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Cheap Oil or Alternative Energy

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by otis p. driftwood, May 27, 2008.

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Is the current cost of energy good or bad?

Poll closed May 30, 2008.
  1. Yes, in the long run it's good, as it will force more efficiency and development.

    5 vote(s)
    38.5%
  2. Hell no!

    5 vote(s)
    38.5%
  3. I don't really know. I'd be happier if it didn't cost me $100 to fill my car every week.

    3 vote(s)
    23.1%
  1. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    Which would you rather have? For years various groups in this country have been mentioning the cost of gasoline in Europe, suggesting we should pay the same amount. People have been begging for conservation and more efficiency.

    Now we're either at or very close to the point where the market is going to correct--with more efficient vehicles being sold and more demanded, and various other "alternative energy sources" are going to become more accepted, from solar and wind to Vermont Electric's cow power (methane).

    I would think that the groups who've been lobbying for years about alternative energy and complaining that the US has been getting away with paying too little would now be happy, but they seem to be the ones complaining the most, and blaming the current administration, forgetting about the eight years before where nothing was done either (I'm not excusing the current administration at all).

    Brazil went through a period of several years of economic hell as they shifted from a petro based economy to ethanol. Now Brazil is one of the strongest, fastest growing economy in the world today.

    I'm not wishing for higher prices, God knows. And I'm not happy about the economic problems the higher prices bring with them. But if it forces a radical shift in the way we use energy and the energy sources we use, is it worth it?

    That's the question I have....
  2. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Rookie

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    You left out the health benefits of getting away from fossil fuels. Mercury and other harmful heavy metals are released from it's use. Autism and other neurological diseases have gone through the roof in the last half-century. Respiratory disorders especially in urban areas, have been rising during the same period. Solvents and refinement processes damage the environment. Those costs often get left out of the calculations of the full cost of the use of fossil fuels. Not sure why when one out of 160 children in the US are born with a type of autism.
  3. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    Indeed. I'm pleased to see that glass is making a comeback, as people are finding it's cheaper than petro based plastic and more easily recyclable.

    There's an interesting article in this month's or last month's Discover about a guy who studies these health issues in kids, and how much less exposure kids can tolerate (it was apparently a big shock when it was discovered...I'm not sure how, common sense says that kids are usually outside more, in the dirt, and they're smaller and they're growing...but I'm not a scientist so wtf do I know after all...).

    They tracked exposure levels in one neighborhood near a power plant, and the odd thing was, the power plant was in a more affluent area, where the college professors and so forth were living, and their kids were off the charts for lead and arsinic and so forth.
  4. STFarmy

    STFarmy Rookie

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    I voted the first option. It's really quite the pain, but we're so apathetic in this country only something like expensive gas will make us look long and hard at ourselves and improve. If prices started falling tomorrow, we'd forget all about this and sink back into our routines. This is a problem we have to face (dependence on foreign oil), and we need to get started on it right away.

    So yeah, it sucks now, I know. But I'm hoping for a better future.
  5. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Can you provide evidence of that? What radical shift took place during the during the Carter presidency? What radical shifts are taking place in home heating efficiency as a result of the high prices of oil? Small shifts occur, consumer behavior temporarily changes, there is some increased investment in alternative energy (such as solar energy during the Carter years), but I don't think any fundamental shift occurs. Rather, we simply adapt to the new price structure, and eventually our wages catch up. For most of us, an extra $20/week in gas will not break the bank or make us consider investments in lower cost energy.
  6. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    During that time my father bought a car that got 45 or so mpg (Dodge Colt). Now the supposed great efficient vehicles are stuck around 30.

    And it's not just an extra few dollars in gas either. It's increases in electricity, it's also that I just paid around $850 for 192 gallons of heating oil....

    The solar thing in the Carter years hardly compares, IMO. I know you have a soft spot for Carter, but I'm talking about something else entirely. Solar then meant these gigantic panels that weren't very efficient and cost a crap load of money. Solar now is a thin flexible strip that's much more efficient.

    But I almost think you missed the point of the thread, that's probably my fault....

    My question was (and is) is the record cost of petro-fuel, coupled with the new demand (China and India weren't major consumers back in the Carter glory years) and evidence suggesting that the oil fields are playing out...plus as wistah mentioned health problems...is it all a good thing if it spurs alternative energy development and production (you yourself have made the point that the technology has improved so much...btw).

    Don't argue with me just because it's me, read what I'm saying regarding energy use and a potential shift.

    Are you or are you not in favor of moving from petro based energy to cleaner, renewable sources?
  7. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    My point was that there was no radical shift during the Carter years, the last time we had an oil crisis. Sure, there was a short term shift to smaller, more efficient cars, but once our economy recovered, there was renewed interests in larger, less efficient cars. The shift did not last long, nor did it lead to fundamental change. I don't think high oil prices will do that now. To do that, I think prices would need to double yet again. I think most of us can handle the current price of oil without any real difficulty. At least we're not going to replace our home furnaces and cars anytime soon.
  8. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    The Carter administration was over 30 years ago. There's a whole new generation involved now, one that's essentially a lifetime younger. You can't make the argument that people who'd grown up on gas costing 50 cents a gallon didn't change to people who're paying $4 and up, with no end in sight.

