cars - what's the big deal?

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cars - what's the big deal?

I confess to see-sawing between complacency and panic when it comes to peak oil.

On the one hand I'm pretty sure (well as sure as one can be) that we're around peak now.

On the other hand 50% of oil use in the developed World is for private cars and I just can't get my head around why these are so essential. Desirable, sure, but essential?

I live in the UK and basically I could get rid of my car tomorrow and suffer no genuine hardship. Inconvenience, yes, but myself plus family would be able to carry on without starving, freezing to death or even losing our work. We have adequate public transport for distance travelling and walkable amenities (shops, health centre, schools etc) within the town. And this is pretty much the same situation for most of the people I know. Life would become less convenient without the car but not in any way impossible. And I reckon we'd adapt pretty quickly by rearranging priorities and we'd end up fitter and healthier as well. Might even be a good thing overall.

I realise the situation in the US 'burbs is different but even there it's not impossible to rearrange things such that they don't fall apart without cars. Local amenities would surely spring up given a need and buses could quickly accomodate longer distance commuting etc. I realise buses use oil but mass transport is a hell of a lot more efficient than private. Again, convenience is the main sacrifice.

So are we getting overly worried by peak oil because we see dependence (on cars) where there is really only convenience? Because without cars there's plenty of oil remaining for agriculture and other more essential industries for a lot longer.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Hi Piquod,

I'm based in Totnes, where are you?

Peak Oil frightens me deeply, not just for the more obvious losses with its inevitable decline, but to all of that 57% of over 60 year old pensioners, of a population of 8600 here in Totnes, who weekly claim returns on both private and state pension schemes that are index linked somewhat indirectly to the housing market. The housing market, in due course, is paid for by those earning a living making money to pay back debt, and they in turn burn up energy to earn that wage in the form of oil. A decline in oil, a decline in mortgage payments, a decline in mortgage payments a reduction in the volume of money and then, that 57% of pensioners over 60 start turning into an incumbency rather than a support to the community with their previous old money wealth.

What do we have left? About 4000 people. Of those, around half of those are living here in the splendour of a beautiful part of the country out of choices that will begin to decline when energy becomes too expensive to commute. The recent £1.20 a litre of petrol and diesel is crushing a great many of the people that commute from here day to day because there is no alternative. There aren't any jobs worth there salt here, and what there is pays just above minimum wage and is seasonal.

Sadly, the vast majority (I can account for a possible 95+%) still live in the old linear thinking, 'what came before will be the same tomorrow' philosophy, knowing nothing, if anything about, those global decline rates running somewhere between 4.5 and 6.7% (IEA Figures) that I gave you in an earlier thread, and assume, since there is well over a thousand years of history here, in one of the wealthiest areas of the country, so it will remain.

Totnes is the granddaddy of the Transition Town Movement, and the head of this movement is a spirited and inspirational leader called Rob Hopkins. Rob actually met up with Chris Martenson back in late February this year whilst Chris was over here promoting the Crash Course, and they've shared much of their knowledge with each other over time for what I am aware.

This small town has a long way to go to get back to the way it used to be; needs to get back to the self sustaining, self perpetuating town that it was before cheap fossil fuel stripped away its ability to stand upon its own feet. In truth, all of the things that helped it to survive over the preceding thousand years appears to have been dropped through being old fashioned, yet these were the very things that made it viable.

I'm going to leave Rob Hopkins to describe a clever game, explaining what it is exactly that has to be re-created from the ground up in Totnes. Most of what he says, right now, isn't obvious to the 95% I described earlier. They happen to think what they see every day is quite totally normal. In fact, the issues are huge. So big in the face of Peak Oil that they are quite simple 'hidden in plain site' ...

This is transcribed directly from pages 60 and 61 of 'The Transition Handbook', written by Rob Hopkins: -

The Web Of Resilience Exercise

At the beginning of any course I teach, and also at events where I need one practical exercise to communicate the Transition concept, I use the following exercise, an adaptation of one I have used for years at the beginning of permaculture courses. I have done this with very diverse groups of people and I have never had it not work; it is always very powerful.

Divide students into groups of no more than 15 (minimum of 6, ideal around 12). If you have any more than that divide them into smaller groups. Get them to stand in as tight a circle as they can, so their shoulders are touching.

Equipment Needed

One large ball of string and one sticker per person in each group (these are large parcel labels that you buy on a roll), with the names of different elements of a native woodland written as visibly as possible on these in advance. Here in the UK, my list consists of Oak Tree, Soil, Hedgerow, Badger, Worm, Dormouse, Rainfall, Owl, Leaf Litter, Fox, Robin, Wetland, Hazel, Beetle, Fungi, Blackberries, and so on. You can adapt it for species more appropriate to your area.

Directions

The setting for this exercise is a native woodland (ideally do this exercise outdoors, in a woodland, under a large oak tree, but this is not always possible, especially in an evening class - in this case ask people to imagine themselves in a wood).

The stickers are handed round, everyone sticks theirs to the top of their chest. The ball of string is then passed across and around the circle, the only rule being that as you pass the string to someone you must make clear what your relationship is to them.

As the string is passed around you can chip in any extra information you have on woodland ecology that is relevant about relationships between the different elements.

After a while you end up with a complete web of string between everybody. When it is finished, get everyone to pull the web tight, and then to put their hands on top of it and see how strong it is. At this stage people feel quite proud of this web they've created, and are rather proud of themselves.

Once you have the web created you can make the following observations:

"In nature, this web of relationships is inherent in all ecosystems, and it is the diversity of relationships that make these ecosystems work. These webs are very complex and resilient, but they are also very fragile. We intervene in them at our peril, as we can never really know what effects we are having, as we have insufficient understanding of them. While we have just done this exercise about a woodland, we could just as easily do it about a town, with the butcher, the church, the schools, the farmers and so on. Before cheap oil our communities and our economies depended on these networks of relationships and connections. Cheap oil gave us the dubious 'luxury' of thinking we could live without them. People now often live with no idea who lives next-door to them. What life beyond the peak will need, and what permaculture is about, is rebuilding these connections.

"Permaculture is about re-weaving this complex web of beneficial relationships. This game is a useful tool for giving form to what we have thrown away and what cheap oil does to us"

I then walk around the circle and ask them to note how some people are holding more strings than others.

