Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fossil Fuel Delusions

John Michael Greer at the Arch Druid Report was making a point about the wishful thinking of our society, and illustrated some very fine points. One of them was about the wishful thinking of the Republicans who think that they can turn the oil tap on as soon as they get the obstructionist Democrats out of the way. This coming from the Republican candidate who is generally felt by many to be the smartest of the bunch.

Pepperspraying the Future

John Michael Greer, Arch Druid Report, 30 November 2011

The week before, in a debate among candidates for the GOP’s presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich responded to a question about oil supplies by insisting that the United States could easily increase its oil production by four million barrels a day next year, if only those dratted environmentalists in the other party weren’t getting in the way. This absurd claim was quickly and efficiently refuteded by several peak oil writers—Art Berman’s essay over on the Oil Drum is a good example—but outside the peak oil blogosphere, nobody blinked. Never mind that the entire United States only produces 5.9 million barrels a day, that it took twenty years for the Alaska North Slope fields (peak production, 2 million barrels per day) to go from discovery to maximum output, or that the United States has been explored for oil more thoroughly than any other piece of real estate on the planet; the pundits and the public alike nodded and went on to the next question, as though a serious contender for the position of most powerful human being on the planet hadn’t just gone on record claiming that two plus two is whatever you want it to be.
Well the Wall Street Journal had a piece that confirms that it is not just our presidential-want-a-be's that are a bit delusional.

Americans Embrace SUVs Again

Mike Ramsey and Sharon Terlep, Wall Street Journal, 2 December 2011

Chrysler, Nissan. and General Motors posted strong U.S. sales for November, building on earlier gains at the three, and pointing toward a strong auto-industry finish to the year.. Mike Ramsey has details on Lunch Break.

The sport-utility vehicle is making a comeback.

After being largely shunned during the recession, high-riding SUVs and workhorse pickups are regaining favor as U.S. consumers grow more confident and fuel prices remain below the $4 a gallon level that triggered a shift away from larger vehicles. ..

"I travel a lot with my kids and my kids' friends. I can put all my friends and family in here and haul them around but with reasonable fuel efficiency. I needed something big, something solid, something reliable," said Andrea Maggioni, a physician from Miami who recently bought a 2011 Honda Pilot. "I needed a car where I could envision myself and a bunch of kids driving around."
We are talking about a doctor buying a vehicle that is going to set you back about $42,000 and weighs (and in 4WD) and can pull about 2-1/2 tons, because she wants something sturdy.

Or we have the outdoorsman:

"Our lifestyle is about the soccer family and the football family and camping and doing lots of activities, things that involve carrying lots of stuff around," said Joseph Phillippi, of Auto Trends Consulting. "You can't do that well in a [compact] Cruze or a Focus."

Note the strawman argument. You are going to buy a vehicle the size of a small bus so that you can go camping?

I’ll except that some of the sales are going to contractors who have been a little busier, but even contractors vehicles have been getting larger and larger. There used to be a lot of the old Ford Rangers out on a job site. They are literally dwarfed by the Silverados And F-150s that you see out there. Except that you usually see the Silverados and F-150s in the parking lot because the owner does not want to get their “work truck” scratched.

A friend of our family does a little bit of preaching on the side. He got in a lot of hot water a few years back by pointing out that the money the suburbanite congregation was spending on these 4WD monsters might be put to a better purpose. LOL- that went over well.

Note, I do not think that their is no possible future where we successfully scaled back our energy demands and partially replaced our fossil fuel consumption with more sustainable sources.  I just don't think that we are going to do it.

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