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Alice Friedemann: When The Trucks Stop Running

The modern trucking fleet is living on borrowed time
Sunday, August 21, 2016, 11:59 AM

Alice Friedemann is a transportation expert sounding the alarm on the unsustainable nature of our modern trucking system, which is critical for delivering goods where they need to be, when they need to be, in our just-in-time economy.

The world's trucking fleet is remarkably dependent on petroleum and, for a number of reasons she outlines in this interview, is not feasibly able to shift over to electricity or other alternative fuels.

To warn of the risks and consequences of a collapse in trucking, she founded EnergySkeptic.com and authored the book When The Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation. And while unlikely, her projected aftermath of a sudden complete shutdown of the trucking fleet is sobering, revealing just how dependent we are:

Within a week, in roughly this order, grocery stores would be out of dairy and other items that are delivered many times a day. And by the week, the shelves would be empty.

Hospitals, pharmacies, factories, and many other businesses also get several deliveries a day, and they’d be running out of stuff the first day.

And the second day, there’s be panic and hoarding. And restaurants, pharmacies would close. ATM’s would be out of money. Construction would stop. There’d be increasing layoffs. Increasing enormous amounts of trash not getting picked up, 685,000 tons a day. Service stations would be closed. Very few people would be working. And the livestock would start to be hungry from lack of feed deliveries.

Then within two weeks, clean water supplies would run out. Within four weeks to eight weeks, there wouldn’t be coal delivered to power plants and electricity would start shutting down. And when that happened, about a quarter of our pipelines use electricity, and so natural gas plants wouldn’t be fed natural gas and they’d start shutting down.

It’s a big interdependent system. That’s part of the problem. It’s like Liebig’s Law of the Minimum. A plant needs about 20 different elements to grow, and you take one away and the plant can grow less or stop growing. 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Alice Friedman (44m:27s).

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and it is August 16th, 2016.

Hey, can we talk energy again? I know the price of oil has a lot of people confused about where we really are in the energy story. But price is hiding the true story. I’ve often said that we’re so immersed in energy on a daily basis, it’s really difficult to detect just how much it does for us. It’s like water to a fish.

So, we’re surrounded by energy each day, energy slaves really, silently doing our bidding, whether we’re aware of them or not. And these slaves give us the easiest possible daily lives compared to people of times past.

Some say we live like kings, but that doesn’t really go far enough. Henry VIII may’ve had complete mastery over his many wives, but even he could not click a mouse, buy a plane ticket, and be halfway around the world the next day. You and I can do that.

So, we really live like ancient Greek gods, able to command the forces of nature and get ourselves from point a to point b really quickly if we choose. So, let’s not take this moment in human history lightly. Let’s have gratitude for the immense abundance in our lives, and let’s also be clear about where we really stand in this story.

To gain that perspective, we could do no better than to focus on the lowly truck, the true workhorse of modern times. And to help us bring that breed of stock vehicle into focus for us is Alice Friedman, the creator of EnergySkeptic.com and the author of the new book When Trucks Stop Running, Energy and the Future of Transportation.

And she really knows trucks and transportation through a 22-year career in American President Lines, where she developed computer systems to keep cargo seamlessly moving around the globe and just in time between ships, rail, trucks, and customers.

Welcome, Alice.

Alice Friedman: Good to be here.

Chris Martenson: So, where should we start in this story? I’m thinking how about we start with the really big picture. We kind of live in an exponentially defined world, don’t we? And I’d like to start there. What does that really mean? Why is that important?

Alice Friedman: Well, I know your listeners are familiar with exponential growth, but I think it’s an important part of the puzzle to remind everyone about to understand the crisis we’re in.

Garrett Hardin once wrote that if you had two grams of gold growing at five percent compound rates for 2000 years, we’d have 800 trillion gold in planet Earth right now. When you hear there’s 100 years left of oil at current rates of consumption, that’s not true if we use five percent more oil every year. It will only last for 36 years.

So, it’s really astounding that oil consumption doubled every ten years from 1900 to the 1970’s. That means every ten years as much oil was consumed as all the previously consumed oil. At that rate, even if the planet was a giant gas tank, oil would run out in 340 years.

This clearly can’t end well. We’ve been consuming more oil than we’ve found for five decades, and last year we only found 12 billion barrels, which is a third of what we consume every year.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, and it’s gotten even worse than that. The most recent statistic is we’re closing on two point six gigabarrels of finds for the trailing 12 months, so really just out of 31 billion consumed so less than a tenth. And most people are really still unaware of this. So you have these startling statistics that I love.

Exponential growth is really critical to understand. And we look at...here’s a number that really worries me, as well, is that three billion. That’s the number of people who are projected to be in the middle class by 2025. So, less than ten years from now, starting from one billion in the year 2000. So this extraordinary herd of people, of course wanting to come into the middle class, defined by having a car, a house, much higher levels of consumption.

And all of those take resources, and of course oil is the master resource in this particular story. Most people still don’t get that. So just how do we get...Alice, how do you go about telling/getting people more aware of this water that we swim in, the oil that surrounds us so daily?

Alice Friedman: Well, the information is out there. There was a really interesting United Nations report that came out this month. 200 pages, mind you, but it’s full of interesting graphs and charts about how from 1970 to 2010 we used 78 billion tons of stuff, up from 22 billion tons 40 years ago.

And they say that to accommodate everyone and the billions more expected by 2050, we’re going to have to triple that again, which is just insane. The people who deny limits to growth say we’ll just miniaturize and use less material and get more efficient.

But the UN report flatly states that in fact the opposite is happening. We’re using more material and getting less GDP out of it while dramatically increasing our damage and pollution of ecosystems.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, now this is something I...this is such an important point to get across, and the ecological destruction is something that causes a lot of grief. And that’s really hard for me to look at personally.

I think one way to get straight to the heart for a lot of people, though, is to say look, our current way of life is defined by the way we have things organized. So, the way we currently have things organized...and this should be obvious. Here’s why it’s obvious to me. I go places and I watch what’s happening.

So, whether I’m in Lima, Peru or Dallas, Texas or anywhere on the globe, I see cars. I see lots of cars. I see internal combustion engines. I have a very sharp eye looking out for hybrids and pure electric vehicles, and they are still by my eye confirming what the statistics say; far less than one percent of the vehicles on the road. So we are still heavily addicted to petroleum for transport at this point.

Alice Friedman: Yes, and I don’t see that changing, because the vehicles that matter the most, that make civilization possible, are trucks, locomotives, and ships, and they all run on diesel fuel. And as much as I love cars, they’re not absolutely essential. And we’ve got trillions of dollars invested in them.

And the diesel engines are as much responsible for civilization as the fuel itself, according to Vaclav Smil. He thinks diesel engines are more important than computers as far as the levels we’ve reached.

And they last 40 years. Those can’t be replaced overnight. Even the most optimistic person has to surely admit that there’s going to be some hardship even if you do believe that there’s a solution.

Chris Martenson: Now, before we get to that, let me unpack this. So, the idea that the diesel engine is possibly more important to our current lives than computers; a lot of people aren’t really going to have a frame of reference for that.

We talk to people. I’ve talked to people who actually think gasoline comes out of the nozzle at the gas station. That’s literally where it comes from. They haven't mentally connected the supply chain to go all the way back. But it’s easy to...I’m not blaming people. It’s easy to not notice when you pick jeans off the rack at Walmart for twelve dollars. They just magically showed up.

But you have the background to know how they showed up. Help us understand what the global transportation system really involves at this point in time.

Alice Friedman: Well, I worked in transportation many years, as you mentioned earlier. And the goal was to try to move goods from point a to b just in time, as quickly as possible, and as seamlessly as possible.

So you might have...but it’s so complicated. Let’s just take a supply chain where you have hundreds of trucks arriving with bits and pieces where they’re assembled in China. And then fewer trucks can take it to the port, load it onto the ship with other kinds of trucks, including cranes, shipped over. And then even if it goes on a railroad when it gets off, the containers get off, they’re going to need to go by truck to their final destination.

So, even though ships and rail are orders of magnitude more energy efficient, you still need trucks because you have four million miles of roads in the US. But you only have 95,000 miles of rail and 25,000 miles of ocean, navigable rivers and lakes to deliver goods on.

Chris Martenson: So trucks are critical; A for moving it all, but B for the last mile, because I don’t happen to live on a canal myself.

Alice Friedman: Yeah, and they’re also logging, mining, constructing, lifting, digging, planting crops, harvesting crops. There’s hundreds of kids of different trucks keeping civilization going.

Chris Martenson: All right. So, let’s do this by trying to poke some holes in this whole idea. I had a number of people recently send me a very happy story about electric trucks now running in Sweden. So, of course, when I click on the links and follow the story, I found something different than what was being implied by people, which was hey, look we now have electric trucks. That part’s been solved.

But what I discovered was the story was referring to a two kilometer stretch of electrified road, two kilometers. And it’s not unlike the trolley overhead wires of the 1930’s. There’s some wires up there, and the trucks make contact with the wires, and they have an electric engine. This is great, but it’s two kilometers out of many tens of millions of kilometers of global roadway. So, in a percentage term, I wouldn’t even dare to calculate it.

By these numbers, it seems to me is what Sweden’s doing is they’re really running an experiment, and possibly a quite good one to run, but a tiny experiment, none the less. So would it be unfair for me to say we’re nowhere in the electrified truck story yet?

