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April 09, 2007



Best way forward?

Not BioFuels.

Electrification solves both the carbon issue, the energy issue, AND the N20/O3 global warming issue.

And it does it all at a cost of roughly 1cent per mile.


BioFuels. Don't solve the Nitrogen issue.
And are very expensive.
Not to mention, consume a lot of water, and in many cases cause more harm than good when it comes to being environmental.

Second best option before BioFuels?

Clean Diesel.
A 2008 Jetta Diesel gets Prius like performance, with similar emmisions.
And is particularlly squeaky clean on the nitrogen issue due to new filters.


"In reality, we all will have to learn to live a different life under different conditions. It's not going to be easy or fun."

On the contrary, I look forward to being forced to live a simpler, more resource-poor life, I really do. All this stuff I have just makes me annoyed anyway. I think the western world will benefit greatly from dismantling the mantra of consumption, and I for one look forward to more hard physical labour, more community, fewer material decisions and the chance to see the stars at night. I just hope we still have cappuccino...


Heh, considering we can just shift to electrification. I wouldn't imagine transportation and commerce would suddenly up and vanish.

The best solutions are the ones that require the least ammount of public involvement, and personal sacrifice.

Ideally you want to develop Tech which has higher performance, lower cost, and lower emmisions.

Thats the only way to make mainstream changes happen.
(By offering the public something better than they already have.)


"Ethanol, bio-diesel, synthesized coal liquids, methane gas, hydrogen fuel cells, and other "alternatives" have been passed around like a lump of hot coal for years. All of these, in their best possible forms of production, still have a net energy loss."

This isn't true. Yes, some of those energy resources do produce a net loss of EROEI, but Ethanol offers 1.2:1 and Biodiesel can get up to 3:1.

I'm not saying the whole article should be ignored because of this. There are some silly decisions being made by those with power, there is no doubt about that. But technology can and will help us get out of this mess. The first thing we need to do is get rid of the internal combustion engine and it's horrible 15% efficiency. Then we might be able to do something useful with the remaining oil reserves rather than set fire to them.

Just my two cents.


"Then we might be able to do something useful with the remaining oil reserves rather than set fire to them."
That is something that has bothered me for quite a while, especially when looking at huge traffic jams and such. All our future plastics and other petroleum based products just being burned away.


There is still the ethics of food vs fuel.

Ethanol and Bio diesel both have the potential to create world wide starvation and great social strife. Mexico is already having issues with the cost of corn as the tortilla the low cost staple food of poor mexicans has risen 40% in the last year or two. This spring it is expected that feed costs for livestock will greatly fan inflation in North America as beef, dairy cost go through the roof. Substitution from higher priced beef will send chicken fish pork all higher as added supply will not be available. Food and fuel will rise in price and real shortages in some foods may arise.

This year more acres are being converted to corn production to meet demand. This will lead to less wheat, rice and barley being planted in the U.S. So next season different things will rise in price. Even if corn slips a little do you expect consumer goods to go down in price? Corn requires higher levels of irrigation further depleting the Mid west aquifers, mixed with global warming a new dustbowl is possible.

There eventually will be a food vs energy crunch, which will be worsened by the cost or availability of both fertilizers and pesticides which are hydrocarbon based. Oil is too valuable to burn but we will be well down the the backside ofthe Hubber curve before the majority catch on.

30 years from now we will be suffering from lower crop yeilds, a population die off, mass population displacement. Those who invest now in land, and the skills to utilize it like a menonite will be the new upper class. The longer we refuse to change the longer and harder the final fall will be.

greg woulf

I think there will be a peak in oil soon, but I think people underestimate the resourceful nature of regular people.

Just supposing all gasoline was restricted today. We'd car pool again, we'd walk to the corner store and we'd conserve gasoline.

At the same time we'd be buying electric cars, or making them ourselves, and people won't be so ready to yell out NIMBY when that wind farm company wants to build in the field down the road.

The sooner we start, the easier the transition will be, but I don't see it being the end of the world.

As for plastics, there are other sources for plastics. We waste so much plastic today. It would seem to be easy to conserve 90% and not see a noticeable difference in the quality of our life.

Kit P.

I agree with greg. I always find complaints about greedy energy companies amusing. If you are spending too much money on energy, then change you life style.


Nuclear produced electricity is are best hope. As long as they build extremely safe and secure facilities. And build the facility near the disposal site, which I assume would be burying the rods in the earth under a mountain or whatever is safest and least expensive. Maybe in abandoned mines to save the cost of digging again?

More solar and wind energy fields.

