Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 7, 2006
By: Christina Larson

GREENSPAN FOR HYBRIDS... This morning Alan Greenspan testified before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on the end of cheap oil ("The energy abundance on which this nation was built is over"), our economic vulnerability, and the need to "wean ourselves off gasoline." On this last matter, where to focus attention and funding ... corn ethanol? Pah! We couldn't harvest and process enough corn domestically to make a significant dent in fuel demand. More drilling sites? "It makes no sense to go out and try to find new sources," Greenspan said, as the percentage of worldwide reserves open to international oil companies is fast shrinking. Hydrogen cars? Didn't even come up. If you're a betting (or investing) man, concentrate on energy-efficiency and honing technology for cellulostic ethanol and plug-in hybrids. Says Al.

Christina Larson 5:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (104)

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Christina Larson: If you're a betting (or investing) man, concentrate on energy-efficiency and honing technology for cellulostic ethanol and plug-in hybrids. Says Al.

Invest in public transportation, both locally as well as high-speed intercity passenger railroads. Create pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods and cities.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

ditto what S.A. said.

Posted by: cleek on June 7, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Now that he is out of government, I guess Alan feels that he can be honest.

Posted by: Norman on June 7, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Cellulosic ethanol has the minor drawback that nobody's made it work on a large scale yet. And if you go plug-ins you're going to need a lot more grid.

Posted by: Tim on June 7, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

double ditto !!

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." Buckminster Fuller

Posted by: daCascadian on June 7, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

What AlG said is exactly what The Base doesnt want to hear.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 7, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Public transportation is great.
But, wherever you go,
there is a significant anti lobby.
Guarantee, Public Transit won't be first on the list.

http://lightrailnow.org/home.htm

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 7, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Also, legalize "Neighborhood Electric Vehicles". According to the US Department of Energy:

Neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), or low-speed vehicles (LSVs), are compact, one- to four-passenger vehicles powered by rechargeable batteries and electric motors.

On June 17, 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially recognized NEVs as a form of transportation. Since then, 37 states have passed legislation allowing these vehicles to be driven on roads with posted speed limits of 35 miles per hour or lower.

NEVs are designed for drivers traveling short distances at slow speeds where traffic, parking, and air pollution may be concerns. An NEV is a cost-effective solution to these problems because it is more compact than a conventional vehicle and requires less space to park and less space on the road. Like a full-size EV, an NEV is a zero emission vehicle and produces no tailpipe or evaporative emissions.

States that have not already legalized NEVs should do so. For example, I could buy a GEM Car at a dealer in northern Virginia, where they are street legal on roads with speed limits of 35MPH or less, but I could not drive it in Maryland, where I live, because Maryland has not legalized them.

NEVs are not for everyone or for all driving needs, but for a lot of local urban and suburban driving needs, e.g. commuting and light shopping trips, they are great. I could use a NEV for virtually all of my day-to-day driving, and save my 50MPG gas-guzzling 1991 Ford Festiva for long highway trips.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Tim wrote: And if you go plug-ins you're going to need a lot more grid.

Not necessarily. Plug-in electric or hybrid cars would typically be charged from house current overnight. The "grid" for that is already in place, and at night there is unused generating capacity from power plants that are built to supply the greater daytime demands but which cannot be shut down overnight.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like I picked the wrong time to buy a 6 mpg SUV.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 7, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK
States that have not already legalized NEVs should do so. For example, I could buy a GEM Car at a dealer in northern Virginia, where they are street legal on roads with speed limits of 35MPH or less, but I could not drive it in Maryland, where I live, because Maryland has not legalized them.

Legalizing them is not enough; planning communities so that they are a viable option is also needed. Plenty of places where you might like to use them, you can't get more than a few blocks without having to traverse a 45 mph artery, making a vehicle legal only for routes with a 35mph or lower limit useless.

OTOH, a lot of what it takes to make areas NEV friendly could be easily combined with making them more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, too.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 7, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Correction to my comment about Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. According to the website of FeelGood Cars, a NEV manufacturer, "Maryland has passed LSV [Low Speed Vehicle] legislation and allows NEVs to operate on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph and lower according to Maryland Statutes, Transportation Code 11-130.1, 21-313, 21-1123, 22-101."

According to the map on their site, the only states that have not passed some form of LSV legislation are Idaho, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

