Friday night topic: The problem of rising gasoline prices

Gasoline prices are on their way up again. While folks in North America still pay a lot less than others do at the pump, the pain is still palpable. Partisan bickering tends to place the blame on politicians, but that belies the cruel reality that oil is a finite resource whose extraction isn’t getting any cheaper. Drill Baby Drill won’t lower gas prices in the near term, and it may not provide relief over the long haul, either.

Alternative energy sources are available, of course, but they have their own problems when applied to automobiles. Batteries are heavy, charge relatively slowly, and have limited lifespans. Hybrids are popular with celebrities and seem to strike a reasonable balance between efficiency and practicality. However, they remain an expensive proposition if you’re looking to save money. Then there are hydrogen fuel cells, which could be all kinds of awesome if only the infrastructure existed to support them.

To their credit, cars are getting lighter and more fuel-efficient. Any gains on those fronts seem likely to be negated by rising gas prices, though. So, what’s the solution? Driving less? Hypermiling? Public transportation? Dusting off the old 10-speed in the garage? Or is everyone going to eventually trade in their gas-guzzling SUVs for a diesel Golf and suck up whatever penalty comes at the pump? Discuss.

Comments closed
    • khands
    • 9 years ago

    Mini-nuclear reactors running our cars. Now everyone will know when there’s been an accident.

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      You could just put, you know, batteries in them or Mr. Fusions.

    • puppetworx
    • 9 years ago

    Money – as they say – makes the world go round, especially when it’s spent on oil.

    Rising oil prices are due to the quick development rate of India and China. It doesn’t stop there either, once their demand peaks there will still be plenty of other countries who remain thirsty. With such a large marketplace any replacement technology will come only through a long slow transition period.

    Ultimately, atoms and molecules are inconvenient methods for delivering electrons to where they will be used. This means gasoline and hydrogen are out. Hydrogen is better absolutely, but it is not an ideally suited transition technology. As opposed to well established gasoline and electricity infrastructures there is zero Hydrogen infrastructure this makes a particular hybrid technology ideally suited.

    I believe the immediate future will see the widespread adoption of gas-electric hybrids primarily in the guise of generator-battery vehicles. As battery technology improves the generators roll will shrink until gasoline is eliminated completely from the equation.

    As for the longer term future it is slightly harder to pick between Hydrogen and electric, the potential for electric is greater however (excluding a local fusion reactor inside your car). If gas-electric hybrids are the most popular route the development rate of battery technologies should by far outstrip that of hydrogen.

    Either way is better then gasoline – the cursed political prisoner. Thankfully Hydrogen and electricity are more fortunate. Until they’re taxed that is.

    • blitzy
    • 9 years ago

    In NZ we pay around 3x the price of fuel in the US and have lower median wages, so yeah the rising fuel costs are like getting punched in the balls at the pump.

    The solution is to earn enough money that it doesnt effect you, apart from that just have to use the car less and hope for more affordable means of transport.

    • Exo
    • 9 years ago

    There will be no more reason to rise the price anymore because they found a way to create arificial gasoline with algae. Petroleum corp. started to buy the idea to produce it this way + It’s help to reduce the global warming by using the CO2 rejected by a cement factory. See the video here:
    [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZOEYELdbjU[/url<]

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      Algae/yeast oil has plenty of problems and has been around in various forms for years if not decades. The main problems with it are a)requires expensive and energy intensive (read: oil/coal intensive) fertilizers to grow enough of it fast enough, b)requires lots and lots of water, and c)actual oil yield isn’t that great so absolutely massive plants would be required to grow enough to supply a significant amount of our oil/plastics.

      Right now its mostly an expensive lab gimmick that they’ve run a few race cars on. Like many other things its probably a decade away at least from successful mass production/use.

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        Yup. Algae for biofuel is a PITA. Not just in theory, but in execution – requiring complex design and engineering solutions to create tanks that grow algae efficiently and cost-effectively. The maintenance of the pump and reservoir mechanism is non-trivial, as well. At some point, it may become cost-effective, but mainly due to rising oil costs. Right now, I don’t think it’s even at the break-even point of cost-effectiveness. Course, as oil continues to rise, at some point it may become profitable, but rising oil costs might also push away consumers and the industry from oil/diesel before algae biodiesel reaches break-even, creating a Catch-22 situation. On the other hand, a breakthrough in biotech or engineering might allow for more efficient algae culture and biodiesel production, but until one comes about, algae is something of a lame horse.

        You know, I haven’t seen it suggested yet (unless I missed it), but perhaps the ‘solution’ is for everyone to just telecommute instead of having to drive in to central workplaces, a habit that is a relic of a pre-information age industrial revolution work culture. I for one wouldn’t mind working from home in my bathrobe with my favourite coffee mug and a pair of fuzzy slippers. It won’t work for all jobs, but it would be fine for IT, secretarial, and much of armchair-based engineering.

          • bthylafh
          • 9 years ago

          Not all IT, alas. We desktop-support techs still have to be physically present. I’d love to not have a 35-mile commute.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Yea there are some jobs that have to be hands on. I think lots don’t require this these days either though.

            • alphadogg
            • 9 years ago

            Well, with a telecommuting workforce, you don’t need “physically present” desktop support as much.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          More telecommuting would be the easiest/cheapest thing we could do to reduce oil/energy consumption IMO. For what ever reason though the overwhelming majority of companies don’t like it. I know some people can’t really work effectively outside of a work environment, and OK fine, let them continue to drive. For others with enough mental restraint to keep their eyes off the TV/porn/youtubes and the do the work at home, let them stay at home I say.

          Now telecommuting wouldn’t solve all of our energy needs of course but the additive effects of leaving people with more money to spend on something besides gas would really help the economy too I think. Blows me away their isn’t a huge push to get companies to do this by the gov. That and lowering the speed limit to 50mph. You’d be amazed at how the milage improves for conventional vehicles if you keep them around that speed. It wouldn’t massively increase transit time either believe it or not and would make the highways much much safer in general.

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 9 years ago

            I should be able to make my own decision to drive at a fuel-efficient speed or not. I don’t want a government bureaucrat making that decision for me.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            If it benefits yourself and society both in terms of economy and safety while having a minor impact on travel time then what is the problem? Its not like we don’t already have speed limits or various safety devices in the cars today that are gov. mandated.

            • alphadogg
            • 9 years ago

            I should be able to make my own decision to kill people or not. I don’t want a government bureaucrat making that decision for me.

    • Thanato
    • 9 years ago

    Working from home! The technology is available! save time, gas, pollution, frustration… Seems that the tech for stuff like that just isn’t being developed, and I think that because well I read tech report most every day and I don’t see anything about it.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    I dont see the problem. Someone else makes craploads of of money off of you because they can. yay capitalism! You cant have america without oil tycoons! so suck it in, be a patriot, and get that third dream job you always wanted to pay for your gas. problem solved!

    • Scorpiuscat
    • 9 years ago

    TR should stick to what it knows….hardware!

    Otherwise this commentary is full of bullshit and conjecture and really has no place on this website.

    There is 8 times the reserve of oil under North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming than there is in Saudi Arabia.

    There is plenty of oil for the foreseeable future, the problem is the left enviro wackos want live in denial and make it harder and more expensive to drill for these reserves. But the plain truth of the matter is….drilling will occur, there is no stopping it and we won’t stop using oil for generations to come (baring a real tech break through that actually can compete with oil economically).

    We can either make it harder on ourselves or easier, the whole bullshit cop-out “Drill Baby Drill won’t lower gas prices in the near term” is so stupid that I shake my head at people who actually believe this crap.

    People have been saying this stupid saying for years and years, if we would have started to tap our reserves years ago, there would be no rising gas prices today. The long term would already be here.

    Fortunately, 1500+ oil and gas leases are being releases in Wyoming and major drilling will begin before the end of this year (barring interference from the current administration), this will stimulate the economy and lower natural gas and oil prices and we can start spending our money internally instead of sending it to the Middle East and supporting terrorism that wants to kill Western Civilization at all costs.

    Wake up people and get a grip on reality.

    Freaking DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!!! And keep Americans Employed!!

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      The Bakken formation oil is all expensive to get at and will totally destroy the local environment in that region if you went apeshit with the “DRILL BABY DRILL” crap necessary to get sufficient volume out of it to keep us off foreign oil or just to supplement foreign oil for a few decades.

      We need massive amounts of cheap energy, not expensive low volume energy sources like what you’d get from there. And yes even if they had started drilling a decade ago it would not matter, we’d still have too high gas prices today.

      1500+ oil wells is nothing to stimulate the economy. We need multi trillion dollar public works programs to do that, not a few hundred million dollar private programs that will mostly benefit out of state or country drilling companies.

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      I’m sorry, I can’t hear your argument over the I HATE LIBERALS AND LOVE FOX PROPAGANDA screaming in your post.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      so…how much do you know about extraction? The bulk of my family is in oil, natural gas and pipeline….from what all of them have said none of the formations there are exactly easy to get to. And you don’t just snap your damn fingers and get a real oilfield either; that takes time and expenses. And refineries (which are another problem).

      • alphadogg
      • 9 years ago

      Ah yes, how one political side oversimplifies the issue just to lash out at the other side… How novel!

      Drilling would not only be bad for the environment, and yes most people do care except for far-right knee-jerkers, it would also be extremely costly, and not contribute to lowering of prices. Porosity and permeability in that formation are well-below averages. And, although the overall numbers are high, actual recovery would be low and would amount to a couple of years of expensive US supply at best.

      So, instead of just letting your frustrations and ignorance get the better of you, why not actually educate yourself?

      Protip: Fox News won’t do it for you.

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      I hear asbestos is still a good insulator.

    • Jambe
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]Drill Baby Drill won't lower gas prices in the near term, and it may not provide relief over the long haul, either.[/quote<] Change "may not" to "will not" and the statement becomes... truthier. The solution is switching electrical generation entirely over to nuclear (with renewable mixed in) and using fossil fuels for vehicles until viable alternatives can be developed. The most viable personal vehicle would probably sport some sort of electrical drive, but the question remains whether it would draw from a traditional battery or any of the various sorts of fuel cells being devised. I don't know much about electrochemical engineering but the little I do know suggests there are some really tough natural barriers to vastly-increased storage capacity at least with current approaches... which kinda sucks. But nature isn't there to coddle us. Driving less will not happen without government intervention or a hard limit on available oil. Nobody knows what hypermiling is and nobody ever will. Public transit is good considering you can move more people per unit of fossil fuel. Bikes are good but there's the infrastructure and proximity issues and good ol' American Laziness.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      This actually sounds somewhat doable, +1.

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      I agree, basically what I said.

    • demani
    • 9 years ago

    Salon.com had an interesting article on the cause for high oil prices: oil futures/commodity trading by people who were in it purely because it is a volatile market. People jump in when it’s going up, then jump out when its going down- causes abnormal fluctuations, and much of it is a result of people who have no interest in the oil as a commodity. Because of the lack of public visibility, lack of regulation in the Mercantile Exchange, and the lack of interest by many of the investors, coupled with high speed electronic trading, the prices are far more volatile than they need to be. Libya makes a fraction of the oil, certainly not enough to cause that kind of a run-up, since Saudi Arabia could pick up the slack with ease.

    Drilling doesn’t have an immediate effect because oil isn’t purchased for right now (like consumers buy gasoline), it’s bought for months and years down the road. Imagine trying to buy gas for your car, and trying to estimate your needs, balance it with potential price changes and mix in some general FUD. You’d pay more than you needed to just to make sure you knew you had what you needed, even if it was higher than you might actually pay if you waited. The syste for trading is pretty crazy, but when it had just a (relative) handful o traders who worked in the old non-electronic fashion, it took a bit for run-ups, and every speculator in the land wasn’t involved.

    So my hypothesis is that while oil prices are high its because of a free reign market, and free reign markets are never good for purchasers, since they can be easily manipulated by sellers, and not so easily by a large enough group of buyers.

    Fuel economy improvement is of course a laudable goal, and should be pursued with great diligence, but it won’t ever solve the problem: if OPEC decided demand has dropped too much they can just restrict supply to move prices back up. The US needs to start providing infrastructure alternative fuels. And any oil company looking to survive past the next 50 years would be wise to jump on that opportunity. But that would kill short term profits, so that’s not an option.

    • Arominus
    • 9 years ago

    Haha and here i am restoring a 1958 plymouth belvedere with a 392 hemi (6.1L baby!) for some awesome old school motoring. An overdrive tranny is going to get me 18mpg around town, 23ish on the highway hopefully 😀 Fuel Injection might make it even better than that.

    If gas gets retarded ($7+), im putting a 4BT in a 1950 dodge pickup my dad has and going biodiesel.

    • abw
    • 9 years ago

    Even at 5$/litre, oil would be still dirt cheap considering
    how much it is usefull…
    Hey, it cost less than a coca cola, which is absolutely
    insane….

      • Voldenuit
      • 9 years ago

      Wut? I bought a 2 L bottle of Coke at Kroger for $0.88. That’s $1.66 a gallon. Meanwhile gas at the pump was $3.60/gal today.

        • abw
        • 9 years ago

        Still, you are more than lucky…
        In France, we are at 1.50+ euros for gasoline and 1.35 for diesel/litre….
        I was talking of oil price which is currently about 0.6$/litre, or about 2$/gl….

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Ah, gotcha. Yeah, as much as we like to bitch and moan about gas prices here, it’s easy to forget that petrol is still a lot cheaper in America than in many parts of the world.

    • DTShakuras
    • 9 years ago

    Our government has the power to strengthen the dollar which will bring down the price of oil. Unfortunately both the previous and current administration haven’t cared to do so.

    Impose laws on speculation. While supply and demand does play a factor in price, our current predicament is entirely speculation. Just look at how the prices shot up when even the slightest unrest in Libya began. Look again back to the start of the recession. The high oil prices dropped so hard it was naive to think that demand dropped that fast.

    Better infrastructure should also be built. We have a lot of domestic oil sitting around not being used because it can’t be transported to the refineries.

    Better research on alternatives. Why the heck are the Spanish and French able to have an idea on creating aritifical gasoline and we can’t. Americans should be there ASAP and be part of that research process so it can be completed quickly.

    I hate how we Americans have a short memory. We forget all the anger and motivation needed to do something about this once the price of gas temporarily dips.

