Could 55 MPH save us?
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oldensign - DCSki Columnist
April 17, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
Remember the 55MPH speed limit...sure we didn't drive it but it was there. What if we brought that back? It might it save a few bucks that we could use to ski more.

Heck let the state enforce it and we might solve our budget woes in one move....

Oh wait...this isn't treehugger.com sorry wrong forum
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
55 MPH!!! NOT IN YOUR LIFE!!! :-) And I'm a treehugging liberal

Too many drawbacks. And it gives law enforcement another reason to interfere in our privacy.

Besides, 55 MPH was not proven to consistently lower gas consumption. Many cars may get their best mileage above that.
David
April 17, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
I think it could possibly offer a solution to gas consumption. Maybe not the obvious solution though. Just think of how many more people would stay at home instead of going on vacation, just because of all the extra time to get there. I don't think 55 mph is a good idea but hey, just a thought. My little '05 Corolla gets almost 40 MPG on the highway at 70 MPH. So why should I care??
skier219
April 17, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
There is a minimum total drag (aero+friction) for most cars in the 45-60mph range. So there was some merit for 55, not that I liked it. Around here the speed limit is 65 and the typical flow is 75.
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lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
People are going to do what's reasonable, not what's legal With many portions of the interstate system designed and built for an 80 MPH speed, the normal American will be doing 65-75 on the highway. Why criminalize good reason?
tgd
April 17, 2008
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
I think the only thing a 55 mph speed limit would save us from are bankrupt state and local governments. Maybe it's a solution for raising government revenue.

Traffic engineering studies by USDOT found that the majority of motorists drive at a speed to reach their destination in the shortest time possible and to avoid endangering themselves, others, and their property - without regards to posted speed limits. In fact lowering or even raising speed limits often has no significant effect on how fast the majority of people drive.

I don't think it matters what speed limit is posted on the Beltway or I66. Both the Beltway and 66 east of Manassas are posted 55. But I'll bet 80% of the drivers will always drive as fast as they feel reasonably safe. In my experience that's usually between 65-75 mph (depending on traffic).

Now, if we went back to cars without seat belts, air bags, traction control systems, anti lock breaks and brought back drum brakes, bias-ply tires, and sternum crushing steering wheels - we might get some folks to slow down.

Tom
JohnL
April 17, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
 Quote:

Now, if we went back to cars without seat belts, air bags, traction control systems, anti lock breaks and brought back drum brakes, bias-ply tires, and sternum crushing steering wheels - we might get some folks to slow down.


Don't forget exploding rear gas tanks.
bawalker
April 18, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Don't forget exploding bridgestone tires too!
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 18, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
Lou and others,
I offered this on another thread but got no comments. Any chance this might help the local destination ski areas keep their customer base if gas goes out of sight?
Your thoughts:
For those of us that remember the gas crunch of the seventies, you might remember that some of the resorts built small gas stations (1 o 2 pumps) at the resort so that the customers could get gas for the trip home. In those days many areas had an odd-even license number rule for filling up your tank.
Supposedly there is not a lot of profit per gallon selling gas, but it might be a good idea for the resorts to reopen these pumps and sell the gas at a loss (much lower price than available in neighboring towns) in order to offset the cost of the trip. The resort would get the customers back, and could insist that a lift ticket (or some sort of ID or receipt) be necessry to purchase the "cheap" gas.
The Colonel
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 18, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
I'm with you. With gas edging closer to the prices paid by the rest of the world (except Venezuela, where 13 cents a gallon is still the norm), this may make sense. As well as any other constructive solution. Car pooling, bus, train, or beaming up people like Star Trek...

I don't think we've even seen the beginning of the gas price escalation...
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 18, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
 Originally Posted By: bawalker
Don't forget exploding bridgestone tires too!


Oh heck... Anyone remember the Corvair Monza? or am I dating myself? Yes, my din settings just went down... :-(
kwillg6
April 18, 2008
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,023 posts
corvair monza,(preferred the spyder with the dual carbs) and then Studebakers and the Avanti, my dream car! Let's geez away! And I keep my dins where I damn well please.
Once gas gets to the $4+/gal level, it will become plentiful once again. That'll put us close to the world price levels. I think we'll see an end to the large sport utv as well.
tgd
April 18, 2008
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
 Originally Posted By: kwillg6
I think we'll see an end to the large sport utv as well.


Kim:
Don't right the SUV off so quick. The 08 Chevy Tahoe was just named Green Car of the Year for its innovative fuel and engine technology. This 6.0 Liter, 332 HP, dual mode V6/V8 5800 lb hybrid-powered behemoth has the same EPA city fuel rating as a 2008 4 door Toyota Camry - 21 mpg.

Compare that to my 98 Tahoe - with a 5.7L V8 rated at 255HP and EPA rated under 15 mpg highway.

IMO there are leaps of technical and engineering progress that can be made developing fuel efficient and environmentally friendly power-trains for "consumer" vehicles. We can only imagine what our scientists and engineers could come up with if their R&D was funded with just a fraction of the trillion or so dollars we will eventually spend in Iraq.

If this country seriously invests in developing energy efficient vehicles we will be able to significantly reduce gas consumption and perhaps extend the life expectancy of the Earth's oil reserves a few years. Still we'll probably be hopelessly gridlocked in traffic long before that happens.

Tom



Tom
Murphy
April 18, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
 Originally Posted By: tgd


IMO there are leaps of technical and engineering progress that can be made developing fuel efficient and environmentally friendly power-trains for "consumer" vehicles. We can only imagine what our scientists and engineers could come up with if their R&D was funded with just a fraction of the trillion or so dollars we will eventually spend in Iraq.


10 years ago when I was still in grad school I was lucky enough to attend a seminar on these fancy new Hybrid cars that were being developed at the time. We were told that the technology to produce 100 mpg cars was already part of every engine that had been produced for decades but the mentality of the typical driver had kept it from being a reality. It's the feeling we have that we need 332 HP in our cars. In reality that engine never generates that much power and is practically idling at a greatly reduced power, even at highway speeds. The problem with that is that the engines are far more efficient (thermodynamically) when they're near peak power. That's not to say we would get better gas mileage by driving around with the pedal on the floor with our 332 HP engines but rather by havinge engines that were sized to generate peak efficiency at typical cruising conditions. There's two drawbacks to that. One is that people want their acceleration when they take off and that takes more power. The second is that an engine typically is most efficient at RPMs that are much higher than we're used to hearing. It be like driving around in an SUV with a 4 cylinder running at 6,000 rpm. That's where Hybrids or Dual mode engines come in. They let us have the big engines when we want them (even though we don't need them) and have a smaller engine when we're cruising. Even so, the smaller engine is still probably bigger than it needs to be due to the RPM issue.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 18, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,334 posts
It amazes me to see how Americans think that they can get around what the rest of the world has been dealing with a long time. We are not going to be driveing Chevy Suburbans and Hummers in the future. Parochial Americans needs to see how the rest of the world lives. I was recently in Rome and was amazed by the number of motocycles. They all drive tiny, fuel sipping cars. Even the commercial trucks are small.
I know we're going hear a bunch of wining from all of the gas guzzling Americans who are used to wasting energy by the bucket load. Boy, driving 5 or 10 miles an hour slower is some real serious sacrificing. How will we survive driving at that speed!
Let's just wait until there are worldwide fuel shortages to do something about the issue!
Recently (don't remember which oil company) we started drilling and oil well in the Gulf of Mexico that is 5 MILES DEEP! We have exhausted all of the easy to get to oil and now we are going to have to pursue the expense oil. This one oil field which is reported to have 15 billion barrels of oil (1/10 of what the Saudi's have) will cost $6 billion to tap and take 6 years to get to.
This is the reality that we're going to have to face and you can't handle driving 5 or 10 miles an hour slower to save fuel?
We either plan for addressing the issue now or wake up someday to economic collapse because of very high energy prices.

With all that said, this subject is probably more appropriate for another forum. So I'll now step off the soap box.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 18, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
We're not talking the banned subject of GW - we're talking about the very germane subject of just how we're going to get from point A to point B with gas at $5.00 a gallon. And point A being home and point B being the ski areas which we so love. I don't think it's a bad topic to discuss when we do it with sincerity and open minds.

Carpooling? Buses? Trains? Donkey carts? Whatever answers to the dilemma which we are faced, is an answer, considering that many folks may no longer have the means to transport themselves in the way which they were accustomed.

There's even yet a worse disaster than GW, the price of gas and tornadoes and now earthquakes. Please see this URL, as these are the only folks who will richly benefit from the gas price cluster... besides Exxon, that is... http://youtube.com/watch?v=38BuD2nn7SU
Crush
April 19, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,000 posts
... thank u snowsmith - ditto - sorry peeps, but as i said i think three years ago, my hope is that gas hits $4-5/gallon in the us soon, to finally get things right here. enjoy large displacement engines, but have them for fun times, not basic transportation.

and btw, if you live to drive, you probably know about the famous lotus super 7 - i am lucky i got to drive an updated one a few times (it was *the* most fun car i ever drove - but u know me i like turns) and my plan (when i can do it) is to own one... it has a 1500 cc engine and is nearly a track car... here:

Lutus Super 7 Info

- as usual, controversial ... but sorry that's the way it is ...

EDIT -
OMG !!! As I wrote this guess what is on e-bay!!!! i am openly weeping ... someday , someday SOMEDAY!!!!
My Dream Car
JimK - DCSki Columnist
April 20, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,699 posts
 Originally Posted By: Crush
... thank u snowsmith - ditto - sorry peeps, but as i said i think three years ago, my hope is that gas hits $4-5/gallon in the us soon, to finally get things right here. enjoy large displacement engines, but have them for fun times, not basic transportation.

and btw, if you live to drive, you probably know about the famous lotus super 7 - i am lucky i got to drive an updated one a few times (it was *the* most fun car i ever drove - but u know me i like turns) and my plan (when i can do it) is to own one... it has a 1500 cc engine and is nearly a track car... here:

Lutus Super 7 Info

- as usual, controversial ... but sorry that's the way it is ...

EDIT -
OMG !!! As I wrote this guess what is on e-bay!!!! i am openly weeping ... someday , someday SOMEDAY!!!!
My Dream Car


It took me a while to find confirmation in the wiki citation, but I instantly recognized that vehicle as the one Patrick McGoohan drove in The Prisoner tv show.
When I was in high school, dating myself, the Lotus Europa was my dream car, along with Jag XKE. Europa, very tiny, low to the ground: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Europa

I never embraced the cool factor of large SUVs, for me a cool impractical motor vehicle would be a small sports car. Meanwhile I drive minivans \:\/
I think hybrids are a good short term, obtainable solution for America. I think if 90 percent of US motor vehicles were hybrids by 2020 it would be a big aid, but they must be priced competitively against regular vehicles. Even better, next Prez should do a JFK challenge type thing; instead of man on moon, declare national goal of developing family of super high gas mileage (100mpg) AND low cost motor vehicles within 10 years.
tgd
April 20, 2008
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
 Originally Posted By: JimK
Even better, next Prez should do a JFK challenge type thing; instead of man on moon, declare national goal of developing family of super high gas mileage (100mpg) AND low cost motor vehicles within 10 years.


Well put Jim, that is a great goal - but I think you're setting the bar too low. An even better goal - energy independence within 10 years. If we can achieve that goal, even with all the sacrifice to get there, just imagine how such a development would dramatically enhance the security and prosperity of the USA for ourselves and our kids. That's at least worth spending a trillion bucks on - plus nobody dies on the way.

Tom
bawalker
April 20, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Everyone is making me depressed about rebuilding my `69 Camero now since those muscle cars weren't known for their gas efficiency either.
jb714
April 20, 2008
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
I haven't engaged in an exhaustive reading of this entire thread, and in any case I'm not advocating a return to a federally-mandated 55 MPH limit.

But on the return drive from my most recent trip to our property near 7 Springs, I decided to try a little experiment. For background, I drive a 1997 Toyota 4Runner - 3.4L V6, 174,000 miles. Typically on my drive to and from PA, I set the cruise-control at 70mph, and that generally results in highway mpg of 19 - 20 mpg.

Last weekend on the return trip I set the cruise-control at approximately 62 mph (I'm not capable of driving at that speed without cruise-control). From the Sheetz station in Somerset to the Sunoco near my house (Lake RIdge, VA) I had driven 185 miles and I needed 7.5 gallons to fill the tank. According to my math, that equates to 24.6 mpg - quite an increase over the normal 19-20 mpg.
JohnL
April 20, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
 Quote:
Well put Jim, that is a great goal - but I think you're setting the bar too low. An even better goal - energy independence within 10 years. If we can achieve that goal, even with all the sacrifice to get there, just imagine how such a development would dramatically enhance the security and prosperity of the USA for ourselves and our kids. That's at least worth spending a trillion bucks on - plus nobody dies on the way.


