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How do we get off foreign oil?

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by dsm363, May 18, 2011.

  1. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    #1 dsm363, May 18, 2011
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
    I'm in a discussion with a friend about our energy policy and especially our (United States) dependence on foreign oil.

    I'm trying to find good sources/books to learn about our energy problem. Can anyone recommend anything? I realize this is a vast topic.

    A lot of the argument I get from people is that they don't want to 'live like the Europeans with $8/gallon gas' so anything that changes our lifestyle or raises energy prices is a non-starter. I'm trying to argue that we could get off of foreign oil with a significant effort but that it's possible. I think we need to get off of oil (as much as possible) in general but we need to start somewhere.
     
  2. cinergi

    cinergi Active Member

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    Directly to the "live like the Europeans" point, there's a huge aspect to all of this that deals with human nature and change. Both artificially inflating gas prices (e.g. via taxes) and getting people to drive EVs are huge changes. I'm sometimes humbled when I watch movies like The Book of Eli or The Day After Tomorrow -- thinking about how much we take for granted. And even funnier -- guess what: if something like that WERE to happen, we'd survive. We'd deal with it. It's not the end of the world. We're VERY spoiled.

    There's politics, economics, and social aspects to this whole thing. No one thing will win -- a combined approach on all fronts improves our chances. So yes, an enormous topic. And Tesla's Roadster plays directly to one of the biggest issues: "EV's are slow, look like crap, and have poor range -- I can't use one." That's what I'm so happy they went for "shatter the image" first and they're now taking it to a practical family car. It takes innovation and guts like that to change something so resistant to change.

    I'm glad Tesla's in the U.S. -- it gives me hope for internal innovation. We've fallen so far behind that I really worry about us. I hope we don't lose the momentum that Obama's managing to get going (think: we've done comparatively little since the Eisenhower stuff -- so it's ridiculously antiquated).

    What's funny is that every time I talk to someone about "hey, you could easily own an EV" I get all sorts of arguments why they can't do it, and I can shoot every one of them down, and suddenly they're OK with it. That's a pretty big hurdle. It'll get easier as more and more people are driving them as it'll help prove their viability. It'll also encourage more infrastructure (e.g. high speed charging on highways and L2's at malls, restaurants, etc) which will self-catalyze the whole process. Critical mass.

    Remember all the complaints last time gas hit $4/gallon? "I'll go bankrupt!" "I'll have to shut my business down!" "Food prices will skyrocket!" etc ... Funny, now that it's back above $4/gallon, we seem to be managing pretty well. We're more adaptable than people realize, and you'll always have the nay-sayers and loud complaints (with falsified or ignorant excuses).

    So what do you do? Realize that's human nature, and figure out how to make that work to your advantage, like Tesla's doing. You're not gonna convince billions of people any other way.

    I don't have any specific reading to mention -- just brain-dumping out loud here...
     
  3. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Actually the largest component of your "foreign" oil comes from here. You import more oil from Canada than Venezuela and Saudi Arabia combined.

    The problem with oil prices is that it is an international market. Rising demand in India, China, etc., is the major driver of the recent price increases. That combined with oil supply peaking means that we're looking at a future of not just higher oil prices, but also wild swings in the prices. The price gyrations may do more damage than the overall high prices. And it's only going to get worse.

    Even if you go all "drill baby drill" the result is going to be a drop in the bucket. Plus it will take ten years to get the new production on line.

    So it isn't really about getting off foreign oil, it's about getting off oil period. Save the stuff for more valuable purposes, such as making chemicals and plastics. It's a waste to be burning it.
     
  4. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    #4 dsm363, May 18, 2011
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
    Thanks. I understand we'll need to import oil for some time but with events in the middle east causing so much uncertainly in the oil markets, I would think it would be wise to be less dependent on oil if possible. I guess since it's a global market, it doesn't really work like that (you can't pick which region your oil comes from).

    I agree. We need to get off oil, period. I read the same talking points on both sides of the argument and I guess after so many years, would like to try and understand the problem a little better. I realize this is one of those topics like healthcare that's so vast and complex, I'm not sure if any one person/source has a grasp on the whole issue but thought I'd try and educate myself a little more.
     
  5. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    I agree that we can't drill our way out of this either. The recent talks about expanding our drilling into Alaska and off the east coast (I believe) are not helpful.
     
  6. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #6 TEG, May 18, 2011
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
    ...Thinking out loud off the top of my head...

    Problems:

    • Pollution
    • Environmental damage
    • Unfair subsidies and tax breaks
    • It will run out
    • Fighting over diminishing resources
    • Fighting over deals tied to particular currencies
    • Inequitable global distribution of resources
    • Corrupt ownership and control of resources
    • Distribution problems
    Solutions:

    • Finding alternatives
    • Reducing use
    • Reducing costs
    • Reducing environmental impact
    • Locally sourced
    • Publicly owned (including by individuals, not just governments.)
    • Long term solutions that don't run out (e.g., 'renewable')
    Some related links:

    Amazon.com: Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World (9780865715103): Richard Heinberg: Books

    Amazon.com: The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World (9780618239771): Paul Roberts: Books
     
  7. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Thanks. Just ordered the 'The End of Oil' for my iPad (Kindle version).
     