    • Xenolith
    • 9 years ago

    We aren’t running out of oil. This person who seems important says so.

    [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcWkN4ngR2Y[/url<]

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    Maybe I’m the only one, but I kinda miss the days when the Friday Night Topic wasn’t so inflammatory by design…

    • SonicSilicon
    • 9 years ago

    Wave disk engines and carbon fiber frames?
    Telecommuting?
    Bike paths that are truly useful instead of purely leisurely?
    Solar thermal?

    There are solutions, but not taking how people behave, think, and feel into account at once is usually the largest problem. Instead we are prohibited, told we’re wrong, and ignored. Consumers will be fickle in response.

    • spigzone
    • 9 years ago

    BRAIN BUSTER ALERT!!!!!!

    Here’s a fun little exercise for you braniacs.

    The world consumes some 85 million barrels of oil per day. A barrel of oil contains 42 gallons.

    If you had a storage tank with a footprint the size of an NFL football field (320′ x 160′), how high would the tank have to be to hold one days worth of world oil consumption?

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      No, no. You’ve got it all wrong – it has to be in Libraries of Congress or Ping-Pong balls.

        • Mr Bill
        • 9 years ago

        33.6 billion ping pong balls

      • Mr Bill
      • 9 years ago

      Its 360′ by 160′. That would be 8285 feet high.

        • Asbestos
        • 9 years ago

        I got 6,973 feet using 4.2 cubic feet per barrel (according to WolframAlpha which also says a barrel is 31.5 gallons).

          • Mr Bill
          • 9 years ago

          A barrel is 42 gallons.

        • spigzone
        • 9 years ago

        Right you are. My bad.

    • Mr Bill
    • 9 years ago

    I suggest we switch our fuel base to one that can be targeted from multiple sources. Dimethyl ether can be reformed from corn, cellulose, wood, coal, natural gas, LPG, petroleum; in short any vegetable or carbon source. DME can be handled with the same infrastructure as LPG (5 atm for DME versus 8 atm for LPG). DME is an excellent fuel for: (1) fuel cells; (2) home cooking and heating; (3) superior diesel fuel; (4) superior automotive fuel. DME can be cheaply transported by rail just as is currently done with LPG.

    I suggest we start with reforming all our natural gas. The cost of a reforming operation for natural gas to DME on a per energy basis is similar to that for an oil refinery, around $3000 per boe/day of capacity. This would be a net plus in the long run because transportation and storage costs would be reduced relative to that of natural gas.

    We could start by offering this fuel for locomotive diesels. If the costs proved out, then we could expand the supply and offer it to trucking. If this in turn proved out, then expand capacity and offer it for automotive use. Somewhere along the way we could also change over from natural gas to DME for home use. DME as a gas (59.6 cubic feet per therm) is which is similar to natural gas (97 cubic feet per therm). Some re-jetting would be required but that’s about all.

    Once a market was established for DME, then the economics of reforming other carbon sources to DME could be considered. Coal can be reformed to DME at 62% efficiency but at higher infrastructure costs. Starting out by doing it with natural gas seems to me to be our best bet.

    boe = barrel of oil equivalent, a convenient measure of energy

    • spigzone
    • 9 years ago

    Bend over and kiss your a$$ goodbye?

    Painful fact is the world will be some 15 mbpd short of present petroleum production by the end of 2015 … and growing steadily worse year by year.

    Of course the world’s debt based fiat money system will have utterly collapsed by then.

    Enjoy it while you got it because in ten years chaos will stalk the land.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<] Painful fact is the world will be some 15 mbpd short of present petroleum production by the end of 2015 ... and growing steadily worse year by year. [/quote<] Yeah, we heard this in 1970 for 1975, in 1980 for 1985, and on and on. When is Peak oil actually....peaking? It's not that we will be seeing a drop in production first, we'll be seeing prices absolutely skyrocket as demand growth increases to match nongrowing reserves. Inflation will explode as a result. [i<]Everything[/i<] is tied to Petroleum, yep, even the manufacturing of alternative energy sources like geothermal and solar. The whole "green" movement is an absolute farce. You want to be green? Stop producing so many people, the greatest way to save energy of them all. We are f***ed, but not in the way you claim.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 9 years ago

    I wish more companies would allow work-from-home. That would reduce probably half of the traffic on the road. Obviously not all companies would benefit from that (especially service), but the more desk-oriented one’s would be fine.

    • CaptTomato
    • 9 years ago

    Quad motor cycles….put a lightweight capsule on top and you’re good to go.
    These things only need a 250-350cc engine to give zippy performance and are nowhere near as dangerous as 2 wheelers.
    Singles can use them, and they can also replace the second car for some people…..oh, and a long term vision for public transport.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Just got back from a ~2900 mile trip to cali. (Portland, Ashland, Redding/CA, San Jose, San Luis Opisbo, L.A., La Quinta, Death Valley, Virginia City NV/ Modoc National Park (Northern Cali.) and back to Portland.

    Filled up the tank about 7 times, averaged between 18-23 mpg. Only a few [i<]Deliverance[/i<] scenes. The total cost was somewhere close to $450-$500. Death Valley had prices in the $5 range, but if you don't fill up there, it be suicide. We brought bikes, but the trip and its experiences would have been impossible to do in two weeks without a car, and the cost is less than airfare to just one of those places, let alone a car rental. Some shoutouts: Toshiba+Steam : You entertained my son! Lexus: Wow you make hardy well designed vehicles. I'll never doubt you again Toyota. This is on a vehicle with 124K miles and towing 800 lbs total, flawless.

      • Asbestos
      • 9 years ago

      Gasoline expenses are not your total cost. If you consider the allowable tax deduction for use of a personal vehicle is $0.50 per mile, then your cost was $1,450. This is factoring in gas, insurance, maintenance, and the purchase price of the vehicle.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        [quote<]If you consider the allowable tax deduction for use of a personal vehicle is $0.50 per mile, then your cost was $1,450.[/quote<] I think that is only for [url=http://www.irs.gov/publications/p463/index.html<]business trips[/url<]. But let me know what airfare+bike or bike alone can get me to those places, and the timeline/costs. My only regret was that in retrospect I would have left the bikes behind, rented a Prius to get better mileage, and simply rented bikes for our various destination. It would have saved the hassle of locking up the bikes for 2 weeks every night+ the bike hitch blocking my rear-view and several scary moments when the bolt loosened and needed retightening. That would not have saved us any money though.

          • Zoomer
          • 9 years ago

          That’s a ballpark for what it actually cost you. Don’t see how driving a car for biz or for pleasure would have any impact on what it cost.

            • paulWTAMU
            • 9 years ago

            airfare for all that traveling for at least 3 people? Yeah it’d blow through that.

          • Asbestos
          • 9 years ago

          Zoomer already clarified what you missed. I used the IRS number as an estimate. You need to know the true cost of driving in order to accurately compare various modes of travel. Simply looking at the cost of gas to fill your tank is substantially wrong.

    • rika13
    • 9 years ago

    There are multiple solutions

    The first is to invest in a overbuilt power grid and lots of nuclear power, then give (yes GIVE) plug-in electric cars to everyone who already has a vehicle and turn their old car into a steel cube. Obviously that part would be voluntary.

    The second would be to invest in better fuel production technologies (coal gasification, ethanol from gengineered E. Coli)

    The Obama solution is to simply burn our food supply more, by adulterating our gas with more ethanol from his ADM buddies and keeping that 54c/gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      The Repubs ideas aren’t any better unfortunately.

      Both the Dem and Rep leadership suck ass right now. Personally I’m voting 3rd party even if I know they can’t win. I’d rather throw my vote away than watch it get gleefully pissed on.

      +1 for nuke. I love nuke.

    • sparkman
    • 9 years ago

    The ultimate solution to gasoline shortages: have fewer people!

      • Xylker
      • 9 years ago

      Yay, let’s start a war and…. oh, wait. OK, let’s have some big natural disasters on the other side of the world and… oh, wait.

      That hasn’t helped either.

      OTOH, the birthrates across most of the world are dropping. By 2050 it is predicted that the USA and developed nations populations will all be in decline.

      Patience?

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        Controlled birth. Reward people for not having children via tax benefits or straight-up cash. Reduce that benefit after 1 child. Remove the benefit after 2+. You don’t have to kill a single person.

        There isn’t a single quality of life measure that wouldn’t improve with a reduction in population.

          • CaptTomato
          • 9 years ago

          Couldn’t the 2 billion wealthy people kill off the 4 billion poor people and delay the problem for a century or so?

    • tech329
    • 9 years ago

    Last I read it costs the Saudi’s something along the lines of a couple dollars to get a barrel of oil out of the ground. It costs a whole lot more to drill offshore though.

    No matter how you slice it there are a lot of people making a ridiculous lot of money from oil. Way more than is warranted. Not to mention there are major unaccounted for issues with costs connected to global pollution that are felt by everyone. My guess is that all the people who are getting a piece of the pie from oil could do with half and still be sitting pretty.

    As for market speculators who make a living from trading oil futures. That should be completely banned. Speculators are trading on emotion with the practice itself having not a thing to do with the real cost. From an actual production cost perspective it’s a completely bogus marketplace. We’re looking at something like a 1000% or greater markup on a product. Get real.

      • Mr Bill
      • 9 years ago

      Its that fundamental cheapness of Saudi oil (the pumping cost) that makes it nearly impossible to change energy infrastructures. To switch to another energy tech in a capitalistic society requires that the cost structure be stable. When your competitor can arbitrarily drop his prices below your minimum cost, it cannot be done in a free market. We could switch to synfuels made from coal if it were guaranteed oil could never fall below $/boe. A second problem is capitol costs. Building an oil refinery costs around $3000 per boe/day of capacity. Building a synfuel facility costs around $9000 per boe/day of capacity. Three times the amount of money tied up. People are reluctant to tie up such large amounts of money even if the return on investment is the same percentage.

      • spigzone
      • 9 years ago

      Bit out of date there Bub. The Saudis are at the forefront of cutting edge (and expensive) extractive measures to keep their production from collapsing. Ghanwar, by far the ‘largest single oilfield’ in the world, is actually a highly complex set of oil holding geological formations at different depths, with different oil bearing rock strata and with different quality of hydrocarbons and from which all the naturally pressurized, easily flowing oil has been long extracted.

        • Mr Bill
        • 9 years ago

        I had heard it was up around $6-$20/boe for extraction cost. But I have no references and that was 10 years ago.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Hydrogen fuel cells aren’t what they are cracked up to be in the mainstream media. They’re not especially efficient – most fuel cell designs hover around 50% efficiency, and that’s even before factoring the energy costs and losses from creating, storing and transporting the hydrogen, not to mention engine and transmission losses and the high unit cost of fuel cells. They also have rather low voltage per cell, so need to be stacked in series to power a motor engine, which has reliability drawbacks when cells die.

    Increasing the energy efficiency of combustion is one area that could stand to be improved. Both turbines and stirling engines are superior to the internal combustion engine in this regard. Jaguar has a (non-working) prototype hybrid car powered by gas turbines, and NASA had several working stirling powered research cars in the 70s (in collaboration with JPL) that achieved 70 mpg, even without the use of hybrid technology (which didn’t exist at the time) or a CVT (which is much more mature technology today). A stirling (the most efficient Carnot engine in theory) or turbine (even more efficient in practice) powered hybrid would be very fuel efficient in theory.

    Plug in hybrids are another interesting option, but are bottlenecked by the scarcity of rare earth metals and the deplorable state of the US power grid. If plug in hybrids or pure electric vehicles do become commonplace, however, they are far more efficient than current combustion engines even with the use of dirty coal power plants to power them.

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      Don’t turbines take ages to spool up and down, though? I don’t imagine people would like that for trying to pass someone on the highway. I could see that being an option for long-haul semis and trains, depending on cost.

      edit: ISTR that the old ’50s Chrysler turbine cars had problems with exhaust heat. Lots and lots of heat.

        • Veerappan
        • 9 years ago

        If you used the turbine purely to generate power which drove the electric wheel motors, this spool up/down issue wouldn’t really be a problem. It’d be similar to the way that I believe the Volt works. The gas engine just generates electricity, and is not physically tied to the wheels.

        The exhaust heat could still be an issue, but the spool up/down time can probably be overcome by use of batteries/capacitors.

          • just brew it!
          • 9 years ago

          Batteries… maybe. Capacitors… no way (capacity is way too small).

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Maaaybe with super capacitors, but the tech still isn’t there yet.

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Yup, engines with narrow optimum operating ranges (turbines, stirlings, diesels) work best when powering electric generators and using the stored electricity to power on-demand applications such as motor vehicles. Another option is to design the transmission in such a way that the engine is always near its optimum operating efficiency, such as using a CVT.

          A diesel hybrid is a good idea on paper (diesels are more efficient than petrol engines but have a much narrower rpm band), but hasn’t been tried on a commercial scale, probably because diesel engines are heavier and more expensive than petrol engines, driving up the cost and weight of a hypothetical diesel hybrid. With rising petrol prices (and heavy taxes on petrol fuel and cars in the EU), I imagine it’s only a matter of time until we see them on the market, though.

          FYI, the Volt (can) also uses its ICE to drive the wheels, it’s not entirely decoupled from the drivetrain.

            • Mr Bill
            • 9 years ago

            Search for the turbine car that won at the Indy 500 back in the 67. It ran very strongly against the rest of the field. The officials rewrote the rules to restrict air intake right after that. This made it impossible to build another competitive turbo car for the Indy in subsequent years.
            [url<]http://www.autopuzzles.com/Indy1967.htm[/url<]

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Interesting car but had lots and lots of problems, not unsolvable technically but maybe not practical for widespread use.

            • Mr Bill
            • 9 years ago

            If I recall correctly Popular Science magazine ran an issue about the Chrysler turbine car in Sept 1973. I think this is the link…

            [url<]http://www.popsci.com/archive-viewer?id=scA6lVmzQA8C&pg=56&query=turbine+car[/url<] I'm not sure if this is the right article. I recall them writing that the car that could lay rubber in high gear at highway speeds. I was excited at the time, being a junior in high school.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Yea that care never went into production though right? I like the idea an all but if its not practical it has no hope of going anywhere. Gotta be realistic and all.

        • Mr Bill
        • 9 years ago

        Spooling rate is not an issue. Turbines can be designed to run at a nearly constant revolutions even near idle. As load is increased, fuel is added to maintain rpm’s.

