A short-term closure of a theme perhaps, and a song?

Very often when a story drops off the headlines, there is not a lot of interest in what then happened. However, having been curious enough to post the gas supply information a few weeks ago when the graph of volume in storage suddenly fell off a cliff, I thought I would close out this chapter with the graphs that show that, for now, the situation is getting back to normal.
The first curve shows the reason for the initial post, and how the situation is now reversed.

In looking for the reason for the turn around, one can see that domestic production went up

While imports of refined gasoline also went up

And demand, which had risen faster than normal, earlier in the year, has since stabilized, in part one supposes because of the higher prices, and has returned to the same level as last year.

But, as folks are already beginning to note, we are now reaching the point with $70 oil, that we were with $50 oil last year, and there is a growing, if grudging acceptance that this is now the level. (Which leaves one to wonder whether this time next year we will be beginning to accept $90 a barrel oil).

This time last year we were looking for theme music for Peak Oil, [editor's note, by Prof. Goose] (If you click on "No Oil Here Either" in that post, there's actually quite a collection/discussion of songs under there...it's from TOD 1.0) one wonders if a year has changed our musical tastes, or the theme of the songs?

I still remain a little intrigued by the fact that there isn't much of a mention of telling folks to slow down. If they are pawning their jewelry and giving blood to get enough money for gas, perhaps somebody ought to hint that if they started to drive at 55 mph, even though the speed limit may be 70, and most folk are driving at 75, then they will still get there, they are likely to be legal, and they might save enough money that they can get their jewelry back. (Or at least not need to pawn any more). Imagine, all local government might need to do was to put up the odd cost-saving poster along the highway. You know, the "Tired of paying so much for gas - slow down and save a gallon of gas per hundred miles" sort of advert (and no I just guestimated the amount of saving). But when it is discussed the implication is that the change has to be made mandatory since "everyone drives at or above" the speed limit.

Perhaps if folk started working on ways to get traffic to move slower in their own best interests . . . .nah! You're right, it would have to be mandated, just suggesting that you might save money isn't going to be a strong enough argument. Ah well, now how did that song go . . . .?

There are interesting anecdotal stories here:


and here:


about people who have gone car-free, and how they are seeing more people are commuting by bicycle.  In fact there was a story last week in the Wall Street Journal about bicycle commuting.

I've been slowing down quite voluntarily; that's how I found that my car can usually beat 40 MPG (compared to its EPA-rated 38) at 65 MPH, and will handily whoop 45 MPG at 60 MPH.
I've bought a little car and slowed right down too. But the real savings (to be had in Australia at least) are by tail-gating road trains (really big trucks) on the highways.
In Australia there is a hugh road haul business East/West and these guys go fast (they are private contractors under the hammer). They will go up to 100mph, 160km/hr at night. I followed one (close behind)for 400km when working in the Goldfields and used 1/4 of a tank instead of a whole tank. A few stone chips in the car though.
here's a german car that gets 157mpg @ a cost of 11,000: Loremo on the Edge due out sooner than later but people are starting to pre-order.
For the past four months, I've been driving no faster than 55 MPH on my daily 23-mile round-trip commute in Austin.  The posted speed limit is 65 MPH and I drive using cruise control in the rightmost (slow) lane of a divided six-line highway.  I drive a Prius and obtain hot-weather mileage of 52 MPG with the air conditioning unit operating.  Given that Austin is a leading green U.S. city, I believe that "slow down & save" road signs would be well-received here.  A well-informed driving public would thus be even more accepting of, and aware of (very) slow drivers in the rightmost lane.
slowing down works wonders for me too ... but i've noticed that keeping speed pegged to 60mph on the open highway is actually hard work (this is sans cruise control). it's as though i've been conditioned by years of speeding to get to somewhere between 65 & 70 and maintain the range. i don't have a lead foot at all ... i'm just so used to a certain range of speed ... wild
This is why I think going back to 55 mph limit would be impossible unless it was done voluntarily - it does seem so slow with cars now built to so handily achieve and handle 70 - 80 mph.

