Peak Oil: Say Hello Again to $100 Oil

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Darth_Yuthura, Dec 1, 2009.

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  1. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    It was not a mistake that GE made with the EV1, but a deliberate choice by the company's former CEO's to pursue profit. To GE, the car simply wasn't profitable enough; so they dismantled the project.

    How is capitalism to blame for a bad business decision? And have you seen the Prius sales slump? Who says having the Volt 10 years ago would mean anything right now?

    What? So it's just the drive to make the most profit you think is the best solution?

    Yes. And historicly it always has been. As a rule, the best and brightest follow the money to ply their trade.

    And it's the best and brightest who find the best solutions. Why do you believe that the whole world is upset when the US restricts stem cell research?

    Our researchers, as recipiants of the fruits of their labor, find the solutions and make the discoveries. Because they are the best and brightest. 'Cause they follow the money.

    First: the market isn't an entity. You may have been referring to consumers.
    Of course the market is an entity made up of the consumers. Just as "the electorate" is an entity made up of the voters.

    Second: Macroeconomics is a VERY elaborate subject. The problems we face now had escalated for decades, mainly because of the removal of progressive taxes. The war in Iraq happened because the influence of corporate CEO's on government had become too great. The war had harmed the US, yet it benefited war profiteers.

    When in the Hell have we removed progressive taxes? And since we have not not not not not not not not not removed progressive taxes I fail to see your point on how it's removal caused the current market correction.

    And how did this turn into an Iraq thread. BTW, All wars harm both parties involved. The question is, will the harm caused by war be less than the harm of ignoring the call to war.

    Either you don't know what you're talking about, or you didn't explain it very well. Remember that is was the market that instigated the crisis in the first place. The government bailouts wouldn't have happened if the market didn't malfunction in the first place. And it's a very complex subject... you can't shift the blame to any one cause. There were many causes that brought about the latest economic crisis.

    ??? You didn't understand what I said. In 1999 the US government commanded Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac to underwrite risky loans. That is what lead to the current "crisis." Which is simply market correcting itself from the damage cause by government interferance. The government went from regulator to dictator as to who could get loans.
  2. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    This is incorrect. The government never passed legislation demanding broader access to loans and mortgages. However, this did not require giving out "risky loans." The financial sector chose this on its own. We know this for several reasons, first, the number of loans they were doubling and tripling the targets set by the government, so it's impossible to argue they were being "forced" into anything. By definition, they went far beyond the point where they had no choice. Second, (and disproportionately among minority consumers) they gave out subprime loans to those who would've qualified for normal ones. Third, they embraced non-sensical practices like liar loans (where the customer just has to claim they make a certain amount of money without any proof) that were neither supported, nor asked for, nor needed to meet the government targets. All these things simply increased the profit margins of mortgage companies and put the market at systemic risk.

    Fanny and Freddie were involved in the financial crisis, like pretty much every other mortgage company in America. But it's absolutely ludicrous to say that the government "caused" it.
  3. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Check it out Jabba.

    Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

  4. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    The problem is that the GE CEO's knew that their decisions to promote SUV's and not pursue fuel efficiency in cars would grant huge profits in the short run and then have terrible repercussions for the company when gas prices skyrocketed. But they didn't care, as those CEO's would have been gone by then. Those who took the reigns of GE and Ford really weren't responsible for their companies failing, as it was their predecessors who made the decisions that allowed them to get rich and abandoned the corporations before they tanked.

    Capitalism is to blame because those CEO's who promoted huge and inefficient lines in the 90's KNEW that the company would tank once gas prices exploded. If their fortunes were tied to their corporations, they most certainly wouldn't have made such foolish decisions in the late 90's.

    *snickering*

    Is that why the US economy is doing so well right now? Are you saying that it was a good thing that the Bush administration started a war in Iraq... so that his war profiteering friends could get awarded huge government contracts at the taxpayer's expense? They pursued the money... and look where that lead the US. Another trillion in debt and with a long trail of bodies.

    Okay, maybe I exaggerated with simply saying 'progressive taxes.' Our debt/deficit problem really took off when Reagan's administration put an end to many of the economic programs established during the Great Depression. Since then, his economic programs have caused median household income to almost stagnate while tax cuts and benefits to the top 1% of income earners.