      • Mr Bill
      • 9 years ago

      There are fuel cell designs which can deal with carbon as well as hydrogen. Then no cracking petroleum or reforming coal would be necessary. They can run off natural gas, LPG, or even straight petroleum. Most of those kinds of fuel cells would require fixed installations because they rely on high temperature ceramics for the electrodes. On the plus side, they are around 60% efficient and may be able to reach 80%. But its not a design that can economically be repeatedly cycled from a cold start.

      • Squeazle
      • 9 years ago
    • Madman
    • 9 years ago

    1. – Merchanters… Oil prices go up at any reason, say Libya conflict, even though Libya doesn’t have oil, 2% doesn’t really count. But the prices NEVER fall.
    2 – Lazy industry, lobbies – No one wants to pick up their butts to actually do something. If not for those European directives where car emissions have to drop below x, no one would even bother with hybrids and that like.
    3 – Marketing – All cars are stuffed with gadgets, extra weight and stuff that’s not concerned with commuting at all. New cars eat the same but they are produced and sold, that’s the crime given that hybrids already exist as a technology.
    4 – SUVs as daily commuters – Most people don’t need one, yet they buy them either way.

    I think what we need is even stricter directives that the average fleet has to be hybrid, light and so on. If there will be no control, no one will make them. That’s the problem. And hybrids are really good, especially since 95% of people think about car as a transportation only.
    Better access to alternative fuels. Most performance cars would jump to bio-ethanol in a heartbeat, but we have 1 tank in the whole country, and the bioethanol prices are higher than regular fuel (when you add the +30% fuel consumption over mile traveled). And they rise at the same speed as regular gas, greedy merchanters!

      • grantmeaname
      • 9 years ago

      You realize you have to drive a hybrid nearly a million miles on one battery pack for it to be better for the environment, right?

    • crose
    • 9 years ago

    Americans complaining over gas prices? <roll eyes>

      • Madman
      • 9 years ago

      Yea, I got a good laugh at this one too.

    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 9 years ago

    This entire FNT is based on a flawed premise, i.e. that rising petrol/gasoline prices are a “problem”.

    You pay virtually nothing for petrol in the USA, so even a doubling of prices is hardly the calamity that people make it out to be.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. You have to look at the total expenditure on fuel in the US. Spending hundreds of dollars a month on gas alone is common even at current prices, so it makes no difference that the price per gallon is about half vs. what you spend in the EU. If you double it you’re looking at most people spending $400-700 a month on gas easy. That is $4,800-8400 a year. Per capita income for the US in 2009 is something like $40,000/yr. And that number is heavily skewed up wards by a relative few but very very rich people.

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 9 years ago

        You totally misunderstand my reply – although I don’t think I made my point very well at all.

        I’m not saying that rising prices (from the ludicrously low levels that exist in the USA) aren’t a problem for some people. I’m saying it’s not a problem (in fact, it’s a boon) for the situation in general. Until oil prices rise, there’s no incentive to either (a) invest in looking for oil in trickier places, and (b) investing in alternatives. Thankfully, both are now happening at an increasing pace.

        Ergo, rising oil prices aren’t a problem, they are driving the solution.

        Also, thanks for playing, but I am not in the EU.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          Actually it is a problem for the economy in general, multiple studies were done on this years ago. Here is a more recent one if you like: [url<]http://www.cges.co.uk/media/articles/2011/01/11/oil-at-90-a-barrel-too-high-for-recovery-says-think-tank[/url<] Sustained prices of $90/bbl oil will act as a continued drain on the economy and will hurt everyone far more than they will help drive new tech. Indeed, most of the new stuff is still firmly in the R&D phase and is likely around a decade out from being practical for widespread use. Skyrocketing oil prices can't make it come any faster. Also even if you aren't from the EU the "you don't know what you're talking about" still clearly applies. Also your comments don't even try to address the costs that I listed, which clearly show the "you pay virtually nothing for petrol in the USA" comment to be bunk.

            • Anomymous Gerbil
            • 9 years ago

            I didn’t address the costs you listed, because they’re not really relevant to the bigger picture that I’m talking about. (Maybe we’re arguing past each other.)

            Prices of all sorts of things rise and fall over time, impacting the less well-off – but that’s a much bigger problem re distribution of wealth etc. To focus on the specific commodity in question is to miss (most of) the point, I think.

            Petrol prices *are* low in the US. You’re just so used to paying even less, that the current prices seem high to you. You almost make it seem like low oil prices are a right, and that people have no choice in how to respond to the price signals which drive a market-based economy.

            Oil prices are rising (again), but not sky-rocketing. In real terms they are high-ish, but still below the peak of ~1980. Exaggeration won’t help your argument.

            And most importantly, rising prices *will* make solutions come faster, as more and more resources are aimed at the alternatives. Sure there are R&D leadtimes, but 5 or 10 (or whatever) years is not a big deal. Prices have been higher before, and the world got by – and that’s even before you take into account the fact that the world is becoming less and less dependent on oil per unit of output.

            I think that’s the problem with most of your comments, i.e. the short-term nature of your world view, given that we are just starting a process that will take probably 20 or 30 years to complete.

            Of course, if you assume that we will run out of oil in 5 or 10 years (as I think you implied in another post elsewhere in this section), then yes, I highly recommend running around in a panic with your arms in the air.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            How the heck aren’t those costs relevant? Especially given that I gave you per capita income to compare to as a crude measuring stick for affordability? You’re blowing off people having to spend nearly 10-20% of yearly income for fuel costs alone if prices are doubled! That is not even touching on what will happen to the price of food or other energy intensive items which will likely be highly effected by rising oil costs. You can’t just hand wave away the effect that would have on an economy, especially one that is still for all practical intents and purposes in a recession as far as the non rich are concerned.

            Yes prices rise and fall all the time on all sorts of things, so long as the changes are small no one cares, but who said otherwise? The commodity we’re talking about is also somewhat unusual, we literally have no choice but to focus on it since it is the lynch pin of our modern society. And that lynch pin is (figuratively speaking) getting rattled around in a disturbing manner due to price spikes, it is not something we can afford to treat lightly much less blow off. To try and form an argument works its way around those inconvenient facts is to separate your solutions from reality and enter a world of interesting but wholly useless academic air castles in the sky.

            “Low” gas prices in the US are not a right, and I would appreciate you not try to read into my comments in that manner if that is what you’re getting out of them. They are however a necessity if you wish to maintain a certain minimum standard of living, and any alternative will have to be cheap as well to do the same. And yes, people don’t really have a choice in how to respond to sky rocketing gas prices due to the US’s car-centric and spread out cities and infrastructure.

            And in real terms oil prices are actually higher than they were during the late 70’s/early 80’s crisis: [url<]http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/realprices/index.cfm.[/url<] Bear in mind that was a relatively short period of high gas prices too. What we're looking at is _sustained_ permanently high or higher prices off into the future. There is no exaggeration going on here at all. You also don't understand the issues with R&D. I'm not an expert but I do know that more dollars does not automagically reduce R&D time. Its quite possible to throw trillions at a problem and get nowhere. And the problem is peak cheap oil, not no oil. Technically we may never run out of oil, it will just be priced out of reach. $500/bbl, $300/bbl, or even maybe "just $200/bbl oil will be unaffordable for most if not all of the world.

            • cynan
            • 9 years ago

            I think both sides brought up here are all too valid.

            The rising costs of basic resources on which the “masses” subsist do, and will increasingly, have severe ramifications on the middle (receding) and lower classes and their ability to maintain their standard of living (and their ability to contribute to the economy). The alarming part is that there is no way that I can see that this will not continue to get worse for the foreseeable future, resulting in relatively tougher times ahead for many, many people in the “Western” world. The rising costs of oil will have particularly high impacts in places like the USA and maybe Canada whose current standards of living are so highly dependent on oil, a dependency that has developed, in part due to lack of population density, but mostly because oil has been relatively inexpensive for so long.

            Perhaps increased demand will drive the rate of innovation on alternative energy, but this in no way mitigates this burden in any real way for the next couple of decades at least. If a new technological panacea is not “automagically” discovered soon (unlikely), then the masses are just going to have to adapt their standard of living accordingly. What is the alternative?

            A good point that was touched upon is that these pressures afflicting most of the American population are not occurring in a vacuum. The growing income/wealth inequality in the US is very serious and makes the impact of any other increased financial necessity (ie, increased energy costs) that much more of a burden for the average American. And like the rising oil prices, increasing income/wealth inequality is showing no signs of slowing, with those “controlling” the majority of the wealth becoming more and more ruthless/greedy (ie, mortgage crisis fiasco which peaked a couple of years ago and resulting economic fallout).

            I hate to come across so negatively, but I don’t see a very optimistic future for the average American’s standard of living.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    The problem is simple… capitalism.

    We have a greed based economy, and this problem is making the people in power rich. Until it is no longer profitable, the current model will continue.

    Nothing will change as long as we have a capitalist free-market economy, even though in the long run it will be much cheaper to invest in new energy alternatives.

    And its not just money… Pollution leads to global warming and global warming will increase the amount of hurricanes that kill thousands of people.

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 9 years ago

      If you think capitalism == greed-based, then you severely misunderstand capitalism.

      Capitalism will provide (actually, is providing) solutions, it just takes time. Replacing a system as ubiquitous and successful as the internal combustion engine takes time, especially given the natural energy-density advantage petrol has over the alternatives.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        whilst you might argue the your next point, and be successful,

        “If you think capitalism == greed-based, then you severely misunderstand capitalism.”
        is simply wrong. it IS greed based. that’s what the profit motive is all about. self interest.

          • Anomymous Gerbil
          • 9 years ago

          No.

          You are probably confusing “greed” with the profit motive, which is of course an essential part of capitalism. But capitalism is about *so much* more than that,which is why people who spout “capitalism is about greed!!” are simply demonstrating their lack of understanding of the best system we’ve ever had for allocating scarce resources (which is one way of describing what economics is really about).

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Right now its all about greed and you’re at best naive or actively sticking your head in the sand if you think otherwise. The thing that made capitalism good, creative destruction, has been sabotaged by the people at the top.

            You need only look to see how the bank bailouts were handled to know that, but there have been other big examples. Like the no-bid contracts that were used all throughout the Iraq/Afghan Wars, or hell the whole damn F22 project, what a sad joke that is.

            Corporate profits are at pre bust peaks all over again yet unemployemnt is still around 10% and underemployment is far higher (approaching Great Depression levels IIRC) while wages are stagnant or dropping while prices rise all around. Where oh where is that wealth trickling down when you need it most? This is ALL about greed right now.

            • Anomymous Gerbil
            • 9 years ago

            Wow, now you’re really confusing economics with other factors, like corruption. No-one is claiming that the system is perfect, but by and large it does an awesome job, even with those setbacks you refer to (which of course are generally even more common and egregious in other systems).

            Of course, you’re free to live somewhere like Cuba or North Korea or Burma if you prefer the alternatives.

            Anyway: there’s nothing naive about understanding economics. Give it a try sometime..

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            No, I’m saying other social issues like corruption and wealth disparity are the overriding factors that are preventing our economic system from acting in a capitalistic manner. This is not a new or strange concept and plenty of other countries, even our own, have had their economies’ become dysfunctional for the same reasons. You need only look to the Gilded Age for a historical US example, which BTW closely resembles in many ways the current situation we have now.

            We are essentially living in a Gilded Age 2.0 right now.

            Also I never claimed to expect perfection, but the system we have right now does not do an “awesome job” in any way shape or form. In general its mediocre or even flat out shitty. Those “setbacks” I mentioned are outright failures and they are not being addressed properly at all. All the same people who made those decisions are either currently in power or still wield undue influence on our system.

            That should be a gigantic red flag that something is seriously wrong here, and your attempts to play that down are just bizarre.

            You can BTW go take that half assed ad-hom about moving to N. Korea or Cuba and shove it too. Just because I’d like the gov. to step in and provide some better social safety nets for people and improve the standard of living in general doesn’t mean I want anything to do with communism and/or totalitarian states.

        • mesyn191
        • 9 years ago

        Capitalism can only provide solutions if the playing field is evened out, otherwise you get a few big players who collude together to create a oligopoly and skew things in their favor.

        Which unfortunately is a pretty good description of what we have now not just in the US but the world too.

        So right now capitalism==greed is actually pretty much spot on, but it would’ve been more correct to say that it doesn’t have to be that way.

          • Anomymous Gerbil
          • 9 years ago

          No. You can argue that the major oil producers, distributors and retailers are an oligopoly, but even if it were true it’s basically irrelevant. Alternative energy methods are already here, and are only going to become more and more pervasive, and your scary oil oligopoly is powerless to do anything about it.

          As evidenced by this thread, people get very confused about the various pros and cons of petrol versus hydrogen versus electricity etc as energy carriers. You see all sorts of arguments why we shouldn’t go electric or hydrogen or Energy Carrier X, all of which (to me) seem to miss the point, and ignore the guaranteed prospect of technology improvements and greater investment (which is already happening as we speak).

          Regardless of whether you believe oil will run out soon, petrol-powered cars are relatively dirty (albeit getting cleaner every year) and are getting more expensive to run (although oil prices are not particularly high in historical terms in real prices). There are drawbacks to using the other energy carriers, but people seem to wilfully ignore the improvements that will come:

          Sure, electric cars often draw power from coal-fired powers stations: but they can (and often are) being made cleaner and/or replaced by cleaner sources. It just takes time.

          Sure, hydrogen fuel density is low but that will improve. It just takes time.

          Sure, electric cars have range issues, but battery tech will improve. It just takes time.

          Sure, all of the above need large infrastructure investments, but a combination of governments and private enterprise (oh noes, the greed mechanism!) will cover that. It just takes time.