Plus enforcement is a joke - not that I blame the cops - I would be hesitant to pull over speeders in the middle of the free-for-all that is typical of an interstate...

I've thought for a long time that there should be limiters of some sort on engines that would not allow cruising speeds over 70 mph - but then how would you be able to work in the ability to get the extra punch when you really need it (i.e. emergency situation, passing etc) ?

Still I can't see why giant pick-ups hauling trailers with boats etc etc need to be flying down the road at 80 mph.  I'm a geologist and drive a full size Ford (work truck) for field work - I've had to haul a few things and been in a couple situations that really required a bit of power - but I've been doing this about 12 years and the times I've truly needed what these trucks are capable of are very few and far between.  They are overpowered for image rather than utility - and they waste a huge amount of fuel.

I suspect a lot of those truckers are flying on No-Doze and coffee.

On some highways the newest, smoothest lane is the leftmost lane, so everyone stays left to avoid that thump-thump-thump where the concrete joints don't align anymore. During long, boring drives, I've often thought that building a left lane, or several left lanes, with bad joints and maintaining right lanes better might induce drivers to save the left lanes for quick passes. It also might slow some people down - although I've seen some pretty fast action on some really decrepit highways in Connecticut, home of the "Road Legally Closed" dodge back in the 70s.

Well, for your average SUV driver your numbers are not that far from the mark.

If driving at 55mph improves your fuel consumption from 20mpg (5 gallons per 100 miles) to 25mpg (4 gallons per 100 miles), then you do, indeed, save 1 gallon every one hundred miles.

Somebody posted the other day about improving their mileage from 34mpg to 42mpg, which is a saving of almost 6 tenths of a gallon every hundred miles.

These numbers are pretty significant when you look at them this way.

If time=money in our society, then slowing down won't save you money. Consider a 100 mile trip would take 2 hours at 50 mph and 1.4 hours at 70 mph. So, you end up saving over half an hour. If we assume that the lower speed saves you about 2 gallons or $6 of gas, then it is about cost-equivalent to drive at the higher speed considering you will get to your destination faster and assume that the average salary is probably greater than $12/hr.

Furthermore, with the sorry state of American driving habits (i.e. driving slow and staying in the left lane because they don't realize that you pass on the left you freaking moron) I would imagine disaster if there was a big increment between the penny-pinching drivers who want to save money driving slower and the people like me who average 15 mph over the speed limit (but cause much less congestion than the aforementioned drivers).

Look at Germany, $6+ gas and NO SPEED LIMITS. Wow, what a concept.

In conclusion, the mandatory or even voluntary reduction of highway speeds to save gas is the equivalent of a suicidal person jumping off of a tall building and changing his mind mid-jump and flapping his arms to reduce the final impact. It only makes him/her look foolish and likely causes a bigger mess.

Well, drive as you like and let the US trade deficit take care of everything. All Americans will soon find out how they get more mpg - if they have a job to drive to and enough money to make it worth while to drive to a market.

The impact of high energy prices will come through the economy. May be the consumers can afford a $4 gasoline, but think about an industry that has - say - energy costs of 20% of total costs. Doubling of energy prices will make the share of energy costs to 33%. This will easily wipe all profits out.  Energy-intensive manufacturing is already dying, industrial investments are down and trade deficit up. This will bite.

I think sincerely that the American driving habits are rational in that social and physical environment. People are not fools. The drive like this because they can afford it and they have good reasons for it. The problems will arrive, but not from there you are looking at. The suburbs are not the real problem, industry is.

Everybody knows how to decrease gasoline costs (take the smaller car, slow down, avoid unecessary driving, car pool etc.), but how do you cope 20% unemployment? Dollar down 50%?

There is no doubt that the import of oil and the rising price of oil has been the leading contributor to the balance of payments problem for the US.   There are several good web sites around that document detials.

However, long before you get to dollar down 50%, one would see a worldwide recession so deep as to cut oil consumption.   The central banks collude to keep any one currency, especially the dollar, from dropping so much so quickly.   What that means of course for Americans are higher interest rates, perhaps greatly so.   That will effectively end the housing boom, curb the overconstruction of overly large (and distant) houses, higher rates for car payments, etc.

