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U.S. Senate Rejects CAFE Amendment, Proposes Alternative.

By Alarmist in Op-Ed
Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:04:43 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

A proposed amendment to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards that would have required U.S. auto manufacturers to have a fleetwide mileage average of 36 miles per gallon has been defeated in the U.S. Senate and replaced with a softer version that encourages the National Highway Safety Transporation Administration (NHTSA) to set standards, but in such "a way that does not harm the domestic manufacturing industry."


The bill, S.1923, would have required domestic auto makers to increase the average mileage of all consumer passenger vehicles (pickup trucks, SUVs, minivans, and sedans) to 36 miles per gallon by 2015. Now it allows the NHTSA, a body that was previously not allowed to study fuel efficiency, to set standards, but gives no guidelines on what those standards might be.

The opposition to this bill was characterized by gross distortion of the truth; Senator Trent Lott reportedly displayed a picture of a subcompact car and declared, ""I don't want every American to have to drive this car." Lott and others like him seem to think that it is perfectly acceptable to trade increased pollution and health costs and more rapid depletion of natural resources for the privilege of driving a larger vehicle.

Indeed, U.S. roads have become almost an arms race in miniature, with people touting the safety of SUVs because of their size, saying that they will be able to survive impacts with another automobile. This might be true, but everyone ignores the fact that if more people drove smaller cars, the risk of death wouldn't be as high in the first place. Nobody wants to be the first to back down, though, and so U.S. citizens are buying large vehicles and keeping them out of the belief that bigger is better.

The U.S. Senate has decided that it is easier and more profitable to coddle a spoiled, ineffective domestic automotive industry than it is to invest in the future. They have decided to sacrifice the future in return for short-term gains. After all, they don't have to live with the consequences. I do. My children will.

If you live in the United States, write to your senator. Express your displeasure with this turn of events. If you don't know who your senator is, find out.

You can read this bill and other proposed legislation online by visiting http://thomas.loc.gov.

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Poll
Why is this a big deal?
o More pollution. 18%
o Higher health costs. 2%
o Waste of natural resources. 34%
o Other (please explain). 8%
o It's not a big deal. This is U.S.-centric. 17%
o It's not a big deal. The U.S. government shouldn't regulate such things. 18%

Votes: 70
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o "I don't want every American to have to drive this car."
o find out.
o http://tho mas.loc.gov
o Also by Alarmist


Display: Sort:
U.S. Senate Rejects CAFE Amendment, Proposes Alternative. | 169 comments (161 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
The real problem is SUVs (4.25 / 8) (#4)
by nosilA on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:22:14 PM EST

According to exiting law, SUVs are classified as trucks and not passenger vehicles, therefore they are exempt from the standards.

If SUVs were calculated in the average, either SUVs would cost more (to compensate for the penalties that the auto maker has to paY), the gas mileage on SUVs would decrease, or more efficient passenger cars would be created to pull down the average. In any of these scenarios, the environment wins. Raising the CAFE standard to 36 MPG would be nice, but I'm all for 1 step at a time.

I really really wanted to buy a hybrid car when I bought my Jetta last December, but I was too afraid of my existing car failing during the 3 months that I would have had to wait for the Prius to be delivered. Ahh well, at least my representative drives one :)

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!

SUVs would have been included. (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by Alarmist on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:25:05 PM EST

We have the technology now to make a car that can do 36 mpg. That's right now, not even thirteen years from now.

Bob Kerry, one of the bill's backers, said that the only reason why we'd have to give up SUVs is if we didn't get working on the mileage now. I agree with him in essence, especially since Ford is planning to release a hybrid SUV for the 2003 model year.


[ Parent ]

The Hybrid Durango gets 18MPG (3.66 / 3) (#11)
by nosilA on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:29:53 PM EST

In other words, it's not very useful. It's better than the 14 the regular Durango gets, but not good enough. Ford has abandoned plans for its hybrid SUV that would have actually gotten 40MPG.

And I know cars can do 36mpg. It's called diesel. Or it's called Honda Civic. Or, of course, a hybrid passenger car. But for the average car, including SUVs, to get up to 36mpg is pretty hard. Not saying that I was opposed to 36mpg CAFE standards, but I'm willing to let them do 1 step at a time.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

36 MPG??? (2.00 / 3) (#101)
by Type-R on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:16:35 AM EST

What!?! Heck, my 1997 Integra Type-R get's 32 highway / 26 City (real life, not dealer numbers :), and while it's not an American muscle car, it's not aimed at getting good gas mileage (no really, they dropped all the sound proofing, stiffened the suspension, and polished the intake ports for better mileage, not for 0 - 60 and handling numbers, honest :)....

My parents have a Honda Civic Si, that get's about 45MPG on the highway, and at least 36 in the city... And that's still the "sporty" version of the car... But all gas... It'd be interesting to see how much of a difference there is between a good gas and a good diesel motor these days... But no, the average (Japanese?) 2 or 4 door family car should easily come close to 36mpg. Diesel not required (nor wanted ;)



[ Parent ]
Yes, but fleet average (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by nosilA on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:23:07 AM EST

Sure, your 97 Integra may get 32MPG highway (though EPA says 31/25, and then uses average, so we're talking about 28), but the integra is a pretty small car. It has a big engine, but it's still very lightweight. Compare your Acura to the higher end acuras... The 3.2 TL gets 23 as its combined score, (29/19). The RL is worse, the MDX is worse, the NSX is worse, RSX is 33/27. But one good car in a fleet with 4 other models is not going to cut it.

See for yourself if you want from the EPA.

I'm not at all saying the technology isn't there, but the larger cars just don't get that kind of fuel economy yet. Honda is getting there, but noone else is even close on their larger cars.

-nosilA
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

+1, but... (4.20 / 5) (#5)
by lordsutch on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:23:31 PM EST

Frankly, I'd rather the bureaucrats at the National Highway Safety Administration make the decision about fuel efficiency standards than members of Congress. In fact, it's more likely that strict standards will come out of NHTSA than Congress, because now the auto industry and labor unions have much less influence over the outcome. (As has already been proven, Congress itself won't raise the standards, but NHTSA will, and in fact would have years ago if it had legally been allowed to do so.)

Linux CDs. Schuyler Fisk can sell me long distance anytime.

I have a dream... (3.00 / 2) (#9)
by physicsgod on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:27:11 PM EST

That next week the NHTSA will announce a plan to raise CAFE standards for all vehicles to 40 mpg by 2010.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Yeah that would be great (1.00 / 1) (#114)
by sonovel on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:21:47 AM EST

A bunch of unelected career beurocrats making law!

That is my idea of a dream world. One of no accountbility and much less power to individual people. Yee-up, that is where _I_ want to live!

[ Parent ]
Heh. (none / 0) (#138)
by physicsgod on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 12:51:23 AM EST

Since the politicians gave this power to the NHTSA so they could have their cake and eat it too (they got to kill CAFE standards without actually voting against it) I'd love to see NHTSA do something (it's time someone else was on the recieving end of Cosmic Irony). Maybe then the people we elect to make the hard choices will actually make those choices, instead of constantly worrying about their next campaign.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
It's ironic, but (none / 0) (#144)
by A Trickster Imp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:58:32 AM EST

It's ironic, but the reason Congerss, in theory, was not supposed to farm out legislative authority to regulatory agencies is the exact same reason that is trumpeted in favor of it: that it removes the politics from it.


I see removing the politics as a flaw, not a feature.



[ Parent ]
hi pjc50 (none / 0) (#158)
by sonovel on Sun Mar 17, 2002 at 11:02:11 AM EST

Do you have a point?

Is my comment really only one step up from spam or are you just too incoherent to make a response other than a sub-verbal grunt of rating?

This is a discussion site. Feel free to discuss.


Oh wait a minute. You don't like writing.

I see 11 comments, none more recent than January. You have no diaries, no stories.

Oh, but look! You are participating!

You have rated over 300 comment!

Your a real credit to K5, that's for sure.

Feel free to rate this a '1', it deserves it, of course, you comments deserve nothing, since you don't comment.



[ Parent ]
Keep cool, man (none / 0) (#159)
by bob6 on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 11:44:47 AM EST

It was just a BM(oderator)FH, there are a lot of others around K5 and they made me unconfortable until I learned to ignore them. This is no big deal, it's just Kuro5hin, you will not graduate from your comments ratings. You cannot force one to post and enter the arena, moderation is meant for shy persons, a kind a transition from lurking to posting.
Actually I was about to give you another 1 just for teasing :)

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
a one on that is fine (none / 0) (#160)
by sonovel on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 12:17:50 PM EST

Rate it a one if you like, it won't bother me.

BS meta discussions deserve low rating.

My original comment was topical and concise. It expressed an opinion that the rater apparently just disagreed with. Rating to express disagreement doesn't serve the site.

His stats of participation indicate he is likely just a doppleganger of someone.

Of course I understand that moderation means very little, I just like to "call out" the cowards who rate but don't defend their thoughts, and those who use multiple accounts to "punish" posters they disagree with.


[ Parent ]
Fuel Efficient (3.66 / 3) (#8)
by rlangis on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:25:07 PM EST

I'd drive a more fuel-efficient car if I could. However, I have 4 children, so the most fuel-efficient car I can possibly get would probably be in the mid-20's (station wagon). I steadfastly refuse to buy a hurking SUV, or a recycleable-box-on-wheels minvan. If the auto industry was allowed (yes, ALLOWED) to make more fuel-efficient cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles, I'd be driving one now. As it is, the Government (as evidenced by the failure of this bill) makes this difficult by pressuring the automakers with money from the oil cartels.

There's a gas station on nearly every corner. Is it any wonder they don't want more fuel-efficient vehicles? More fuel efficiency equals LESS PROFIT.

It sickens me to think of the innovations in technology and science that have been squelched in the name of the allmighty dollar.

Here's the solution: (3.66 / 3) (#12)
by Alarmist on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:30:14 PM EST

There's a gas station on nearly every corner. Is it any wonder they don't want more fuel-efficient vehicles? More fuel efficiency equals LESS PROFIT.

If I were a big believer in taxation (I'm not), I'd say that what Congress could do if they were particularly canny is this:

1. Raise the taxes on gasoline. This is mostly controlled (I believe) on a state level, but a federal gas tax of a fairly small amount wouldn't be much minded.
2. Pressure the auto industry with the tax ("It's to encourage conservation!") and spend the gas tax money in the form of tax breaks to auto manufacturers that make efficient cars. The manufacturer sees the competition getting a tax break and feels the bite in dropping sales, because who wants to drive a gas hog when gas is expensive?

I, personally, would pay a dime more per gallon if it meant more fuel-efficient vehicles.


[ Parent ]

why use taxes? (none / 0) (#65)
by mikpos on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:04:43 PM EST

There are much cleaner methods for the US government to get more fuel-efficient cars. They include:
  1. lobby internationally for a free oil market. Actually any real oil market at all would be a step up at this point. Bonus marks if it's not controlled by terrorists;
  2. stop fixing prices domestically;
  3. stop subsidising (oil and automobile) corporations. They're all a bunch of lazy welfare bums anyway.
Add your own if you like (make it into a party game). Anyway, I think the real solution here is to reduce government involvement. Eliminate legislation; don't add more.

[ Parent ]
Taxes (none / 0) (#155)
by mold on Sat Mar 16, 2002 at 04:56:07 AM EST

Simple. If taxes are raised, then the average person will notice, and (hopefully) complain. And if you can point the blame for the tax at the auto companies, well... You see where this is going.

---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree more (none / 0) (#86)
by 0tim0 on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:06:57 PM EST

I think raising the cost of gas would do much more for conservation than these silly CAFE standards.

If someone has a more fuel effecient car, they'll just drive more. It's the cost to drive that affects usage.

This is a much more free-market style approach. Because an ideal free-market is not practical, the goverment has to nudge the market into the right direction.

Just think of the tax as a way of adding the environmental cost to gas.

--tim

[ Parent ]

There are plenty of fuel efficient vehicles (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by demi on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:56:14 PM EST

on the market, but the problem is that consumers do not want to sacrifice acceleration and size for fuel efficiency. Taking a look at the VW Jetta TDI diesel wagon, it gets 50+ mpg on the highway, but given the choice between that and a large SUV, it seems that for most people gas mileage is not a big priority. The Honda Civic is a big selling car, but I don't see that many people clamoring for Civic HX models (I don't think they bother selling them in the US anymore) or Insights. The car I drive gets about 35 mpg on the highway (Mazda Protege DX 5 spd).

Unfortunately, your indictment of the oil lobby overlooks the simple fact that most consumers don't want tinny, slow, hatchbacks (although some do). They want big cars and SUVs, obviously, or else our domestic automakers would be bankrupt already. If the price of gas in Europe wasn't 80% tax, they wouldn't drive little econoboxes there, either.



[ Parent ]

This would be a better argument if it were true. (none / 0) (#22)
by Alarmist on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:05:39 PM EST

Unfortunately, your indictment of the oil lobby overlooks the simple fact that most consumers don't want tinny, slow, hatchbacks (although some do).

I don't drive a tinny, slow hatchback. The Toyota Echo, while hardly a paragon of stylish car design, is reasonably easy on gas (average around 37 MPG on the highway), not by any means slow, and more solidly built than some of the GM cars I've driven.