          And so on. If it takes 20 or 30 years to cut most cars over from petrol, in the big scheme of things that’s absolutely nothing. So much complaining over absolutely nothing. It is extremely short-sighted to think that >100 years of investment in a petrol-oriented car industry will get completely replaced overnight.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Irrelevant? A huge chunk of the world’s energy is supplied via oil and can only practically be supplied via oil since that is where gas and diesel fuel as well as jet fuel come from. Alt. energy is currently a joke. Around 8% of our energy comes from it right now: [url<]http://www.eia.doe.gov/energy_in_brief/renewable_energy.cfm[/url<] Its usually expensive and provides a fraction of the energy oil does. Growing alt. energy supply is also difficult or even impossible right now. Things like solar/wind are great ideas but have serious fundamental problems right now like no way to effectively transmit power over long ranges and have unreliable supply as well. You need stupid huge fields of both to get usable power, which is where the transmission range issues become overwhelming, and you need stupid huge batteries or some other massive energy storage method to adjust for its unreliability. Right now both those problems are unsolvable and/or hideously expensive, and so impractical. Solutions are years away at best, probably more like a decade. Which is why the whole "It just takes time." part of your post is so ridiculous. Anyone who has looked at the current world energy situation knows that this is a problem that will come to a head soon. Perhaps within the next few years. We don't have a decade or more to wait for solutions. 20-30 years is an absolutely huge stretch of time in the grand scheme of things. That is a whole generation you're talking about. And its not that I expect oil infrastructure to get replaced "overnight", its that we don't really have any choice about the matter if you want to prevent massive declines in the standard of living not only in the US but world as well as likely incredible social unrest. By which I mean a repeat of the same awful things that were done during the Great Depression years, which by the way shaped quite a bit how the rest of the century played out. 20-30 years is nothing?! YOU don't know nothing about history if you go around saying that.

            • Anomymous Gerbil
            • 9 years ago

            Yes, 20-30 years is nothing.

            I know a fair bit about history, and a transition like this is not very common, and of course it takes time. I just don’t see the issue of it taking 20-30 years to complete, given the huge scale of the change.

            The only reason to panic is if you really believe oil is going to run out soon (say, <10 years). Clearly it won’t, but if you truly believe that, then I guess I understand why you’re so concerned.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            If you know a fair bit about history you sure aren’t showing it any way shape or form. You’re just throwing out that 20-30 years but it don’t hold up to even cursory scrutiny. In the last 100 years or so we’ve had events that played out over much much less time that had huge impacts. The Great Depression was one, WWII and WWI were others. You’ve got other non-war things like the Marshall Plan, you’ve got recent and on going Global Credit Crisis.

            Events like that are unusual statistically speaking, but they do happen and statistics don’t tell you the whole truth either, so the idea of 20-30 years being nothing as a hard and fast rule is completely worthless.

            I’ve said nothing about oil running out, and everyone knows that isn’t the problem at all. The problem is peak cheap oil, which is why everyone keeps harping on about the price. No one cares about oil @ $200/bbl+ prices because at those levels there might as well be no oil for most of the world. And yes I do think we’re going an oil crisis in far less than 10 years. We’re already having one right now, the price spiking several years ago was our last ditch wake up call.

    • potatochobit
    • 9 years ago

    it’s sad how many people think there is a shortage of gasoline in this world

    do you ever wonder why oil comes from third world countries? it’s not because they have more oil in their deserts. it is the exact reason ‘made in america’ has turned into a sad joke

    they were planning to build one of those natural energy stations here in Dallas right where I live, but of course the plan was scrapped after they advertised it for who knows how long.

    • Arag0n
    • 9 years ago

    You know? We have a problem here: democracy (somehow)

    We are a bunch of idiots that we think that everyone should have the very same thing. If you can have a car, I should be able to have one, and hey, you know? Somehow democracy works and push the government to improve salaries, etc, to make people able to buy and have cars. But, cars as their actual form, should be only limited to “rich” people and companies, because they use a finite resource and they waste a lot of manufacture process just for 1 person. Public transportation should be the 95% of transportation, and the other 5% should be done by companies that serve transportation services for people, police or other common and public services, and the “very rich” idiot that needs to have freedom for movements in the city, at most.

    I’m sure you will think that I’m crazy, that it has no sense but.. hey, thats how planes work, am I wrong? The army and police have planes, some companies have private jets to allow their executives free movements in short time, some companies offer plane-helicopter renting for people that has one time needs, like tourists in New York and then, everyone else, uses mass services with our loved A380, B747, A340, etc…

    So, to be honest, I think the problem here, is that for some reason people thinks that to have an helicopter it’s a luxury (do you really think it’s much more expensive to build an helicopter than a car?), but they think about an helicopter like a non-sense thing. Then we push our govern to make it possible for us to have cars, make the fuel cheap, etc. I’m not wanting to say that we have “to get ride of democracy”, but my point is that this is one of the side effects. Somehow in democracy people excepts everyone to be able to have the very same things and not become much more rich or have access to different possibilities.

    In the future, I hope people start to understand that not because someone has something, everyone can have it, and not because not everyone can have it, it shouldn’t exist, just like we do with planes (or ships!). Cars are expensive, and it never should have been a consumer thing, at least not in their actual shape and energy source.

    Why I say NEVER? Very simple, in the same way that computers, laptops, tv’s, etc are a consumer thing and people expect to use them, would you move to a house that has no electric network? I think the answer is a “hell, no!”, so, if there is no cars, would you move to a house that has no public transport access and you must stay just in your house and vicinity all the time? I hope you got the point. Cities and urban areas are developed and structured from the point of view that “everybody has a car”. Then, schools for kids aren’t placed near jobs because you can travel from your house to your kid’s house and then your work. Then there is also a more sublime problem: BUYING a house. Would you buy a house if you need to move your house depending the needs of your kids and work? Or would you keep renting houses and moving more often as soon as you have a work change, etc?

    Cities could be perfectly shaped to get ride of the need of cars. Do you know that constructing a 250m building it’s cheaper than the equivalent needed for as much houses of 4-5 floors? The trick is the land price, if you take into account land price + construction, after 250m it’s more expensive than doing another building, but till 250 it’s ok. Now think about 100 x 100m buildings, 250m tall (3m floor, ~80 floors), a normal flat, it’s arround 150m2 (constructed area), but lets say 200 going high for the are needed for elevators and common area. 100x100x80 floors means 800.000m2, or 4000 flats, each flat should be a family (in other way the flat wasn’t going to be 200m2!), lets say 4 persons per family, and we have the magic number of 16.000 persons into one building. Put 4 of them together, in a hexagon shape that 4 corners are the buildings, and then, lets build another one for offices, and another one for shops, schools and services (cinema, hair cut, massage saloon, karaokes, clubs, etc). The inside area between buildings it’s a huge park with a small lake, and let’s say that the distance between consecutive buildings it’s around 400m, 800m at most between the most separated ones. The total area would be less than 1000 x 1000m, or 1 squared km, and it should have a subway station in the middle of the area to allow everyone have subway at less than 300m from home. With this 4 buildings would be houses for at least 64.000 people, and all the services needed. No need for a car or motorbike, no energy needed for transport, just the elevators.

    Today, the most dense populated areas in the world, doesn’t go up to 23.000/km2. So it would make our cities smaller, or we could use this into a honeycomb combination, where we only use 1 every 3, and we leave another 2 free for parks and other things like stadiums, universities, etc. It could perfectly be a city, much more greener than the cities we have now from the number of trees we would have, and the pollution levels, and much less dependence of non-public transportation. The problem again? People “dislikes” tall buildings and they want to have their own house with their own garden. This kind of city planning it’s possible, and would make totally not-needed to use cars at all, just bikes, walking or even a public electric path, like in the airports connecting the different buildings.

      • adam1378
      • 9 years ago

      So are you saying in a Democracy everybody thinks like a Marxist? I know I taking it out of context but in a nutshell that is what it sounds like.

        • Arag0n
        • 9 years ago

        It’s not that people wants to be Marxist, but definitely people aims to have the very same things, and complains when they can’t get what they think it’s “normal”. And the changes are hard, since you know? Somehow it’s “normal” that people aims to live like their grandma and grandpa. Someone that his fathers come from the city and lives into a town, will feel bored and want to be back the city, but someone that his fathers work in a city but were born in a town, will feel that the life of their parents was more relaxed and be back the town. My point is that democracy somehow allows the people to be reactionaries, and vote for a “no-change” policy. Then you have to work to make everything work without being able to make so much changes.

        I’m not against of democracy, I think it’s the best of all the known ones, but definitely this is one of the side effects. Dictatorships or Communist countries had much more power to change the way of living of the people once a change it’s needed, and push the people to understand and behave into a new way. But well, they had stronger side-effects than democracy definitely…. I wonder if we will be able finally to find a way that makes the government able to push the people change their way of living when their way of living it’s not possible anymore and pushing to stay like they ever did only makes the government need to go into wars to look for resources that aren’t common anymore…

    • bimmerlovere39
    • 9 years ago

    Wait, cars are getting lighter? This is news to me.

    The kindest I can be while staying truthful is that the rate of weight gain has gone down.

    • mslowe7187
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t know why you guys are all up on electric cars. When you plug an electric car into charge, where does it draw power from? Often times a plant that is running on some sort of fossil fuel. In the end, this doesn’t solve much. I think natural gas and hydrogen fuel cells are the best bets, we just need a huge investment in infrastructure. But honestly, this progress will likely never happen due to the lobbying power of the oil companies. Thanks to our broken government, I doubt anything will really change until fossil fuels do run out, and by then it’ll be too late.

      • sjl
      • 9 years ago

      Natural gas is, at least, plausible. But hydrogen? Several issues.

      One: it’s not an energy source. If you need pure hydrogen, the current best practice is to crack it off hydrocarbons – the exact same hydrocarbons that make up oil. Any other method means getting it from some other substance (water, perhaps?), and that’s going to be very energy intensive. Basic thermodynamics: you can never get back the energy that you put in … so where’s that energy going to come from? Same problem as with electric cars, basically.

      Two: storage. Pure hydrogen is a very small atom – smaller than any other atom. It leaks like crazy. Even if you can solve the leakage problem, there’s still [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_embrittlement<]hydrogen embrittlement[/url<] to worry about. Bluntly, the best way we have to store hydrogen at the moment, without sacrificing our ability to burn it for energy, is to hook up four hydrogen atoms to one carbon atom. You know what we call that? Methane. I wonder what else it [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas<]might happen to be called[/url<]. As for the oil companies holding back progress - yes and no. I think they're looking to squeeze every last drop they can (pun intended) out of their investment in oil drilling, refining, and transport. But while they're doing that, they're not stupid; they're bound to be funding research into the alternatives to deal with the inevitable day when the pumps run dry. It's just that it might not be far enough along when it happens - they don't want the alternatives blocking those last few wringouts from their investments. Humanity will survive, that's pretty much a given. The only question is how much disruption (war, famine, pestilence) we'll go through until we reach the new steady state, whatever that may be.

        • Arag0n
        • 9 years ago

        I think that the most stable age was the middle age, just farming and local resources, and we killed each other like crazy! As far as i can talk, I really think that it’s the intra-dependency of countries with each other that makes the earth more peaceful, and not the energy independence…. if USA goes down, all the world goes down, sames goes for europe, same goes for China. So no one is expecting any part of the world to be damned and get rich instead…

          • grantmeaname
          • 9 years ago

          What about all of human history until the agricultural revolution? That was pretty stable.

        • Mr Bill
        • 9 years ago

        ++ WRT problems with hydrogen. An even better solution than natural gas is to reform methane to di-methyl ether (DME). The reforming process converts 82% of the energy in methane to the DME equivalent. The conversion process looses you 18% of the net energy but then you have a form that is far easier to transport and store. Transportation losses from pumping natural gas easily exceed that loss if you have to send it more than a few hundred miles. Methane is difficult to compress and requires cryogenics to liquify because of its high critical temperature (-83C). DME with a critical temperature of 127C can be liquified at 5 atm which allows energy densities and handling characteristics similar to LPG (liquifies at 8 atm).

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      Among the reasons, it standarises the fuel source (energy) and the energy can be generated in multiple different ways. This adds redundancy to the system. Even if the energy still needs to be produced somewhere else, the infrastructure is already in place. All that needs to be done now is to increase the energy production (and possibly the infrastructure) to take on that load.

      That of course can also happen over years since not everyone will buy a electric car immediately. However, that is most definitely going to be the end result. Fossil fuels will never ‘truly’ run out, it’ll just increase to the point where it wont be feasible to buy a gallon of gas. It’ll eventually turn into a luxury.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      You’re being rather contradictory here. First you slam electric cars because of the issue of where the electricity comes from; then in the very next breath you’re promoting hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen does not occur naturally in our environment in its free (burnable as a fuel) state; it needs to be separated from natural gas or water. Extracting it from natural gas requires energy, and results in significant carbon emissions. Extracting it from water requires *lots* of energy (more than you will ultimately get from burning the hydrogen).

      Hydrogen isn’t a fuel source; it is merely a mechanism for storing energy obtained from other means. So any plan to move to hydrogen as a transportation fuel must also include a viable plan for other renewable energy sources, since you need to get the energy to produce the hydrogen somehow.

    • internetsandman
    • 9 years ago

    Ideally I’d like to not own a car, but unless me and all of my friends live in the middle of a big city and I’m relatively close to a school and grocery store, it probably won’t happen. Then again, all I have to do is move one city over, into Vancouver, and it’s an easy reality.

    As for alternative fuel sources, I support the hydrogen and electric models. I’m not to much a fan of the hybrids simply because they always seem to be so underpowered and unexciting, but it’s been proven that electric cars can have some proper gusto and I’m sure the same can apply to hydrogen powered cars. Hopefully battery technology will advance to a point where recharging takes a fraction of the time it does now (perhaps half an hour as opposed to overnight) and fuel stations worldwide will turn from gasoline to hydrogen and electric “pumps” (although for electric I guess we’d call them plugs, not pumps)

      • bimmerlovere39
      • 9 years ago

      Hybrids are capable of being quite lively, too. Porsche has raced one with some success.

      While I can’t say I like the car that would be powered by other methods more than gasoline (there are advantages of a liquid fuel that is fairly storage friendly), I will say I will go with hydrogen a thousand times before I go for wall electric, even though I feel that may well be the route the industry goes for.

      Hydrogen is far faster to refuel than batteries, for one.

      For two, and this is the only non-depressing end to gasoline I can see – hydrogen doesn’t have to be electric. It can power fuel cells for the masses, who will get extremely smooth, quiet, efficient performance, making them happy, but it can also be burned. Which is fun. And makes good noises. The fact that it is stored (and therefore injected) so coldly also means that it has potential for stratospheric specific power in an ICE engine.

