Bullets and beans, bullets and beans, bullets and beans.:frownold:
Bullets and beans, bullets and beans, bullets and beans.:frownold:
Is that like "guns or butter?" I think we've long ago decided on "guns". Short investment, quickest return... though eventually we starve.
No, that's like what we better stock up on since it looks like there is no avoiding something pretty bad down the road! Not driving is not an option for many people. There are too many people who cannot car pool, who will die if they can't go for chemo therapy or dialysis. There are too many people who are barely hanging on financially and between the rising cost of oli products and the cost of things they affect, there is no more wiggle room. The predicted one million foreclosures this years will be much higher if nothing is done to lower oil prices. I'm not blaming the President, and I know businesses exist to profit and enrich their stockholders, BUT! Oil is an essential commodity and if it is either the collapse of our economy or big oil and their investors profits, I choose our economy to survive.
I can't and won't argue your thinking, as I pretty much agree. But the fight has historically been a no-winner for the public.
But look at Europe, they've been paying those high prices for a very long time. And of late, it isn't only the price of "petro" for their cars, but the gas that they need to heat thier homes and that at times cannot be purchased for any price... it is simply not available in the quantity needed. What would we go then?
The fact of the matter is that there's little that the population can do... just look at the rolling brownouts reported on the west coast. Back in the first part of the last decade, this was very serious for many. There were closed-door meetings between top government officials and all kinds of "stories" about collusion... and even specific acts fo wrong-doing. Has anyone in the government been investigated, found guilty... no, it has all been pretty much "sealed".
Personally, I think the way out of this problem is a significantly simpler vehicle, one that runs on something different than gasoline. This would give the oil companies a chance to see their business decline because of competition. If that could happen, you'll watch the gas prices fall faster than Newt Gingrich's poll numbers.
But to do that, we need some major changes in our mindset and in safety requirements on vehicles and frankly on the whole concept of vehicle performance and add-on necessities.
Here's what I'm thinking:
There are only a couple of times a month when I really need a vehicle like my Dodge van. I need that extra storage and I need it to carry my wife and I safely for 160 miles (round trip) at 70-plus mph, and in relative comfort (like heat and A/C... though we rarely use the latter).
But on a daily basis, my trips range from 1 to occasionally 15 miles. My speed is limited to about 45 mph. The total load is my wife and I (260 lbs) and maybe a few shopping bags... say another 200 lbs (dreaming of course). In the winter I need some heat and in the summer A/C is a luxury, but I could easily live without it... after all I'm only in the vehicle for maybe twenty minutes at a time.
So, do I need gasoline and the engine that it drives? Do I need a 2-ton vehicle with all the air bags, power equipment, and other refinereries that they shove at us? And, do I need a vehicle capable of 120 mph? I think the answer to these questions is NO! Really, I could probably get along on a daily basis with something a bit safer and more weather resistant than a golf cart. But I certainly wouldn't take a golf cart out onto the highways that we've sunk $Billions into.
In other words, let us look at the automobile as a "tool"... with "tools", we most always select the right one to fit the job! Having a transportation "tool" that is designed and regulated for the absolute maximum of speed and distance and capacity, is really sort of stupid when you really think about it. A 35 mph, short-range, minimum capacity vehicle requires much less in power, suspension, braking, and crash safety protection. No power assist would really be required for anything.
Would this really require a total multii-billion $ R&D program and a total retooling? Not really, golf cart tecnology is readily available, so motors, batteries, braking, suspension, steering, and even capacity is already here... but for my vehicle, I would certainly enhance that and make some changes regarding visual attraction and weather protection.
I'd probably look to our colleges and it's great wealth of creativity for a better design and I'd probably make it a competition. Setting the parameters of weight, capacity, speed, and safety at those speeds. I'd probably set the maximum speed at 35 or 40 mph, the maximum load at 1,000 lbs (or less for a 2-passenger vehicle), and a maximum range of 100 miles. We wouldn't need A/C or any "power" options, but then I wouldn't limit those either, as long as we could maintain a maximum vehicle weight that would define this thing as a lightweight. With that mass greatly reduced, along with the speed, we wouldn't need expensive tires, or even elaborate suspension and braking systems.
Perhaps we could build such a vehicle that would be confined to streets that were specifically designed and perhaps at first, designated for this type of vehicle. (I could sit down and in a course of a day or so mark routes to almost every point in our area that would get us there and keep us out of harms way with the bigger vehicles. Such vehicles could be used on normal 30 mph-limited city streets, but would probably better serve if, for the most part they could be separated from heavier vehicles and keep the latter confined to main thoroughfares and 4-lanes. Almost every living area has parallel streets and roads that could be restricted to this kind of light-weight, slower traffic.
