2006/04/17

How To Eliminate The Oil Dependency

In the State of the Union, President Bush said, "Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." But to date Bu$hCo has done nothing to decrease our dependence, not as a matter of policy and not in proposed legislation. In fact, this year's energy bill would increase our dependency because the administration rejected a provision that would have mandated a 1M barrel a day cut by 2015.

So Blognonymous asks: What would it take for Americans, on their own initiative to cut 1M barrels of oil from the rate of US consumption, and for simplicity sake I'm going to focus on cars--not CAFE nor miles driven, just cars.

The US uses 20M million barrels of oil per day and has about 210,000,000 cars, so one way to cut our dependency is to eliminate 1/20 of all the cars, around 10.5 million. Can it be done? I think so, and here's how... Start with the premise that not everybody needs to drive. I don't and, if you live in NYC, 40% of the population doesn't either. So what if we assume that 1/2 of 1 percent of cars could be eliminated by people, mostly living in big cities, who don't really need to drive. There... you've got 1,000,000 cars off the road already.

Now what about multi-car families? Do you own 3 cars? 4? Could you make due with 1 less? I bet you could. So lets say that 1/3 of all remaining cars belong to multi car families with an average of 3 cars per family. That's about 69M cars of which I think you can thin another 23M. Giving us a grand total of about 24M! We not only achieved Bush's mythical 1M barrel a day reduction, we doubled it!

Would this involve sacrifice? No question. People who've never lived without a car would have to try it. (It's easy let me tell you.) Your teenagers might have to share a car rather than getting their own. You might have to try car pooling with your spouse or others. But these kinds of reductions, coupled with renewed interest in Nuclear power and other alternative energy sources could go a long way to achieving energy independence. Not to mention helping to reduce the enormous burden that the US places on the environment through it's CO2 emissions.

18 Comments:

I've often wondered why Bush hasn't rolled back spped limits to 55 MPH. As I recall, when Jimmy Carter reduced speeds during our last energy crisis, experts claimed the lower speeds reduced our oil consumption by quite a bit. Sorry, I don't remember the precise figure.
I don't have time to blog on this article, so I'm passing it along to you in case you're interested. Michigan's thumb area just developed a wind turbine farm - 32 400-foot, 1.5 megawatt wind turbines. The turbines will be scattered across about 4,700 acres of Huron County's corn, soybeans, and sugar beet fields. Experts claim on breezy days, the turbines could power roughly half of Michigan's 3.7 million households. Clean and renewable. We could use more alternatives like this.
Taking public transit is a good idea if you have some available. Riding a bicycle helps on two fronts - it trims fat off your children since you don't escort them by Escalade to soccer practice, and two, it doesn't use oil to power up.
I recall seeing a doc a few years back on PBS, that told of how large urban areas had reliable public transportation called streetcars. They ran on time, used electricity, and were affordable for all to use. So what happened? The tire, oil and auto companies bought them up, made them less efficient so more people would buy cars. Now we have gridlock, pollution and an oil dependency. Corporate America, always working in the public interest.
Kathy, thanks for that link--An excellent article, though the new wind farm, by itself, wouldn't power half of Michigan homes. The article did say that it was a goal within reach if the land along the Great Lakes shore lines was used for wind farms.

Windspike, agreed, but the idea here is to get people back into the mode of thinking of how to economize on trips. People going carless is a drop in the bucket. The real benefit would be if multi-car families could learn to live with one fewer car.

Lew, Remember "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"? The elimination of Los Angeles' Co.'s "Red Car" was a central part of the story.
Do you think it would make a big difference if we had fewer cars? Wouldn't we still have to go to the same places? My husband and I share a car and have done most of the time for years and years now. But we still cover the same number of miles a week as if we had two. We don't, however, drive a lot of miles at all, but that's because we're lucky enough that we both work pretty close to home. If that changed for either of us, we'd really need two cars.

I guess there's a significant amount of unnecessary driving, but an awful lot of it is not optional. Life in the suburbs is designed for drivers, not mass transit and not walking. If you can't drive, you've got problems. Older people who give up driving find themselves very much at a loss in most areas like ours. Even without the cost of energy, running extra vehicles is very expensive in maintenance and insurance. Seems to me if there was a reasonable alternative it would be attractive to a lot of people.

If mass transit were possible it would also make life much easier on the working poor. In fact it would make the "working" part possible for a lot of people. It would also make it easier for teenagers to get to part time work. It would, in fact, make life better for all sorts of people.

