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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2013, 12:31 pm 
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Absolutely, Neil! We can apply the same perspective to all our energy consumption. I was only replying to FT's post regarding our love for cars. But for most Americans, the amount of gasoline they use in their personal vehicles is often the biggest source of energy (both from an economic, as well as a environmental standpoint). So this is where we can directly see the energy being consumed. But we do the same thing buying produce from Chile, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, etc. or buying cheap plastic disposable trinkets made in China at the Dollar General. All of these things have an environmental footprint.

I love your green pepper analogy.... then there are people who opt to plant their own garden... they drive 10 miles to the garden center 5-6 times to buy ammended topsoil in a bag, as well a organic heritage seeds, for two weeks when their crop is ripe. Then 4-5 more trips to the grocery to buy canning and freezing supplies, as well as the cost to opperate the freezer. It's not always clear what the most appropriate environmental path is.... especially when our mode of transport to do everything is so easy (and relatively cheap) to use.

PK


Last edited by pknoerr on April 3rd, 2013, 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2013, 2:22 pm 
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I was under the impression that personal vehicle use amounted to just under one half of energy consumption for the average N. American.

Even if gas hits 10 per gallon (two-fifty per liter) I doubt there will be much of a change in driving habits. Instead, people will compress other expenses and perhaps drive smaller cars.


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2013, 3:14 pm 
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Hiker Neil wrote:
I was under the impression that personal vehicle use amounted to just under one half of energy consumption for the average N. American.
I agree, but my point is that personal vehicle usage is readily more apparent than trying to distill out the agricultural energy use, manufacturing energy, and transportation energy, retail energy, and everything else. It's just alot easier to recognize the gasoline we all use.

Hiker Neil wrote:
Even if gas hits 10 per gallon (two-fifty per liter) I doubt there will be much of a change in driving habits. Instead, people will compress other expenses and perhaps drive smaller cars.


Oh, I think it will impact some people quite alot, especially those who can barely afford a car now. It's amazing how income level has an effect on how much fuel we use. Those gainfully employed may cut back some on travel, but the day to day fuel usage will not be impacted by most of us, as most of us don't have an alternative way to work besides the car.

PK


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2013, 6:36 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
Yeah... gives NIMBY new meaning... black is beautiful?

Two decades of pipeline spills in the US (1990 - 2011), and this before the era of highly corrosive toxic sludge from the oil sands.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011 ... pills.html

Quote:
Since 1990, more than 110 million gallons of mostly crude and petroleum products have spilled from the nation’s mainland pipeline network. More than half of it occurred in three states — Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana — where more pipelines exist.


Image

This doesn't appear to be a love affair with the automobile, it appears to be a love affair with oil pipelines and energy profits for big oil multinationals (who have nowhere else to go but landlocked bitumen in the subarctic of Canada).

It's not as if Canada wants to consume the stuff, or even refine it for sale and keep local jobs and economic spinoffs in the Country. You want to dig it out of the ground, and ship it off elsewhere as fast as you can (and need pipelines, rail cars, and merchant ships like the Valdez plying the inside passage to do so). US markets are already well lubricated (and we export 60% of the stuff to Asia and Latin America from Port Arthur).

I always hoped geography was going to be a limit (a physical barrier to wise development and stable and predictable growth). But not with Asian tigers at the door, and pipeline developers getting their way. And, it should be noted, many of us thinking this has something to do with our own romance with the automobile, paying high taxes and environmental costs for generations, and spending 10% of our time stuck in traffic and coughing our way to work each morning. Someone is getting rich, that's for sure, but it's not likely any of us doing the driving.


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 7:50 am 
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Idylwyld,

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Decline of driving.


Maybe in the urban centers, not in the bigger picture... the most recent quarterly report on car sales in America show the highest sales numbers since the 2007 economic crash. An economic downturn will reduce driving, but with a rebound it's the same story all over again.

PK, car culture in America is alive and well, and IMO represents more than addiction and enslavement... the type of vehicle being worn is a sign of social standing, showing one's position on the social ladder, at least for those who buy into that belief system.

The American Dream is in the mind of the exploding middle class throughout the world now, Russia, India, China, Brazil, anywhere where there's money to be made. Old saying with social climbers, tits and cars will always cost you a lot of money.

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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 10:06 am 
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frozentripper wrote:
Maybe in the urban centers, not in the bigger picture... the most recent quarterly report on car sales in America show the highest sales numbers since the 2007 economic crash.