Now, my thinking is that the majority of home dwellers in my area are very much like my wife and I. We need to go here and there and we need to do it in our own time frame and we need to be independant... in other words, those things which keep most people off of "public transit systems". We don't need to get there as quickly as we do and let's face it.... the usual time difference would often only be a few minutes more.
Such vehicles wouldn't require anywhere near the infrastructure required of heavy vehicles, and maintenance costs would be significantly lower. Best all, I'd probably save $20 a week in gas. No oil at all and maybe tires once every five or six years. We also wouldn't have to be so worried everytime we handed those keys to our teenagers. As I said before, but will re-phrase... how really dumb is it, that most of our "tripping" is at minimal speeds and yet our vehicles are designed to exceed these speeds by three or four times!?
Not for everyone I know and even for me, I still want my van for those "big" loads and "long" hauls. But the saving I'd make in gasoline on a day-to-day basis would be substantial... multiply that my a few thousand, just in my area alone.
So, most of our kind of need would be pretty cost efficient, with no pollution, and very little wear and tear on the highways. The cost of such a vehicle would be dramatically lower too, especially if built on a massive scale.
So, who would build such a vehicle? Probably none of the big three by themselves. So, I'd propose having the manufacturing become something significantly different than we presently know as "Detroit". I call that the "JEEP" concept... as back then the government set out the parameters. Then they took the top design and awarded it to a variety of manufacturers for building.
WE "the people" do own a good share of at least one car company... but what if we took this single design and made it "free-market" and in fact built it in modular fashion... brakes could be made by a variety of U.S. vendors...all meeting a single mounting/actuation design. Do this with all components and allow anyone to build it. Imagine, if you will, manufacturing it locally... having not one central manufacturing point, but a widespread series of final assembly plants. One which would supply local markets. Inspection criteria would be important of course, but that such certification can be built into the licensing system and there are literally tens-of-thousands of vehicle inspectors already in our communities. That would be a great boon to thier business too. Above all, let's make this vehicle as inexpensive as possible, so almost anyone could afford one in addition to their "Highway" vehicle.
Imagine! Is this just a stupid idea or is there some relief that could come of it?
Now, if that could work (or even if it wouldn't)... could this concept be brought to other needs in our lives. Perhaps an economical heating system, electric generator, water purifier (using rain water) or whatever.
Many of today's economic problems exist today, simply because we have changed from localized, self-sufficient economies to global dependancies. I think is that we get stuck in a world where "bigger and all encompassing", meet all requirements, is the motivation. But does it have to be? The answer is a profound "NO".
Guys, we discussed many ideas, but in my opinion are no closer to figuring out how this will all play out. Toom many folks unemployed or so close to broke they can't afford a new car with better technology and gas mileage. Too many folks who live far from their jobs and can't use mass transit or car pool. President Obama says there is no quick fix and if he is correct then I think there will be a quicker negative response and impact to our economy. We can't drill our way out of this, we can't force big oil to reduce prices and not sell to communist china. Well, we can't run our cars on hopes and dreams, so where does that leave us?
Maybe instead of a "cash for clunker" program, the government can offer a "cash for perfectly good car or truck program"?
My 1999 Ford Explorer runs fine, passes emissions, no problems except the 10miles per gallon it gets. Would they let me trade it in for a tiny death trap that is one third it's size and weight and gets 40mpg? I could buy a scooter to get around town, and carry a cyanide capsule in case I ditch. I really don't want to go through months of pain and rehab at this point in my life. Come on guys, must I figure this out on my own? Frank
Franki, do us all a favor and just take the pill now :biggrinold:
I wonder what the payback rate is for NG versus gas/diesel?... or are we just using more technology to lower our carbon footprint no matter what the cost?
The problem is that nobody wants to "figure it out"... every time something with potential comes up, the price of gas drops and everyone forgets that there really was a problem a few months before. As long as the gas is flowing and it's cheap, we don't want to hear about making any changes.
The other part of the problem is that one industry gets to manage the flow, the cost, the problem, and the challenges. I just listened to a radio report about the XL pipeline and the Alberta oil sands. How much do any of us really know about any of that, other than what some oil-supported politician and big oil wants us to believe? Any news program that would want to explore such a story would suffer tremendously for it.... have you noticed the number of API commercials that occur during the News hour or on the big news networks? What do you think would happen to those revenues, should any story be pushed that they might deem negative? It is rather strange I think that there are so many of us who don't trust the government, but are so quick to believe the petro-chem business.