"These are key elements of the ecosystem. When we make interventions in this system we do so at our peril. We could be a farmer who decides to clear the oak trees and drain the wetland. We could be the planners in a town with a strong local economy who decide to permit a large out-of-town supermarket. Either way we often don't see the results of this intervention immediately.

"What happens when we clear the oaks (the person who is the oaks lets go of their strings)? We can see that it doesn't make much obvious difference. So then we rain the wetland (wetland person lets theirs go). Again, it looks a bit worse but not much."

Then, using plausible narrative ("so then the farmer did this, and then that ... "), get people to let go of their strings one after the other; at a certain point it all collapses. The point to make is that you have an idea of knowing when that happens.

"You build the out-of-town supermarket and three years after the high street is deserted. In essence, human beings before cheap oil used good design, and networks of relationships to make things happen. Since cheap oil we have lost all that. We will need to rebuild it."

For added dramatic effect, you can brandish a pair of scissors and cut the strings! As a way of teaching people about permaculture principles and about how cheap oil has transformed our society, this can be a very powerful exercise. 

Paul (Totnes - UK)

 (edit) A friend just called me to say that he just bought fuel for his car at £1.22-9 a litre ...

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

I disagree with you about American cars and the burbs.  We have created an urban and suburban landscape in and around most cities that cannot exist without cars.  To ramp up mass transit to the level it is in Europe or the UK where masses of people can be moved efficiently and quickly without cars would take many years and probably trillions of $.  Even then, our spread out residential patterns make all forms of transit inefficient.  We don't have the manufacturing capacity to turn out buses and trains on a scale that could successfully adapt to a world without cars any time in the near future.  My guess is Americans will get used to paying really high gas prices first, and then the burbs will decay as people go rural, urban or small town.

Doug

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
Vanityfox451 wrote:

 (edit) A friend just called me to say that he just bought fuel for his car at £1.22-9 a litre ...

Wow. I just did a quick calculation (exchange rate and liters/gallon) and that translates to about U.S. $7/gallon. I highly doubt the U.S. economy could handle gas prices that high. A lot of my co-workers will use up a gallon, or more, one-way just to get to work. $14 round trip? Not happening.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Yippeeee Doug

I found something I can agree with you on. Detroit is the future.

V

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
joemanc wrote:
Vanityfox451 wrote:

 (edit) A friend just called me to say that he just bought fuel for his car at £1.22-9 a litre ...

Wow. I just did a quick calculation (exchange rate and liters/gallon) and that translates to about U.S. $7/gallon. I highly doubt the U.S. economy could handle gas prices that high. A lot of my co-workers will use up a gallon, or more, one-way just to get to work. $14 round trip? Not happening.

Hi Joe,

I believe the American gallon is slightly different from the English. Where the English gallon equates to 4.54 litre's, the American is closer to 3.8 litre's. My 15 year old diesel VW Golf (Rabbit in the US) makes 50 miles to the Engllish gallon.

If you remember back to July 11th 2008 when a barrel of oil was changing hands for $147 on the open market, fuel prices were so volatile in the UK that I witnessed petrol station's selling fuel for between £1.29 and £1.33 a litre.

In truth, I can't see the UK fairing very well with the expected price of a barrel of oil climbing above $100 by June/July this year and most possibly beyond. Connect that to the collosal amount of unsecured debt with the credit card industry here in the UK and you have a concoction for a steep decline in public mobility and a way of life too many have taken for granted for too long.

For example, Plymouth in the south gave me rise for pause about a month ago with this article in a local paper:-

City Debt Is £42,000 Per Adult

Quote:

PLYMOUTH is being swamped by a tide of debt, sparked by the recession, says the city council.

 

In this financial year, residents with more than £73million-worth of problem debt have sought advice and counselling and the figure is expected to hit £100million by the end of the month.

This includes those who are having trouble paying their mortgages.

"The problem is people borrowing against their lifestyle, and then things change," said Darin Halifax, community cohesion co-ordinator at the city council.

"The most common problems are ill-health, marriage break-up and losing a job. Irresponsible borrowing from doorstep lenders isn't as rife in Plymouth as we thought it would be.

"You're likely to see debt figures coming down now because mainstream lenders aren't making such irresponsible loans," he said.

Mr Halifax and Pete Aley, the assistant director for safer communities, were giving evidence to the Customers and Communities overview and scrutiny panel, which is reviewing the way the council helps people avoid money problems.

Plymouth people were reckoned to owe about £6.3billion in total, including their mortgages, councillors on the panel were told. Of that, £1billion was owed in unsecured debt.

Based on approximately 150,000 people of adult age in Plymouth, the £6.3billion figure works out at an estimated £42,000 of total debt per person, including their mortgage. Unsecured debt works out at an estimated £6,600 per person.

Put plainly, a great many people in Plymouth and most every major city in the UK are now paying off their mortgages and monthly fuel bills with their credit cards!!!

A House Of Cards that is another bubble market expected to pop sometime late this year onward.

I believe one of the benefits of the US system is subsidized fuel? I can't confirm this, but I seem to remember damnthematrix (Mike) pulled up an article a while ago that confirmed that if the US didn't have subsidized fuel from its government, the true estimate would be nearer $10 a gallon. Also as a truth, you're already paying much more for a gallon than you might think in principle, because the military charged 54% of all income tax in 2009, outlining a biting $1.49 trillion to keep the wheels roling across the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cheer Up! It's all going to go crashing down around our ears soon, but we'll all be (mostly) better for the experience ...Laughing...

... I Hope ...

My Best,

~ VF ~

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Requiem For Detroit ...

V, Doug,

yep, I predict that many major US cities are going to be using Detroit as a blueprint over the next 20 years ...

~ VF ~

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Thank you for posting those videos, Vanityfox451. That's a really fantastic documentary, with great music to boot.

I have to agree that the vast majority of American cities will be virtually uninhabitable without access to cheap gas. They simply were not designed to be functional without automobiles for personal transportation and trucks that can bring essential goods in from far away.

A grass-roots approach of local farming etc. might work in Detroit, where there's a relatively small population, but I wonder how well that idea will scale up? 

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

High Paul in Totnes

I'm at the other end of the country from you in N Berwick just East of Edinburgh where we have a nascent transition movement that I'm getting involved in.