Politicians probably hate increasing unemployment rates more than anything else, however that is the price to be paid for the lengthy consumption of more than what one produces.   I'm not condemning my fellow citizens from afar, not at all, but this is reality.    Somewhere at the bottom of it all is likely some law of thermodynamics...

The world economies are intertwined in complex methods, and not just the dollar is weakening, but those of Brazil, Mexico and South Africa also.   See this article for more comments:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml;jsessionid=OHHRTBUEOA4CFQFIQMGCFF4AVCBQUIV0?xml=/money/2 006/05/15/cnmarkets15.xml

Here in Japan, I believe that if the dollar gets down to around the 107 Yen point then serious bells will start going off, with the Japanese especially pushing the other G7 members to take action quickly.

You want to slow down?  Do what I did and buy a German car!  Not just any German car, mine is an ancient Mercedes Benz 240D Diesel, 4 cylinders and 4 speed stick...the option of "slowing down" will no longer be optional!  :-)

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

I've got a German car with a 4-cylinder diesel engine and a 5-speed.  It climbs mountains and accelerates to freeway speeds from 40 MPH in top gear.  Its top speed is at least 100 MPH.  Slow down?  It sure won't make you.

The only thing that helps is the real-time MPG reading on the trip computer.

  Is your TRIP COMPUTER part of the car, or an add-on?  I mentioned this the other day, thinking that people would probably behave differenly if the MPG info was right in their face all the time.

  Is there a device that connects to the engine's computer-data-plug that can yield that readout? *(most US cars have that now, for servicers to do diagnostics, right?)

Bob Fiske

It came with the car (part of the VW dash cluster).  I can't say if it's standard equipment or not, but it probably should be.

http://www.jcwhitney.com/   Search for "Miles"

JC Whitney Price: $27.99

The JC Whitney gauge is a vaccuum gauge in miles-per-gallon gauge clothing.  Could probably help in keeping you from romping on the gas pedal (probably just wig out if you have a turbo), but I doubt it'll really tell you what you're getting for your gallon.
That's not entirely fair...I have a '76 240D and it goes fast...down steep hills.  It also has a feature to discourage tailgating; voluminous clouds of acrid black smoke, generated when ever the accelerator is depressed.

All I want for christmas is a turbo.

I also have a 1982 M-B 240D, manual transmission.  Low mileage, pristine condition.

I get 31 mpg in the city.

If time=money in our society,

But it is not.   All energy resources on this planet come from solar bodies.   PV takes the photons from the sun and converts them to energy humans use.

Now, why is a watt of power from a PV panel 'priced' the same as a watt from coal?  Because the photons of energy that results in a watt DO have a time value.

average salary is probably greater than $12/hr.

And all these workers do such valuable stuff like reading TOD.

for people who are really pushing it, time is money.  i sometimes wonder though how many people rush just so they can later flip channels and complain that nothing is on tv.  perhaps the mere existence of 'america's funniest videos' is proof that we don't have to rush ;-)
Two observations on driving that make me wonder if people who are speeding really save any time - and I drive alot for my job so this is based on extensive "field" research (but of course not a scientific study)  :)

Many of the cars that speed past me for a few exits down the NY Thruway I encounter again at the toll plaza. If I have EZ-Pass (electronic payment) rather than having to pay cash then I almost always make up the time lost due to slower speed - they are sitting in the line waiting to pay while I just go on thru with hardly a hesitation.  Naturally down the road a bit they fly by me again - but they gained no time on me - and we're usually sitting a couple vehicles apart at the next red light.  All they've done is waste fuel.

All other things being equal of course going faster will get you an equal distance in less time - but another observation - large vehicles tend to drive the fastest where I drive - and they definitely use more fuel than I do.  So chances are on a long trip, where extra speed actually translates into a meaningful amount of miles versus someone traveling slower, they are going to have to stop to re-fuel at some point.  Well then a 5 or 10 minute fuel stop (the bigger the tank the longer the fill up) knocks off some of the speed advantage; couple this with the toll lane and a couple red lights and the extra speed probably ends up netting the faster driver just a slight advantage in the end.