Once this is done, we need to switch our general local transportation needs to electric cars. And the big car companies need to stop stalling on this and build the car that we know can be built.

Every house should be built with solar and wind energy and the ability to add back to the grid. Any existing house should get a tax break on the installation and purchase of a system.

I also agree with greg on the plastics concern. We waste a lot of plastic.

I really believe that the above solution, if started soon, could save us from a dramatic move instead of a managed move to alternate energy, which would be preferrable.

J.C., Sr.

It is not going to be easy or fun. Hogwash!
Seventy years ago my family lived 10 miles out of Hartford, Ct. My father commuted to Hartford every day by Trolley and then by Bus {the change to bus was a bad decision.} The bus run every 30 mimutes on time, every time. The bus was fun to take when we were kids. Life was easy and fun for the kids. And then you grow up. Are we all having fun now? Do we play a game of cards with our neighbor one in awhile?

Harvey D.

J.C. Sr:

Electric trolleys and preferably electric city buses may come back sooner than we think.

Bombardier is currently building super caps equipped electric trolleys for Switzerland cities that can run with long overhead cable gaps (500 M to 1000M).

Electric city buses (and trolleys) equipped with enough super caps could quick recharge at every 4th or 5th corner stop and would not require long ugly overhead cables.

Electric city buses and trolleys could be equipped with a small on-board generator (or small fuel cell) for emergencies.

Recent, existing city diesel buses could be converted to electrical super caps units. All city diesel buses could be removed from service within xx years or sent to Irak, Agfanistan (and other poor countries) as a positive gesture and/or as compensation payment for the damages done.

Charles S

"I look forward to being forced to live a simpler, more resource-poor life"

I do, too, but I have a feeling that the other half of the population won't. While I agree that people are resourceful and will adopt, I also fear that if things change too drastically, then the rise in crime will be the dark side of this new era.


The only "cultural change" that would solve the energy crisis is killing half the population. Since we won't do that, we'll have to be more pragmatic on the other fronts. That sucks, but it's necessary.

Kit P.

George, do you really think it is a good idea for every home to make electricity and feed it back into the grid? Making and transmitting electricity is inherently dangerous. While the industry has a great safety record, I think home generation is a bad idea.


I too agree with greg. People do adapt to change and once peak oil becomes mainstream, I think we will see a huge upsurge in the amount of innovative ideas people come up with. It may well be that a whole new industry is born - a network of stores all selling products that help us become more green, energy friendly, and generally more resourceful people. I can see it now... solar panels on the roof, small wind turbines... signs showing how much of the store's power is being self-generated today. Stuff like that boosts the public attitude.

But first, peak oil has to become mainstream before it will be taken seriously enough for this idea to work.

As I see it, there are actually two problems to overcome. The first is to reduce our use of fossil fuels considerably, and the second is to discover an alternative that allows growth. For instance, electricity could be used to power vehicles. Great, so they'd do away with the need to burn oil... But where will the extra grid power come from?

This is where we all need to get smarter. Why do we crush used bottles, melt them, and produce new bottles again? Why don't we just wash them and re-use? CRT Monitors drain energy compared to LCDs. Incandescent light bulbs - don't even start me on them. There's a lot we can do to our homes to make them more energy efficient without tearing them down and starting from scratch too.

Reduction of fossil fuel use is an interim step which will ensure that oil is used where it would make a difference - to help discover and refine techniques for generating sustainable energy. Instead of taking the kids to soccer practice in the all-important, non-negotiable 2 ton 4x4.


It is always interesting to me that the old time puritan ethic is alive and kicking in these modern times. The only difference is that the fire and brimstone of hell has been replaced with the heat of global warming. Change your ways or perish. For those of you in favor of drastic change in the lifestyle of ordinary people, here is a question. IF our energy problems can be solved in a way that does not result in a rolling back of the American lifestyle, would you still be in favor of it? I predict that truly viable electric cars and cheap solar will elict a negative reaction from many who long to restrict the lifestyle choices of their neighbors. This is the real appeal of global warming for many, in my view.


Peter - I had to re-read your post a few times to fully understand it but I think you may be onto something. So you are saying that people who are pushing this simplification of life as a solution to peak oil and global warming are doing it not for the logical reasons behind it but because they want to ruin life for the neighbours?

I'd also add that a lot of the doomsayers are 'predicting' a bleak future for the world because they want to sound more knowledgeable than the 'common people' who they invariably consider themselves to be superior to.

Maybe these two traits originate from the same psychological need in some people? Do you think maybe it's a kind of "I'm not happy with my life so I'm going to ruin yours" phenomenon?