The point I'm trying to make isn't that there are no tinny, slow hatchbacks. (There are. Lots.) The point is that it is possible to drive something that isn't a tinny, slow hatchback and gets good gas mileage without sacrificing size or acceleration.

The problem that the United States as a culture faces is that we believe, as a whole, that it's perfectly acceptable to drive around a huge hog of a vehicle when you don't need it. Very few of the people I know that drive SUVs actually need them.


[ Parent ]

confused (4.50 / 2) (#33)
by demi on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:20:51 PM EST

The point is that it is possible to drive something that isn't a tinny, slow hatchback and gets good gas mileage without sacrificing size or acceleration.

Well, I thought I was making that point too, but you see, what you consider to be reasonable size, sturdiness, and acceleration is not the way that everbody sees it. You have just applied an arbitrary, personal standard to everyone's needs, which is not usually the way things operate in the US. I, for one, would not consider an Echo to be roomy or even comfortable (this coming from a Miata owner). People (consumers) don't care about gas mileage, and if they did, the ads would be screaming about mpg. I drive small cars and I can be happy with it, but that's not the case for most people (for whom small = a Honda Accord).

Very few of the people I know that drive SUVs actually need them.

Unfortunately, that's not for you to say. And I am sure that in their minds they would not be happy with a smaller vehicle, especially considering the price markup that an SUV can command compared to a small car. They buy more expensive, bigger cars, for a variety of reasons and you are not in a position to tell anyone what they need.



[ Parent ]

Two points. (4.50 / 2) (#98)
by Alarmist on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:36:39 AM EST

I thought I was making that point too, but you see, what you consider to be reasonable size, sturdiness, and acceleration is not the way that everbody sees it.

But you weren't making that point. You were referring to tinny, slow hatchbacks in such a way as to make it appear to be a statement of fact. Perhaps I did write in such a way as to suggest that I was dictating to consumers what they should and should not like. My point, though, was to show that there are efficient vehicles that don't meet your apparently just as arbitrary description of "tinny, slow hatchbacks."

Unfortunately, that's not for you to say.

Here's a picture I've seen a lot, from people that I know and have interacted with: a single driver on the highway in a spotless SUV. This vehicle will never go off-road, will never carry anything heavier or bulkier than a load of groceries, and rarely if ever carries even four people. Yet people buy these things - because they are status symbols. They profess to have no real need for such things, but use them because they want them, or think they make them look more important.

To me, this is just as ridiculous as the Kwakiutl practice of potlatch - destroying wealth to show how wealthy you are.


[ Parent ]

Insight (none / 0) (#121)
by guinsu on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:33:34 PM EST

I'll say the Insight was just too small to be more than a niche market car. I looked into it, but its a 2 seater with no real trunk space (almost all of the hatchback area is taken up by the battery). Honda is supposed to make a hybrid Civic sometime soon, and that will be nice if it has a real trunk.

[ Parent ]
If I get rid of all of the SUVs... (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by falke on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:30:44 PM EST

can I have more sports cars?

Jason

No, because... (4.00 / 5) (#26)
by John Miles on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:12:18 PM EST

... then the people who took your SUV will come back for your sports car (which gets the same gas mileage and clearly has enough HP to be a threat to civilization).

The only solution is to let people drive what they want, no matter how irrational it seems to you. Otherwise, someone will eventually decide they have the right to tell you what you can drive.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

36MPG... (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by falke on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:49:52 PM EST

would have been enough to finish off the sports car market I think. I'm sure that the automakers would have dropped them before if it ment thay could keep at least of of their SUVs.

I don't have a use for one myself and I'm not a big fan of SUVs but I don't see them as a product of evil. It just makes be really nervous in a car like a 'Vette or Miata when that huge SUV in front of me is being "driven" by some airhead talking on the her cell phone and putting her makeup on or some dude trying to catch up on his news from the morning paper on his way to work.

BTW, I like your microwave projects, I wish I lived new someone doing something like that so I could check it out. Unfortunatly is just mostly just ragchewing on the local 2m repeater.

Jason

[ Parent ]

Not exactly (4.60 / 5) (#62)
by rantweasel on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:44:51 PM EST

CAFE sets a fleet average standard, which means that the auto manufacturers don't have to stop producing anything, they just have to make sure that the sum of the cars that they sell has an average gas milage that meets the standard. They can sell 6 gallons to the mile sports cars and SUVs if they want, they just have to limit their number so that they don't reduce the fleet average below the CAFE standard. Whether they do this with limits on production or absurd pricing is up to them. Take a look at the Viper - it gets something like 16mpg highway and not even 10mpg city, well below the current CAFE standards. The thing is, there are so few of them made that the rest of the fleet makes up for what the Vipers do to the average. There is nothing about CAFE that says you can't drive a car that gets worse milage than a sherman tank, it just says that the average has to meet a minimum standard. This means Honda could make some wicked low efficiency sports cars since they sell so many civics and such, and GM is just screwed.

mathias

[ Parent ]
You have no idea what you're talking about (3.81 / 16) (#14)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:39:05 PM EST

The legislation as introduced was ridiculous. CAFE has never been an environmental concern; it was introduced during the oil crisis as a way to reduce oil consumption for economic reasons.

People who genuinely care about the environment want to control emissions, not burn rate. Clever emissions controls can cut a lot more pollution than costly and lifestyle-altering but still fractional increases in average fuel economy.

But hey, keep spewing ignorant, uninformed crap. That's a typical eco-weenie, after all.

By the way, did you know coal plants put out more pollution in the US than all the cars, trucks, and other engines? Maybe you should suggest we all quit using air conditioning; that "solution" seems right up your alley, and is as realistic as a 36mpg fleet average, at least.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Yes. (5.00 / 6) (#19)
by Alarmist on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:00:33 PM EST

By the way, did you know coal plants put out more pollution in the US than all the cars, trucks, and other engines?

Indeed. Did you also know that the average U.S. citizen uses a little over 12,000 kWh per year? That's an awful lot of air conditioning. (Incidentally, about 8600 of those kWh come from oil or coal plants.) The Japanese, by contrast, use about 8300 kWh per capita per year. The Germans, 6325. The Russians, 5479. What does this suggest to you?

Nuclear power would be a better solution at this stage in the game. There's not enough space for solar cells and they have their own byproducts, wind power isn't convenient in many places around the nation, and damming rivers will only get you so much before it starts to screw with the environment in a fairly serious manner.

And no, I'm not an eco weenie. I don't see the wisdom in continuing to burn dead dinosaurs and plants to power cars when there could be better ways to solve the problem, ways that are barely being researched at the moment because too many people are convinced that gasoline is the king.


[ Parent ]

Air Conditioning (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by nosilA on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:06:13 PM EST

Indeed. Did you also know that the average U.S. citizen uses a little over 12,000 kWh per year? That's an awful lot of air conditioning. (Incidentally, about 8600 of those kWh come from oil or coal plants.) The Japanese, by contrast, use about 8300 kWh per capita per year. The Germans, 6325. The Russians, 5479. What does this suggest to you?

That they don't have hot summers like the US?

Seriously, I think we all need to reduce our energy consumption, but it's not fair to compare the US to other industrialized nations, since there are just so many differences. And it's especially not fair to then not compare the US to "developing nations" like China. This is why the Kyoto accords are bad, though - not CAFE.

-nosilA
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

Ah, but they do. (5.00 / 2) (#27)
by Alarmist on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:14:46 PM EST

Summers in Russia and Japan get just as warm as they do here in the U.S. About the only difference is that they don't seem to be as energy-draining or death-dealing as a real, genuine Southern summer.

It isn't really fair to compare all of those nations on energy consumption, but I did it to prove a point: that we burn a hell of a lot more energy per capita than anyone else, even industrialized nations with a fair amount of heavy industry. It doesn't all come from air conditioning. It comes from lights that are left on all night, computers, Las Vegas (joke), and all manner of energy practices that could be better but aren't because we as a people are not conditioned to realize that there are real limits on how much we can spend.


[ Parent ]

Er... (2.20 / 5) (#29)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:17:01 PM EST

Leaving lights on all night is often an energy saver, if those lights are fluorescents. That was one of the great ironies of the original energy crisis - all the stickers telling people to turn off those lights actually caused greater energy consumption.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Really?? (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by greenrd on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:44:09 PM EST

Got a reference for that claim? I'd like to know - so that if it's true I can convince my university to stop turning off all the relevant lights at night. Somehow I suspect it's complete bullshit though.

I've heard it before. I once attended a meeting to discuss energy conservation measures at my university. They brought in this guy who was supposedly an energy conservation expert. He said "it's a myth that turning off lights saves energy" or words to that effect. I asked him a simple question: How long do you have to leave them off before it starts saving energy? He didn't know. Couldn't even give me a ballpark estimate. WTF?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Yeah, this is a common urban legend (4.33 / 6) (#74)
by nosilA on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:19:55 PM EST

As seen on urbandlegends.com here. Basically, turning on a flourescent light is roughtly the same as running it for 7 minutes, not overnight. It also reduces lamp life, but again, only by a very small amount.

So yeah, if you're leaving your office to go to the bathroom, don't turn off the light. But if you're going home for the night, or even just going to lunch, you can save electricity by turning off the light.

-nosilA
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

Half Right (none / 0) (#119)
by jwwebcast on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:16:11 PM EST

Well, when you are talking about straight energy consumption, this is an urban legend.

What many people don't understand, is that this really started because of the way electricity is often billed in the US to business and institutions.

Businesses normally pay in a formula, which is heavily weighed on "peak" consumtion. What this means it, if at 8AM every light in a large office building is turned on, while at the same time the HVAC is powered up, and computers are all turned on, the extra energy used for these few minutes will "spike", and cause quite an increase in the utility bill. Several companies and buildings I know stagger (with computer control) turning on the lights, in phases to reduce the spike. Another solution, which would encourage companies to turn off the lights, rather than leave them on to save money, would be if the electrical utilities quit charging off of peak usage, and charged for straight usage.

[ Parent ]
Then don't turn them on at the same time (none / 0) (#123)
by nosilA on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:24:10 PM EST

You're talking about a very simple problem to fix. Turn on the lights, 1 segment at a time until they are all on.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]
Did you read my whole message? (none / 0) (#129)
by jwwebcast on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:05:53 PM EST

Hence - this line in my message

Several companies and buildings I know stagger (with computer control) turning on the lights, in phases to reduce the spike.

[ Parent ]
wow, i don't know how I missed that (none / 0) (#130)
by nosilA on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:12:28 PM EST

I guess I need to take a remedial reading course or something. Sorry.

-nosilA
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]
Depends on the particular lights (none / 0) (#118)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:05:00 PM EST

Some are as low as a minute or so, but certain fixtures(especially older ones, but not exclusively those) can be a LOT longer. There's one thing that's certain: most people talking about "saving energy" never bother to do any research or put forth even the slightest effort to ensure that they're actually making any progress for their efforts.

My other favorite is parents who scream at kids if they leave the refrigerator door open for more than five seconds. Yes, obviously the thing will consume more power, but if you measure the difference between say, five seconds and 15, it isn't worth the trouble. It really isn't.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Right (4.00 / 1) (#131)
by greenrd on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:25:14 PM EST

There's one thing that's certain: most people

... including you, apparently...

talking about "saving energy" never bother to do any research or put forth even the slightest effort to ensure that they're actually making any progress for their efforts.

The reason for this is simple. Unlike you, apparently, I don't immediately suspect Friends of the Earth of incompetence when they suggest turning off lights to save energy. It just makes logical sense. It's not surprising that most people do accept it at face value as well, because it's just so obvious. I assume that they (FoE) have researched the issue at some point and worked out that on the aggregate that advice will do the most good. One of the functions of environmental pressure groups is to condense stuff down to prevent every person on the planet from having to do their own research. Yes, I realise that's an unguarded way of putting it, but it's true.

By the way, I got your emails on AOP. All 4 of them. Did you get my reply?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Four emails? (none / 0) (#132)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:49:42 PM EST

I didn't think I sent more than one or two. I just noticed your reply. I am not sure what's up with my mail, but in any case, I'm reading your reply now. I'll send something back, and we'll see if it gets duplicated on me. At one point, I did have one of those really creative lockups that netscape likes to do, so that might have been related...

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Conserve for this reason (4.00 / 1) (#143)
by A Trickster Imp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:52:18 AM EST

I turn off lights, shut off computers, and yell at the kids to close the fridge to save money, not to save the environment.

Yes, I know that increased useage drives efficiency and increased supply, but I want that to come out of someone else's pocket, thanks.



[ Parent ]
Leaving the lights on. (none / 0) (#95)
by Alarmist on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:29:47 AM EST

Most of the people I know who do this aren't using fluorecents, though.


[ Parent ]
One thing I've noticed (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by dasunt on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 05:57:12 PM EST

Those lightswitches that are potentiometers (sp?) are a lot nicer to the generic run of the mill lightbulbs then the old fashioned switches that send a surge of power through the light as soon as its turned on.

Just an observation...



[ Parent ]
Summers and winters (4.00 / 3) (#32)
by linca on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:19:58 PM EST

The US do have a energy-expensive lifestyle. Germans may not have hot summers, but they have cold winters. Russians have both hot summers and cold winters, and are not underdevelopped. Overall, the energy spending should be equivalent throughout developed countries, because inherently you can compare their lifestyles.