Of course I'm not arguing that going faster can't get you somewhere faster - just that a simple calculation assumes that all this is done as some kind of physics problem in a vacuum.  But of course real world driving is full of so many variables that it's difficult to say whether in any given trip driving faster will actually get you somewhere significantly quicker.

I would also argue that there is no worse congestion than the dead stand still you have to sit in when some idiot going 20 mph over the speed limit rolls his car and the emergency crews have to come in to clean up after them.  Speed is a THE major factor in auto accidents and I can only imagine the amount of fuel wasted in this country due to idling in traffic while an accident is being mopped up.

Theme music should actually be total silence. But if I'm forced to choose: Softparade from the Doors.

When I was back there in seminary school, there was a person there
Who put forth the proposition, that you can petition the lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer, petition the lord with prayer
You cannot petition the lord with prayer!
Can you give me sanctuary, I must find a place to hide, a place for me to hide
Can you find me soft asylum, I can't make it anymore, the man is at the door

The music MUST be the Dies Irae. The great latin mass of the dead, which has inspired so much of western music and art, is the perfect theme of the death of our society.
There really exists a perfect theme song:

The Kinks - A Gallon Of Gas

I've been waiting for years to buy a brand new cadillac
But now that I've got one I want to send it right back
I can't afford the gas to fill my luxury limousine
But even if I had the dough no one's got no gasoline

I went to my local dealer to see if he could set me straight
He said there's a little gas going but I'd have to wait
But he offered some red hot speed and some really high grade hash
But a gallon of gas can't be purchased anywhere for any amount of cash

I can score you some coke and some grade one grass
But I can't get a gallon of gas
I've got some downers some speed all the drugs that you need
But I can't get a gallon of gas
There's no more left to buy or sell
There's no more oil left in the well
A gallon of gas can't be purchased anywhere
For any amount of cash

two extra verses from long version:
I love your body-work, but you're really no use
How can I drive you when I got no juice?
Because it's stuck in neutral and my engine's got no speed
And the highways are deserted
and the air smells unnaturally clean.

It's got power-assisted overdrive and carpets on the floor,
but it's parked out front just like a dead dinosaur.
And I'll be paying off the bank for 45 years or more.
It should go 100 miles an hour,
but it's never moved away from my door.

Who needs a car and a seven-forty-seven
When you can't buy a gallon of gas
Who needs a highway, an airport or a jet
When you can't get a gallon of gas
There's no more left to buy or sell
There's no more oil left in the well
A gallon of gas can't be purchased anywhere
For any amount of cash
You can't buy a gallon of gas

Rickie-Lee Jones-  "Last Chance Texaco"

A long stretch of headlights
Bends into I-9
Tiptoe into truck stops
And sleepy diesel eyes
Volcanoes rumble in the taxi
And glow in the dark
Camels in the driver's seat
A slow, easy mark

But you ran out of gas
Down the road a piece
Then the battery went dead
And now the cable won't reach...

It's your last chance
To check under the hood
Last chance
She ain't soundin' too good,
Your last chance
To trust the man with the star
You've found the last chance Texaco

Well, he tried to be Standard
He tried to be Mobil
He tried living in a world
And in a shell
There was this block-busted blonde
He loved her - free parts and labor
But she broke down and died
And threw all the rods he gave her

But this one ain't fuel-injected
Her plug's disconnected
She gets scared and she stalls
She just needs a man, that's all

It's her last chance
Her timing's all wrong
Her last chance
She can't idle this long
Her last chance
Turn her over and go
Pullin' out of the last chance Texaco
The last chance

 (You gotta listen to it, though. ASCII can hardly do Rickie justice)

David Wilcox-  "Rusty Old American Dream"

Tom Waits-  "Heart of Saturday Night"  or "Burma-Shave"

Queen-  "Bicycle"

Beatles-  "Here comes the Sun"

Hair -  "Let the Sun shine in"

  (Thought I'd toss in the lyrics to this one, so the doomers didn't think it was just for 'Morning People')

