Drain America First

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"Energy independence" is little more than political rhetoric, and pretty silly rhetoric at that.

Petroleum is the cheapest energy available to the world today. It would be cheaper still if not for the efforts of OPEC to limit production.

I can imagine the dear reader's response, that today's oil prices do not include the cost of empire or long term climate impacts. No, oil prices do not include those costs and there is little political will to make prices include them (e.g., a carbon tax).

Foreign oil is cheap and domestic U.S. oil is expensive. The only way to make America energy self-sufficient is to prohibit imports of cheaper foreign oil. Not only would that be crazy, but it would make American exports even more uncompetitive in world markets than they are today. It would also make the energy costs of our competitors cheaper, improving their competitiveness as a consequence. Same thing with a unilateral American carbon tax.

By "draining America first" (i.e., energy independence), we burden our economy in the short term and make ourselves even more dependent on foreign oil in the long term, once our reserves have been exhausted. That just seems stupid to me.

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BcDct
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Oil is Methamphetamine combined with Crack Cocaine and Heroin X 10. Oil, Methamphetamine, Crack Cocaine and Heroin are cheap. The use of either of these will cause a hideously disgusting and painful death X 10. A wise Mexican once said, " I don't see no stinking economy".

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GreenMule
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BcDct wrote :By "draining America first" (i.e., energy independence), we burden our economy in the short term and make ourselves even more dependent on foreign oil in the long term, once our reserves have been exhausted. That just seems stupid to me.

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It probably would be best to drain the rest of the world first if continuing using lots of oil is national energy policy.

As long as we can print fancily engraved paper in exchange for it, why not? (at least on a surface appearance it's o.k. It's sent back as Treasury bond purchases or plowed into Wall St.). The problem comes up if they ever want to spend it. Is the Golden Gate Bridge for sale?

However, the nation doesn't own the oil on its territory. It's owned privately, They'll pump it and sell it to the highest bidder....draining us dry as quickly as markets will buy it. That's just how it works.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

America has a great many diiapidated roads and bridges that we could sell to the Chinese at grossly inflated prices.

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BcDct
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May. 28, 2010 2:27 pm

I suggest starting with the Statue of Liberty. Seems like a rusting albatross...

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quaestorchickpea
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May. 12, 2010 6:02 pm

Dr. Buckley, oil is NOT the cheapest form of energy to harness on the planet. That would be solar energy, which would be impossible for any company to have a monopoly on.

So in fact, once you fitted your home with the panels, no company has the power to charge exorbitant prices to buy their fuel!

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meljomur
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Quote quaestorchickpea:

I suggest starting with the Statue of Liberty. Seems like a rusting albatross...

Amen, brother.

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BcDct
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May. 28, 2010 2:27 pm

I'm not sure what the cost and amortization rates are for home solar panels. At least some advertisements I have seen promise that solar panels will "pay for themselves after X years." For home heating they are probably okay, but for power purposes there are always questions about battery life and replacement cost, annual maintenance for exposed roof panels, cloudy days or communities with relatively little annual sunlight (Ann Arbor comes to mind), etc. Then there is the question of high rise apartment buildings, which have less roof space per resident than single family homes. If there were obvious economic benefits, then I'm surprised at how few roof panels there are in suburbia.

With respect to energy for transportation, I'm unaware of any viable, sun-powered vehicles.

Oil prices will continue to rise in the long term and many of these energy alternatives will become economically feasible. I don't know when that time will come, but I don't think we are there yet.

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BcDct
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May. 28, 2010 2:27 pm

These are pretty open questions. I just remember a time when it was scientifically impossible and economically infeasible to build a car that got over 19 mpg. Then, Congress mandated really high CAFE standards and lo! The car manufacturers came up with a miracle, practically overnight.

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Art
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Oh dear.

First of all solar panels work in places that don't have much sun. You can store up the energy, but then you do probably know that.

Also, you can put solar panels on high rise buildings. Do a little research if you have the inclination. Just because you may not see them all over your neck of the woods, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Do a search on solar cars, they have been around for awhile. Not so common at present in the US, but in a few years probably more so.

Anyone with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit must realize that the days of oil being the primary source of energy are not too far away. Of course there are many companies with LOTS of money that don't want to see that happen, but its called progress.

I guess that's why PROGRESS is the root of PROGRESSIVE!

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meljomur
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Mel:

Oh dear.