Expect a lot of pain and side affects in attempting to achieve the goal of energy independence. Simply expecting energy independence to occur by investing a trillion bucks of our tax dollars into Government R & D with no other trade-offs or sacrifices involved is hopelessly naive. To a large extent, we got very lucky with the Apollo program (especially given the safety margins) and it turned out to be a technical problem with a solution. Not all technical problems have cost-effective solutions.

Some obvious options with some obvious consequences to achieve energy independence:

  • Build more nuclear power plants.
  • Drill for oil in environmentally sensitive areas like ANWR.
  • Level some more mountaintops in West Virginia for coal.
  • Use more cropland for biofuels. As we've discovered, some obvious consequences for food prices, especially for the rest of the world.
  • Have homeowners invest tens of thousands of dollars in their homes for solar power and increased energy efficiency. The author of article in today's Wash Post was given an estimate of 40K for her well-located and oriented house in LA. Don't expect the costs to drop too much with economies of scale; labor costs will still be large. Any homeowners get recent quotes on home renovations? Plus large scale solar use will have some other pollution consequences since solar panels and other components contain some nasty chemicals.
  • Accept more exposure to mercury with increased use of CFLs.
  • Pay a lot more for gas (higher taxes to reduce demand) and for new cars (new technology.) Expect the cars to be smaller and lighter. Lighter means less safe when you hit a stationary object or a large moving object such as a truck. Simple physics. This can be compensated for by increased safety features, but that will drive costs up higher. Most Americans don't have the salaries of Yuppies.
  • Be willing to live in more dense urban environments in smaller houses. This means the single family house may be a thing of the past with most people living in townhouses or high rises.
  • Travel less, including for ski trips.
  • Eat less beef. (Eat Mor Chikin.) A lot more energy is used compared to other foods. But I'll never give up consuming dead cow.
  • And finally, drive slower.
Crush
April 20, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,000 posts
 Originally Posted By: JimK
It took me a while to find confirmation in the wiki citation, but I instantly recognized that vehicle as the one Patrick McGoohan drove in The Prisoner tv show.
When I was in high school, dating myself, the Lotus Europa was my dream car, along with Jag XKE. Europa, very tiny, low to the ground: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Europa



oh man! props -

#1) Nicely spotted re: The Prisoner. Man you are sharp!

#2) The Lotus Europa and the Elan are my fav cars for the long-dead sport of Autocross (killed mostly by the change in the mid '70s where shopping malls started opening on sundays).


- Be Seeing You, Citizen -
KevR
April 21, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
There was a pretty good article in a fairly recent issue of SciAm on building up the infrastructure for national level solar power generation in the south west to provide all or much of the electrical power to this country in some time frame, the feasibility, the cost, the technology and so forth.

Personally I'd rather spend money on that idea -- well a mix of ideas, a coherent national energy policy if you will, than our incoherent one we seem to favor now.

Just think -- while we won't stop using oil ever, if we managed to get our oil usage needs back to basically what our domestic oil supply is and getting us off imports...

Why we'd save a whole pile of money, blood, sweat and tears...

And collapse the economies of some countries we don't like much any way, probably instigating far more internal change to them than we can possibly achieve in the ways we have attempted up to this time...

A win-win if you ask me...
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
Murphy
April 21, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
I sat in on a presentation from a big-wig at GE Energy last week. He had an interesting plot about the projected cost per unit of power delivered for all of the major potential sources of energy. Solar was by far the worst. If I'm not mistaken, nuclear was actually the cheapest followed by fossil fuels (he was a big nuclear power advocate). Wind wasn't lagging far behind.

Sorry, not exactly sure what assumptions went into making the plot but I believe his point was that wind can be a viable source.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 21, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
John L, agreed. And bringing it back to the reason for this forum, energy prices will definitely affect our sport, as it is one which requires traveling.

Apropos, this weekend's exhibitions at the Mall for Earth Day were light-shedding on many of the issues we're talking here. I can see several of your points as fait accompli and not necessarily pathological, however. Even the environmentalist community has stopped opposing some forms of nuclear energy. Coal is back and despite its environmental consequences, the economics of coal will ensure mining and mountaintop removal remain in vigor (an interesting article on Saturday's Washington Post).

There are some that may see governmental action if not already done. Large scale passive "green" building will soon become both mandatory and subsidized through tax deductions. And solar power will become common. And gas prices will keep on climbing. As a result, real estate in some center cities will continue to rise or remain stable as far-out suburbs take a hit. This has been seen in the market trends for the DC area as well as most of the Eastern population centers.

I still hold that the key to energy independence is the lessening of our anachronistic dependence on fossil fuel automobiles. It will take a change in paragidms for people to see mass transit as a friend. Likewise, It will also take an effort from the mass transit industry. Their management has got to become more businesslike. They need to answer the expectations from the public. Train service, for example, has to take place when people are traveling, not at some artificially set time when no one can use it. Metro has got to expand. Allow owners to travel with their pets and charge them the kid's fare like in Europe. Fido has an accident, his daddy cleans it.

That all supposes that we are able to have the government's subsidies for road infrastructure partly diverted to rebuilding the mass transit systems that were bought wholesale by Big Oil and their ravenous tax breaks in the '40s and '50s, and promptly shut down to make the population car-dependent. As nice as it seemed back then, it was a bad idea.

The train to ski is still my dream.
KevR
April 21, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
No doubt GE has little solar engineering know how but knows how to build nuclear power plants real well - and probably sees $$$ signs. I'd take that one with grain of salt.

I'm not 'against' anything per se, I am against having NO NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY at all except to spend billions or is it trillions to ensure black gold is delivered to our doorsteps ...

When we could almost assuredly spend far less here on a variety of energy systems with much better return...

And that's just the money side of the equation.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 21, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
KevR, I'm 100 percent with you. Our sport, whether one large or two skinny boards, depends on an energy policy. Of course I have other corollary concerns, but about skiing, transport from urban centers to resorts is definitely affected.
skier219
April 21, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
 Originally Posted By: Murphy
I sat in on a presentation from a big-wig at GE Energy last week. He had an interesting plot about the projected cost per unit of power delivered for all of the major potential sources of energy. Solar was by far the worst. If I'm not mistaken, nuclear was actually the cheapest followed by fossil fuels (he was a big nuclear power advocate). Wind wasn't lagging far behind.

Sorry, not exactly sure what assumptions went into making the plot but I believe his point was that wind can be a viable source.


He may have been referring to solar-electric power; the newest ideas for solar energy focus on solar-heat, to drive steam turbines like any nuclear plant does. They even have some pretty sophisticated heat storage schemes in mind that would make it a 24/7 type of power source.

GE is real strong on wind power right now; one of my former colleagues left NASA to head their wind turbine aeroacoustics group.

I would probably take their pro-wind stance with a grain of salt, since it's a big pot of money for them right now. I still don't see how it's going to provide 24/7 power or on-demand power; at best it's going to offset traditional power generation when the wind conditions are right, as far as I can tell.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 21, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Here's my dream going to Snowshoe or Stowe... or even Colorado...

http://www.raileurope.co.uk/default.aspx?tabID=490

http://raibledesigns.com/rd/entry/the_ski_train

A 200-MPH train, common in Europe and even slow by Japanese standards, would put Aspen within a 9-hour ride from DC. Beats an airplane.
David
April 21, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
 Originally Posted By: lbotta


A 200-MPH train, common in Europe and even slow by Japanese standards, would put Aspen within a 9-hour ride from DC. Beats an airplane.


200 mph on a train scares me just thinking about it. I'd definitely like to do it though. Here is a cool video I found of one at 186 mph.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANB-yZIJP6o
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 21, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,334 posts
The Baltimore Sunpaper today (Monday) had an article about a contest to design a commercially viable car that gets 100MPG. The prize ----$10 million for the winner.
It is heartening to see that we're all waking up to this issue. I'd be a hypocrite if I said I didn't waste energy.
How about this one....everyone is telling me that it is better to leave your computer on all the time because it goes into power save mode anyway and costs more to start up the bugger if you turn it off. So we have maybe 200 computers and monitors on in our building in the 'power save' mode. I find it hard to believe that this is cost effective and saving energy. Does anybody have any scientific info on this?
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
April 21, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
832 posts
 Originally Posted By: lbotta
A 200-MPH train, common in Europe and even slow by Japanese standards, would put Aspen within a 9-hour ride from DC. Beats an airplane.


Common, but not widespread. The vast majority of trains are not high speed. The shorter inter-city distances of most routes in Europe make them perfectly reasonable.

The time comparison assumes the train goes in a straight line, makes no stops, and that the plane goes slower than 200 mph, all of which are false.

Nontheless, for a competitive price, I would be more than happy to take a train to a ski destination. Images of Bing Crosby and all. I really don't care how it happens, just get me there :-)

Given a choice, I'd prefer the Swiss rail system and the Zurich central terminal.

I cannot think of anyone who would prefer more costly or more inefficient travel. The truth is that people are pretty good at doing the intuitive math of their own utility function and when the total function cost (including tickets, time, inconviennce, reliabilty, etc...) of auto travel is higher than mass transit they will use auto.

PS what is the aggregate fuel mileage of the 200mph train - not nearly as compelling as the 50mph train I bet!
Crush
April 21, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,000 posts
 Originally Posted By: snowsmith
The Baltimore Sunpaper today (Monday) had an article about a contest to design a commercially viable car that gets 100MPG. The prize ----$10 million for the winner.
It is heartening to see that we're all waking up to this issue. I'd be a hypocrite if I said I didn't waste energy.
How about this one....everyone is telling me that it is better to leave your computer on all the time because it goes into power save mode anyway and costs more to start up the bugger if you turn it off. So we have maybe 200 computers and monitors on in our building in the 'power save' mode. I find it hard to believe that this is cost effective and saving energy. Does anybody have any scientific info on this?



..actually lpm mode is very effective. cpu and micro-controller lpm only maintains a heartbeat clock cycle that can respond to an interrupt like a key-down even or a pulse ... we are talking micro-amps over a very short duty cycle.

I know because I did design and prototype work with a Texas Instruments MSP430 micro-controller and a transmitter-receiver by Integration.com in the 434MHZ ISM band. I used the lpm on the TI MSP as a timer function to wait for interrupts ... the Integration IA4420/21 chipset allows a lpm state that, in theory, would enable a transmitter or receiver to last about 10 years on a normal "hearing aid" or button type battery.

The ultimate combo for cars would be something like the Tesla Roadster ( http://www.teslamotors.com/ ) coupled with nuclear plants powering local "quick-charge" (like a filling station) and "home-charge" (your house) .

As i have said 100 million times, as politically incorrect as it is, even way back when i was a engineering geek, nuclear power, despite its drawbacks, is the cheapest form of large-scale power, even factoring in transport, security and disposal problems. It's just a $$ fact. nuclear powered cars are out - too much weight, too many security problems, etc.

all your fossil fuels are out - limited, hight extraction and back-patching environmental costs, political considerations, etc. shale, cng, all stop-gaps.

there is only one viable vegi-based fuel and that is bio-diesel. actually it may be more efficient to burn it like kerosene in a gas-turbine coupled to a generator to make a hybrid car. Way back Harry Grepke hand-build a turbine-electric hybrid car in the '70s. The copy in Popular Science balked at it's 3,700 pound weight, but that's nothing these days. And the lead-acid batteries he used are primitive as flint and steel compared to the Tesla's lithium-ion notebook computer batteries. Read about it here http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2002-02/persistent-contender-popsci-covers-hybrids

there is so much that could be done.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 21, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
Here in the east, especially the mid and south Atlantic, our sport is even more dependent on energy. We have to drive to the resorts, and the resorts must use mucho energy to make snow in order to have a viable product.
The Colonel \:\)
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 22, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Interesting article on the benefits of high-speed electric trains in the debate over CalTrain... noticeably less expensive once the initial investment has been made. As well, its rapidity decreases the infrastructure that must be maintained. http://www.arch21.org/0800part4.html

Zurich... Now Zurich... Why can't we learn from others? You land at Zurich, take your bags from customs, put them in a cart that is escalator-friendly, down one flight of stairs and Voilá, you hand them over to the train attendant and next thing they're in your hotel room.

With all the bristling at the specter of rail transport... Anyone rode on the Glacier Express? Beats a car any day, any time, under any condition. You can take the Glacier Express up the Ruhr Valley and it stops all the ski areas. The best part is Zermatt, where cars are outlawed within a 10-mile radius. And Zermatt has no lack of visitors. And yes, you can take Fido onboard.