For all of the saber rattling and war-mongering of late, the fact is, as was articulated in the Stewart discussion, the key to Americas reliance on oil, apart from the ability to afford an increasingly expensive commodity, is regional stability. The war talk and neo-con expansionist rhetoric was wildly dangerous and illogical. Even if one could justify an interventionist war for oil against a nation which presented no compelling threat to national security, the sad fact was instability set in motion from such an adventure doomed it to failure on strategic grounds. The underlying strategic construct of American doctrinal heritage was regional stability. I think also there was a defacto tactical genius born of war in Southeast Asia that understood how intrinsically vulnerable oil production, distribution, refinement, and extraction was; i.e. there was no guaranteed means to support any oil fields seized in hostile Islamic nations. Western nations were absolutely hamstrung by there status as crusading infidels. The Realpolitik was that regional stability was the one essentiality. Any instability would cripple oil supplies. The Oil Embargo was launched from a position of utter strengthany interventional invasion would have guaranteed a generational war. Our supposedly tough negotiating stance on Iran was crippled by the facts on the ground. Maintaining oil supplies is already a tenuous, possibly unsustainable prospect. The page that has turned without our collective acknowledgment is that we can no longer rely on oil to fuel our economy. Whether we concede this point or not, it is now ground truth. We are a single crisis away from complete disaster with regard to oil supplies. We must now put alternative energy sources as the National Priority and spend whatever resources we can to make it an indigenous and exportable capability. We have diffuse alternative capabilities already, and must use electricity as the first stop gap, recognizing that wind, solar, wave and nuclear power must be considered the best technological bridge currently available, with national priority programs in geothermal, fusion and efficient hydrogen extraction coming next. But has to be done. Tomorrow is here already.

Posted by: Sparko on June 7, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Teluride bismuth.

Convert static electricity into AC. Ok, that is a fiction.

Posted by: John Galt on June 7, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm tellin' you guys, the future belongs to dilithium crystals.

Posted by: trex on June 7, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

One other thing that needs to be moved to the top of the list of need to do NOW is telecommuting in a big way

Quit moving the large mass items (auto w/human) to the almost mass-less items (information) & instead move the almost mass-less items (information) to the human; not everyone can do this but a very large percentage of the work force can (more & more every day)

Of course this will be resisted by those that parrot ReThuglican BabblePoints & their commercial real estate masters/string pullers

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." - John Maynard Keynes

Posted by: daCascadian on June 7, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

A hundred years ago solar pumps were developed and used in the SW, but the technology was lost due to the cheap cost of petrol. If you can pump water up with solar and when it falls spin a turbine, would not that solve many of our energy problems?

Posted by: Powerpuff on June 7, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

excuse some of the typos above, and the sheer volume of concepts and words (listening to Joe Farrell solo). Basically there is no way to adequately support the expansive lines of communication, supply, distribution etc., against terrorists or jihadist enemies. I would further say that some of the oil oligarchies from Venezuela to Iran are not worth supporting with our hard borrowed dollars . . .

Posted by: Sparko on June 7, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why not sugar cane? Brazil has made it work, and the energy gain is about 20X that from corn-based EtOH.

Posted by: Daryl Cobranchi on June 7, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone ask the weasel about his earlier recommendation for Adjustable Rate Mortguages?

Did he EVER need to get a home loan himself?

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on June 7, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

trex: I'm tellin' you guys, the future belongs to dilithium crystals.

Yeah, sure. Never heard of ODCEP? (Organization of Dilithium Crystal Exporting Planets).

If we don't wean ourselves off them soon, some of those planets in the "neutral zone" will own us.

Posted by: alex on June 7, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Plug-in electric or hybrid cars would typically be charged from house current overnight. The "grid" for that is already in place, and at night there is unused generating capacity from power plants that are built to supply the greater daytime demands but which cannot be shut down overnight.
Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

The nighttime charging of electric cars would definately change how the grid works today - the grid would have peak loads at night instead of peak loads during the day.

I've been working on converting a car to electric, and one of the ideas I've come up with to dump solar power into the system, is to have a spare battery pack. Charge one pack during one day, while I discharge the other in my commute. Swap to the fully-charged pack the next day, and charge the depleted one.
The problem is the logistics of swapping battery packs. No matter how you design the bay for holding the pack, no matter how you design the pack, and the connectors, you're still talking about something like 300 lbs.

But this takes reliance off the grid (at least on sunny days), and batteries will last longer (same number of charges), and the ability to charge the vehicle in a short amount of time is improved.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 7, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sparko wrote: excuse some of the typos above, and the sheer volume of concepts and words (listening to Joe Farrell solo).

Funny, I would have guessed Art Tatum.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Is this the same Al Greenspan who advised folks to load up on adjustable rate mortgages a year or so ago? Yeah, he's our pal, he's looking out for us, you betcha.....

Me, I'd kinda like to see the Feds encourage a high-speed, transcontinental passenger rail network. And a petroleum tax designed to guarantee a predictable (but gradually rising) floor price for oil should have been levied decades ago. but I reckon these are way too socialistic for an old Randian like Al.

Posted by: sglover on June 7, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting points, Sparko. (Although maybe you could break up your text a bit, eh?)

When you look at these things objectively, perhaps the last few years of craven stupidity have had a value, in that an increasing number of people may be able to see that, ideology aside, this shit ain't workin'.

Ditto on the Bucky Fuller quote. If the Republifatcat party is going to keep gaming the system as their substitute for actual policy, maybe we just have to put politics on the back burner and come up with systems that work. Then we can watch all the Cheney-lovers get coronaries on the spot.

Posted by: Kenji on June 7, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

OBF wrote: I've been working on converting a car to electric ...