For example... how many of us know that we are already receiving Alberta heavy crude via a pipeline and that the "XL" will actually be a second, much larger line? How many of us know that pipelines "leak". The radio program had the head of this pipeline company saying that "we have the technology today to build a line that is almost leak-free". ALMOST "leak free" doesn't quite sound all that good, especially when they're planning to run it across some of the best aquafers in the mid-part of the country. Also, are any of us knowledgeable about the whole process of getting that oil out of the Alberta "oil sands"? In order to do so, the sand has to be heated to very high temperatures and the pollution is drastically worse than any other oil-retrieval process in use.
I know that my ex-employer put heavy equipment into Alberta back in the early 2000's. That equipment is extremely heavy-duty and "special" because of the challenges to scavenging the oil from the sands. Even then, the oil is extremely dirty and is so heavy (like oatmeal) that it has to be chemically treated in order to flow through any pipeline. Like the hydro-fracking business, those chemicals are a secret and no one in the pathway of this thing has any idea of how much damage these chemicals might cause.
The other unknown of course is whether any of this is even really necessary and will it really benefit the drivers in this country? They say it will create thousands of jobs... but just like up here in our region, with the fracking business, we don't see hardly any local employment. Most of those jobs are veteran oil workers who come here from Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and elsewhere. They may not even be native to there. We've seen a big increase in crime, brawls, a few stabbings and reports of rental property being trashed by transients. I know I approached a local realtor/management company about putting my Painted Post home in the rental market as there is an increased demand, and I'm only there a few days each month. I was told I'd be crazy to do so, unless I didn't care what happened to the property. Also when you really think about it, as this pipeline moves south, the workers move right along with it... but maybe they plan on just laying it out so well that construction can begin everywhere at once.... NOT likely! I wonder how many NEW jobs were created when the Alaska pipeline was built and exactly how long those jobs lasted? API makes it sound like these will be forever jobs... which of course would be wrong, except for possible maintenance folks who are constantly fixing those leaks.
Also mentioned in this News segment, was that at the moment the main pipeline juncture in Oklahoma has more oil than it knows what to do with. The demand for gasoline in this country is actually down from even few years ago, and we're currently in an oil glut. Why the gasoline prices are so high is all a matter of conjecture of course, but frankly IMO, most of it is speculation and the manipulation of the market. If every voter was happy with the gasoline supply and the price, there's not much reason to give them this pipeline and there's not much reason to okay hydro-fracking and risk the potential damages that might occur. But, if we can make the people believe there's a shortage, that our enemies are going to shut us off, and that what we want is risk free and holds great potential for long-lasting jobs and a future of cheap gasoline and wonderful rainbows then they'll go for it... and if we can hurt the hell out of them right now, all our promises will be so welcome, that none of them will think about it or even want to know the truth.
So if we do build this pipeline, who is going to benefit from it? Certainly it won't be U.S. drivers, as I'm sure we'll be exporting oil on a very large scale. It's a global market and that kind of thing has happened to the American consumer time and time again. Whether it is wheat to Russia, or corn for fuel, or taking cattle to market because the droughted lands in the west can't support the cattle... we, the consumer do not get any advantage because of it... we only get to compete for U.S. commodities on the global market. What we need is legislation that says, supply America first at fair prices and make your profit gouges from the foreign market, not your fellow citizens. That of course is never going to happen, these guys are just too greedy and they've bought enough legislature that they can spin the story without fear of being found out.
BUT, there is a way out of this... it just can't be done in a few days and it certainly can't be done if we look to massive corporations to do it for us. Problems don't always have to be faced on the largest scale possible. As I outlined in my previous post, it's stupid to build cars that guzzle gas because the engines need to hurl a ton or more of steel down the highway at three times the highest national speed limit, especially when almost all local driving is under 40 mph and only a few miles distance to shop and go to work. While it is certainly true that major numbers of us need heavier, higher power vehicles because they're living a good length from work and shopping, there are vast numbers of us who don't or who have planned better. Most of the country is not like Los Angeles or New York City or Chicago or Houston where the job may be in the city, but you live 50 miles or more away.
The problem of course is the "one-size-fits" all thinking and we build cars for the potential that occasion might require some extreme of going 80 mph for 300 miles. It's the one-tool-fits-all approach and the regulations for safety features follows that thinking. If we make an engine and drive train, body, seating, steering, brakes, and safety with the capability of doing 120, it certainly isn't going to be as efficient as an engine for a lightweight vehicle design that only needs to do 40 and carry a few hundred pounds of humans for a few miles. At 30 mph for short distance, we don't need all that mass, protection, engine, tires, suspension, brakes, power equipment etc. We could build a lightweight, low speed, short distance vehicle for a fraction of the cost and we could lower these light-weight vehicle safety standards to match the much less danger potential at this lower mass and velocity.
