remind me, why are we so dependant on oil?

Mar 13 '06 45 Last Comment
Mar 13, 06 12:27 pm

Oh yes, I remember now. One big reason is that the oil industry pays our congress people to keep us that way.

Click here and enter your zip code to find out how much money your representatives have received from the oil and gas industries.

Here in Ohio, our Senators have taken no less than $600,000 in. That money alone could buy like 30 hybrids. Or perhaps a year of research on alternative energy technologies. But I'm glad that our worthless politicians got it instead.


Mar 13, 06 12:32 pm

over half of the production of oil goes to generating electricity. If the public weren't so irrationally scared of nuclear energy we could could drastically reduce our dependence. Hybrid cars aren't going to do it. Every industry in the world gives money to politicians and 600,000 just isn't that much.

Mar 13, 06 12:47 pm

thanks wonderk

galford- a few questions for you:

-the US is poised to more than triple its consumprtion over the next 15 years. If we built 1 nuclear power plant a month from here till then, we CAN NOT MEET THE DEMAND. What would you do about the current U.S. consumption trends and the imposibility of building that many plants?

-Nuclear plants cannot be built without massive use of energy, most of it oil. Where do we get the energy to build these plants?

-What do you do with the Nuclear Waste?

-The Nuclear energy industry is heavily subsidized by the U.S. government. In the balance Nuclear energy WILL COST MORE.

South Africa is experimenting with what they call a small pebble nuclear plant, they see it as what will save the world, but studies have found that the energy bills will double, and the poorest in Africa cannot afford it, ans there arent any real waste management plans. What do you think about their efforts?

I agree with you that hybrid cars (like recycling) actually don't do much, although they may make you feel better. We need a major rethinking of energy use, energy systems, etc...

Mar 13, 06 12:50 pm

A huge amount of oil/energy goes in to the fabrication and construction of the buildings we rigorize up everyday. Also, think about other stuff that has petrolium parts in it, like plastics etc. I agree public transportation and more efficient cars are needed, but oil touches pretty much everything we do.

Mar 13, 06 1:01 pm

i'm slowly starting to think nuclear is the way to go in the short term, at least until solar and biomimicry are developed further. the challenge of figuring out what to do with the waste is starting to seem like a miniscule environmental problem compared to losing the polar ice caps.

Mar 13, 06 1:06 pm

mel- where did you get the figure about the US tripling our energy consumption in the next 15 years? seems suspect to me. i'd believe it about china or india, but i just don't see that kind of rapid growth happening here.

Mar 13, 06 1:09 pm

It's easy to tear into a politician for taking money from "big oil" but in all fairness every big lobbying organization is buying our politicians off. Sure, $600k sounds like a lot, but in the lobbying world it's not that much and all the organizations most often associated with the Democrats give just as generously.

Why we are dependant on oil is that it runs the economy. As Hasselhoff noted, the stuff touches everything. The gasoline you pour into your car isn't the majority of America's consumption. If everyone were driving a Prius it wouldn't solve our dependancy. Our entire world economy is based on hydrocarbons. If you want to end that you are also want to go back to living as we did 150 years ago. Take your choice.

Mar 13, 06 1:10 pm

sorry bryan, i wrote it wrong

i meant that it is growing by a third, is that right, well it is a 37% increase from 2000 levels.

i got it from the 2030 website for the U.S.:

the most of the rest of the world:

Mar 13, 06 1:29 pm

"They've said it every year, but this time it seems like,
the end IS near, and I'm in line to see the light"

Crumble - Sage Francis

Mar 13, 06 1:39 pm

bp, formerly BP Amoco do not give any money to politicians, or political causes, and have not for several years.

Without having used so many hydrocarbons we would not have had the scientific advances that we have had.

Micro-generation is a good way to cut emissions and needless waste.

Bio-mimicry will be an answer.

Look at the American low-density planning regulations. They demand that (you) Americans are so far from amenities that you must drive. However, as above, most of the energy is embodied/used in construction processes. Think again about the need to build.

Mar 13, 06 1:40 pm
Mar 13, 06 1:42 pm

I use a Miche chainset, 48:16, which is a bit heavy for messenger work. Thus I look next weekend to put a nice 19 tooth on the back, just like that...

Mar 13, 06 1:43 pm

My 2 WI senators have taken just over $12,500 from oil! Go Demcorats! (btw, Senator Herb Kohl only totals $300 of that amount. He's a nice old man, came to my house when I was like 5 years old...)

Queen of England
Mar 13, 06 7:26 pm

Why is American dependant on oil? I don’t know. But when global demand pushes prices through the roof America is going to pay. Every dollar conserved today equals two dollars conserved when oil prices double, Europe knows this and is making huge investments in sustainable technology (not nuclear).

Mar 13, 06 7:36 pm

Where is my Mr. Fusion already? It's 2006, get with it science!

Mar 13, 06 10:57 pm

I think many of you have made good points. I think my original point in starting the thread was that we can fuss and discuss all we want, but as long as these giant companies continue to give money to people that we elect, we're going to be helpless. Unless one of us is an elected politician, or a nuclear physicist. Then we can talk.