What kind of car? What kind of batteries?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Reducing speed limits on interstate highways from 75 mph to 65 would conserve a lot of gas. Going 65 on a level road with light wind & 2 passengers my Prius gets 52 mpg according to the readout on the dash. Go 75 and you're down to 45mpg. I didn't realize what a big difference it makes until I got a car that displays fuel consumption.

Posted by: segi on June 7, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Segi, are you trying to rehabilitate Nixon's image? Perhaps those not around in the 70's do not know Nixon mandated 55 mph speed limit on all interstate highways.

Posted by: Powerpuff on June 7, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Why not sugar cane? Brazil has made it work, and the energy gain is about 20X that from corn-based EtOH.

Posted by: Daryl Cobranchi

We can't grow enough of it in our prevailing climate to make it work, but maybe as the alternative fuels issue gets more attention, it'll attract the funding (governement and VC) to make cellulose ethanol practical.

Posted by: cyntax on June 7, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

it was Carter, not Nixon. And 65 is a more palatable compromise. Less than 60 you get diminishing returns. Most highways on the interstate system weren't designed for speeds over 65 anyway. Oregon never upped their limits above 65.

Posted by: segi on June 7, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

If you can pump water up with solar and when it falls spin a turbine, would not that solve many of our energy problems?

If you are using photovoltaic cells to pump the water, then you still need an energy source to create the PV cells.

Posted by: Edo on June 7, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

I just bought a gallon of Canadian whiskey for $15.99. We could always go that way couldn't we?

I don't mean burn it.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 7, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

We have diffuse alternative capabilities already, and must use electricity as the first stop gap, recognizing that wind, solar, wave and nuclear power must be considered the best technological bridge currently available, with national priority programs in geothermal, fusion and efficient hydrogen extraction coming next. But has to be done. Tomorrow is here already.

Posted by: Sparko on June 7, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Efficient hydrogen extraction is already here. I found out that running fuel cells in reverse can approach 70% efficiency.

Posted by: bblog on June 7, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Convert static electricity into AC. Ok, that is a fiction. Posted by: John Galt

Actually, that would be friction.

While we need some grand, infrastructure schemes to take care of things in general, it's pathetic how little use is made of smaller measures that, when taken together, do make a difference.

After the 1973 oil embargo, the nation went whole hog at the residential and commercial level to increase insulation to decrease energy needed for both heating and cooling. We saw a tremendous savings in a short amount of time with this, and the government, big nasty 'ol nanny-state, led the way on this mandating standards and easing the costs for homeowners to increase insulation. Since that time, we've pretty much done nothing. People still scoff at solar power, yet if every house built in the Sun Belt, Great Basin, and Intermountain region since the mid-1970s had used even solar water heaters, the savings would have been substantial. Now, you can practically run a 2,000SF house on solar power in these areas.

There are even things that can be added to highrise buildings to reduce both water and power consumption that have yet to be mandated.

None of these things by themselves are the solution. But together they do amount to savings that in a relatively short period of time mitigate the upfront costs.

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

How about canoes, rafts, and dugouts for those living along the coast? I mean for when the glaciers come undone ...

Posted by: 5 on June 7, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

This country was built upon cheap energy and by God it's going to stay that way even if we have to borrow the money from the Chinese to do it.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 7, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

I just bought a gallon of Canadian whiskey for $15.99. We could always go that way couldn't we?
I don't mean burn it.
Posted by: Where's osama on June 7, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

True.

The more whiskey people drink, the less they can drive. I think you're onto something there. . .

If I drank a liter of whiskey every day, that would save at least two gallons of gasoline.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 7, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone ask the weasel about his earlier recommendation for Adjustable Rate Mortguages?
Did he EVER need to get a home loan himself?
Posted by: Hedley Lamarr

Actually, 'ol Al gets his own special ring of hell for green-lighting the first tax cuts with his idiotic insistance that it wasn't a good idea to pay down the national debt with the budget surpluses.

What an asshole. The only thing he was an expert at was spinning in the wind with the newest administration.

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

What about switchgrass as an alternative to corn-based ethanol?

I've been hearing a lot about switchgrass lately. Al Weed, Democratic candidate for Congress in VA's 5th district, is a big proponent of switchgrass as an alternative energy source.

Posted by: Maura on June 7, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

55 mph was set in 1974, ie, Nixon, not Carter.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

What kind of car? What kind of batteries?
Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 7, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

VW Karmann Ghia. Haven't worked out what batteries to use yet. Or motor. But I want to avoid using a mechanical transaxle.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 7, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

What about switchgrass as an alternative to corn-based ethanol?Posted by: Maura

That's a cellulose-based version of ethanol. It's been mentioned. That is what Brazil is doing with sugar cane, which is a member of the grass family.

Posted by: JeffII on June 7, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

this is a good place for me to repost:

www.doegenomestolife.org/biofuels,

and Science, vol 312, p. 1277, available at www.sciencemag.org.

a quote from the latter: "... the [US] could sustainably produce 130 billion gallons of fuel ethanol from biomass [per year]. In addition to a positive effect on the release of greenhouse gases, a biofuels program on this scale would have substantial economic and strategic advantages." Professor Chris Somerville, Stanford University.

