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What’s the Solution to Our Energy Needs?

By JLP | June 12, 2008

I’m getting sick of talking about oil. Why? Because NOT ENOUGH is being done. Oh sure, congress dragged in the oil executives and berated them over high fuel prices and threatened to slap them with windfall profit taxes (what the heck is that supposed to accomplish?). It was a great PR stunt to make it look like our elected officials give a flip about what the average American is going through.

Sadly, most politicians don’t have a clue and they don’t care that they don’t have a clue.

If they cared, they would be trying to strike a balance between meeting today’s needs with tomorrow’s needs. But, they aren’t doing squat. I mean, why the heck aren’t we drilling in America?

While energy “independence” is an impossible dream, there’s no doubt the U.S. has vast undeveloped fossil-fuel deposits. A tiny corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil and would be the largest producing oil field in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet the Senate blocked that development as recently as last month. The Outer Continental Shelf is estimated to contain some 86 billion barrels of oil, plus 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Yet of the shelf’s 1.76 billion acres, 85% is off-limits and 97% is undeveloped.

Engineers recently perfected refining solid shale rock into diesel or gas, which may amount to the largest oil supply in the world – perhaps as much as 1.8 trillion barrels in the American West. That’s enough to meet current U.S. oil demand for more than two centuries. Yet as late as 2007, Democrats attached a rider to the energy bill that prohibits leasing the federal interior lands that contain at least 80% of America’s oil shale. The key vote was cast by liberal Senator Ken Salazar from Colorado, of all places.

Source: $4 Gasbags, WSJ

Granted, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board is usually going to side with business, but if what they say is true, then we owe it to ourselves to at least consider drilling in the U.S. Surely we have the technology to drill without jacking up the environment.

I think drilling along with developing biofuels is the way to go. Surely that’s got to be better than sending all that money to the Middle East.

What are your thoughts? How do we solve our energy needs? Do you think our government is doing enough?

Topics: Biofuels | 37 Comments »


37 Responses to “What’s the Solution to Our Energy Needs?”

  1. eden Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    You should look beyond the WSJ on this one. The Artic National Wildlife Refuge seems like it has oh so much oil – but the US would use up all that oil in less than two years. And it will take over ten years to even start to get a significant amount of oil out. Besides the fact that drilling will destroy the Wildlife Refuge. Same deal with the Outer Continental Shelf – it has more oil, but will take even longer to get that oil out.
    As for the oil shale – that process is 1) intensively (sp?) destructive of the environment – that’s why the Colorado Sen. voted against it – it would literaly make that land and anything in the same watershed worthless – and 2) extremely expensive. It will only be economially viable when we hit $7-8 gas, at which point demand will be dropping anyway. They’re currently doing a similar extraction process in Western Canada and you can see the destroyed land from space.
    The absolute best thing we can possibly do to reduce oil dependance is to *CONSERVE* – we need to use less oil period. Ignoring all those oh so difficult and icky ideas, like carpooling and taking public transit, our economy still wastes a ridiculous amount of oil (think leaving delivery vehicles idling while dropping off packages). Eliminating environmental protections will not fix our addiction to foreign oil – it will just prolong the inevitable for a year or so.

  2. Adam Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I agree for the most part with Eden. If it isn’t too late, in the long run I think pursuing, or being forced to pursue, other non-fossil fuel measures is the way to go. Giving our country extra fuel is like giving a bum twenty dollars. It really doesn’t achieve anything and may even make the problem worse.

  3. Becky Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I don’t want to start a fight about our environment, and I can’t say I know everything about this subject, but it seems we in the US have that “not in my backyard” mentality about producing oil. It’s ok with everyone that they’re drilling and producing in these other countries, but don’t do it here. Isn’t the Middle East on our planet, so therefore all the environmentally damaging things that we so want to protect here are happening there? Won’t that affect all of us someday, somehow?

  4. Bozo Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    We have the technology (solar) and we have the place for it on a massive scale (the American Southwest) on government-owned land. However, the infrastructure is very expensive and the ROI iffy at this time. As for electric cars, until we get the solar input, there’s not enough electricity to solve the problem that way. Eventually, however (not in my lifetime, for sure), solar will be the key.