      If the infrastructure shows up, I very much look forward to seeing what happens. BMW and Mazda have both made working hydrogen ICE cars (4-cycle and rotary, respectively, I believe), and numerous automakers have shown fuel cells. It’s an alternative energy scheme that is actually exciting to me.

      • DancingWind
      • 9 years ago

      “I’m not to much a fan of the hybrids simply because they always seem to be so underpowered and unexciting.”
      This. This is what is wrong with a lot of ppl (americans especialy – looking at their tv).
      You complain that you cant feed your 3L+ gassguzlers. But you wont get a more efficient car because its not ‘fun to drive’ and lacks ‘some proper gusto’ or other such nonsence.
      Well of course there just maybe me who sees my daily comute by car to work (shops, friends, etc) as a total waste of time (god I would love a teleporter). But it really cracks me up when I see little ladies (not only them) in big ass SUVs trying to park in city center.

        • internetsandman
        • 9 years ago

        I’m not saying it’s Lamborghini or bust, far from it. I said hybrid cars (the ones I’ve read about at least) aren’t even powerful enough to haul a trailer full of furniture, for example, without struggling to get up to speed. You may disagree, but to me, a car is much more than simply a way to get from point A to point B. If I were to have a car, I’d want to have one that I’d want to drive. One that I would want to take out onto the freeway on a weekend just for a speed rush. One that I could properly enjoy, rather than driving something that I would happily ignore unless i needed to go somewhere, like a Prius or a Smart car.

          • CaptTomato
          • 9 years ago

          “””One that I would want to take out onto the freeway on a weekend just for a speed rush””

          IOW, u just want to be perpetually irresponsible?

    • dashbarron
    • 9 years ago

    Expensive hybrids…? Quirky grease-mobiles…? What is this “gasoline” you speak of …?

    Try diesel, helluva bigger bang for the buck 😉

    All the way baby!

    • thesmileman
    • 9 years ago

    Until gas is $15-20 a gallon it really isn’t a financial concern for me. I don’t drive for a living but I do drive a little bit and it just isn’t an issue.

    • Zeekiel
    • 9 years ago

    I think if gas prices keep climbing like they are I will be forced to get rid of my gas-guzzling SUV . . . forget about a hybrid though. I may have to buy a tour bus or a RV and drive that to work at the beginning of the week and just sleep in the parking lot. Then at the end of my work week I can just drive home and save on fuel costs. . . . Doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I can then also save additional money by bathing in the restroom sinks at work during the middle of the night. On second thought, I think it would be cheapest to keep my SUV and sleep in my office at night. My boss my even go along with my idea. I’ll just convince him to think of all the additional work he will be able to get out of me. Then in the end, I save money and still get to keep my 7000+ lb SUV with its nice spacious 44gal fuel tank.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 9 years ago

    [url<]http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/[/url<] [url<]http://www.thevenusproject.com/[/url<] [url<]http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/[/url<] [url<]http://www.youtube.com/user/TZMOfficialChannel[/url<]

      • bill94el
      • 9 years ago

      Cults are for the weak and gullible.

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 9 years ago

        It’s not a cult, and it actually poses a viable alternative for the future.

        Regardless of whatever you might think of their organization.

          • bill94el
          • 9 years ago

          not cult AND has a viable alternative?

          You are either trolling or this is an April FOOL’s joke.

    • Thrashdog
    • 9 years ago

    These prices are ridiculous! It costs a whole [i<]25 bucks[/i<] to fill up my CRX! /smug

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      iknorite? $30/week to run my Civic Hybrid on a 70 mile round-trip commute.

      Gas isn’t expensive enough when I still see vanity-SUVs (no mud or trailer) doing 80+ down the highway.

    • xii
    • 9 years ago

    As I understand it, one of the main reasons of those highly fluctuating prices isn’t trouble in the Middle East, increasing consumption (as in actual demand) or decreasing production – all those factors are pretty stable ironically enough. It’s speculation. It’s all those barrels being virtually bought with no intention of ever turning them into an actual buy. There is enough real oil right now, but greedy wall street investors keep buying and investing into non-existent barrels, pushing prices up and up until the bubble bursts again. Same for the housing market, same for food prices. Extreme greed in a broken capitalist system is what makes you pay much more for all of these commodities. Of course it’s always easier to point at the dark and yellow people outside of the US as the cause of most problems, instead of taking a long and sceptical view of what you have always been taught to be The Only Right Way.

    To bad that when the system fails – and it will, over and over again – it really is those at the bottom who feel it the most instead of those at the top who are contributing most to the problem.

      • mslowe7187
      • 9 years ago

      Hit the nail on the head there!

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      You’re right and you’re wrong. Yes, speculators are driving up the price. There’s a good reason for that: the Middle East factor is absolutely NOT “pretty stable”. I have a relative who is a high-level exec in one of the major oil companies, and according to him, people everywhere within the industry are quite spooked by the possibility that the Arab Spring domino chain — Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain — is going to work its way toward Riyadh. If it does, roughly 12% (by volume) of the world’s active oil production could see significant disruptions, which would be a nontrivial shock to the oil markets.

      So although there is technically no disruption of major oil producers at the moment, the Sword of Damocles hangs over everyone’s head and the stockpiling behavior you speak of is a rational response to that risk.

        • adam1378
        • 9 years ago

        Yes but it still is the panic of speculators. The same is applying to the price of Gold and precious metals. We have growing fear mongering that gripping the world with idealism and religion that spurs panic. Everything seems to go in cycles but most people cannot see past their own lifetime.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          Supply/demand of oil is pretty inelastic apparently, which means small changes in supply will produce way out of proportion increases in price.

          At least in the short term. If the supply issues are worked out than they can drop right back down.

          Oil, gold/PM’s, commodity, etc. prices have been rising for a very very long time though. Gold in particular has been going up since around 2000 or so. Specuvestors would explain short term market price turbulence, but this is a prolonged effect we’re seeing here.

          Specuvestors aren’t driving that at all IMO.

      • DougG
      • 9 years ago

      Many economists feel that speculation doesn’t have much effect on prices, it’s more the constant shifts and misalignments in supply and demand that really drive prices:

      [url<]http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/03/oil[/url<] Want to know what's really driving commodity prices higher these days? Worldwide industrial production is on a tear (read: China): [url<]http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-commodity-prices-track-world-demand-2011-3[/url<]

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 9 years ago

      No. Studies of prices show that speculation has only temporary effects on commodity prices.

      Trying to lay blame for all the world’s ills on greed and nasty speculators is comforting, but wrong.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 9 years ago

    I say, good riddance to oil. It is killing us as a people. We can keep the oil for plastics and things like that, but as an energy source, there are better solutions if we would take the time and patience into it. We are just too dependent on it along with all the other necessities in life. Food, clothing and the other stuff we need. It is going to be a sad day when these resources run out and people just stand around wondering what to do to survive. Zombie time coming!

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    Gas is $1.33/L up here in Canada where I live (5.03/gal cnd$) the sad thing up here is half of that is tax.

    I think the provice charges 19c/L, the federal is 21c/L and then there is the 13% HST on top of that lol so another 13 cents on the dollar, have to pay for those nice government pensions somehow lol

    Crude is overpriced though, before Bush W’s war it was 28 bucks a barrel and now it over 100, so in all reality assuming for inflation etc, crude should really be in the $35/barrel ballpark

    O well what can ya do, I am fortunate that I am close enough to walk to work, so I do.

    • grantmeaname
    • 9 years ago

    I’m 18 and in college. My goal is to never own a car. Between bikes and living near where I work, that’s hopefully going to be doable.

      • ew
      • 9 years ago

      It’s doable until you have kids.

        • bthylafh
        • 9 years ago

        Depends on where you live, dunnit? I daresay there are lots of families in our bigger cities without cars, because they have subway and bus service.

          • grantmeaname
          • 9 years ago

          Yeah. Problem being, Cincinnati may as well not have public transit. There’s one underfunded bus system with little coverage and poor times, and nothing else.

          • just brew it!
          • 9 years ago

          The problem is convincing people who are starting a family that they want to do so in our bigger cities. I grew up in a big city (Chicago), but opted to not raise my family there because of issues with the quality of the schools, street gangs, etc… and I’m a *lot* less afraid of the inner city (having grown up there!) than most of the life-long suburbanites I know.

      • toyota
      • 9 years ago

      better find a girlfriend that likes to walk or ride a bike, lol. and I guess you will be getting a tandem and a baby seat on the back if you decide to get married and have a family? good luck getting groceries or any other simple chore done using a bicycle.

      for many people a car is a must as we don’t live in the middle of a city where everything is on walking/cycle distance. heck I am a retired competitive cyclist but there is no way I would ride all the way to work. I would be soaking wet with sweat and would have to take a shower which of course they don’t have. not to mention riding a bicycle around here at rush hour would be idiotic and suicidal.

        • grantmeaname
        • 9 years ago

        I didn’t say it would work well for your life. I said it’s something I would like, and as such I am willing to make sacrifices to do so.

        • BenBasson
        • 9 years ago

        It’s too bad your work doesn’t provide a shower, this is quite common in England, and so is cycling to work. Maybe it’s not considered suicide here because we have cycle lanes, I don’t see how it can be significantly worse in America with all those enormously wide roads!

          • grantmeaname
          • 9 years ago

          Most bigger companies provide showers that I’m aware of…

            • paulWTAMU
            • 9 years ago

            Not around here.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 9 years ago

          [quote<]I don't see how it can be significantly worse in America with all those enormously wide roads![/quote<] The internet tells me that American bike riders are the most hardcore anywhere, and I do not doubt that, in part because the drivers often enough have difficultly safely handling bikes in the road. The fewer the bikes, the greater the risk to the riders.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 9 years ago

        [quote<]I guess you will be getting a tandem and a baby seat on the back if you decide to get married and have a family[/quote<] Not to criticize, but this is pretty much [i<]the[/i<] stereotypical comment from someone who has no idea about pedal-powered transport. Seriously, this is the kind of two-second quote European media (or comedy?) might get from an American to illustrate some story. Preferably the person will have a southern accent, be overweight, and be sitting in an SUV at a McD's drivethrough window. [quote<]not to mention riding a bicycle around here at rush hour would be idiotic and suicidal.[/quote<] This is one place Europe seems to have an edge that I imagine will strengthen its economy relative to the USA in the coming decades. (Spending lots of money on transportation is of course a drag on the overall economy.)

      • esterhasz
      • 9 years ago

      I’m 34 with kids and I have never driven a car in my life.

        • toyota
        • 9 years ago

        you must be skinny from all that walking…

          • esterhasz
          • 9 years ago

          obviously…

          • willyolio
          • 9 years ago

          you say that as if obesity isn’t a problem in america.

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      Idealism and the real world don’t always get along.

        • grantmeaname
        • 9 years ago

        I live in the real world. Did you mean to say “Values different than mine and the real world don’t always get along.” ?

          • Bensam123
          • 9 years ago

          Weather (snow, rain, god forbid hail), traffic congestion (some places it’s outright not safe to bike), distance, land prices which coincide with distance, changes in work places and lifestyles, having a family, time it takes out of your day to actually bike everywhere, and general all around inconvenience when you need to go anywhere outside your city.

          Like I said, idealism and the real world don’t always get along. Biking is a nice idea, but it’s completely complimentary in this day and age unless you never plan on going anywhere.

            • grantmeaname
            • 9 years ago

            I understand that it will be difficult, as well as the reasons why.

            Complimentary? That word doesn’t mean what you think it means.

            • Bensam123
            • 9 years ago

            Complimenting, as in using it along side using a car to achieve the desired effect (getting to your destination).

            I don’t think difficulty plays into any of this as much as viability.

            • Voldenuit
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]Complimenting, as in using it along side using a car to achieve the desired effect (getting to your destination)[/quote<] com·pli·ment [n.] - an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration com·ple·ment [n.] - something that completes or makes perfect

            • Bensam123
            • 9 years ago

            Thank you for providing definitions to prove my point.

            • Voldenuit
            • 9 years ago

            The word you were looking for is ‘complementary’. ‘Complimentary’ would be giving someone praise. If I understood your original sentence correctly, you were saying that a bike is a complement to having a car, and not a replacement.

            • Bensam123
            • 9 years ago

            Ah, so you got me on a one character spelling mistake… shoot.

      • adam1378
      • 9 years ago

      Its pretty difficult to ride a bike for every season. Winter in Michigan is not an ideal bike riding conditions

        • BenBasson
        • 9 years ago

        Nonsense… just need some home-made kludges and you’re good to go: [url<]http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2011/01/03/white-trash-repairs-zip-chains-for-your-bike/[/url<]

      • Synchromesh
      • 9 years ago

      It’s kind of funny, I usually look at people that don’t own a car as sort of handicapped. When going to faraway camping that I do a couple of times a year those are the same people begging and pleading for a ride.

      I own 2 cars all by myself. Because I love cars. At the same time I hate SUVs and pickups, both of my cars get close to 30mpg. But then again I can’t wait until fuel prices start to rise. Because I’ll be there at the pump pointing and laughing at SUV/pickup owners as I did last time when gas was over $4.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      Good luck with that. Depending on what you’re planning to go into as a career, it will range from doable (with minor inconveniences) to outright impossible.

      • BenBasson
      • 9 years ago

      This is a great goal to have, one that we apparently share.

      I don’t know what the situation is in the US, but in the UK we’re starting to adopt casual car rental schemes such as Streetcar ( [url<]http://www.streetcar.co.uk/[/url<] ), as well as rental cycles in London and other places ( [url<]http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/15150.aspx[/url<] ). Combining these with public transport means that I probably won't have to own a car. It's only a matter of time before these initiatives spread to other countries... they make complete financial sense (as your rental costs are significantly lower than direct car ownership unless you use the service every day).

      • willyolio
      • 9 years ago

      you can always use Zipcar or something like that if you really need a vehicle.

        • paulWTAMU
        • 9 years ago

        VERY limited availability. Here there’s nothing remotely similar. You can go rent a car from Avis, National, Hertz or whoever but that’s pricey.