The US currently uses 140 billion gallons of fuel for ground transportation per year; the fuel has higher energy density, but 130 billion gallons of ethanol still goes a long way.

Posted by: republicrat on June 7, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Invest in public transportation, both locally as well as high-speed intercity passenger railroads. Create pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods and cities.

And find a way to make middle-class families stop being afraid of sending their children to urban public schools (aka fear of Negroes).

Posted by: Vincent on June 7, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Vincent: Interesting comment. Where do your children go to school? Is it here in Washington, D.C. where I live, or in another urban area?

Posted by: Harmon on June 7, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Pierre-

Public transportation is great.
But, wherever you go,
there is a significant anti lobby.

The "Columbus(OH) Metro-area" currently has about 1.5 million people... fully half of which do not live in Columbus and/or Franklin County.

Projections over the next twenty years show that 80% of the new growth(about 600k) in this region will also be outside the 'city'/'county' area (over 500k outside, less than 100k inside...).

Where do we put the trains... and who actually gets to pay for them?

I'm not "anti"-- But, I also have no desire to 'sudsidize' your fetish. May I suggest this to fulfill your fantasies?


Posted by: fletch on June 7, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Automobiles and sprawl are heavily subsidized today and have been for over 50 years.

Posted by: jefff on June 7, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

I agree. What inner city is your child schooled in, Vincent, and please tell me which school.

I am a liberal Democrat, but comments like Vincent's are the exact type of nonsense that contributes to Americans' rejection of Democrats. If I don't want to send my 5 year old daughter to a corrupt, inefficient, underachieving, substandard, dangerous, inner city school, I hate negroes.

Posted by: Pat on June 7, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

There's no railroad tracks in Columbus?
I'd complain if I were you.
Every other effin city in N America is crawlin' with 'em.

Have a Nice Day.

[That's a great game btw, I got it for Xmas]

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 7, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe the committee is talking to Greenspan and not talking to Al Gore. Don't they realize he has been right about energy for all these years?

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on June 7, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Segi, but Powerpuff is closer to the truth. CONGRESS mandated the 55 mph speed limit in March of 1974 for states that wished to have federal highway funds. Nixon signed it, but it wasn't an executive order. The funny thing is that most Americans believe that Jimmy Carter was somehow responsible for the 55 mph limit. I've never understood why that is. Nixon actually was a conservationist conservative. Signed the bill creating the EPA and signed the bill calling for reduced speed limits to conserve gasoline. Too bad today's conservatives don't believe in conservation or conserving...

Posted by: exgop on June 7, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, that should have been signed into law in 1973 and most states complied by March of '74.

Posted by: exgop on June 7, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

exgop, my take is that most USAmericans forget that the first oil shock was in 73, and simply roll it and all that it produced into the Carter years.

Posted by: Disputo on June 7, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

And find a way to make middle-class families stop being afraid of sending their children to urban public schools (aka fear of Negroes).

In each metropolitan area that I lived in, my wife and I chose to live near high ranking, racially integrated public schools. We paid a substantial housing premium to be able to do this. Dislike of bad schools is not the same as fear of Negroes, but most people of lesser income, non-Negroes and Negroes alike, are generally stuck near the poorly-performing schools. Negro parents are more likely to support voucher systems than are Negro public school teachers.

Posted by: republicrat on June 7, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm too tired to read through all of this thread, but did anyone mention biodiesel?

Posted by: Ringo on June 7, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

No Biodiesel

Just Switchgrass, Corn, Canadian Whiskey and electricity.

Go for it, Biodiesel for 500

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot dilithium crystals too.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 7, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

a quote from the latter: "... the [US] could sustainably produce 130 billion gallons of fuel ethanol from biomass [per year]. In addition to a positive effect on the release of greenhouse gases, a biofuels program on this scale would have substantial economic and strategic advantages." Professor Chris Somerville, Stanford University.Patzek's ethanol critique began during a freshman seminar he taught in which he and his students calculated the energy balance of the biofuel. Taking into account the energy required to grow the corn and convert it into ethanol, they determined that burning the biofuel as a gasoline additive actually results in a net energy loss of 65 percent. Later, Patzek says he realized the loss is much more than that even.

"Limiting yourself to the energy balance, and within that balance, just the fossil fuel used, is just scraping the surface of the problem," he says. "Corn is not 'free energy.'"

This in in dispute:

Posted by: bblog on June 7, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

quote from the latter: "... the [US] could sustainably produce 130 billion gallons of fuel ethanol from biomass [per year]. In addition to a positive effect on the release of greenhouse gases, a biofuels program on this scale would have substantial economic and strategic advantages." Professor Chris Somerville, Stanford University.

This in in dispute:

Patzek's ethanol critique began during a freshman seminar he taught in which he and his students calculated the energy balance of the biofuel. Taking into account the energy required to grow the corn and convert it into ethanol, they determined that burning the biofuel as a gasoline additive actually results in a net energy loss of 65 percent. Later, Patzek says he realized the loss is much more than that even.