"We Starve-look at one another short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories

Facing a dying nation of moving papaer fantasy
Listening for the new told lies
With supreme visions of lonely tunes

Singing our space songs on a spider-web sitar
Life is around you and in you
Answer from Timothy Leary deary

Let the sunshine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in

Let the sunshine, Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in

Let the sunshine
Let the sunshine inThe sunshine in

I like Jethro Tull's "North Sea Oil". More on that later.
North Sea Oil

Black and viscous - bound to cure blue lethargy
Sugar-plum petroleum for energy
Tightrope-balanced payments need a small reprieve
Oh, please believe we want to be
in North Sea Oil
New-found wealth sits on the shelf of yesterday
Hot-air balloon - inflation soon will make you pay
Riggers rig and diggers dig their shallow grave
but we'll be saved and what we crave
is North Sea Oil
Prices boom in Aberdeen and London Town
Ten more years to lay the fears, erase the frown
before we are all nuclear - the better way!
Oh, let us pray: we want to stay
in North Sea Oil

This music can be heard at the beginning and at the end of this video:

IV International Workshop on Oil and Gas Depletion

Jethro Tull's been with the program for decades.  Here's a snippet of the title song of his Heavy Horses album (1978):

"And one day when the oil barons have all dripped dry
and the nights are seen to draw colder
They'll beg for your strength, your gentle power
your noble grace and your bearing
And you'll strain once again to the sound of the gulls
in the wake of the deep plough, sharing.

Standing like tanks on the brow of the hill
Up into the cold wind facing
In stiff battle harness, chained to the world
Against the low sun racing
Bring me a wheel of oaken wood
A rein of polished leather
A Heavy Horse and a tumbling sky
Brewing heavy weather."

It's a great song, too.

Devo: Post-post Modern Man

But I ain't got a hot rod
And I ain't got a credit card
No chance for a camera
So I'm doing it the hard way
Like a post post-modern man
Well I ain't got a hammer
And I ain't got a lasso
No chance for a camera
So I'm doing it the hard way

interesting story here:


it basically talks about the old rules-of-thumb regarding speed and mileage, and how they work out for modern cars.

fwiw, my contribution was this table i snagged off the internets, prius milages at speeds:

60 MPH: 55 MPG
65 MPH: 52 MPG
70 MPH: 48 MPG
75 MPH: 44 MPG
80 MPH: 42 MPG

it would be intersting to see a table like that for a generic small car (corolla or civic sedan).

Last week I made a little contribution to speeding up Global Warming and Peak Oil by driving 1000 miles to Florida and back.

I did not choose to fly (though technically the effect would probably be the same) because of the higher cost of the ticket and renting a car after, inconvenient times etc. All the way through the 8 hours trip (and especially while being in several fairly good jams) I was cursing the idiots that thought up of that system. It is completely incomprehesive for me how such a huge and rich country spent so much resources to build these insane highways and did not build a decent passenger rail. With 200 mph trains available I would have got to my destination even faster than by a plane! And it is incomparatively more pleasant trip than sitting in those flying tin cans or driving like an idiot for hours.

The other thing I have to note is that with such distances I wouldn't drive 55 mph no matter how much I wanted to. It makes a huge difference whether you drive for 8 or 10 hours with the latter already being quite unbearable. Also, I find it much more dangerous if you drive 55 - there is always the chance that you can get nailed down from behind by some 100 mph. slalomist.

Overall I see the future of the transportation in USA in rail... it is of course a long way to go but the sooner we start, the better.

I don't think rail offers a solution for the US.

For the one, the line capacity isn't there.  Here in the UK, rail is actually shrinking-- the passenger trains have had a 50% rise in demand in the last 7-8 years, and there are not enough slots for the freight trains.  The US rail network is already full to busting with increased freight volumes.

In the case of the US, you have huge distances.  Which means planes are always a better way to travel for most people, most of the time.  And there is no way a train ticket, with a full costing for the railbed, facilities, train cars etc, can beat a car drive-- where the only additional cost is the gas (you already have paid for the car).

You also have the majority of travel being 1-20 miles, and point to point.  Most people live and work spread out.  So a rail network can't really handle that.