One of the most important factors post-peak will be time. There have been a number of debates recently on www.theoildrum.com regarding the relative likelyhood of collapse vs gradual decline (BAU is an option but largely dismissed there as it is here). The time that we have in which to adapt will in my opinion go a long way to determining the path. My OP about cars was really about saying that if we can to a large extent do without them then it tilts the odds in favour of gradual decline rather than collapse. It buys us more time. Especially if activities such as agriculture still have access to sufficient energy. It may even be that agriculture can become more or less self-sustaining with biofuel prodcution on a part of the land used to fuel the rest (note - I'm NOT advocating biofuels for general use which I realise is disasterous!).

Another factor you touch on, also discussed recently on TOD, is the complexity of modern civilisation and how this is susceptible to disruption. My personal opinion is that it is almost impossible to model this, there are just too many variables and too poor an understanding of what is and what is not critical. Again I would suggest that time will be key in whether or not adaption is possible. Imagining current jobs, way of life etc, no longer being possible is calamitous if it happens quickly but maybe manageable as a slow transition. Sort of like the eating an elephant analogy. Not sure what happens to all those old people though (same issue in N Berwick) ;-)

The best reveiws I've ever read about ecological complexity and how to reduce it to more simple terms have been by HT Odum. His concepts of the macroscope, transformity, emergy etc are pretty controversial but they at least attempt to tackle the whole issue rather than draw an artificial boundary around one part of the problem. Worth reading if you've not already done so - some reasonable summaries of his thinking on the net if you Google about a bit. Given what you've posted I suspect you are already aware of his work.

You surprise me a bit when you say you think we will struggle at $100 oil. Here in the UK we are pretty well cushioned against the oil price thanks to the huge amount we pay in tax at the pump (about 70%). So even a 20% rise in the oil price only translates into 6% rise at the pump. The main reason petrol prices have been rising so much recently is even more tax to help pay for Gordon's largesse of the last decade - something we will all be paying for a long time to come (don't get me started!).

rgds

Mark

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
Doug wrote:

I disagree with you about American cars and the burbs.  We have created an urban and suburban landscape in and around most cities that cannot exist without cars.  To ramp up mass transit to the level it is in Europe or the UK where masses of people can be moved efficiently and quickly without cars would take many years and probably trillions of $.  Even then, our spread out residential patterns make all forms of transit inefficient.  We don't have the manufacturing capacity to turn out buses and trains on a scale that could successfully adapt to a world without cars any time in the near future.  My guess is Americans will get used to paying really high gas prices first, and then the burbs will decay as people go rural, urban or small town.

Doug

Doug,

I've just realised a post I thought I'd put up for you, didn't happen. Computer Gremlins!!!

I (supposedly) posted a link to the film The End Of Suburbia, with the news that after 3 years, You Tube have removed it. However, the trailer is newsworthy and compelling enough to this thread, and to me, puts across visually toward many of the differences with the American living arrangement than of the over all more walk-able European variety: -

One of the interviewee's of the film was James Howard Kunstler, so to make up for the loss, here's the man himself, larger than life itself on an episode of TED: -

With no surprise over the last 50 years, there have been large swaths of suburbia built on green and brown belt land across the length and breadth of the UK. No surprises there, considering many countries believe that the UK is the 51st state of America. Therefore, the UK is nowhere near as walk able or sustainable as I would like it to be, with the car acting as a stop-gap and a shrinker of Worlds ...

Put it this way, Totnes is an 18 hour hike both ways so as to have a day trip in the nearest city on foot ... Laughing...

... which is an average for the American living arrangement, give or take a mile or two either way?

City planners are just plain mad!!!

Paul

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
angle wrote:

Thank you for posting those videos, Vanityfox451. That's a really fantastic documentary, with great music to boot.

I have to agree that the vast majority of American cities will be virtually uninhabitable without access to cheap gas. They simply were not designed to be functional without automobiles for personal transportation and trucks that can bring essential goods in from far away.

A grass-roots approach of local farming etc. might work in Detroit, where there's a relatively small population, but I wonder how well that idea will scale up? 

Hello angle,

You're very welcome! It's a stunning film with excellent music that I've secreted away in amongst a few threads now. Aren't you surprised that it hasn't been released onto mainstream US television yet?

I think it's the end of the film (part 8) that put to bed for me any doubts as to what will happen in the future of Detroit. I think of it like the many camping trips I had as a boy. We'd sleep under leaking canvas, eat half cooked beef burgers and didn't wash for days, in the knowledge that there was a hot bath, good food, a warm bed and a TV to entertain back home.

In other words, right now, that group sat around that camp fire have a choice to stay where they are, or go back to the unsustainable lifestyles they've left behind. Eventually though, the choice will be set in stone for them and they'll simply have to continue on doing what they've learnt to do with what tools they have remaining. Flocks of migration-al Americans making their way through Detroit will be met by people surviving with fertile growing land and hard but fulfilling lives.

There again, as was also said in the film, Detroit looks like hell on paper, and maybe that will dissuade enough people not to go there, thinking it as a no go zone. All the better for those who can watch the city crumble down back to nature in peace?

As for scaling up the size of population, I think it will be decided on the level playing ground of nature: -

The Origin of The Species

'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life' - Charles Darwin

Paul

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Vanityfox451

Thanks for the Kunstler video.  It was kinda nostalgic for me because I used to live in Saratoga Springs.  It has the bones of a very well designed small town that is a joy to live in, except that it, too, has succumbed to the blight that suburbia brings.  The last time I was there was the first time I saw that wall that he discussed.  I couldn't help but think that with all the money that passes through that town, this must be some architectural gem that I just don't understand.  But no, I finally concluded that it was a monstrosity.  When Kunstler asked what the final sentence the architects spoke was, I knew exactly what he was going to say.

I currently live about an hour away from Buffalo, a city that also has some beautiful bones.  The park and parkway system was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and the city is full of beautiful architecture, including 6 or 7 Frank Lloyd Wright homes.  But, the city planners have done some horrible things to the design.  The radiating street system characteristic of Olmstead designs is interrupted a block from where it begins by a ghastly civic center that presents largely blank walls on all four sides, and is plopped down where one of the radiating streets used to run.  I could go on about the horrors that Buffalo's city planners have created over the past 60 years or so, but they aren't much different than most rust belt cities.

Also, I spent some time in Detroit.  It is fitting in a macabre sort of way that it has become the hellish pit it is.  After all, that's where the US automobile industry was built.  It's only right that it should be the first to suffer the destruction created by its own creation.  Unfortunately, it won't be the last.