      • mattthemuppet
      • 9 years ago

      that’s commendable and pretty doable if you live in an urban environment (especially in countries that have car share schemes). Until ~4mths ago when my wife got her driving licence, we used the car a couple of times a week at most. She uses more now, as the weather is still miserable, but she’ll go back to walking and using the trailer in summer. We’ve always made sure we live close enough to where I work so that I can ride to work (the increase in rent is usually balanced by the decrease in money spent on petrol) and I haven’t missed one day because of weather. I also take my eldest (5yrs old) to school by bike – trailer in winter/autumn/spring, bike seat in summer – she absolutely loves it. We’ve been in the US for ~2yrs BTW (2yrs in Australia and 2yrs in NZ before that, originally from the UK).

      there’s also a nice grey middle ground between the 2 extremes, where you can have a car for utility/ holidays etc but still do most local trips by bike. That would fit the US environment pretty well too.

      I think more people riding or walking to work would have a huge impact on developed countries – more exercise = less obesity related health costs, less petrol use = less polution/ trade imbalances/ dubious foreign policy. People forget that small actions taken by individuals can have enormous impacts when lots of individuals do them..

    • jensend
    • 9 years ago

    Frankly, gas prices aren’t terribly high in real terms (i.e. adjusted for inflation)- just a bit above the average of the past 80 years.

    I don’t think they’re high enough. We (rightfully) complain that the industry should make more efficient cars, people should support public transit, and that pollution is getting pretty bad in many areas, but then we complain even more loudly when the only thing likely to bring people to change their habits occurs. Pollution and road congestion present externalities we need to combat, while too much of the cost of road construction, etc isn’t borne by the people using the roads. The solution is a Pigovian tax. Many economists from all parts of the political spectrum (most famously N. Gregory Mankiw, who wrote the most commonly used introductory econ textbooks and who took time out from his professorship at Harvard to serve as chair of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers) estimate that it would be socially optimal to gradually phase in an extra $1/gallon tax on gasoline.

    Another plus to having a higher gas tax is that in case of supply shocks (like Katrina or Middle East political upheaval) we could build provisions into the tax law which would automatically provide some counterbalancing (temporarily reducing the tax and smoothing the price changes out), reducing the short-term economic pain (businesses suddenly having to reduce their work force, etc) that often accompanies those.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    They said gas was going to flow cheap and easy once an “oil man” was out of office. I found that concept annoying at the time but in a way incredibly amusing today.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 9 years ago

    I would just point out that the ‘supply’ shortage has not always been because of crude supply. Price can and have jumped even when oil was cheap and plentiful because refining capacity was taken out of the market.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      Specuvestors do indeed effect the price of oil, but only in the short term. Oil prices have been rising for a long time now while we haven’t had any more Saudi Arabia-esque oil field fines in decades, something had to give.

    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    USA and most of the western world are trapped in a technological hole.

    Its infrastructure depends on an energy-source that is portable, high-density, yet cheap. Hydrocarbons are the only source to accomplished this so far. The alternatives lack one or more of the criteria. The problem with hydrocarbons is they are finite and demand for them continues to climb.

    I don’t see a magic bullet to this problem. It takes years if not decades to change the infrastructure to depend on something else. USA has missed the boat when it felt the pain of the 1970s Oil shortage. EU and some other countries is ahead in the game, but are still some distance away from becoming relatively independent from hydrocarbons. One way or another, it is going to be very ugly transition for USA.

    • PRIME1
    • 9 years ago

    Nationalise the oil industry. Problem solved.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      It would help but not solve things. Most of the oil we use comes from outside the US so you can’t really nationalize their oil without invading several distant and foreign countries.

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      State-Owned Enterprises, particularly in the areas of natural resources, are a hotbed for cronyism and corruption in all but a handful of cases. Norway, IIRC, is a notable exception, but since they export a large portion of their product, income stability from resources is less of an issue than it would be in a net oil importer like the US.

    • elmopuddy
    • 9 years ago

    I take train to work, plan my outings.. gas is 1.33/L here now. People need to drive less, and give up the phallic SUV’s..

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      Much is made of the phallic SUV’s but if you eliminated all of them it wouldn’t make a really significant difference. The big problem in the US is that you NEED a car. Public transportation is at best barely there for most people and the distances we drive regularly would be considered long in Europe.

      An hour long drive to get to work for instance in CA is quite common. And that is one way. If you only have to drive 20 min. or so, again one way, you’re considered lucky.

      Improving public transportation would then seem to be the obvious idea, but that is hideously expensive and slow to do. Today’s cash strapped state governments would need the money to come from an indifferent federal gov. to pull it off, and they’d need at least hundreds of billions if not more than a trillion dollars and the better part of a decade to get something decent going.

      Unfortunately given the political climate in the US that won’t be happening any time soon. That cash must go towards the War on Drugs, or terrorism, or one of the 3 places where we are actually waging war right now, or to the banks, etc.

      • burntham77
      • 9 years ago

      Giving up large vehicles that most people do not actually need would be a huge step.

        • Hurstmeister
        • 9 years ago

        It wouldnt change a thing at the pump. Most who drive the larger SUV’s can afford to pay $7 – $10 gallon at the pump. They may complain about spending $200 to fill up the tank, but it would not change their driving habits at all. My father inlaw spent $62,000 on his truck, he gets 20mpg and if gas jumped to $10 gallon tomorrow it would not change his driving habits or choice or vehicle at all.

        Also in many cases SUV’s and full size trucks do not suffer that much less economy than most medium to large sedans. For example,..my son drives a 2006 Nissan Maxima with the 3.5l V6 and averages 22 mpg mixed driving. I drive a 2008 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup with the 5.3l V8. I average 17-18 mpg mixed driving. The difference is not that significant.

        Also,.. Vehicles are not getting lighter as stated either. Take the Honda Accord as an example. In 1988 a 4 door Accord weighed in at 2900lbs. Today a 2010 Accord weighs in at 3800lbs. A 1993 Chevy Caprice had a curb weight of 3800lbs and a 93 Buick Roadmaster weighed in at 3900lbs to give some perspective. Look at the new Mustangs and Camaro’s. In the late 60’s and 70’s these cars weighed barely 3000lbs. Today both are approaching the 4000lb mark. The reason is the federally mandated safety standards. New vehicles today must meet front and side impact standards as well as the newer roll over standards. The only way to do that is to add more material to brace and strengthen the occupant area. Vehicles today are safer than ever. You are more than likely to walk away from a 50-60mph impact or roll over today where 15 – 20 years ago the odds were not in your favor.

        Also there is quite a bit of difference between the US and EU. It is much easier to travel in EU with out owning a car than it is here in the US. Here you need to live near a major metro area and even then in many cases you are still limited. For example, I grew up in Wash DC and public transportation there is great. You can get almost anywhere you need to go by bus or train, which includes much or norther Va and most of the Md suburbs. I now live in Florida, just north of Tampa. Public transportation here is a joke. There are no trains and bus routes are mainly in town and dont always go where you need to go.

        Most here where I live spend at min an hour commuting to and from work. And 2 hour commutes are not that uncommon here. The cost of fuel is crucial for so many people just to work and make a living here in the US. There are so many places here in the US that besides a taxi or ride along programs, have no real public transportation to speak of.

        I have a couple friends who live in EU, Poland, Belgium and Germany. They tell me that where ever they work dictates their place of residence. If they change jobs they will move to be closer to their place of employment or somewhere close to public transportation that will take them there. Here in the US its not like that for most people. Very few people will move when changing employment and will just drive the extra distance in most cases, particularly if the new job came with an increase in salary.

        Gasoline has been so cheap here for so long that public transportation was not a major concern and not really needed. Now that the reality has sunk in that we have approx 25 – 30 years of obtainable oil left on this planet the cost of oil will continue to rise. We use more oil than what is refined. China’s explosion of wealth and modernization of their infrastructure will no doubt lead them to become one of if not the largest consumers of oil on this planet. Far more so than the US ever was. As a result, between the US and China,.. we will suck this planet dry. I’ll be long dead before it ever runs out,.. so I will never see this. But within 30 – 40 years time the majority of vehicles on this planet will be electric. We can not produce enough corn or grow enough of anything to meet 100% of our energy needs. That is just not a practical solution. Unless they make some major breakthroughs in battery technology,.. I see everyone owning 2 electric cars,.. 1 to drive while the other is on charge. That would be the only practical way.

        I am a car enthusiast and I love to drive. I am sad that my grand kids wont be able to enjoy what I did growing up. It was a fun ride,.. but sadly our cheap energy days are long gone.

          • bimmerlovere39
          • 9 years ago

          Hm. I’ll agree with parts of what you said (European difference, Public transit), but I disagree with your assessment of the impact of gas prices on buying habits.

          After the last time gas prices spikes above $4.00, I personally noticed a lot of enormous-SUV-cum-mommy-mobiles disappearing from the roads. It was slow, but it did happen. People aren’t going to turn around and immediately sell those cars, but when they go to buy their next, it does have an impact. Granted, there are people who don’t consider it (like your uncle) or who only consider it in passing (there’s a line above which I cannot reasonably afford to feed (or maintain, or tire) a car as a daily driver. Below that, I don’t care – I’m buying the car, thank you, and I care more about how it drives. And rarely does ceteric paribus exist with cars).

          Also, that’s what everybody claims for the weight gain. In your example, I think it’s probably a fair point. Over the past 50 years, weight has been added in the name of safety. But let’s pull it down in the time difference. I didn’t cherry pick this example, I just happen to know it off the top of my head (though I did verify before posting). My 2002 BMW 530i has a curb weight of ~3500lbs. Just about 10 years later, the comparable midrange (for the US market, RoW-dwellers) 5er has gained 75 horses, 80 lb-ft, and a whopping [500 pounds]. I’m sure the 2011 is marginally safer, but it is marginal. No added airbags, and the E39 was already a very rigid chassis. The wheelbase has increased 5.5″ and the overall length just slightly less. That doesn’t account for 500lbs, though it certainly doesn’t help. The problem, in my mind, is feature creep. Manufacturers have gotten so feature and gizmo obsessed that we’re paying for it in terms of weight (performance, mileage), complexity, reliability, and money. To the point where I can’t say with certainty that I’d rather have a new car than a well-cared for 10 year old one. That’s not improvement from the industry.

            • Hurstmeister
            • 9 years ago

            Your using a BMW as an example. BMW, Mercedes and Volvo have always been very safe vehicles, particularly since the mid 80’s. And as such,.. have been relatively heavy vehicles compared to other European and Asian vehicles of the period. I used Honda’s weight gain as an example for a car that is mass produced in very large numbers. The same example can be used against similar cars from Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai, as well as our domestic vehicles. In order to become safer many vehicles needed to become larger in order to increase safety. How ever,.. one vehicle that stands out and really surprised me was the Smart car. I saw a 70mph crash test of that car and the occupant area was only marginally intruded on. I was expecting the car to be disintegrated.

            When the new Camaro’s first hit the streets a guy locally had one of the first SS cars. 5 days after purchase he was rear ended by a kid doing 60 mph. The images were posted on an online forum and most of the comments were about how damaged the rear end of the car was. But when you looked at the occupant cabin if the car,.. the driver opened the door and walked away with out injury besides a stiff neck the next day. The previous generation of Fbody cars would not have taken such an impact as well.

            When you think about it,.. they want the cars to increase their economy,.. yet they are forcing manufacturers to make the cars heavier in order to maintain safety standards. Its a double edged sword. I can use my truck as an example here also. My last truck was a 2001 F150 with the 5.4L V8. Before that I had a 93 F250 with the 7.3 diesel. My 93 F250 got 19 mpg no matter what. Loaded, unloaded,.. 19mpg. Very good truck. I loved it. It got old so I got the 2001. I hated that truck. Under powered, 12 – 15 mpg on a good day. My latest is a 2008 Silverado. I can maintain 23/24 mpg on the interstate at 60 mph. 20/21 mpg at 75 mph. Averages 17.8 mpg overall and weighs in at a hefty 5100 lbs curb weight. Hauls my trailers with ease. Not bad at all.

            I am curious what the future holds for outdoor hobbyists that enjoy boating, jet skies, drag racing and such. When the oil runs out everything we have today will become useless and obsolete over night.

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]My latest is a 2008 Silverado. I can maintain 23/24 mpg on the interstate at 60 mph. 20/21 mpg at 75 mph.[/quote<] Chevy always seems to get inexplicably good fuel economy on those things. [quote<]I am curious what the future holds for outdoor hobbyists that enjoy boating, jet skies, drag racing and such. When the oil runs out everything we have today will become useless and obsolete over night.[/quote<] You can tow a lot with four cylinders and diesel, thats how they do it in Europe.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 9 years ago

          [quote<]We can not produce enough corn or grow enough of anything to meet 100% of our energy needs.[/quote<] The effect on food prices of even trying to grow fuel would probably be unreasonable. We get hit from every side. [quote<]We can not produce enough corn or grow enough of anything to meet 100% of our energy needs.[/quote<] Bit of an enthusiast myself, but the romance is gone. It has been crushed by technology, regulation, traffic, and growing expenses. I see the people around here trying out the horsepower of their cars, red light to red light, to me they just look like monkeys in cages. Idiots. That said, I think that a road trip is still the best form of vacation.

    • willyolio
    • 9 years ago

    Gas prices still have room to grow, and thus they will grow. People are not having trouble feeding themselves because the commute to work is too expensive. People still choose to drive when public transit is available for them. Driving is a luxury that most people can still afford.

    The oil companies have noticed. They take any reason to raise prices, people complain for a few months, then get used to it and consume exactly the same way they did before. They raise them again, same thing happens. Most people have enough disposable income for gas prices to double without putting their livelihoods in jeopardy.

    Just drive less. It’s possible, but since people can afford convenience, they choose convenience.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      Even during one of the worst post Depression recessions the US has ever had people have barely been able to reduce the amount they drive. And the motivation was there, people did try, carpooling went up for instance but for various reasons its not really effective en masse.

      The problem is most of your neighbors don’t work in the same area or place you do and the distances between them can be significant enough that it isn’t practical to walk if dropped off in the area.

      So despite what ever you may think the evidence suggests that people aren’t driving around too much, rather the distances they have to go are too far and they can’t avoid it. This is an old problem, and has much to do with the sprawling way US cities/roads are laid out. Everything is just too damn far apart.

      Also you’ve somehow got the issues with high gas prices mixed up. Its not that people can’t technically afford the gas, at least not at ~$4.5-5 a gallon. The problem is that high gas prices suck money out of the economy fast and send it over seas, money that could’ve been spent elsewhere on other local goods and services. Its just one of many things these days that are squeezing people and putting a drag on the economy.