Oh, and the Kyoto accords actually allow the US to keep its level of carbon release, forcing reductions in emissions only in other nations, so stop complaining about that - These accords aren't trying to compare.

[ Parent ]
Heat is different than AC (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by nosilA on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:28:04 PM EST

Don't get me wrong - Americans are energy inefficient, but AC is a big part of it. Heat is much more efficient, and most americans at this point use natural gas for heat. In some places, wood is used. Even if electricity is used, heating atkes so much less energy than cooling.

So Germany doesn't have to use as much energy to get warm in the winter. The populated areas of Russia (i.e. Moscow and St Petersburg) don't get particularly hot during the summer, at least not by US standards. And not nearly as humid. Many people in Russia go to resorts on the Black Sea for the summer, and that's very mild compared to beaches in the US. And the parts of Russia that get really hot in the winter are so much less developed, that most people probably don't even know what an air conditioner is (okay, I'm exaggerating here, but still).

So no, it's still not a fair comparison.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]
Are Americans energy-inefficient? (none / 0) (#142)
by A Trickster Imp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:49:44 AM EST

Our cars use a lot of gas, but that's because they're large. Pound-for-pound, they may be more efficient.

The same holds true for air conditioning. Most modern US homes are sealed tight as a drum. We don't live in cubicles, like Japan, or tiny homes like Europe. Pound for pound, again.



[ Parent ]
Umm... (3.66 / 3) (#39)
by beergut on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:29:58 PM EST

If, by "keep its level of carbon release" you mean "roll back levels of carbon release to pre-1991 levels".

Kyoto was bad. Higher CAFE standards would be bad, too.

The answer lies in nuclear, and other alternative energy sources and motive technologies. Engines like this one, for instance, could allow us to produce H and O2 from water at home (and at commercial fuel stations, for convenience,) and burn that into water.

Dinosaur-juice motors, while fun, are a noisy menace. :-)

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Lifestyle (none / 0) (#85)
by acronos on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:04:10 PM EST

Overall, the energy spending should be equivalent throughout developed countries, because inherently you can compare their lifestyles.

From the CIA World Factbook

In the format:
Country - GDP Per Capita - Electricity Consumption/population

  • USA - $36,200 - 12410 KWh
  • Germany - $23,400 - 5966 KWh
  • Russia - $7,700 - 5005 KWh
  • Japan - $24,900 - 7468 KWh
I do not think it is accurate that the lifestyles are equal. America does seem to use more electricity per capita even when the higher income is considered. I can't help but think that there are significant factors that are not considered in such figures. Manufacturing and office lights are included in the electricity consumption figures. Germany stands out as odd to me. Japan makes sense when I consider how crowded it is on the island. America lives in large 3 bedroom 2 bath homes. I wonder if that is the real difference.

[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (2.60 / 5) (#30)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:18:47 PM EST

A significant part of the reason is that Germany's weather is more predictable, and comes in broader cycles, many Russians live in subhuman conditions, and the Japanese tend to live in apartments the size of my cube at work.

You're right about one thing: nuclear power is the answer. Too bad the eco-weenies already killed it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Conservation works (4.33 / 3) (#45)
by Philipp on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:59:40 PM EST

Germany's weather is more predictable

I am sorry, but what weather are you talking about? Temperature in Germany ranges from 0-100 Fahrenheit in a year, and in month like April it can be 70 one day and snowing the next.

Lower energy consumption in Germany has much more to do with technology (better insulation of houses) and a conservation mentality. We are talking about a country where people are required by law to separate their trash in at least 5 different trash cans (paper, glas, metal, organic, plastic, etc.).

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]

Um... (1.00 / 2) (#46)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 06:08:10 PM EST

Yeah. Well, my source is a guy who lived there most of his life. He claims the weather gets hot and cold, but generally does not do the midwestern US "80 one day, 20 the next" thing. In any case, better insulation might help(provided people actually take advantage of it), but sorting garbage won't; most recycling efforts end up using more energy than they save.

As for "conservation works," the most extravagant claims that don't involve spending hundreds of billions of dollars we don't have or reverting to some sort of pre-industrial existence say we might save ten to twenty percent. That isn't enough to make it worth the hassle; it might buy us an extra decade, but we could do just as well by simply applying ourselves to future technologies that will then arrive more than a single decade sooner, thus allowing us to have our comfortable lives, both now AND in the future. Conservation as applied to energy problems is basically a smokescreen for "we'll fix the problem by making the common man suffer while the rich and powerful get exemptions," so I'm surprised so many liberals are so into the idea.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Moreover... (none / 0) (#48)
by beergut on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 06:14:08 PM EST

In the middle of summer, Germany doesn't see the "115 in the shade, 90+ at night" weather we in Missouri see.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Ahem. (2.33 / 3) (#50)
by vadim on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:09:19 PM EST

I admit that I'm a bit of an 'eco-weenie', but I'm also russian. And I'm sure you don't want a nuclear plant exploding near you, right? Did you know that lots of people died while trying to bury that damned thing, and now the protection is breaking and underground water is being contaminated by it? The effects still continue, and will continue for several thousands years. Besides, it's not only 'eco-weenies'. It's the so well known american "Not in my backyard". I'm not sure you'd like living near a nuclear powerstation. If nuclear power is dead, I am *very* glad.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Dangerous plant designs and operating procedures (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by ReverendX on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:42:29 PM EST

caused the chernobyl disaster. As far as I know, all US plants work on a opposite theory, where run-away reactions are automatically suppressed. France understands this and has made great use of nuke power.

Being able to piss in an allyway is however, a very poor substitute for a warm bed and a hot cup of super-premium coffee. - homelessweek.com
[ Parent ]

Okay... (1.25 / 4) (#77)
by vadim on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:39:57 PM EST

First of all, there's no such thing as a perfect design. For example, a modern car with an airbag will save me if I crash at a low speed. That's what it was designed for. However, what about the unexpected problems? Just like all the security in a car won't help me if I get stuck in a railway and a train crashes into me, all the security in a powerplant will be useless if something really bad happens, like sabotage, a missile, an airplane or something else hitting it.

Let's suppose that we can be 100% sure the thing won't leak (which I'm sure is too much to hope for, after all nothing we make is perfect). After that, there are the 'eco-weenie' arguments. Like:

When a plant gets to the end of its useful life, what do you do with it? It's a lot of radiactive waste you have to bury just like the chernobyl one. How can you be sure it'll remain well buried for the thousands of years radiation will remain?

What do you do with the waste? Sure, you can bury it somewhere, but again, how do you know that in 1000 years the place won't be completely different? Maybe an earthquake will happen, or the area will be flooded, or something else. Maybe *gasp* nobody will think of looking after something that was produced centuries ago? Are you sure nobody will buy a house built on top of a lot of waste? Shoot it into space maybe? Nobody seems to be doing that yet. And hope that due to an error it doesn't hit something useful and spread there.

Are you sure radiatiation doesn't escape? Here (in Spain), there have been repeated reports about nuclear power plants, high voltage cables and cell phone transmitters increasing the cases of cancer in the zone. Do we really need surrounded by more electromagnetic fields and radiation than strictly necessary?
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Waste: (none / 0) (#100)
by binaryalchemy on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:56:45 AM EST

Nuclear waste can be reused to get much better efficiency that US plants currently do but regulations prohibit it.

Or so a physics professor once told me, if someone could back this up or refute it I'd appreciate it.
------
Defending the GPL from a commercial perspective is like defending the Microsft EULA from a moral perspective. - quartz
[ Parent ]

Nuclear Waste (5.00 / 1) (#106)
by CokeBear on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:52:34 AM EST

Nuclear Waste can be reused, but the result of that is tiny amounts of even *more* dangerous waste, like... weapons grade plutonium. The waste from that reaction also stays dangerous for 100 times as long. How do we know that 1000 years from now, someone wont get a hold of this material and use it to destroy the planet (if we haven't done so already).

[ Parent ]
"Know Nukes" (4.00 / 1) (#137)
by thrig on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:22:19 PM EST

The short story "Know Nukes" by James P. Hogan covers issues surrounding nuclear power in detail. Available as part of his "Minds, Machines, and Evolution" text.

To paraphrase, the U.S. was operating a breeder reactor to recycle the bad stuff until Jimmy Carter shut it down for political reasons.

[ Parent ]
Solvable problems (none / 0) (#116)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:59:04 AM EST

The fact is, there are power plant designs available which, though they can destroy themselves, simply do not have the energy to destroy their containment. There are ways of constructing facilities such that an earthquake won't do them in. There are advances made every year in waste containment, and what people aren't being honest about is that really this is more a fear issue than anything else; if you bury the stuff half a mile or more below ground away from a fault line, it won't get into anyone's water, and it isn't going anywhere, even if the containers leak. People are just so terrified(because they're ignorant,) that you can't tell them that.

People really need to quit using Soviet nuclear practices as "proof" that nuclear power is dangerous. The fact is that the Soviet nuclear power program would not have met regulatory standards in ANY other nation that actually ever had any nuclear power, and moreover Chernobyl didn't even meet the amazingly lax Soviet standards.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Wrong (1.75 / 4) (#135)
by vadim on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:45:59 PM EST

You simply ignored a part of my post, and it's that it doesn't matter how good your container is, you can't be completely sure that the stuff will be in the same place after 1000 years. What if everybody forgets about it and somebody decides to unbury it to use it for terrorism, for example?
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Terrorism? (5.00 / 1) (#136)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:06:27 PM EST

Surely you jest. It would be so much easier to obtain radioactive materials from other sources; why dig it up from some vault that probably has one entrance atop which sits a military outpost?

Similarly, since nuclear waste is only really useful for making dirty bombs(not real atomic weapons,) why wouldn't our hypothetical very dedicated terrorists just acquire ore containing uranium(it is very, very common,) extract the uranium(this could be done with a few thousand dollars worth of equipment and someone's basement,) and then use that? It'd be reasonably cheap, much easier to do without getting caught, and it wouldn't require knowledge of where someone buried nuclear waste 1000 years ago! Granted it wouldn't be enriched, but neither is nuclear power plant waste!

The most important thing to remember is that nuclear waste in its most common forms really isn't much more dangerous than many common industrial byproducts. These same terrorists could just as well go and get some carcinogenic industrial solvents and spray them over people using a crop duster or something; the resulting injuries would be superficially similar, and people would be terrified, which is the whole point!

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Speaking of nuclear power... (none / 0) (#89)
by dachshund on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:30:59 PM EST

I found this utterly fascinating.

[ Parent ]
Do you? (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by Hillgiant on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:01:27 PM EST

CAFE has never been an environmental concern; it was introduced during the oil crisis as a way to reduce oil consumption for economic reasons.

Part of the whole "War on Terrorism" theme is reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The easiest way to reduce dependence is to reduce consupmtion. The enviornmental bonuses are gravy.

People who genuinely care about the environment want to control emissions, not burn rate.

The more BTUs that stay in the ground, the less NOx, CO, and unspent hydrocarbons in the atmosphere. Most "eco-weenie[s]" want to increase fuel economy and decrease emmisions. They are two strategies for persuing the same goal.

still fractional increases in average fuel economy

The fleet average mpg in 2000 was 24 (news). This legislation would have increased it to 35 mpg. I suppose 50% is still a fraction. However, I argue that it is a significant one.

In response to your argument that the 36 fleet mpg is unobtainable: Do you really think that automotive engineering has stagnated over the past 15 years?

-----
"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

Automotive engineering (5.00 / 3) (#28)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:15:16 PM EST

No, it hasn't "stagnated." However, the fact is that we're approaching the limits of what you can do to an internal combustion engine to make it more efficient; such engines have a fairly low theoretical peak efficiency anyway, as with any heat engine. If the feds really want fuel efficiency, they should be looking to dismantle their huge price fixing schemes and so on so that alternative energy sources actually become practical, rather than looking to force ordinary US citizens into go karts with roofs.

By the way, linking CAFE to terrorism is akin to linking dope smoking to terrorism. Get a fucking clue.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
By the Way (none / 0) (#110)
by Hillgiant on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:25:17 AM EST

linking CAFE to terrorism is akin to linking dope smoking to terrorism

I never said I agreed with them. =]

Automotive engineering is more that power plant design. There are many optimizations in the transmission / power train, air conditioning, vehicle weight, and the miriad of electric do-dads that contribute to the overal efficiency of the vehicle. Also, while the Carnot efficiency of the Otto Cycle is low, it is not the only technology availible.

I agree with you that there are too many restrictions on alternative energy sources.

-----
"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

efficiency (4.00 / 1) (#115)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:51:48 AM EST

I don't know anyone who is claiming that we can get better than the roughly 10-15% drivetrain loss we have now without totally reworking the way we build cars(probably cost impractical, most likely also impractical results.) The improvements almost always come from better fuel/air metering, better engine designs, and so on, and there just aren't a lot of those left.