Doug

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

A lot of people who try to make sense of peak oil and the converging crises that we face make the mistake (in my opinion) of trying to take each likely symptom of those crises, separately, to see how that symptom could be cured. I think this is an example of such.

Of course cars aren't essential, as such, or at least a lot of journeys either aren't essential or can be made by other means but not making those journeys will have a knock on effect to various areas of the economy. Also, fuel that is too expensive will also raise the cost of everything and make some things scarcer. Air and sea travel (including freight) will be hit.

But lower private car travel is just one symptom of peak oil and peak oil is just one of the many crises we face because of our complete lack of concern for our habitat, a belief in infinite resources (implicit in the worship of economic growth) and a population that, if it isn't already beyond the earth's carrying capacity, is rapidly heading that way (with a growth rate that seemed to have stubbornly stuck around 1.15% for five years, until last year).

I think we need to understand that the way of life that most of us have, or aspire to, is not sustainable and we need to change much more than just taking the odd bus journey.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Hi Sofistek

A lot of people who try to make sense of peak oil and the converging crises that we face make the mistake (in my opinion) of trying to take each likely symptom of those crises, separately, to see how that symptom could be cured. I think this is an example of such.

Surely though it makes sense to try to understand the nature of our oil dependence?

It's worth remembering that it was not all that long ago (60 years?) that private cars were very much the exception rather than the rule (and oil use/capita was a fraction of current) and yet people got along just fine without them. And large parts of the World have pretty much the same infrastructure as 60 years ago. I realise this is not the case for US suburbia but peak oil is usually portrayed as a Global problem rather than a peculiarly US one. So when you say 'the way of life most of us have' maybe you mean 'most Americans have'? Because I would still maintain that in large parts of the World the car is more about convenience (large though that convenience may be) than neccessity. And if that is the case it buys us (or at least most of us)  time to adapt as oil supplies decline.

I agree that current growth and resource use cannot continue indefinitely. At some stage this will become obvious (market action will make it so if nothing else does) even to the most hard-nosed capitalists and the most blinkered govmnts. At that point it will be a question of how much time we have to adapt to the inevitable. And that time interval will depend critically on what fraction of  our resource usage is essential and how much is discretionary.

The problem with looking at our current behaviour and projecting it forwards (whether as an exponential or otherwise ;-)) is it's all too easy to become completely overwhelmed by all the different forces and believe collapse is inevitable. But as a species we've proven adaptable and resilient and may yet avoid the worst of outcomes. Time in which to do so will IMO be key, time to reskill, rebuild and re-educate.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
piquod12 wrote:

Hi Sofistek

A lot of people who try to make sense of peak oil and the converging crises that we face make the mistake (in my opinion) of trying to take each likely symptom of those crises, separately, to see how that symptom could be cured. I think this is an example of such.

Surely though it makes sense to try to understand the nature of our oil dependence?

Yes of course, and frankly, cars, or the abandonment thereof, is the LEAST of our problems.  For me, the worst aspect of Peak Oil is FOOD PRODUCTION.

piquod12 wrote:

It's worth remembering that it was not all that long ago (60 years?) that private cars were very much the exception rather than the rule (and oil use/capita was a fraction of current) and yet people got along just fine without them.

Yes, but EVERYTHING was different, like food production, which was local, unprocessed, and largely organic.  I'm only 58, but I clearly remember French farmers piling up huge mountains of manure to fertilise their fields.....  BY HAND!

piquod12 wrote:

And large parts of the World have pretty much the same infrastructure as 60 years ago.

Do they?  Which means that as their population has tripled, far less infrastructure per capita is now available....

piquod12 wrote:

I realise this is not the case for US suburbia but peak oil is usually portrayed as a Global problem rather than a peculiarly US one. So when you say 'the way of life most of us have' maybe you mean 'most Americans have'? Because I would still maintain that in large parts of the World the car is more about convenience (large though that convenience may be) than neccessity. And if that is the case it buys us (or at least most of us)  time to adapt as oil supplies decline.

Many third world countries are going gangbusters trying to emulate the West, and whilst they might be using scooters instead of SUV's, there are far far more of them than us.....  had a look at Vietnames transport modes lately..?

Even this might become hard or too expensive to do soon...


piquod12 wrote:

I agree c urrent growth and resource use cannot continue indefinitely. At some stage this will become obvious (market action will make it so if nothing else does) even to the most hard-nosed capitalists and the most blinkered govmnts. At that point it will be a question of how much time we have to adapt to the inevitable. And that time interval will depend critically on what fraction of  our resource usage is essential and how much is discretionary.

The problem with looking at our current behaviour and projecting it forwards (whether as an exponential or otherwise ;-)) is it's all too easy to become completely overwhelmed by all the different forces and believe collapse is inevitable. But as a species we've proven adaptable and resilient and may yet avoid the worst of outcomes. Time in which to do so will IMO be key, time to reskill, rebuild and re-educate.

The problem as I see it is that we have painted ourselves into a corner in which FFs have become ESSENTIAL.  Yes, once upon a time we could satisfactorily do wih little oil, but no more....  it is IMPOSSIBLE to feed all the people we now have without it.  Those of us who are bothered to learn to feed ourselves sustainably might do OK, but BILLIONS have no ide how, are too obese to work that hard, and won't know what hit them WTSHTF!

Mike

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

piquod12

Quote:

But as a species we've proven adaptable and resilient and may yet avoid the worst of outcomes. Time in which to do so will IMO be key, time to reskill, rebuild and re-educate.

You're right, we may have time.  But, look around you, do you see anything happening?  I don't, except for the CM'ers whose progress we can follow online.  I see no sign of awareness in the general populace, in the business community or at any level of gov't.  Even some individuals who I know are aware of the problems choose to ignore them, assuming life will go on pretty much as it always has since WWII.

That may be a discouraging pov, but all I can do is prepare the best I can.

Doug

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Hi Mike

Yes of course, and frankly, cars, or the abandonment thereof, is the LEAST of our problems.  For me, the worst aspect of Peak Oil is FOOD PRODUCTION.

Yes, no question food is more important than private cars (although Top Gear presenterJeremy Clarkson here in the UK may argue differently ;-)). But there are a couple of things which IMO make it worth questioning the threat to food production presented by peak oil;

1. Agriculture uses a very small fraction of overall oil consumption - between 2 and 10% depending on where you draw the boundary.

2. It's at least theoretically possible that agriculture could become self-sustaining in liquid fuels through biofuel production.

