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Thread: Oil and our demise?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic
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    Default Oil and our demise?

    Found interesting website today: www.peakoil.com Very interesting reading when you stay with fact and research.
    But, forum is filled with much doom & gloom and half baked idea of survival after world depression and economic collapse due to decreased oil reserve and production.
    I am true optimist and give humanity credit due- still interesting reading.

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    I think that oil will go through several phases.

    We've entered the phase where demand exceeds supply - leading to increased prices. It's an economic problem.

    Soon, prices will escalate the point that it becomes a political problem - economies have grown accustomed to energy being cheap and plentiful. Industries will throw their weight around; people will write angry letters to their congressmen demanding a solution.

    At some point - hopefully after alternatives have been successfully deployed - it will become a physical problem. There will be very little oil left that can be economically extracted. Oddly enough, the price might nosedive at this point because demand will be limited to niche applications since oil will no longer have a stranglehold on (most) transportation.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    I think Darell knows what to do when we run out of oil. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    Lol. Yeah, I'll go the EV car route as long as I can have a P Zero [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    Excellent replies. The disconcerting part to this is total lack of faith in fellow man, by many. The first global problem that presents itself is "the death of us all". [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/help.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    I think that this has a ways to go yet before it even becomes a serious issue in the States.

    idle,

    I agree with your progression -- the problem is the time frame. The States are just coming into oil prices that are more inline with what folks in Europe have been paying for decades... I'm not at all sure that the States can be pushed to change their ways just because of higher prices at the pump. Fer example, if Europe's energy prices continue to climb and remain proportionatly higher than ours, as they have in recent history, it will tend to mitigate some of the suffering in the States.

    I am in no way an Energy Hawk and I would offer another odd bit of information in support of my notion that energy use will not change anytime soon in the US. In the last three administrations (that's 16 years), no party has felt that there was anything political to gain by pushing for a 'national comprehensive energy use evaluation'. While they knew as well as any of us where things were going with energy prices, I don't think that it's an oversight that they have ignored this. Whatever the repurcussions are, I think that their inaction correctly reflects their feeling that it won't be a real issue soon. (I'm not personally saying that it's not important.) I think that this is because energy costs will not reach a tipping point in the States for some time. As I touched on above, price alone is not a reliable indicator -- if our energy costs increase at a rate somewhat behind our competitors the real pain could be postponed for some time.

    My main point is that our energy costs, when viewed in a vacumm, may be misleading. Ultimately, no. Cohesive timeline, yes.

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    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    Europeans pay so much for petrol largely because it's taxed so heavily. If the taxes have not always been so high, perhaps there's a historical model for transition.

    If gas prices climb high enough, there's incentive for change. Conservation broke OPEC during the oil crises of 20+ years ago. Perhaps something similar will come about since it's easier to tweak existing methods than devise new ones.

    In Dallas, there are plenty of folks that live 40+ miles from where they work. Some drive large, inefficient vehicles. These types will be hurt the most by $3, $4/gallon gas (and could complain the loudest). Whether they will make any changes to their lifestyle remains to be seen. It's entirely possible that $4/gallon gas could eclipse car payments if your vehicle's fuel economy is low enough.

    You might be right about the timeline and lack of urgency ... although you give legislators far more credit for foresight than I do - I view them as being mostly reactive creatures.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    ... although you give legislators far more credit for foresight than I do - I view them as being mostly reactive creatures.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I hate it when I do that. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] Even when considered 'reactionary creatures', it still sort of makes my point. They have not felt the need to create any cohesive energy policy as a reaction to public opinion.

    I really don't look at them as anyting but politicians, and as such, they must, to at least a certain extent, have a handle on which issues are vital to save their 'rinky-dink jobs' [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] (to paraphrase Hedley Lamar in Blazing Saddles.) From a purely political point of view I find it interesting that essentially all of the big winners and losers in politics in the States have done so well by ignoring this whole issue.

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    Flashaholic* pedalinbob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    Maybe when all the oil is depleted, the Earth will deflate like a giant balloon.

    Pb-b-b---b-b-b--s-s--s-s--t!

    Must...have...coffee...

    Bob

  10. #10

    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    There are two important aspects of Peak Oil (at least).

