Saturday, June 28, 2008

 

The American Sense of Entitlement

In several previous entries I have mentioned in passing the American sense of entitlement, meaning the firm belief among Americans that they deserve plentiful supplies of cheap resources and energy. This will of course make it much harder for Americans to adapt to the consequences of peak oil. I predict there will be a lot of rage (the childish and idiotic idea of suing OPEC is just getting things started), and many Americans will simply flip out.

But here I would just like to direct the reader’s attention to a really fine essay (http://atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/4163/32/) on this sense of entitlement and its attendant stupidity. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

 

The Dark Side of Reduced Fuel Demand

Everyone says it’s a great thing that high oil prices are starting to put a dent in demand. Of course, if we are going to have any chance of a soft landing at all, we need to quickly cut our fossil fuel consumption. But we also need to keep this in mind: Modern economies are structurally dependent on high fuel consumption. In other words, by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels, we are helping ourselves, but hurting others who depend on us to consume for their benefit. In previous posts I have made this point, and have used the tourism industry as a case in point. And indeed, just as I said, the tourism industry is now hurting (http://mikefolkerth.com/2008/06/24/tourism-feeling-the-pain/). Because tourism is basically about moving people, the high cost of fuel is starting to kill off the whole industry. One of the things airlines are doing to survive is cut unprofitable routes. But a route that is unprofitable to an airline may be a lifeline for the tourist destination it serves. As it stands now, the industry will be dying a slow death unless fuel suddenly becomes a lot cheaper.

But directly or indirectly, expensive fuel is going to batter nearly every business you can think of. And people are going to suffer because of that. All the more reason to start restructuring the socioeconomic system as soon as possible.

Friday, June 20, 2008

 

OPEC President Nixes Production Increase

Here (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080620124910.j3mjg7b0) we read that OPEC president Chakib Khelil says it makes no sense for OPEC to increase production just to cool oil prices. Well, he is right about that. In fact, at a time when the world has to learn now to make do with progressively less oil, it would make sense to gradually decrease oil production (which will come in due time, you can be assured). So although I suspect the main reason behind the disinclination to increase production is the dearth of spare capacity, I applaud any decision by oil producers to hold the line, because raising production would just have the same effect as giving a junkie more drugs.

There is also some of the usual bogus reasoning here, no doubt used to cover up the lack of spare capacity.
Khelil said that just because computer or car prices were high, “would one ask their producers to make more?”, insisting again that oil was being driven higher by factors other than supply alone -- most notably speculation and a falling dollar.
First, if we needed a lot more computers or cars for some reason, we would likely ask for a production increase. There just happens to be no perceived shortage of these. And he also blames speculation and the cheap dollar, those old standbys. Anyone who looks at the figures, however, can clearly see the tight supply-demand situation. If supply is barely keeping up with demand, and demand additionally shows signs of further expansion, then the price of the commodity is going to go up. It’s Econ 101. People pay high prices because they have no choice. Oil is needed to keep the global economy going, and there’s no substitute. Herein lies the basic reason for high prices.

So, the best thing now is to stop asking producers to raise production, and instead start thinking of ways to quickly remodel our socioeconomic systems so we can get by on less oil with each passing year.

But I guess I won’t count on that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

 

Water-Fueled Car: Don’t Get Excited

Again, we have a new invention which seems too good to be true — and is. It’s the reports (http://in.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idINSP7366720080613) about the water-fueled car invented by a Japanese company. I won’t write at length about it here because the secret energy input is revealed by this blog (http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-to-run-car-on-water.html).

Friday, June 06, 2008

 

No Maintained Roads, No Motorized Transport

People just keep saying that if we can power out motor vehicles on something other than oil, we’ve solved the transportation problem and saved the car culture. You can remind them over and over again that we also need energy to make the vehicles and to build and maintain traffic infrastructure (roads, bridges, and the like). But everyone is just to excited about PHEVs and algae and whatnot that they don’t hear the voice of reason.

Well, reality sucks, but here (http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20080605/ts_csm/aoilgoods) is an article about all kinds of products getting more expensive because of oil, not just fuel. Note especially this part.
[T]he price of asphalt is up 65 percent so far this year – and municipalities’ and states’ road departments are cutting back. This may mean bumpier roads ahead.
It means more than bumpier roads, because unless the potholes are filled and other deterioration repaired, roads and bridges begin to fall apart fast.

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