Alice Friedman: Yes. In fact, California’s ahead of Sweden. The Port of Los Angeles and Sand Pedro lowered emissions is further along and a mile stretch of catenary wires, overhead wires, for trucks.

And I recently found...using information published by CALSTART and other entities that are doing this; I worked out that if you electrified that 23 mile stretch of roadway to keep 10,000 drayage trucks moving between the port and inland warehouses, it would take almost one percent of all of California’s electricity generation.

And then you’ve got 7600 more 23 miles to electrify the rest of the 175,000 miles of roads. I mean, that’s just clearly not doable. And you’re assuming that trade along that path will continue. You’re putting a lot of money, it’s very expensive, whereas perhaps someday you’ll wish you’d done that in the Central Valley to deliver food to the cities along the coast.

Chris Martenson: Twenty-three miles would require one percent of current electricity production?

Alice Friedman: In California, yeah.

Chris Martenson: In California, yeah. And that’s just because this is a pretty heavily traveled 23-mile chunk here, I guess. But that’s just to show that these trucks are actually consuming a lot of energy doing what they’re doing, right?

Alice Friedman: Yes, and they have to go up some steep grades, which further drains the...takes more energy.

Chris Martenson: All right. So. here’s the idea I’ve been running into a lot. And this is what I think gets to the heart of it. So there’s two big pieces we need to discuss. One is where we really are in the energy story so, I’m going to start there. Let’s complete that.

But then the second piece I want to get to is what really is involved in trying to get to an energy transition. And both of those pieces are really hinted at by that one percent of total electricity consumption...production being consumed for a 23-mile stretch.

But let’s unpack this a little bit. In the last few years, Alice, you’re aware, peak oil has been declared dead multiple times by the mainstream press. Where do you stand on peak oil at this point in time?

Alice Friedman: Well, I think it’s interesting that people have forgotten and even denied it. Because apparently they didn’t hear former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger speak at a Senate hearing way back in 2006, where he said “by about 2010 we should see a significant increase in oil production as a result of investment activity now underway. There is a danger that any easing of the price of crude oil will once again dispel the recognition that there is a finite limit to conventional oil.”

Also, many people who study this predicted decades ago that one of the signs of peaking would be price swings, because there is this inevitable cycle of scarcity, putting more money in, maybe going too far, and the price drops from that. Or, it goes so high that you have a depression and demand drops as businesses fold.

And more and more of the middle class is driven into poverty. I know people who can’t afford to have a car anymore. So, this cycle - we’re in the low part of the cycle, but inevitably, there’ll be some scarcities again to remind people.

Chris Martenson: Now, this is something I’ve been sort of beating my drum around. and talking with people like Arthur Berman and Gail Tverberg and other people who study this. Increasingly, we’re seeing mainstream analysts come online with us, which is looking ahead a few years and noting that the trillion and a half dollars of delayed first investment decisions, F.I.D.’s or FID’s, delayed FID’s, for the big oil companies is going to have a real impact on downstream production at some point.

Because not only are we not maintaining infield drilling nor are we exploring and finding and bringing onto line new production of oil, all of those things got delayed because all the oil that’s left is really expensive. Deep water, Orinoco Belt, heavy oil, tar sands, even shale is very expensive on average, starting at a minimum of 60 a barrel and progressing as high as 120 or more depending on what we’re talking about. So the era of cheap oil is over in terms of finding it and getting it to market. Whether it’s high or low in the market is subject to other forces.

But this idea of evermore expensive oil is really hiding a much more important argument, which is about the energy return we get out of that oil. How do we begin to understand the...how do you go about explaining to people the energy return on energy invested?

I’m always fascinated to hear how people convey this, because to me it’s the most important idea out there. If I had just one that I needed to arm myself with, it would be this one.

Alice Friedman: No, I agree. That should be the focus of scientists, to truly determine that and use it as a basis for where we would best spend our money on projects to soften the hard landing ahead.

But the problem has always been, since the concept was first invented partly at Stanford in the early 1970’s and by Charles Hall, is everyone disagrees on the boundaries. So you end up with quite a wide range, and there have been attempts to standardize how studies are done to get around that problem. But it’s still not agreed upon, and it makes it confusing for people who don’t specialize in it to make any sense of the results.

But obviously that’s what’s the most important. If it takes more energy to make something than you get out of it, then it’s dead in the water. It’s an energy sink.

Chris Martenson: Like hydrogen. Most people still will tell me that hydrogen’s the way of the future, and I say well, it’s an energy sink. That’s great. Where does the primary energy source come from? Fossil fuels have been this extraordinary, once in a species bequeathment. It’s been astonishing.

As you mentioned, because of the exponential doubling times, we are chewing through... Every time we double our use of something, be it oil, fossil fuels in the form of natural gas or coal, we’re actually in that period consuming as much in that doubling period as was consumed in all of history prior.

So anybody can work out, children can work out, that that’s a finite substance that’s being chewed into exponentially - runs out. Even if it isn’t being chewed into exponentially, it’s finite. It runs out.

So whether or not we really understand the micro story at the micro level, the macro story has to be indisputably that oil finds today are smaller, deeper, and more difficult to get to than they were just 50 years ago.

Alice Friedman: Yeah. That’s another part of what people need to understand, is that we get 60 percent of our oil from just 500 really large oil fields that we found over 50 years ago. And the ones of those that are in decline are declining on average at six percent. And that will accelerate to nine percent a year.

And other fields decline much faster. Giants are the slowest. This means by 2030, oil could be declining at nine percent a year, and we’d have to replace half to two-thirds of our oil. I just don’t see how unconventional oil can make up the difference.

One scientist looked at a crash program to ramp up tar sands and concluded that they would peak in about 2040 at just a quarter of what America consumes today. Arctic oil, which we don’t know how to get, would take decades of development before a single drop was produced. And the tight fracked oil that’s bumped the numbers up a bit since conventional oil peaked in 2005, is expected to peak by 2020. And it will decline quite rapidly after that.

Chris Martenson: Yes, and this all seems really...well, for the people like us who look at the numbers, this is fairly obvious. And so, what’s less obvious though is, any individual, any company, any country that really wants to end up in a more favorable place in the future has to run a strategy. And the strategy...there’s lots of complicated ones. But they always boil down to this simple thing, you know where you’re going and how you're going to get there. That’s a strategy. It’s a vision and the resources you have to get there.

Now I want to turn part b of the story which is about how we get there. So, here’s what I’m concerned about, Alice. We’re busy selling F-150s and SUVs because, why, car companies make money doing that and gas is currently cheap. So that’s the total decision factor. But we clearly have a finite amount of fossil fuels to use, and we’re using them perpetuating the status quo, which is what the F-150 and SUVs represent to me. Just a continuation of business as usual.

But if we only have so much energy in the ground, it makes sense to me that strategically we ought to be using some dedicated portion of that to build out to whatever the new energy future’s going to be. So insert your favorite fantasy over here, people.

So do you want a whole electrified future and the electricity comes from wind and solar and we have a smart grid and there’s distributed cogeneration? Beautiful future. I love it. But let’s be clear that it’s going to take a lot of energy to get there. And it’ll take time, and it’ll take money. So time, cost, scale, all of those things get involved.

How big is this challenge really, Alice? I mean, are we going to get there with market forces like some people think? Or would it require something far more dedicated, we should say, like a national program that would rival any of the largest national programs that have ever been run?

Alice Friedman: Well, I’m afraid that in my book, When Trucks Stop Running, I don’t see a solution to keeping trucks running on biofuels, coal, natural gas, hydrogen, or electricity.

I don’t see how you can scale electricity up. Part of that is because you’re going to mainly need to have energy storage batteries in order to capture excessive wind and solar, which will be the main sources of power for times when there’s not enough wind or solar to go around. Europe has looked at this, and they estimate you’d need six to 30 days of energy stored if you had a national grid encompassing all of Europe, the Mediterranean, and North America.

Now energy storage batteries are critical, because they are very few places to put pumped hydro and compressed air energy storage. Charles Barnhart at Stanford University found there simply isn’t enough material in the world to store four to 12 hours of global electricity for all batteries but sodium sulfur. However, at this stage, and I used the Department of Energy Handbook, a sodium sulfur battery that could store one day of US electricity would weight 450 million tons, cover 923 square miles, and cost 41 trillion dollars.

So, we’re a long way from the energy storage devices that we would need. And then it’s such a complicated topic. It’s at least ten hours to explain how the electric grid works and why it would be hard to have a renewable grid, which Europe and especially Germany have researched extensively.

And the materials to make alternative energy are staggering. Just one two megawatt turbine, wind turbine, needs 1300 tons of concrete, 300 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass, four tons of copper, and so on. And you need about a million of them to provide half our power. And then after 20 years, you’d have to replace them all over again.

So, I don’t see how it can happen for many, many more reasons I can’t really go into.

Chris Martenson: Well, that does being to get us a sense really of the scale involved. And I’ve run the numbers for my audience, and they are silly. We’re installing something crazy good, several thousand windmills a day across the world, but we would have to run that up to 38,000 windmills per day, per day, in order to begin to meet the sustainable energy goals of the UN just by 2030. So it’s...

Alice Friedman: And remember...yeah.

Chris Martenson: It’s an astonishing number. And it’s just like really? Where would they all come from, and how would we install them that quickly? It’s a staggering sort of a piece. And that’s assuming that the wind blows and it’s not intermittent and that you have some storage devices.