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x2275383

    Read about the tax reform act of 1986. The middle class suffered and the richest actually had their taxes lowered, in spite of already having more than enough to spare.
  5. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Nice of you to ignore the part that implicates the role of the profit motive in all this. For more on why that was the dominant factor, see this:

    Because I don't feel like copying all the links that were in the original post, please go here to see the original context and follow them from there.
  6. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Thank-you. I'd hardly call myself an expert on economics, so it's good to have an intellectual offer his insight.

    In regards to the thread's purpose, the United States has developed around the automobile since the end of WWII. The automobile depended upon a cheap source of fuel, which has been readily available until the crisis of the 1970's. Now we're reaching a point where we're going to confront another shortage crisis as we had decades ago, only there won't be any relief this time.

    Although there are many alternate sources of energy besides oil, only petroleum-based fuels are what drive the majority of our state's infrastructure. When peak oil happens, we will be ill-equipped to transition to another source of energy. Although technologies have been developed to stretch the mileage of automobiles, we must secure our transportation infrastructure by not being solely dependent on oil.

    Although there are many alternate sources of energy available, there has yet to be significant progress made in using solar and nuclear energy for transportation. If the US were to use electric trains, that would allow for a variety of sources to be used. Electricity is almost always cheaper than buying fuel, but it has some obvious limitations when used for plug-in hybrids.
  7. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2006
    star 4
    I've got the solution to oil prices and the US economy. I'll admit, tree-hugging liberal whiners are going to hate it, but, meh, I really don't care: Tap into the United States' previously untapped oil resources. So what if we have to get some spotted owl or polar bear a little dirty? What have they done for us lately? Huh?

    The United States has the largest known deposits of oil shale in the world, according to the Bureau of Land Management and holds an estimated 2,175 gigabarrels of potentially recoverable oil. Oil shale does not actually contain oil, but a waxy oil precursor known as kerogen. There is no significant commercial production of oil from oil shale in the United States.

    [image=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/758Syms2006OCSMapWithPlanni.png]

    The price skyrockets, the US becomes the oil superpower, and because of that leverage, stabilizes not only its own economy, but a large portion of the rest of the world's.

    Amirite? :p

    Don't forget, too, that the US population is nearly equal to that of Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain combined. Yes, the people here use a lot of oil . . . . but then again, there are a lot of us. Also, in terms of physical area, the US is #4 in the world - behind China, Russia and Canada - at 9.166,600 sq km, or 3,539,242 sq miles. So we have a heck of a lot of ground to travel over. There is more open land in the US than in all of Europe. So, again, in order to travel in an efficient manner, we burn oil. Its just part of the deal.

    But, yeah, oil shale. The US has tons of it. That would fix lots of stuff. ;)
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Pound for pound, oil shale has one sixth the energy density of low grade lignite coal. The likely result is you would spend more energy mining and transporting it than you would get out of burning it. That's why it's never been seriously pursued, not just because of cost but, more to the point, the energy returned on energy invested.
  9. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Drill baby, drill? That's just more of the same.

    With good reason. It doesn't make as much sense to tap into oil shale if it costs more than importing it from other countries. Oil prices would have to go up for oil shale to make sense, but it would still not change the price. It also would cause significant environmental destruction for a very marginal return from oil extraction. It's being done more in Canada, but it's costing a lot more than if it were extracted from wells.

    It's not traveling or shipping goods across the US that's the greatest cause of oil demand; it's our dependence on the automobile that is what concerns me. In an LA suburb, the daily commute is as much as two hours for residents living > fifty miles away. Even if such a person had a hybrid car, they would demand two gallons of gas every single day to get to work. Getting around in LA, Atlanta, and Los Vegas always requires a car. There is no alternate means of transportation that can substitute for a car beyond a small fraction of the people.