As for non-Otto engines, I don't think any auto company in the world today has the cash and the willingness to risk all that cash needed to bring any other engine to widespread automotive use. The rotaries and turbines that have been tried are interesting, but not particularly practical as full replacements across a model line, and there really isn't anything else that wouldn't take literally billions of dollars of development just to get to the point we've got our present engines at. Alternative engines are cool, but that doesn't make them practical anytime soon. Hydrogen in our present engines is a more feasible idea, if of course we can get the infrastructure together.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Typical trhurler (4.00 / 3) (#34)
by wji on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:23:37 PM EST

You're ignoring the fact that we need to conserve oil, because it's a non-renewable resource which drives a tremendous amount of our industry and which in the forseeable future we can't do without.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
hogwash (3.00 / 3) (#38)
by trhurler on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:29:48 PM EST

We can do without it in the next 20 years, if only Congress will see fit to repeal the big mess of price fixing, regulatory burdens, and so on that makes oil the only practical option.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Umm... synthetics? (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by wji on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:36:30 PM EST

While I'm with you on the price-fixing / subsidies, and on getting rid of oil for transportation, essentially all our synthetic materials -- plastics, fabrics, drugs -- come ultimately from oil. And that's why we can't do without it, and why it's moronic to be burning 90% of this incredible material as an inefficient power source for combustion engines.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Hemp. (4.60 / 5) (#43)
by beergut on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:54:07 PM EST

Hemp can be used to produce many, if not all, of the plastics we today extract from petroleum. I suspect that's why H. Anslinger worked to outlaw hemp in the early 20th century -- he or his relatives had stock in a new company called "DuPont", and one of the big East coast banks was staking DuPont up to its eyeballs.

Petroleum may well turn out to be a more efficient source for these plastics, I don't know, but it is possible to find different sources.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Never thought of that! (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by wji on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 06:08:46 PM EST

But yeah, now that you mention it, you're right. I say Hemp for Victory!!

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Typical wji (2.66 / 3) (#53)
by Demiurge on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:15:40 PM EST

Yes, oil is a non-renewable resource. So is sunlight.

Oil reserves are not in short supply. There's enough to last at least another century, and almost certainly more will become available as technology for extracting oil develops.

The issue at hand, as trhurler points out, is the level of emissions. But by all means, don't let the truth get in the way of your ideologically motivated crusade against capitalism.

[ Parent ]
Ah! The ultimate accusation! (4.50 / 4) (#68)
by wji on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:21:45 PM EST

"Ideologically motivated crusade"... in other words, having opinions which you have decided are unacceptable and outside of your range of acceptable thought. The charge of "ideologically motivated crusade" exists solely to target "extremists", IE people too far away from the "center". Try accusing a liberal or a moderate conservative of being on such a "crusade" and you'll see what I mean.

Now, as for oil reserves, your numbers are sheer fiction. Assuming no new discoveries, we have perhaps 40 or 50 years worth left at present rates of consumption. According to the definitive USGS survey, we have between 63 and 95 years' worth, again at present rates of consumption, and that takes into account new discoveries and new extraction technology.

These numbers are a bit misleading, though, because they assume consumption stays the same, which it doesn't. Also, if you base your predictions ("we've got to be oil-free within 60 years") on them, you tend to forget that third world consumption is going to go up tremendously, while they won't have the technology to use other sources of energy. Your estimate of a "at least" century's worth + new extraction is well above the USGS's upper limit, even if we assume that oil consumption will magically stay at the present rate.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

Two things (none / 0) (#125)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:42:29 PM EST

First off, the USGS numbers are bogus. Not only are there new discoveries, but at this time, the rate of new discoveries is increasing, which they don't take into account.

Second, if anyone figures out how to efficiently extract oil from shale, that's probably another several centuries right there.

Third, if we develop hydrogen combustion power, I imagine it will spread to the third world pretty quickly, because the only thing stopping it now is the availablility of infrastructure, and they're real good at duplicating infrastructure by buying stuff made by us to do it, often using loans from us:)

The truth is, we ought to be moving to other sources of power, but for reasons basically unrelated to any oil crisis. Hydrogen is not only cleaner for the environment, but also makes for cleaner, more efficient engines, which means that everyone from gearheads to grannies will have better cars if they run on hydrogen, as one example.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
More typical trhurler (none / 0) (#127)
by wji on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 03:42:05 PM EST

First off, the USGS numbers are bogus. Not only are there new discoveries, but at this time, the rate of new discoveries is increasing, which they don't take into account.
Typical trhurler "facts", made up with no justification to serve the needs of your current argument.

The USGS survey estimated undiscovered petroleum resources. At what rate these resources are discovered is not considered; they are finding out how much oil is actually in the ground. It's completely irrelevant what the current rate of discoveries is, because this is a geological survey. You can play around with extrapolating curves and lines all you want, but USGS is doing the rational thing and looking at how much oil is in the ground and recoverable with present or forseeable future technologies.

Second, if anyone figures out how to efficiently extract oil from shale, that's probably another several centuries right there.
So our long-term energy policy (which is also a very large chunk of our entire foreign and national security policy) should be based on a technology that may or may not ever be invented? Why not just buy antimatter from aliens, or build "free energy" devices?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

You keep saying that... (none / 0) (#128)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 03:49:06 PM EST

The USGS survey estimated undiscovered petroleum resources.
And based that estimate on current discovery rates. How about a little honesty here?
they are finding out how much oil is actually in the ground
No they aren't. There is no way of doing that except discovery. Any other method consists in "guessing."
You can play around with extrapolating curves and lines all you want, but USGS is doing the rational thing and looking at how much oil is in the ground and recoverable with present or forseeable future technologies.
By what magical means are they determining the precise composition of the earth on a fine scale? Using the words "geological survey" straight out of their name doesn't count; I want to know what technique they have that is better than what the oil companies are using, and I'm pretty sure the oil companies would want to know too.
So our long-term energy policy (which is also a very large chunk of our entire foreign and national security policy) should be based on a technology that may or may not ever be invented?
Did you not read the last part of my post, wherein I suggested that hydrogen combustion is the future of automotive power and should be adopted as soon as practical, or are you just LOOKING for something to argue with regardless of whether it is what someone really said?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
God I hate Republicans. (2.72 / 11) (#16)
by Yellowbeard on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:52:27 PM EST

I really do. I know, I am sure the Democrats are being paid off too. It's just crap sound bites like what Lott is trying with this "I don't want every American to have to drive one of these," while displaying a picture of something that doubles the fuel efficiency required. I hate shit like that.

Also, here's something. I heard (unsubstantiated) that, unlike everyone else on earth, that that 36 mpg thing is an avereage of all cars (which is said in the article, as opposed to a limit for all cars. Everyone else's cars have to get at least 36mpg individually. While the American auto industry gets by with an overall industry average of 36mpg - never mind that when you run the actual numbers of how many of each type of car is driven they don't actually meet the average (while the mean of individual car types turns out to be 36, the mean of cars actually being driven is lower).

DAMN oil companies.


"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin


Is the consumer more to blame? (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by Torgos Pizza on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:05:26 PM EST

I would be pointing the Finger of Blame +1 dmg. towards the consumer more than the oil companies. I don't see Texaco holding a gun to the typical soccer mom's head and saying "Buy this SUV with 5 MPG or else!" Americans are buying SUV gas guzzling cars knowing full well that the fuel ratio is poor. There are plenty of other choices to be had, but the consumer seems to ignore them.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.
[ Parent ]
Democrats control the senate (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by jwwebcast on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:03:03 PM EST

No matter what Trent Lott said, Democrats control the senate, and it's their fault this bill didn't pass. Bush made noises that he would approve this bill if it came before him. That's probably why the Democrats didn't pass it. They're about image not action. They just want to "look" like they are pro-enviroment, while taking handouts on the side from the auto industries, and the auto unions (the largest contributors to democrat campaigns). They would like to pass a pro-enviroment bill, and have a republican veto it, but what they can't have happen is for this bill to get passed.

So if you want to blame anyone, blame the Democrats for this not passing.

[ Parent ]
Market, not legislation, will decide (4.12 / 8) (#18)
by Torgos Pizza on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 04:58:46 PM EST

Consumers for years have demanded a more fuel efficient car. While the SUV craze was a setback, more of these SUV drivers are realizing the costs that these gas guzzlers create. Japanese car manufacturers have already noticed this and are increasing the models and numbers of hybrid cars on the market. While not selling as much as they would like, people are starting to take notice.

American car manufacturers are just now taking notice. Before, the demand wasn't there for a so-called green car. Mainly because there wasn't one available. The free market is changing all that. By 2005 it looks like 500,000 hybrid cars will be sold. More models are being announced every month. All this was without any legislation being passed to mandate this. [One exception being California, which got a reprieve before the penalty kicked in for not selling enough cars.]

From this point, I think that the free market will be solving this problem on it's own. While legislation could have helped ten years ago, I think that the lumbering auto industry is finally going to start doing it right. It might not be as fast as we'd like, but it is moving in a more conservative direction.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.

Not available? (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by epepke on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:09:45 PM EST

My 1996 Neon, after 197,000 miles and essentially no engine work, still gets better than 45 MPG highway. And it can go 120 MPH or pull a 1000 pound trailer.

It isn't 1978 any more.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
WTF? (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by leviramsey on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:29:01 PM EST

A Neon getting 45 MPG? I think you're a mite inaccurate, unless you've done a lot of tuning. Don't Neons still have three-speed trannies? It's pretty difficult to get great mileage when you're spending so much time in unoptimal gear ratios.

But of course, I'm a bit of a Staurn freak...



[ Parent ]
3spd? (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by falke on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:56:07 PM EST

We have taken my g/fs 5 spd manual Neon on trips before and with the two of us, the dogs, the guinea pigs, and all of our luggage we can stay on the high side of 38mpg. I'm not a big fan of that car but it sure does use a hell of a lot less gas than mine.

Jason

[ Parent ]
Auto box... (5.00 / 1) (#151)
by gordonjcp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:27:19 PM EST

Many people in the US seem to think that all cars have thirstymatic transmission.
You know, if they learned to drive properly, they'd save *so* much fuel... But instead, they rely on Mr Borg and Mr Warner...

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Now I'm confused (none / 0) (#161)
by falke on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 12:50:42 PM EST

What exactly are you trying to say? Jason

[ Parent ]
In slightly less "incendiary" terms... (none / 0) (#162)
by gordonjcp on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 03:33:17 PM EST

Pretty much everyone I know who has learned to drive in the US has only ever driven a car with an automatic gearbox, and can't drive a car with a manual gearbox.
Conversely, very few cars in Europe have automatic gearboxes. Mostly (but not exclusively) they are large, high-specification cars, with big engines.
Now, one of the reasons for coupling an auto box with a big engine is that the torque converter that takes the place of a manual gearbox's clutch is inherently very, very lossy - a lot of your engine's power is dissipated as heat. This is pretty wasteful. Furthermore, with conventional 3 or 4 speed auto boxes, they just never seem to be in the right gear a lot of the time.
By way of comparison, a friend of mine had a 1986 2.3 litre Volvo estate, with a 4 speed + overdrive manual box (overdrive is a kind of electrically operated 5th gear). About the same time, I had a similarly-sized 1986 Mercedes estate, 2.3 litre engine, but with a 4-speed auto box. Now, both engines were in a good state of tune, both mechanically similar, but the Merc only turned in about 22 mpg as opposed to the Volvo's 28 mpg. Comparing with Volvos with auto boxes shows a similar difference in fuel consumption.
Anyway, the point was, that you can do quite a lot better on fuel with a plain ordinary 5-speed manual gearbox and a smaller engine. The car I have now has a 2 litre engine, 5-speed manual gearbox, and is only a little smaller and lighter than the Merc (it's a Citroen XM, but apparently you don't have them in the US), but returns nearly 36 mpg.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Preview before posting... (1.00 / 1) (#58)
by leviramsey on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:30:26 PM EST

s/staurn/saturn/



[ Parent ]
Loved my neon (3.50 / 2) (#79)
by wurp on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:47:23 PM EST

although I never got anything like 45 mpg, more like 33.


Up until some asshole in a big-ass brand-new pick-up failed to notice that traffic was completely stopped up ahead and shoved the hood of the neon under the van that was in front of me. My seat belt saved my life. The asshole didn't get a ticket, and his insurance company paid for his new chrome bumper he had been wanting instead of it coming out of his pocket. Life is unfair. Of course, usually it's unfair in my favor, but complaining is fun.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Now now (2.00 / 1) (#141)
by A Trickster Imp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:32:41 AM EST

> The asshole didn't get a ticket,

Yes, this sounds like a problem having to do with vehicle size.


> and his insurance company paid for his new chrome bumper he had been
> wanting instead of it coming out of his pocket.

That's what insurance is for.


> Life is unfair. Of course, usually it's unfair in my favor, but complaining is fun.

From the sound of it, you don't have damage insurance. Now I'll bet you'll look more kindly on it. (Unless, of course, you made a conscious, economic decision to get rid of it because your car was getting old. You rolled the dice and lost, go buy a new old junker.)




[ Parent ]
No insurance? (none / 0) (#169)
by wurp on Mon Apr 08, 2002 at 02:03:34 PM EST

Yes, the amount of damage and the likelihood of that accident killing me or the person in the car in front of me is very related to the size of the vehicle that hit me. How can that not be obvious? The ticket comment was just an anecdote, although I do believe that behavior that's more likely to get someone killed should get a bigger ticket, and ramming someone with a huge vehicle is more likely to kill them than ramming them with a small one.

> From the sound of it, you don't have damage insurance.

What gives you that idea? I certainly do have damage insurance, but it's a bum deal. They gave me $4500 for a car that was easily worth $7000, and was worth even more than that to me. It ran fine, had no alignment or other problems. I would rather have kept it than gotten the new car that I paid another $9000 for after the accident. Unfortunately, that wasn't an option.