"Limiting yourself to the energy balance, and within that balance, just the fossil fuel used, is just scraping the surface of the problem," he says. "Corn is not 'free energy.'"

Posted by: bblog on June 7, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Design a helmet that captures the methane which is exuded by the scalps of Republicans. Connect it to a converter and burn it to power their SUVs.
Simple.

Posted by: trueblue on June 7, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

The nearest shop where I can buy a gallon of milk is a mile and a half away, reached via a four lane road with cars going 55 miles an hour, with no bicycle lane, and no curb lawn to protect pedestrians. And that's the way the people in this city want it, or they would change it.

So what are you going to do to make energy efficiency attractive to people who think it is not American, and tantamount to tree hugging or being gay?

Perhaps we can push the Biblical imperative of stewardship in order to get their attention. Or figure out how Enron or Exxon can make a helluva lot of money off of conservation.

Posted by: KazooGuy on June 7, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

When I go out and about in America...
He is what I SEE...

Yeah... SEE:

A bunch of fat people in a hurry.

Suggestion: Get a bike.
Suggestion: Get a life off the corporate treadmill.

Why?

Because the life you are leading is:

1) Ugly.
2) Killing you.

By the way: Greenspan ain't man enough to tell you this. Nor is Al Gore. Nor is any other politician in American.

And no... I am not sorry to bring you the truth.

Posted by: koreyel on June 7, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

bblog: Patzek's ethanol critique began during a freshman seminar he taught in which he and his students calculated the energy balance of the biofuel. Taking into account the energy required to grow the corn and convert it into ethanol, they determined that burning the biofuel as a gasoline additive actually results in a net energy loss of 65 percent. Later, Patzek says he realized the loss is much more than that even.

A review in Science, that I posted last spring when it came out, disputed that, and said that ethanol from corn starch is a net energy gain. Science requires a subscription, so if you want to read it you have to search the Science archives and then pay.

However, Somerville and the doegenomestolife are talking mostly about cellulosic ethanol. some of the research that is required is to develop better yeasts and more easily digestible plants (such as Pres. Bush's much derided switchgrass.)

Posted by: republicrat on June 7, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

* In February of '94, Greenspan stood up and claimed the economy was overheating, which he claimed would without a doubt lead to renewed inflation, therefore he needed to dramatically raise interest rates. Over the next year, he raised interest rates 8 times. Unfortunately for the Fed Chairman, the economy continued to expand robustly, and simultaneously, the inflation rates continued their decline.

* On December 5th, 1996, Greenspan warned of impending doom in his "irrational exuberance" speech, when the DOW was at 6,437.

I would do the OPPOSITE of whatever Greenspan advocates.
.

Posted by: VJ on June 8, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Any hybrid I buy will be converted to plug-in. The best way to power the grid is with nuclear power. Why? Because disposing of the waste is a non-problem that has been irrationally inflated.
All nuclear waste degrades (decomposes) itself. Some of it quickly becomes inert and harmless. All of it eventually becomes nothing worse than heavy dirt, but for a very small percentage of the waste, even in ten thousand years it could still be fatal in very extreme and unusual concentrations, and a very insignificant area would be at any risk whatsoever. Picture a food warehouse catching fire. There is a measurable danger that firefighters could be smothered by exploding popcorn.
The bottom line--in 10,000 years, who really cares? If humans are living then they will probably be so advanced any fixing they need to do of a leak problem would be a snap. If we have regressed to primitivism, some people will have their dream condition. Humans have lived around and amidst extreme pockets of local radioactivity before. For some of us, we only need to go down into the basement. Big Deal.

Posted by: Mike Cook on June 8, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

The Prof. Somerville quote uses the politically charged term "sustainably." Unlike most political buzzwords, however, it does have meaning. Given that economic "growth" is a precondition to political survival in modern human society, it's also true that most of us are not of a mindset to accept the full implications of sustainable. The lifeforms we know that most aggressively pursue a "sustainable" survival strategy are probably bacteria living in old rock several kilometers below the surface. Such crust-inhabiting bacteria could well account for the majority share of our planet's biomass.

So why aren't we taking the kids to microbiology zoos?

Even the experts are just learning about the laid-back lifestyles of these little guys. For example, bacteria taken under sterile conditions from deep mines in South Africa may come from colonies as old as 50 million years, so for them all human existence is a mere bump in the road (and even an all-out thermonuclear nuclear war would be less than a sneeze). Indeed, they may even be able to utilize energy from radioactive decay the way plants on the surface use sunlight. Perhaps the most interesting thing about them is the richness of their genetic legacy and the fact they may spend as much as a third of all their enegy on maintaining it. What condition changes are they waiting for? Who else bothers to remember back over two billion years to the time before the Earth's atmosphere had oxygen?

Posted by: kostya on June 8, 2006 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

In Germany Bio-Diesel is already competitive, although the country doesn't have all that much spare agricultural area.

Posted by: Jrgen in Germany on June 8, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

No drilling in ANWR? Why does Alan Greenspan hate America so much?