    The solution to this isn't to build even more efficient cars, or even to drill for more oil; but to redesign these cities to promote higher population density. If you have a smaller urban footprint, you would have a lot less driving to do. You also could instal light rail to the majority of the population, which relies on electricity instead of diesel and gasoline. Reduced distance to travel and with mass transit can effectively REDUCE our demand for petroleum fuels altogether. That is a permanent solution.
  10. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2006
    star 4
    I'll approach this more seriously now: The United States relies very heavily on oil. The entire infrastructure of the nation is centered around oil. In order to avoid peak oil, which would effectively shut down the nation (by some estimates, it is possible by 2020), and we know how the US economy can affect the rest of the world. Instead of letting that happen, or trying to convert everyone in the country to solar/electric/hydrogren/Mr. Fusion-powered vehicles, why not grab the bull by the cajones, and tap into the resources already available under the Badlands and in Alaska? While the mature oil fields of Saudi Aramco are declining at a rate of 8% per year, the United States has a huge, untapped resource.

    Why am I arguing so strongly in favor of oil, instead of some more "environmentally friendly" energy source? Oil is about more than cars. Plastic is a petrochemical. Go through your house and count how many plastic items you have. Go on, I'll wait here at my plastic keyboard, on a plastic chair, drinking from a plastic cup . . . . you get the idea. And then there are more things we take for granted that are made from oil & petrochemicals. CDs, your credit cards, laundry detergent, toilet seats . . . . all made with petrochemicals.

    So, in order to reduce the dependence on oil, the United States needs to totally redesign its city infrastructure, find a new source of road construction (asphalt? oil-based!), design a new engine that everyone will want to put into their vehicles, find something other than plastic to make everything out of, and do all this without ruining its own economy. Sure, jobs will be created, but this will largely be new technology - which is, naturally, expensive. It will take generations of adaptation (technological generations, mind you) to get the pricing to a point where it is fiscally attainable by the average citizen. Oh, and lets face it, redesigning the infrastructure will require massive construction projects, which will consume resources and drive us further into this problem. All of our construction equipment is oil-based, and there aren't really an effective solutions for that particular field just yet. Well, there's propane-powered vehicles, which are cleaner, by propane is a petrochemical, so there's still a dependence on oil.

    So the options are: drill, baby drill or design a world without oil. Its one or the other. And keep in mind that if we don't have plastic, we still have to make things out of something. Name your poison: wood or metal. There are ecological problems with either.

    The notion of "stop using oil" is preposterous, and I didn't even get into how many factories in Taiwan, Korea and China would be affected if they didn't have plastic to make products out of . . . .
  11. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I don't really see the point of your argument. Because our civilization is so wholly dependent on oil, the best response to the reality that our stores of oil are declining is to. . .continue using oil as if nothing is wrong, so that we'll be just as vulnerable on the day we run out as we are now?

    Okay then.
  12. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2006
    star 4
    I really need to learn to finish my thoughts before I hit "post!" 8-}

    Not ignore the problem, exactly, but use those resources that we do have and haven't tapped into so as to cushion the transition. There is no way that, by 2020, the world could be weaned off of oil. 2030? Maybe. We need to use those additional resources to make the transition easier. At some point, yes, we will have to stop using oil. The planet will simply run out. So here's my plan:

    1) Drill, baby, drill! (I'm using this with a heavy dose of sarcasm.)
    2) Use the time "bought" with step 1 to develop cost-effective, easily affordable replacement technologies that do no rely on petrochemicals.
    3) Use the financial capital garnered by having access to "new" (previously untapped) oil reserves to stabilize the American economy.
    4) With a stable economy and necessary advancement in technology to remove oil dependence, the actual "crash" that would have happened otherwise is averted.
    5) The peasants rejoice. (Yay.)

    So, here's my question: What are we going to use to replace plastic in manufacturing? You know, the microchips, toothbrushes, guitar strings, pesticides, fertilizers, and everything else. Its not just cars and transportation. Its not just about Americans needing their SUVs. Everyone, everywhere, in the entire world, is dependent on petrochemicals in some way. Mass transit in the US alone isn't going to fix this.

    Its all well and good to say that change is needed, but the timeframe is virtually impossible, even with the fate of civilization hanging in the balance. Use what we have to make the transition easier, over a longer period of time. How long did it take for the automobile to catch on? Radio? Television? Personal computers? Okay, we need to replace all those, without using the resources that were used to come up with them in the first place. Best of luck to you.