Much of the failure of current electric or hybrid drive cars is that they are being designed for long-range, high speed potential that many of us only need on rare occasion. In doing so, we have to come up with new and very expensive high-capacity batteries. Drive mechanisms that provide for 70 or 80 or more on highway speeds for well over a 100 miles and can carry all the weight that a normal gas guzzler can handle. With all that comes much higher cost than would be necessary otherwise.
But if you built a lightweight vehicle, with local limited speed in mind, and a short distance "fuel" supply, you don't need the much more expensive batteries and you don't need all the other devices either. In fact, you might not even need a speedometer, as the car wouldn't have the potential to speed. If I was the designer, I'd probably just fit the vehicle with an off-the-shelf GPS unit, as it does a pretty good job of speed indication. Such a vehicle would be designed only for the purpose of getting around a population center, without it costing you a fortune in non-renewable, processed fuel. The body, the seats, the brakes, the tires.... none of it has to be built for high speed manuevering and thus can be substantially cheaper to build and to maintain. Because it was low speed, low mass, you wouldn't require nearly the safety features (or at least at that cost), and it would be a vehicle that I need to sit up and worry about my teenager taking for a high-speed recklous spin either.
Similarly, the resources in assembly and numbers wouldn't require a centralized manufacturing system of such collosal size either. And yes, we could even run it on natural gas from local supply if we directed the design at engine options and a safe method for home fueling. We could also be recycling waste and even producing alcohol or methane locally (bring back the moonshiners) as a fuel. I'm neither an engineer or a chemist, but one might hope that the need for low speed transport fuel, wouldnt' require any of the energy potential that modern gasoline produces. And if that is true, then the price might well be considerably lower. However, any fuel needs to ensure it's low- or non-pollution effects.
We could probably approach this kind of vehicle on a local basis, if given a common, free-market design (see my earlier post here). A bit of creativity and ingenuity could get us out of the enslavement to gasoline and crude oil that we are stuck in... at least on a local transportation basis. Such a free-market vehicle would make for hundreds of local jobs and it would create all kinds of off-shoots just like the PC business did, with quickly replaced or installed third-party options. Call it a Model T or a VW, or maybe a PET (Personal Electric Transport) and design it for simple operation and repair with modular-like construction and a common, free-market design so everybody can take advantage of it. In other words, it could be like a bicycle or a table saw, in that a common design doesn't have to be built or repaired with proprietary components. While significantly more complex that either a bike or a saw, the complexity only should be in the number of component assemblies, and not in the propriety or technologically challenging methods of assembly or repair. In other words, like an onboard GPS, motor, battery, or other system, the assemply could just be unplugged and bolted and then replaced.
We need to free ourselves, at least in some part, from being dependant on major suppliers of fuel and guzzling vehicles that are over built for our everyday uses. All of that needs to be an "objective" for the future, and it won't happen overnight.
Overnight though, we could simply replan our days. Many of us are retired. Many of us work locally (I did) and therefore we could walk, ride the bike, or simply consolidate our trips or just rethink them. I know some people live to shop... well, life is tough, if you can afford $5 gasoline, please continue your habits... otherwise stay home, read a book, make cookies, and/or start a garden. People travel too much anyway and look where it has got us.
What I would like to see:
Rather than mine the lithium needed for the heavy battery systems to lug around, instead install little, black, nuclear "Hot boxes" in every vehicle from subcompacts, Trailer pullers, to freight trains to power the great electric motors needed to move such vehicles.
Bonus round: Such black boxes, when not in use for locomotion, instead plug in to power your home, via a transfer switch to ensure it stays off the grid when doing so.
Oh, by the way. There is a lithium mine discovered in northern Afghanistan estimated to be worth two trillion dollars over the life of the mine, which our old friend China will get it's grubby little fingers into and give the Afghan government a cut to get it. It gets better, up north, where I was stationed, the airfield, initially taken over by the US, sold to the Germans, which the US now pays a lease to use, will also be used by the Chinese (Whom will also pay the Germans to use) to haul in the aircraft and equipment needed for the whole operation.
Which explains partly why our government is in dire financial straights. Our government is currently paying for things we should be GETTING paid for. If not for the lithium, at least be the one manning the tollbooth that leads to it. Don't even get me started on which country is now manning the tollbooth at the Panama canal.
CWS, good post. They do have now something similar to what you refer to; they are NEVs or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles.
I am sure you can find plenty about them on the www.