    “Drill America First” never was and never will be the solution. It just postpones the inevitable, weening ourselves (and our planet) from fossil fuels.

    Just my $.02.

    Yours,

    Bozo

  5. paragonwealth Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    This is a constant battle between the environmentalists and the politicians. Everyone thinks they are right and nothing is being done about it. It is so frustrating!

  6. Jay Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Unless you have personally experienced the consequences of the all too often oil spill, you have no idea what you’re advocating.
    Even those bogus commercials our government is paying for which push drilling in Anwar quote “60 years of oil” P!EASE! not even a lifetime–let’s destroy a wildlife preserve for our greed. Yep, NIMBY. You bet!
    First, REinstitute laws against the speculators. You’d immediately get rid of the biggest cause of the crazy spikes we’re seeing right now.
    Then, there’s plenty of solar, wind, water sources. We could generate enough electricity for everyone using these natural, ever present, resources. Quit looking for the easy answer.

    WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch now, remember? Expect more of the same Faux News.

  7. joewatch Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    The solution to solving our energy needs is to decrease the need. We need to spend our money developing technologies that increase energy efficiency and stop spending money in a way that simply subsidizes the low cost of oil and gasoline.

    We may be seeing a lower price of gasoline because of ethanol subsidies, but we are paying for it in the high price of other farm-based commodities.

  8. Tim Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I agree with Adam and the like concerning how long it will take to extract the oil from ANWR and the continental shelf. The cost to extract from the oil sands is immense and the environment impact huge. Not just in terms of what it does to the land but in terms of the ammount of water that is consumed to extract the oil. A tremendous amount of energy is used to create steam to turn the sand/shale into a sludge which can then be extracted. It is no easy task.

    We can’t drill our way out of dependence. It will take a mixture of conservation, innovation, and fossil alternatives to really make a difference. i.e. plug in hybrids, HHO additives to existing gas engines, Swift fuel, etc. Do google searches on all of the these items and you will see what I’m talking about. Also, here is a good article: http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080606_005036.html

    Ultimately, the sleeping giant will awake and do what is right and lead the world. We just need a good kick in the butt. Think Pearl Harbor and WWII.

    Here is a satellite view of one of the operations in Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta Canada.

  9. David B Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    There is no quick and easy solution. There are only small things that we can do to help out. Having the government push us to more expensive and unreliable technologies (e.g. solar, wind etc.) is definitely not the answer. Even with oil prices where they are currently, oil is still the cheapest source of energy, and will be for a long time. That is the simple reality that the left seems to want to ignore. There will inevitably be technological advances that will change all that, but we aren’t there yet.

    In the meantime, it would help if we would focus more on nuclear energy to lighten some of the load. Drilling domestically would help as well. ANWR is 19 million acres, and the proposed oil and gas exploration is only 2000 acres. It is flatly untrue that it would “destroy the wildlife refuge.” Give me a break. That’s one hundredth of one percent of the land and it would benefit hundreds of millions of Americans. I will grant that it will take time to get it up and running, but there is nothing wrong with thinking long term. People have been making that same argument for over twenty years, and we could be reaping the rewards by now.

    @Jay
    WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, correct. Please don’t tell me that you think he just sits in the editor’s office and dictates what people can report on. By throwing in gratuitous comments like that you only display your ignorance. Also, as I have already said, it won’t “destroy a wildlife preserve.” We have the technology to keep things cleaner than we ever have, and it is barely a small fraction of the land. Also, environmentalists won’t allow power from water either. Wind and solar are incredibly unreliable and expensive, and highly dependent on location.

  10. J Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    There are only two viable sources for power that are in use today and those are fossil fuels and nuclear power. Solar and wind are not price competitive even if price of gas doubles again. Either one or both of these options should advanced in this country or we will continue to be at the mercy of market. Research will continue for all the other technologies but its naive to think that they are going to be saving us in the short term.