    Unless we hired a few thousand steampunks . . . . [face_thinking]
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    There's absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that any amount of drilling in Alaska or offshore would reverse the decline in U.S. oil production, which peaked nearly 40 years ago and is now half what it was at peak and still declining. Even if we found another oil field as big as Prudhoe Bay in American territory, something that is highly unlikely, all that would achieve is to offset further declines for a few years.

    Mexican oil production peaked several years ago and is in terminal decline, which all by itself is a disaster for the U.S. Although Cantarell will continue to produce oil for decades, the real issue for the U.S. is that Mexican oil exports to the U.S. will dwindle to zero, probably within a decade, long before the oil runs dry.

    That's the key to understanding what peak oil really means and how it connects to population growth. Mexico's oil production is declining even as its population continues to grow and domestic demand for energy increases. Exports fall to zero quickly. It happened in the U.S. decades ago. It will begin to happen everywhere else until Saudi Arabia is the last oil exporter on earth a few short decades from now.

    The U.S. of course, still, for now, has the power to extort oil imports at gunpoint. There's really no other way. Obama is lying to the American people about removing troops from Iraq, by the way.

    There simply is not enough time for economies to adjust in an orderly, civilized manner.
  14. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2006
    star 4
    So the world is humped? Huzzah! [face_worried]

    *scampers off to stockpile supplies of water, canned food, and ammunition*
  15. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    It's only humped if we continue to rely on oil rather then put more effort into finding alternatives.
  16. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    In addition to finding alternatives is finding methods to reduce energy consumption altogether. That doesn't mean we should stop researching and developing plug-in hybrid cars, but we shouldn't be mislead into thinking we can maintain our ways of life through building more efficient cars.

    Europeans use cars as well, but they would be able to weather an oil crisis better than the US because they have alternatives to cars. France generates roughly 90% of its electrical grid with nuclear energy. So if they were to have electrical trains accessible to everyone, they could potentially sustain themselves indefinitely.

    Speaking of electricity... the US power grid currently generates enough electricity that it could almost completely replace oil for transportation. The problem with electricity is that it must be used when it's generated, which causes a lot of waste during off-peak hours. Plug-in hybrids are great because they are able to harness electricity that otherwise would go unused. But they are still expensive and only a temporary solution.

    Another improvement by which to reduce oil consumption take advantage of during off-peak hours is to use electro-diesel locomotives. During regular hours, these trains would use onboard diesel engines to not push electrical consumption during peak hours. During off-peak hours, the train can use overhead lines for power. This would serve also to reduce to price of transportation by using cheap electricity at night and not over-stressing the grid during peak hours.
  17. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    My father-in-law is a huge fan of this. And he's as conservative as they come, so don't lump this in with "teh librulz" or something like that. Granted, he's also in the train business, but still...
  18. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Cool. What does he do?

    I'm really a fan of mass transit, but I really don't favor public bussing as heavily as light rail. I also favor rail over almost every other means of hauling freight, but the US rail infrastructure drastically needs improvement. It's far better than tractor-trailer semi trucks, but the US really needs to promote electrical trains. Finding new ways to utilize electricity during off-peak hours to relieve demand is really the easiest source of energy to have. Best of all is that you could actually reduce how much coal is burned, as the number of power plants operating reflect peak hours much more than actual demand.

  19. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    He's a structural engineer by trade, but he's also a huge train geek to the point that he's co-owner of a tourist train business in southern Missouri.

    I'm a big fan of high-speed mass transit also. Not only for the obvious reasons of reducing pollution and oil use, but for another reason: the effects of high-speed transit on job markets and local communities. With shifting job demands, folks are having to consider moving to where the jobs are. With a sufficient high-speed mass transit infrastructure, that's not as big a deal. For example, I live in Columbia but could hop a train to & from a job in Kansas City or St. Louis, but still contribute to the local economy.
  20. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    It's only humped if we continue to rely on oil rather then put more effort into finding alternatives.

    Well I think it depends how it hits us.

    If it comes on us too slow like many say on climate change, and we'll only start seeing effects 10-20 years after action was actually needed, then we may be in trouble.