---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Guess what, Mr. Free Market? (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by wji on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:19:33 PM EST

Hybrid cars are heavily subsidized (more than regular cars, I mean) and the only reason that American companies develop them is because of government regulations that make it adventageous to. "Free market" indeed...

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
And thus... (2.66 / 3) (#51)
by kurtmweber on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:13:02 PM EST

Government should not subsidize ANY business...otherwise, it is no longer a free market.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
What free market? (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by Ebon Praetor on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:20:12 PM EST

I'd write a reply myself, but 90X Double Side already wrote a very good one.

With so many government subsidies in oil and the US policy of invading countries when when people threaten the oil supply assure that the free market will not have too much of an effect for a good while to come.

[ Parent ]

What many of you are ignoring... (4.55 / 9) (#25)
by 90X Double Side on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:11:00 PM EST

Is that there is no free market in oil, and therefore consumers can not make free market decisions about how fuel efficient their vehicle will be (which is compounded further by the fact that consumers tend not to consider total cost of ownership). If consumers had to pay the real price of gasoline, they would demand more fuel efficient vehicles, but as long the government subsidizes oil, it must also do something to promote conserving it.

“Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity”
—Alvy Ray Smith
Er (5.00 / 2) (#70)
by greenrd on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:28:38 PM EST

That's bizarre. Over here in the UK, the media have been lambasting the government for the fact that over the half the cost of a gallon of petrol (translation: gasoline) is tax!

So what's the real truth? Is petrol (i.e. gas) cheaper than it would be under a free market, or more expensive?

Or - in fact - is that just a meaningless and impossible-to-answer libertarian question, since totally free markets have never existed, and cartels like OPEC act against "free market" principles anyway?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

European prices/world prices (4.50 / 2) (#88)
by dachshund on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:28:27 PM EST

That's bizarre. Over here in the UK, the media have been lambasting the government for the fact that over the half the cost of a gallon of petrol (translation: gasoline) is tax!

It's a tricky question. It's hard to ignore, however, that world governments (and particularly the US) put an enormous amount of money and effort into keeping oil cheap. It's difficult to even quantify this in dollars, because our subsidies are often delivered as military assistance/advice, of a sort that plain old money just can't buy.

Since oil is sold on a global market, whatever we do to keep oil cheap benefits all of the other oil-consuming nations. So America chooses to feed our dependency, piping cheap oil directly to the gas pump, banking on the ability of our money and military might to keep the prices in check... while European nations, who also benefit from our efforts, tax the price way up in order to keep their citizens from becoming addicted from the artificially low prices that we create. This seems like a rational policy, given that an overly oil-dependent Europe could be utterly helpless in the event of a shortage. European governments also collect a good amount of cash from these taxes, but that's... incidental.

Or - in fact - is that just a meaningless and impossible-to-answer libertarian question, since totally free markets have never existed, and cartels like OPEC act against "free market" principles anyway?

In theory, it's one of those questions that nobody can answer unless the US changes its policy. Of course, as long as we need oil, the US government won't ever change that policy... which should give you an idea of how important the folks in charge really feel these policies are.

[ Parent ]

Gas is the same all over the world, taxes differ. (4.00 / 1) (#154)
by forii on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 11:10:35 PM EST

I saw a study in "The Economist" a couple of years ago that showed that the base (pre-tax) price of gasoline was about the same all over the world. It is just that different countries (like the UK, as you point out) tax gasoline to differing degrees.

Actually, some of the cheapest gas that I can remember seeing recently was when I was in Thailand (not known for being a major petroleum producer) over Christmas, where prices were about 13 baht/liter * (1 US Dollar/44 baht) * (3.8 liters/gallon) = US$1.12/gallon.

On the other hand, you can "feel the savings" in the Thai highway system. Ouch.


Proud member of the ACLU, the NRA, and the EFF.
[ Parent ]
Oil shock (2.00 / 6) (#41)
by epcraig on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 05:37:58 PM EST

Sooner or later, and later if the Republicans have their way, there will be lines at the pumps again. The last time that happened, econo-boxes grabbbed off a bigger slice of the market.

The longer we can postpone an oil shock, the more constricted supplies will be.

Now we buy our oil on credit. Credit eventually runs out. We're running a trade deficit, most of our currency is overseas. If the financial markets stop trusting the American economy's ability to pay its debts, it could turn into Argentina writ very large.
There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org

Or we could just dedicate money... (3.00 / 4) (#49)
by tthomas48 on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:07:19 PM EST

to try to find out why Toyota's engines routinely outperform American engines. I can only conclude that the reason my Neon's 4 cylinder engine got 20mpg and my Echo get's 40 is because American auto manufacturer's are lazy.

Neon's engine is made by Mitsubishi (none / 0) (#78)
by strlen on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:44:22 PM EST

So Mitsubishi who makes the 2.0 DOHC engine for the Neon is now American? That's news :-) Echo also uses a much smaller engine, producing much less horsepower, meaning there's much less acceleration resulting. High output engines, American or Japanese never get quite the fuel efficiency numbers economy-designed engines do.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Sorry I should rephrase... (none / 0) (#152)
by tthomas48 on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 07:04:27 PM EST

we should spend research money on finding out why American cars suck so hard. Better? Any way you slice it mathematically the only vehicles that America builds well are gas guzzlers. I completely agree with that. The question was more finding out why Ford, GM, and Dodge haven't bothered doing any research into the subject. They appear perfectly happy to buy engines off of failing Japanese companies to put in substandard vehices rather than focus their engineers who are brilliant with gas guzzlers on the topic. Perhaps if they did the cost of making these cars would go down.

[ Parent ]
Nope, wrong again :-) (none / 0) (#153)
by strlen on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 08:35:46 PM EST

Americans have some of the most efficient V6 engines, too. The 3.8, for instance, achieves 30 miles per gallon, quite amazing for an engine its size. The 5.7 v8 also achieves 25 miles per gallon, even with automatic transmissions, again, quite amazing. All other American 4-cylinders are in tune with their Japanese comptetitors of the same engine size, and Ford V6's and V8's are again are as good as or better as the Japanese competitors. The problem, is the SUVs and SUV engines, but Japanese and Germany SUVs aren't all that great in the economy side too, unless we're talking about the mini-poseur-SUVs (which Americans have as well, and which are also efficient) which are as cramped inside as a Honda Civic, but are as much as a road hazard and flip-over-danger as any SUV out there. However, Americans do tend to make more SUVs than Germans or Japanese, and American SUVs are more wide spread, and most of them are in the gazz-guzzler-Suburuban type class, in case a mountain springs up on the way to the soccer game.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
While I won't disagree... (3.00 / 1) (#163)
by tthomas48 on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 03:45:24 PM EST

since you're obviously more knowledgable on engines. I think the problem is perception. Let's be honest the real problem is that we'll never get effecient cars on the road until:

1) We convice American men that they are adequately endowed.
2) We convice American soccer moms that their cars are adequately safe, and that they do not have 8 children.

[ Parent ]
Engine size (none / 0) (#166)
by Paul Hodson on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 11:32:02 PM EST

While it's nice that the 5.7 v8 can achieve 25mpg, I think the real issue here is that that's simply too big an engine. For its size, it may be efficient, but smaller engines produce more than enough power for the average family, whether or not they have a trailer and a mountain between their home and their soccer game. European and Japanese manufacturers noticed long ago that they could accomplish great feats with small engines, while not sacrificing comfort or safety. The trend for US firms should also be to reduce engine size because, frankly, just about no one needs a massive engine.

[ Parent ]
Erroneous conclusion (5.00 / 2) (#91)
by jet_silver on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:45:31 PM EST

The Toyota is newer, lighter, built to tighter tolerances (that is what you pay for when you buy one) and less prone to having things go wrong with it - subtle things like off-optimal combustion that plays hob with mileage but doesn't actually stop the car running.

Manufacturers (all of them) build to a price point. They put in the content they're capable of putting in while still making a profit. If that means a US manufacturer uses a 3.8 liter six where the Japanese or European manufacturer uses a 1.9 liter four of similar output, that is because of multiple reasons (experience with engine type, tax laws around the world, market penetration by region). American manufacturers are not very good at 4-cyl engines except for Ford, and their good ones came from the UK anyway. American manufacturers don't make much profit on small cars, they are geared to making Barges d'Excess. See David Halberstam's "The Reckoning" for this argument in detail.

If you look at the total cost and hassle of driving x miles you will probably find that fuel cost is a pretty small proportion, at least on a new car. Largest is depreciation and that is worse on USian cars than on Japanese ones. Next is probably insurance. Next is probably fuel cost unless you keep the car a long time, in which case it's repairs.
"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling
[ Parent ]

If this really bothers you... (3.60 / 5) (#52)
by Sairon on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:15:26 PM EST

then why don't you just buy a fuel efficient car? Why must the government be involved in everything? Jared

That's what I did (2.00 / 1) (#66)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:07:15 PM EST

A nice little Mitsu that gets 35 mpg.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Too easy. (4.33 / 3) (#83)
by driptray on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 10:32:10 PM EST

Because the problems (environmental, overdependence on foreign oil) cannot by fixed by me alone. They require a very large segment of the population to act in a certain way.

For issues like this, individual action is an insignificant drop in the ocean. Action needs to occur at the level of the whole society, and government are the best way of doing that.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
The proper solution (2.90 / 10) (#54)
by kurtmweber on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:17:10 PM EST

is to let the market decide. Government has no business telling people what cars they drive, regardless of whether or not it's for the "greater good", whatever that may be.
The individual is more important than society. Thus, the non-violent desires of the individual take precedence over the "public good". If those desires include driving a gas-guzzler, well, that's his prerogative.


Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
market != environment (4.25 / 4) (#59)
by gps on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:30:36 PM EST

since when are economic markets at all concerned with the earth's environment? the environment doesn't impact economics except in the -extreemly- long term (30-100+ years) so it's never considered.

[ Parent ]
Your point? (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by kurtmweber on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:47:48 PM EST

How is that a response to what I posted?

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
it is a response because (4.00 / 3) (#71)
by gilmae on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:31:51 PM EST

the topic at hand, mileage by automobiles has impacts outside of the market economy, so factors outside the market economy should have impacts on the mileage of cars. Letting the market decide the mileage of cars assumes that it is a closed system, which it patently is not.


[ Parent ]
internalizing (none / 0) (#104)
by dabadab on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:25:18 AM EST

"since when are economic markets at all concerned with the earth's environment?"

They are not concerned with environment per se, but they are concerned with the COST that pollution of the environment causes.

Of course, this cost may not be directly visible to them, but there's where govt. comes into the play and internalizes the external costs - e.g. in the form of a tax on gas.

You know, this cost internalization is one of the govts' main task.
--
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]

Violence (4.00 / 2) (#64)
by Robert S Gormley on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:49:28 PM EST

Isn't the only means by which to adversely impact other people. Individuals may be important, but we do not exist in a vacuum devoid of interaction with each other.

[ Parent ]
Yes, let the market decide (4.25 / 4) (#76)
by wurp on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:37:05 PM EST

as soon as we figure out how much it costs to clean up air pollution and how much we value the additional fatality rate, and add that amount as a tax to the gas (for the air pollution) and for the car (for the fatality rate). There are hidden costs here.

Not that I'm a libertarian, but I do agree that the market should decide on this issue, but only after the hidden costs are made clear.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Markets can't do everything. (4.57 / 7) (#87)
by enkidu on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:12:31 PM EST

In cases of having supply optimally meet demand, markets are great. Lots of people who like a simple view of the world fixate on Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" as the "Hand of God" which can fix all of society's problems and ills. But it simply isn't so. Markets can only function well in the presense of proper regulation and order. Too much regulation and you get the U.S.S.R. Too little and you get the wild wild west. Markets alone, really really suck at some very important things.

Markets don't account for true societal costs. If markets had had their way, we would have blithely polluted our waters and air all through the 20th century, because it was economically cheaper to do so. So what if some people complianed. Without government intervention, creating regulations which relected the costs society felt were being inflicted upon it, the tragedy of the commons would have prevailed and we all would be living in a world of shit. I don't know about you, but I like the air I breath to be reasonably clean.

Markets cannot provide for minimum standards. How would you like to be a guinea pig each time you went to the drug store? How would you like to have to buy a box of asprin with totally false labelling? That's what was happening 100 years ago when there was no FDA. The market enabled lots of shysters and con-men to make money in the health industry. They're still around but keep pretty close to the ground, cause the FDA will smack them down if they don't.

Markets do not reflect higher societal morals and objectives. Let me introduce you to some ideas which prevailed in certain societies. There is practically no market for the work of people with Cereberal Palsy. They are, economically speaking, dead weight. If everyone were an optimal "economic agent", there is no reason why we should continue to feed and care for these people. They don't make anything, do they? Why should health insurance companies pay for their care? Why should anybody? Lets drop them from coverage and rake in the dough! Pretty disgusting huh? (Lots of insurance companies, BTW, would do this, at the drop of a hat). Societies have morals and markets alone cannot account for those motivations.

Markets can be great engines of productivity and efficiency. But markets in the absense of regulations which provide for, among other things, safety (FDA), transparency (SEC, sort of), and cost distribution (the FHWA, no scratch that... the EPA, sort of) become anarchy. And believe me, anarchic societies are not productive, efficient or fun to live in.