I'm not against people who want to take autos to ski. What I lament is that Governmental policy, long-term unwarranted subsidies to big oil and the highway lobby, and the availability of cheap land, have contributed to developing unsustainable paradigms among the American people. And as well, the inactivity that the readily availability of personal transport promotes, has made us the most morbidly obese people on the planet.

I see on the horizon a crossroads of rapidly increasing oil prices, deteriorating road infrastructure, and the realization by people that the single-person car is not the best way to move for many reasons.

And yes, pagamony... the romance and nostalgis of White Christmas and the wonderful songs of Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney took us back to the days of train travel, not to the traffic jams on I-93...
KevR
April 22, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I think we can put in trains & mass transit linked to airport hubs and then linking other major population centers in this country -- but we aren't likely to build high speed transcontinental trains -- planes are a great and marvelous invention, and we'll keep using them where they are cost effective and make real sense.

I do have some first hand knowledge of transportation options in europe as I have done some work over there, I do like that in some cases you can land at some airport, take the train or subway to within maybe a block or two of where you want to go and while you are there seemingly never have to use a car.

This is very similar to NYC where the combination of urban density, mass transit and links to airports make it possible live without a car much of the time.

But I don't think this is a realistic picture of the way everyone lives there as people in europe still have cars and drive them around to get to places.

In essence trains and mass transit don't solve the "last mile" problem ... they just get you close and if from there you need to go further than about 1 mile, you may have a problem. (if its not much more than 5 miles I say avg folks can bicycle and you see some of that too)

I have rented and driven cars around some of europe -- the cars are on average smaller than here but there are large pickups, suvs and even the occasional hummer there too.

Personally I've always favored the smaller car -- so a recent rental there that could in a pinch carry 4 adults comfortably was fine the entire time I was there on travel. This car was slightly smaller than the honda accord sold here and had more of a hatchback style than trunk that could accommodate several bags of groceries or luggage for two for say a week or maybe two.

To many americans used to larger personal transport this car would be viewed as small, yet it was far from the smallest there... although I'd venture more typical than the super tiny cars.

If I were off to a ski resort town there (I've never done this so I'm just speculating) I'd probably have to put a rack on the car to carry the skis, although its possible they could fit inside the car, but I doubt it, or at least not without going far into the front seat area which would be far from ideal.

While I like the ideas related to transport stated so far, I still think we in the US will get the most bang out of a transition to an electric based personal transport fleet in large population centers -- like the DC area, NYC area, LA, Houston and so forth.

I think that *most* of us could probably use a smaller electric for a lot of our daily driving needs, and then have a larger gas guzzler for the weekend warrior pursuits. Or even rent such cars when we needed them if we could plan ahead.

We'll continue to need petroleum fuels for jet engines -- I think, and big trucks and construction vehicles seem more likely to be petro based too.

But if we could limit the transport segment that's petro dependent so that it only uses oil that we produce in this country by and large, while all the rest is an electric fleet using energy produce here with some COMBINATION of technologies, well...

Why I think we'd have a vastly better system overall than what we have now!

Of course those electric cars will have to work well, they can't be "golf carts"... that won't do.

We aren't there yet but we are getting close.

I somewhat liken the transition to electric cameras. I recall upon seeing an electric camera the first time that it didn't seem to come close in many ways to function of regular cameras... I was confident it would be a dud!

yet it had ONE major upside, you could download the pics to the computer right away and never run out of "film"...

And like a lot of folks, I bought one.

So although their shutter speeds are slower (and seem to remain so), and are tied to a continuous stream of batteries or chargers, and the memory cards are yet another expense...

The upside of the overall convenience meant they swept aside their "analog" brethren.

Are we going to see the same thing with electric cars?

Maybe.

They'll be a bit smaller and pricier in the beginning but being able to fill up at home, at the parking lot in work, and at the nearby mall -- not to mention forgetting about oil changes, spark plugs, and the like -- might mean, they appear like a tidal wave on the scene before anyone knows it!

It could happen!
jonjon1
April 22, 2008
Member since 09/11/2006 🔗
186 posts
MOVE TO THE SKI AREAS!!
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 22, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,334 posts
Our current government is offering no leadership on this issue. The energy to charge all of these electric vehicles has got to come from somewhere, thus we will need to expand our electric power plant capacity to address the additional electricity demand. Thus this whole scenerio needs to be planned out if we're going electric. Maybe if there is money to be made, the private section has help solve this problem. As a skeptical friend of mine said , "Hell, it was only 100 years ago we were still using whale oil". My major concern on this issue is that we have known about this issue for at least 30 years and we've done almost nothing about it. Do you remember when each car advertisement had to include the MPG for each vehicle? Now we don't seem to care. Given that the current Administration is closely tied to the oil industry, I think they didn't want anything that would affect their stock price and they don't care about the future...make the money today and the hell with tomorrow.
David
April 22, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
 Originally Posted By: jonjon1
MOVE TO THE SKI AREAS!!


I like the way you think!
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 22, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
 Originally Posted By: jonjon1
MOVE TO THE SKI AREAS!!


I did... sorta... Have a place at the Shoe and stay there about 60-70 days a year. Plus... It's my evacuation site in case DC threatens to become a sheet of glass... And Stowe will become my retirement home.
Roger Z
April 22, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Gas is 4.00 a gallon in El Salvador. The per capita income, adjusted for purchasing power, is $5,200 per year. The minimum wage has just been raised to $6... a day.

Gas is 3.40 a gallon in the United States. Median per capita income as of 2006 (2 years ago) was $25,000 a year. Minimum wage is $7 per hour.

Skiing isn't exactly the sport of the poor anymore. Anyone who can afford $800 skis and $80 lift tickets and $200 a night slopeside lodging can afford gas at 3.50 a gallon.

Let's put it in perspective. If you reduce your alcohol consumption by $4 a week- or roughly one beer when you go out to drink- you get an additional $208 of gas money a year. At 20 miles a gallon- basically if you drive an SUV- that means you can buy an additional 1,200 miles worth of travelling gas. That's the equivalent of six roundtrip rides to and from Whitetail each winter, if you live 100 miles away.

So, basically, our gas price "crisis" for skiing is costing us about one beer a week.
KevR
April 22, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I think its likely more as there's a multiplier effect throughout our economy where the cost of many many items are tied to the cost of energy directly.

I poked around on the web and found that $4 gas would cost the average commuter $1900 per yr, or about $600 more than less than $3 per gallon gas. And that's not counting the additional cost in food items for example and other goods & services that person will be using during that year as well.

$600 -- that's a season pass at some resorts!

BTW I thought per capita income in the US was 45k per yr?
oldensign - DCSki Columnist
April 22, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
Just think how much gas money can be saved by bypassing the daily STARBUCKS!
bawalker
April 22, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
What stands out to me is what type of impact would we have if more retail distribution used rail vs trucks? On I-81 this is a horrid problem with VDOT suggesting 40-50% of all traffic on 81 is truckers AND that 81 is something like 112% over design capacity. With THAT MANY trucks serving the eastern/north eastern corridor that also parallels one of the major railways, wouldn't it be smarter to start expanding that for distribution center deliveries etc?
Murphy
April 23, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
Brad, They just approved the construction of an intermodal rail yard in Shawsville that's designed to take truck traffic off of I81 and put it onto rail. At least it'll take truck traffic off of much of I81 but it'll actually increase it substantially in the immediated vicinity of Shawsville .....which happens to be adjacent to Blacksburg. We're taking one for the team
bawalker
April 23, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
That's interesting, I haven't seen anything of that in the papers up here. I know the debate rages on to spend big $$$ to widen 81, but with the railroad paralelling 81 through Martinsburg and further north, each city could have a loading and unloading area and go from there. I'd be curious to know if truck traffic was cut in 1/2, 3/4, etc as to how much impact that would mean in the forms of gallons of diesel not being consumed each day?
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 23, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
 Originally Posted By: bawalker
What stands out to me is what type of impact would we have if more retail distribution used rail vs trucks? On I-81 this is a horrid problem with VDOT suggesting 40-50% of all traffic on 81 is truckers AND that 81 is something like 112% over design capacity. With THAT MANY trucks serving the eastern/north eastern corridor that also parallels one of the major railways, wouldn't it be smarter to start expanding that for distribution center deliveries etc?


BIIIINGO!! The problem is complex. But let's face it, both materiel transportation for mid-to-long distances as well as passenger service on short to medium distances would be much better served by an improved, national rail network.

Way back when we as a nation, made the decision that the Panama Canal was no longer vital to our national security and as a result, its granting to Panama became possible, a main rationale was that we have container ports served by rail links that could transport our coast-to-coast national logistics needs faster, cheaper and more secure than through the canal. Our rail system works and despite a 50-year period of neglect as government subsidies and public money has been diverted to (sometimes needless) road building, nonetheless our rail system works and it is an integral part of our infrastructure.

With gas at $4.39 a gallon in California, and $100.00 gas tank fillups becoming normal, we have to relook at this form of travel. And again, bringing it back to skiing, it may save the ski areas.
tromano
April 23, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
You can take the train to Connelsville, PA where the 7Springs people will pick you up. The problem is it takes 3.5 hours to drive and 5.5 hours by train, not including the 45 minute drive from Connelsville to 7S.
tromano
April 23, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Once you own the car, the marginal cost of going on a trip in the car is minimal, it doesn't really matter how much gas climbs. If you don't own a car then transportation options such as train, etc.. become competitive.

The problem is that almost every one owns a car already so taking a train isn't a great option for them.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 23, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Today's CNN headlines are almost equally divided between the PA primary and the price of gas. We won't talk about the former, but at 4.40 a gallon (and much higher in the horizon), ski or any leisure travel will be affected. The reports today talk about people cancelling vacations. Soon, the rail or another alternative option may make sense. Yes, once you own a car, driving it may involve marginal or sunk costs... if you have a certain income. But when the price of filling a tank of gas goes from $30.00 to $120.00, that's not an option for a lot of people.

What is needed is a better national transportation policy that will redestribute federal transportation expenditures in a more fair and realistic manner, instead of putting all our national transport eggs on gas guzzling cars, trucks and airplanes. Coupled with the economic realities which people are facing today, it will go a long way towards ensuring the ability of the population to access accross-the-board transportation, including lsisure-oriented means.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 23, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
Lou,
Same church, but different pew.
Several times in this thread, you and others have mentioned that the cost of gas in this country is just catching up to what the Europeans have delt with for decades.
However, would not the price of gas in Europe also be rising, just not quite as fast as in the US because of the declining dollar? Once we were paying $1.50 per gallon and the Europeans approx. $5.00 per gallon (maybe others have a better handle on the true differential), now we are paying $3.65 gallon, what are the Europeans paying?
The Colonel \:\)
snosnugums
April 23, 2008
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
For every 10 mph you drive over 60 mph you fuel economy will go down by 4 mpg. It takes alot of energy to move the air out of the way of your car. The force increass exponentially.
jimmy
April 24, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
 Originally Posted By: The Colonel
Lou,
Same church, but different pew.
Several times in this thread, you and others have mentioned that the cost of gas in this country is just catching up to what the Europeans have delt with for decades.
However, would not the price of gas in Europe also be rising, just not quite as fast as in the US because of the declining dollar? Once we were paying $1.50 per gallon and the Europeans approx. $5.00 per gallon (maybe others have a better handle on the true differential), now we are paying $3.65 gallon, what are the Europeans paying?
The Colonel \:\)


Good catch Colonel gasoline is $8.60/gallon in Germany. Why so much??? TAXES!!! The only way fuel prices in USA will approach European prices is a $5 increase in the tax....Why is there a need to send more of my hard earned money to the Imperial Government <sorry fishnski is on hiatus and somebody had to say it> to p!$$ away??? I will drive 55 just like i did the last time, NOT.
Murphy
April 24, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
 Originally Posted By: snosnugums
For every 10 mph you drive over 60 mph you fuel economy will go down by 4 mpg. It takes alot of energy to move the air out of the way of your car. The force increass exponentially.


It depends a lot on your car (transmission, aerodynamics, engine). A Prius has only slightly better fuel efficiency than a Corvette at 85 mph.
kwillg6
April 24, 2008
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,023 posts
It's funny about the price of the Saudi liquid.... we bitch about it, but pay the shekles anyway. Why? It's because our entire lifestyle is based upon individual independence and that includes the automobile and it's various cousins. We are mostly a rural society with work, shoping, services, etc... requiring a mode of individual transportation. Until we have to make incredable sacrifices as individuals to keep this lifestyle that we have inherited and cherish, we will continue to pay Dick Cheney's buds. We may get smarter as far as our individual transportation choices (meaning more fuel efficient) but we will keep our lifestyle until it prohibits us from having life's necessitys of shelter, food, and health care.
tromano
April 24, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
 Originally Posted By: kwillg6
It's funny about the price of the Saudi liquid.... we bitch about it, but pay the shekles anyway. Why? It's because our entire lifestyle is based upon individual independence and that includes the automobile and it's various cousins. We are mostly a rural society with work, shoping, services, etc... requiring a mode of individual transportation. Until we have to make incredable sacrifices as individuals to keep this lifestyle that we have inherited and cherish, we will continue to pay Dick Cheney's buds. We may get smarter as far as our individual transportation choices (meaning more fuel efficient) but we will keep our lifestyle until it prohibits us from having life's necessitys of shelter, food, and health care.