Wrapping yourself in peak oil and AGW alarmism really is a pathological syndrome. It's a currently fashionable pathology that wins a lot of friends and other opportunities. Eventually it will die away from lack of interest, like most popular delusions.


"Conservation is only a feeble start. For a society to survive intact, philosophies have to change. The car mentality has to go, and the sooner the better."

If we all drove 50 mpg cars (diesels or hybrids), we'd be able to extend our current "use patterns" on half the fuel.

That seems to me more than feeble.

In fact, it might be enough to add another decade (or two?) to the transition time between our gasoline-car culture and whatever comes after it.

(Other than that, blaming "cars" seems to me irrational. A solar powered electric car, for instance, doesn't have the same negatives. It just suffers from being not-quite-possible.)


Beyond that, I think "localization" is maybe a good rule of thumb, but too simplistic to be a proper movement.

If you are a scientist or engineer you will wait for the numbers. What matters, for energy and environment, are the actual joules of energy and moles of co2 associated with a good or service.

When local wins on those hard numbers, excellent.

But let's not pretend the guy with 100 lbs of vegetables in a 10 mpg pickup is going to beat 50,000 lbs of vegetables in a 5 mpg semi every time!


Serial plugin hybrids will make oil last ten times longer, enough time to develop better batteries that are inexpensive,charge quickly, and allow over 200 mile range.

Batteries good enough and cheap enough to reduce oil consumption for transportation to 10% of present levels are available right now.

It is really too bad that the mass delusional media that this newspaper is a proud member of, cannot seem to realize and publicize these facts.

The Wright brothers tried to get anyone to notice their airplane for four years after their first flight. They were about to give up in despair when a local publication noticed them, from there it took off into the national press.

Conventional wisdom (the major oxymoron in human history) is the only problem left to overcome to get this energy revolution off the ground.


There is a better way. If you want to be proactive in this energy revolution. You can be part of the solution and contribute clean renewable energy to the grid.
Solar homes are the best way to help yourself and the energy grid.
Thomas Foreman

Harvey D.


Peak Oil and even the End of the Oil era is not bad news but one of the best thing that will happen in this century.

Humanity will not only adapt but survive healthier and longer without Oil (and Coal).

We will develop cleaner energy sources in sufficient quantities to electrify transportation vehicles and other activities.


Why do people always act like Peak Oil means the automatic end of oil.

It's not so much a Supply issue as it is a Price issue.

And the market is rather effective at dealing with the price of Resources.

Either you find an alternative resource, or you use your resource more wisely.


Not quite sure why so many people focus on educating people on "Green Social Morality" as the way to get things done.

You don't need to educate the general public in order to use resources better.

All you need to do is win their support.

(Note, support, and understanding aren't the same thing.)


In general,
1. People should pressure their governments for goals
2. Governments should set goals
3. Businesses should figure out the methods
4. Governments should reward Businesses
(But only for successful sales results. Not science fair results.
Just making a good technology but with crappy marketing isn't enough.)


I do think that there is an element of this in many people who raise the alarm about global warming or other issues. As always, people are a mixed bag, so a person could have an impulse to be a scold but could also have a point on the science. I just get tired of the scolding. The science is much more fun. I am all in favor of moving away from old tech fossil fuel to better, greener tech. I just think that when it actually happens, there will be quite a few who will not approve of how it was done, no matter what, especially if the revilied "American Lifestyle" is allowed to survive intact, or even worse, spreads into the third world. What many don't see is that even though things like solar and geothermal are expensive now, the inevitable downward curve in prices they are on will lead to much cheaper energy spread around much more widely than is possible now.


Solar. Expensive?

Thats so '2007' :P
2008 is going to be the turning point.


I am not extremely familiar with the implications of peak oil. Does anyone want to try to convince me that peak oil is a greater threat than global warming? Thanks


No. Peak Oil isn't a greater threat than global warming.

Infact it's not even an near term threat.
It's mostly just saying "Oil will get more expensive"

In excess of natural market inflation.