  11. JLP Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Joe,

    The WSJ has ALWAYS had a more conservative (or pro-business) editorial staff. It’s a BUSINESS newspaper. Besides, they have never withheld taking shots at Republicans when they think they’re not doing what’s best for business.

    Unless the WSJ is just pulling those numbers out of thin air, I don’t think we should just dismiss them. Remember, we live in the USA and the majority (taxpayers who want cheaper fuel) should not be held hostage to the minority (environmentalist who really don’t give a damn).

  12. "Mo" Money Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Of all the comments David B’s made the most sense to me. It is a complicated puzzle, but something must be done now. What did we learn from the 1970′s?

  13. Scott Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I guess you can lump me in with the radical environmentalists. Drilling in the ANWR will only prolong the inevitable. There is a finite amount of oil in the earth. If, IF, we could ensure that only that 2000 acres would be affected, and that it would be environmentally and economically sound to do so, then maybe I could see drilling in the
    ANWR as a stop-gap measure. The problem is, all it takes is one mistake, one person to gundeck a safety check, and the consequences are disastrous and permanent. According to the Energy Information Administration’s (http://www.eia.doe.gov/) best case scenario, once production is in full swing the ANWR could produce 600 million barrels of oil per year, which is less than 9% of our yearly consumption. That’s assuming recovering oil from the entire 1.5 million acre coastal plain, known as the “1002 area.” It seems to me that the potential reward is pretty small. I want cheaper fuel, too, but not at the expense of destroying one of the last remaining pristine wilderness areas in the world.

    Rising fuel prices may not be a bad thing, because they will hasten the development of alternative fuel sources. While solar and wind energy are currently expensive and inefficient, they will become more viable solutions as research and development takes place. I agree that they can’t save us in the short term, but once we figure out how to make a buck off of them, the alternative energy industry will take off like the computer industry did in the 80′s and 90′s.

  14. Jim Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Wind and solar are both definitely reliable.
    Wind power IS currently cost competitive. Solar does have a ways to go before its really practical cost wise.

    Wind and solar work just fine and shouldn’t be dismissed offhandedly. And given wind powers costs I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to develop it more here. They are also both very good ways to keep our money here rather than shipping more $ overseas to people who hate us.

    Jim

  15. Bozo Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Face it, folks, we won’t get a rational energy policy in the country until we get a cloture-proof Democratic majority in the Senate (60 plus votes) and Obama in the White House. The Republicans have obstructed any rational energy policy for a number of years. They keep harping “drill Alaska, drill Alaska”, as if that would do any good (even if it did no harm). They’re just looking out for their oil buddies, you know, the folks who bankroll their retirements when they migrate to “K” Street after they “retire”.

    It’s obscene.

    Pardon me for venting.

    Yours,

    Bozo

  16. JimK Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    One drawback I see currently with solar and wind power is storage. Generating is one thing, but what do you do when the wind doesn’t blow or it’s cloudy?

  17. JLP Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Bozo,

    I think you’re being too kind to the Democrats. The only thing they have done is haul all the oil executives in before congress and yell at them. Sure, they made it appear as though they were doing something but they really weren’t.

    When the Republicans were in control, there was no crisis so it’s not really fair to blame them for not doing anything when there wasn’t anything to do.

  18. Preston Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    JLP: “There was no crisis”

    3/17/03 it was $1.53
    3/22/04 it was $1.89
    3/21/05 it was $2.17
    3/20/06 it was $2.48
    3/19/07 it was $2.80
    3/17/08 it was $3.51
    6/9/08 it was $4.24

    Now I don’t know about you, but I’d consider a 2 year leap in price by what is that…42% nearly… a crisis. It continued into 06, 07… I hate to sound like a dumbass but if you break it down to a simplistic way the way I look at it is this: The “get out of jail free” administration is leaving office, so lets get as much profit as we can before they’re out this November…

    (Source http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_a_epmr_pte_cpgal_w.htm)

  19. DJD Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Everyone wants to blame Bush, The NeoCons, our Congress, our Govt, in some way or another. But we’re to blame, John Q Public – with our greed, our avarice for MORE, BIGGER, BETTER, and ignoring the need for comprehensive energy policy change for 30 years (energy/foreign policy – it’s inclusive). Now it’s finally hitting home, as China is putting 1,000 additional cars on the road every day and a finite resource shrinks away.

