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Profound Lifestyle Changes

Posted by garymunson-2008 (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 5, 08 at 5:13

I have many friends that live in the northeast and they are telling me that they are facing fuel oil prices above $5 a gallon this year compared with mid-$2 prices last year. I wonder how many people will go without heat this winter in colder areas? Several of them have twin 375 gallon tanks and can't afford filling them. I imagine my heating costs here in Florida will be going up fast as the electric company 'catches up' with the fuel cost increases. Interesting how the price of coal is also shooting up despite the fact that we produce all our own coal. I can't believe that the cost of rail transport has increased that much or that the coal miner's union got that big of a wage increase this year.........


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

Gary, I'm one of those guys that lives here in the N E and yes, I suspect my fuel oil will hit the roof.

I just wonder what is happening to all that oil that is coming down the Alaskan pipeline. What about ALL the oil wells we currently have in Texas and off shore...where is all that oil going ??? NO one seems to be able to explain that.. with all that oil we still import a ton from overseas...just doesn't make sense to me.

As to fuel for our cars does anyone really, really believe that it would take years to get a more efficient mile per gallon vehicle... REALLY? With all the brain trusts out there we could probably do all this in a heart beat.

Sorry for all the venting just some times this nonsense really sets me off. ( Trust me, I had to clean up my wording )

Bigal


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

I believe that the oil from the Alaska pipeline is sold to Asia. Alaska is so far from the rest of the US that it makes no logistical sense to ship it here, it is closer to Japan. In any case, that oil and the offshore oil have been part of our oil supply all along and have made no significant dent in what we import. Our use has gone up up up since the oil shortages of the 1970s and we did nothing to change that over the past 30 years. We have lived off of cheap oil from the Mideast and buried our heads in the sand when anybody suggested it was a bad plan. Why is anybody surprised that this could happen to us again when we did nothing to lower the growth of our dependency on foreign oil?

The hated President Carter had tax incentives for oil companies to explore shale oil extraction and for other alternative energy sources. Regan dropped those programs and Americans have ignored the issue for the last 30 years. If you voted for Regan, oilman Bush or failed oilman Bush, you supported this. Clinton did not address the issue, either. Until last year, Congress did not up the CAFE standards for gas mileage for the US produced cars. They have been the same for decades. The only way to get industry to spend money on changing the way we use energy is to give them tax incentives or legistlate mandatory changes- or wait until demand makes alternative energy exploration financially viable. We waited until demand forced the issue. The problem with that is that there is a lag time in which the cost of energy skyrockets. During that time, the lower income people suffer the most. That is what is happening now. If you let supply and demand run the marketplace, you get these huge swings that hurt the little guy and enrich the wealthy investors. Since Americans are so afraid of government intervention, we let the market forces drive things. So prepare to suffer. Next time, remember that government intervention (like current subsidies for wind farms) can even out the peaks and valleys and protect us from the cruel vagaries of an unchecked marketplace.


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

I happen to be in favor of an open market. Yes, there are swings, however, it's up to the consumer whether or not buy when the price is high. And yes, I realize that as always, the poorest are the most affected. However, consider that unless the middle- and upper-incomes close their wallets to overpricing and profiteering, things will not get better for those with lower incomes.

We cry about poor gas mileage, but what are we driving? Every SUV, every pickup, every 'luxury car', EVERY vehicle which gets less than 50 mpg is a vote in favor of wastefulness. I don't think subsidizing a profitable business is going to encourage that business to produce something which might be less profitable. That goes for car manufacturers just as it goes for electricity producers. Want the government to subsidize? Then let it help pay for the basic living expenditures of those proved to poor to pay. And let the government provide low-cost loans for those businesses which provide a needed service in energy-production and efficiency, such as wind-farms and solar hot water. Don't spend your taxes on supporting the big-name businesses -- if they want to continue being big names, they already have their own R&D departments.

Before you yell at me, consider which -in real life- would be most likely to rapidly produce an affordable 100 mpg car:
...... Giving a company all the money it needs to develop and produce one (government subsidy)?
...... Or putting a sliding scale (according to actual mpg), customer paid surcharge on any vehicle on the road.

I'd bet that several hundred million car owners yelling for immediate improvement of MPG [and refusing to settle for less] would have considerably more effect on vehicle manufacturers than any amount of free money from the government.


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

This is not the 1970s. It's different this time. The high oil prices are here for the foreseeable future. It's the result of a lack of leadership in Washington to address our energy needs in a rational, meaningful way. Now it feels like it's too late. We're stuck with this for a long, long time. The only silver lining: maybe some realistic alternative energy models will finally become available.

In the meantime, we're in for a lot of pain.


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large vehicles and gas

I keep hearing downsize the vehicle. BUT I use a wheelchair and have to have a van with fully automatic drive-in ramp so I have no choice. Also, what about people with large families. I used to drive a small Honda Civic and loved it. I would have one now - but I have no choice.


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

I don't think anyone is other than sympathetic to those who MUST use a larger vehicle. IMO, comments on this thread should not be applied to those dependent upon wheelchairs or other mechanical mobility support systems, or to municipal emergency vehicles.