Ding, Ding, Ding!!!

The suburban lifestyle is the essential American way of life for generations. And it REQUIRES a car in most cases many cars. If you choose to live in the suburbs you have to pay for gas. It wasn't always like this. 100 years ago people lived in cities in America. They chose to move into suburbs. But until people give up their suburban way of life and move into densely populated neighborhoods and cities where their work, grocery, doctor, and all the other needful things in life are within walking or biking distance, they are going to have to pay the costs.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 24, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
You answered it in the previous message. European countries, years ago, adopted energy policies that discouraged or if not discourage, make the car pay its fair share of the transportation infrastructure through taxation. As a result, when we were paying 2.50, the Dutch were paying 7.00.

And unlike us, the Europeans devoted a good deal of this tax revenue to expanding their mass transit network. Which is something we abandoned years ago through a coalition of the Government, car companies and big oil. As a result, Europeans are less succeptible than we are to this new worldwide phenomenon.

Let's remember that when Los Angeles began its growth in the '20s and '30s, it had about the best urban mass transport system in the US. And a veloway that would be the envy of today. In the '40s, the entire system was demolished. Today, they're paying for it in smog, sprawl, and decreased quality of life. As well as obesity.

Simply stated. An transportation policy that involves the private auto as its backbone is unrealistic and an anachronism in today's realities. As well as unaffordable. And - bringing it back to the purpose of this forum, this involves leisure travel.
Roger Z
April 24, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
 Quote:
But until people give up their suburban way of life and move into densely populated neighborhoods and cities where their work, grocery, doctor, and all the other needful things in life are within walking or biking distance, they are going to have to pay the costs.


Funny, I live in a suburb and have all that within three blocks of my house. You sure we've gotta move back to the city? I'm not. In fact, jobs tend to follow people out to the suburbs, resulting in shorter commutes. I could just as easily argue that until we abandon all hope of the central city and accept a series of nearby, interconnected semi-dense smaller cities (a multinodal urban cluster, if you will), we are going to remain car dependent as local government policy continues to forcefeed development back into locales that people would otherwise not choose to live or work in.

The role mass-transit would play in such a setting would be inter-modal (between the polygonial nodes, in other words), whereas within the semi-dense locales (which, most likely, would have no clearly defined boundaries) you would probably still retain autos as the transit of choice. Indeed, if gas prices continued to climb, it's likely that we would take more mass transit for longer trips but use our vehicles for shorter, day-to-day travel. And, again, right now mass transit is doing very little good because, like the Metro in DC, it's hub-and-spoke, and what is needed instead is something more resembling a cell membrane.

When I think of the future, I think that what we're going to see is more sprawl, not less. I don't think high gas prices are going to drive people back into the city, I think it's going to further spur business out-migration. The dense city centers will remain as lifestyle choices for some, particularly as the number of single and childless households rise. The only real check I can see on that is stagnating or declining real incomes.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 24, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
 Originally Posted By: tromano
[Ding, Ding, Ding!!!

The suburban lifestyle is the essential American way of life for generations. And it REQUIRES a car in most cases many cars. If you choose to live in the suburbs you have to pay for gas. It wasn't always like this. 100 years ago people lived in cities in America. They chose to move into suburbs. But until people give up their suburban way of life and move into densely populated neighborhoods and cities where their work, grocery, doctor, and all the other needful things in life are within walking or biking distance, they are going to have to pay the costs.


In a way the market is responding. If you take a look at the Eastern urban areas, neighborhoods - both new and old - within mass transportation centers, are maintaining or actually increasing real estate values, even in the face of the current real estate implosion. At the same time, housing in the far-off suburbs is taking a hit. Transportation is indeed a player. An additional $150 a week in gas prices means an additional 8K per annum in expenditures for a family. When you consider that for many people taking mass transit, the fares are absorbed by either Government or companies, and as a result they are for all intent and purposes, free, it does make a difference.

Same as bicycling. Homes in the vicinity of published bike trails enjoy a visible advantage pricewise.

Let's remember too, that the present paradigms of sprawl were not just market driven, but also the result of dedicated, purposeful governmental action, subsidies, corporate welfare and even national military strategy that found its way into post-WWII civilian law (GI Bill). I'm not saying that this was done by evil, Darth Vader look-alikes. They were well intentioned short-range wise, but long-range pathological. It will take a like government/industrial effort to return to sustainable development.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 24, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
Funny, I live in a suburb and have all that within three blocks of my house. You sure we've gotta move back to the city? I'm not. In fact, jobs tend to follow people out to the suburbs, resulting in shorter commutes. I could just as easily argue that until we abandon all hope of the central city and accept a series of nearby, interconnected semi-dense smaller cities (a multinodal urban cluster, if you will), we are going to remain car dependent as local government policy continues to forcefeed development back into locales that people would otherwise not choose to live or work in.

The role mass-transit would play in such a setting would be inter-modal (between the polygonial nodes, in other words), whereas within the semi-dense locales (which, most likely, would have no clearly defined boundaries) you would probably still retain autos as the transit of choice. Indeed, if gas prices continued to climb, it's likely that we would take more mass transit for longer trips but use our vehicles for shorter, day-to-day travel. And, again, right now mass transit is doing very little good because, like the Metro in DC, it's hub-and-spoke, and what is needed instead is something more resembling a cell membrane.

When I think of the future, I think that what we're going to see is more sprawl, not less. I don't think high gas prices are going to drive people back into the city, I think it's going to further spur business out-migration. The dense city centers will remain as lifestyle choices for some, particularly as the number of single and childless households rise. The only real check I can see on that is stagnating or declining real incomes.



You have a point. But again, suburban flight will bring economic development - up to a point.

I can see multi-nodal urban centers. However, this will require regional planning in a country where independent townships make it hard to do. These centers have their own particular issues: as gas becomes increasingly expensive, transport between the nodes will require increasing mass transport, which very few urban centers can do financially. And yes, I agree that we need a honeycomb mass transit model in modern day urban environments. I see light in the horizon after next January. But in any case, livable communities can thrive in smaller nodes.

Small cities are also in many ways, the rage. Boulder, Burlington, Madison, Santa Fe and others, provide small centers of creative energy and intense productivity. Little Stamford CT has 7 of the Fortune 1000 headquarters alone. That's also very valid, even though there are limits to the accessibility of skilled labor as well as services required by a very demanding population.

Still, nothing takes the place of the big city. The results speak for themselves. 181 of the Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in large cities where there are at least 5 Fortune 500 companies. Five cities alone have at over a quarter of all the Fortune 500 companies (NYC, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago). The synergy created by the creative masses of people in the atmosphere created by cities, has moved and will move the country. Something that suburbs can't do and won't do because of zoning restrictions. This creates tremendous demand. And real estate prices answer the demand. A studio in Manhattan fetches a million. A 3-bedroom townhouse in DC goes for at least that. That need for close proximity to creative centers is what I believe will maintain the vitality of cities as well as the location of major industry behemoths. Your point that high prices are not going to drive people back into the city is answered by the fact that people are indeed moving back into the city. And these are not only single yuppies and DINKS (dual-income - no kids), but stroller-dragging, jogging moms and dads who are buying off Philly's Old City and DC's Dupont area. I can only conjecture what would happen if DC solved its public school system situation...

Although I disagree with you that we will see more sprawl with high gas prices, I can see people moving to smaller cities where they can get the amenities as well as the services. And these centers will require additional means, in addition to the automobile, to move people and commerce.

However, taking it back to the primary purpose of this site, I can also foresee that resort areas with already established infrastructures will be the recipients of small to medium companies and people looking to live the good life. And these areas will become viable towns in themselves. Who knows, they may become large enough to support a rail line from the big city. And we will all benefit from non-car transport to ski....
scootertig
April 24, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
Here's the part I don't get...

If the answer to escalating gas prices is for everyone to move back to the cities (where, as the real estate folks will tell you, "they ain't making any more land"), it seems that would drive up the value of every property in the city. Indeed, Lou, you point out that city real estate is just about the only place that values are climbing instead of falling.

So, faced with a choice between paying a bit more for gas, and controlling the other elements of my lifestyle that would require the gas (fewer road trips, consolidating errands, etc) or buying/renting a place in the city, which is the better option?

Well, the same people that are having a hard time affording the expensive gasoline probably would have a hard time buying/renting a place in the city, especially if it's the one place that values are going up. The argument you put forth (everyone park your car and move to the city) assumes that moving out of the city was predicated on the desire to be outside of the city for a reason other than pure cost considerations. I don't think anyone moves out to Leesburg because they like the idea of a long commute to Arlington. People move to the suburb for a number of reasons: lower-cost housing, space for children/pets to run, safer neighborhoods, etc. Realistically, the government (or a private agency) needs to meet the need where it exists - create tenable mass-transit solutions for where people are (as opposed to where they were 50 years ago). That's not problem-solving at all...

People's pocketbooks can more easily absorb a price increase in gas than buy a new home in the city...

I agree that the small city scenario is the best possible option, but that takes a while to emerge, and if the infrastructure isn't in place first, it may never emerge at all.


aaron
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 24, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Aaron, you make an extremely good point(s). Both you and Z made me think in new terms.

The new value of real estate in Arlington, Bethesda, Alexandria and DC is indeed that people are closer to transport, work and play areas (except ski areas \:\( ) and therefore these places are acuiring value.

In many of these urban spaces, land is being better utilized and therefore having a net gain in living space. Warehouses and other land-intensive infrastructure places is now houses. For example, Potomac Yard in Arlington and Alexandria. The new billion-dollar DC-USA shopping center atop the Metro in Columbia Heights is located in previously vacant or abandoned land. Some was condemned for this purpose. Yet some is "infill", especially in ARlington and Alexandria.

A sad aspect of this is that the gentrification of large tracts of land in the inner city is removing those who can least afford to move and sending them to the suburbs. Cheap rentals in Manassas, Fairfax and PG Counties are receiving the economically displaced population from DC and the immediate suburbs.

I don't know what the answer is... However, in the rest of the world (having lived more than half of my life in foreign lands while serving our country) inner cities are where the wealthy live. Suburbs are where the unsightly infrastructure is located and where the lower income population resides. About the only places in the US where that is the case is NYC and Chicago, and up to a point, New Orleans.

Nonetheless, I still want a train to Snowshoe. \:\)
Roger Z
April 24, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
 Quote:
Still, nothing takes the place of the big city.


True, big cities do have an economic benefit you just can't find in smaller towns. But what I don't know (and what I don't think the research has demonstrated conclusively) is whether it is a city center or a city region that drives that economic dynamism.

Also, headquarter locations don't necessarily imply that that is where the company is expanding. Since I've been in KC- which isn't the greatest example in America, I know- I've noticed that it appears that most of the downtown jobs are institutional- chiefly government and financial services- while the more "dynamic" jobs (technology, telecom, bioscience) can be found out in the immediate urban areas like Overland Park (our Tysons Corner). It makes me wonder about whether organizations locate downtown more for economic growth or reputational reasons.

 Quote:
Your point that high prices are not going to drive people back into the city is answered by the fact that people are indeed moving back into the city. And these are not only single yuppies and DINKS (dual-income - no kids), but stroller-dragging, jogging moms and dads who are buying off Philly's Old City and DC's Dupont area. I can only conjecture what would happen if DC solved its public school system situation...


Proportionally, most of the folks moving back to the city are more on the single/dink side, while proportionally, families continue to move into the suburbs. Of course there's exceptions to each. I think school and crime are THE two issues for families. You're right- if you had good schools and safe neighborhoods (or, more importantly, the perception of good schools and safe neighborhoods), then I think it'd be a different story altogether. Anyway, people were shifting their location before the current gas price spike, so I disagree that there is a causal relationship there. I think people are moving into city centers for other reasons- in particular an attraction to urban lifestyles- that will reinvigorate the city cores for the time being (and perhaps for a long time). I don't think city centers will go away, it's just that I think it will be part of a larger, complex web of city nodes in the future- if it isn't already.

 Quote:
Although I disagree with you that we will see more sprawl with high gas prices, I can see people moving to smaller cities where they can get the amenities as well as the services. And these centers will require additional means, in addition to the automobile, to move people and commerce.