First of all solar panels work in places that don't have much sun. You can store up the energy, but then you do probably know that.

This relates to my comments about batteries. There are currently limits to battery capacity, they must be replaced from time to time, and they require caustic materials to fabricate. Batteries are improving all the time. We may someday have batteries near 99 percent efficiency, but we are not there yet, to my knowledge.

To the best of my knowledge, a lead-acid battery has an efficiency of only 75-85 percent when discharging at room temperature. That doesn't include losses in the charging circuit, which may have an efficiency of anywhere from 60 to 80 percent. The overall- total efficiency of lead batteries is about 45 to 68 percent, as a result.

Natural gas is probably the most efficient energy source available today, depending upon its usage (radiant versus mechanical applications).

Quote Mel:Also, you can put solar panels on high rise buildings. Do a little research if you have the inclination. Just because you may not see them all over your neck of the woods, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Oh, I see them all the time where I live; my next door neighbor has roof panels. I don't know what he paid or their specific function, but perhaps I'll ask him.

My point was that the ratio of roof-space to occupant declines as one goes from single family unit to multi-family occupancy. Hence, to provide the same amount of energy for each occupant requires more panels as the number of occupants increases.

I also didn't mention industrial energy consumers, which use much higher amounts of energy than residential consumers.

Quote Mel:Do a search on solar cars, they have been around for awhile. Not so common at present in the US, but in a few years probably more so.

I'll take your word for this. I can't recall ever seeing a solar-powered car, but they may be more common than I imagine.

Practical use of solar powered cars require batteries for non-daylight operations. The efficiency of batteries is not bad and could be improved, particularly if operating in a hypothermic container. There are many different ways of calculating the energy efficiency of an internal combustion engine. Depending on your measurement, they are anywhere from 25 to 95 percent efficient.

Quote Mel:Anyone with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit must realize that the days of oil being the primary source of energy are not too far away. Of course there are many companies with LOTS of money that don't want to see that happen, but its called progress.

I guess that's why PROGRESS is the root of PROGRESSIVE!

I certainly agree that the uses of petroleum will change over time as the resource is exhausted. I was referring to current conditions, not future ones. If you can predict the precise moment when oil becomes economically infeasible, Mel, you will be a very wealthy person, indeed.

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BcDct
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Quote meljomur:

Dr. Buckley, oil is NOT the cheapest form of energy to harness on the planet. That would be solar energy, which would be impossible for any company to have a monopoly on.

So in fact, once you fitted your home with the panels, no company has the power to charge exorbitant prices to buy their fuel!

Mel, solar is not the cheapest form of energy generation, hydro-electric is. Next is nuclear....

http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/tech-mainmenu-30/energy/3730-clean-energy-the-nuclear-solution

I had a 3.5 kw wind turbine installed at my home in May. I live on the edge of a hill and the wind blows most of the time. However, based on what I see it can produce I'm not sure it is going to make much of a difference in my bill. Time will tell.

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bufffalo1
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:49 am

Excellent point about hyrdo, Buffalo.

To the best of my knowledge, electricity can be transmitted only about 500 miles, which means that consumers must be within that radius to consume it. This geography, of course, leads to additional political problems, including the "not in my backyard" dilemma.

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BcDct
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May. 28, 2010 2:27 pm

BcDct-I watched a show on the tube yesterday about a hydro-electric project in Brazil. It has been several years in the making but will be the largest of its kind. Three tubines generating 3 times the amount needed for Rio when 750,000 tourist converge there for Carnival. Of course, Brazil has 120,000 rivers, more than any other country in the world. I think we could learn a few things form those guys.

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bufffalo1
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:49 am

And the Canadians, too. The James Bay project is one of the world's great civil engineering accomplishments. Its impact on Canada's environment and indigenous peoples is a different matter.

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BcDct
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Quote BcDct: Its impact on Canada's environment and indigenous peoples is a different matter.

That is so true in Brazil too. They have diverted the river(I can't recal its name) and built 15 miles of tunnel lined with pipe to force the water through the turbines and then back into the river. They are employing 1000s of native though. They are being as envirinmentally responsible as possible too.

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bufffalo1
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Quote bufffalo1:
Quote BcDct: Its impact on Canada's environment and indigenous peoples is a different matter.

That is so true in Brazil too. They have diverted the river(I can't recal its name) and built 15 miles of tunnel lined with pipe to force the water through the turbines and then back into the river. They are employing 1000s of native though. They are being as envirinmentally responsible as possible too.