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 8, 2006 at 5:59 AM | PERMALINK

What about switchgrass as an alternative to corn-based ethanol?Posted by: Maura

That's a cellulose-based version of ethanol. It's been mentioned. That is what Brazil is doing with sugar cane, which is a member of the grass family.

Not quite. The cane is crushed to yield the sugar solution that is then fermented. The cellulose which is not subject to fermentation (leaves, stalks, etc.) is burned to generate heat and electricity to power the entire operation. The net gain of energy is something like 5x (compared to corn-based EtOH's 20-30% max).

I find it hard to believe that we couldn't bio-engineer a robust cane plant that would grow in a large part of the southern half of the country. Heck, I'm in NC and they STILL grow ribbon cane around here.

Posted by: Daryl Cobranchi on June 8, 2006 at 6:11 AM | PERMALINK

>Projections over the next twenty years show that 80% of the new growth(about 600k) in this region will also be outside the 'city'/'county'

Yeah, but that's how projections always seem to work, don't they? America has been sprawling for a few decades (heavily subsidized as pointed out above) so consultants charge a big price to make a lot of paper that basically draws a straight line from what has happened lately.

They would have told you a few years back that the Dixie Chicks would be country's #1 supergroup today.

It's funny we started with Greenspan, because that's exactly the way the CW was formed when he was all concerned about what was going to happen "when" we paid off the national debt.

What was gonna happen was it wasn't gonna happen.

Of course in Columbus's case as like Atlanta and a lot of US cities, the poison has already been injected in the system: those huge "bypass" rings that supposedly ease you past the city (but I've discovered that for all but rush hour it's faster to stay on I70 thru downtown) are simply a big gift to sprawl and trucking. How the hell do you keep them in the city center when they've spent $20-$50 million a mile plus infrastructure to draw you out?

Posted by: doesn't matter on June 8, 2006 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

OT: Zarqawi killed in US airstrike.

excellent.

Posted by: cleek on June 8, 2006 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

Hydrogen looks like a dead end: I've read that it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than hydrogen would produce.

Posted by: Evan on June 8, 2006 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

.

Posted by: FLS on June 8, 2006 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

saw a bumper sticker on a Prius in front of me yesterday at a traffic light that said

"So Many Miles So Little Gas"

Posted by: RWH on June 8, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

It really amazes me that these discussions invariably almost totally ignore biodiesel and SVO.

Now, someone's gonna say, "There's not enough ag capacity to solve all our energy needs."

Puhleeze - but there is with switchgrass or (corn) ethanol?

We have a proven technology, available now, it's cost-effective, can utilize any number of different crops adapted to any number of different geographic/climate zones, the manufacturing process is lean and efficient, and it can utilize vast amounts of waste vegable oil. And nobody wants to talk about it.

Amazing.

Posted by: Brautigan on June 8, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

The only certain thing is that nobody has the ability to predict which energy sources in the future will be the optimum successor to oil, and under what circumstances. The fastest way to get there, however, would be to slap a two or three dollar a gallon tax on oil derivatives. Perhaps it could be combined with a corresponding decrease in FICA taxes on the first 10k to 15k wages (I'm sure that will set off the usual round of insults here), in order to lessen the impact such a tax would have low income people who still need to buy a lot of gas. If the wage ceiling on FICA taxes we're raised a bit, those whose greatest fear is that a change might occur to a wealth transfer program designed with the demographics of the 1930s in mind might even go along.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 8, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

OT: Zarqawi killed in US airstrike. excellent.
Posted by: cleek

Actually, in the larger context, meaningless.

Posted by: JeffII on June 8, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

We have a proven technology, available now, it's cost-effective, can utilize any number of different crops adapted to any number of different geographic/climate zones, the manufacturing process is lean and efficient, and it can utilize vast amounts of waste vegable oil. And nobody wants to talk about it.

OK, so talk. ALthough the thread's about dead.

Cellulosic ethanol is not ready for prime time, I think. When it is, it will rock. Corn ethanol is inefficient. Diesel from vegetable oil...I'm unfamiliar.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 8, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

Diesel from vegetable oil is no big deal. All we need to do is increase the number of Chinese restaurants by a factor of about 100 - maybe 1000.

Then we all can run our cars off the waste from Chinese restaurants.

Biodiesel suffers from the same problem as most of the other alternatives. It simply swaps one source for another and presumes the new source is readily available.

I suppose it does demonstrate that in the upcoming global famine Americans will power their cars before feeding the world.

And if plug in hybrids are so great how come my local utility is always asking me to decrease my consumption?

Posted by: Tripp on June 8, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,

Diesel from vegetable oil is no big deal. All we need to do is increase the number of Chinese restaurants by a factor of about 100 - maybe 1000.
Posted by: Tripp

There is a cadre of dedicated folk here using waste oil collected from restaurants. There are tens of thousands of fast food places across the country that would love a way to get rid of used oil. You have to recyle used petroleum-based motor oil, might as well be recycling veg/animal oil as well.