    1. Price
    2. Availability

    1. Price

    Our economy rides on energy. Energy is baked into everything we consume; food, goods, even services. So...energy prices can have a huge inflationary pressure. It isn't just about gas prices in our tank.

    2. Availability

    In the 70's and 80's what really got people's attention was that you couldn't be sure of getting gas. There were long lines at filling stations and some drivers waited a long time only to have the station run out once they got to the pump. Peak Oil means that we are nearing the point (not quite there yet) where demand is outstripping supply. As supply tightens, any disruption to our oil supply will begin to seem like a major disruption. I recently read "Sleeping with the Devil"; a book about Saudi oil written by an ex-CIA analyst. He explains in that book just how vulnerable the Saudi infrastructure is to terror attack and what it would mean to the world's economy.

    There's really no question that we need an active national policy to encourage conservation (early quick gains) and a long term shift to locally produced energy to get us off of imported oil. Plug-In Hybrids w/20 mile battery range would help us shift over 50% of our oil needs to local energy from coal (abundant in the U.S. and cleaner then burning gasoline), nuclear, hydro and wind energy.

    The big problem is the huge shift of wealth that represents for the companies that make huge profits by importing oil. Those companies will fight the shift with every tool at their disposal. Remember how the tobacco companies fought the medical knowledge that smoking will kill you? This will be like that.

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    Flashaholic ledlurker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    ikendu said:

    In the 70's and 80's what really got people's attention was that you couldn't be sure of getting gas. There were long lines at filling stations and some drivers waited a long time only to have the station run out once they got to the pump.

    [/ QUOTE ]


    And that was only around a 7% shortage. Imagine a terrorist attack or a natural disaster on the Gulf coast where 25% of our gasoline is refined. I forgot how many gasoline refineries the US now haves, I would bet you money that if just 2 went down you would have the long lines again.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    ledlurker said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    ikendu said:

    In the 70's and 80's what really got people's attention was that you couldn't be sure of getting gas. There were long lines at filling stations and some drivers waited a long time only to have the station run out once they got to the pump.

    [/ QUOTE ]


    And that was only around a 7% shortage. Imagine a terrorist attack or a natural disaster on the Gulf coast where 25% of our gasoline is refined. I forgot how many gasoline refineries the US now haves, I would bet you money that if just 2 went down you would have the long lines again.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    It should be noted that as bad as the price/availability was in the above example no meaningful policy change came about because of it, except IIRC for the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Nothing significant.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Sub_Umbra said:...as bad as the price/availability was in the above example no meaningful policy change came about because of it, except IIRC for the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Nothing significant.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Actually, if you mean no LASTING change, I mostly agree.

    Some things that DID come out of it:
    1. 55 mph national speed limit (saved gas & lives)
    2. CAFE stds that really did save energy (until SUV loophole)
    3. Tax incentives for renewable fuels (slowly eroded away)
    ...but some still in place for ethanol & now biodiesel

    We have our President Reagan to thank for the shift in emphasis away from energy independence. In order to defeat Carter, the Republicans made all manner of fun of various energy independence measures. They laughed at the solar collectors on the White House roof and had them removed. It had the effect of making national energy planning seem "silly". That group set back serious efforts toward energy independence something like 20+ years. Not one of the finest hours for "American leadership", IMHO.

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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    ikendu said:
    1. 55 mph national speed limit (saved gas & lives)