I believe it's car registration numbers you want to be looking at. They are not coming back to 1970 - 1985 highs.

Image

The baby boom is retiring (and will be giving up their cars). They bought their kids their cars, and they aren't buying them any more. More than half of US teens (16 - 19) don't even have driver's licenses. Rural population is disappearing, and along with it the middle class in the US. We have huge vast swaths of suburban blandness and cul de sacs (like circuit boards pressed on the landscape), and lots and lots of foreclosures. And unless a train runs out to these places (or they aren't too far for a commute), many are destined to die a predictable death of boarded up strip malls and blighted box stores.

If you don't mind my saying, it sounds like you are living in a 1950s version of America? We still like our cars, but they are practical and compact Hyundais, Kias, and Hondas … and newly minted Ford and Chevy compacts. Few buys cars for social standing anymore, they just want them to run, have enough space for the dog, fit into a parking spot, and get them to work with a minimal hassle. Living well on credit is not living middle class. I think most people know and understand that these days (although it takes some a long time to get there). China and India are free to pick up the slack of consumerist ambition and treadmills, many of the rest of us are moving on. Shopping in farmers markets, buying local, and knowing our neighbors is enough. For many, just to get some affordable health care and a small pension… that would be a fine enough American Dream™ indeed.


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 10:56 am 
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Neil wrote:
How much oil does it take per forum post or Google search?


"Google's energy use became the subject of scrutiny in 2009 following the publication of a story claiming that each search carried out on the website had a carbon footprint of 7g of CO2 – around half as much as boiling the water for a cup of coffee. Google's response was to claim that this figure included many factors it was not responsible for, such as the power consumed by the user's computer, and that its share of the footprint was only 0.2g of CO2 per search.

Today's announcement repeats the 0.2g figure and gives equivalent numbers for other Google services, such as YouTube (1g of CO2 for each 10 minutes of viewing) and Gmail (1.2kg of CO2 per year for the typical user). The company calculates that, in total, the typical Google user creates 1.46kg of CO2 by consuming its various services – the equivalent of filling a deep bath or buying an imported bottle of wine. It also claims that producing and shipping a single DVD uses as much energy as watching YouTube non-stop for three days."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... -footprint


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 11:05 am 
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Thanks Krusty, now I'm off to do a few Google searches! All the better that my computer runs on clean and green hydro-electric power! :roll:


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 11:38 am 
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Idylwyld.... wha... what is your graph actually showing? That's some kind of index value graphed on the vertical axis. The number of motor vehicles has been increasing steadily in the states since 1960.

Here are the numbers from the Bureau of Transportation, 1960-2010. Both the total number of registered vehicles and the total number of light vehicles show an upward trend with time.

PS... stuck in the fifties, gimme a break... car culture exists and is real, seen any TV ads recently? Advertising works... now I need to drive my new shiny vehicle into town, through some great scenery.

:wink:



Highway, total (registered vehicles)

74,431,800
91,739,623
111,242,295
137,912,779
161,490,159
177,133,282
193,057,376
192,313,834
194,427,346
198,041,338
201,801,921
205,427,212
210,441,249
211,580,033
215,496,003
220,461,056
225,821,241
235,331,382
234,624,135
236,760,033
243,010,550
247,421,120
250,844,644
254,403,081
255,917,664
254,212,610
250,272,812


Light duty vehicle, short wheel base

61,671,390
75,257,588
89,243,557
106,705,934
121,600,843
127,885,193
133,700,496
128,299,601
126,581,148
127,327,189
127,883,469
128,386,775
129,728,341
129,748,704
131,838,538
132,432,044
133,621,420
137,633,467
135,920,677
135,669,897
136,430,651
136,568,083
135,399,945
196,491,176
196,762,927
193,979,654
190,202,782


http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita. ... 01_11.html

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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 3:11 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
Idylwyld.... wha... what is your graph actually showing? That's some kind of index value graphed on the vertical axis. The number of motor vehicles has been increasing steadily in the states since 1960.

Graph shows new car registrations on quarterly basis (seasonally adjusted). Graph is indexed to 100 in 2005. Shape of graph is same regardless of index year (only values would be different).

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/se ... SACRQISMEI

It looks to me like the baby boom started buying cars in the 1970s, stopped during the oil crisis and recessions of early 80s, and new registrations have been flat for last two decades (despite immigration and steady population growth). It looks to me to be a pretty poorly performing sector, actually. Two decades of stagnant growth (with lots of new competition from compact car brands in Asia)? No wonder why Detroit needed a bailout.