Public transport is not going to be the answer to the US problem.  US cities are just too spread out-- most Americans now live in suburbs, and nearly a majority work in suburbs, too.  To the extent that it is public transport, it will be buses, which are relatively cheap and flexible.

Trains will have a role on frequently travelled commuter corridors.  Boston to Washington, Houston to Dallas, Los Angeles to Las Vegas.  

If you want to get slightly depressed, the CO2 produced by a train ride (depending on load factor) is about 60% of a comparable car journey.  So if Global Warming is the worry, it is travel that is our problem, not so much how we do it.

Here in the UK, rail is actually shrinking-- the passenger trains have had a 50% rise in demand in the last 7-8 years, and there are not enough slots for the freight trains.

The problem can be solved if more rail is electrified and tracks are doubled on the heavy loaded routes. I find this more a problem of politics - states prefer to encourage (subsidise) road transport which turns to be a cash cow via fuel taxes and the oil and automotive industries. Rail also requires subsidies/guarantees, because the investments needed are huge but does not offer such a return in the treasury. Therefore it is being left to struggle for funding/approvals etc.

In the case of the US, you have huge distances

Usually people choose cars for trips up to 300 miles and plane for more than that. But for family vacations most people choose cars even for 1000 miles trips. High-speed rail could offer a good intercity alternative for them - for trips up to 1000 miles and even more. Air travel can serve higher distances and international travel. This would have eliminated the need for huge airports in virtually every city over 50 000 in the country and greatly deminish the load on the existing airports - already too crowded by any standart.

If you want to get slightly depressed, the CO2 produced by a train ride (depending on load factor) is about 60% of a comparable car journey.

I'd like to see the numbers here. The calculation would depend on many factors and assumptions. For example is this a half-empty diesel powered Amtrack passegner train or a high-speed TGV in France, driven with nuclear power?

> Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Now that's going to be corridor where travel is going to become increasingly irrelevant.  Las Vegas (and its Arizonan counterparts) are going to have a rendezvous with oblivion when the gas, electricity, water and yes, liquid fuels become scarce and at times unavailable.  Plus unlike other cities, retreating to the rural areas surrounding the cities to farm simply is not an option.

In 1974, TOWER OF POWER, the hippest band ever wrote what may be the first song - and for sure the funkiest - about PO:

There's Only So Much Oil In The Ground

There is only so much oil in the ground
Sooner or later there won't be much around
Tell that to your kids while you're driving 'round downtown
That there's only so much oil in the ground

We can't cut loose without that juice
Can't cut loose without that juice
If we keep on like we're doing things for sure
Will not be cool - It's a fact
We just ain't got sufficient fuel

Cause there's only so much oil in the ground
Sooner or later there won't be none around
Alternate sources of power must be found
Cause there's only so much oil in the ground

Yes there's only so much oil in the earth
It's a fact of life - for what it's worth
Something every little girl and boy should know since birth
That there's only so much oil in the earth

There's no excuse for our abuse
No excuse for our abuse
We just assume that what we use will not
Exceed the oil supply
But soon enough the world will watch the wells run dry

Until today I was under the impression that people were not slowing down.  However, today when driving on the freeway I was shocked to discover many other cars going 60-65 MPH.  This was very surprising to me, because usually I am the only one!  Maybe this was just a freak occurrence, but I will keep my eyes open to see if going slower is a new phenomenon.

I was also thinking that one way environment/peak oil minded individuals might try to help enact change would be to pool resources and pay for billboards suggesting for people to slow down.  You could have a short blurb along with a bar graph showing average fuel economy at various speeds.  That might get people's attention.  I certainly would be willing to contribute to that sort of organization.  

Also, one other tip, you can save a lot of fuel by tailoring your driving habits to get better fuel economy.  This is very difficult in many cars because they do not include a fuel economy readout.  But, there's a nifty gadget known as a ScanGauge (www.scangauge.com) that you can buy which hooks into and interfaces with the computers of most modern automobiles.  I just ordered one for my non-hybrid car, so I just thought I would mention it!