I have to go watch the Daily show now. More later.

Mar 13, 06 11:50 pm

How much embodied energy is in a Shimano cogset? Let's get serious and start making our bikes out of something rapidly renewable.

Like hemp.

Mar 14, 06 12:01 am

Ok, to continue my line of thought, Hasselhoff and A made excellent points. I don't think it's possible to go from completely dependant on oil, as we are now, to going without it. I'm not suggesting that. I mentioned in another thread not too long ago that it does touch everything in our lives and if the price spiked tomorrow, our economy would tank in a REALLY bad way.

However, I thought that the link I posted in the topic was one worthy of sharing because it illuminates just how much money is wasted on things that aren't productive to getting us off of oil. Because let's face it, handing money to politicians is wasteful. The people who "represent" us today are not representing us. If I had my dithers, I would clean out all 535 of them and start anew.

I guess I feel that if I spread around information like this, that's at least one step in the right direction. And you guys are certainly an attentive audience, and an informed public. If people like us don't do anything about it, by volunteering or talking about it or at the very least, voting, then we're really screwed.

Mar 14, 06 10:18 am

Since you happened to mention it, I am a nuclear physicist, and I'm running for congress. Changes are on the way!

Mar 14, 06 1:36 pm

A, if that were true, I would move to your district and campaign for you. No, really.

Mar 14, 06 6:27 pm

Thinking you folks haven't checked out the Canadian Oil Sand....Everyone lies to us because it is Free World Economics!!!

Mar 14, 06 6:27 pm

Thinking you folks haven't checked out the Canadian Oil Sand....Everyone lies to us because it is Free World Economics!!!

Apr 22, 06 1:30 am

So gas prices are up again. Big surprise. I just checked out a link on that had a bunch of emails from people all over the country. Worth a look to see what people are saying.

oil protest marches, anyone?

The economy is already on the verge of destabilization, why doesn't Bush just send the Saudis some solid gold bars out of Ft. Knox to get those prices down?

Apr 22, 06 1:33 am

For your reading (dis)pleasure:

"The Long Emergency" James Howard Kunstler

"The End of Oil" Paul Roberts

Get ready...

will gallowaywill galloway
Apr 22, 06 4:09 am

kunstler is an alarmist with an axe to grind.

i own (and enjoy, but NEVER take seriously) all of kunstler's recent books, but peter tertzakian's "A Thousand Barrels a Second" is a much more balanced look at the problem of oil consumption round the world.

you would be surprised to know, for instance, that in thre USA most of the oil goes to cars, not to generating electricity (a good portion of USA electrical energy comes from burning coal, and other things, thanks to the oil crisis in the 70's)...

Apr 22, 06 4:32 am

I just read yesterday (I'll check the source) that less than 10 percent of our oil comes from the middle east and they are the third most significant area we import from Canada and Mexico being first and second. Apparently something like 40 percent of our oil is domestic. And something like 30% of oil is spent on shipping (as in large boats not UPS), I guess cars are an easy scape goat, and I suppose the car manufacturers don’t mind being the outlet of peoples frustration allowing them to feel good about themselves because, hey it's not like we're going to stop buying cars anytime soon.

Makes me scratch my head about all this fuss over Middle Eastern Oil. Though I suppose that’s 10 percent of our current import not necessarily what’s sustainable long term. Maybe we'll suck Canada and Mexico dry soon. Cross your fingers for the tar sands?

Kunstler huh? May have to take a look.

will gallowaywill galloway
Apr 22, 06 4:52 am

should have written that the big portion of oil consumption goes to gasoline/fuel rather than to bad.

canada is indeed a big exporter of energy (in many forms) to the usa. scary thing is, according to tertzakian, if the world were to rely on the big hibernia field off of newfoundland it would be sucked dry in a matter of 11 days! a thousand barrels a second is a tough target to meet, but we are doing it day in day out nonethless.

how in the world do we replace that much energy use? next few decades are gonna be interesting.

Apr 22, 06 5:39 am

Fro those of you into nuclear plant, it's Tchernobyl meltdown 20's birthday today! And it looks like the concrete tank around it it slowly collapsing, unless somebody(?) with a lot of money founds a solution, it is still probably the most harmful enverinomental wound caused by humanity...

vado retro
Apr 22, 06 9:03 am

im dependent on this oil...

le bossman
Apr 22, 06 1:16 pm

wow the senators in michigan have taken hardly any compared to the ones in az.

Apr 22, 06 1:53 pm

At least we're not as dependant on coal anymore!

Did you know that Londoners began carrying their characteristic black umbrellas in the 1700s as protection from the coal-black acid rain?

le bossman
Apr 22, 06 3:10 pm

actually, i think coal is the future. the US at least is almost the saudi arabia of coal. when gas prices get high enough, we'll be converting that appalachian gold into gasoline. although, this is much cleaner than just burning straight coal, of course.

le bossman
Apr 22, 06 3:14 pm

does anybody want to talk about coal?

i can't stop thinking about coal!