And by the way, I trunked over to the DARPA site, because they are investing in alternative battery technologies. And it’s a really nice list. They’ve got Quinone, ion reduction batteries, flow batteries with Vanadium. They’re doing compressed air.

They have all these really creative things, but when I was looking at the award amounts, Alice, they were anywhere from fifty thousand dollars to three million dollars, which I consider to be chump change when we’re talking about what you just described, batteries that are best measured in the millions of tons and tens of square miles.

It feels like we’re just not really serious about this yet from a resource standpoint or a political priority standpoint.

Alice Friedman: If you can’t run trucks on electricity, what’s the point? That is the nub of the problem that we face. This is a liquid fuels transportation crisis. And electricity does absolutely nothing to solve that problem. If you can’t electrify trucks, then game over.

Chris Martenson: So how much of the transportation fuel is used by trucks? What’s the number?

Alice Friedman: It’s only 20 percent. And so we can get by for a long time by rationing and distributing it to agriculture. I’m sure the military will want to grab some of that. And whatever’s leftover can go to other important services. But at some point, it’s going to be hard to keep trucks running.

And I think the best thing to do is to assume we’re going back to the age of wood, which was our energy resource for most of human history. And if a miracle happens, great.

But fusion is really they only thing that could replace oil, and that is nowhere in sight. It is a mess. They’re talking about closing the Lawrence Livermore facility down.

I don’t see...and Robert Hirsch, who wrote a peak oil study for the Department of Energy in 2005, said you’d want to plan 20 years ahead of time. But oil peaked ten years ago, conventional oil, which provides 90 percent of our oil. We don’t have the time. We can hope a miracle happens, but we should be preparing to go back to the past.

Chris Martenson: Well, now that’s a...I happen to agree that the correct moment to have really begun to take a different turn was during that April 1977 speech by Carter. I think he had it right. That would’ve been a great time to go hey, we’re really going to have to do things differently.

So, when I really talk about what I want to do with a timescale cost to try and talk to people or, if I could, convince them about something, it would be that we’re not going to continue on the same trajectory we are, meaning we’re not just going to have a future that’s just larger and more of the same because we figured out how to electrify the grid and store electricity. Because when you really run the numbers, the time, the scale, the cost says we’re not getting there.

So, what I’d love to do is get people to that point, which is not a hopeless point. Well, it’s hopeless if you want the future to look like today only bigger. That’s a hopeless point. Sorry. If you have that dream, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

But we still are going to be existing in the future. So this is where the conversation gets interesting, because I think there are lots of things that individuals can do, should do, to both be responsive to the predicament as it exists. So to me that means using less energy today if you can and figuring out how to do that. And, by the way, almost everybody can.

But secondarily is to become more resilient and to really understand what’s likely to unfold. So, in that energy constrained future, from the transportation standpoint, I would guess you would say we’ll have fewer trucks moving from point a to point b. What would that really mean to somebody’s daily life?

Alice Friedman: Well, the oil is so essential that it’s going to also...it already has caused probably peaked food because nearly all of the food we eat...Nature Magazine two years ago has a story about how nearly all the food we eat that provides our calories peaked before 2010, and most of them around 2006. That means achieving sustainability will be far harder than anyone thought.

And some of the food items that have already peaked are fish, meat, milk, eggs, dairy, wheat, corn, rice, and soy, as well as cropland, irrigated areas, peat, and nitrogen fertilizers. And it’s interesting that those peaked around the same time conventional oil peaked.

So, obviously I think people should learn how to grow their own food in their backyard or a nearby community garden. The younger you are, the better it would be to move to a sustainable region of your country. Charles Hall and John Day wrote a book about just that recently that came out this year on where the most sustainable regions of the country would be.

Chris Martenson: Totally agree with all of that. And I would go further for people who have investments, a lot of people do. You’ve got your 401k or you’re tied into a pension of some kind. You’re a teacher. You’re a fireman, somebody hoping for a pension or maybe a corporation. Or let’s say you run an endowment for a college or for a non-profit of some form.

Well, all of the returns that we’ve come to expect out of our financial portfolios are based on the idea of growth. And so, this is a really interesting thought experiment, Alice. When I run this with people who do manage money, I usually get blank stares. It’s kind of like dogs listening to white noise. They tip their heads sideways and they don’t understand what I’m saying.

Because, from my perspective, when we look at the roll of energy in being the master resource that fosters all economic growth, if we take the energy away in term of as a growth driver, we’re only left with productivity. But productivity is hard to come by when you’re in a long emergency or in crisis, or otherwise not flush with all the surplus energy that funds the investments that allow us to improve our productivity.

Some will, of course, always be happening. We’ll get better things. But this idea that we’re going to have growth in our financial claims on things, which is just...financial things are just claims on real stuff, which would be all the things you can see and touch. The idea that we’re going to have that sustained growth really needs to be challenged, because so many people’s hopes and dreams are riding on that personally.

But also as a nation, I think we have this collective delusion, if I can use that word, which is that well, when or if, Chris, we finally see oil become pinched in the way you think it’s going to be pinched, then we’ll start to get serious about it and we’ll do X, Y, and Z.

And my point would be that an energy constrained moment in history is an incredibly poor time to try and begin doing things differently. I can’t solve that at the big level, so I do shows like this and I talk to individuals, Alice, where I say well, that’s why you need to get started on doing this yourself. Don’t wait. Because you can take control of this. And by the way, if you do, I’ve got a garden and I love it. It’s a big source of joy and quality of life for me.

So, these are all changes that people can make that I think will improve their quality of life. At the same time, they’re being responsive to what is clearly an approaching emergency that I think has actually already started.

And we would detect it, if we had the right lenses on, in stubborn unemployment, in declining opportunities for whole broad classes of people, the wild gyrations in the energy industry. These are all to me signs that actually I talked about years ago when I put The Crash Course together. This feels reasonably like we’re in the wheelhouse of what the predictions would be for this period of time.

So yeah, I would tell people very broadly, you’ve got to examine everything that you assume and take for granted. Take a good, hard look at it and don’t take anything for granted anymore.

Alice Friedman: Oh, I so agree with that. You know, I feel sorry for all the people who lost money in the 2008 crash, and now they’re investing in really, really risky things that have supposedly high returns, to try to make their money back, one of those being high yield bond and stock funds.

So they inadvertently got scammed yet again by Wall Street, like the mortgage bubble, by unknowingly investing in shale fracking oil and gas companies who are 300 billion in debt now. But they kept on drilling as long as Wall Street kept giving them the middle class money from their 401k’s and IRA’s.

I’ve gotten out of the stock market for many years now, because I don’t know when it’s going to crash again. And I believe it’ll be deflationary, and in a deflation, cash is king. It’s better to preserve your capital than lose it.

But I see few around me doing the same thing. And I also think people would be wise to invest it in real things like Dmitry Orlov and Gail Tverberg and others recommend, as a way to invest wisely in the future.

And that book I mentioned by Hall and Day is America’s Most Sustainable Cities and Regions, Surviving the Twenty-First Century, to see where you might want to invest what money you have in real goods, like homes and farmland and whatever.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. Same advice I give all the time for people in the US. And as well, it turns out that local mileage will vary in this story. There are other places in the world that seem to have more of a clue about these sorts of things.

Sweden actually is one of them. They had a plan to get off of all imported by 2020. By all standards, they seem to be well on their way. So, at least there’s a group of people that have looked at the issue and, politically, were able to get both movement and traction on what seems to me to be a fairly obvious set of data.

So there are other places people, I think, can look if they’re of a mind to really understand that there are better ways to do things that exist out there. You know, for me it was kind of stunning that the United States looked at its educational system and came up with common core as a response to that rather than just trundling their way over to Finland and saying hey, what are you guys up to over here, you number one people in the world at educating.

So, there are other models that exist out there, and this is the part where I do personally have some excitement and hope of seeing the bright, shiny young people who are coming out, not engaging in industrial agriculture; attempting the hard work of figuring out how to make a business model out of permaculture, out of soil farming, out of doing things in a more relational, regenerative way rather than the isolationist extractive ways of their parents and grandparents.

So there are lots of things out there that are being done. When I read your book, what I find is that reconfronting the large scale numbers of all of this where we’re talking billions of people and trillions of BTUs if not quadrillions of BTUs, just giant numbers and the scale of all that, Alice, just says there’s...really the only possible way we can match things up at this scale would be to be very clear eyed, very sharp, have people taking real political risks to take us in a whole new direction.

And those are the things I just don’t currently see happening, pretty much anywhere on the global landscape.

Alice Friedman: No, and you’ve got the right-wing going the opposite way, trying to prevent women from controlling their lives through birth control and abortion, and we desperately need to get the population down.

Energy efficiency has a lot more we can do. It frustrates me everything’s based on greenhouse gases when more energy efficiency would also accomplish that. We could lower the road speeds. The conservatives fought off fuel standards for over 30 years, which went away when President Reagan took office.

And Americans aren’t much better, because as soon as oil prices began dropping a couple years ago, they went out and bought SUV’s and trucks again. And it’s been lowering the miles per gallon, not raising it.

It’s interesting that back when civilizations rose and fell when they used up their forests...maybe it’s because oil is underground and we can’t see it, but it was obvious to everyone that the timber was disappearing. And without them, you couldn’t have war ships and trade ships to get more wood or expand and conquer nations that still had wood. And it was considered treasonous to cut the wood down.