Taken together these factors will at worst allow food prodcution to continue way beyond declines in private car usage. At best it could with minimal disruption become self-sustaining. No question there will be a period of rising prices as oil supply falls but food production will through neccssity remain a priority - we'll just end up paying more for it and probably have a more limited choice.

Do they?  Which means that as their population has tripled, far less infrastructure per capita is now available....

Whilst there are parts of the World that have seen this sort of population growth, in many areas it has been far more subdued. Most of Europe, for example, has grown by between 10 and 50% since WWII. So yes more strain on infrastructure but largely mitigated by improvements both in quality and quantity. More importantly the basic urban structure has remained intact meaning reliance on private cars has not increased - although you wouldn't neccessarily come to that conclusion looking at how many there are on the roads!

Many third world countries are going gangbusters trying to emulate the West, and whilst they might be using scooters instead of SUV's, there are far far more of them than us.....  had a look at Vietnames transport modes lately..?

haha, nice pic! One of the things that will be interesting to follow is whether developing Nations go for the kind of suburban sprawl seen in the US, Australia etc or the more compact urbanisation of e.g. Europe, Japan. This will obviously impact oil denand and discretionary nature of the same.

The problem as I see it is that we have painted ourselves into a corner in which FFs have become ESSENTIAL.  Yes, once upon a time we could satisfactorily do wih little oil, but no more....  it is IMPOSSIBLE to feed all the people we now have without it.

If you are talking FF's in general then I'm much more inclined to agree the use of the word essential is appropriate. My concern is not so much that oil will decline (I really do believe adaption is possible given enough time) but that the developing World will turn more and more towards coal. This is pretty much the trend over the last decade (look at Chinas coal consumption - it's literally eye-watering ;-)) and shows little sign of slowing down despite all the largely pointless attempts to get World leaders together and discuss the issue. And keeping the lights on is always going to trump environmental concerns. So in the short-medium term I can see coal and gas substituting for oil where possible (I agree transportation is tricky and will face cut-backs/issues). Longer-term even these more abundent sources of energy will peak and at that point TS really will HTF!

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Piquod,

I put something together for you a couple of days ago and then, ironically, we had a 30 minute power cut, which wiped all memory of my work within the blink of an eye!!! I'm not going to repeat the work because the momentum of this thread has changed somewhat, and I have time constraint.

One of the deciding factors for the UK is of a massive North Sea fuel decline, which is raging at an accelerated decline rate in indigenous U.K. natural gas supplies. Recently, that figure was as high as 17%. Therefore, there is great neccessity for importation of fuel from other countries.

With a fair bit of bouncing around on production since 2000, the UK became a permanent net importer in 2007. Those exporting countries that supply the UK have literally helped us to maintain keeping the lights on this winter, while their stock is also in decline. No doubt there will come a time when these export countries require all the fuel they own entirely for themselves. 

There will come a time quite soon when exporting countries nolonger export their reserves for the likes of worthless digital money. A Tribute Paid In Oil is a bloody good example, yet more far reaching still is this March 29th article from The Oil Drum, which certainly gave me a moment for pause.

Adding the ongoing Russia - Ukraine Gas Disputes to run alongside this thinking, and quite frankly I wonder quite where many of the countries of the globe that have large populations will get the oil they need to even transition from oil dependency, let alone become sustainable.

Time as they say, is the constraint, and we're fast running out of that as a commodity too ...

I can't see the swaying of global government happening fast enough to sway global population, (or visa versa) in time for anything like a smooth transition. I swallowed this bitter pill quite some time ago, as did many a writer on this forum.

It isn't to say that we're suffering from Group-Think either, as many have come here from different countries, traversed many different obstacles on the journey here also, and found people in majority that write here with the same conclusion.

I'd love to meet someone who can be so totally compelling with the possibility of a more positive alternative, that they can change my entire stance on my reasoning so far to date ...

My Best,

Paul

 

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Hi Paul

The level of complacency regarding energy provision in the UK is breathtaking and has been pretty much ever since we first spudded the N Sea. Gotta wonder whether on balance we might have been better off never finding O&G because if we hadn't then we might have put a lot more effort into securing alternatives.

On a slightly different tack it's been amazing this last dew days seeing the sky with no jet trails. I was just thinking today how big the World once again seems without air travel, how big and exciting it must have seemed in the past and how big it might again seem in the future. What's also been noticeable is how relatively minor have been the consequences of the complete elimination of air traffic for what is now several days, especially when you consider the incredible number of flights normally taking place (I used to live on the Heathrow flight path so have direct experience of this!). OK, obviously the people left stranded have suffered but that's a consequence of the abruptness of the stoppage. I can't help feeling a slow decline could be almost painless for most, although not for anyone foolish enough to invest in airline companies of course. Obviously a few days is too short a time to determine how discretionary or otherwise air travel is but early signs suggest more discretionary than not.

Maybe it will be the same with cars - a gradual decline with people looking back and wondering what all the fuss was about?

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

"What's also been noticeable is how relatively minor have been the consequences of the complete elimination of air traffic for what is now several days"

Relative to what? I guess it depends on how you're positioned. Airlines, some of which operated primarily in the affected area lost, and are losing, a lot of money (any the tax payer may end up picking up some of that). Companies that supply those airlines would also be hit. Companies that rely heavily on quick air freight were struggling and a lot of perishable goods had to be destroyed. Toyota shut three lines because of supply problems. Some transplant patients will not have got their transplants in time. Some sporting events were impacted. I'm sure that there are many stories of individual and company hardship, many of which have been reported on and many of which will, no doubt emerge in the coming days and weeks.

On a personal level, my son is stuck in the UK and (fingers crossed) will arrive back more than a week late (much better than many). It will affect him for the rest of the year, since he's now used up more than an extra week of his vacation allowance at work. A package posted by my brother in the UK will be well delayed also, causing me to lose a small amount of money. So for most people, it may not amount to much but I bet most of those will know someone who was, or will be, affected by the elimination. I suspect a prolonged shutdown would have had a huge impact.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Hi Sofistek

I don't disagree with a lot of what you say but would point out that most of the issues you've highlighted are a consequence of the acute nature of the disruption. If air travel were to decline gradually then the marketplace would do what it does best and re-allocate resources and people appropriately. This has happened plenty of times before - look at the decline of the once omnipotent railway companies (they may come back!). So differnt industries would emerge and flourish and the make-up of support services and industries would also change over time.