But for everyone else, there is a difference between "must" and "want", and I think those who "want" are going to have to face the reality of ever-rising gas prices to which they are contributing by their self-indulgence in driving gas-gulping vehicles. Really, (with a few specific exeptions) no one actually *needs* the surfeit of horsepower in today's vehicles.

BTW, public transportation systems using battery-powered busses are common in a number of cities throughout the world. Remember that anything that runs on electricity can have the electricity provided by solar power. There is absolutely no reason to go to war to grab at the rapidly diminishing oil supply; there is every reason to support companies who have insisted that their R&D develop more efficient batteries and/or more efficient solar capture systems. A system's size is not so important as its effectiveness (I'd like to write that bit of common sense on the sky!) as shown by today's pocket calculators as opposed to the original room-sized models. We complain about the cost of power, yet every building that is not equipped with the means for self-support through solar hot water and PV panels is contributing to the cost WE pay for power. Think about those roofs the next time you drive through even a small town. There is a lot of square footage already available that could use *small* PV panels to provide most if not all of the electrical power needed. We don't need future improvements, we do need to use the resources that are available right now.


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

The problem is that PV is not quite 'ready for primetime'. Still too expensive for adopting by the masses (which we need to do). If the promise of the new 'thin film' technology pans out and we can get away from the too costly crystalline panels, we'll be in great shape. Thin film along with ultracapacitors (Google EEstor) will be our salvation if they work. In the meantime we should explore and share the best currently practical technologies such as good insulation, heat recovery units on A/Cs (my favorite here in Florida), multi-pane windows, etc. The best strategies are those that reduce your power bill as much as possible without needing any intervention on your part...letting 'the house do the work'. An example is a programmable thermostat that insure that the heat/A/C will be turned lower because it's too easy for the last one out to forget to turn it down. Another is, my fave, HRUs that quietly provide all your hot water for free in the background while also increasing the A/Cs efficiency. In hot climes solar shades on the outside of the windows are also major energy savers. Who else can suggest efficient, cost effective, 'passive' saving strategies?


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

It's not a case of "no single person can impact..." It's a case of not noticing the one out of ten thousand who has taken steps to lessen dependence on oil and oil products. You *will* notice the impact once there are sufficient singles in congregate so that a hundred and then a thousand and then most of the ten thousand have removed themselves from the oil dependency. But each of those must begin as "a single person who CAN impact..."

It's very easy to sit back and demand that the Big Government or Big Business or *Somebody* needs to do something. What most people tend to forget is that the doing must be started small and encouraged to grow, until there are enough separate smalls to draw the attention of any sort of Big. Think about aluminum recycling which seems an obvious way of obtaining aluminum... yes, businesses had to willing to convert to aluminum (remember the old Coke bottles?) but conversion was not enough until enough single people became willing to toss the cans into the recycle bin, one by one by one.

The same process is going to have to occur in regards to solar and wind power... it isn't enough to have the occasional humongous windtower providing electricity for a few thousand houses, it's going to take individuals insisting that having a PV panel and a solar hot water system for each house is practical, and will make a difference. And they will have to prove their case one by one by one before Big anything takes notice.


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

When have people ever gotten together and suffered individualy the hardship of conservation for the good of the whole? If you can name me one group of more than 200 people I will eat my hat. Tragedy of the commons my friends tragedy of the commons. This goes out the door with a war for the most part because we give up in order to protect ourselves from a real threat but when the threat is starvation people act as gluttonous as they can.

Alaska and Texas and the gulf of Mexico are still producing oil, and as it is a liquid it flows downhill or up hill towards money, and Alaskan oil goes to the highest bidder, be it Asian or American or European. We just use way more oil than we produce, have for quite a while now. Electric cars are up and coming and hopefully so in nuclear power, if not for green peace the air would be cleaner and the stream less polluted, there would be less radioactive waste and there would be a lower rick of disaster too, nuclear is clearly the answer, it can offset everything else and it doesn't just produce in the day time or when its windy it produces when we need it, and people will always go for that. The stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones and the fossil fuel age will not end because of fossil fuel shortages.


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RE: Profound Lifestyle Changes

So, if it's "It's a case of not noticing the one out of ten thousand who has taken steps to lessen dependence on oil and oil products.", how do we do that? And, not just the one or two of us here on this forum but how are the one out of every ten thousand promoted to the masses so we can achieve an actual reductoin in consumption of non-renewable resources?

Gary drops links every now and again to his site related to his and other's solar related energy conservation activities. I drop links every now and again to my site on our home reno and home energy conservation activities. But, we (us here in this forum) are not the masses; we are the early adopters.

My point was that perhaps we just need to focus on taking individual action rather than just complaining on other's not changing or just complaining about the government inaction or just complaining about the high price of energy.

That's what Gary's doing. That's what I'm doing. That's what a few more of us are going. We may not agree on the one single best way for absolutely everyone (not that there is one :-) ), but we are taking individual responsibity and telling others about it so hopefully others can benefit from our experiences.

Dan


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