[ Parent ]

And so (2.50 / 2) (#140)
by A Trickster Imp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:27:38 AM EST

> Markets don't account for true societal costs. If markets had had their way, we
> would have blithely polluted our waters and air

This is a false red herring. A "free market" does not, as part of its definition, allow pollution of things that those factory owners do not own, which includes the air and rivers. Before having massive regulation, though, the honest person shall realize that a strong economy advances technology, which advances the quality of life. Even as London started choking on smog from the industrial revolution, the population skyrocketted as people didn't die as children, nor die from old age. Massive regulation would have been no friend of "the people".


> Markets cannot provide for minimum standards. How would you like to be a
> guinea pig each time you went to the drug store?

A threat of lawsuit can provide the minimum standard. Ever wonder how many people die because of delayed introduction of drugs by the FDA? Probably more than were saved by their "minimum standards". Possibly more than Stalin. Someone should run the numbers, but it would probably make statists unhappy.


> Markets do not reflect higher societal morals and objectives.

Morals are irrelevant. People choose to buy this or that, and that very choice reflects the only necessary moral. Who are you to introduce a gun to this choice?


> people with Cereberal Palsy...are, economically speaking, dead weight.

Most are, but which society is better equipped to handle them? An economically strong one or a weak one? Which one will cure it sooner than the other, the strong one or the weak one?

I can easily envision two parallel societies, one with massive socialistic medicine and one that is highly capitalistic. In one hundred years, the socialist one brags about still caring for people with CP, while the capitalistic one says, "What CP? We cured that fifty years ago!"










[ Parent ]
Reasonable regulation in neccessary. (5.00 / 2) (#157)
by enkidu on Sat Mar 16, 2002 at 10:53:14 PM EST

This is a false red herring. A "free market" does not, as part of its definition, allow pollution of things that those factory owners do not own, which includes the air and rivers. Before having massive regulation, though, the honest person shall realize that a strong economy advances technology, which advances the quality of life. Even as London started choking on smog from the industrial revolution, the population skyrocketted as people didn't die as children, nor die from old age. Massive regulation would have been no friend of "the people".
What's a false red herring? :-). The problem with that argument is that there is no market for the things being polluted. No one entity owns/can sell the air or the rivers. Where did I say massive regulation? I believe I said, reasonable regulation.

Are you saying that London would have worse air but a better standard of living without pollution regulation? Have you been to Mexico City? Practically no regulation there. With increased pollution, more people will leave the city. That's really good for the economy. Should I be able to buy land next to a school open a factory and pollute the air with invisible mercury vapor? I'll make my profits and leave before your children are born crippled. Are you saying that the slaughter houses of Sinclair would have cleaned themselved up out of economic interest?

A threat of lawsuit can provide the minimum standard. Ever wonder how many people die because of delayed introduction of drugs by the FDA? Probably more than were saved by their "minimum standards". Possibly more than Stalin. Someone should run the numbers, but it would probably make statists unhappy.
So, you would prefer to take your chances with improperly labelled and minimally tested drugs? You would rather not have an organization gathering safety/usage information about drugs currently on the market? The FDA collects tons of these "adverse event" reports to keep tabs on currently active drugs and processes. Ever wonder how many people would die without testing/monitoring by the FDA? Remember Phen-fen? Bendectin?

Remember, the threat of a lawsuit can keep even good drugs off of the market. With no arbiter of minimum standards, anyone can claim (and too often do) claim an adverse event due to some drug. Why do you think there has been zero research into morning sickness drugs in the last 20 years?

Morals are irrelevant. People choose to buy this or that, and that very choice reflects the only necessary moral. Who are you to introduce a gun to this choice?
What gun? I don't quite follow you here.
Most [people with cereberal palsy] are [dead weight], but which society is better equipped to handle them? An economically strong one or a weak one? Which one will cure it sooner than the other, the strong one or the weak one?
Strawman alert. Reasonable regulation makes for strong economy not a weak one. The American economy is successful because of a good balance between regulation and freedom. Regulations provide for monetary stability and restrict market abuses and deter/quickly detect frauds. Prosecuting after the fact can do little to alleviate the harm done.

You prefer that we didn't have the Federal Reserve Board? You would prefer that we don't have the SEC? You would prefer that our accounting companies continue to self-regulate? Transperancy of the markets can only be assured by regulation. Without transparency, there can be no confidence. Without confidence in the market, everybody will prefer to buy gold and land, not stocks and bonds.

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it: Heard of John Law? Remember the railroad trusts? Standard Oil? Cuyahoga River? Without regulation we'd be repeating these mistakes over and over again.

I can easily envision two parallel societies, one with massive socialistic medicine and one that is highly capitalistic. In one hundred years, the socialist one brags about still caring for people with CP, while the capitalistic one says, "What CP? We cured that fifty years ago!"
Now that's a red herring. When did regulation mandating minimum standards equal social medicine? And when did social medicine imply an uncapitalistic society? Was I advocating socialism?

That aside, medicine being one of the neccessities of life, providing it for everybody may not be a unproductive burden upon the economy. Ensuring medical needs would allow enterprising people to take more risks in starting new businesses, creating new inventions and doing more radical research.

To continue the regulatory thread, I can envision one society with little regulation of medicines and another with our FDA. One compalins about caring for all of the people crippled by bad drugs, the high cost of endless drug lawsuits, and the lack of drug research for fear of those same lawsuits. The second one says "What bad drugs? You mean you don't test them?"

[ Parent ]

Let's let the market decide oil prices too! (4.25 / 4) (#92)
by dachshund on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:54:25 PM EST

Great idea. And next time oil prices start to climb, let's not apply diplomatic pressure, provide subsidies, or threaten to release oil from the SPR. Next time a major oil-producing Gulf nation is threatened or invaded, let's have the government handle the with the situation with the same urgency that we deal with military actions in Africa and Eastern Europe. Next time Colombian rebels threaten oil pipelines, let's not offer billions in aid and military 'advice' to the government.

With oil prices periodically varying between $1 and $9 a gallon, the market should have no problem making smart decisions about fuel economy.

Or, more pragmatically, we could continue to spend billions in taxpayer dollars to stabilize the price of petroleum (for economic and national security reasons), and simply work to control consumption (for economic and national security reasons.)

[ Parent ]

+1 + A british view on the subject (4.75 / 4) (#55)
by nobby on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:17:24 PM EST

+1 - good story, I'd write to my senator if I were in the US but...

In britain, we have a very high rate of tax on fuel 86% (see here ). 1 litre of unleaded is currently about 70 pence (approx 1.10 dollars) and most cars bought have even higher mpg figures than the one quoted above.

however, recently refineries were blockaded by truck drivers because of the rising costs of fuel.this caused chaos in the country, through lack of fuel. They did it because fuel prices were making them uncompetative against european haulage firms and loosing them work (and still is). There are upsides and downsides to government controls...


Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?
One thing to keep in mind... (3.75 / 4) (#73)
by Particleman on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:00:32 PM EST

Some European cars do get higher gas mileage than American ones do, but you do need to keep in mind that "one gallon" is not the same thing here as it is in Britain.

According to this page, one US gallon is 3.785303 litres, and one Imperial (UK) gallon is 4.545960 litres. So, roughly speaking, 1 UK gallon is 1.2 US gallons.

So, using my 1999 Saturn SL as an example... I get 40 miles per US gallon with this car. This translates to a little bit over 47 miles per gallon in British (Imperial) gallons.

I realize this isn't entirely related to your comment, but I thought I'd toss it in for general consumption. I'm not going to try and claim that SUV's get good gas mileage, because they don't, but I did just want to make it clear that many of our cars do get better mileage than you might realize. :)

Personally, my lease on this car is close to expiration, and while I toyed with the idea of a pickup or something, I'm leaning more towards a nice Corolla... better ride, more powerful, and virtually the same gas mileage as the Saturn. :) I've gotten too used to filling up my tank for cheap to switch to driving a big truck.




---
Remove the obvious to respond by e-mail.
[ Parent ]
fair point, I didn't know that! (none / 0) (#102)
by nobby on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 03:41:15 AM EST

good point....
Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?
[ Parent ]
corruption? oh come on (3.66 / 3) (#57)
by Mclaren on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 07:26:13 PM EST

let's say that bill was enacted, Ford starts losing profits, and they lay off a few thousand people. Supply Side Economics are the reason that bill wasn't passed, not because The U.S. Senate has decided that it is easier and more profitable to coddle a spoiled, ineffective domestic automotive industry than it is to invest in the future. I'm not a big fan of that supply side economics, but i'm not naive enough to associate them with corruption, it's another logical way to deal with the economy, although i don't think it's fair, other people obviously do. and i don't want everyone to have to drive a car like that either, i'm 6'7" and i don't want a metro(my car is small enough as it is). Not to mention for a family of 4, or even more. Also, to get the average car to 35mpg isn't easy, my car(an 89 honda) was fuel efficient for it's day, and still is 13 years later, at about 20-25mpg. and my car is pretty small. it would be very expensive(for both the consumer as well as the producer) to increase this standard. I agree that everyone buying an SUV for safety is dumb, but i don't know many people who buy them for safety. My dad has a Jeep, and he got it cause he works an hour away, and we live in michigan, a sunfire woudn't get him to work in all kinds of weather. Corruption may be very present in our political system, but this isn't a good example.

If the Democrats were serious about (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:11:21 PM EST

reducig pollution, and Republicans about reducing dependence on foriegn oil, they'd raise gas taxes by a dollar a gallon. CAFE just increases oil usage.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
Increases gas usage? (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by wurp on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:32:23 PM EST

Is there any reason whatsoever to believe CAFE would do anything but decrease gasoline usage?
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Warren Brown (none / 0) (#107)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:01:15 AM EST

The auto columnist for the Washington Post makes that argument. He notes that the US is the only country with CAFE, and has the highest per capita gas consumption. And the lowest gas taxes. CAFE requires auto manufacturers to make more fuel efficient cars. It does not require people to buy those cars. And they don't.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Finding out how your Senators voted (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by curtisg on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 08:25:20 PM EST

So, poking around on thomas.loc.gov, I can't figure out how my Senators voted on this. Is the information not there yet because it's so recent? Or am I missing something?

(As a side note, I find it extremely irritating that major news organizations usually don't refer to bill numbers when reporting on legislation like this, making it much harder to find this sort of information.)

Try www.senate.gov and www.house.gov (4.00 / 1) (#156)
by lordsutch on Sat Mar 16, 2002 at 05:19:21 AM EST

THOMAS only tracks bill status and text; the actual recorded votes are on the two chambers' individual websites.

Linux CDs. Schuyler Fisk can sell me long distance anytime.
[ Parent ]

Hate to sound like a broken record.. (4.25 / 8) (#80)
by strlen on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 09:52:09 PM EST

But if you guys like the idea of high fuel efficiency vehicles, begin to like turbo diesels. I've always brought up that topic in similar discussions. VW's TDI engine, available on the Jetta, Golf, New Beetle and older Passats produces up to 55 miles per gallon on certain freeway trips, while producing 150 lb/ft of torque, and utilizing cheaper diesel, which can be manufactured from plant oil (in fact, that's how diesel engines were designed in the begining), including the oil from everyone's favorite plant.

I personally wouldn't own a diesel for a primary, and only car. I like revving up my engine to 7,000 rpm and zoomy freeway acceleration, something a diesel isn't designed for. But I'd consider getting a diesel as a second car for long distance road trips and every day around town commutes, and keeping your average "25 miles per gallon, runs only on premium gas" sports-car for the weekend. But your legislators aren't giving me that choice. California and the North East, for instance, have stringest emissions laws which prevent the fuel-efficient from being imported into these states in large numbers. Most every European auto manufacturer has an efficient diesel engines these days, and for the average commuter a diesel would be satisfying.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Diesel is good, but also consider motorcycles (none / 0) (#124)
by technik on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:31:56 PM EST

I personally wouldn't own a diesel for a primary, and only car. I like revving up my engine to 7,000 rpm and zoomy freeway acceleration, something a diesel isn't designed for.

I have driven a modern diesel in Europe (a Nissan, actually) and the VW's here they are every bit as tractible and comfortable as the typical American car. Acceleration was good and the "glow plugs" problem that people remember wasn't an issue. It comfortably seated four adults and cruised both highways at around 70Mph and mountain roads at 15-20Mph. I prefer manual transmissions so I can't say how it compares when mated to an automatic but it's probably equivalent. I would absolutely buy one of these and I'm betting that US automakers can turn out something even better if there were economic reason enough to do it.

Now, if you want those high rpm AND 40-50Mpg AND more environmentally friendly than a car try a motorcycle or big scooter. I don't have the figures in front of me, but just estimating would suggest that a motorcycle requires less than 1/8 the metal and less than 1/4 the rubber (try lifting two motorcycle tires, then try lifting two car tires if you think otherwise) and at least a comparable reduction in the heat and energy required to fabricate it.


- technik
1991 CB750 Nighthawk
2001 VW Cabrio


[ Parent ]
Tried some of the new diesels? (3.00 / 1) (#150)
by gordonjcp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:19:54 PM EST

The modern common-rail turbodiesel engines aren't particularly high revving. But - there is a cool flipside - the torque is all down about 1800rpm or so.
So, 7000rpm-blokey is beside you at the lights, you pull away, and while he's got a power band from about 6700 to 7100, you start having fun almost as soon as you're moving...