The issue of people getting stuck is of course also a result of the acuteness of the shock and shouldn't arise with a more gradual and chronic decline during which people would plan accordingly.

On a personal note I hope your son is stuck in one of the nicer parts of the UK and not somewhere like Hull or Newcastle!

 

 

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Well, you may be right but you seem to have more faith in the market than I do. The market can't magic up resources so a gradual decline in air travel is probably part of a gradual decline in the economy generally. I'm not sure that the market has coped with that kind of scenario before. No doubt, up to a point, society could cope with a gradual decline but only if it recognises the permanent shift (from cheap resource and energy abundance, to expensive and constrained resources) and tries to adapt the society and economy (certainly, growth will be history). That will be a huge shift to make and not many people will sail through it.

My son, unfortunately, had used most of his spending money and is largely stuck in a fairly tedious small town, in the middle of a high density housing estate. At least the transport links are good, so he may have been able to get around, if he can afford it.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

Hi Sofistek

I take your points and offer a few reasons why my glass is still half-full;

1. Yes FF's will decline but the rate of this decline, along with the fact that a lot of current use is either wasteful or discretionary, should be gradual enough to allow implementation of alternatives. The most recent article on theoildrum gives a very positive update on renewable energy availability and EROEI;

http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5573

2. Depending on your defintion economic growth doesn't have to just be about quantity but can be about quality instead. I absolutely agree that, certainly in the OECD, we should and will be consuming less but there is no reason why the quality of what we consume cannot continue to improve. Quality is a consequence largely of information that has already been established  and the ability to use that information to produce stuff. Think of the dramatic improvenents in almost everything we use that has taken place over the last few generations. And most modern products don't take more energy to produce than their forerunners, often less in fact (even considering all energy inputs).

3. Population. In a different thread I made the point, as others have, that population is no longer growing exponentially but looks to be plateauing out at around 9bn by 2050. Whilst this may still prove unsustainable at least it provides a more manageable future level than one that is continuing to grow aggressively. Basically it improves our ability to plan ahead.

4. Adaptability of humans. If you simply project decline onto our current way of life then I agree there appear to be insurmountable problems. But if you allow sufficient time for adaption then we may yet surprise the pessimists. Worth remembering that although we may not have faced a problem that is the same as declining energy (although note point 1) we have survived some pretty big upheavels. The rebuilding of Europe after WWII and the bubonic plague in the middle ages spring to mind! I can't believe people will just sit around accepting their fate as energy becomes more expensive - they will surely be stirred into action. An dhaving a conmmon purpose can sometimes motivate a population (again the example of rebuilding after war comes to mind). The worst thing we can do is to allow doom to become self-fulfilling.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

I agree with piquod12- people are innovative and here's an example-

We put E-85 in ALL our vehicles and ALL ran -though a few needed a small carborator adjustment. E85 is 85% alcohol and so we now use only 15% of gasoline we used 1 month ago in gas. Most engine mechanics can adjust the carb in a car, truck or small engine in under an hour. NONE of what we switched fuels with are "flex-fuel" but they are all older gas-burning model engines.

I DO NOT agree with how the alcohol is produced but I DO Agree - it is a part of the coming solution. I think a growing number of small farmers are seeing how they can manage their own energy needs for less money and some time-inputs with alcohol, methane, solar & wind. Larger farmers who burn diesel in tractors are also looking into options and what it will take to keep their farm running.

The best things you can do to ensure your local supply of energy and food in the future is to share information you about the Future of Energy with farmers- big and small since they will be the ones to target for local energy and food production in the future. From the "back-yard farmer" to the large scale, now would be a good time to get to know the farmers in your area and start CSA'ing if at all possible.  Buy local farmer market produced food, not just because its going to be the freshest, best tasting food or because it will be cheaper than in the store (many times it is not) - buy it because the future of your local food depends on it and YOU want to KNOW the people BEFORE TSHTF.

Play a Smart End Game -

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Time ~ Scale ~ Cost

Piquod,

I want to confirm that you've read the Hirsch Report. If you haven't, here's a link: -

The Hirsch Report

In it you'll find Three Scenarios that you must pay great attention to: -

[quote=]

  • Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.
  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 10 years before world oil peaking helps considerably but still leaves a liquid fuels shortfall roughly a decade after the time that oil would have peaked.
  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 20 years before peaking appears to offer the possibility of avoiding a world liquid fuels shortfall for the forecast period.
Quote:

With no surprise, we're the top one on that list, but when exactly should the World have taken steps to kerb the disaster that we've now entered?

Here, in 1979 would have been a good start point: -

That would have been the time where we would be in the bottom scenario of the Hirsch Report. That was the point where President Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House as a statement to the World.

What stopped Carters Ideals 'dead in there tracks' is the very monster that has prevailed our way of living right upto the cliff edge that we are teetering on 'right now'.

So where do we go?

What are our choices?

Maybe some reality?

Damnthematrix connected me to Pedro prieto a while ago. This is a quote from post #11 of a report by Chris Martenson on Christmas Eve 2009 called, Copenhagen & Economic Growth - You Can't Have Both

A Spanish friend of mine, a Renewables Engineer (Pedro Prieto - google him) made a presentation last year at Madrid's ASPO conference where he said that to produce 30% of the world's electricity within ten years with wind would require DOUBLING global steel production, a thirty fold increase in glass fibre production, half the world's coal and copper, and its entire concrete production!  Lots of oil would be needed too, can't remember how much.... (half..?)

So, whilst we merrily go about building the 1.5 million 2MW wind turbines as per above, ALL the car factories will have to be shut down, no hospitals/schools/houses will be built......  and emissions would skyrocket!  In the meantime of course, electricity demand would have (conceivably) grown too...?

Quote:

... and connecting dots to what is actually happening around the globe at this time with energy  ...

At current demand levels, Chinese resources should last almost 30 years,

So with demand quite likely running at ~14% growth (doubling time = five years), they're unlikely to last 'til the end of THIS decade!

Quote:

... worthy of mention: -

... what we call Renewable Energies today are in fact non-renewable systems capturing renewable energy. The renewable infrastructure being built uses a great deal of fossil fuel inputs that need to be taken into account ...

http://www.aspo-spain.org/aspo7/presentations/Prieto-SolarWind-ASPO7.pdf

We can talk all day and every day about what changes should happen, but the reality is very very different from the standpoint of World Governments. This forum is awash with such discussion. In fact, arguements have ensued, with many a character talking as though they were the ones organising and implementing the neccessary changes. In truth, changes should have been implemented as much as 25 years before President Carter said that "... the world will be demanding more oil than it can produce ...".