Sprawl is a very ambigious word. Sometimes I think we'd be better off if the word had never been invented. For instance, Houston is considered "sprawl" by many, but as you pointed out it's one of the largest homes for Fortune 500 companies in America- they just keep annexing land as they expand. Would a polynuclear urban region be considered "sprawl"? In the sense that it is lower density than a traditional city center, okay yeah. But it would also be higher density than our current model, too (I think). And if jobs and housing are located in such a way that they are proximate to one another- if, in other words, it looks from a density perspective like several "Boulders" sitting near one another- is that "sprawl"? If you ask two different people you'll probably get three different answers. I think of it more as an emerging suburban geography, and because it doesn't fit into our traditional understanding of "urban" or "rural" we haven't defined it well- or we're not comfortable with it- yet.

Disclaimer: I'm not advocating this, it's probably not inevitable (few things are), but I just think it's the way things are going for urban America.

ps- Lou, just saw your response to Aaron. Stuart Rosenthal has done a lot of research on this issue and has two very interesting papers on the "waves" of investment in neighborhoods. His conclusion is that the wealthy will be moving back into the city centers here in the United States, indeed already are. I think the papers are available for free off of GoogleScholar if you look him up.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 24, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
One thing I do not understand (well one of many is more like it). Why can't we expand transit in less expensive, perhaps a bit less timely, manner. For example, here in Northern VA. Do we really need a metro line to Dulles and the Corridor, or would a much cheaper, perhaps automatic, light rail serve the same purpose, with perhaps right angle lines running off of it to Reston, Rt. 50 shopping, Manassas, etc. One would have to transfer to the metro at some point to get to the inner city, but I bet the cost of construction would be far less. Baltimore's light rail seems a good system, despite having to cross streets, etc.
And maybe smaller rail cars could serve resorts and resort cities/areas at far less cost than large trains with all of the attendant infrastructure.
The Colonel \:\)
tromano
April 24, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Back to the original topic. In Denver they have a train that goes to winterpark from downtown. Don't know much about it though.
Roger Z
April 27, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Someone mentioned earlier about the "end point" travel when considering public transportation. I have a local case-in-point out here.

There's a small chance I could get a new job soon, and while the job looks really exciting it's also pretty far away, which is going to result in vastly increased gas expenditures for me. Fortunately, there is a bus route that covers most of the distance. I've spent the last hour running the numbers. Here's how it stacks up:

Driving would be 76 miles round trip. Factoring in wear-and-tear on the car as well as increased Jiffy Lube trips, it would cost me $3,000 a year MORE than my current driving expenses (which include parking fees) if gas is $4 a gallon. Total time to drive out would be about 45 minutes (there's that little traffic out here). What to do? I checked the buses. As mentioned, there is a bus interconnect that I could take.

Unfortunately, the bus does not come anywhere near my house, so I still have to drive 12 miles to the bus station (each way) for a net of 24 miles. That amounts to about 20-25 minutes of driving each way. So let's say 20 minutes. Now, I hop on the bus, and the bus ride is a little over an hour to get to my destination. We're up to 1 hour, 20 minutes compared to my 45 minute car ride, and I'm still about four miles from where I need to be. I could probably bike if the weather is nice, but particularly in the spring that's not an option. So I have to hop the city bus when I get to that location. The city bus and the interconnector have really intelligently not synched up their schedules, so the interconnector bus arrives three minutes AFTER the city bus leaves, and I have to wait 27 minutes for the next city bus to show up. The bus then takes about 10-12 minutes to get to my final stop. So there's another 40 minutes.

Also, the interconnector bus does not have a fare transfer pass with the city bus, so I have to pay city bus fare as well as the interconnector bus fare. The last interconnector bus leaves at 5:30 p.m., so I basically have to be done at work at five every day (which is not usually an option in the type of work I do) or wait until the next bus leaves at 8:10 p.m. (which doesn't run on Fridays, by the way).

When all is said and done, taking the bus to the potential new job would save between 3 and 5 dollars a day, if gas is $4 a gallon. At $3 a gallon, I save a whopping five dollars per week over driving. And, it takes between 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way, when driving takes 45 minutes.

So I can spend 3-4 hours commuting every day, or 1 1/2 hours commuting and have the flexibility if I need to do anything like, oh, get groceries on the way home, go for a walk after work along the river, meet a client at their site, etc.

All this said, I took the public transportation every day when I worked in DC. When it comes to commuting more than 5 or 6 miles, despite my rhetoric on this board I'm something of a public transportation snob- I like being able to sit back and read a book or snooze or just chat with a fellow passenger. I've met many great people that way and had more than my fair share of beer on the MARC trains. \:\) I like not breaking my vehicle in half trying to get to work and back. And the public transportation system in DC is pretty darn good, I would encourage people to use it.

But a lot of places simply don't have the public transportation that DC does. Heck, a lot of the growing areas around DC don't even have the same quality public transportation that DC does. The problem is the desire I- and probably many others- have to take public transportation do not square well against the reality many if not most commuters face in their day-to-day lives. This is where the microbuses come into play. More seriously, though, a lot of times you try to make it work and at the end of the day, taking public transport doesn't make much sense.

A lot of cities have a lot of work to do on this issue. The fact that public transport out here is barely competitive (or uncompetitive, depending on how you value your free time) with gas at $4 a gallon is a pretty sad statement on the quality of the public transit system in at least one metro region in the country (and likely many more).
KevR
April 27, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Most don't want to pony up the cash to subsidize either mass transit in their hometown, or reasonable train service between urban centers...

Instead we've become so accustomed to subsidizing the auto industry at the state & federal level that we no longer even think of the massive highway spending bills & bonds to build roads, parking lots and super-efficient entrance/exit ramps as subsidies, why they are absolutey necessary to our RIGHT to drive a car!

So, I think in this country at least, while we'll get more metros and better trains over time, we'll get better bang for our buck if you will by revamping what we think of as the automobile...

And while its somewhat in vogue to view Europe's train system with envy here -- its just luck on their part I think ot have it; a twist of history.

We had the massive auto industry early on, heck we invented the freaking auto industry! And we had more disposable income which fueled it, especially after WW2. Oh and large domestic oil supply until 1970 -- before we started our current import binge.

In Europe they didn't have these things and knowing this, subsidizing train service was probably an easier political option there than trying to take on big oil and big auto.

It's just that now it seems brilliant in some ways... but no it was just luck.

And frankly I've sat on paris subways filled to the brim with grumpy folks that would just like to get home.

Would they be happier in their own personal transport, albeit stuck on the motorway instead of the subway?

Maybe...
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 27, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
I am sure this will not come as a surprise to many readers, while I agree with KevR that the fantastic Europesn public tranportation systems are partially a result of luck...one of the major reasons for their success and apparent vastness is that Europe is not a vast area. France and Texas are about the same size if I remember my geography. And the rest of the countries are mostly much, much smaller. So a real public transportation system was not a major deal from the beginning. There just aren't vast open areas to cross. Look at public transportation in the New Your area - it cris-crosses every which way, just like in Europe. And the New York area is about the size of the Benelux countries I would GUESS.
The Colonel \:\)
bawalker
April 28, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Just to throw a twist on Rogers comments above, I want to give some perspective here on those here in WV no more than 2-3 hours west of DC. When living 3 mi north of Wardensville, the nearest gas station and convenience store was 7-11 3.1 miles away. Gas there was/is usually $0.30 more than what it is across the border in VA. Anyway I lived right off of SR 259 which for me to do the majority of my work which was in Winchester, I was looking at a 17 mi drive on 259 and a 10mi drive on Rt 50. When not getting behind traffic I could do this in 25-35 min with something like a 54 mile round trip. I would consider this to be normal for most people in that area. With gas prices at $3.00 at one time when I figured up travel costs, it was costing me about $6.48 to make a round trip to Winchester. Now with gas here in WV at $3.79 (yesterday evening) it would be costing $8.19 to make a trip to winchester. If still living in Wardensville and going to Winchester and average of 4 days a week that means I'd be paying $32.75 a week, $130.98 a month, $1.571.79 a year.

Well all of that changed for me when I was forced to move to Lost City back in August. Now for me to get to client jobs in Winchester it takes 57 miles ONE WAY to go from here to Winchester. Round trip is 114 for one days worth of work and with gas at the $3.79 mark, my gas price went from $8.19 to $17.28 to make a single trip to Winchester. Now if I hold to my same average as above, 4 trips to Winchester a week I am now looking at paying $69.12 a week, $276.48 a month, and $3,317.76 a year!! Thats not counting jobs and clients in further reaching spots like Manassas, Potomac, MD, Harrisonburg, and such. Plus adding on the fuel costs is now the maint. cost. My oil change frequency went from 3mon/3000 mi to 1mon 2 week/3000mi. So a $19.99 oil change was costing me $79.96 every year has now went too $119.94.

For me the question is, do I give up my business and find a standard job where I'm the employee with a set possible earned income or do I continue? If I quit this then I'm still forced to goto either Harrisonburg or Winchester thus still incurring the same costs as I do when working for myself. The only real answer to solve this for me is to move back to Wardensville or closer to Winchester.

An interesting thought is that if gas prices hit $4.50/gallon and my work starts requiring me to make say 5 trips to Martinsburg a week (international client there). That is 138.8 mi round trip for a single day of driving at @ roughly 2 hrs with traffic. That would cost me $24.99 a day, $124.92 a week, $499.68 a month, and $5,996.16 a year! I could get a small house with a $1,200 mortgage and have almost 5 mortgage payments in what it's costing me for gas a year at that point. Then if I move within 45 mi of Martinsburg for example, my yearly fuel bill would drop from almost 6 grand, down to $1944.

This is what locals up here have to deal with and consider since there is no such thing as public transportation in dem dar mountins.
Roger Z
April 28, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
There are some new home loan programs that recognize exactly what you just said, Brad. It's a federal program, I forget which agency (Lou might know). Basically home loans are not supposed to exceed 30% of your gross income, this program I think allows you to go up to 35% of your gross income if you live within a certain proximity to your office (on the grounds that your transportation expenses will be significantly lower).

The only problem I see for you in getting a house in Martinsburg is: where will your business be over the next 3-5 years? If 80% of it is going to be in Martinsburg, then that's fine, but if you're going to be all over the north central Alleghenies, the mortgage might wind up being a big ball and chain on you (trust me on that one!). But thanks for reminding me about the rural aspect of all these fuel costs- I haven't thought as much about that since leaving B-burg.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 28, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
Brad,
Just curious, since you are self employed will the market bear you charging more for services due to the high fuel prices - say a surcharge? Or are you stuck because competitors that live in or much closer to the work source have too much of an advantage for you to try boosting prices?
The Colonel \:\)
Murphy
April 28, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
Personally, small town living has been great for me. I've chosen to live in a smallish house in the middle of town for the same price that I could have lived in an outlying subdivision but either option provides you safe, quite neighborhoods with a short commute to work. Most people I know commute less than 10 minutes to work.

I've got family living in (or rather outside of) large cities around the country and they average an hour and half in the car every day just doing the daily commute. Stop and go traffic is the norm. My brother in-law commutes 20 minutes each way just to get to the Atlanta Metro for a 1 hour ride to his job. I couldn't imagine living like that. I couldn't imagine waiting 2 light cycles to get through an intersection. My commute was recently quadrupled and I still only spend 20 minutes a day in the car. I fill up once a month. It used to be once every 2 months.

And while there aren't many fortune 500 headquarters here, there are a number of good career opportunities. Of course, most of this was made possible by the presence of a major university.
Roger Z
April 28, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
 Quote:
Of course, most of this was made possible by the presence of a major university.


You mean Radford? \:\)
Murphy
April 28, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
 Quote:
Of course, most of this was made possible by the presence of a major university.


You mean Radford? \:\)


Don't be disrespecting the Highlanders!
bawalker
April 28, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Roger, thanks for the info on mortgage/loan programs, although that is more speculation on my part to use Martinsburg as an example where a client is located that I do travel too. The main emphasis that I was after was that while we are in a time of financial crisis pertaining to the wallet and fuel expenditures, mass transit is only one part of a larger solution. Like someone said above, the countries in Europe are about the size of some of our states thus less infrastructure and costs to build such is required because people will be more densely populated in the cities.

While that can work in our major cities and having some sort of fast efficient rail service for suburbs could also work (think monorails for suburbs that connect to hubs), the rural areas are obviously left out. Having gotten to move this past year I've seen what it's like when you actually have more rural pockets inside of already rural areas. Hardy Co is a prime example of this. When living in Wardensville (rather 3 mi north), two gas stations, a bank, post office, grocery store, and convenience store was all within a 6 mi round trip usually totaling 15 min. I could leave on a whim to go run errands there and take care of business and be back with little gas spent, little time wasted.