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
This Article Is A Gross Distortion of the Truth (3.00 / 7) (#81)
by DarkZero on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 10:23:05 PM EST

The U.S. Senate has decided that it is easier and more profitable to coddle a spoiled, ineffective domestic automotive industry than it is to invest in the future.

This article is a gross distortion of the truth, and it's ironic and hypocritical that it makes such accusations of others. It gives you only the idealistic, unrealistic environmentalist point of view on this issue. The truth in this issue is that trying to make the auto industry keep to an average of thirty-six miles per gallon will have one of two real effects on the industry. The first option is that the auto industry stops offering SUVs and every American really is forced to drive a smaller car, which is unlikely. The second, more likely, and slightly horrific option is that the auto industry will continue to make SUVs under that standard and that Americans will continue to buy the type of car that they prefer (SUVs), but they will be built with materials that have all the defensive capability of sheet paper. Short of some miraculous breakthrough that revolutionizes the entire way that cars are built and how they work, the way that you get more miles per gallon out of a bigger car is to make it with flimsier materials, and with a 50% fuel efficiency hike in addition to what has already been done to SUVs, that's a whole lot of corpses resulting from this legislation. With how many accidents there are that involve SUVs every day in the United States, a weakening of the defensive capability of SUVs across the board would probably dwarf the Firestone Tires scandal in body count in a month or two.

The politicians in this case were forced to look at the reality of the issue, which Alarmist failed to do. The reality of this bill, beyond its friendly environmentalist appearance, was that it was a covert attempt to ban all larger automobiles (an idea that Alarmist called "a gross distortion of the truth", despite later going on to talk at length about the horrors of SUVs), either by making them too unsafe for the auto industry to make, or by killing enough Americans to force the auto industry to stop making them. I doubt that the latter ever occurred to the writers of the amendment, but that was definitely one of its two possible outcomes, as well as the most likely outcome to take place. Thus, the politicians weren't acting under bribes from the auto industry as everyone leaps to claim about every bill that seems to do any good for an industry, but instead were acting under the common sense that making something inherently unsafe in order to ban it via a loophole is exactly the sort of bastardly thing that politicians are supposed to keep themselves from doing. Just because the auto industry lobbied against this bill doesn't mean that it was some brilliant champion of environmentalism that was being shot down by corrupt politicians. All this bill was was an idiotic, ignorantly written bill that didn't make any sense and would not have worked in practice. It was purely ignorant bullshit.


I've also noticed that many people in the comments here have been saying that the real answer is for the government to tax the price of gas to make it prohibitively expensive. Please, people, use your heads. Yes, such legislation would reduce the use of cars to a small degree, and possibly cause some people to opt for smaller cars (though past natural price hikes in the market have not shown this effect). But if you'd care to think beyond that single logical step, you'd also notice that the rich would still be driving their 2002 Ford Ghidorah ten-seater Sports Utility Monster Truck around everywhere without a hitch while poorer families across the country were having their financial backs broken by the fact that they have to commute to work every day and can't afford to buy anything newer and more fuel efficient than their 1985 Ford POS Pick-Up. Such legislation would not force people to drive less, because most people use their cars far more often for things like commuting to work, going to the grocery store, and picking their kids up at school than for enjoyment. All that it would do is put a larger burden on the middle and lower classes without really changing any of the current affects on the environment caused by automobiles.

Want a real solution? Instead of making SUVs too unsafe to drive or collecting more taxes, the government should hand some more of that tax money back to the people that are choosing to drive smaller cars. I think they already give people tax breaks for smaller cars, but the tax break should be a lot bigger. When a smaller car costs not only less, but much, MUCH less than an SUV to buy, that's when you'll see more small cars on the road. People don't care about a small price incentive and they don't care to think out how much less a small car costs them in the long run. They opt for the cheaper, smaller car when they compare the prices and think, "Holy shit! This thing is cheap!". It's not a perfect solution, but I think it's the sort of small, incremental step we need to take to get fewer unnecessary SUVs on the road without hurting the average citizen in a serious physical or financial way.



Tax Breaks? (4.00 / 1) (#82)
by bjlhct on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 10:26:47 PM EST

"...the government should hand some more of that tax money back to the people that are choosing to drive smaller cars..."

Hey, there's a way to do it without the government managing that info - tax gas, lower taxes. There ya go.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

Re: Tax Breaks? (none / 0) (#84)
by DarkZero on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 10:51:54 PM EST

Did you skip through what I wrote or something? I already addressed the negative effects of taxing gas on the general populace, but you didn't reply to them.

[ Parent ]
What is it about taxes? (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by arthurpsmith on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:00:55 AM EST

The paranoia in this country about taxes and regulation, especially regarding oil, is something I find just unbelievable. We've had repeated calls in recent months to "reduce our dependence on foreign oil", and yet, while there's no problem putting tarriffs on our steel imports, even the mere suggestion of increased taxes or tarriffs on oil has, as far as I've seen, not made it into ANY US media outlet - it's as if the possibility didn't even exist!

And yet, the only way to achieve such an obviously important goal (reducing our dependence on the volatile Middle East region, which has drawn us into so many multi-billion dollar conflicts and payouts over the years) is through government action that either forces (through a CAFE approach) or encourages (through taxes) manufacturers and consumers to move to lower consumption vehicles. Obviously a side-benefit would be reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and even there it seems the staunchest critics of environmentalism seem to be all moving to the position that we finally need to do something about it (even though they don't want to do much yet).

Now we have two arguments here of physical and financial harm to the poor at the expense of the rich. Is there any real basis for this? When I look around at the cars people drive in my neighborhood, the difference between rich and poor is between luxury, late-model cars driven by the rich, and basic brand, older cars driven by the poor. The rich certainly have their air-bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control systems, etc. to make driving safer for them. If you continually increase the CAFE standards, then the late-model cars driven by the rich have to meet higher standards than the older cars driven by the poor, probably leading to smaller overall car masses, and slightly less safe driving for the rich, which is a trend counter to your claim.

But suppose we raise taxes instead - that certainly affects both rich and poor alike. But is it really that much of an impact? The average car is driven about 1000 miles/month - at current 25 mile/gallon standards and 1.25/gallon prices that's about $50/month. Say we add a 30% gas tax to encourage fuel economy. That's $15/month, for those who don't bother to switch to more efficient vehicles. Fortunately poverty in this country is not at a level that that would really make any difference. Which is partly why currently fuel economy is such a low priority among car buyers anyway - gas is so cheap they really don't care how much they burn...

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


[ Parent ]
Simple safety solution - (4.00 / 1) (#149)
by gordonjcp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:16:52 PM EST

Stop driving like arseholes. We have small, light cars in Europe. Our accident statistics are better than the US.
Figure it out yourself.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
The Lighter=More Dangerous Fallacy (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by frankwork on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 11:02:45 PM EST

DarkZero makes a flawed assumption that the only way to make big cars lighter is to use "flimsier" materials. There are a number of holes in this assumption.

First, the average SUV uses a chassis design that was state-of-the-art in the 1930s (open-section ladder frame with leaf springs and a live axle). There are lots of opportunities for weight savings by simply applying modern (1970s-era) passenger car chassis designs to light trucks (i.e. unit body design). This would make an SUV marginally more expensive, much safer (even for the occupants), and much more efficient. All the while being equally roomy and more comfortable.

Secondly, the only effect that CAFE has had on vehicle weight is that heavy cars got lighter. Light cars are still around 2000lbs. Heavy cars are now 3500 lbs, not 5000lbs. This makes everyone safer.

Automakers, especially domestic automakers, have a huge amount to gain financially by delaying fuel efficiency standards. The tough, expensive design for these cars is already paid for (chassis from a 1940s pickup truck, engine from a 1980s car). The only thing left is to let the brand managers decide which color of leather to use for the interior.

Not to mention the ridiculous markups these things have. A Ford Ranger starts at $12,725. A Ford Explorer starts at $24,800. They are based on the same chassis (at least up until this year).

Would an automaker (or their bought-and-paid for representative) spread largely unfounded FUD to keep the money flowing? I think so.



[ Parent ]
Units (none / 0) (#90)
by linca on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 11:42:03 PM EST

For those people that do not use archaic measurement units, anyone know how mpg would translate in liters per 100 kilometers?

rough conversion (none / 0) (#94)
by dachshund on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:19:26 AM EST

3.8 liters per US gallon (roughly-- I got this off of a urinal.) A mile is about 8/5ths kilometers. So a little algebra later I get:

liters_per_100km = 237.5 / miles_per_gallon

Which is all based on the figures above, which don't seem too precise. But I figure 36mpg is about 6.59 liters/100km.

[ Parent ]

Wow, not a lot. (none / 0) (#97)
by linca on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:31:07 AM EST

Europe cars seem to consume more than that, on average. Of course it could be because the measurment of consomation are different, with European driving being much more urban or high speed....

[ Parent ]
US gallons are smaller, too (none / 0) (#148)
by gordonjcp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:15:46 PM EST


Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
pretty close (none / 0) (#105)
by ikeaboy on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:28:56 AM EST

It's actually 235.22 (approx), but your rough firgure is pretty good.

[ Parent ]
let market decide? (3.00 / 4) (#96)
by mikeliu on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:30:21 AM EST

For all of your "Let the market decide" libertarian folks out there (and there are a lot of you who posted), I'm curious on your take on how the Tragedy of the Commons dilemma plays into this? And it definitely does.

You see it everytime you see a soccer mom driving her gas guzzling SUV down the road. It doesn't hurt her much to have just a little bit more pollution in the air, after all, she's just a drop in the bucket. And it makes her feel so good and powerful when she's on the road, plus there's that safe feeling of if she's ever in an accident, the other person will die, not her (a big example of the same self-centered problem). The auto manufacturers have no reason to decide the market against SUVs and other hulking bad for society vehicles, after all, they make a bigger profit margin on them, and hell, so the environment is a little bit worse of cuz of them, they're a LOT richer for it! So who in the market is exactly support to be deciding here? Or are we supposed to just wait until all the libertarian shepherds have destroyed the commons since each one just wanted a little bit more?

The market does not intervene in TofC dilemmas as a rule, and we have no reason to suspect that this case will be different. As such, why should we NOT step in with government rules and regulations? Are these rules and regulations intended for the common good chafing your libertarian sensibilities so much that you would rather the whole world get a little bit more fucked up rather than take some preventitive measures in advance.

For what it's worth, I'm usually a libertarian myself, but even I can see that sometimes government intervention is needed. Which is whenever a TotC problem is comes up basically.

The soccer mom (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:16:43 AM EST

The reason she drives an SUV is, guess what, CAFE. CAFE ensured that full size station wagons disappeared from the US market. That soccer mom (or dad) is hauling kids, and their gear, all over the place. She can't do that in an econobox like my Mitsu, so she buys an SUV, or a minivan which doesn't get much better gas mileage.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Tragedy of the Commons? (none / 0) (#139)
by A Trickster Imp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:15:51 AM EST

1. CAFE is gas mileage, not air pollution
2. If you want tiny, fuel efficient cars with tons more pollution than a huge US car, just go to Europe or Asia.


The so-called tragedy of commons (a misleading concept) is handled libertarian-style very easily. You don't own the air. So it is fair game to regulate pollution of it. The US does a much better job than other countries that enshrine ping pong balls as vehicles.





[ Parent ]
Bullpuckies! (none / 0) (#145)
by Rocky on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 12:16:30 PM EST

> full size station wagons disappeared from the US market.

I drive a full-size station wagon that's less than three years old (A Volvo).

You can find them. The idiot American manufacturers have just stopped making them.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Markets vs. regulation (4.00 / 4) (#99)
by strlen on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:40:26 AM EST

To those saying that market's can't raise fuel efficiency of vehicles, they're simply wrong. They've done so in the past. 21 mpg, the current average for SUVs, is what your average passenger sedan got in the 1980's. Just a few years back 25 or 26 mpg was not considered to be achieveable by 6 cylinder family sedans, while these days the 8-cylinder 5.7L camaro receives 27 or so mpg. Also, if legislation is to be passed, why so extreme? 36 mpg extreme requires tall gearing, small displacement engines with economy engine management modes. That terribly hurts performance of the vehicle. My proposal is to make 5 speeds mandatory for all automatic transmissions and six speed mandatory for all manual transmissions, for vehicles that would normally achieve 28 or less miles per gallon. A tall over drive gear, for high way cruising, or a long drive down an expressway or a boulevard would be all it takes to make vehicles more fuel efficient. Another option is the ability to choose "sport, towing, city-efficient, highway-efficient" modes for engine and transmission (automatic) management on vehicles. That's quite a feasible feature.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
6 speeds? Why? (5.00 / 1) (#147)
by gordonjcp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:14:16 PM EST

My aging (1989, 120,000 miles) Citroen XM cruises all day at a nice, steady 80mph, tops out at around 115mph (on the test track, officer), and at a 75-80mph cruise returns around 32mpg. This, for a 4-pot petrol, 2 litre, non-mapped injection, naturally aspirated engine.
It can seat five adults plus luggage comfortably, and still turn in decent figures.
I mean, really, why do you need a 5.7l 8-cylinder engine in a family car? I drive a 7.5 ton horse box that only has a 3 litre diesel engine. What do you do with all that power?
Just how fat are you people? :-)

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Typical Unanalytic Statism (3.00 / 2) (#103)
by CoSyBob on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 03:55:35 AM EST

My first car was an 1969 1100cc Corolla Wagon . Piece of tin , topped out at 73 , got as good milage as anything . ( Grad student income ) My last ( before moving to NYC ) was a Porshe 924 Turbo with full sport suspension . Got 20 m%g at 100 m%h . ( Had to calculate my speed from the tach , because with a 55 m%h speed limit , it was ilegal to have a speedometer read higher than 85 . ) Each was my choice , and I could afford them .
The idea that individuals make such bad choices for themselves that the Brute Force of the State must limit them like they were Eastern European , is dangerous to our collective wellbeing .
The idea that good gas milage is not weighed in in individual's vehicle buying decisions is is typical Liberal elitism .
The idea that manufacturers would not give a gonad to produce a vehicle with sales winning economy in its feature class is stupid .
The idea that the collective using force is more intelligent than each of us making our own choices was thoroughly and painfully disproved in the 20th century .