Getting around is a bitch if you don't have, not only a car, but a decent, reliable one. Alternatives would have to be practical, though. You'd have to get to your destination in a reasonable amout of time. Where I live there are some buses, but it can quite literally take half a day to cover less than twenty miles depending on the route.
Not invading countries on false pretenses would help...


We put a man on the moon in less that ten years.

We built a nuclear bomb in three years.

I think we can build cars that get 500 mpg if we wanted to...Then there would be no need to import gas.

And don't tell me it's impossible. They said the same thing about flying, walking on the moon, and recording devices...
Do you think it would make a big difference if we had fewer cars? Wouldn't we still have to go to the same places? My husband and I share a car and have done most of the time for years and years now. But we still cover the same number of miles a week as if we had two.

Yes indeed I think it does make a difference. Why? Mass!

If you and your husband share a car and drive say 40 miles a day, you move your weight plus the car's weight...40 miles. But I'll bet that the trip is better planned than if you both went your seperate ways. Do that and a 40 mile trip becomes two cars each over 25 miles thus increasing the mass to be moved by 10 miles. But hey...it's just a guess.
I'm doing my part - I bike to school (in fact, I cast off in 10 minutes) - one hour up, one hour down. Are you siiiilver?
Its not an option, we have to address this and I wish they would stop acting like its a choice.

Glad to see you!! I'm back from mini-vacation!!!
Glad to see you!! I'm back from mini-vacation!!!

Hey welcome back! Refreshed, rejuvinated, reinvigorated...I hope.
Carpooling and rideshare would be good as well. Increasing fuel efficiency standards, planning shopping trips to get the most out of them, riding a bike on simple errands. The possibilities are endless. The only thing that stands in our way is the coffers of the industry. That's a very large obstacle.
A simpler solution, and I haven't crunched any math on this but it should be calculable, is to do what they do in some parts of Europe. Have parking garages on the outskirts of town in many US towns, provide some means of public transportation from A to B in the larger towns, some form of assistance for the handicapped, and ban driving within the town. Done in enough places, like NYC, where it is actually quite practical because of the excellence of public transportation and the fact that there is so much within walking distance for so many, and you could save a bundle of oil.
Mike, the beauty of a solution where people who can get rid of a car, is that it depends only on discipline not on the support of corporations. Remember I'm not suggesting that people who really need their cars give them up, just those who can afford to get rid of "superflous" vehicles.

DBK, Babylon by the Bay is considering just what you've proposed. In addition, we have 3 car-sharing services in town, like renting only by the hour and with insurance included (that's the key).
KVatch,

One car fewer is good, but a "no cars and all bicycle" family is better no?
I have made some minor adjustments to my fuel consumption. Carpooling to school, doing more things in the same trip rather than heading out several times a day etc.

This actually might work out well for me, I have been wanting to "trim" the fat from my life anyway, reduce spending, etc. Right now I am paying two rents, after this month I will have about 1000 extra, I plan to put that to good use and being more efficient and less wasteful fuelwise fits into this plan nicely.
my bike gets 1200 mpg.

i have 4% bodyfat.

i have EXTRA $.

zero debt.

i dont get sick. ever. (its been eight years)

im organic vegan.

im happy.

you should really do the same.

my ADHD went away since i stopped eating processed foods eight years ago.

just bike. everyday. even if it's fifteen minutes, DO IT EVERY SINGLE DAY. you have no choice but to get better. the money that wouldve been put into killing the world with your car could be put into anything else thats positive instead.

go vegan. talk with people who are already. surround yourself with these people-they make it easy & fun.

this world needs you.

read:
Diet for a New America
The Food Revolution

ride a bike for ONE MINUTE LONGER every day. dont worry about speed. be persistent & consistent.
just bike. everyday. even if it's fifteen minutes, DO IT EVERY SINGLE DAY. you have no choice but to get better. the money that wouldve been put into killing the world with your car could be put into anything else thats positive instead.

Hmmm...well if you're talking to me specifically my anonymous friend, then I'd say that you don't read Blognonymous very often. So let me fill you in. I don't own a car. So I'm not even wasting fossil fuels oiling the gears of my bike. I walk, and when walking is not possible (time or the number of hills involved) I take the bus. Biking...great if the cagers here weren't so militantly unfriendly to bikers. But hey, I applaud anyone who gets out of the car.

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