    But if it's like most things where you can still rememdy the situation when the first effects becme apparent, then the question just becomes if the problem is solvable and if so, can we solve it?

    Necessity is the Mother of Invention. If we can invent it and we need it now, then I figure it will get done. If we need it now but it had to be invented 10-20 years ago, that's another story.

    Still, I can't help thinking from reading this thread that mankind's real major concern for the future and civilizations continued existance has been and continues to be the nuclear bomb. This stuff on peak oil and other resources... it's a problem but I'm not convinced it's insolvable just yet. My hope for one thing is that as China and India continue to develop thier populations will slowly come under control. Once you have those two countries slowing down, I think some of the concerns on overpopulation will begin to slow.

    Well, hopefully.
  21. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    I don't know what to tell you Jabba. The article clearly states that the Clinton Administration was pressuring it's own banks (that being Fannie and Freddie) to give out these risky loans. It's in the article. A NYT article at that. And we all know that the NYT doen't say anything bad about the Dems unless they have no choice.

    Were there market forces at work? Sure, never said that there wasn't. But the government went from regulator to dictator. That's the fall down. As I sated before, capitalism does need regulation and rule of law to work.

    And much like gun control and illegal immigration, what we need is to simply enforce the existing laws, not create new ones.

    Back to topic, what makes you guys think that we are overpopulated? Most of the need left in the world is caused by corrupt governments, not capasity issues.

  22. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    There is enough space on Earth to hold more people and sustain them, but only at the expense of all other species.
    Earth needs them and we need to live alongside them, so we need fewer people.
  23. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    At the risk of saying the same message with different words...

    There are two primary resources I think the US will be hurting for within the next two decades; energy and water. Those are very broad subjects and not the only resources we need to secure, but substituting for either one will be/has been very difficult.

    Under the subject of water, I'm addressing a number of wasteful or unsustainable practices. Using ground water to cultivate land that would otherwise be too arid for growing crops can't be sustained indefinitely. Already there are farmers who can't irrigate their crops because there is not enough water to go around. Then they request aid from the government in compensation for the restrictions placed on how much water they can use. That's what happens when you pump more water out of the ground than can be recharged by rainfall.

    Another practice of agriculture I intensely dislike is devoting nearly 90% of grain crops to feeding livestock. You only get a fraction of the calories from meat than if you had used the land for human consumption. When water gets more expensive, or ethanol demands increase, meat becomes more expensive. When there wasn't enough feed for cattle, the US has had to IMPORT grain in the last few years! If beef and pork production were reduced by a third, the US could use more agricultural land for crops meant for human consumption. At which point, the demand for water could be drastically reduced.

    Desalinization is a solution that is often used, but it demands a significant amount of energy to boil water away from salt. The same method could also be used for contaminated water, but people tend to favor fresh sources. Cities like Phoenix and Los Vegas are absolutely horrid examples of unsustainable development. Once they deplete their sources of fresh water, they only seek new ones from distant locations.

    Now for energy.

    The US has vast coal reserves, is investing in nuclear energy again, and its renewable sources are on the rise. However, the question of transportation remains in question. Given as it relies almost solely on petroleum-based fuel, the goal should be to reduce our dependence on a single source. The benefits of electricity... or dare I consider hydrogen... is that it can be generated by almost any source.

    Nuclear is great, but it can't be used for anything aside from electric trains and plug-in hybrids. Coal is abundant. And although coal is a dirty fuel, the electricity generated by a power plant outputs less pollution than an internal combustion engine. Transportation represents about 33% of American energy consumption, yet it constitutes over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. Although I favor nuclear most, coal is still better environmentally than a hundred million hybrid cars.
  24. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Yeah, we need fewer people in developing nations. That's where we need fewer people. Take your soapbox there.
  25. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    That's a bit hypocritical to cast blame on developing nations. The US is far more guilty per capita than any other state in the world. Although our population is holding near 300 million, we have the least sustainable lifestyle of any country in the world. If everyone were to follow the American way of life, we would need the equivalent of five or more Earths to sustain ourselves indefinitely.

    India may have over five times the population of the US, but each one has a smaller ecological footprint than that of an American. I'm not advocating for more people, but we must also recognize our ecological footprint as well. That's just as significant.
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