Apr 22, 06 4:27 pm

we can save a LOT of money if we stop sprawling all over the place. Here in phoenix, you often have to drive 20 -40min to anywhere simply because everything is so spread out. since everyone has to drive so much, there is a high consumption in gas. sprawling may be temporarily economical but the consequence may far be worse. what happens when we run out of oil? cities might have to start shrinking again.

we all should take action to stop sprawl and develop efficient transportation like subways in all cities.

le bossman
Apr 22, 06 4:35 pm

the problem in cities like phx though is you are facing a mentality that is resistant to public transportation. no one wants to spend money on it. that said, i believe houston's very short light rail system is actually the only one in the country that runs at a profit, which was one of the stipulations of even having it, and that its ridership is far greater than what was initially projected. i wonder if this approach could be taken in western cities. i do think that a lot of people in the east valley will use the phoenix system though, and on probably on central ave, though it will likely function as a "park and ride" there. but i doubt if the new light rail is really going to make a significant dent in the valley's culture, in terms of how people view getting around. i know a lot of people who will absolutely refuse to ride it at all costs, solely because they see it as a 'liberal' phenomenon. the farther you get from tempe and scottsdale, the more resistant people will be to the light rail, because people in phoenix sometimes are idiots.

Apr 22, 06 5:15 pm

Cause we like to roll around in it....!

Apr 22, 06 8:15 pm

Happy Earth Day!

Apr 24, 06 12:06 pm

It would seem as though, realistically, we are proably stuck with fossil fuels until fusion comes online in a serious way. Although our lack of serious investment in solar is truely unforgivable. What, we can give away 10 mil to put a few billionairs in space but not to develop a cheap and efficient solar cell?

Apr 24, 06 1:00 pm

has someone brought up ethanol yet? i realize that at this point it takes more oil to produce ethanol than it yields, but this will soon reverse itself once enough production facilities are produced. if current plans to fully implement the 85:15 gas:ethanol policy is a success, than theoretically we would be able to eliminate that 10% middle east oil import, no?
now what would happen if the mix was 50:50 instead...?
and don't even get me started on wind farms!...

Apr 24, 06 1:02 pm

we import at least 30% of our oil from the middle east

Dazed and Confused
Apr 24, 06 2:49 pm

Oil is FUN - remember?

Apr 24, 06 4:44 pm

The problem with ethanol is that it takes agriculture that largely depends on fertilizers that are downstream products of oil. We cannot organically produce enough corn to supply the current ethanol demand. Additionally, no matter how efficient we get at producting ethanol, it still doesn't hold as much energy as an equal amount of gasoline.

Kunstler may be an alarmist and generally makes it sound like everything is going to hell yesterday. While most of us probably agree that suburban sprawl has been wasteful, the past 50 years of cheap oil has created a mentality that will be hard to change. Probably hard for many architects to adapt to. That's from mass transit to housing density to our current freedom of mobility. Arguing amongst ourselves won't change that.

Still, we always focus on gasoline prices and what it costs to fuel up our cars. Nevermind that in one year more energy is lost through cheap and outdated windows than flows through the Alaskan pipeline. When the chaos that Kunstler predicts does finally come we aren't going to be worrying about putting fuel in our cars. We're going to worry about how to heat our homes. We are directly involved in a field that can make a difference. So, are we partly to blame for dependancy on oil (energy)?

will gallowaywill galloway
Apr 24, 06 9:45 pm

we are not dependant on oil to heat our homes.

currently the usa produces electricity from a number of sourcesof which oil contributes about 3 percent. not that most homes are heated by electricity but if it comes down to it the conversion from natural gas to electrical heating isn't unthinkable.

we are without a doubt dependant on oil to run our vehicles, and that is a serious problem. hydrogen as a fuel source is still not quite feasible, but it is possible to increase the efficiency of vehicles by using hybrid cars or converting to deisel engines (which are more effecient).

but the thing is even if every vehicle produced/purchased in the USA from now on were a hybrid the demand for oil would do no more than go flat. it would take that much just to ameliorate the growth in demand.

energy consumption is homes can surely be improved, and i suppose it will be once heating costs go up. whether people will move downtown because of fuel cots i don't know. i really doubt it. kunstler seems to think it will happen, and yet the vibe i get from him is that he just wants everyone to live in new urban communities and an energy disaster is just the rail to ride to get us there.

however, the demand for new housing is simply too high to be accomodated in current centres so a more pragmatic approach needs to be considered. not sure what that is, mind...

vado retro
Apr 25, 06 5:35 am

bushy recently recommended that china use more nuclear power while condemning iran for developing nuclear power. hmmmm. vado dont trust beijing anymore than he trust tehran...

Apr 25, 06 9:19 am

I'm with you there vado.

Jump - many people do use oil to heat their's called home heating oil.

Everyone could switch to natural gas, but that's limited too.

I guess coal is vastly abundant in the USA, but we have to carve up mountains to get it - and people think drilling in ANWR will hurt the environment!?!

I'm just seeing a not so distant future where what hydrocarbons are left won't be wasted on individual personal travel.

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