    [/ QUOTE ]
    Actually, it did neither which is why it was repealed. The enforcement cost more lives and used more fuel than was saved. Enforcement was practically impossible (short of having police cruisers physically blocking all the lanes while running in lockstep at 55 mph) since traffic finds its own speed depending upon road conditions, vehicle design, and a few other factors. Any speed limit set much lower than this "free-flowing" speed doesn't change anything, and ends up costing heavily in many ways, such as lost productivity, when trying to enforce it. It also costs more in lives because of the greater variation in speeds, car chases which result from enforcement, etc. I'm in full agreement about conservation measures, but slowing down vehicles which get poor fuel economy to begin with in order to gain a few more mpg is not the answer, if indeed it can even be done. The answer is of course improved aerodynamics along the lines of 0.1 drag coefficients, and maybe even giving drivers an incentive to buy these much more efficient vehicles by allowing them to travel at a much higher legal speed, and maybe even in their own dedicated lane. It is entirely possible to design a vehicle which gets 100 mpg (or the equivalent if its an EV) at a cruising speed of 100 mph. As a plus, higher speeds reduce the accident rate per mile traveled. Yes, the data actually supports this. Statistically, the safest drivers today are those who go at the median speed plus 18 to 20 mph. Today's median speed is 75 mph, so the safest drivers are the ones going 93 to 95 mph, yet paradoxically they also end up with the most tickets precisely because limits are set lower than the magic speed which traffic naturally finds. It gets even better. Statistically, those going 110 mph are as safe as those going 65 mph. Incidentally, this median speed has been increasing at about half a mph per year since the advent of the automobile, yet speed limits in the last 30 or so years have not been changed to reflect that fact.

    Let's not let our legislators have a knee jerk reaction and bring back an old law which never did what it was supposed to, and which incidentally is also responsible for creating a generation of marginal drivers.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:...higher speeds reduce the accident rate per mile traveled. Yes, the data actually supports this.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Got any links to this? I'd be very interested to see such data.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    ikendu said:
    ...2. CAFE stds that really did save energy (until SUV loophole)...

    [/ QUOTE ]

    EDIT

    I think that your example of the non-compliance with CAFE standards also reinforces my point about a definate lack of political will to change energy policy in the States. While I don't have the exact numbers at my fingertips, my understanding is that slightly over half of the passenger vehicles sold in the US do not meet the CAFE standards. I'm sure that someone will put up the right numbers shortly if I'm way off -- and if I am, I apologize.

    Anyway, while all of those SUVs on the road just look like the "SUV loophole" to you, it looks very much like political will to me. Those are huge numbers of real people buying those vehicles. They actually want those vehicles. They vote. Whether they are right or not is irrelavent. They can only be ignored or summaraly dismissed by politicians at great political peril.

    For whatever the reasons, right or wrong, all of those people have already voted on the CAFE standards where it really counts, with their wallets. My point is that the vast majority of politicians holding office right now are savvy enough to know this and how important it is to their jobs. For the most part, once a person has spent a sizeable sum of real money on a decision like a non-CAFE-compliant vehicle it is nothing to spend a free vote to remove from office the pol who wants to take it away from him.

    In the end this is a political issue and when one pol sticks his finger in the air and senses that he can actually make a move on this without getting his head ripped off, he will. Not before.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    ikendu said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:...higher speeds reduce the accident rate per mile traveled. Yes, the data actually supports this.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Got any links to this? I'd be very interested to see such data.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Sure. Here is the complete article. There was also a lot of discussion about this in another thread. Another probable source would be Car&Driver magazine. I used to read this in the 1980s and they were one of the most vociferous opponents of the 55 mph limit.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Sub_Umbra said:
    Anyway, while all of those SUVs on the road just look like the "SUV loophole" to you, it looks very much like political will to me. Those are huge numbers of real people buying those vehicles. They actually want those vehicles. They vote. Whether they are right or not is irrelavent. They can only be ignored or summaraly dismissed by politicians at great political peril.

    For whatever the reasons, right or wrong, all of those people have already voted on the CAFE standards where it really counts, with their wallets.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Don't forget that part of the reason so many own SUVs is because of misleading advertising and misinformation on the part of the auto industry. For starters, they used the bigger and heavier is safer myth. And then they suddenly made it appear as if the fuel crisis of the 1970s and the need to conserve suddenly vanished just because gas prices fell. Actually, the very reason they fell was in response to the conservation effort, and the reason they are high now is in part because of all these SUVs. It takes a while before prices adjust to reflect usage. After that, auto makers simply advertised SUVs a lot more than other vehicles simply because they made more of a profit on them thanks to exemptions from fuel economy, emissions standards, and safety standards. It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that people were brainwashed into wanting SUVs rather than having good reasons for actually wanting one. Face it, most Americans don't drive off road, don't need to climb the side of a building, don't need to tow 10,000 pounds, and don't drive in weather severe enough that a regular automobile can't handle. As for the oft-used excuse, "I have a family now", well people had even larger families twenty years ago yet managed to get by with a regular automobile.