And yet it’s not considered treasonous that Congress never mandated better fuel standards ages ago and kept them and increased them. It’s a pretty crazy system.

Chris Martenson: So, just to round this out, because it is a crazy system, what would happen if the trucks stopped running? And by the way, they could stop running for a variety of reasons. War breaks out and seriously pinches off oil imports, which takes us to rationing right away. Or there could be a grid down event for a variety of reasons, ranging from natural to unnatural or human made. And so on and so forth.

But just for context, what happens if trucks stop running?

Alice Friedman: Well, within a week, in roughly this order, grocery stores would be out of dairy and other items that are delivered many times a day. And by the week, the shelves would be empty.

Hospitals, pharmacies, factories, and many other businesses also get several deliveries a day, and they’d be running out of stuff the first day.

And the second day, there’d be panic and hoarding. And restaurants, pharmacies would close. ATM’s would be out of money. Construction would stop. There’d be increasing layoffs. Increasing, enormous amounts of trash not getting picked up. 685,000 tons a day. Service stations would be closed. Very few people would be working. And the livestock would start to be hungry from lack of feed deliveries.

Then within two weeks, clean water supplies would run out. Within four weeks to eight weeks, there wouldn’t be coal delivered to power plants and electricity would start shutting down. And when that happened, about a quarter of our pipelines use electricity, and so natural gas plants wouldn’t be fed natural gas and they’d start shutting down.

It’s a big interdependent system. That’s part of the problem. It’s like Liebig’s Law of the Minimum. A plant needs about 20 different elements to grow, and you take one away and the plant can grow less or stop growing.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. So this huge interdependent system is part of the reason that I think once people really look at it, it’s normal, I think, as a prudent adult to say wow, that would be really a nightmare if that really shut down. And it could.

Of course, the systems like this have a lot of nodes. They’re fairly redundant for a variety of reasons. And they’re very cost efficient, but they’re also not terribly resilient when you get right down to it, because in terms of Liebig’s Law, there’s just a few nodes where, if things broke down, the trucks might stop rolling.

Here’s an odd one a lot of people don’t think about. If the banking system tips over because there’s some big derivative accidents and banks can’t clear with each other, so they just have to shut the thing down until we figure it out, letters of credit don’t issue. And if letters of credit don’t issue, a lot of distributors and importers, exporters can’t operate. It just doesn’t work. So, there’s a whole bunch of things out there that really could impact.

But I think the summary I’d like to leave with is this. This is an unsustainable current operating model. Therefore it’ll stop. Someday it’ll change.

So in anticipation of that change, my advice is for people to begin changing on their own. Plenty of time, resources, the emotional adjustments that need to be made are perhaps among the most important. But there’s some physical adjustments that also will take time.

Lots of things people can do, but it starts with having the right information. You have to know the territory. Context is everything.

And so, we’ve been talking with Alice Friedman, and her latest book is When Trucks Stop Running, Energy and the Future of Transportation. And in there Alice has done a fabulous job of just running the numbers, and they’re really important.

So, once you have those numbers, I think you should come to the conclusion of well, this is unsustainable. And then how you answer that question for yourself is obviously a very personal decision, and it depends on a lot of factors that are beyond our ability to understand here on this end of the microphone.

So, with that, I hope you get the book and read it.

And Alice, I want to thank you for your time today. I will note that I could find this book on Amazon. Is there any other place people can locate this book?

Alice Friedman: I think Springer has it, Barnes & Noble, and perhaps if you’re near a university you can find it there, as well.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. Well, Alice, thank you so much for your time today.

Alice Friedman: Oh, thank you for having me on.

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98 Comments

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
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Awesome podcast, we will be

Awesome podcast, we will be listening to this one again!  Will be getting Ms. Friedmann's book.

Great choice for a guest.

AK GrannyWGrit 

Petey1's picture
Petey1
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Most people in denial

I work at a college and tried to have a discussion about energy with a science professor.  His answer was Moore's law would solve the energy issue.  At that point I just let the conversation end. We sure are betting the house on technology.   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

Most of my coworkers have gone back to trucks, SUVs and 15 mpg hot rods. I catch constant grief for driving my four year old Prius. Of course I smile every time it only costs twenty dollars to fill up.  

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Uhhhh...I didn't follow that
Petey1 wrote:

I work at a college and tried to have a discussion about energy with a science professor.  His answer was Moore's law would solve the energy issue.  At that point I just let the conversation end. We sure are betting the house on technology.   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

Most of my coworkers have gone back to trucks, SUVs and 15 mpg hot rods. I catch constant grief for driving my four year old Prius. Of course I smile every time it only costs twenty dollars to fill up.  

Hmmm...Moore's law refers to the pace of transistor miniaturization.  And it's not actually a law, but an observation.

It's quite a gigantic jump to go from transistor packing on a chip surface to replacing hundreds of quadrillions of BTU's of fossil fuels and that leap seems to hinge on the idea that we're clever monkeys.

I would have simply tipped my head to the side, furrowed my brow and waited for further explanation.  If none were coming I would be tempted to remain frozen in my pose until things became unbearably awkward and the science professor walked away.

 

Mhallrad's picture
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Decentralization

What really is going to happen is massive decentralization. By making sure that everything we need is walking/biking/horse riding distance away we will be far more energy efficient than today and won't really need trucks. In the early 20th century majority of the people did not live in cities.

Great interview, something I would also like to point some attention to is the energy cost of maintaining roads.

I also think that maintaining your health/physique is a good investment for a future that is probably going to be a lot tougher than today.

Nate's picture
Nate
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site your source of information
Friedemann wrote:

 They’re talking about closing the Lawrence Livermore facility down

 

 

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Prius use in the future

For now my Prius is a champ of a vehicle. But if the roads deteriorate much at all it will be useless. 13" wheels and low ground clearance make me cringe whenever I can't dodge a pothole in time.

A Model A Ford may be a better long term solution. They can handle dirt roads and very low quality gas better than most cars or trucks today AND your local blacksmith can make most of the parts that would need to fix it.

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Arthur Robey
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Motorbike

My grandfather made a motorcycle out of a couple of pipes for the piston and barrel. 

He rode it around South Africa.  He had to get off and push it up hills. I never said it was powerful. 

My Dad taught soldiers to ride Harlies in the second world War,  and I still ride a bike.

Mine is dirt cheap and has carried me about 75 000 kms . She has near on 200 000 on the clock. Cosmetic piece are failing, but she is a joy. I call her Brunhilda.  Big in the chest, narrow in the waist and Very Naughty. The only problem is that she only tolerates the finest 98 proof alcohol. 

I'm going to miss her.

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
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shoes.....

Shoes.  Folks will need shoes.  Know any cobblers?  Is that trade taught anywhere in the US?  Aloha, Steve.

Rodster's picture
Rodster
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One Of My Hot Button Topics !

Hello all, this podcast made me signup although i've been a regular reader for years. Back to the topic at hand which is the JIT delivery system is so massively inefficient and a HUGE energy waster. Ask yourself, why should a FedEX package which needs to be delivered locally has to usually go to a central hub outside the state? I live in Florida and as such we are known for some of the best citrus in the world. So why do I see citrus from California or other parts of Latin America? Then of course you have the Apple gadgets which are flown all over the world around the clock from China so thanks to the JIT delivery system you can have your shiny gadget within days of your order.

I once owned a 1996 Ford Mustang Cobra which had engine components made in 6 different countries and all flown in to Detroit for final assembly. And as the saying goes, "they don't make them like they used to". Well the JIT delivery system feeds and thrives off of that and as Gail Tverberg likes to illustrate our overly complex BAU system like the Leonardo Stick Toy. Pull one stick out and you risk everything collapsing.

This is why I see little to NO hope for our species to get it right or as James Howard Kunstler likes to say, "until planet Earth pushes the delete button on us".

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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China building charging stations nationwide:

The project will satisfy the demand of 5 million vehicles and will be completed by 2020.The government is pouring billions into the problem.We can't even manage structurally deficient bridges or potholes in this country...

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JIT and prestressed concrete bridges

Prestressed/precast concrete didn't do JIT long ago; however, by the time I entered the industry in 2001/2, they were going to Just In Time. Indeed, in perhaps September of 2002, Concrete Producer magazine did a JIT series, in which they said (numbers made up, I don't remember exactly what they were) that the financial benefits to JIT were huge: a company could easily double or triple its sales by going JIT, if they successfully made the transition. That is easier said than done, because only ten percent of those that attempt the transition succeed, and twenty percent of those that attempt it and fail, go out of business.

Then, to maintain the transition is just as hard, with similar numbers EACH SUCCESSIVE YEAR, on the success and the complete bankruptcy.

Looking at that, I concluded that JIT is good for corporate presidents of stockheld companies, that want to loot the companies. They can justify huge bonuses, right up until the day the company goes *poof*.

energyskeptic's picture
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citation for will Lawrence Livermore fusion pilot project end

I didn't say Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) would shut down, but that fusion was the only possible energy source that could replace oil (Hoffert, et al 2002 Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability: Energy for a Greenhouse Planet, Science. Vol 298), and fusion looked as far away as ever, with ITER a mess, and possible shutdown of the Lawrence Livermore pilot project (by shifting research to other labs).

Giant U.S. fusion laser might never achieve goal, report concludes By Daniel Clery. June 21, 2016, Science magazine.

A long-troubled laser megaproject is facing fresh hurdles.