Living in Lost City, that has changed. The bank is now 11.5 miles away along with the nearest gas station that takes cards. The second gas station is 5 mi away, but 4 mi further south so 8 mi is then wasted when I spend 90% of my time traveling north east into northern VA. So that now creates a situation where previous 6 mi spend round trip to get gas has went to 23mi round trip if I was to just go and get gas only. Banking falls under the same umbrella so these things have to be planned out and made part of a trip out of the area a few days in advance. On top of that gas hitting $3.79 today ... well those things work against any locals in any area similiar to this. I can only imagine that there is an algorithm or theroy out there that suggests the higher fuel/transportation costs go, the more local people will stay creating more isolation from not so far away densely populated areas.

Anyway, all of that aside, fuel surcharges and a complete price restructuring is something I'm working on implementing here in a matter of days. To be fully honest, in the more rural areas like in this portion of WV, the residential market is reaching it's capacity of what it can afford. But when compared to the northern VA area, there is still a ways to go before that market reaches it's tipping point. Almost each different community, county, or town is a separate submarket that I have to maintain a close eye on.

My goal as a business is to grow and to expand my reach further and further out. But before that can be done, I need to focus on getting a higher percentage of immediate potential customers to pay for the expansion outward. I have some ideas I'm working on that I hope this summer will allow me to fund building a home and office location somewhere outside Wardensville or between there and Winchester... where the cost is substantially less than IN winchester.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 2, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Hey - just noticed my name had been mentioned as I perused on the site... Sorry didn't mean to ignore anyone. Brad, I read your post and I'll say furthermore that if anything, getting or building gas stations near growing population centers will be even more difficult and expensive, given the extensive environmental mitigation and previous studies that must be conducted.

If you're a new home owner, the WV housing has a few programs with low interest. We've worked with them in post-disaster work. The CDBG programs from HUD have been slashed over the last 7 years as well as the Section 108 designed to rebuild and maintain stable communities. However, the in my opinion the best home mortgage group for moderate income buyers I've seen is NACA https://www.naca.com/index_main.jsp NACA is an NGO that has been in the news lately as they go after predatory lenders. At the same time, they facilitate mortgages for folks in the moderate income groups, often forgot by the system. A few of my colleagues have loans with interests as low as 3.5 percent. Not bad. They are a bit lengthy but well worth it.

On the other part of the topic, I really really believe that we are at a crossroads in paradigms in this country. Not to go back to old paradigms that were buried by governmental policy and big oil, but to create a brand new paradigms in transportation that will not include the private auto as THE primary source of moving people. It may take a while, but it will happen. Rural or urban, it will happen.
schlittenfahrten
May 7, 2008
Member since 07/26/2005 🔗
24 posts
Hey, did anyone see the oil policy experts on the news? Forecasting oil at $200.00 a barrel and that makes up a possible $7.00 a gallon for gas within 2 yrs. Bet that would make some folks think twice about owning an Urban Attack Vehicle.
oldensign - DCSki Columnist
May 7, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
can you fit a ski rack on a motor scooter?

dont worry electric cars will save us all
schlittenfahrten
May 7, 2008
Member since 07/26/2005 🔗
24 posts
Electric cars and electric trains. Maybe Lou will get his wish to take the Eurotrain from Washington to Snowshoe via Davis
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
May 7, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,334 posts
That probably does not bode well for those of us who own vacation homes at ski resorts, does it? No one will be able to afford the drive.
However, I do not believe we are at the juncture yet where supplies are affecting price to that extent. Perhaps you were not aware that the new bubble that is ready to burst is the commodity bubble...replacing the previous high tech and real estate bubbles. Investors have been pouring money into commodities since the dollar isn't worth a crap. As long as we have GWB in office that is probably not going to change since his head is firmly planned where only the light of oil companies shine. However, oil I believe is artificially high because investors in oil futures are driving up the price of crude. Since almost the entire Bush Admin is former big oil employees they see no reason to rock their boat while our little dingies are sinking. Perphaps 5 or 10 years from now, the supply will really be the issue since we have been in a coma in this country regarding this issue. But for now, the bubble will burst and the price will crash as with previous bubbles.
oldensign - DCSki Columnist
May 7, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
Supply is an issue, there are these big places (China and India) out there that used to ride bicycles and the occasional motorbike 10 years ago that now drive SUV's and Beamers.

And while we were playing the desert on a war that was not about oil (isnt that the case)the Chinese were locking up all the new oil in Africa for year to come.

History repeats it self. Want to know the future of the US think England 1908.....

Wait isnt this a skiing site!
KevR
May 8, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I think you guys are right except we may be on an upward long term slope regardless of this immediate bubble.

Legendary oilman T. Boon Pickens has stated he thinks world oil production peaked in recent yrs...

That means we aren't replacing supplies fast enough to keep up with demand -- so short of some major exploitable finds at costs we're used to -- get ready for electric cars!!!

They go to ski resorts btw! ;-)

Of course, speculation on my part.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 8, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Agree but electric cars are only a part of the puzzle. A minor part. It requires a change in paradigms the size of Toffler's Third Wave or Future Shock books. Hard to afford the electricity in the car when heating the house or worst, air conditioning it, takes thousands of dollars.

The answer, and specifically for the resort industry, is an inter-modal transportation system. As well as smart and ecofriendly, responsible urbanization. Recognizing that even the bicycle is as much a part of the transportation network as a car. Developing trolleys, subways and electric bus lines. And making highway users pay for the construction and use of highways via private means. That means no freeways.

The resort industry will certainly survive. But there will be growing pains. I'm actually quite optimistic about the future. Yes, the train will come to Snowshoe sometime.....
KevR
May 8, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I don't understand your reasoning but we aren't likely to give up on our roads anytime soon, they are already built after all.

Trains, trolleys, subways and all are fine and needed - don't disagree but I think a mix is a likely answer although i haven't a clue what the "right" mix is.

Anyway -- as for electrics, recently i saw such a car plugged into the outlet of a building I work near.

I thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to plug-in at home and charge up overnight -- or even any PARKING LOT ANYWHERE (for pay obviously) versus HAVING to go to a gas-station before or after work? Save a lot of time!

Popping into the store for something, plug-in for a few minutes... You could plug in ANYWHERE for pennies.

Think of the freedom... and you wonder why oil companies are terrified of this stuff?

Now we aren't going to get rid of our diesels and big engined vehicles anytime soon either - I can't see an electric bulldozer, but a lot folks could convert over to certain types of electrics fairly soon if they were available, reliable and affordable.

Many folks keep their cars for 10 yrs if they can -- so if we had an electric that would last about that long, had one major battery pack change expense in the middle ... then I think we are onto something.

Heck no more gas stations, no more OIL CHANGES, filters, the lot are all gone. Ok, so the battery pack might need servicing but that's probably just a modular swap in... muffler problem? no... Do you need to go get the car emission tested? No shut those things down too...

What's that leave? Tires & alignment right? And a car wash...

No wonder the car companies are terrified of these things!

At home, you plug-in -- electricity rates going up? Put in a solar array to charge during the sunny day to transfer to the car at night. Or the little whirly on the roof to charge it during windy days...
Roger Z
May 8, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Of course, where exactly are we going to get the eletricity from to power these electric cars? Ummm:

Coal power plants
Oil power plants
Natural gas power plants

There's 70% of our power source right now. Wind is unreliable and it seems like no one here likes it anyway, not sure what's going to happen to nukes, that leaves... hydro, which we're not building anymore.

Ten years ago all the craze was ethanol and we've all seen where that debacle has led us (simple and somewhat smart ethanol solution: take away the 51 cent tariff on sugar-cane ethanol. Stupid ethanol solution: trade barriers and pay farmers to convert their food production to gas production). Has anyone done the math to figure out how much additional energy production it would take to power all these cars, and where that's going to come from?

If it's a choice of coal plants versus car engines, all you're really doing is seeking a trade-off in which engine is more efficient at converting carbon-based fossil fuels into energy. I suppose you could throw in an argument that since we are the "Saudi Arabia of coal," we could be more energy independent, but you don't decouple from global commodity markets, ever. India and China and most of the developing world is gobbling up coal as fast as they can, too.

Until we start seeing some data on the trade-offs, costs, energy sources etc. I'm skeptical that electric cars are part of the solution. If we have a fundamental shift in our power service, however- ie a substantial increase in our nuclear power capacity- then maybe electric cars could work.
KevR
May 8, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Sure coal -- but we need to move to cleaning it up, we do have tons and tons of the stuff, we won't have to import it and if we can make it reasonably clean, its a great part of the solution. I'd skip oil -- we don't need to import MORE oil, we need to import LESS oil - I'd work towards getting off of imports and expanding domestic supplies or least living within domestic supplies.

Natural gas has the same issue as oil, while we have pretty large domestic supplies. some of larger suppliers worldwide are trouble makers -- let's skip 'em. And its not as clean as it could be ... I'd like to live within domestic supplies.

Add to the list nuclear, some hydro expansion, geothermal (which seems hardly exploited in this country to me), wind, solar, wave power ...

I suppose ethanol might be option if we can use something other than food stuffs to make it and not take away from food production which doesn't seem likely to me.

Solar seems to have the greatest potential to me -- its based on similar technology as integrated circuits...

It ought to yield to the same economies of scale as integrated circuits... it's just a question of time!

But a mix -- far more of mix than we have now -- no one mentioned methane, another option.
oldensign - DCSki Columnist
May 8, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
Local power generation is the way. Get off the grid. You have room on your roof for a few panels and how about a wind turbine or two. Amortize them over the life of your mortgage and poof free power to plug your car in.

You will be amazed how many lights you will turn off in your home when you make the power.

As to resorts stick up some wind mills and load the roof with solar panels and crank the lifts
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
May 8, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
Many DCSki posters are too young to remember the energy crisis of the 70s. Alternative sources of energy was the buzz! Some folks placed solar heaters on there rooftops to help with heating, usually big bulky units. Lots of talk from the government...little action. Gas and energy became less scarce as the crisis ebbed. Then we threw caution to the winds.
Let's hope we don't repeat this again.
By the way, if the US is the Saudi Arabia for coal...then what will happen is a great exporting of coal causing a price increase due to world demand...followed by higher energy prices in this country since the coal barrons will want the same high price from US energy producers.

A couple of quotes come to mind...
"YOU JUST CAN'T WIN!!
Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress....
But then I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

And by Will Rogers:
"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."


The Colonel \:\)




Murphy
May 9, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
Has anyone done the math to figure out how much additional energy production it would take to power all these cars, and where that's going to come from?

If it's a choice of coal plants versus car engines, all you're really doing is seeking a trade-off in which engine is more efficient at converting carbon-based fossil fuels into energy.


I'm sure some one has done these calculations and I suspect it's a large part of the reason why the electric car movement of the 80's evolved into the Hybrid cars of the 90's. Electric cars just don't make sense.

I did a quick calculation myself. If you operate a 100% efficient electric car consuming 100hp for 1 hour per day and you recharge it 100% efficiently with $0.07/kW-hr electricity it would cost you $150 per month. I pulled most of those numbers out of my butt but assuming they're not too far off, not only is this not real economical but if you assume 2 cars per household you've just increased residential electricity consumption by a factor of 5.

The only benefit is that you've changed the source of fuel to something more desirable and improved the energy extraction method.
KevR
May 9, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Let's stick with those numbers - that's going to be a major improvement in things.

First off most folks can then have one electric car for the 90% of their trips to the office or the local stores. And either a gasoline or diesel car or light truck for longer outings or trips to home depot to pick up the 2x4s.

Taking your cue I estimate this allows us to STOP IMPORTING HALF THE OIL we now import...

I view that as a MAJOR MAJOR win. Because as we've seen, there's a hidden double cost to oil, not just at the pump but in the certain forms of govt spending and peoplem, and the enviroment... OIL IS EXPENSIVE -- it just seems cheap when you ignore all those other factors.

And yes we have to generate more electic power for all those electic cars -- and even thought I think dirty coal is probably not the best answer, I'd rather have it from a domestic source first, so fire up the coal plants then if we must to cover the new electric usage... (as I said I prefer a "mix" approach) but even this would be a win in my book to get off the dang imports of oil as much as possible.
Roger Z
May 9, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Actually, Kevin, we'd probably wipe out more domestic oil than imported oil. You get your commodity on a cost curve. The cheapest oil extraction is from Saudi Arabia. Ergo, the last oil we'll stop buying is from Saudi Arabia. The place we'd be most likely to stop importing from is Canada, because tar-sand oil (which we're trying to prevent from being imported anyway right now) is much more expensive. Add to that the fact that we are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign countries for refining oil- chiefly, we're not building refineries here so they are being built offshore where there are limited or no environmental regulations or in the Middle East- and we find ourselves in a situation where even if we get the oil from here, we have to ship it somewhere else to make it use-able.