    We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Brazil uses 40% cellulose ethanol, and growing it only uses 2% of their food crops! It’s cleaner and gets better mpg than corn ethanol. Iceland was crippled by the 70s fuel crisis, and they said `never again’. They’re now virtually energy independent via geothermal, hydro, solar and wind. In Denmark, small electric autos are popular, with battery exchange stations along the highways and roads. Altamont, California is running its garbage trucks on…garbage!

    Algae holds great promise – 1 acre produces 100,000 gallons of fuel, and it produces it rapidly, and it thrives on Co2 – perfect companion alongside coal plants, factories, airports, etc. It also produces more oxygen better than several acres of trees. The military is funding research as algae for jet fuel. Algae has a 4 tier system of use, with one batch being processed 4 times for different energy/agricultural purposes before it is processed back into the earth to create…more algae.

    Clean coal will be in our future, it is very economical , and autos can run much further and cleaner on 1 gallon of coal versus gas. They key is mining it responsibly, instead of the irresponsible mountain top removal that is currently being practiced in the Appalachians.
    Criminal!

    There will also be nuclear. I don’t like it to this day, but I’m a realist.

    Color me cynical – but I have serious doubts as to how clean and responsible a 2,000 acre drilling operation would be in ANWR. And, isn’t 80% of the oil there promised to Asia, and at least 10 years out from being on the market? Let’s think about that operation realistically – lots of trucks, traffic, pipeline, people to house, refuse, waste, pollution from the human impact…I think the environmental impact on that refuge would be much higher than the sellers want us to realize.

    Exxon just announced they are exiting the retail gas business, they are selling their stations. I heard a discussion by a panel of economists on Charlie Rose that the Big Oil companies are drawing down & liquidating assets. Some think they will become energy holding companies – because the easy oil days are finito. However, that’s good news for the small and medium sized wildcatters and companies, who are willing to go after the oil and are already doing so. They’re willing to pump that last 100,000 barrels out of that old well in Abilene, because at $135 a barrel…it pays big for them.

    Frankly, most of us could use electric cars to commute. That is where most of our driving is done, on trips to and from work or to & from mass transit stations, and running local errands. An electric car that could commute 150-200 miles before recharging/exchanging batteries would suit that purpose.

    And here’s where you can color me optimistic, because I believe that this crisis will be good for us in the long run. Business opportunities, new investments, technologies, careers, and a cleaner environment to boot! (hey, I’m in Oregon, and I want to keep it green)

    No it won’t be easy, it will require putting our money where our mouth is and a change in thinking and behavior. However, we can be an AMAZING country and I believe we will solve this problem with gusto.

  20. Lord Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    As far as ANWR goes, it will reduce the price of gas by 1 cent a gallon in 2018. Drilling might make a difference but only if we go into a deep recession to lower demand as well. Each year existing world production declines by about 4 million barrels a day. This year has been a good year for bringing new fields on line. The next few will be worse with markets becoming even tighter. If developing countries stop subsidizing their oil consumption we might get a break but only temporarily. Efficiency and alternatives are the only way to go.

    Ethanol and bio diesel will be part of the solution, especially when algae cellulosic processes are developed. Compressed natural gas will be viable until the price of that also rises a lot. Plugin hybrids in urban areas will replace largely fuel with electricity. Wind is already economic in many areas. Solar is in some areas and forms. Photovoltaic nearly so. More nuclear will have to be built as well.

    When the Republicans were in control, there was no crisis so it’s not really fair to blame them for not doing anything when there wasn’t anything to do.

    Given the long lead time such developments take, that is precisely the problem.

  21. Deb Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Sorry to digress here, but David B, I have to take issue with your pom pom waving for Murdoch and his Faux News/WSJ rag (which I used to subscribe to, but no more).