Posted by: JeffII on June 8, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Cellulosic ethanol is not ready for prime time, I think. When it is, it will rock. Corn ethanol is inefficient. Diesel from vegetable oil...I'm unfamiliar. Posted by: Red State Mike

State of Colorado actually began testing it on snowplows, sanding equipment, school buses, etc. two years ago. The only downside to biodiesel is viscosity at low temperatures.

http://www.gobluesun.com/

http://www.eere.energy.gov/state_energy_program/project_detail.cfm/sp_id=642

Posted by: JeffII on June 8, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

" honing technology for cellulostic ethanol "

As Red State Mike said, the technology for cellulosic ethanol is not near prime time. However, it'd be worth investing in Genencor or Novozymes - enzyme producers whose products are going to be key to making cellulosic ethanol work.

Posted by: Urinated State of America on June 8, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Apologies if someone else already noted this, but MN just passed NEV legislation:

http://www.e-ride.com/info/lowspeedelectriccarsnowlegal.html

BTW, you can buy an NEV from E-Ride that looks like a cross between a Jeep and a Hummer.

Posted by: Kurzleg on June 8, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

A simple solution, often overlooked, is to install white roofing.

The difference in the amount of heat entering living and working space is enormous. I measured a 50 degree F difference between a white metal roof and ordinary roofing materials in the hot Texas sun.

Check out this simple experiment:
www.antirad.com/rooftest

Posted by: Daniel on June 8, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

If you are using photovoltaic cells to pump the water, then you still need an energy source to create the PV cells.

The solar water pumps cotton growers were using a century ago in the US SW were mechanical machines that used sunlight for energy. There were no photovoltaic cells used or available at that time. Why can't these machines be used to pump water up and then have the falling water spin a turbine to make electricity?

I have tried to find out how to build one of these, but they say the technology has been forgotten.

Posted by: Powerpuff on June 8, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, you can buy an NEV from E-Ride that looks like a cross between a Jeep and a Hummer.
Posted by: Kurzleg

I'd say more like a golf cart with a glandular problem or a vehicle from a cheesy safari park.

Posted by: JeffII on June 8, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Do the opposite of whatever that hack says.

Posted by: Jenna's Bush on June 8, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Powerpuff,

Assuming your solar water pump worked on the same principle as a tree the design might look something like this:

http://www3.telus.net/farallon/

The problem is that I doubt this would scale anywhere near large enough to be worthwhile for the production of electricity.

Posted by: Tripp on June 8, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't invest in this crap.
AL as usual is just wanting to sell you some ocean front property in Arizona. Typical Khazar Capitalist
-----------------------------
-=EIR=-
The current mania for ethanol, biodiesel fuels, "flex-fuel vehicles," and the like, is creating a financial bubblewithin which is a swindleinside of which is a slippery old methane fart, waiting to explode. Members of Congress taking part in the swindle, enthusiastically or not, are going to wind up very smelly when the ethanol party ends, the investment boom collapses, and motorists indignantly demand regular gasoline again.

Why should we shift to biofuels for transportation; ethanol, for example? Well, first, we'll get 20% less gas mileage from our fuel that way. Second, we can pay a good deal more for fuel, in direct prices and subsidies; in fact, we'll be able to use a fuel whose price is inflating much faster than the price of gasoline. Third, we'll be able to spend tens of billions of dollars more a year in tax revenues, subsidizing ethanol makers, including some of the biggest global cartels. Fourth, we can use up more petrochemical energy making ethanol than we get by using it. Fifth, we can use up large volumes of water making the ethanol, including in some very water-scarce regions of the countryand overburden our tranport infrastructure as well. Sixth, we could soon deny corn exports to nations that need themmaybe even cut our own consumption of cornand burn it in our cars instead.
-------------------------------
What was AL saying?
Nothing as usual

Posted by: Mesell Malkintent on June 8, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

There is a cadre of dedicated folk here using waste oil collected from restaurants.

More power to them. Don't get me wrong - I think as many people as possible should use waste vegetable oil. Maybe even form a co-op to collect, filter, and re-sell the stuff.

My only point is that it will be at most a drop in the gasoline bucket.

Posted by: Tripp on June 8, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

brautigan: We have a proven technology, available now, it's cost-effective, can utilize any number of different crops adapted to any number of different geographic/climate zones, the manufacturing process is lean and efficient, and it can utilize vast amounts of waste vegable oil. And nobody wants to talk about it.

Nobody? That's absurd. People are now talking about all kinds of biofuels.

Posted by: republicrat on June 8, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp: And if plug in hybrids are so great how come my local utility is always asking me to decrease my consumption?

Because right now most of your consumption is during peak hours when supplies are tight and costly. You can charge your hybrid at night when supplies are plentiful and cheap.

Posted by: republicrat on June 8, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hydrogen looks like a dead end: I've read that it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than hydrogen would produce.

While this is technically true, we do have a source of energy to produce hydrogen- wind and solar. Solar energy to produce biomass results in an efficiency of about one watt per square meter. Solar energy to produce electricity directly at current efficiencies of 20% can produce 200 Watts per square meter. These efficiencies will improve, resulting in production of 500-800W per sqaure meter. As I mentioned before, running fuel cells in reverse can appproach 70% efficiency. The overall hydrogen production from one sqaure meter is therefore about 140-500W per sqaure meter,which is 140-500 times the amount of energy than you would get from biomass.

