years we may notice how most of the good deals have been sewn up.
If you had huge amounts of dollars and believed that that dollars may soon be worth-less, then wouldn't you be trading them for things of real/potential value? I mean as long as the deal results in gains greater than the expected drop of dollar value you'd be ahead. I think the Chinese know where things are headed and once they've got as much assets/contracts as they feel good about, they'll be ready to pull the plug on the dollar.

I have this distinct feeling that they still behave like a coherent country.

China is behaving "coherently" because, like them or hate them,their government leaders have set goals for their country (mainly economic) that they are trying to achieve. Their leaders are like upper management of a corporation attempting to strengthen the competitive position of the corporation. In the USA what you have is a situation analagous to ENRON in that the interests of upper management (Repub or Dem) are in direct conflict with the shareholders of the country/corporation. Basically the upper 1% of Americans control America and make more money if China succeeds than if "America" succeeds, so they sell/spin a story to the 99% (who mostly believe it) that they are doing everything they can to help "America".
Looks as though the Des Moines Register editorial board is hopping on the bio-energy and "wind from hydrogen" bandwagon..  


A second demonstration project isn't yet in the planning stage. It's just an idea - a brilliant one.

It involves the problem of how electricity generated by wind turbines can be stored for use when the wind isn't blowing. Iowa has enough wind to generate five times more electricity than Iowans use, which means Iowa could be a major energy exporter, if storage and transmission barriers could be overcome.

One solution is to use wind-generated electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, then store and transport the hydrogen.

Bill Leighty of Juneau, Alaska, is a native Iowan and an expert on hydrogen transmission. He suggests a project in the windy Fort Dodge area to demonstrate the feasibility of generating hydrogen, and then piping it to Ames for use as motor fuel on buses or other vehicles.

Hydrogen is regarded as the fuel of the future, the holy grail of alternative fuels, because it is abundant, nonpolluting and doesn't contribute to the greenhouse effect. Hydrogen produced from wind or solar energy would be totally renewable.

Old idea. It usually fails on the cost for the electrolysis hardware and the losses in the process. I hope at least the cost can be improved since it would be extremely nice to have something worthwile to dump "excess" electricity into. Hydrogen can be used to make nitrogen fertilzer and upgrade heavy oil and fuels synthetisized from biomass. We could use large ammounts of hydrogen before we have a hydrogen distribution and direct wehicle use infrastructure.
Hi all, sorry for coming so late to the discussion. This is with respect to the link for computer matched carpools. For the last few months I've been working on just such a system. It can be found here: http://patang.org/projects/ajaxcarpool/ The app is in late alpha. I haven't been working on it of late due to time constraints as well as the fact that there are no users to give me feedback. Also, there are still a lot of usability issues that need to be sorted out. However, unlike other carpooling sites, this one uses Google maps and has a far more sophisticated interface than the rest (even if I do say so myself :-)
 Also, the project is open source and available from sourceforge. Details at http://projectcarpool.blogspot.com. I'd like to invite all of you to come and try it out. As the earliest adopters though, be prepared for a bit of slogging through the system. Coders amongst you are invited to pick up the source and contribute. Users, please please send feedback so we can improve the experience. Please register and setup some trips so that chance visitors get signs of life when they visit. I have some time at the moment to actually implement any suggestions you might have so look forward to hearing from you guys. Also, the site is currently only available to Firefox users (don't get me started....) IE users will have to wait either until I rewrite it for IE or until IE starts conforming to internet standards (don't hold your breath)


Looks very cool! The idea of using Googlemaps is excellent. In general, a lot of stuff that has been tried-in-the-past and didn't work, deserves a re-try with newer technology.

A good example of that is Lyon's free public bicycle system... I should perhaps do a brief intro to that one of these days...

[Bug report from the carpool site coming up...]

I've heard both that the Dutch free bicycle system worked well, and that it ended in most of them being stolen.