A recent report concludes that although the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF)—a Department of Energy (DOE) laser lab designed to heat and compress capsules of hydrogen isotopes until they fuse, releasing energy—is making technical progress, it is still a long way from its titular goal: ignition, or a fusion burn that sustains itself and produces more energy than it takes to spark it.

According to Physics Today magazine, the independent report, sponsored by DOE, suggests NIF-related research should shift from identifying the obstacles in the path to ignition, to whether ignition is even possible.

“Barring an unforeseen technical breakthrough and given today’s configuration of the NIF laser, achieving ignition on the NIF in the near term (one to two years) is unlikely and uncertain in the mid-term (five years),” the DOE report says. “The question is if the NIF will be able to reach ignition in its current configuration and not when it will occur.” The report recommends making better use of other facilities, not designed to achieve ignition, to better understand the underlying physics of the compressed fuel, known as high-energy density plasma. These include the Omega Laser Facility at the University of Rochester in New York, as well as the Z machine (an electric pulse generator) at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

NIF, based at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, has long struggled to live up to its name. Even before its opening in 2009, many physicists were skeptical that the device, which focuses 192 powerful laser beams on a target, would achieve its ignition goal. DOE stuck with the project despite substantial construction delays and cost overruns, in part because they argued NIF would provide vital experimental results to nuclear weapons scientists responsible for maintaining the U.S. stockpile.

The National Ignition Campaign, a concerted effort to reach the fusion goal between 2010 and 2012, failed to deliver. Then began a 3-year effort to better understand the physics of what was happening in the fusion fuel as it was compressed by NIF’s 1.8 megajoule laser pulses. During that time, studies of ignition were interspersed with more research into the physics of nuclear weapons. The new report marks the end of that 3-year campaign.

The report states that there has been progress since 2012, including the first demonstration of “alpha heating,” when helium nuclei (produced by fusing hydrogen) stay trapped in the plasma and help heat it, thus helping to sustain the burn. Alpha heating is an essential process for ignition. With all the data gathered, researchers have made improvements to the computer models used to predict the outcomes of experiments, says Michael Campbell, a former NIF director who now works at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics. It was these models that led researchers to believe they would achieve ignition at NIF within a few years, and they continue to make overoptimistic predictions today. But Campbell says that NIF’s slow shot rate—only about 400 a year and only a fraction of them devoted to ignition—“slows down the rate of progress.”

Acknowledging the advances, the DOE report says “the present approach is too broad and diverse, and needs better focus.” After 2012, the research program into inertial confinement fusion, as this implosive compression version of fusion is known, was broadened out to include work at Omega, which uses an alternative “direct drive” approach in contrast to NIF’s indirect drive, and the Z machine, which compresses fuel with pulses of magnetic field. The report wants more coordinated research between the three facilities. “There is currently no published ‘roadmap’ to coordinate cross-[facility] activities,” the report notes.

Campbell says he always forecast that it would take “at least 10 years to figure it out.” He says he is “still hopeful it will work, but you can’t guarantee it.” Fusion, he says, “is just hard.”

 

macro2682's picture
macro2682
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Tesla

Reliable self driving cars would allow us to get by with a small fraction of the cars we currently "need."  Most cars are being used only 3% of the time they could be.  That will save a lot of energy (only manufacturing 5 or 10% of the vehicles we did previously. 

Also... Tesla will have an electric transport truck within a few years.  

I'm a peak energy guy, but I do think there are some technologies on the horizon that could cause one more can-kicking.  Maybe another 20 years or so.  Enough time for the geopolitical situation to destroy our way of life before peak oil does. 

thatchmo's picture
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No matter how you parse (or

No matter how you parse (or power) it, I don't believe one person-one car for 8 billion plus people is doable.  Now, one person-one bicycle....that might work out.  Still not sure about the "plus" people though....Aloha, Steve.

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Tesla and Quadrillions
macro2682 wrote:

Reliable self driving cars would allow us to get by with a small fraction of the cars we currently "need."  Most cars are being used only 3% of the time they could be.  That will save a lot of energy (only manufacturing 5 or 10% of the vehicles we did previously. 

Also... Tesla will have an electric transport truck within a few years.  

I'm a peak energy guy, but I do think there are some technologies on the horizon that could cause one more can-kicking.  Maybe another 20 years or so.  Enough time for the geopolitical situation to destroy our way of life before peak oil does. 

Maybe.  Anything is possible, especially if battery technology makes a huge leap, and soon.

But for now I am comfortable saying that our current arrangements cannot carry on as is.  There will have to be some adjustments.  How large and how sudden is the question.

Replacing quadrillions of BTUs is a non-trivial task.

macro2682's picture
macro2682
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Agreed.  A home run with

Agreed.  A home run with Tesla just buys a little time. 

The powerwall story is interesting to me as well.  I honestly think Tesla is a battery company, rather than a car company. The car was just marketing.  I think the following technologies can make a dent in the energy problem:

1.) increasing utilization for autos from 3% to 80% with self-driving technology

2.) eliminating medium range air travel with self-driving tech (imagine if a hotel room drove up to your house, and you slept while being driven from NY to Chicago).

3.) VR tech advances to the point where many forms of travel become unnecessary

4.) peak metering with powerwall catches on

5.) small living trend continues and is helped by technologies like powerwall.  The new middle class doesn't want a McMansion. 

6.) flying cars for the upper middle class.  Look at how efficient drone technology has become.  Self driving drones are way easier to develop than self driving cars.  Bezos is working hard on this. 

For this all to happen, we would need to accept a structural unemployment on 50% or more.  And that's not compatible with free-market capitalism.  I think we will either a.) March slowly but surely towards minimum incomes and other socialist dogma, or b.) Hit a point where the world turns their back on US hegemony forcing us to take a few fatal lumps. 

 

 

 

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Car utilization

The 3% number masks the time factors involved.  A huge percentage of the cars are used at one time during rush hours in the morning and late afternoon.  Even mass transit suffers the same problems.  There's no way the current quantity of cars is supportable long term and there is no way they can be replaced by electric cars.  Just consider how many tons of copper would be required to wind all the motors required, let alone the tonnage of rare earth metals required for the magnets.  Now consider the materials required for batteries.  Then think about the expansion required for the electric power grid to get the energy into those car batteries.  Where's the copper come from for that?  Now consider the electricity generation capacity required.  The numbers aren't even close.

Addressing this really misses the problem.  When energy becomes more scarce it will impact all aspects of society.  We won't be driving around to jobs because most current jobs will disappear.  

Our suburban lifestyle, commuting to jobs in a city will fold.  Cities will suffer as their supply of food, goods and energy comes from surrounding areas and without cheap transport they will starve. 

Our consumer driven economy will collapse as people won't have disposable income to buy most of what they buy now.  To the extent people have income they will spend it on survival items like food and shelter.  Even our medical economy will drastically change as attention shifts to medicine that protects population health (think contageous disease prevention and treatment).  

Analyzing the problem and projecting solutions requires understanding the economy as a complex system.  When you start looking into it things get very scary very quickly.

It'll be a great time to be Amish, until all the starving folks come to take their food.  

Edwardelinski's picture
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Worlds largest storage battery will power Los Angeles by 2021:

The battery is capable of holding 100 megawatts of power an hour for four hours.The battery will be able to handle it without the need for more fossil fuels.The AES corp out of Arlington,VA. is handling it.At least it is a start...

macro2682's picture
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Rich

I don't doubt the conclusion. Only the timing, and the contortions that markets and ingenuity will make in order to kick the can, just a little bit further.  Collapses are complex systems too. 

i don't know much about copper supplies, but I suspect maybe there could be some savings from obsolete transformer stations and supply lines if off-grid living takes off.  Maybe the price of copper goes up, making more intense salvage economical.  Who knows?  Certainly not me. 

 

Michael_Rudmin's picture
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I am not convinced current jobs will disappear

What I *do*imagine happening is that people will have to live near their jobs, preferably within walking distance. Secondarily, jobs will regres to le-energy intensive versions. JIT manufacturing will go away; CNC will again be limited to prototype development; computers will be used for CAD, math, and engineering, but perhaps not for office communications, and not for filing when it isn't needed for that.

Volume production will again trump one-off robotic production. Process will again be important, industrial engineering will again be important.

Buy-Local will again have a distinct price value that is significant; and I don't think that will work unless a lot of IP (intellectual property) law is done away with. Of course, I don't expect IP owners to let that happen without a fight.

Of course, I'm probably wrong on a lot of this, but I'd like to see a discussion of how others think I might be wrong, and why.

HydrogenPower's picture
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Got the solution

The solution of 3 problems could benefit of making work in unison 3 technologies so we could AT THE SAME TIME find a solution for Energy generation, Electricity bulk storage, Clean Water Generation.

Generate electricity with any method, use the surplus electricity generated redirecting it to a water electrolysys facility, thus splitting water into its base constituents, oxygen and Hydrogen, with unused electricity that would otherwise would have been lost (returned to ground).

These gases could in turn be stocked and as Hydrogen is an highly efficient source of non poluting energy, could in turn be used to boil water and generate more electricity, power motors, etc.

The process of electrolysis doesn't require clean water. One can split water coming from poluted sewage, the process of splitting separate PURE gases that when thay are burned recombine into PURE water.