Posted by: bblog on June 8, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I've been puzzeling over what is the point of hybrids. It seems to be to preserve the 0 to 60 times we're used to. Could we save the same amount of fuel for an extra 5 to 10 seconds from 0 to 60? Does anyone know what the energy requirement to manufacture a Prius's battery is? I'm wondering what a car with current safety, reliabilty and pollution control but the acceleration of my '63 beetle would be like. I had a lot of fun in that car.

Posted by: mossyback on June 8, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well, God sort of bless his soul, old Greenspin has made a good and helpful point. I wish he'd said more like that earlier, but this is pretty good for a Randian who last worked for the Bush admin.

Posted by: Neil' on June 8, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat,

You can charge your hybrid at night when supplies are plentiful and cheap.

You are the second person to mention this, so I called up my local utility.

Turns out I pay the same rate for electricity day or night. It also turns out that they burn coal to produce the electricity whether it is day or night.

They also said there is no such thing as wasted or unused power at night, they simply don't burn as much coal then. So this idea that nighttime electricity is cheap and plentiful and doesn't burn anything is not true at all.

Posted by: Tripp on June 8, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

mossyback,

Hybrids are most efficient in stop and go traffic. If you don't care about that then get the non-hybrid version of a small 4 cylinder and stick a block of wood under the gas pedal. I mean you can alway manually make a modern car drive like an underpowered granny car.

Posted by: Tripp on June 8, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

A nuther reason hybrids should be more efficient (in theory, not certain about practice) is that the current car engine is excruciately designed to run semi-efficiently in many different conditions. Low speed/power, high speed/low power, low speed/high power,etc. An awful lot of the gizmos hanging on an engine have to do with working this problem, varying fuel flows and timing for the situation.

If you know an engine is going to run at a single design point (to charge a battery) you can design it much simpler and make it more efficient.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 8, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

tripp: Turns out I pay the same rate for electricity day or night. It also turns out that they burn coal to produce the electricity whether it is day or night.
...
They also said there is no such thing as wasted or unused power at night, they simply don't burn as much coal then. So this idea that nighttime electricity is cheap and plentiful and doesn't burn anything is not true at all.

You may pay the same rate day or night, but the utility pays more for peak electricity (from gas turbines, for example) than they pay for nighttime (from coal or gas powered steam turbines.) Perhaps where you are they do not have the same problem with expensive peak power that most hot places in the US have. No one said that nighttime electricity doesn't burn anything, but it is provided by the cheapest source. Here in California, people who use a lot of electricity pay a different rate from those who use less; there is a movement underway to install new meters that charge more for electricity use during peak hours than other times.

Did you ask your utility speaker why they wanted you to conserve electricity? What did they say? Here in California it is for precisely the reason that I said: peak electricity costs them more, and peak times have a lower margin between capacity and demand. It increases the failure rate of old equipment and, in extremes, has led to rolling blackouts.

Posted by: republicrat on June 8, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, Red State Mike,

Good points, that were not obvious to this retired, rural guy. I think "underpowered" is an aesthetic distinction rather than a practical one. I've been thinking lately about the long term importance of slow and small.

Posted by: mossyback on June 8, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

How about a grassroots effort to get as many people that can work from home Via computers?

I see many people drive 40 miles to work, get to the office, and then plop down in front of the Computer, and start working. 8 hours later, they leave the Computer, drive 40 miles, then plop down in front of another Computer.

Seems a little silly doesn't it?

Posted by: Kinda Silly on June 8, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Not necessarily. Plug-in electric or hybrid cars would typically be charged from house current overnight. The "grid" for that is already in place, and at night there is unused generating capacity from power plants that are built to supply the greater daytime demands but which cannot be shut down overnight.

If you have a garage or driveway, and you can park your car in it (i.e., you're not using it to store furniture, it's not occupied by another vehicle in your household, etc.), and it has a nearby electrical outlet, and your schedule is such that you can park your car in it on a regular basis long enough to recharge it, and you have the discipline to plug in your vehicle consistently when you park, then a plug-in hybrid might make good sense for you. I suspect that a large majority of American drivers fail to meet one or more of these conditions, meaning that a plug-in capability wouldn't provide much or any additional benefit to them over a regular hybrid.

Posted by: GOP on June 8, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

"The energy abundance on which this nation was built is over".

Our future will be built on abundant energy, just different sources of energy.

Posted by: republicrat on June 9, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that a large majority of American drivers fail to meet one or more of these conditions, meaning that a plug-in capability wouldn't provide much or any additional benefit to them over a regular hybrid.

Maybe, but the market thrives on variety. Besides, lots of people remember to lock their doors every night, and remembering to plug in your car isn't much harder.

Posted by: republicrat on June 9, 2006 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

this one is good, and it cites original sources with links.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114970102238673892-uqIEiWAFNkIRiwjTyXcyf7ywToI_20070608.html?mod=blogs

Posted by: republicrat on June 9, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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