    Nevertheless, since people won't give up their SUVs unless it's in their self-interest I think two things should be done. First, allow the ultra-efficient vehicles I mentioned to cruise at higher legal speeds, and in a dedicated lane, whenever possible. A person might willingly give up their SUV if it means they can drive to work at 100 mph in a dedicated lane that usually moves at that speed rather than at the 65 mph (or frequently slower) that they drive at now. Time is money. This idea would work.

    Second, put governers in SUVs to limit their top speed to a more efficient 45 mph. These are off-road vehicles, aren't they? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] You don't ever need to go much over 45 mph when these vehicles are used as intended (either off-road or towing a trailer). Once SUVs can't be used as cars any more, the only people owning them will be those who actually use them for what they're made for.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    Sub_Umbra said:
    Anyway, while all of those SUVs on the road just look like the "SUV loophole" to you, it looks very much like political will to me. Those are huge numbers of real people buying those vehicles. They actually want those vehicles. They vote. Whether they are right or not is irrelavent. They can only be ignored or summaraly dismissed by politicians at great political peril.

    For whatever the reasons, right or wrong, all of those people have already voted on the CAFE standards where it really counts, with their wallets.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Don't forget that part of the reason so many own SUVs is because of misleading advertising and misinformation on the part of the auto industry. For starters, they used the bigger and heavier is safer myth. And then they suddenly made it appear as if the fuel crisis of the 1970s and the need to conserve suddenly vanished just because gas prices fell. Actually, the very reason they fell was in response to the conservation effort, and the reason they are high now is in part because of all these SUVs. It takes a while before prices adjust to reflect usage. After that, auto makers simply advertised SUVs a lot more than other vehicles simply because they made more of a profit on them thanks to exemptions from fuel economy, emissions standards, and safety standards. It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that people were brainwashed into wanting SUVs rather than having good reasons for actually wanting one. Face it, most Americans don't drive off road, don't need to climb the side of a building, don't need to tow 10,000 pounds, and don't drive in weather severe enough that a regular automobile can't handle. As for the oft-used excuse, "I have a family now", well people had even larger families twenty years ago yet managed to get by with a regular automobile.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    You've missed the whole point. As I stated a couple of times, it doesn't matter whether the SUV owners are right or wrong. It doesn't matter whether they're stupid or that they don't have their facts straight, or that they have been conned into their actions. Unless you're God or you've become the Absolute Dictator in charge in the United States, none of that means Jack. We don't do things here because YOU think that something is right or wrong. All of your rationalizations mean nothing without an enlightened dictatorship that would happen to agree with you.

    Any serious energy policy changes in the US will be the result of a political process. Since this is still somewhat of a Democracy, the fact that you feel that everyone who dissagrees with you must have been duped is unimportant. When a Democrat or a Republican votes their choice it does not matter that a good percentage of them from both partys will be ignorant, stupid, misguided or totally uninformed. They all get their vote, no matter how stupid YOU think they are.

    Democracy is far, far from some kind of blanket guarantee that the right thing will always be done and everyone will live in a world of peace and light. Democracy's only guarantee is that the individual is closer to making the decisions that have the potential to mess up his own life.

    What I have said in my previous posts on this thread is that there is no political will for change in our energy policy at this time. What that means in our country is that nothing will change for the time being -- unless we have a radical change in the form of our government. Handwringing about how stupid SUV owners are won't change national policy. Ignoring the political realities won't change national policy.

    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:
    Nevertheless, since people won't give up their SUVs unless it's in their self-interest I think two things should be done. First, allow the ultra-efficient vehicles I mentioned to cruise at higher legal speeds, and in a dedicated lane, whenever possible. A person might willingly give up their SUV if it means they can drive to work at 100 mph in a dedicated lane that usually moves at that speed rather than at the 65 mph (or frequently slower) that they drive at now. Time is money. This idea would work.