      Now if gas got to say $8-10 a gallon suddenly then I think that would be enough to drive the economy into a recession by itself.

        • just brew it!
        • 9 years ago

        [quote<]Now if gas got to say $8-10 a gallon suddenly then I think that would be enough to drive the economy into a recession by itself.[/quote<] Heck, even $6 would probably do it. It affects so many things -- cost of transporting goods, real estate prices (those McMansions on the edge of suburbia aren't attractive any more once you factor in commuting time/costs), business and leisure travel, and all of the domino effects of the above.

    • Ethyriel
    • 9 years ago

    I’m thinking a biodiesel, plugin hybrid will settle into a long-term transition role. Hopefully in 10-15 years we can go fully electric, and be much less reliant on coal as well, but right now a 100 mile range just doesn’t cut it for a lot of us. If I lived in the city I’d be all over full electric, but even then it doesn’t do much good for a road trip. And honestly, if I lived in the city I’d be able to use my legs, a bike, and public transportation for a lot more. Until we see 500 mile ranges and quick charging (maybe 15 minutes to 90%), we’ll still be transitional. And even then, it won’t fit every need, like say the trucking industry.

    • oldog
    • 9 years ago

    Shoot; and I had my eye on a new Land Rover.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      that’s a bad decision all around. land rovers are the LEAST reliable vehicles on the road. google it. they SUCK.

        • oldog
        • 9 years ago

        Really? I just like them cuz they’re purdy.

        But before I’d buy one I guess I’ll need to do some homework.

    • AlvinTheNerd
    • 9 years ago

    Diesel for big rigs, CNG for long haul, electric/mass transit/bike for short.

    For short, you can’t beat just plugging and going. There are a lot of different ways to get electricity and this seems the best option outside of its range. Yet most miles are short rips and it makes sense if you don’t have mass transit or bike to cover those miles.

    Hydrogen looks great at the cars tailpipe, but less over the whole process. There are two ways of making it: electricity or natural gas. Right now, pulling it off methane and letting CO2 come out is far cheaper than electricity. Then you have the fuel cell itself which is heavy, expensive (even compared to batteries), and made from rare materials that would put us into another peak resource. If you are going to burn it in an ICE, than you might as well as just use the natural gas directly.

    CNG is much cheaper than gasoline already, just about any current vehicle can be converted to use it, and most importantly it can transition to synthetic fuels seamlessly for less cost that gasoline. I see better off people having both an electric and a CNG car where the electric is used for short trips and the CNG as the second car and for long trips.

    But for big stuff (18 wheelers, tractors, mining equipment, etc) neither hydrogen, CNG nor batteries has the energy density to be a replacement. They are going to have to stay on diesel or something equally as dense and since those uses are a third of our gasoline/diesel use, we have to have a supply.

    As oil gets harder, I think the only response is going to synthetic fuels. Los Alamos did a Green Freedom project that showed that nuclear plants could create synthetic gasoline for about $5 a gallon at the pump (renewables for twice that for the time being). The gasoline would be made from CO2 and energy from either electricity or high temperature reactors and would complete the cycle acting like a huge industrial tree. Diesel can be made this way as well as can natural gas. However, NG is a similar molecule and easier to make so it would be cheaper and why I think CNG is going to be around long term.

    • Asbestos
    • 9 years ago

    Lower demand by lowering the population.
    [url<]http://www.vhemt.org/[/url<]

      • Mr.Lif
      • 9 years ago

      This.
      Though I have to think more toward extermination myself, buuuuuuut-

    • setzer
    • 9 years ago

    Well, as you have said, where I live (Portugal) gasoline is not cheap (€1.595/L 95oct diesel is at €1.493/L, as a reference the avg. salary is €750~€1100/month).
    Fortunately I live in the capital, which means the public transportation network is decent (1h travel for every 30km), which means it’s a viable alternative to a car, which, even if you disregard gasoline, is very expensive. Between compulsory checks every year (after 4 years if the car is new), maintenance, yearly taxes, insurance, parking fees, etc, the monthly value of owning a car is not good.
    We have a monthly pass for transportations, starts at €25 for the urban area, and then goes up to €55/month for the suburban areas (which is what I need to get to work), this is evidently cheaper than gas/month. What you lose in convenience by going to work with a car (and some time, though not much due to rush hour, finding a parking space, etc) you more than recover in extra money at the end of the month (look at the average salary above).
    About using the 10-speed in the garage, because of the geography and topography of most major cities in Portugal, that’s not really an option unless you happen to live very close to work (say 1 or 2 Km away).
    Hybrids are useless, they are more expensive than say a WV Polo, don’t have much higher mpg rating and all the extra money you save is better used elsewhere. EV cars, are dead fishes, take up too long to charge, they aren’t really eco-friendly at all (most of the power is coal based, so what is the point anyway).
    Hydrogen Fuel Cell would be the only good option, but there is no infrastructure.

    In any case, before you change the transportation method you need to change the mentality of the persons, is there any point in buying a SUV to drive alone to work?

    What we need in this age is better public transportation (which is possible if people stop using cars so much) and new more compact (single user, low area, ie the space need for you to sit) transportation pods.

    Also, cars is just the start, when we run out of oil for cars, planes and boats are next, are you seeing your UPS package taking a few hours from one coast to the other? That will also end, as will food deliveries and what not. You can still shift food from the place where it is produced to the consumer centres but the prices will also increase exponentially.

    This is what we should be worrying. We can survive if we don’t have cars but can we survive without food?

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    it’s a tricky one. short term as in the next 5 years, is pay what we have to. batteries ARE improving. we NEED to bring back trains, and improve public transport, but people are just going to have to learn to drive less.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 9 years ago

      Bingo. Moving back to cities and/or providing your own electricity will also be necessary.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        i’m not sure that cities are part of the solution, or part of the problem. I think we need to move towards smaller localized economies, that are almost self sufficient for almost everything. things like food, energy, can almost all be produced on a local scale. I think we’ll likely see more personal wind, solar, etc. as well.

        • mesyn191
        • 9 years ago

        Both of these are impractical for many since these options both tend to be expensive and/or they live in a rental where they can’t buy or have the room to set up expensive solar panels.

        Also there really isn’t enough property available in the cities to support ultra dense european/japanese -esque population densities and the local utilities won’t support it either. Its takes years to build both up and the political will as well as the public’s desire just isn’t there, so it won’t be getting done anyways.

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          impractical and expensive are 2 different things. the fact is, it’s going to be an expensive pain in the ass to get sustainable. THAT’S WHY WE HAVEN’T DONE IT YET. saying it’s too hard, and the politics isn’t there doesn’t change anything.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            You don’t get it. It won’t just be an expensive PITA to do it. If it was just a PITA we would’ve done it a long time ago.

            It’ll be a massive undertaking to make our cities sustainable both economically and environmentally. Nothing short of New Deal-esque scope infrastructure projects will do and you won’t be able to do them unless the consensus and money is there.

            There is no way that the states can come up with the cash, even with stupid high taxes on gas or luxury items. Its gonna have to come from the federal gov. and federal gov. currently has their head up their asses because too many of the people do as well.

            People would scream about socialism/communism etc. in our current political environment if you tried to spend those huge sums of cash on anything besides killing brown people or building weapons or propping up home prices.

            Its an ugly situation but that is the reality which you must try to find a way to make your ideas work in.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            sure, i agree, but the question was not “what is likely to be politically feasible”, but what’s an actual solution.

            I think you’ll find we agree, and I lol’d at your “killing brown people or building weapons or propping up home prices”. it’s funny, cause it’s true. lol.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            The political and economic feasibility issues are why your ideas are impractical/impossible. There are many possible solutions but none can ever happen until those two things are addressed somehow.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            if we’re concerned with “reality” then expect chaos, instability, and many, many deaths. people are dying now, as the rivers and lakes dry up in the tropics. Nobodies worried about them. when white people start to die, you might see some concern, but that won’t be until we’ve taken what we want from the people who currently have it. if we’re looking at realistic, the realistic is “nothing changes”, and we simply destroy the planet, and f ourselves. people will fight for their “right” to drive what they want, and how they want, regardless of the fact that it’s murdering people overseas.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Now you know why I’m so pessimistic.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            I understand your pessimism! my daughter is adopted from malawi, and the river that used to run through her village for 1000’s of years is gone. she almost died because of it.

            we’ll keep on doing what’s convenient for us, arguing that it’s all for economic growth, whilst we spend billions mitigating what damage we can, and murdering people who can’t afford it. My point, is that whilst i understand your hesitation in regards to doing what’s politically hard, it’s really the ONLY option.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            I’d like to be optimistic but then I look back at what has happened with Obama and the rest of the government since many of them got elected in 2008. I think that was our big chance for real change and the guy is basically status quo as all get out, which basically means he is a darker Bush clone. Hell the guy even said he admires and hopes to be the next Regan.

            I don’t see anyone else coming along who is as charismatic as Obama is, nor do I see anyone who is effective at instituting progressive changes who _could_ get elected either. Which means its likely that Obama will get re-elected and we’ll see another 4 more years of the same status quo horseshit we’ve got now.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            I doubt he’ll get reelected. you’ll likely see a republican down there, and good luck then bro. the only thing worse than the status quo is going more in favor of the rich. that will only f things worse then they are.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Status quo already heavily favors the rich. Hell we’ve got the Dems trying to scale back on key entitlements like Social Security, and they totally screwed up the medical bill too and threw away their chance to fix Part D for medicare.

            It seems we are being given the choice between the fast and faster boat ride to hell.

            • travbrad
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t know why so many people actually believed he was going to produce real change. All you have to do is look at the campaign contributers and where the Democrats get their money, and it would be obvious that there was not going to be any real meaningful change.

            [i<]“The United States effectively has a one-party system, the business party, with two factions, Republicans and Democrats.”[/i<] – Noam Chomsky

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Even if they are corrupt as all get out you should still hold your politicians to what they say they will do. The alternative is to let them do anything they want and let them get away with it.

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]“The United States effectively has a one-party system, the business party, with two factions, Republicans and Democrats.” – Noam Chomsky[/quote<] In the past, it was the fragmented and competitive nature of Europe that allowed it to power past unified "power monopoly" lands like China. Even now, Europe is much less vulnerable to the type of sameness that grips the USA. I'll probably live long enough to see if this provides an advantage once more.

    • Aphasia
    • 9 years ago

    Yawn…call me when it gets to $8 gallon. So yes, you still have quite a way to go before calling it really expensive. 😛 Just a point of contrast.

      • oMa
      • 9 years ago

      It is already 9 dollars/gallon here in Norway. 50% is tax 😀

      Let the price go through the roof. We oil exporters are making tons of money, and the prices are forcing the world to think growth without oil.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        This is exactly why I said five years ago that we need to tax the hell out of oil before the prices go up too much that it’s prohibitive.

        Now it’s too late. F U George Bush

          • Zoomer
          • 9 years ago

          There was an opportunity too when prices dropped near $2/gal last year, but no one did anything.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      Your comparing apples to oranges. In the EU you have public transport that is good and high pop. density and such. The US is totally different.

        • oMa
        • 9 years ago

        First, Norway is not part of the European Union. And only 4.9 million people live here. And public transportation is not good here. I live in the 2. largest city(255 000ppl), and atm it takes 45 to 60 min to get to the city centre with public transportation, and it is a 6 mile(10 km) travel. Average joe (Ola Nordmann) takes his car to work. Not everyone in Europe lives in Paris, London and Berlin.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          OK not part of the EU, my bad. While I’m sure you think your public transportation system is bad I can assure you that its fantastic compared to what we have in the states. To get to work using our bus system in CA would take me 4-6 hours for instance, about 14 miles (22km). Getting to work isn’t too bad but going home doubles my transit time to 40 min. because of rush hour traffic, and I have it good.

          Lots of people spend an hour or more in traffic, both ways. And they have no viable alternatives either.

            • oMa
            • 9 years ago

            But arent there metro systems in many of the largest cities? And like i said. Average Joe does take his car to work. And 22 km travel in 40 min? That is very fast in rush hour. European cities is often over 1000++ years old, they wasn’t designed for cars. City centers are a one way street maze.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Metro systems? What? You get a bus in most places and that is it, metro link is a joke, mostly PR. Only a handful of cities in the entire US have a OK metro system. Some places don’t even have a shitty bus system. If you don’t have a car you’re flat out boned.

            As for my transit time home, like I said, I’m lucky. Most people spend over and hour in traffic. Our road system was essentially designed back in the 50/60’s for around half the traffic or less than it currently carries. We don’t have the 1 way street maze, but we do have everything spread out to all hell and gone.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Do what I do and use a goddamn bike to work, and urge your local authority to improve bike path infrastructure if they haven’t done so already.

    It’s remarkably cheap in comparison, even if you buy brand gear (which inherently makes it even better, and more reliable in the long term), although it won’t offer you the same shopping/boot capacity or the same speed, for sure. But if your workplace isn’t further than a kilometre or two or three, it’s the perfect option.

      • no51
      • 9 years ago

      I would if I could, but my work is 12 miles away from where I live. I suppose I could move closer to work, but then I’d be living in the middle of nowhere. Then there’s that nasty little thing that happens between December and March we call winter.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 9 years ago

        I live 10 miles from work and bike every working day. They make studded winter tires for bikes, which are great if plows (or ideally brushes) clear a place suitable for biking. In extreme cases, they make bikes suitable for driving on lightly packed snow (big tires). Also, it might be handy to go with an internal gear hub for lower maintenance (I’m a big fan of the back-pedal brake). If its way below freezing you’ll have to put antifreeze in your cable lines to keep them functioning.

        I think that in most of the USA, the biggest problem for biking is sharing the road with cars.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      I’ve actually been considering biking to work… and my workplace is a lot more than “a kilometre or two or three” (it is 12 miles, or just shy of 20 kilometers). I started working on getting in shape for this last fall, but winter weather intervened… I also didn’t stay in shape at all over the winter, so I’ve got some ground to make up. But the weather is at the point now where I’m going to start working on this again.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 9 years ago

        I’d say the trick with staying a shape by biking is to go to work on the bike regardless of how crappy the weather is. (So long as you are not afraid of being hit by a sliding car or something.) Deep snow would be a problem.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 9 years ago

      23 miles each way would be a killer. And biking in Florida in the summer? Please no.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      You know, if I rode a bike 25 miles a day I’d be thinner, no doubt about it. It’d be kind of hard to pick my daughter up on the way home, though.