    And as you've mentioned in other threads, the technology has improved now.
  9. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'm not disagreeing that high prices lead to changes in behavior and development of new technologies, but during the Carter era it didn't lead to fundamental change, and I don't think it will do so now. You said, "it forces a radical shift in the way we use energy and the energy sources we use, is it worth it?" I agree it fosters a shift, but not a radical one. I mean, if you think practically about it, for most of us the increased price of gas will cost $20/week or so and we have already adjusted our personal finances to handle the high price of home heating oil. If what I said it's true, it's not enough to create a fantastic new market for energy alternatives. The market will be roughly the same as it was, maybe a little better. Have you taken many steps to conserve oil or have you bought energy efficient appliances simply because the price has gone up?
  10. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    Actually yes, thanks for asking. I had a new, more efficient furnace installed last year, and I just bought a brand new front loading high efficiency washer to replace the old energy hog. And when I had the furnace installed I also spent the extra cash to have the furnace piped to my electric hot water heater so that the waste heat from the steam boiler would heat the water, cutting down on electric use.
    I also drive much less than I used to.

    But seriously, isn't that part of the problem? That we got through the gas crisis and the costs went down and we got used to it so the car that my father bought that was getting 40 or 45 mpg is now replaced by compact cars that get 10-15 less?

    So the question is whether or not higher prices and a new generation of thinkers and technology will finally push us into cleaner renewable energy or not, isn't it?

    I must say, I'm a little confused that you seem to be against the idea of weaning the nation from petro-based energy and products.

    And you see it more and more...look at the city of Austin and their green building code.
    Last edited: May 27, 2008
  11. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    a.paul, the only part of what you said that I disagree with is that high prices will lead to radical change. I don't think it's enough to really push this country into being greener, except in the sense that people might elect politicians who introduce legislation to make things greener. But, I don't think high prices will lead to massive investment in alternative energy. Will it have an impact? Yes. But, nothing dramatic.
  12. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    Maybe I'm just not quite as cynical as I thought I was.
    :D:D
  13. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The impact of shortages during the Carter adm. did little for the car industry as they do not seem to want to change.. the biggest impact was on the building industry as there was a whole new industry of developing better and more efficient insulation the use of 2 X 6 exterior walls, high efficiency boilers etc. The whole building industry has changed because of this..
  14. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    One thing you overlook. Thirty years on, the solar and wind technology is far more advanced. I wasn't running around with a cell phone that took video either back during Carter's Presidency.

    The cost differential between going solar for your home is VASTLY narrower now than in 1978. It still is a difference, but the breakpoint timeline for the upfront cost of installation is now (depending on the home/building) ranging from 9-15 years instead of 40.
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
  15. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    Thanks--that's what I was trying to say as well.
  16. fair catch fryar

    fair catch fryar Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    I'm afraid it's a little more bleak for others than you simply suggest. Between my wife and I, with our weekly commute to work, combined , we're spending $60 more a week on our modest vehicles. In 1977, China and India also weren't growing economically at the astronomical rate they are now. Together, these two countries alone account for 1.5 billion consumers with new found purchasing power that includes the urge to "chuck the mule and the rickshaw" for a car of their very own. Not too mention, I am putting in a new heating system (switching from oil to natural gas) with a boiler that was made in Belgium and runs at 95% efficiency. Next year, I am putting in a wood pellet stove as a secondary source of heat.
    Last edited: May 31, 2008
  17. MrBigglesWorth

    MrBigglesWorth Rookie

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    there is a ton of mercury in energy efficient bulbs... ironic huh?

    i'm sure if cars go to batteries there will be chemicals in those batteries.


    how is gov't going to tax alternative energy? they will lose a ton of revenue. that is the problem why alternative energy isn't going to happen for a while. govt is corrupt and needs to be reclaimed by the people
  18. MrBigglesWorth

    MrBigglesWorth Rookie

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    i'd go electricity for a supplemental. the pellets will soon go up in price and demand
  19. otis p. driftwood

    otis p. driftwood Rookie

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    I was thinking much the same--there's a lot more that is done with the sawdust and scraps, they make dimensional lumber with it too now.
  20. fair catch fryar

    fair catch fryar Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    The thought has crossed my mind as well, but as an actual heat source, wouldn't the BTU's from wood pellets still be far more efficient that electric, much in the same way that radiant heat is compared to forced hot air? Also, as a region, New England is in a very good position in regards to the future production of wood pellets and possibly keeping the price of them reasonable, unless we start building huge wind tower farms off the coast or in the mountains, thus bringing down the price of electricity.

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