The voting choices were all biased . These sorts of laws are dangerous .

    Bob@CoSy.com


Give me a choice (5.00 / 2) (#108)
by MactireDearg on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:50:02 AM EST

First let me make a few points:
  • The Senate chickened. Increasing the fleet MPG over a ten year period isnt automatically the doom of the auto industry.
  • I want more fuel efficiency. I about have a heart attack every time I fuel up even my mid-size sedan, and that sucks.

    That given, I dont appreciate the generic classification and vilification of SUV owners. There are a number of legitimate, non-social status, etc, reasons for owning an SUV.

    Show me a non-SUV/Minivan(man do I hate minivans) that fits this criteria:

  • Capable of seating 2 large (read football/rugby athletic not fat) adults, 3 children (will be teenagers some day), at least two LARGE dogs and luggage for a one night stay over.
  • Can be fueled easily, quickly, virtually anywhere in the country (whats the use of a vehicle if you cant go anywhere?).
    AND THAT:
  • is non/low-emission and
  • is fuel-efficient or uses alternative fuel (propane/hydrogen/etc)
    AND
  • wont cost me more than 125-140% the price of my current beast (lets be realistic, I'm not rich I have to be able to afford it).

    Show me that vehicle and I will happily go to the dealership today and buy it. Until then I have to have a vehicle capable of transporting my current and planned family at the same time.

    One thing on the whole CAFE/environment front: What happened to pushing for alternative fuels? Until our society is willing to bite the bullet and invest serious money in providing an alternative to the neighborhood gas station we're stuck with petroleum.

    Only way that kind of investment is going to be made is if the government pushes for it. Either through subsidies or tax breaks since there is no way Joe Shmoe running a gas station is going to be modivated to convert on his own dime when he can just keep up business as usual.

    If you must make mistakes, it is more to your credit to make a new one each time. - Unknown

  • Such a vehicle exists (none / 0) (#165)
    by Paul Hodson on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 11:16:47 PM EST

    I suppose it depends on how exactly you look at it, but the Toyota Matrix (sister vehicle is the Pontiac Vibe) more or less fits your requirements. It's based on the Toyota Corolla, which is by all accounts a rather efficient vehicle. The Matrix is kind of like a tall station wagon, so it's got loads of room (which you visibly need). It's also not too pricey. As I recall, it starts at under CAD20k, which in US dollars is probably nice and affordable.

    Granted, the Matrix is no Prius in terms of efficiency (that thing is amazing!), but it certainly fits your criteria. Might be worth a look when you wish to buy a new car/truck/vehicle.

    [ Parent ]
    Short-sighted (2.80 / 5) (#111)
    by Dphitz on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:59:49 AM EST

    Eventually, someday we're going to have to take that step and start to wean ourselves from our oil dependency. If it's done gradually it won't hurt so bad. Opponents of this amendment point out that raising efficiency standards would mean lost jobs. What no one is talking about are all the jobs that will be created in the new market of renewable energy sources under research, development, production, etc. Certain jobs and/or industries get phased out because they're not needed anymore, it happens. How long are we going to coddle and subsidize these industries at the expense of our future welfare?

    We're delaying the inevitable and the longer we do the worse it will be when it happens. 2015. That's 13 years away and by no means unrealistic. This decision is definitely characteristic of the current US administration. George Bush's energy solutions thus far have been narrow and short-sighted and continue to be. He points to our dependence on foreign oil as justification for drilling in Alaska. Good point, but why not make our main goal reducing dependence on oil altogether? Oh that's right, this is political not logical. We don't seem to be concerned about the environment or the future, just maintaining the current economic and political status-quo.

    Warning: Rant follows
    As far as Trent Lott's comment about a compact car, well I just don't understand the obsession with the SUV craze. People point to safety. I doubt that is a main motivator. As Americans we love "bigger is better" and "mine is bigger than yours is". The SUV is more a symbol of our gluttonous desires than safety. How many people actually use a Sport-Utility-Vehicle for sport? There should be no such thing as a "Luxury" SUV with heated seats and cooled steering wheel. OK, thanks. I'm done now.


    God, please save me . . . from your followers

    What about the issue that doesn't get mentioned? (none / 0) (#112)
    by sonovel on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 10:16:33 AM EST

    CAFE standards have caused up to one 9/11 level of death per two years according to the National Research Council of the National Acadamy of Sciences.

    Thousands have died per year to save a trivial amount of oil.

    Far more have died because of this than due to faulty tires on or bad design of the Ford Explorer.

    Where are the Congressional investigations?

    Where are Nader and other consumer advocates on this issue?

    If a design problem caused this level of death, automakers would be sued for billions. Why is this ignored, just because it is due to government intervention?

    There are at least two sides to this issue.


    [ Parent ]
    Show me the other side. (5.00 / 1) (#120)
    by HypoLuxa on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:18:33 PM EST

    CAFE standards have caused up to one 9/11 level of death per two years according to the National Research Council of the National Acadamy of Sciences.

    Can you explain how? It is from traffic accidents in smaller cars or something? I'm not trying to call you out or anything, but this is a really vague comment. Can you flesh it out a bit so we can understand?

    --
    I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
    - Leonard Cohen
    [ Parent ]

    More smaller cars == more deaths (none / 0) (#122)
    by sonovel on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 12:51:17 PM EST

    CAFE standard have made cars lighter and smaller.

    Smaller cars fare worse in crashes.

    CAFE standards have lead to more than a thousand excess deaths per year.

    Here is the report from the NRC of the NAS:

    http://books.nap.edu/books/0309076013/html/index.html

    ----

    This isn't just a big cars/SUVs are deadly thing. Many accidents and deaths involve single vehicles so the disparity argument doesn't help small cars.

    Even a two small car crash is likely to be more deadly than a large vs. small crash or large vs. large crash.

    Of course, the CAFE standards basically target the poor disproportionatly by driving up the cost of large cars/SUVs too. So the impact of CAFE is excess deaths, likely disproportionately against the poor.


    [ Parent ]
    A couple of points. (5.00 / 2) (#126)
    by TheOrange on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:42:31 PM EST

    From the CATO Institute.

    Gasoline consumption in the United States is only responsible for 1.5 percent of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA reports that expanded CAFE standards won't appreciably change that figure.

    And..

    Reducing oil demand would remove the most expensive oil sources from the market first, and foreign oil is the cheapest oil supply source in the world. Domestic producers, not foreign oil producers, would be hit hardest if gasoline demand were to decline.

    So, why would we want to force people into more expensive, possibly more dangerous cars again?

    A Question (none / 0) (#133)
    by dasunt on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 05:44:18 PM EST

    Of the vehicles I own (currently 3, and a trailer, but that's a long story), the ones I use are a 91 Grand Am and a 79 Dodge truck. Now for those of you who think bigger is better in SUV's, I must say, you're an idiot, they are all plastic anyways, and my Dodge with trailer can go over 3 tons. (Not that I'm going to survive a high-speed crash, I have no crumple zones, thus the deacceleration will kill me.)

    However, I degress. My point in posting this is thus: The Grand Am (my primary vehicle) is an older car, and, as thus, it gets poor gas milage, (about 25 mpg highway, IIRC). So, I'm a polluter (and if you consider the truck's 12 mpg, the EPA probably wants to kill me). However, thinking about it, a huge amount of energy must go into manufacturing a new vehicle. There is the oil and environmental pollution of mining (I'm from Minnesota's mesabi range area, so I know what iron mining does to the landscape). Then there is trainsporting the raw materials to the factory (burning more oil or coal, depending on the means), and the manufacturing process itself (more electricity, more fossile fuels, and wasteful by-products). Plus, by not junking the current vehicles, I'm increasing the lifespan of the vehicle, decreasing the load on the junkyards. So, how much am I really polluting?



    And furthermore... (none / 0) (#146)
    by gordonjcp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:04:36 PM EST

    ... if you buy replacement bits from scrapyards, you're being even more environment friendly!
    Obviously, brakes and stuff are right out, and suspension parts should only be used if you can't get new *and* you're *certain* that they're good.

    You're quite right though - it doesn't matter how big the car is, the environmental damage has already been done, in the steel mill and the factory. What the car does is pretty much irrelevant.

    Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


    [ Parent ]
    helloo... think of the numbers! (none / 0) (#168)
    by Dr. Zowie on Tue Mar 19, 2002 at 02:33:59 PM EST

    >(dasunt wonders if it's worth the production cost to buy a fuel-efficient car and retire his gas guzzler.)

    Well, let's see, 12 mpg, 120,000 miles -- that would be 10,000 gallons of gasoline burnt. At 6 lbs. per gallon, you'll burn 30 tons of gasoline over a reasonable lifetime for your truck. If you go another 120,000 miles (not unreasonable for an "old style" american truck) that's another 30 tons of fuel burnt.

    Your truck weighs, what, 2 tons? So you're talking about 15-30 times its mass in fuel. It's hard to believe that producing the truck uses more than, say, 2-3 times its mass in high-grade fuel.

    The CO2 production dwarfs even the fuel mass: the hydrogen in the gasoline is insignificant (by mass) so you will generate 45-90 times your truck's mass in CO2 over the truck's lifetime. About half as much oxygen by weight goes into making water as CO2 in your combustion process so you'll use something like 45-90 times your truck's mass in oxygen, too. All this neglects things like engine oil and other consumables.

    If you drive 24 miles to work in your truck, and then back in the evening, you'll use 24 pounds of gasoline (8 gallons) and generate 72 pounds of CO2. A Toyota Prius would take you on the same trip and generate 18 pounds of CO2. Just because you can't see the gases, doesn't mean they're not real.

    [ Parent ]

    CAFE standards and the US Senate (none / 0) (#167)
    by davep on Tue Mar 19, 2002 at 10:43:31 AM EST

    Looking in detail at the way in which the Senate skirted the CAFE standards issue should bring things into better focus.

    Senator Carl Levin from Michigan proposed an amendment, cosponsored by his fellow Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and a few other folks, to place the setting of CAFE standards into the hands of the Secretary of Energy, and listing some criteria by which his/her decision should be made, including technological feasibility and employment.

    The amendment passed. Since the Secretary of Energy is currently a Bush Administration appointee, who was a Senator from Michigan and a former babysitter for once-VP Dan Quayle, you know that SUVs can continue to suck up gasoline and increase the US's dependence on foreign oil for some time to come.

    Look at the vote. Many of the supporters of the amendment were erstwhile pro-environment Senators. Debbie Stabenow last year got through a two year moratorium on Great Lakes extraction drilling. Russ Feingold is as progressive as they come. The key to this particular vote was the industrial heartland and fear of losing industrial jobs.

    These decent Senators were joined by really awful bastards like Trent Lott, who ignored the usual GOP rhetoric bout energy independence and instead decided to make fun of the environmental movement.

    Of the Senators opposed to the amendment, this was a coalition of coastal senators (look 'em up, nearly all the East-and West-coastal states voted against it) along with some progressives like Wellstone who held fast, and a few conservatives like John McCain who has been - as always - outspoken, this time on the need for energy independence and thus the need for greater efficiency.

    There has been a lot of other off-the-wall stuff posted on this topic. First, if vehicles like SUVs are included in the CAFE standards, this doesn't mean that automakers can't make and sell SUVs. It means that the average fleet economy has to meet certain standards, so if a Daimler-Chrysler or GM wants to sell gas-hogs, it needs to offer some very highly efficient models to maintain the required average. The people who say this isn't feasible are years out of touch: the Japanese have already done it with hybrid vehicles. The Honda Insight gets 68 MPG highway driving. It costs about as much as a Civic, but would cost less if it were marketed more widely and produced in greater volume. Same with the Toyota Prius. Detroit needs to move on these or the Japanese will once again clean their clock.

    As for comments about greenhouse gases: the issue with reducing greenhouse emissions is to increase the efficiency of combustion. Anything that can be done to reduce the total byproducts of combustion per unit of useful work done, be it in a power plant or an automobile, is a win on the greenhouse front. If greater fuel economy means people can get to where they need to go while pumping less CO into the atmosphere, that's a plus. Similar improvements are needed in power plants and in heavy industry, but don't count on the Bush Administration to take any leadership here.



    U.S. Senate Rejects CAFE Amendment, Proposes Alternative. | 169 comments (161 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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