So, again, are electric cars the answer? We already are the largest consumers of electricity on earth, and we want to potentially increase our electricity consumption by a factor of 5? Does anyone realize how many new power plants that would require? Even a factor of 2 (assuming cars are recharged off-peak, only a portion of cars are electric, etc) is phenomenal.

Here's current electric generation:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat1p1.html

Here's the sources (basically, 17,000 power plants in the U.S.):

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat2p2.html

Here's the forecast:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/figure_7.html

And here's carbon emissions per fuel:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/coefficients.html

From this last chart, it seems that if we change from oil to coal, we're essentially going to make our economy more carbon intensive, not less. And if electric cars increase our energy consumption over and above the forecast by some signficant factor, unless there's a drastic change in energy policies what that means is a lot more coal, a lot more point-source pollution, and I'm sure that we will start running into supply constraints just like we are with oil right now, which means... high prices, high pollution, etc.

So, again, how are electric cars supposed to get us out of this mess? The problem is fundamentally one of economics- the cheapest per unit energy prices are from fossil fuels, and until that dynamic changes (either because nuclear risk management is protected through international markets or government-backed surety bonds, or because emerging technologies provide the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of fossil fuel sources, or fossil fuels become significantly cleaner and still cost effective) all we're really doing is rearranging the deck chairs.

ps- where is John??? I don't want to overtake him, I think I'll stop posting for a while.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 9, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
I still hold that we need to, and by necessity will make a deep change in transportation and community planning paradigms. Both in people and governmental policy - and this latter may be coming down next January.

World economics, the price of oil, and a crumbling and unmaintainable road infrastructure are in a position to join market economics and government transportation and taxing policies to, in the end, dethrone the private auto as the primary means of transport for the American people.

Frankly, trips to the local store should not require a car, electric or otherwise. Nor should commuting to work. If we built and encouraged the building of sustainable communities where these activities could be done by foot, bicycle or trolley/rail, we'd be much better off. Government policy should be, and will likely change in the future to be geared to encourage communities with less eco-footprints. If you think I'm a wishful thinker, just wait.

The electric car is a great improvement. But it is still resource intensive. Let's face it, the long term solution is to diminish the role of the automobile vis-a-vis other forms of transport. I was recently visiting my family in Ft Lauderdale. I was aghast that they would take the car to drive a half a mile to the drug store, a distance that I normally walk to do any chore. Then they complained about the price of gas...

Going back to the purpose of this site, transport to ski areas will likely take a hit in the coming months as $6.00-a-gallon gas becomes a reality, and car parts manufactured overseas get priced in the stratosphere as a result of the anemic US economy and rock-dropping dollar. In the long-term, however, I see an intermodal transport system as the saving grace of American resorts.

jimmy
May 9, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
 Originally Posted By: The Colonel
Many DCSki posters are too young to remember the energy crisis of the 70s. Alternative sources of energy was the buzz! Some folks placed solar heaters on there rooftops to help with heating, usually big bulky units. Lots of talk from the government...little action. Gas and energy became less scarce as the crisis ebbed. Then we threw caution to the winds.
Let's hope we don't repeat this again.
By the way, if the US is the Saudi Arabia for coal...then what will happen is a great exporting of coal causing a price increase due to world demand...followed by higher energy prices in this country since the coal barrons will want the same high price from US energy producers.

A couple of quotes come to mind...
"YOU JUST CAN'T WIN!!
Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress....
But then I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

And by Will Rogers:
"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."


The Colonel \:\)






I remember. Curtailment on new natural gas installations, gas rationing.....we were out of gas......oh we were out of the cheaper gas, once they got the price up there was plenty of more expensive gas...... our imperial government, ha don't care if ur red or blue just a bunch of do nothing lying pocket stuffing thiefs. Got a real charge out of the House hearings where they had five oil executives drop by for an inquisition, what are you going to do about the high price of gasoline the little kings wanted to know but they didn't want to hear the answer, oil men gave them four or five things the guvmint could do that would reduce the price of gas in 30 days but the inquistadores didn't want to hear that. Supply is no more limited than demand. Come up with a real energy policy, confront our good friends in Saudi Arabia and there good friends who are not our good friends with a serious exploration effort, make it easier to expand refinery capacity, get the states together and come up with three or four formulations for the hole country instead of the ninety-two we have now.

Your government does not care, don't blame just Bush, anyone who votes for an incumbent for a federalo office is voting for more of the same. Throw these bums out, if we get more of the same, throw those bums out sooner or later they'll get the message.

Just my humble opinion i could be wrong.
Murphy
May 9, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
From this last chart, it seems that if we change from oil to coal, we're essentially going to make our economy more carbon intensive, not less.


There's more to the equation. According to Wikipedia (sorry, it's the most convenience source), typical internal combustion engines are 20-30% efficient meaning you have to burn 4 BTUs to get 1 BTU of useable energy. Also accornding to Wikipedia, combined cycle powerplants can approach 60% efficiencies. Even after factoring in transmission losses, charging efficiency and the electric motor efficiency, I'd imagine the electric car is more thermodynamically (and carbon) efficient. It's just not cheaper because turning coal into power at the wheels is a lot harder than pouring gas in the tank and turning the key.

But Lou's right. Nothing would beat a good mass transit system....assuming people actually used it.
Roger Z
May 9, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Hey just for the record I mentioned efficiencies in my first rant! ;\)

As usual, I think The Onion pretty much nails the news story, this time on public transportation in the U.S.:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38644

Incidentally, proven oil reserves have more than doubled since 1980:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/crudeoilreserves.xls

And the USGS estimated in 2000 that there may be as much as 3 trillion more barrels of oil that could be added to proven reserves in the next 30 years:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-060/

consumption has only gone up by a third:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/RecentPetroleumConsumptionBarrelsperDay.xls

So, technically, we have more oil today to meet demand than we had a generation ago. The problem is, of course, accessing the supply. Capacity has only increased a little over 6% over the same period:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/table36.xls

It'd be nice to throw stones at Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Canada for not doing more to increase their capacity, but the U.S. isn't exactly leading the charge on this matter since we're prohibiting exploration of large portions of our remaining reserves (edit- actually, we're one of the few countries in the world to have significantly increased our capacity since 1980, it's just that our proven reserves are falling steadily).

It strikes me that sooner or later, the levy is going to break and supply is going to go up. Ironically, it might be a credible threat of a breakthrough technology that does so. Right now, sitting on your oil reserves because you think oil is going to be $200 a barrel in 5 years makes a lot of sense. But if a more efficient form of transport or production energy comes about that would make oil worthless, suddenly all those proven reserves are about as worthwhile as the sand that's sitting on top of them. Maybe that's electric cars. Maybe it's more light rails. Maybe it's something else. Suffice it to say, there's plenty of room for oil prices to go down if capacity expands. If.

Seriously, I'll stop now...
Murphy
May 9, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
As usual, I think The Onion pretty much nails the news story, this time on public transportation in the U.S.:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38644


That was hilarious. I think this sums it up:

"People need to realize that public transportation isn't just for some poor sucker to take to work," Collier said. "He should also be taking it to the shopping mall, the supermarket, and the laundromat."
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 9, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Loved the Onion article... Points out that public transport needs a makeover and in many places it is getting it. And will continue to do so. Better marketing perhaps, building consience among the population that it is not only the responsible thing to do but also chic. Perhaps the metro cars need to have an A&F or Versace themes, or have a Luis Vuitton theme to them... As well as enjoying the same relative subsidies that the highway lobby enjoys. Even then, ridership on the DC Metro is climbing beyond capacity. And not by the poor, but by the well-heeled. Once the Tysons-Dulles line becomes a reality, watch out. Taking the Metro to Versace will be a reality...

The levy will break at the point that it allows maximum profits to the oil companies. And the levy will not break, but the trap doors will only crack open.

Really, the only way we will have an end to the scam is by freeing us of foreign and domestic oil - as much as possible. Additionally, I will say that for many people, including myself, tapping into eco-sensitive zones is a non-starter and this is not up for negotiation.

Transportation is a governmental responsibility and that should be accross the board. If we demand rails be self-sufficient, then roads need to be too, and that means the interstate highway system should be privatized and tolled, just like the Dulles Greenway.

Bringing it to the purpose for this forum, again. The ski resorts will only survive through intermodal transportation. For them to depend on the private auto will be economic suicide in years to come, as gas prices will make it harder for families to travel.

In the same way that we built parkways in the 1930s that were primarily devoted to leisure, we can use public/private finances to build railways to leisure centers from where local transport can take people to and from. Same as Europe.
jimmy
May 9, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
 Originally Posted By: lbotta

Really, the only way we will have an end to the scam is by freeing us of foreign and domestic oil - as much as possible. Additionally, I will say that for many people, including myself, tapping into eco-sensitive zones is a non-starter and this is not up for negotiation.

Transportation is a governmental responsibility and that should be accross the board. If we demand rails be self-sufficient, then roads need to be too, and that means the interstate highway system should be privatized and tolled, just like the Dulles Greenway.

Bringing it to the purpose for this forum, again. The ski resorts will only survive through intermodal transportation. For them to depend on the private auto will be economic suicide in years to come, as gas prices will make it harder for families to travel.



Lou, If Roger were to put you in charge of remedying the situation TODAY free rein and all that, when do you think we would begin to see the results of your efforts? What are we to do in the meantime? We have been producing oil in eco-sensitive zones for years; if you are referring to anwar, we haven't even explored that and i submit that if we began exploration, the supply of oil would increase to encourage u.s. to NOT bring a huge source of DOMESTIC oil online.

As far as travel for skiing, i can tell you that i chose not to make a couple of solo trips this season past because of the cost of fuel, but a solo trip in a car is still cheaper than the train, even if there was one going to ski.
Roger Z
May 9, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
 Quote:
If we demand rails be self-sufficient, then roads need to be too, and that means the interstate highway system should be privatized and tolled, just like the Dulles Greenway.


Actually, roads are self-sufficient, we pay 18.4 cents a gallon to maintain their self-sufficiency, and part of that is diverted into public transportation. Now, the Highway Trust Fund may soon go into deficit, but that could be corrected either by raising the gas tax... or perhaps even cutting off funding public transportation. Regardless, public transportation is the U.S. is dependent on private transportation for its funding, not vice-versa (for now).

Privatizing the roads is a fine idea, if people would agree to jettison the 18.4 cent gas tax at the same time. I'm happy to pay on a flat rate (with the gas tax), and I'm happy to pay on a consumption rate (with road tolling), but I'm not happy with suggestions that we pay twice for the same thing.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/onh2p10.htm

http://www.nemw.org/HWtrustfund.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Highway_Trust_Fund_(United_States)

 Quote:
The levy will break at the point that it allows maximum profits to the oil companies.


About 3/4ths of the proven oil reserves in the world aren't controlled by oil companies, they're controlled by governments. A great case in point is PEMEX in Mexico right now, which is falling apart because of a lack of investment. I agree 100% that companies are in the oil business to maximize profits, but right now governments around the world are standing in the way from letting them do that. This isn't the market that is failing to develop capacity, this is government that is failing. Investment here in the United States is near record-highs, and this is from 2006:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/5761697.html

And when spending falls by the largest oil companies, they lose market share:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071112140720.htm

The next largest oil companies are more than making up for their declining production and investment.

 Quote:
Additionally, I will say that for many people, including myself, tapping into eco-sensitive zones is a non-starter and this is not up for negotiation.


I think this is a false argument for three reasons. First, just about any piece of land on earth can be considered eco-sensitive. Second, most eco-sensitive areas are already being exploited for some gain. I, for instance, did a hike in the ANWR back in 2001. Why should we allow planes to fly into and land on the ANWR and deposit hikers? What about hunting, or the industries that natives are allowed to develop in these regions? Third, and most importantly, eco-sensitive areas are not in a bubble. Even if we forego direct development of the areas, they are profoundly impacted by what we do elsewhere. It's not clear to me that limited, direct activity in an ecologically sensitive area is inherently better or worse than indirect impacts. Each case has to be considered in and of itself to make that type of judgment- in other words, there ought to be room for negotiation at least some of the time, particularly when considering "either/or" frameworks and trade-offs.

All this said, I'm not opposed to further intermodal development, if for no other reason than a portfolio of transportation options allows you better "hedging" against future risks and shocks. Similarly, that to me is the most appealing argument for electric cars- why not diversify our transport fuel options, just in case things turn out much worse or we're wrong? And perhaps ski resorts on a rail line will fare better than ski resorts not on a rail line. If an Amtrak comes near the resort, why not promote it?
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 9, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Jimmy, changes don't happen overnight. Especially changes is socio-economic-political paradigms of national magnitude.

