NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More Faulty thinking (Corrected)

Michael Schwalm, "Greed drives U.S. energy policy," August 25, 2005

Once again, we are treated to an imaginative rant against the Bush administration by Mr Schwalm which contains some flawed thinking.
Every Congress and president since Carter has called for American energy independence, but it never happens.
One reason it never happens is that we have billion of barrels of oil off the Coast of California, Florida, and in Alaska, but environmentalist insist we must not drill for this oil. We have not build a refinery in the US in twenty years, again due to environmental opposition.
The mileage standards for our vehicles have declined during the last five years.
Yes, the average CAFE standards have declined, as the buying public bought light trucks and SUVs, rather than super efficient light weight hybrids. The public has the option of buying more fuel efficient vehicles, but they chose the larger SAFER vehicles. Buying a hybrid does not guarrentee fuel savings, more (here.)
The proven technology (hybrid) exists to increase the fuel efficiency of our entire transportation system (cars, buses, trains, and trucks) by 35 percent without sacrificing luxury or cost per mile.
Really? Hybrids required batteries that can be charged by the gas or diesel engines, this comes a cost in load carrying capacity. To gain fuel efficiency, hybrid vehicles must be small and lighter. Creating lighter trains and cross county trucks, will reduce the load carrying capacity, requiring more trains and trucks to carry the same amount of freight. End results, more trucks on the road, more trains on the tracks, and no fuel saving. Schwalm’s argument just does not hold up.
There are other proven technologies that are even more efficient than hybrids.
Really? Perhaps Mr Schwalm could tell us what that technology is? Hydrogen vehicles?
It requires more energy to produce hydrogen than it can provide for transportation. Where does this extra energy come from to produce the needed hydrogen? Also, mountain communities do not buy propane buses, because they lack the oomph in the hills. Hydrogen vehicles will suffer the same problem, not enough oomph.

I love answering Mr Schwalm lightly thought out Other Voices, and look forward to them each month.

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Blogger Frederic Christie said...

Actually, hydrogen vehicles (when refined and fully developed) are expected to cost less gas in than out. Ethanol can be produced for 1 gallon in versus 1.21 out. Yes, all this costs energy to invest, which is why the switch must occur now, with the resources still left to do so.

Oil drilling doesn't go through not just because of environmentalists (because, as I'm sure you know, environmentalists rarely have the clout to block such manuevers). Companies like to keep the illusion of scarcity up. But max oil production will soon be reached irrespective of all sorts of untapped resources, and even if environmentalists were the sole impediments to these reserves being accessed, that does not prove them wrong about the ecological impact costing more than the oil's worth (not to mention necessary rights issues to contemplate).

Mileage standards have declined thanks to lax regulatory systems, the type that conservatives like you tend to support.

Apparently, transporation experts disagree with your assessment of the costs, because many cities (Davis included) run hybrid lines. One reason is the invaluable energy recuperated from the brake system. Hybrids carry somewhat larger batteries, but most hybrid vehicles such as the Prius are still far lighter than most trucks. It is clearly not too much of a burden to add, especially since a battery is already required and the hybrid technology lets said battery be refilled.

You seem to imply that we should have larger vehicles carrying more. In short, mass transportation. Hmm.

Not to mention that you seem to imply the opposite of what conservatives would want to say: that technology will not solve resource problems. Fine, go back to the trees, then. A central rebuttal that pro-capitalists must make is that technology will inexorably solve ecological issues. I rather think that technology has potential, but in any respect we need an economy that can actually make these determinations sanely and an economy that privileges the technology being used for X good goal rather than profit.

You spell "faulty" fautly and say words like "oomph" and then say that Mr. Schwalm is lightly thought out? Please.

Thu Aug 25, 05:16:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Russ Steele said...

Faulty was a typo. Oomph is in my dictionary, "the quality of being energetic" Gas powered vehicles are not very energetic.

Hybrid vehicles require multiple batteries, which are expensive to replace and even more expensive to discard. Wait until Davis realizes the lifecycle costs of these hybrid vehicles. Nevada County once used propane powered trolleys, but the lifecycle cost was too high. More in future posts

Thu Aug 25, 07:10:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Frederic Christie said...

Many words, like "Dude" or swear words, one can find in the dictionary that are not used in formal writing. Though I don't like to nitpick, it's hard to get past being an English tutor. ;)

Yes, they require multiple batteries, but all cars require batteries, and hybrids recuperate vital costs from braking to recharge said batteries, also reducing gas costs. Remember that CURRENT lifetime costs take into account our ludicrously underpriced gas, and as gas prices go up (or, hopefully, as regulation makes them represent the real social cost), hybrids will be the efficient choice.

Wed Sep 07, 05:47:00 PM PDT  

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