Problems solved

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Help me understand
Quote:

 increasing utilization for autos from 3% to 80% with self-driving technology

Help me understand ... why is being able to hail a self-driving car an improvement over the taxicabs we have now?

macro2682's picture
macro2682
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Cars

What percentage of your day do you spend in your car?  I bet it's less than 5%... What if you could send your car out to drive people around while you're not using it?  

Better yet, what would your life be like if taking an uber was just 25 cents per mile?  Would you even bother owning a car?

cars are capital goods that are underutilized.  If their utilization went from 5% to 80%, there would be far fewer cars manufactured. 

TechGuy's picture
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Mike_R wrote; "What I

Mike_R wrote;

"What I *do*imagine happening is that people will have to live near their jobs, preferably within walking distance."

Of course millions of jobs will disappear. Consider that as the cost of energy goes up, people will spend and consume less. Less consumption and spending means few goods and services need to be produced to meet demand, which will require less workers. This can cause a feedback loop as when workers lose their jobs they consume less, leading to even less demand for workers.

Mike_R wrote;

"Secondarily, jobs will regres to le-energy intensive versions. JIT manufacturing will go away; CNC will again be limited to prototype development; computers will be used for CAD, math, and engineering, but perhaps not for office communication"

Nope, just the opposite. Machines use considerable less energy that people do. It takes a lot of energy to feed a worker, transport him to the job site, Provide him with a working enviroment, and so on. Machines are replacing workers as labor costs for workers continue to rise and as energy costs also rise.A machine can operate 24x7x365 and do not need bathroom breaks, need raises, vacations, etc.

JIT was applied to save money and energy, and its not going away. It costs a lot of money to warehouse goods and materials. Outsourcing will continue to make gains is that is far cheaper to produce good overseas, especially in Asia where there are no restrictions on burning cheap coal. 

I expect at least 15% of US jobs to be permanently replaced by machines in less than 10 years, From factory automation, office automation and even in retail jobs (cashiers with Kiosks, Food service with machines). I know this going to happen because I already see it happening. I already see companies replacing IT, Finance, Sales, and back-office support jobs with software automation. Much like the first PCs eliminated the need for basic administrative jobs (Typing pools, filing clerks, etc) so are lots of high level jobs.

Mike_R wrote;

"Buy-Local will again have a distinct price value that is significant"

Not for most people. The Major of the populations are located in urban areas which have virtually no farmland and very little industrial production. Production moved out of the cities starting after WW2 because of regulations, costs, pollution, etc. Most of the production is now located in the suburbs, but is in the process of being relocated to rural regions. Only those that live in rural or semi-rural will be able to buy most of the day to day goods they need. Farms are not going to be moving to citties since there is no farm land left. Manufacturing plants aren't going to return because its too expensive to operate them in cities. 

My guess is that most cities will evolve into Fed-gettos. The people living there be supported on gov't handouts and low wage service jobs. We can already see this happening in a few major cities like Detriot, Chicago, Philadephia, etc. Companies are relocating south and the people that are able to get jobs are leaving too. Eventually even tech-hubs like San Francisco will fall as the companies and workers realize they don't have to remain in extremely expensive places.

 

TechGuy's picture
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Re: NIF

energyskeptic Wrote:

"A recent report concludes that although the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF)—a Department of Energy (DOE) laser lab designed to heat and compress capsules of hydrogen isotopes until they fuse"

Actually the NIF was built to design and test Nuclear weapons. Since the US signed the Nuclear Test ban treaty, the US built the NIF to test small amounts of fissile material to make sure its going to work, as well as to develop non-fission (ie pure fusion) bomns (ie Gen IV nuke Weapons), idealy to use them as in "conventional" warfare.  FYI: Same story with the Z-Machine, it to designe Gen IV bombs and test existing stockpile of fission bombs.The Fusion power is just a cover story used to get public support.

A Fusion emplosion method would never really be a practical fusion to electricity power source.  We should be rather fortunate if the NIF, Z-Machine turn out to be failures, Otherwise we risk the globe being populated with easy to produce Fusion bombs.

 

 

TechGuy's picture
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HydrogenPower Wrote: "These

HydrogenPower Wrote:

"These gases could in turn be stocked and as Hydrogen is an highly efficient source of non poluting energy, could in turn be used to boil water and generate more electricity, power motors, etc."

Sorry but its impractical and terribly energy inefficient:

1. Electroysis has a max of 85% efficiency (in perfect laboratory conditions, and considerable less in industrial scale production)

2. Burning H2 + O2 to run a steam turbine would have even higher energy loss. The very best Gas turbines convert about 62% of the thermal energy into mechanical power, but also have conversion losses converting mechanical power into electricity. Burning H2 +O2 to produce thermal energy will have loss since not all of the thermal energy is captured. 

3. Hydrogen is difficult to store and it embrittles metals. There are also large loss compressing hydrogen for storage. Some work has been done on using Zeolites to store compressed hydrogen more efficiency, but its still pretty poor.

4. No electrolysis system is perfect in converting water into H2 + O2. The feedstock water needs an electrolyte to permit current flow. In the process of releasing H2 + O2 it also has secondary reactions with the electrolyte as well as the electrodes.

My guess is that after adding up all of the losts from electrolysis to generation is that it would be about 25% to 30% efficient in ideal conditions.

"The process of electrolysis doesn't require clean water. One can split water coming from poluted sewage"

No you would want to do that!. You would comtainment the electrotrodes and fowl up the electrolysis system. Ideallly you want pure water with an pure electrolyte so that mineral deposits do not fowl up the system. 

The reason why batteries are preferred over hydrogen is that the overall efficiency is much better. This is important when you trying to store low density/intermittent power sources (solar & wind).

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Petey1 wrote: I work at a
Petey1 wrote:

I work at a college and tried to have a discussion about energy with a science professor.  His answer was Moore's law would solve the energy issue.  At that point I just let the conversation end. We sure are betting the house on technology.   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

Most of my coworkers have gone back to trucks, SUVs and 15 mpg hot rods. I catch constant grief for driving my four year old Prius. Of course I smile every time it only costs twenty dollars to fill up.  

I'm no expert, but the semiconductor industry has basically admitted that Moore's Law is done.

Here's an article discussing the transition - AFTER MOORE'S LAW

Paraphrasing the words of a Microsoft VP of research... "while the benefits of smaller have been decreasing, the costs have been increasing.  This is because the components are approaching a fundamental limit of smallness: the atom."

Decreasing benefit, increasing cost - that sounds familiar.

Semiconductors are more likely to become less powerful, but more focused.  Industries like cloud computing and IoT have different requirements than exponential processor speed.  There's more profit for chip companies in those industries than in chasing the dream of the smallest, fastest chip ever produced.

 

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Suppose we could store hydrogen more densely, without embrittlin

Here's a thought: maybe, if we could some how store hydrogen on long chains, then the chains would keep the density greater than in compressed gas. If the chains were long and convoluted enough, you wouldn't need high pressure.

Ideally, maybe you coulo make the chains out of something that itself could be burned, so that you wouldn't have so much complicated waste. Maybe, for example, the chains could be made out of carbon, since each carbon could hold two hydrogen atoms.

The only question, to my mind, would be how to take something like solar energy, and convert it to these chained carbon-hydrogen strands, en masse.

Ah, well.

Maybe this is too complicated to figure out. I guess I'll just continue burning 87-octane gasoline.

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Ugh, have we learned nothing?

Isn't the whole point that we have to use less energy?

Instead much of this thread has been devoted to "Yeah, but....."

Well, I for one am not putting my money on "Yeah, but." I'm going to make it a point to raise more of my own food and become less dependent on the $ that comes from my J.O.B. because things are going to change. It could happen very fast and a lot of people could die when the SHTF. This is pretty much what Alice Friedemann was saying if i understood it correctly. Several of the commenters on this thread appear to be in denial.

Jeff

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Highly educated group here:

In this group we have Tech guys,engineers,scientists,doctors,traders,farmers,teachers and others.I come here to learn from each and everyone of them.We are like minded folks who I believe are in no way in denial.Just alternative ideas and practical solutions.Nothing in this article has been lost on me....

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too cheap to meter

I think the only way hydrogen becomes a fuel is if electricity somehow becomes too cheap to meter, given all the losses in energy involved.  My metaphor for hydrogen is that it consumes 2 units of power to store 1 unit.  I'm not sure about the math, but that's the sense I get.

Solar could get suddenly a lot more efficient, and/or there might be certain times of the day when wind & solar power are "too plentiful" for the grid to handle, and at that time you could (probably) profitably use the surplus electricity to construct and store hydrogen economically.

Bridge fuel for long haul trucking could be natgas.  LNG is currently in use for trucking in other countries - but of course it would require building fueling stations.  T Boone Pickens is a proponent of this approach.

Converting cars (but not trucks) to natgas isn't too difficult.  If we got out of our own way, conversion kits would be $1500 or so.  Other countries much less advanced that the US do this routinely.  In asia I see about 50% of taxis are CNG or LNG.  A friend's car uses LNG.  This is not seen as anything exciting.  They do this because the cars are cheaper to operate.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/print/430904/

My mom got a CNG car (after some prodding by me) and she was definitely the only one on her block to have such a beast.  Rarer than hen's teeth.  In 2013 she was happy about fueling cost: per gge it was about $1.50 vs maybe $4.00/gallon for gasoline.  Car ran great, only issue was the relatively short range (about 220 miles).  That, and the relative dearth of fueling stations.  One had to plan trips carefully.  I heard about that a lot.  Mom: "I can't take a trip anywhere!"   Me (pulling up the CNG fueling station map for California) "Ok, so where do you want to go?"  Mom: "I don't know.  But if I wanted to go somewhere, I couldn't!"