Changes in day to day living away from present day standards of cars and free trade importation of food, toward a walkable, permaculture society, just isn't going to happen without war over resource. Again and again in history it has been the stumbling block. Right now, Iraq is just such a war, along with those countries that suffer while we benefit by aiming guns. After all, there wouldn't be any invasion of Iraq if its main export was cauliflower or carrots. In truth, the World has been at war for a long long time, we've just gotten used to watching our TV's at night broadcast the latest crop of starving people, the latest famine, the latest battle; two dimensionally broadcast in edited form on the six o'clock news.

Whether in the streets of Edinburgh or Totnes, Melbourne or Chicago, the same realities are coming writ large. It's strange that we can wage discussion within a forum about such things. We write here in the comfort of our homes with full bellies and warmth, building scenarios out of sand ...

The only possible chance of standing outside the influence of this tsunami would be location, planning and luck ...

Now, this isn't to say I've given up hope and am having a negative day, it's just that I don't see Totnes making any headway toward anything like sustainability at this time for its 8600 inhabitants any more than any other major or minor city around the entire globe. I search daily for those who are winners. If I were living in such a winner, I wouldn't be broadcasting loudly about it, would you?

There are token idealists, but as yet, no momentum; the issue hasn't yet latched into consenus. And when it does, it'll be even later still and we'll be that much closer to the edge and watching a couple of billion floundering in the water from the drop.

The Hirsch Report is five years old remember, and even though there were a number of people coughing nervously in meetings around the world after its release, what turnaround have you seen from it in your hometown?

We haven't a single scientific product to invent. We have everything we need. We just keep adding another 90 million people to the population every year and have no will in implementing the desperate need for change.

I want to teach these things to every one I meet every day. Every day I meet people and every day I gain a better idea of how many are switching on.

Not many I can assure you ...

~ VF ~

... Some Possible Answer's ...

The Transition Handbook ~ by Rob Hopkins [pdf]

 

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
EndGamePlayer wrote:

I agree with piquod12- people are innovative and here's an example-

We put E-85 in ALL our vehicles and ALL ran -though a few needed a small carborator adjustment. E85 is 85% alcohol and so we now use only 15% of gasoline we used 1 month ago in gas. Most engine mechanics can adjust the carb in a car, truck or small engine in under an hour. NONE of what we switched fuels with are "flex-fuel" but they are all older gas-burning model engines.

Once-Hidden EU Report Reveals Damage From Biodiesel

*http://planetark.org/wen/57691

Date:* /22-Apr-10/*
Country:* BELGIUM*
Author:* Pete Harrison

Biofuels such as biodiesel from soy beans can create up to four times more climate-warming emissions than standard diesel or petrol, according to an EU document released under freedom of information laws.

The European Union has set itself a goal of obtaining 10 percent of its road fuels from renewable sources, mostly biofuels, by the end of this decade, but it is now worrying about the unintended environmental impacts.

Four major studies are under way.

Chief among those fears is that biofuel production soaks up grain from global commodity markets, forcing up food prices and encouraging farmers to clear tropical forests in the quest for new land.

Burning forests releases vast quantities of carbon dioxide and often cancels out many of the climate benefits sought from biofuels.

Biodiesel from North American soybeans has an indirect carbon footprint of 339.9 kilograms of CO2 per gigajoule -- four times higher than standard diesel -- said the EU document, an annex that was controversially stripped from a report published in December.

Editing the report caused one of the consultancies, Fraunhofer of Germany, to disown it partly in a disclaimer. But it has now been made public after Reuters used freedom of information laws to gain a copy.

The EU's executive European Commission said it had not doctored the report to hide the evidence, but only to allow deeper analysis before publishing.

"Given the divergence of views and the level of complexity of the issue ... it was considered better to leave the contentious analysis out of the report," the Commission said in a statement. "The analysis prepared under this study applied a methodology which by many is not considered appropriate."

SCIENTIFIC NEUTRALITY

The annex adds some weight to a growing dossier suggesting biofuels are not as green as once thought -- even the more advanced, second generation biofuels made from wood chips.

"For the third time in six weeks the (European) Commission is forced to release studies about the climate effects of biofuels," said Nusa Urbancic of T&E, a campaign group for green transport.

"And for the third time these studies show that land use is the most important factor in deciding if biofuels make sense or not," Urbancic said.

Biodiesel from European rapeseed has an indirect carbon footprint of 150.3 kg of CO2 per gigajoule, while bioethanol from European sugar beet is calculated at 100.3 kg -- both much higher than conventional diesel or gasoline at around 85 kg.

By contrast, imports of bioethanol from Latin American sugar cane and palm oil from Southeast Asia get a relatively clean bill of health from the study at 82.3 kg and 73.6 kg respectively.

But one of the scientists involved with the study cautioned that much work remained to be done before the issue was properly understood, and that no firm conclusions could be drawn about the relative merits of different biofuel sources.

"The major point is that we have to do more work, develop new sustainability criteria and we have to be very careful about the origins of biofuels," said Wolfgang Eichhammer of Fraunhofer.

"We must also find a way of excluding the inefficient biofuels," he added.

Eichhammer said he had made his stand with the disclaimer to protect the neutrality of science, and emphasized the value of ongoing Commission studies into the problem.

EndGamePlayer wrote:

I DO NOT agree with how the alcohol is produced but I DO Agree - it is a part of the coming solution. I think a growing number of small farmers are seeing how they can manage their own energy needs for less money and some time-inputs with alcohol, methane, solar & wind. Larger farmers who burn diesel in tractors are also looking into options and what it will take to keep their farm running.

The best things you can do to ensure your local supply of energy and food in the future is to share information you about the Future of Energy with farmers- big and small since they will be the ones to target for local energy and food production in the future. From the "back-yard farmer" to the large scale, now would be a good time to get to know the farmers in your area and start CSA'ing if at all possible.  Buy local farmer market produced food, not just because its going to be the freshest, best tasting food or because it will be cheaper than in the store (many times it is not) - buy it because the future of your local food depends on it and YOU want to KNOW the people BEFORE TSHTF.

