# Fuel is much too cheap

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by alain, Aug 23, 2006.

1. ### swivelSci-Fi AuthorValued Senior Member

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Of course they will dry up eventually. That's why you don't see oil flowing out of Pennsylvania anymore.

And increased productivity generates new wealth over time, it is impossible to say that the society we have created will not be sustainable at some future rate. That pretends that the rise in productivity will somehow stop, or that the market won't react to changes over time.

If it does start getting too expensive, the market will make us change our habits, that happens all the time.

3. ### spuriousmonkeyBannedBanned

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China has secured a major energy deal during a state visit to the country by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

5. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
Perhaps we mean different things by "dry up." I assure you that there is more oil in the subsoil of Pennsylvania today than has been removed to date; however, the cost in solvents etc. to wash out that same quantity of oil again from the rocks it is in might make that oil cost $1000/barrel, (not to mention the pumping cost in energy may exceed the energy in the oil recovered). Yes, if there is a couple of decades, then all the gasoline cars and trucks now in use possibly could be converted to alcohol and an adequate set of apartments built in cities to close down suburban homes. The lots on which the surban homes now sit could be cleared and planted with crops to reduce the average food item transport distance from above 500 miles down to only 50, etc. but the US does not have two decades, nor the politcal possibility of doing this. The problem is (1)the cost of getting the oil out of the ground, not the quantity that is still there and (2)the time required for converting the present "suburban infrastructure" to one that can function when oil is more than$200/ barrel, compared to the period until oil is $200/barrel. IMO, to make the drastric change in infrastruction required will take at least twice as long as the time available in which to make the change so as to avoid the collapse of the economy. Lets agree not to talk about how much oil is in the ground as no one knows and it is not the important point. The important point, I think you should address, is how rapidly can the price of oil rise compared to the rate at which the infrastructure can be changed to be compatible. (Or as I originally said "sustain that infrastructure" that then exists. The current US infrastructure is not sustainable if oil is$200/barrel.) I think the US "suburban infrastructure" is so badly designed for high cost liquid fuel that the conversion needed to have begun at least a decade ago. Since it did not, and has not really significantly started yet, the battle is already lost.

Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2006

7. ### swivelSci-Fi AuthorValued Senior Member

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The experts said the same thing about oil at $40 a barrel. And then about oil at$60 a barrel. And then $70. And most recently$100.

They were all wrong, what would make the next guess correct?

And how long it would take to change our infrastructure is a wild-ass-guess. Nobody knows. It sure didn't take long for an Internet infrastructure to be made. Or our airport system. Or our train system.

If you are saying that the same species that covered the entire globe with horses and wooden ships can't figure out what to do as oil gets more expensive, well... we will just have to agree to disagree. Man, just look at how quickly we went from an agriculture-centric economy to an urban-based one. Like 20 years. There was a mass exodus from the farmlands to the cities that popped up around factories. And in the late 40's, we just as quickly created an entire nation of suburbs, as affordable housing and the automobile swept the nation in three short years.

I think you are using a ton of conjecture here, and it isn't even backed up with a cursory glance at recent history.

8. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
What "expert" said that? Can you cite one reference? (especially about the infrastructure not being sustainable on the 40, or 60 dollar / barrel oil.)

As far as the rest of your post is concerned, yes very rapid changes were made in recent history. If you know some physics*, you might think of this in terms of entropy. A fantastic amount of order was created in a very short time. The laws of physics tell you that when this happens, a fantastic amount of energy was required. We had that energy and it was cheap, - oil. We do not have any cheap energy now so an equivalent transformation to a new order is impossible. Thus your history is not any guide or evidence that it can be done again without a corresponding input of energy.
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*In case you do not know any physics, I will give one example: A lot of iron and oxygen were very mixed together in Fe2O3 and a great deal of energy was required to get the iron rails of the railroad you mentioned as separating the iron from the oxygen is a reduction in the entropy (requires energy). - This is just one example of a very general principle that basicly has the US screwed now. (or stuck with it current poorly suited "surban infrastructure" in slightly more polite terms.)

Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2006