    Murdoch is part and parcel of the NeoCons (as a Republican, I refuse to grant them the privilege of calling themselves Republicans) who have completely disconnected from & betrayed the masses who voted them to office. From Murdoch’s own mouth, more than once, he admitted using his NewsCorp. to try to promote the BushCo policies & agenda. Those policies include having Dick Cheney meet 5 times behind closed doors with the Big Oil execs…and behind closed doors they wrote the past several years of disastrous energy/foreign policy for this country. Brilliant. Oil will reach $150 a barrel soon…mission accomplished, Dick.

    Jay wasn’t displaying ignorance by dissing Murdoch. Quite the contrary.

  22. Lord Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    For all those in favor of free market solutions, that is what we have right now. Time to stop complaining.

  23. Rachel @ Master Your Card Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I think that no governments are doing enough. I think they are afraid that if they use a renewable source they will not be able to justify taxing it so much as they are supposed to be encouraging people to be kinder to the environment and so they will lose out in a lot of income.

  24. Curt Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I think your forgeting why oil and food prices are actually rising so fast. Besides the growth of emerging markets, the Fed has been printing and spending billions of dollars for years. That increase in money supply has been soaked up by the last decade of globalization. The dollar weakness is the primary reason behind higher prices and I’m not sure why very few people realize the importance of this. The Fed Reserve is behind the crisis. They have debased the currency, which is the definition of inflation.

  25. Jeremy Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Nothing will ever be solved until people realize they can’t have their cake and eat it too.

    If you want lower gas prices, you need to decrease demand or increase the ever dwindling output. This may mean short-term low prices, but it still means air pollution.

    People want wind power, which is available in many locations, but then people bitch about how they are eyesores or that they kill migratory birds.

    People want hydro power, you have to damn up waterways, change the flow of rivers, create lakes, kill aquatic species, etc.

    Solar power is out there, but right now you have to occupy hundreds of acres of land and displace that habitat to create relatively expensive power.

    And of course nuclear power, but again, people whine about how they don’t want it in their back yard because of a possible meltdown, or don’t want an ugly plant in their neighborhood.

    Well, let’s face it. No matter what we choose for the source of power, there are adverse consequences, and there are people to bitch about all of them. There is no free method of producing power without having any negative consequences.

    All of these methods are available to us right now, but until people come to grips with the fact that you’ll have to kill some animals, look at an ugly power producing plant, or pollute regardless of method, we’ll continue to use oil because even at it’s relative high price, in most cases it is still the cheapest form of energy. Until it becomes such a burden that it is no longer worth it, we’ll always have little incentive to finally accept other methods.

  26. Jon Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Lord, oil isn’t even close to a free market, I’m not sure what you mean.

    Oil shale and alternative fuels are not mutually exclusive. Even if America gradually switches over to 100% biodiesel and ethanol, oil prices will still be high because India, China, and South America are growing like crazy. We’ll be energy independent so we can take that oil shale and export massive amounts of oil.

    America is poised to acquire incredible wealth as oil production peaks and declines in countries like Saudi Arabia, who sold most of their oil when the price was low.

    We’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars per year, an amount which will only increase over time. Goodbye trade deficit, hello huge revenue source for social programs, environmental programs, R&D, economic stimulus, etc.

  27. David B Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 11:45 am

    @Deb – You did not contribute even one sentence that was on topic. You don’t like Murdoch, I get it. I certainly wasn’t waving pom poms, but you illustrated my point very well. The reason I made the comment was to point out that these kind of foaming at the mouth displays of vitriol do not contribute anything. I don’t like Soros and others like him, but I’m not gratuitously bringing up insults that have nothing to do with this conversation. Now if you have something intelligent to contribute I look forward to having a meaningful debate.

    @Jeremy – I agree with much of what you said. We need energy, but environmentalists love to revel in self loathing of our species. We need energy, and there is no perfectly clean way to do it. Most of them will not be happy until we are living like aboriginis. All of the progress and incredible innovations we have made as a society is seen only as more excuse to “rape the planet.” It’s difficult to have a discussion with people that have that kind of mentality.