I very well may be wrong or even patologically doomish, but I had come to the conclusion that Peak Oil combined with many other factors will force some type of regressive (but ultimately evolutionary) die-off period for humanity. This has happened many other times through human history.
If you look at the factors that have led to collapses before, many are present and worsening now. Let's see, how about ecological devastation, climate change, social hostility, population overshoot, topsoil depletion, water scarcity, pollution, overzealous military spending, fishery collapse, suburban sprawl, inflation, endless war, fascist power mongers, massive waste, peak oil, peak coal, peak gas, peak copper, deteriorating infrastructure, infinite growth.
Hello? Hello? Hellllloooo? Anybody?
Our intelligence will get us out of this unscathed, you say? Batteries, solar power, wind mills, bio-fuels, "free-market" capitalism to the rescue, you say? If we were so smart, we would not have gotten this far in the first place.
The majority of the planet lives at a pre-rational ethnocentric stage of development. That is, they have a faith-based worldview, where meaning is derived from thousands-year-old mythic tales of religious figures. These are not just concepts, these are realities.

How long will the infrastructure conversion take?

How will we dole out dwindling resources to an expanding population?

Will our political system be capable of such change in time?

Who? When? Why? How? Where? What?

It seems that the pressure is building...


I agree with sky. Anyone who thinks we can get through this to the other side of being able to power our world without oil is insane. I get a kick out of posters who say they welcome the chance to get back to a simpler way of life. Oh it'll get simple alright. It's not like you'll be on some kind of camping trip. Try planning how you will feed yourself not just for a week or month but for the rest of your life. Once we hit peak oil then the bottom falls out fairly quick. There simply isn't the choice to go to for transportation needs. Ethanol will probably never be able to fully satisfy our transportation needs. It will take decades to fully roll out alternatives assuming we really find one. Till then there;s massive job loss, massive hunger, lawlessness, suicide. Not pretty. Most of the alternative energy I've read about is mostly to produce electricity. we don't have good enough batteries to truly make the electric car viable. Hybrids may extend the life of oil a little longer but not by much.


While I would never underestimate the potential stupidity of governments, I don't think that our prospects will be quite as bleak as Sky and Swan predict. I guess it's all a matter of personal perspective.

"A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties." ~Harry Truman

Kit P

I am very optimistic about the future. Meeting energy 'needs' will not be all that hard. The freedom of a POV and individual housing can be maintained. Not everyone will be able to live like Al Gore. When that blow hard move into a one bedroom apartment walking distance to the senior center because he is worried about future generations, then I will worry about AGW.

Most here are too young to remember the rich were heating homes with coal instead of wood. Then came oil and natural gas. I have an all electric house with an efficient heat pump. The cost and environmental impact of a modern lifestyle is actually less than many years ago.


Almost all wars and terrorism in the world can be stopped. Almost all dictators and tyrants can be rendered powerless. All we have to do is to stop paying them. An alarming amount of the money Western nations pay for oil is going into the coffers of people who are terrorists and dictators. All we have to do defund the world’s most violent criminals is to become energy independent.

In the first phase of energy independence we get as much energy as possible from resources which we own or which are in the hands of friendly, stable nations. First we build new nuclear power plants in every state. If the French can make nuclear work what excuse do we have? In addition, we drill for oil off all our coastal waters and we build new refineries and pipelines in every state. Existing energy companies are making plenty of money in the current climate of false scarcity. We will have to find away around them. Usually the way around greedy energy companies would require political will. However, almost all existing politicians are in the pocket of the energy companies. This includes democrats and republicans. So every politician currently in office needs to be thrown out. Anyone who works for or who owns an existing conventional energy company is in my view disqualified for public office. We already know from the Bush/Cheney experience that such politicians will work in a way contrary to the national security of the United States and will start pointless wars for oil.

Merely having new politicians willing to clear the legal minefields laid down by oil bought senators and congressmen might not be enough. We might have to get a little bolder. Therefore I suggest that we build terawatts of new nuclear power plans and miles of new oil refineries in Mexico and that we send the power back to the states via pipelines, power lines, hydrogen, or whatever works. This will provide work for Mexicans and energy for us. The Mexican government will have a large incentive to make the plants secure and this increased security might even spill over to the borders and make our borders more secure.

While phase one is going on we need to start on phase 2. In this phase we bring online as many green and renewable technologies as are currently viable and put as much money as is needed into producing more. I would suggest that the model cities be built in the west and south—anywhere that it does not get cold enough to snow. The idea is to build small towns or cities that will go cold turkey. There will be no fossil fuels of any kind allowed in these cities. All vehicles and houses will be powered by wind, solar and bio-mass. The best locations would be those that have year around wind, sun and enough farming in the area to produce the bio mass. These experimental towns would be off the power grid. The only way to get power to them would be to make the green and renewable technologies work. Volunteers who truly believe that the future is green would be invited to apply for residency. We would probably take engineers and farmers over other types because we would need people who were skilled in keeping the power conversion machinery going and others who don’t mind the get their hands dirty hard work of farming.

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