There was also the lure of being able to use a home fueling system, which never materialized.  Pumping your own CNG at home into your car sounded really cool.  Really cheap in terms of cost, too.  Never happened.

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davefairtex Wrote: "Bridge

davefairtex Wrote:

"Bridge fuel for long haul trucking could be natgas. LNG is currently in use for trucking in other countries - but of course it would require building fueling stations. T Boone Pickens is a proponent of this approach."

I am not a big fan of burning natgas in trucks or to spin turbines to generate electricity, simply because its too valuble for other uses, such as heating, hot water, feedstock for petro-chemicals. This whole clean-energy movement is betting on the farm on natgas. using it for electricity (already happening) and for transportation is going to speed up depletion and end up leaving tens of millions in the cold when it become too expensive.

Another risk is explosions for leaking or ruptured tanks. yes I know there are some trucks with compressed natGas, but there aren't very many of them, If natgas became the majority the odds of major incidents would increase.

Right now, Natgas is dirty cheap that has large been funded with debt, coming from pension plans. Do to the regulations against coal, power companies are building a lot of new NatGas power plants, which will put a permanent increase in natgas consumption. Sooner or later, the cost of natgas will soar, causing a cluster of problems for business and consumers. North America only has about 20 years of natGas Supply at current consumption rate.

To be honest I don't have a answer. What I could propose is that the US use a lot more rail to transport goods. There is an awful lot of goods transported by long haul trucks that could be transported by rail which is much more energy efficient. Making public transportation more availble would also help as well as the promotion of office workers to work remotely (either at home or some type of shared/co-op local offices). Ditching Global airline travel and airfreight would also help a lot. I think the would consumes about 10 mbpd for the aerospace industry (guestimate). This wouldn't prevent a crisis, but would likely buy some more time. 

That said, I strongly believe we are head for a crisis that leads to a collapse or major war. To date, no industrial power has even discussed future shortages with the public. They don't want to spook the public, so I think nothing will be done until a major crisis unfolds and its too late. I think its already too late.

 

 

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natgas as bridge fuel

TechGuy-

I think we have more natgas than we have oil.

Heating water: you can always use solar thermal.  Its not even that expensive, as some posters pointed out the other day.

If the US has imports cut off, for whatever reason, it will probably be a whole lot easier to obtain natgas than it will be to obtain gasoline.  That was my thinking.  Probably best to use the stuff we actually produce domestically vs the stuff we have to import.

Plus, even "crazy expensive" natgas at $10/mmbtu is only $1.29 per GGE.   Current natgas price is $2.70/mmbtu.  We were being overcharged at our natgas station.  If we could have used that home fueling station, it would have been insanely cheap - like 50-60 cents/gge.

http://www.nat-g.com/why-cng/cng-units-explained/

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Alternative fuels?

Rail makes the most sense. Stop driving to the 7-11 and walk a bit more. How about using coal to make dimethyl ether in your UPS van instead of diesel. Electric assisted tricycles?

Until we all run out of the cheap stuff, I'm going to keep growing as much of my own fuel as I can and enjoy the experience. Fried eggs, bacon, potatoes and onions in cast iron over the camp fire? Mmmmm! We may be there before you know it. Bon appetite.

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Death of the car, no problem it's called public transport.

Death of the car, no problem it's called public transport.  The concept is easy: walk or cycle (on your fold away bike) to the nearest bus/train stop, take public transport, walk or cycle to your final destination. Trolley buses will come back to our towns and cities.   Cars, airplanes and high speed rail have no long term future.

As to a model for our future;  Cuba.  Highest standard of living / energy consumption ratio

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One other limit for Moore's Law
sjdavis wrote:

Paraphrasing the words of a Microsoft VP of research... "while the benefits of smaller have been decreasing, the costs have been increasing.  This is because the components are approaching a fundamental limit of smallness: the atom."

I was talking with a chip engineer a while back about speed of the chips, which has been a function of smallness, and he alerted me to the fact that chip speed is facing limits imposed by...the speed of light.

Yes, that's right, once you start to clock in at multiple gigahertz, the amount of time it takes light (or electromagnetic wave propagation to be specific) to travel from one side of the chip to the other becomes a real and limiting factor.

I hadn't ever thought about the length of time required for light to traverse 1.25 inches, but apparently we've bumped up against it.  Thus, all gains hence are from carefully engineering chip tasks to be physically closer to each other and that's a much more intensive, careful, and therefor slower process than simply miniaturizing things.  

It's totally cool that we've hit this limit...and it's totally inappropriate to keep extrapolating Moore's Law to current chip designs.  The low-hanging fruit got picked first...go figure...and now people have assumed that low-hanging fruit is a "Law" - also go figure.

Quantum computing may be a whole different matter, but that's a different story...

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Moore's law

As a chip guy myself (materials focus) I would say that, when viewed from the overall system level (vs. just the chip level) performance improvements continue coming.  For sure it is getting harder and harder, and MUCH more expensive, to get that next increment of improvement at the chip level.. I don't quite understand the argument about light traversing the chip.. because we don't have optical chips yet.. we still operate with electrons at the chip level.  With regard to electrons, every time we shrink the smallest Copper conductor lines again, we increase the electrical resistance in these lines, and move them closer together (between the insulator) which exacerbates the so-called RC (resistance/capacitance) delay factor.  

The semiconductor industry has already fended off one major challenge brought about by our inability to scale individual atoms.. that was the entire motivation for the shift from so-called Poly SiON transistor gates to (Hafnium based) High-k metal gates... the Si-based gates were down to just a few atoms thickness, and they were too leaky.  

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-%CE%BA_dielectric

The term high-κ dielectric refers to a material with a high dielectric constant κ (as compared to silicon dioxide). High-κ dielectrics are used in semiconductor manufacturing processes where they are usually used to replace a silicon dioxide gate dielectric or another dielectric layer of a device. The implementation of high-κ gate dielectrics is one of several strategies developed to allow further miniaturization of microelectronic components, colloquially referred to as extending Moore's Law

So work goes on to address various bottlenecks in overall system performance, while we eke out improved performance at the chip level.  While the chips don't work with photons, there is much more emphasis on taking the latency out of all ex-chip data movement via photonics.. i.e. photonic cables for data centers, etc.  

I would not characterize our conception of Moore's law as being similar to other forms of magical thinking that deny the finite nature of the earth.... but that's just me  : )      

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Moore's law

Maybe we aren't driving the chip architecture maybe the chip designs are driving us? Terrance made note that language is a technology as is psilocybn as is the internet. The only difference between a drug and a computer is that one it just a bit to large to swallow, and our best minds are working on that problem.

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davefairtex: "I think we have

davefairtex:

"I think we have more natgas than we have oil."

Not much more, and Oil can be more readily transported from oversea. Not so much with natgas.

"Heating water: you can always use solar thermal. Its not even that expensive, as some posters pointed out the other day."

Not pratical in high density urban regions, or when people live in multi-story apartments where there isn't sufficient roof space to meet demand. Also it not sunny at night, or during bad weather. Most people don't have the means to climb on there roofs to remove snow from solar thermal panels. Not all roof are facing south.

"Plus, even "crazy expensive" natgas at $10/mmbtu is only $1.29 per GGE."

Natgas is grossly underpriced! its should be between $16 to $25 mmbtu. Its been subsidized with pension money as pension money managers invested heavily in Oil & Gas because the Federal reserve's ZIRP (Zero Interest policy). Sooner or later prices are going to soar. When it happens it going to bankrupt a lot of businesses and going to cause severe problems reliant on Natgas for winter heating.

As I stated we have about 20 years at current consumption (see Chris recent interview with Arthur Berman). The Shale gas drilling is evidence that we are scraping the bottom of the barrel for natgas.

"If the US has imports cut off, for whatever reason, it will probably be a whole lot easier to obtain natgas than it will be to obtain gasoline."

The US imports natgas from Canada. So if imports are cut off, then the US is still in trouble. 

https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9102cn2m.htm

 

 

 

 

 

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I apologize

I was a little under the weather when I listened to the podcast and should have added a little more to the story.

This conversation happened awhile back and gas prices were in the three dollar range. The conversation started among a few people about the economy and what was wrong.  I tried to work in how cheap energy can play a major factor and what will we do in the future. The Professor said we had almost a hundred years of natural gas in the US and we could use it for transportation. I asked if that was a hundred years at current consumption. He did not really answer and that is when he believed technology would find someway to save us. He used Moore's law as a example that technology would continue to expand. 

I applaud everyone here at PP for continuing to educate people.  I am just a average joe who one day questioned why fuel prices skyrocketed to over four dollars a gallon this lead me to peak oil and then finally here at PP.   My debating skills are lacking and I find myself a much happier person by making changes to my own personal lifestyle. I will try to encourage people to change their habits by showing them my results. These results are better for the planet and in time save you considerable amounts of money.  Thanks for everyone's contributions.

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"every time we shrink the

"every time we shrink the smallest Copper conductor lines again, we increase the electrical resistance in these lines, and move them closer together (between the insulator) which exacerbates the so-called RC (resistance/capacitance) delay factor.  "

Another problem is quantum tunneling. when insulators become too thin electrons start to tunneling through them. Seems unlikely that optical will make any leaps to replace electronics for logic. At best Optics and optical switching will help improve communications, but not processing. 