    Second, put governers in SUVs to limit their top speed to a more efficient 45 mph. These are off-road vehicles, aren't they? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] You don't ever need to go much over 45 mph when these vehicles are used as intended (either off-road or towing a trailer). Once SUVs can't be used as cars any more, the only people owning them will be those who actually use them for what they're made for.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Where is the political will that would be needed to bring either of those suggestions to fruition? I'd love to watch the politician who decided that it would be good for his career if he flagged down one out of every two or three passenger vehicles on the road today and tried to impose his draconian solution. [joke]I will admit that the image of many light weight, ultra-efficient vehicles at 100 mpg rear-ending Hummers lumbering at 45 mph would be entertaining.[/joke] I wonder why no politician has suggested those two solutions. It probably has something to do with politicians wanting to retain the option of picking their own retirement date -- instead of the voters.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    The title of this thread is "Oil and our demise?".

    We will switch off of imported oil at some point.

    Why? There won't be enough of it left someday to use economically.

    The only difference is what will happen between now...and then.

    Will we fight wars to control the dwindling supply?
    Will we commit huge military dollars to ensure the smooth flow?
    Will we pour more CO2 into our atmosphere?
    (our "blanket" of CO2 is 30% thicker in the last 200 yrs)
    Will our economy be disrupted if flow is suddenly diminished?
    Will we have huge inflation as more and more $ is siphoned off to the middle east?

    What will control these events? ...Leadership.

    Without leadership, people will continue to personally waste energy even though collectively it puts us all at risk. That is what is wrong with the "market will make all things work the best". That is where we have been. What has it gotten us? We now import well over 50% of our oil (I heard it was 63% on NPR the other day). Collectively, that is not healthy for our economy or our national security.

    So...will we have leadership?

    My guess? No.
    Will some of those other things happen?
    My guess? Yes.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    I think then maybe the problem is rooted in the American educational system if this large a percentage of the masses are so uneducated about so many basic issues. A democracy only works if everybody who votes has a decent education. Judging by the illiterate, illogical writing I see more and more often, this is hardly true any more. When the masses are uneducated and easily led, a democracy is a sure recipe for eventual disaster. Maybe a few decades of the enlightened dictatorship you mentioned might not be a bad thing if combined with improving the educational level so that we could eventually get back to a democracy.

    You're right that we may lack the political will to have any kind of energy policy now, but that can change in an instant. Because we are dependent on sources outside our borders, imagine what would happen if Bin Laden and friends put maybe half of Saudi Arabia's oil wells out of commission. That might give us the political will to finally do whatever it takes to get off the stuff permanently. If there's any hope, it's that gas prices aren't going down any time soon. In fact, they'll likely continue in the other direction permanently. When the public sees that both parties are powerless to give them cheaper gas they might be open to listening to other solutions, even if these solutions are temporarily painful. It may take $3 gas before people begin to listen, and $4 gas before they actually start voting for politicians who will impose draconian solutions. Also note that the current small minority who sees we are are the wrong track may one day resort to less than savory methods to drive their point home, including sabotaging refineries. Remember the Hummers that someone blew up in California? We'll likely see a lot more of that if the politicians continue doing what the clueless majority wants on this issue. One point of the system of checks and balances which exists is explicitly to prevent a tyranny of the majority. Our current energy policy is counter to our national interests. All we need is a relevant case to come before the Supreme Court to start the ball rolling. Would we rather legislate a rational energy policy now or let the Supreme Court do it by judicial fiat?

    [ QUOTE ]

    Where is the political will that would be needed to bring either of those suggestions to fruition?


    [/ QUOTE ]
    Well, the governed SUVs may not fly, but what's wrong with the other idea? You're not forcing anyone to do anything. You're merely giving them an incentive to buy a radically more efficient vehicle so they can drive faster. BTW, if SUVs were governed to 45 mph, I would also restrict them from using limited access highways by making the minimum speed on those roads 60 mph. Additionally, I would prohibit them from being used in large cities. The idea is to make them all but useless for day-to-day driving, much as an M1A1 tank would be.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:...higher speeds reduce the accident rate per mile traveled. Yes, the data actually supports this. ...Here is the complete article. There was also a lot of discussion about this in another thread. Another probable source would be Car&Driver magazine. I used to read this in the 1980s and they were one of the most vociferous opponents of the 55 mph limit.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Hmmm... well that first article (8085 words) is pretty short on data and long on rhetoric. The CPF thread is 10 long pages and I'm not planning on finding a library with lots of issues of Car and Driver from the 80's.