    @Jim – No they’re not. I am an engineer, and I work in power engineering, but it’s really much simpler than that. It’s not always windy, and there are places that don’t get much wind. Most of the places that do get a lot of wind only get it during certain parts of the day, which rarely coincide with peak energy times. They usually get less wind in the mornings and evenings, which is when the biggest demand is. Solar is still extremely problematic. How would you power Alaska during the winter, when there are 2 hours per day of cloudy sunlight? That’s an extreme example, but there are many other places like Seattle and the northwest that don’t get a lot of sunshine. Not to mention that the technology is still very inefficient and expensive. I know that people like you hate to admit it, but oil is still the cheapest form of energy. And don’t anybody dare say that ethanol is better, or I’ll have to go off on that as well.

    @Curt – The decrease in purchasing power of the dollar is ONE reason for higher oil prices, not the PRIMARY reason. There are many, many factors that contribute to the cost of oil. I agree that the fed’s primary responsibility is to monitor inflation, not to try and stimulate the economy. However it is inaccurate to try and say that our inflation is the primary reason behind the 100% increase in the price of oil. Inflation isn’t high enough to account for that.

    @Lord – I am in favor of free markets, and I am not complaining about it. If you want the government to nationalize the industry, it will be much worse than it is now. Ask anybody that was around during the Carter administration what government interference can do to the price (and availability) of gas.

    @Rachel – What would you like governments to do? I didn’t realize that there was a panacea they were all avoiding. In any case, I feel pretty confident that governments can always find something to tax. If there were a cheap, abundant source of energy, the government wouldn’t need to do anything. People would buy it, because it’s cheap. And if there were people willing to buy it, companies would want to sell it. That’s what brilliant about capitalism. Your comment doesn’t make sense to me, but I would welcome a response if you would like to discuss more.

  28. David B Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 11:52 am

    @Jon – I just wanted to let you know that I got a kick out of your last sentence. Your excitement over a new revenue source for social programs, environmental programs, and economic stimulus amused me. I hope that that is not all we are working towards, essentially more welfare and redistribution of wealth from those that are productive to those that aren’t.

  29. Lord Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Lord, oil isn’t even close to a free market, I’m not sure what you mean.

    Free includes the freedom not to sell, not to produce, and not to develop. Free markets aren’t panaceas. They don’t prevent us from crises and transitions. They are full of imperfections. About the best government can do is to fund fundamental research, explore options, and provide incentives for those situations where solutions are feasible but the control is too fractured to admit them.

  30. Preston Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    To the remarks about this being the fault of the public for the last 30 years:

    I can say without a shadow of a doubt this is not my fault. I’m only 22. That being said, I AM a minimalist and I already DO drive the minimum. In fact, my home IS efficient and my demand is low. But everyone else not cutting back (the street I live on has 6 huge trucks, 3 boats, an RV, a hummer, 5th wheel…basically we have the smallest cars in the neighborhood. And until last month we only had a single car).

    The only reason we have 2 now is because it is cheaper for insurance to not trade the first one in… figure that one out.

  31. rg Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Thanks @DJD for your comment on June 12th, 2008 at 9:44 pm. I fully agree.

    And thanks to @David B for your responses to various people on June 13th, 2008 at 11:45 am. I fully agree.

    Now lets think about this. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum, the per capita energy consumption, oil equivalent (barrel/person/year) is:

    United States 68.81
    European Union 29.70
    Japan 42.01
    Switzerland 34.64
    France 32.43
    Germany 32.31
    United Kingdom 30.18

    Now, I have lived many years in each of these countries and feel that the standard of living is VERY similar in all of them.

    Can anybody come up with a GOOD explanation why the US “need” twice as much oil than other? Remember, this is per capita.

    I know the USA also has a high GDP, but certainly not double that of the EU (40% higher)

    Some people might say, “but Canada uses even more oil (69.85) than the US”. But is that a good enough reason?

    rg

  32. rg Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 6:43 am

    I am not buying the argument that the currently high price of oil is to be blamed on speculators. It doesn’t make sense unless they drink it or hide it under some mattress.