Another issue with electronics is heat disappation. the more transistors that are used the higher heat is generated. I believe a lot of work is now focusing on reducing switching losses to address the heat problem. if the heat problem can be solved than chips can go 3D permitting higher designing with short interconnections.  

Moores law is really about miniaturization. There is no way your going to build a micro-transportion vehicles to deliver goods and people.

If Moore's law was applied to transportation, it would mean that the size of the transportation industrial would shrink in half every 18 months, which is probably likely when energy gets expensive. But it not going to improve the economy and it will leave millions jobless, and freezing in the dark.

 

 

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you don't need a 100% solution

TechGuy-

So as with all things, you don't need to have a 100% complete solution to make a big impact.  Lots more thermal solar will reduce natgas use.  Even if only 50% of roofs face north/south, that's still a big number.  And even if it only works 8 months out of the year - that's still pretty good.  And not every place has snow.

As for your assertion that natgas is underpriced at $10...ok.  Even at $16 its still quite reasonably priced as a fuel.  Even at $25, its still $3.22/gge, which is totally doable.

As for Canada, I do not think imports from Canada will be cut off.  I was referring to oil imports from overseas.

The amount of waste the US has in using energy is colossal.  I have a lot of experience living in a much lower energy locale.  There's lots and lots we can change and still have a perfectly nice lifestyle.  Cut the natgas use by 50%, and that's 40 years of supply.  And if it gets more pricey, more of it will become available, and use will become a lot more efficient, too.

Certainly we can't drive our hummers anymore, but believe me, life is perfectly fun at a much lower energy level.  I know, because I've lived it.  Instead of everyone having a car, you might have one car for the neighborhood and everyone will jump in the back to go somewhere together.  Or, there are private van services - they hold 12 people, have a semi-regular schedule, and they stop only by request.  And they're cheap.  It might require walking or riding a bike to the pickup point, but life doesn't end.

If you have four roommates, and everyone has a car, nobody needs to cooperate.  But if only one roommate has a car, you will all tend to do things together.  That, writ large, chops liquid fuel use by 75%.  Faced with "stay at home by yourself" or "go places together", we'll choose to go places together.

Believe me, people will make changes and adapt, and it really won't be "everyone shivering in the dark."  That's my sense anyway.  It might actually end up bringing people closer together.

Try living in a lower energy country for a while - say 3-4 times lower than the US.  Life really does go on.  You just have to become more of a group person.

I've seen the future.  Its really not all that horrific.

 

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I'm coming around to the

I'm coming around to the belief that energy scarcity may not be a real problem. Climate change will be a bigger problem if not ameliorated somehow.

The following quotations are from " Covert Wars and the Clash of Civilizations: UFOs, Oligarchs, and Space Secrecy" 2013, by Joseph P Farrell.

          ...the Brookings Report strongly advocated studies not only to determine what effect an ET disclosure          might have .....implying that a disclosure of technologies of equal or near parity could topple the existing petro-corporate-financial leadership and implying a sudden toppling of the dollar's reserve currency status". P 175.

...as for the new energy supplies suggested by the new technologies mentioned in the Brookings Report, they would make a virtually limitless currency possible, and give access to space resources....that may have already been collateralized secretly". P 176.

Of course whether the new technologies be made generally available is another matter. 

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not meant as an insult

Hey everybody, Eddelinski, etc.  I know that many of you are experts of one sort or another, so go ahead and try to think of ways in which we can soften our landing. In the US we consume, what is it? 19 million barrels of oil every year? every day? Whatever it is is ridiculous in my opinion and we don't know how to make more. We can (maybe) discover more, but we cannot make our own oil. And wasn't it mentioned in the interview that consumption has been increasing exponentially and population started to increase exponentially when we started to consume oil.... (yes, these things were stated clearly enough, perhaps some of you didn't read/listen to the interview around which these comments originate).

So making suggestions about how to dodge or delay the long energy emergency is kind of like making suggestions for what the fed should do. I mean I doubt that the powers that be are going to listen to us - even though we're knowledgeable people. Go ahead and make suggestions about how countries and the world community can "solve the problem," but, even if you can come up with a solution, it might fall on deaf ears. I would still advise you to start a garden (or expand the one you have), start riding your bicycle to work - or get a job closer to home if you cannot ride your bike there. 

Cornelius 999 What? You're 1/2 right, global warming is a real problem. That doesn't make our energy crisis less of a problem. I really don't understand why you think that way.

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electric trikes

Thanks for that video. There is a rather inactive bike group on this site and I think I posted several years ago about my electric bikes. I have a recumbent Mountain BikeE that a friend, Bill Darby,  fitted out with a 500W Currie brushless motor back in 2001. We started with Lead Acid batteries, then went to Nickle metal hydride, (Valence Batteries) and now Lithium Iron Phosphate. We then tried to build a human hybrid trike. Really a high-end velomobile. It is in my basement unfinished and we just buried Bill last week. We are going to make a tombstone with a nomad-tadpole bike carved on it.

What he ended up making for me before he "retired" was a homemade tadpole much higher off the ground than your Trice and most of the other recumbent trikes. It is a lovely balanced light weight machine and adding a heaving battery and motor just messes up its essential poetry. But I cannot get up the 10% grade hills in my town (well sometimes I can in a granny gear but it is slow and no fun and I am usually in a hurry.) So my compromise is a RideKick trailer with a 500w motor and a 24volt lithium iron phosphate battery. I got one of the earliest models maybe three or four years ago and had to work with the company to fine tune it so it didn't overheat going up hills. They were great people. They are still selling them and I think they have worked out the bugs. They will have more available in September or so they say on their website.  That way if I want poetry I ride slowly and if I want to get to town I put on the motor. Of course things go wrong with all machines and there are more things to go wrong with motors and batteries. A heavy bicycle is useless if the motor is attached. With a trailer you just take it off, chain it to a tree or something and ride home.

Not much discussion about bikes ever took place on this site. All the old guys I knew who were into human powered and human-hybrid vehicles are gone now. And, if you think about it, bikes are pretty high tech things. They require chains and gears and tires and paved roads. So do they make sense in the world that our children and grandcnildren will inhabit? I think now that maybe they will disappear with automobiles and airplanes! The high tech batteries? All part of the industrial past. Or perhaps we will be able to use those Xtra-Cycle cargo bikes that take the place of small trucks in third world countries?

The future of cycling is worth talking and thinking about. The trouble is that many bike enthusiasts are real ideologues who dismiss electric bike riders as wimps.

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Michael_Rudmin
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My experience with electric bikes, velomobiles, etc

So far, I've built an inefficient velomobile based on a KMX Kart (kid's trike); I've had two electric bikes; I've had one Sun EZ recliner bike, and a lightweight aluminum bike.

My son and I also designed, then started working on an aluminum velomobile, before I had to go back to intensive work.

I've also experimented around with bike carts, including a detachable-dolly extended girder trailer (based on a child trailer) and a golf caddy converted to a bike cart.

My conclusion? The powered assist trailer concept is probably best. I find it easier to go fast on the unpowered aluminum bike than on the Currie lead-acid bike. However, I found that the power required for the currie was greater than the design strength of the parts, especially if I loaded a week's groceries on to the back.

Moreover, the risk of theft makes things awkward.

There's a reason pull-along campers w/ pickup truck have a higher resale than motor homes. In the same way, I suspect your answer to the detachable dolly with electric assist, is the bet option.

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sand_puppy
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4 stroke Honda engine assist for bikes

I played around with one of the predecessors to this design.  They are pretty efficient, but do of course require gasoline.  They use a 35 cc Honda 4 stroke engine similar to what is used on a weed-eater.  Though the 4 stroke engine is quieter than a typical weed eater, they are still noisy.

If I had to commute, in an area with good weather and roads with bike lanes, I would use one of these.

I recommend putting the kit on a bike with disc brakes as the brakes get a workout due to the greater speeds of the motor assist.

Golden Eagle Bike Engine.  $679 for the kit

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aggrivated
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first paved highway in USA

was constructed because the League of American Wheelman lobbied for better roads for their bicycles!

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aggrivated
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Meanwhile, back to auto usage issue

I just read this whole thread from the top. Also I just heard the most recent "off the cuff" and the discussion about the problem with 'off balance sheet' costs that do not show up in the prices we pay for food and other items.

For example, billions (trillions?) are being spent as I write this to increase and maintain the carrying capacity of American highways. I haven't heard a single politician object because we might not need them as much in the future. Much of the costs are outright subsidy. If the complete cost of roads was borne by only the users of our roads there would be change in their use. We saw this back when oil hit $130+/barrel. Railroads and river barges got a greater share of the freight. That was just due to the cost of fuel.

If the maintenance and construction costs were paid for fully by a tonnage-mile tax for cars as well as trucks then we would see significant changes in their use. Ride share would go up, freight would shift even more to rail, mass transit use would go up, motor scooter use would increase, etc.

Then lay on top of this the potential for a smart grid approach to personal work transportation that is 'stimulated' by personal/corporate tax credits for reduction of rush hour commuting or a rush hour toll that is paid by employers. This, coupled with the advent of self driving cars would align the cost/price relationship for transportation and freight.

Everyone has the right to be stupid. Politicians outright abuse the privilege. Fight against political stupidity.

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Michael_Rudmin
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On that Honda, do you know

... where one could get the wheel dirive ring? Or would it be made from another bike wheel?

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