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2013, 9:44 pm 
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If you want to see things on a relative basis rather than in absolute numbers, here's a table showing motor vehicles per capita throughout the world. There are more vehicles per 1000 residents in America than in any other large industrialized nation. Only San Marino and Monaco exceed the American 797 vehicles per 1000. That number unfortunately includes commercial vehicles together with passenger cars, but does show the significance of motor vehicles in American culture relative to the rest of the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... per_capita

The reason seems obvious... America is one of the world's wealthiest nations, and that wealth allows for large numbers of vehicles.

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PostPosted: April 4th, 2013, 7:14 am 
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PostPosted: April 4th, 2013, 11:47 am 
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frozentripper wrote:
America is one of the world's wealthiest nations, and that wealth allows for large numbers of vehicles.

I'm not sure why you don't want to look at trend lines. Yes, we bought a lot of cars over the last 50 years. Our country is pretty big and spread out, and we continue to subsidize gas and engineer cities, residential development, and have only a handful cities with modestly adequate public transit systems. We made our choices decades ago, and we're now stuck with them (and doing the best we can with severely limited options). Gas prices rise, and everyone feels the pinch. I like PKs concept of enslavement (and having few other more convenient choices). Depending on your age group, you probably don't feel this way, but lots of younger folks do (18-35 year olds). The trend lines are worth looking at (here and here), and many would like to see us getting busy with alternatives (or at least better meeting affordable transportation needs where people live, work, raise families, and grow economies). Hamburg, Germany (here and here) is a pretty stunning example of industrial reinvention along these lines. They're way ahead of the curve.

Your aggregate numbers illustrate the point very well. Among total registered vehicles, growth rates are slowing:

1960 - 1970: 49.5%
1970 - 1980: 45.1%
1980 - 1990: 19.5%
1990 - 2000: 16.9%
2000 - 2010: 10.8%

And these numbers should be going up (and not down). Population growth 1960 - 2010: 72%. It's unclear to me why you think car culture is not in trouble (other than citing romantic notions and nostalgic reflections of a bygone era of muscle cars, cruising the strip, waxing sexy steel on the weekend, and the like). People just don't think of their cars like this anymore (and many of them aren't even made of steel anymore).


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PostPosted: April 4th, 2013, 6:40 pm 
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FT, I'm not sure that most American's know they are enslaved to their cars. But, most Americans have less saved for retirement than the price of most new cars. While this obviously points out a significant short coming in the economic prowess of most Americans, I doubt that most North American's have ever really looked at the combined fuel, car loan payments, maintenance registration and auto insurance they spend on a car. I'm willing to bet that most people spend close to 1/4 of their income for auto related costs, and the odd thing is that the car depreciates to essentially nothing. The only thing that likely accounts for a larger percentage of income is a house (experts recommend you keep that below 1/3)... and while some homeowners lose money on house purchases, most sell for more than they bought.

I have to drive to work, but if I didn't have to own a car, my income would easily appreciate by over $10,000! While enslavement might be strong... I suspect that car related costs throughout most wage earners lives will likely cost them a middle income retirement.

PK


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PostPosted: April 5th, 2013, 8:12 am 
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Idylwyld, I'll try and read through all those links on the weekend, no time this morning.

I've read about the recent downtrend in drivers myself, so what's the explanation, a drop in popularity or a drop in economic well-being? Economic hard times could well be a credible reason for the decline, will an economic rebound reverse it.. another prediction? At this time America still wants it's cars, an increase in fuel prices at the pump seems to cause huge howls of pain across the nation.

During the first few days of Obama's term in office, there were great predictions being made for a new revolution in energy, who could have predicted this revolution in American oil production? Predictions (here we go again) on where things move on from here may be credible or not... what we know for sure is that there is more oil and newly-available oil, to keep cars running and on the road.

PK.... yep, costs of home and car ownership are two of the biggest expenses most income earners will have to deal with. Business owners can write off vehicle costs against taxes but have to accept risk of bankruptcy. Employees don't have that risk but are faced with their chronic drain of capital from driving costs.

Enslavement or addiction... the fact that the majority of working stiffs seem willing to pay the costs of car ownership says something about the strong bond formed between cars and their owners. The reasons may be economic necessity, recreation, pleasure, social standing, style, and on and on.

Gotta go...

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