Play a Smart End Game -

I agree with much of the above, but you know, sustainable farming doesn't even need tractors...   THAT, is the TRUE Smart End Game!

Mike

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
piquod12 wrote:

1. Yes FF's will decline but the rate of this decline, along with the fact that a lot of current use is either wasteful or discretionary, should be gradual enough to allow implementation of alternatives. The most recent article on theoildrum gives a very positive update on renewable energy availability and EROEI;

The rate of decline is unknown but there is every likelihood that it will accelerate once decline sets in. I don't think you should assume that the rate of decline will be matched by the implementation of alternatives, nor should you assume that alternatives can eventually substitute for all oil (and, eventually, other fossil fuel) use and continue to grow that energy, all at an affordable level and without negative consequences. The Oil Drum article also has some interesting comments that don't paint such a rosy picture, and it contradicts many earlier articles on EROEI (not that EROEI is the only factor).

piquod12 wrote:

2. Depending on your defintion economic growth doesn't have to just be about quantity but can be about quality instead.

Indeed, quality can assist growth but, overall, economic growth is about increased economic activity. Quality is only part of the picture. For example, if all the stuff I'd bought over the years has been of a higher quality, I certainly wouldn't have bought as much stuff. Why would manufacturers want to make products that lasted twice as long, for instance, or that had everything you could need in such a product? They would go out of business if they did (why do so many quality products have only 12 months warranty?). Economic growth, especially in a free market capitalist system is about more stuff. Businesses want you to buy stuff, and more of it.

piquod12 wrote:

3. Population. In a different thread I made the point, as others have, that population is no longer growing exponentially but looks to be plateauing out at around 9bn by 2050.

And I made the point that recent trends don't back that up, whilst it remains to be seen if the longer term trend resumes.

piquod12 wrote:

Whilst this may still prove unsustainable at least it provides a more manageable future level than one that is continuing to grow aggressively.

Not if it proves unsustainable.

piquod12 wrote:

4. Adaptability of humans. If you simply project decline onto our current way of life then I agree there appear to be insurmountable problems. But if you allow sufficient time for adaption then we may yet surprise the pessimists.

Oh, I agree, given sufficient time we will adapt (provided we can read the signs of unsustainable lifestyles.

piquod12 wrote:

The worst thing we can do is to allow doom to become self-fulfilling.

The worst thing we can do is have unrealistic optimism. A lot of what Chris tries to get across is that we need to recognise our plight accurately, not paint unrealistic and false pictures about how we're doing and about over optimistic future scenarios. In short, we need to get real.

It's always worth remembering some basics about sustainability. If we consume non-renewable resources, that is unsustainable. If we consume renewable resources beyond their renewal rates, that is unsustainable. If we damage our biosphere, that is unsustainable. We need to start living sustainably, to avoid the inevitable consequences of living unsustainably.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?
EndGamePlayer wrote:

We put E-85 in ALL our vehicles

How many vehicle users will ever be able to put E85 into their vehicles?

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

hi sofistek

I don't think you should assume that the rate of decline will be matched by the implementation of alternatives

By the same token you shouldn't assume it can't or won't.

Why would manufacturers want to make products that lasted twice as long, for instance, or that had everything you could need in such a product? They would go out of business if they did

Toyota didn't.

The worst thing we can do is have unrealistic optimism. A lot of what Chris tries to get across is that we need to recognise our plight accurately, not paint unrealistic and false pictures about how we're doing and about over optimistic future scenarios. In short, we need to get real.

I agree but also recognise that what is realistic to one person may not be to another. All the reports and opinions by all the different individuals and institutions are just guesses. The global economy is simply too complex for them to be anything else.

What we can do is make reasonable estimates for energy and gdp/capita required for an acceptable level of comfort. If you look at graphs of this for different countries vs general health and happiness in those countries then the curve levels off at around 1/4 US energy use and 1/2 Eurozone levels.

You can then look at total energy availability, now and in the future (allowing for a reasonable rate of introduction of renewables) and get to a sustainable population not far from todays level based on the first premis of energy use/capita. Which I agree makes further population growth an issue.

You can look at agriculture, including in-situ production of liquid fuel, and without too much difficulty allow for self-sustaining food production around todays level or slightly better.

All of which, if correct, means that the big issue is not imagining a realistic future scenario but how we get there and how much time it will take. Which is where we are much more into guesswork and trying to pick a path through the complexity. Nothing is inevitable.

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Re: cars - what's the big deal?

As is the case, the only time people discuss most things in great detail within a forum is when they are at odds ...

~ VF ~

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E85 switching vehicles

All cars with carborators can use E85. In some cases the carb needs adjusting for the air to fuel mix.  In fuel injection - the compression needs adjusting and the computer chip needs programming and once you do this to your chip- don't put in regular gas again.

For more info see: David Blume's Alcohol Can Be A Gas! at about 15 min in.

After seeing this video- we just put E85 in our early 2000 Ford truck and have had no issues but the "check engine" light goes on/off as the sensors check the engine. It didn't need a single adjustment and we live with the occational flash of a light on.  ALL older carb model tractors that use gas can be converted to E85 and all older model John Deere lawn tractors can be switched to E85. Most of the the Briggs Straton engines are E-99 ready and many others will convert with little to no problems.

E85 runs cleaner and cooler so you can improve the efficiency by adjusting the compression (have your mechanic do it if you don't know how). We didn't do that, we're just running it E85.   E 85 milage is slightly less (we lost 25 miles per tank of gas) but have saved $6 per tank after milage was calculated. Not big savings now, but when gas goes higher - the savings will be even more. Ditto for adjusting the compression - it will improve the milage.

The only things on the farm we needed to do ANY adjusting to was our 4 wheeler & FarmAll. The goldcarts, mowers, tillers, trucks - all switched to the cleaner fuel with a few sputters and a cough as the old dirty gas residue got worked out.

So, IF you do NOT know what you are doing - take it to a trusted mechanic to switch for you but in the end- ALL PRESENT CARB'ed CARS AND TRUCKS USING GASOLINE CAN BE CONVERTED.  If you are cheap (like me) then just try a little and if it doesn't work - dump it out and put in the regular stuff, re-start the engine and back to square 1.

And here's my rant- the way we make E is 90% in-efficient. We should choose to adopt the Brazilian model of efficent energy production and we can start small with local farms direct to consumer driven coops. It makes our energy secure, local and builds resilience.

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