My eyes bled as I read your responses to Meljomur. Your writing and thinking skills are exemplary of the high illiteracy rate in America. The Rays of the Sun are a gift. Excess Solar Energy from ones home is sold to the Utility Company / the meter runs backward which allows one to run the home without cost above the initial investment in Solar Energy Panels and its installation. You assert Hydro-Electricity, etc., is cheaper than Sunlight. Compared to what...the cost of building the Hover Dam / a Nuclear Plant? Eliminating Indigenous peoples to steal their forests and lands, diverting rivers, enlarging unsustainable cities, the cost of machinery, workers and engineers, to importing building materials to the sight of the Dam doesn't equate as making logical decisions.

You will continue to function as the Class Clowns until you come to FSTV, listen to the professors, take copious amount of notes, then write what you have learned in class. You can't smoke Crack, get drunk on Grain Alcohol, and expect to function in these Dialogues of Truth & Light. So, let's see you begin to make some good decisions. Now get out of my office!

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GreenMule
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May. 9, 2010 4:30 pm

"Damn the electron shells, we are talking about electron configuration. Now get out of my office."
Overhead conversation when coming to visit my Chemistry professor. Maybe it helped the student but never found out.

True that costs can be subjective as what do we value non-tradeable items? How does a system that is based on money reflect deeper sociological phenomenon? There are esoteric ways to measure these "costs", but why bother? Just replace the capitalist system with parecon and let society decide the costs in a democratic method.

Even I have no intention of sitting on some more lectures on the environment. I am just happy that there is a nexus on environmentalists and socialists, where the end goals are the same.

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quaestorchickpea
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May. 12, 2010 6:02 pm

When petromilitarism is deemed necessary, the meth addiction will not be measured in terms of opportunity costs lost or real value at all. We will give the pusher all our cash and write IOUs to get high. And the dealers will want to keep on taking our cash even if it means rolling our debts over and over just to keep us from getting into rehab and getting clean.

The economics of solar are wonderful if we are willing to work with nature instead of controlling it in profit-making systems. There is a huge amount of available energy, meaning that we only have to recover a small portion in any solar system to get enough. Ancient engineering also used passive solar to heat and cool homes and buildings, but our architects got fascinated with glass and h-vac.

Until they deal with the waste and find a way to balance the capital investments required to produce nuclear energy, it will continue to need government subsidy to attract capital. When capital is guaranteed its profits, it loves to have very big projects. That does not make it good economics.

Wind, water, thermal and solar are the essentially free and sustainable sources of energy, but how we utilize them still matters. The water projects that seek to conquer nature and turn rivers into pipes have not proved their value v costs and lost resources. Our own irrigated West includes a lot of industrial damage and engineering that is being reconsidered as dam removal moves ahead. The Central Valley of California is a major chemical mess requiring our best remediation thinking.

The energy future needs to be imagined in dispersed, localized and interdependent visions instead of big, central production and distribution plants. As with almost everything else, indigenous and artisanal will be the keys to success, as will be working with instead of against nature.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The advances in solar power are amazing. Likewise geo-thermal climate control. There are some excellent web resources available. Some of my fav's include:

http://www.sciencedaily.com

http://www.livegreen4less.com

There is no reason why America cannot wean itself from oil, except $$$. Solar and geo-thermal energy is FREE or almost FREE

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writerofwrongs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

When someone states something is free, it is most certainly will cost infinite amounts. Let's be honest, when you can provide me a simple plug in for my toaster that costs almost FREE then you might have something. Until then there is a social cost in whatever pogrom we choose.

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quaestorchickpea
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May. 12, 2010 6:02 pm

I checked into solar power as an alternative locally. The local big power company has a plan where you can dump excess electricity into the grid and they will pay you for it. I asked them how many people do this. They said "a few".

Probing deeper, I asked why everyone isn't doing this. They said we live in an area that is not economically attractive to run alot of solar. The ROI falls short of anything I'd be interested in.

slabmaster
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Apr. 1, 2010 10:12 am

Exactly, and the reason that I suggest that we require all new houses built in the USA have solar panels built on top. People are only looking out for their own selfish desires and greed and thus the state must step in and require good behavior.

Next on the list is waterless toilets required as this low flow is delaying the inevitable "peak water" problems. If we are going to require the state to save ourselves then it is better to be proactive and not reactive.

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quaestorchickpea
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