In the 1910s, Los Angeles had about one of the best mass transport systems on the planet. It took 15 years for the National City Lines, a subsidiary of GM, to dismantle it. The same was done to almost all major cities in the US. It was aided even by military planners, who considered sprawl as a national interest (it would avoid an American version of Dresden). In any case, changing to a more efficient form of transportation would require a significant investment and effort even with the change in paradigms. It is also a fact that so many communities are car dependent.

Transitioning to an "urban village" concept is taking place accross the nation. It will take, however, coordinated resources by all players.

Still, given that we're in a ski site, leisure transport should be a subsidized responsibility of both private and public efforts. If we spend moneys on a national park, access to that park should also merit expenditures to ensure its access by the general population. We already do it with roads. Getting rid of the private auto is a pipe dream. But what is reachable is an inter modal transportation network that will give you a choice. Especially at $6.00 a gallon
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
May 9, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,100 posts
Technical question about electric cars?
We all know that flashlight, etc. batteries when left out in the cold are less efficient and lose energy much more quickly than in the summer....what about electric car batteries? Are they less efficient in the winter, perhaps to the point that they could not be driven long distances in extremely colder climes like the mountains?
The Colonel \:\)
bawalker
May 10, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
The interesting thing is that due to the size of this country and the personal freedom's that people enjoy, a redesigning of communities and mass transit would only work in suburbs of large populated areas. First geographically this couldn't work everywhere without having dedicated high speed rail lines to connect rural areas to more metropolitan areas such as this area of WV to northern VA.

The second and more difficult issue that I see as preventing any complete makeover in this country would be many who would feel that would encroach on their personal freedoms. Telling someone you need to take mass transit to work, to get groceries, to do all things close to you, and use that to go home on, well makes many feel like their personal freedoms and liberties are being infringed on. I could see communities like that in the more populated areas but that is all the further they could extend and would have to co-exist with the rural areas.
KevR
May 10, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Roger you can quote proven reserves all you want but its production that matters, and production at a cost pt we are used to. And there we be now - with production at least at a plateau, and an increasing cost of pulling more crude out of the ground or trying to make it out of oil shales or other low-quality forms. Further I'd argue the current cost is an illusion anyway as we have to spend other monies to keep the supply going and there's a hidden environmental cost not accounted for too. Oil was only cheap when were a gross exporter of oil... it low cost a dillusion since our fields peaking in production in the 70s.

In the end -- the bottom line to me is in fact we *can* reorganize our society differently and we should endeavor to do so -- and there we have many options.

We need to consider them carefully but the current "system" is untenable, and not even particularly good.

We can do better and we should try to do so.
Roger Z
May 11, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Kevin, I never said that costs don't matter, as a matter of fact that's how I concluded my previous post. That said- do you have a table showing extraction costs of various oils around the world? I'd be very interested in seeing it. Also- can you show us the change in costs of extraction over the last 20 or 30 years? All I know is they've gone down and continue to go down, that's true generally for commodities which is why commodity prices by-and-large get cheaper over time. That's why we have deep sea rigs drilling 11,000 feet down into the ocean right now and the Canadian tar sands are coming on line. That's one reason why proven reserves continue to rise- because the feasibility of extraction is increasing.

Now, your desire to see society reorganized is commendable, but since you've hit the nail on the head about our current conditions- what are the costs and effects, namely- I need to ask: what exactly are you proposing? What do you think is better? What are the costs and benefits associated with your idea?

It's funny how people who think that we "can" do better with rare exceptions (such as Lou) propose anything at all. Easier to just wave your hand in the air and say that it's so, I suppose. The alternative is to propose something and see it shot to death very quickly- like windmills in the Appalachians, for example.

So, just because I'm a masochist, here's my "better world," because despite appearances to the contrary, I think we ought to be working toward a more diversified world for energy as well. I think we should set a national goal of quadrupling our net energy from nuclear power over the next 30 years (but I'm not sure the economics or political will are there). I think we should open the California and Florida coasts to further oil and natural gas exploration, and use the mineral right proceeds to finance additional research into green technology such as solar panels and hydro-powered cars (there is a proposal to do just that in the House right now, but again I think this a is dead-on-arrival issue). I think we should be developing cleaner coal and cleaner refineries, which is why I support the Holcomb Power Station expansion and the new refinery they're trying to build in South Dakota (but again, both of these are practically dead now because the opposition simply says "there is no clean coal," "there are no clean refineries"). I support cleaner uses of existing technology because I see what's going on in the developing world and realize that if we truly believe fossil fuels are creating an ecological crisis, our only hope in the near term is to be able to give them something better to use for their energy sources. Creating a more friendly environment for refineries keeps them from offshoring to countries with even fewer environmental restrictions, and in addition works us toward that elusive "energy independence" that we talk about but will never achieve. I'd like to see cars get better gas mileage, whether that's through new materials in their construction, hybridization, or electric vehicles, at a cost that is affordable for most Americans. I realize the first generation vehicles are not likely to meet the affordability criteria, but there has to be some model to get the mass produced or the technology is nothing more than a new toy for the rich.

I would like to see per-capita carbon neutral growth achieved here in the U.S. in the next 10 years without compromising our economic growth. As it is, from 1996 to 2005 our per-capita carbon growth was only .2% per year, so we're close. Getting to per-capita carbon neutral growth is the first step toward negative per-capita carbon growth that doesn't compromise our economics, which might be achieveable in the next 15-20 years, which is the next step toward getting toward an economically viable market where net carbon growth is negative. I think nuclear power is an imperative for achieving any of this.

I would very much welcome a paradigm-shift in energy sources. However, you never see those things coming. I'm not even going to try to guess where or when that might come. My hope is the United States creates it, whenever it is created. In this "vision" I have for our society, I am completely open to seeing all these things go away in favor of whatever this new energy source might be. But I'm not going to try to think this through where, in the middle of the equation, I write "then a miracle happens" and the answer works itself out.

All that said, I'm not even sure the political will is there to see through what I would hope we could achieve, and it is a pretty minimalist vision. And I think the economics is still largely in favor of what exists now, at least for the time being.

All that said, it's a beautiful day so I'm driving my gas-guzzling truck over to a nearby state park to go hiking. See ya.
KevR
May 12, 2008
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Look -- the argument that oil is somehow the cheapest solution economically so that therefore this is why we use it -- I would say is a fallacy.

Yes this was surely true when we consumed only our own oil but now that we import the bulk of it, you can just as surely see that the costs of keeping it "cheap at the pump" have risen in other ways -- not directly accounted for at the pump.

Therefore oil is in fact even more expensive than the market directly says its current value is, and its more expensive by a lot.

If you take just that hidden cost which we can surely agree upon, and leave out the environmental aspects entirely which are another cost factor -- I say that we are in fact not really using oil any longer because its "just the cheapest source of energy."

Therefore in fact at the core of it, all I'm proposing is a return to a rational model for energy production in the US with a real use cost being reflected at the point of sale.

That seems like a simple and reasonable expectation to have really.

No utopian dreaming needed.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
May 12, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,334 posts
The real cost would include the cost of our foreign policy such as our Iraq misadventure.
However, can you think a more plentiful (currently) source of energy that can be used for personnal transportion? One cup of gasoline can transport 6 people in an autombile, 1.5 miles. What other source of energy that costs no more than bottled water can do that? Ethanol is not it...we can't grow enough plant matter to replace gasoline. Hydrogen is plentiful but it takes more engery to extract it than it produces. Natural gas...not enough supply.
Electric cars, possible...but they have range limitations and we don't have the infrastructure to fuel them on a large scale. I heard recently of a plan to use compressed air at 450psi to propel a car (100 mile range supposedly on $0.40 worth of compressed air)
So you see, we are stuck between a rock and hard place or maybe more appropriately "up shits creek without a paddle". Can you say "ride my bike",

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070330100802.htm
jimmy
May 12, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
yup snowsmith we are stuck, time to pull the plug on ethanol.

I think a policy promoting hybrid is a better way to go forward but again we are stuck until someone builds a better battery, cracks hydrogen and builds some nukeulear plants. I'd rather subsidize a solution to the battery problem than grow food to burn.
bawalker
May 13, 2008
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
What I'm afraid needs to be looked at is that coal and oil and 'fossil fuels' simply aren't going away. I know the enviro crowd will always be jumping down the throats of anyone who does anything they don't like, including stepping on that ant on the sidewalk which would be animal cruelty. But I believe we have to just collectively as a nation come together and focus on several things. Start building/repairing our refineries and giving us the capacity to refine crude oil that is imported for the moment. Second, focus on more oil exploration on our own soil and in our own waters. I'm sure moose aren't going to worry about walking under, around or over more pipelines in the Alaskan region.

Personally I'm more worried about seeing the needs of American citizens and families are met than worrying about whether I'm stepping on the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing per the environmentalists agenda.

Now before the flaming arrows start getting flung my way, I am NOT "pro destroy everything in my path". Rather when a decision is to be made between providing for working american families or whether to not provide for them to keep something environmental the way it is... no brainer of a choice. The lives of american citizens come first.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
May 13, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
 Originally Posted By: bawalker


Now before the flaming arrows start getting flung my way, I am NOT "pro destroy everything in my path". Rather when a decision is to be made between providing for working american families or whether to not provide for them to keep something environmental the way it is... no brainer of a choice. The lives of american citizens come first.


I don't think anyone will be throwing stones, arrows or paraphernalia of their choice your way. After all, we should be able to converse without name calling or playing "star wars".

However, as the price of a barrel of oil is about to reach $127.00 today, and even as yesterday, the presumptive nominee of the party in power manifested his strong break with the incumbent on the issue of the need for alternative fuels and conservation and our non-signature of the Kyoto Protocols, and considering the more than even chances that the opposition party may run the government after January, the writing is on the wall. There will be huge changes in the way we transport ourselves. Sooner or later, for whatever reason we use transport, be it to commute to work, leisure travel that affects us as skiers, or for vital needs such as making our homes habitable. These changes will finally be permanent.

I say finally because I strongly believe that we have been living way beyond our means vis-a-vis a resource-responsible social order. And as a result, we have become used to luxuries which we will ill afford in the future, as oil reaches stratospheric levels, as our ability to print money to finance this order becomes more limited as the faith and credit of our money falters in foreign exchanges, as the Euro replaces the dollar as the medium of exchange for oil transactions worldwide, and as we, alone, are forced to pay for a war which we should have never entered, and which may do to our economy what the Afghanistan invasion in the '70s did to the Soviets.

Now, Brad, I will say that it is me who will be the recipient of the vitriol. However, I hold that we have indeed been living a pipe dream built on sand castles. Getting in a car and riding a distance of two blocks to Walmart is not a responsible action. Building sprawling 7 thousand square foot houses along a thousand square miles with no other option than to get in a car to do the most minimal action, is not a responsible social action. Paving the most fertile land in our country and then complaining that we have to buy Mexican carrots and lettuce is not logical. I see our people waking up from the cheap-oil drunken stupor in which we have been for the last 50 years

We can simply not afford these luxuries any more. It is a fact that things are going to change and we can either join the change and try to influence it, ameliorating the less desirable aspects of this change, or we can sandbag the change and the next thing we know, the wave of change will sweep us downstream with no input into its intricacies.

I have said it a thousand times and say it again. Our transportation paradigms must change. Our transportation systems will have to include intermodal, and this means non-automobile. This will actually benefit the rural areas as well as urban areas. As in everything in our country, it will be a combination of the private sector and the public sector with support from the population.

Take airline transportation for example: With current prices, a normal passenger plane spends a dollar a second on gas. With over 10.3 million flights per year in the US, just imagine the amount of money and fuel involved. Double the price of JP-4 and that will make airline travel much more expensive in the future. Rail may not get cheaper, but compared with plane it will be a bargain.

I see passenger rail making a furious comeback. I am in total agreement with Roger than management of Amtrak needs to get its act together. However, I see the cost of fuel making both car and airplane travel much more costly, and I see the need to ameliorate the impact by other-than car transport.

Alvin and Heidi Toffler wrote several magnificent books, Future Shock and The Third Wave among them, and I find some amazing parallels. The change will take time. There will be adjustments. But the resiliency of the human character will prevail.

And yes, the ski train to Snowshoe will happen... \:\)
tromano
May 13, 2008
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
 Originally Posted By: bawalker
Now before the flaming arrows start getting flung my way, I am NOT "pro destroy everything in my path". Rather when a decision is to be made between providing for working american families or whether to not provide for them to keep something environmental the way it is... no brainer of a choice. The lives of american citizens come first.


I think the issue is that no one is really playing it straight with the American worker. The reality is that gas has been increasing at many times the rate of inflation for many years. And it will probably keep increasing, unless something changes. The supply of oil isn't endless, I will probably see the end of the internal combustion engine in my lifetime and even if oil were limitless, there are certain environmental consequences to keep in mind as well, that I will also see probably in my life time.
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