  8. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    One of the best things I read on this topic was actually on this site...can't remember where I saw it but with some searching you should be able to find it.

    Rising oil prices are 100%, positively inevitable.

    Think of the disaster in the Gulf last year. We're not drilling in deep water because it's easy, fun, risk-free, or cheap...it's because the "easy-to-extract" sources of oil are disappearing.

    We take the path of least resistance and extract the cheapest, easiest to find oil first. When that runs out we shift to sources that are harder and more costlier to extract, so it's only natural that prices will continue to rise (even ignoring inflation, political unrest, etc).

    We'll probably need oil for a while to come for plastics, chemicals, to fuel aircraft, and other applications...so to prevent plastics costs and airline tickets from going way up, as a civilization we need to conserve what we can, where we can, to buy time for the sorts of technological breakthroughs required to get us off oil completely.

    For example, one of the major consumers of oil (automobiles) can begin the transition now, whereas oil will be used in aircraft for many years to come--until we figure out this energy density/storage issue.

    I guess what I'm saying is that inaction is a big contributor to rising costs. A great way to keep oil cheap is to drive an electric car and reduce demand.
     
  9. widodh

    widodh Model S R231 EU

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    #9 widodh, May 18, 2011
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
    I'm currently visiting the USA, mostly in CA, but I've been to AZ as well.

    The one thing I notice as a european, I need a car for everything! Walking through cities is almost impossible since everything is so far away from each other.

    The distances you have to cover are huge compared to what I do daily. But people seem lazy as well, a lot of things could be done on a bicycle or small motor cycle, but no, the car seems to be #1 for every movement.

    Combine that with V8's and V6's everywhere, you get a mix where a country uses a lot of fuel.
     
  10. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Welcome to America! :biggrin:...:redface:
     
  11. widodh

    widodh Model S R231 EU

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    No, but I'm serious.

    For example, CA has good weather, a lot of the commuting traffic could be done on a 125 ~ 250cc scooter, that would use much, much, much less fuel than a car does. There are even electric scooter which reach about 55mph, that's also a good option, but I guess it's more of a culture change to get people on a scooter in the USA.

    The bigger the car, the better, it's an image problem :)
     
  12. ramon

    ramon New Member

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    As I recall, the US consumes 20 million barrels per day, of which around 5 or 6 million are locally sourced.
    the world (including us) consumes roughly 100 million barrels per day. There are various estimates, but certainly not all oil is used for transportation. It is over 50% but I believe less than 70%. In other words, even if we used no gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, etc. we would still not be able to produce all that we use, although certainly the Bakkan oil fields, which are HUGE, can be tapped with newest drilling/extraction technology. Ultimately, those fields can provide all the oil we would need, should gasoline no longer be used for transportation.
     
  13. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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  14. Nik

    Nik Dreaming no more :-(

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    I don't know about the US, but in the UK I think that most oil not used for transportation would be used for industrial-scale heating, and relatively tiny amounts used as an industrial ingredient (eg plastics) or for domestic heating. If you can produce cheap renewable energy from solar or wind then a lot of the factories would convert.
     
  15. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    So what do you do if all you neighbors are clueless and the politics favor corporations that demand continued energy use and expensive transportation-product consumption and they all believe a dated perception that we have the raw material and resources and that we deserve the freedom of the open road when in fact there really are none anymore?

    You drive an electric car, tell everyone how great it is whenever possible and perhaps once in a while help others who are trying to make change by donating time or money to the cause.
     
  16. widodh

    widodh Model S R231 EU

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    I get your point, I know that it's not that simple as that. But if oil prices keep increasing and thus the gas prices, people will be forced to use alternative methods.

    I'm really surprised by the number or Prii's (Prius) I'm seeing in CA, that is a step in the right direction. (Compared to the 30mpg or less cars....)
     
  17. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    #19 richkae, May 21, 2011
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
    It is my belief that within 10 years the sales of gasoline ICE cars will fall below half the historical peak in the United States. ( 17 million vehicles per year 1999-2007 )
    A significant motivator in this change will be the increasing speed with which cars lose value - because of the dramatic increase in the cost of fuel.
    I rambled on my blog about it:
    The end of the ICE Age | High Speed Charging

    Unfortunately that still isn't fast enough - we have 200+ million cars to replace.
    The EV manufacturers need to ramp up production faster.
     
  18. AndrewBissell

    AndrewBissell Member

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    Richkae - like your article.
     

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