    However, looking at this

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f5/EIA_IEO2006.jpg

    World demand has definitely not increased enough to justify increasing the price by as much.

    Any GOOD explanations out there?

    rg

  33. Richard Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    As I see it, we have two energy worlds out there; 1) mobile or transportation oriented, and 2) all other. We have many solutions to “all other” that may or may not be perfect, but at least we have no danger of running out of resources to provide it. Nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, coal, algae, etc. are all candidates to provide for our “all other” long term needs.

    The problem is to devise alternatives for oil for our cars, trains, planes and other oil dependent forms of transportation. Inevitably,the solution appears to be to find ways of converting the “all other” into a form we can use for transportation. Specifically, we have huge coal resources that can be directly converted to a mobile form; high intensity efforts should be focused on how to make this an environmentally friendly and efficient process. The same could be said for electricity, natural gas, hydrogen, etc.

    Private industry has been rather meager in sponsoring and funding such projects because they are enormously expensive to make happen and implement. For some, the needed infrastructure alone is so formidable as to discourage private investment. Some will decry this, but only government has the ability to raise the resources to sponsor such investment, which eventually will be carried out by private industry. (My friends, computers and the internet would never be where they are today without government sponsored research brought on by the need to increase our national security.).

    Until our politicians can get behind this is in a bipartisan way and support the necessary research and development, the very slow progress we have seen up to now will continue. If you want progress, tell your congressman what you want. Be persistent and don’t let them get off the hook, or worse yet of the track.

  34. Richard Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    JLP says: “I think you’re being too kind to the Democrats. The only thing they have done is haul all the oil executives in before congress and yell at them. Sure, they made it appear as though they were doing something but they really weren’t.

    When the Republicans were in control, there was no crisis so it’s not really fair to blame them for not doing anything when there wasn’t anything to do.”

    Richard says: Well, I think you’re being too kind to the Republicans. First of all, are you advocating we should wait for a crisis before we act? We couldn’t see this coming? The much maligned Jimmy Carter saw it coming back in the 70′s. He promoted energy independence through conservation and research for alternative sources.

    When Reagan came in, he immediately made it clear that the oil crisis was overblown and that world supplies were adequate as far as the eye could see. From that point on, any efforts to to avert a crisis were deemed unnecessary and little attention was given to the problem until recently. The successive Bush administration did nothing to encourage conservation or search for alternative sources. The pat answer was to drill in Anwar, as if that was the ultimate solution, if indeed any problem actually existed. Clinton was not much better, in that he only half heartedly supported a rise in the cafe standards. So the there is plenty of blame to go around.

    However, one disturbing aspect is what the Republicans are now doing to Oback Obama, labeling him as belatedly running for Jimmy Carter’s 2nd term, because of his energy policies, the policies that if had been followed from the 70′s through to day, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. today.

  35. Van Says:
    June 22nd, 2008 at 2:41 am

    I disagree that drilling/biofuels are the way to go (at least long term).

    I think the way to go is to first reduce the need by:
    1. reconsidering the need to travel
    2. increasing public transportation use
    3. pushing for vehicles that use fuel more efficiently (hybrids and small cars vs. SUVs)

    Secondly, I think a combination of solar, wind, water, and maybe some new future super technology should be the long term solution.

  36. David B Says:
    June 25th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    rg said: “Can anybody come up with a GOOD explanation why the US “need” twice as much oil than other? Remember, this is per capita.”

    The US produces nearly half of the world’s food. All of that production requires a lot of energy. I would think that would account for a good part of it. I don’t think our consumption is completely do to the fact that we are just greedy Americans burning oil for the fun of it (not that you were necessarily implying that, but others have). That is just one industry off the top of my head…

    I could look into it more deeply, but it’s unlikely that anyone will dig back and see this comment anyway!

  37. rg Says:
    June 25th, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    David B,

    You say “The US produces nearly half of the world’s food”, this is certainly a possibility. Do you have any sources for that?

    Does that mean we export most of that food or do we eat it all ourself?

    rg

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