    I don't suppose you might want to summarize your notion about this in 3-4 sentences with a link to an actual transportation study that has the supporting data?

    I do know that higher speeds embody more energy as momentum and therefore create more havoc in an accident and represent less control (easier for things to go very wrong very quickly at 90 than at 55).

    If it is too much to summarize, I guess I will have to wait until I have the time to study both the really lengthy article and the really lengthy CPF thread.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Oil and our demise?

    I actually did summarize some high points of that article in that thread. Here's a repost of my summary:

    [ QUOTE ]

    ) Raising or lowering speed limits has little effect on the actual speeds people drive at.

    2) Traffic finds its own speed based on the road and traffic conditions.

    3) Speed limits should be set at the 85th percentile, rounded up to the nearest 5 mph, on urban roads. On limited access highways, speed limits should be set at the 90th or 95th percentile, rounded up to the nearest 5 mph.

    4) The safest drivers statistically are those who drive at the mean speed (currently 75 mph) plus 12 mph. This is currently 87 mph for average Interstate traffic. Drivers who go 100 mph are statistically as safe as those who go 65 mph. The most accidents are caused by those who go 65 mph or less, and to a lesser extent by those traveling 110 mph and more.

    5) Current speed limits are often set at the 10th percentile or even less, making 90% of drivers law breakers. The result is that the statistically safest drivers mentioned in #4 receive the most tickets.

    6) Due to improvements in automotive technology, the 85th percentile speed has been increasing at around 0.5 mph per year since the 1920s. This means speed limits should be reviewed regularly, and raised where appropriate.

    7) Statistically, we're driving faster than ever yet the accident rate on limited access highways is lower than ever. In fact, except at merges accidents on freeways are rare events, and often involve single vehicles where the driver might simply fall asleep at the wheel.

    8) Enforcement of arbitrarily low speed limits actually costs lives for a variety of reasons.

    9) Speed limits in general do not result in improvements in safety. They exist simply because some sheriffs abused the meaning of "reasonable and prudent" in the 1930s and 1940s, and the courts needed a more accurate barometer for enforcement. They've since been turned into a revenue stream for localities. Hence the inertia to change them back to something reasonable.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    [ QUOTE ]

    ikendu said:
    I do know that higher speeds embody more energy as momentum and therefore create more havoc in an accident and represent less control (easier for things to go very wrong very quickly at 90 than at 55).


    [/ QUOTE ]
    True, there is more potential for damage at higher speeds. Statistically though, there are far fewer accidents even though each accident might be worse, so the overall death and injury rate per mile traveled is lower at higher speeds. I'll also add that "speed kills" is practically a strawman argument at this stage of the game. It should be very easy with current technology to have this high-speed lane under complete automated control. Remember that the vehicles which would be used haven't even been designed yet, let alone made. If they're made from the start with driverless capability, then these vehicles have yet another unique feature which would make them preferable to conventional vehicles. You get a vehicle which saves fuel, can drive itself at much faster speeds on certain roads, and as a result of this self-drive capability can be so safe that accidents virtually never happen.

    I'll also add that statistically, on limited access highways accidents almost never occur except at entrances or exits, and this is largely because of the greater speed differential which exists at those points than because of the absolute speeds. Again, road and car design can minimize this.

    Anyway, my point here is that I most certainly do not want to see a return to lower speed limits for fuel saving reasons unless accompanied by the building of enough miles of other forms of high-speed ground transportation (i.e. high-speed rail, maglev) so that autos cease to be used at all in the US for long-distance transportation. Actually, I find that a preferable solution compared to just making more efficient cars. However, this being the US where people are wedded to automobiles, what chance do you give of that happening? In order for the economy to function, it needs an efficient (i.e. fast) transportation system which uses as little energy as possible. Ultra-efficient cars traveling on dedicated high-speed lanes is as good an idea as any. 55 mph might be fine if you're only going 5 or 10 miles to a train station. However, if you drive 50 miles each way to work every single day then that same 55 mph represents a waste of 49 minutes a day (212 hours annually) over travel at 100 mph.

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