        • eitje
        • 9 years ago

        She should bike home as well – the slacker!

        • bthylafh
        • 9 years ago

        My parents used to stick me on the back of their road bikes – there was some sort of rear-seat jobbie they had.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 9 years ago

        They make bike child seats, child carrying trailers, and bikes suitable for carrying children and groceries (although if you are doing 25 miles a day, perhaps that would be a lot of work).

        There are even some trikes out there (big box in front, mostly normal bike-half in back). However those would perhaps be a bit hard to use anywhere without a well-developed cycle-path infrastructure.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      Winters can hit 0 here, Summers? We can be 90+ degrees by 8am. Crap no I’m not biking to work. There’s like 2-3 months out of the year when that MIGHT be doable.

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        I actually do it on a constant basis, although winter is what needs to be pretty bad in order to force me to walk (and set out early) or take public transportation. I’m kind of an enthusiast in that I ride a bike in snow, rain, storms, anything. And summers? All I need is bright (usually white) clothing, and Old Spice antiperspirant gel. Because I’m a man.

        “Lagoon” is my favourite flavour.

      • mattthemuppet
      • 9 years ago

      I agree – my yearly bike maintenance bill is ~$50 at most. The initial outlay can be a bit steep (several different gloves, waterproofs, different tops, shorts, tights for winter, snow tyres for winter) but once you have it, it usually lasts for years.

      As for the people who use weather as an excuse not to ride – I’ve commuted in 47C heat (Australia) and -20C cold (NE US) and the only difference between the two is clothing (and perhaps tyres for the snow+ice). That’s it, nothing else.

      If you have a long commute (say >5-7mile each way), then there’s no harm in doing alternate days by bike. You’ll still be saving petrol money and any need to buy a gym membership will disappear. If you have kids, get a bike seat/tag-a-long/trailer, they’ll love it.

    • Ushio01
    • 9 years ago

    No just no Americans are not allowed to complain untill you pay at least 7$ a US gallon. Then you’ll know what we in the UK have to put up with.

      • VILLAIN_xx
      • 9 years ago

      Complaining is their 1st ammendment right, but shutting up and doing something about it is what UK and USA have in common.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      Nonsense. You guys don’t HAVE to drive as much as we do and have viable alternatives with at least decent public transportation systems which don’t exist in the US.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Solution: massive gasoline tax, with revenue directed towards public transportation.

        More money for infrastructure, less money for saudi oil barons. Win-win

          • ludi
          • 9 years ago

          That’s not a solution. Mass transit requires good population densities and limited routes to work most effectively. Average population density and travel distances are significantly lower and longer, respectively, in the US vis-a-vis Europe with only about a half dozen cities excepted (New York, Philly, Miami, and San Francisco Bay areas to name some of the densest regions). And even with gas at an equivalent of about $7/gallon and progressive taxes on engine displacement, the Europeans [i<]still[/i<] do a lot of driving: they just do most of it with smaller vehicles and a heavy reliance on turbochargers and diesel.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          This is the child like fantasy land if I was dictator “solution”.

          It’ll never happen in the real world because it’d take years to build up enough cash+get the project started much less finished. In the mean time people are even more screwed than they are now and have no alternative to their expensive vehicle and spend less on goods and services which craters your economy.

          So any politician that tries to this would get voted out and replaced by some one who’d promptly lower the tax back to its old level. Prices would eventually rise of course back to their old levels but by that time the politician would be out of office and it’d be some one elses problem to fix.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            that’s bull. fossil fuels are subsidized, just like all power, and just because “he’d be voted out” doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. sometimes people need to do what’s right, regardless of the personal consequences. in 50 years, he/she would be a hero.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            No, the right thing to would be have the gov. do a New Deal 2.0 infrastructure renewal program instead of a regressive tax that would grossly over effect the poor and waning middle class, plunging both into near total poverty assuming that the ensuing recession did not do the job.

            Unfortunately that idea is as much fantasy as Neely’s was, but at least it isn’t overly simplistic and destructive.

            Also fossil fuels are subsidized for some, but not all and not totally either. Nobody except perhaps the rich are getting a free ride right now.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            the problem with a new deal 2.0, (i loved the first) is how do you pay for it? there are such things as tax rebates as well my friend. I have no love for the rich, but it’s going to need to be paid for somehow.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Easy crank taxes on rich, institute means testing on entitlements, institute single payer gov. health care, curtail military spending and ta daaaah all the US debt/budget issues would be fixed.

            Too bad all of that is actually impossible due to the politics…

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            those all sound reasonable. i’m not opposed to any of them.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            🙂

            • grantmeaname
            • 9 years ago

            Go read the R&P thread on Social Security. Then, stop assuming things about the budget that are obviously false.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            I’ve read it and it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

            Cranking taxes on the rich + means testing alone would keep Social Security and Medicare solvent for decades at least. The funding issues for both are manufactured by ideological and/or corrupt assholes in the government.

            BTW telling someone to go off and do something without actually saying why (ie. “stop assuming things that are obviously false”) kinda makes you look like a dick. Don’t do that.

            If for whatever reason you can’t or won’t actually go into the whys then just vote the comment down and move on.

            • grantmeaname
            • 9 years ago

            Social Security can only be solvent while receipts are greater than expenditures. Means testing (edit) [u<]and increasing taxes on the rich[/u<] (/edit) won't help that decades from now.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Yup, now factor in cranking taxes on the rich. They’re good for a _least_ 10’s of billions more per year.

            “Cranking taxes on the rich + means testing alone would keep Social Security and Medicare solvent for decades at least.” was the full sentence.

            Doing everything (the above + single payer gov. healthcare, and cutting military spending) would fix it permanently.

            The real problem with our government is how its ran and who they work to benefit the most. Right now its ran fairly badly and those who run it seem to try and benefit the rich and big business/banks/finance the most. This leaves the middle class/poor as the ones who get screwed, but they also make up the overwhelming majority of the population. Taxing the rich more and fixing _how_ we spend the money instead of cutting desperately needed services/entitlements is the only moral and sane way we have of maintaining our country and its standard of living.

            • grantmeaname
            • 9 years ago

            Tens of billions are order[b<]s[/b<] of magnitude away from mattering in this discussion.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Supposedly the SS fund is to be short ~$40 billion this year. Taxing the rich could easily make that up. Don’t give me some line of BS that they can’t afford it, they have well over half the wealth of the country at their disposal. You could triple the taxes on the rich and they’d still be rich, because after all its profit not principal that is taxed on capital gains, which is where most of their money is made comes from and not wages.

            • grantmeaname
            • 9 years ago

            That number is projected to increase at a rapid rate. When we hit the first year that expenditures are greater than receipts, what do we have to do? Raise taxes so the treasury can pay back the bonds it sold the SSA.

            I’m not arguing you can’t tax the rich. You can tax the hell out of them, and it won’t matter.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Oh I know it is, and if I was recommending _only_ taxing the rich you’d be in the right, but the means testing will help with that for long run budget balancing.

            If you’re arguing for a permanent fix then that is why I recommended a UHS + cutting military spending on top of all that. That is trillions more per year right there.

            All of this is technically possible to do.

            Now is it likely to happen? Hell no, again due to politics. They’ll probably end up doing what you’re talking about and allow a crisis to form. Obama will likely use the Catfood Commision’s recommendations and gut SS/Medicare for young-olds and the young but leave it in place for the old people as a “fix”. Effectively screwing anyone 50 or under since these people won’t be able to afford retirement and will probably have to work until they’re 70+ and depend on family to take care of them for retirement. They also won’t be able to spend as much either and will freeze up the job market too, which will kill the consumer driven economy, but that is a whole other can of worms…

            Of course in theory these people are supposed to be saving as SS/Medicare are only supposed to supplement savings, but that is a joke. Its damn near impossible to save at all for most people given their wages vs. expenses and the gov. knows it. And putting away the ideal ~10-20% of income a year? Forget it. Only the well off or rich can do that now, and things will only get worse.

            You and me will likely live to see the middle class virtually eliminated within the next 10-20 years. We’re going to end up like any of the other 3rd world shitholes you see. Tons of poor, a relative few well off folks, and a tiny tiny rich minority who likes to keep things the way they are.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            +1. Unfortunately republican terrorists started voting you down.

            Everything you said makes perfect sense, but people are brainwashed.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Thanks.

            And yea sucks that people are voting against their own interests these days. Say what you will about the repubs/rich but you gotta respect their PR people.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            I also vote you up. it’s easy to blame and say “OMG THE WORLD IS ENDING”, but it’s not going to. sure, a lot of people might die, but people are dying now. the big concern is that some of them might be white. there will be a great equalization, and whether it’s as easy as possible, or hard, depends on us. it’s too easy for anyone to get a weapon capable of heavy damage to not look for a way to solve our issues peacefully.

        • VILLAIN_xx
        • 9 years ago

        HAVE to? That’s a wee bit subjective dont you think. Either way its still going to increase for UK and USA. Telling people to not complain when it could be worse doesnt solve a thing in my opinion. Even you may have a limit on how much is too much for gas sooner or later.

        You and some others may be adjusted but the price at the pump (for now), but it starts to trickle down and affects businesses when delivery charges go up or they just tack the gas spendings onto their products. Which is the situation my family and I face with passing it on to customers when the gas prices go higher and higher. Im sure you can relate when you buy something at the stores and see a noticable price increase. Trust me, it’s absolutely no fun for them and us.

        What can we REALLY do to solve these raising gas prices right other than bending over and taking it. Some people can take it willingly and dont complain, but there is some who do not like getting the shaft and want/need a change to happen to keep gas stable. I cannot speak for everyone but im sure a lot of people are not happy with the gas inflation. It’s not just about who drives more miles or who has fancier transportation.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          Yes have to. And no I’m not defending high gas prices nor do I like what I pay at the pump so I don’t know what you’re going on about “you and some others may have adjusted”.

          Nearly all of my gas is spent going back and forth to work, 20 min. one way and 40 min. back due to traffic. Which is waaaaay to far to walk or bike to and the bus ride would be 4-6 hours. No I’m not kidding, 4-6 hours. Its not because its sooo far away for a bus, its because the buses we have are so few and have to stop so often that their routes are long and go all over the damn place. There is also no subway or train either. My car gets ~30MPG too BTW, 2005 Toyota Matrix, hardly fancy but its paid for.

          Most people are in the same boat I’m in, and many have it far worse, and short of a miracle there are no viable solutions.

        • Ushio01
        • 9 years ago

        Nope no decent public transportation here, not unless you live in london anyway.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          Pretty much anywhere in the UK/EU has better public transportation than nearly all but a tiny few places in the US. And those tiny few places are usually for short distances too.

          Apples to oranges comparison at best, and even a cursory route mapping by car on google can show you that.

      • Hattig
      • 9 years ago

      At least we drive less, and when the prices fluctuate they do so between 80p/litre and 135p/litre – that’s not quite a doubling. And to be fair in the past year it’s been between 115p/litre and 135p/litre… at least we can plan for it, and the high prices overall do encourage less wasteful use of the resource over the long term (i.e., more economical cars, driving fewer miles, etc).

      In the US the poor saps have been dealing with far far wider variances because the fuel duty is so low, this means the price can vary widely depending on the oil price, so it is much harder to plan ahead, and over the long term the current prices are shockingly high in comparison to what has been. Over five years the price varies a lot – [url<]http://gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx[/url<] (check the 5 year chart). At least a trend is emerging, but for people with fun low MPG car it's a massive pain.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/20661[/url<] Change the grid to something cheaper, more efficient, and then change over to electric cars. This is no different then the current method only instead of batteries, we have a fuel tank. Hybrids wont fully catch on, especially if the prices start to skyrocket for gas. This is like buying a motherboard that supports both DDR2 and DDR3 because it's during a transition period. Engines for electric vehicles are quite a bit smaller by comparison (not nearly as many moving parts and definitely more compact). That leaves plenty of room for batteries, especially once the gas tank is eliminated as well. We do really need to switch over to electric cars so more R/D can be spent on those, the demand for better batteries will increase, as well as the demand for more efficient and better electric vehicles. Hybrids are just the transition phase between DDR2 and DDR3. Electric cars would be quite a bit different now if all the money that was spent on R/D for combustion vehicles was spent on them.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<]Change the grid to something cheaper, more efficient[/quote<] Easier said than done!

        • Bensam123
        • 9 years ago

        Aye, but more feasible then any other alternative. The economy is based on supply and demand, that will naturally come if there is higher demand in energy. That’s why it makes it a easy upgrade path, everything falls into place and the entire infrastructure is already there. There is no need to convince anyone that they need to replace all their gas stations with hydrogen stations or suggest that they should walk/bike/take the bus the rest of their life.

        Even if the grid isn’t initially changed over to something cheaper and more efficient, it will come about naturally. People may even see the benefit of putting solar panels on their house or erecting a wind turbine if they use enough electricity as well. It’s effectively killing two birds with one stone. The energy problem and the gas problem, which are largely linked hand in hand.

    • Majiir Paktu
    • 9 years ago

    How exactly does drilling more oil provide relief in neither the short nor long term?

    People take fewer road trips when gas prices are high, but they don’t stop commuting to work. Increasing the supply of oil won’t be met by the same increase in demand, thus prices will decrease.

    This topic seems pretty heavily weighted.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 9 years ago

      Because at best it is a bandaid on a gaping wound. There are substantial costs – did you forget the spill in the Gulf of Mexico already? – both environmental and to the consumer. The only places left to drill are much more environmentally sensitive and hard to get at. Using oil shale has its own problems.

      The only long term solution is to get us all out of our cars unless some major breakthrough not involving fossil fuels at all (and you’re kidding yourselves if you think electric cars aren’t still fossil fuels or that battery decay is good for the environment).

      We’re already seeing a move back to the cities due to fuel costs. Even with more drilling the oil companies will keep prices high for their own profit margins. That move back to the cities will merely continue. People living in more rural areas will need to use solar and other renewable energy. If they get enough to juice up their cars to it – more power to em.

      Suburbs will become the new ghettos.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    DEATH CAMPS FOR GAS GUZZLERS

    gd&r

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