American Elephants

A Little Irreverent Humor. by The Elephant's Child
May 20, 2009, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Music, Politics, Progressivism

Peak Oil Nonsense, and Clean Energy Hooey. by The Elephant's Child
May 20, 2009, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Freedom, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,


Did you wonder where our oil comes from?  Here are the sources of all that “foreign oil” that is so often declaimed.  [ Click on the image to enlarge]

Aside from the (erroneous) belief that “global warming” is a threat to the life of the planet, there is a widely held belief that we have reached and passed “peak oil,” and it’s all downhill from here on out.  So we have no choice but to move to smaller, more efficient cars, hybrids, electric cars, alternate fuels and clean renewable energy.  “Sustainable” is the euphemism of choice.  And the Obama administration doesn’t like coal.

So-called “clean renewable energy” has nothing to do with transportation.  Wind and solar produce some electricity, but do not power automobiles. Peak oil advocates point to declining oil production in Mexico as a sign of an imminent global peak, but ignore indications that the Mexican government has been starving the national oil company of capital.  Many academics assume that once prices retreat that they will continue to decline, or conversely, ignore the effects of price controls, tax changes or other economic changes.

A new study by the energy consultancy IHS-CERA (formerly Cambridge Energy Associates) notes that in 2000, Canada’s oil sands produced just 600,000 barrels of oil a day, while today they produce 1.3 million barrels.  By 2030 they could be producing as much as 6 million barrels.  If we have not antagonized our neighbors too much, perhaps we can buy some of it.

Only a very minor role for alternative energy over the next three decades is predicted by any reputable major forecaster.  Fossil fuels will continue to be the source of our transportation energy. The United States government has removed more than 31 billion barrels of oil, 154 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion tons of coal from the market by laws that make it difficult if not impossible to prospect or produce energy on federal lands.  To keep our economy healthy and growing, we must have more oil.

But lawmakers in Congress have gone after our most important supplier with “buy American” provisions in the stimulus plan.  Officials have suggested perhaps Canada’s oil is too “dirty”, and would increase our “carbon footprint.” And Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, is suggesting that we need a wall and fences on our Northern border so that our Southern neighbors will not feel discriminated against.

I hope our friends to the North will forgive our foolishness when we are freezing to death in the dark.

Central Planning Has a Bad Reputation. Doesn’t Anyone Ask Why? by The Elephant's Child
May 20, 2009, 12:52 am
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

The Obama administration announced proposed mileage standards that will require federally controlled automakers to meet California’s 35 mpg mandate by 2016.  Car makers know that the standard is unachievable, but they obviously are in no position to say no to the administration.  The only way for manufacturers to meet that mandate is to make smaller, lighter and deadlier cars.

The administration believes that CO2 is a dangerous problem, and that emissions must be cut.  They believe that the way to cut emissions is to force everyone into small, more efficient cars.  They are intent on switching America to “clean, renewable energy.”  Clean, renewable energy has nothing to do with CAFE standards because wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal power and nuclear power produce electricity, not gasoline.

Increased gasoline prices are political suicide.  Estimates of the increased cost of producing cars to meet the new standards run from $1,300 per car up to $7,000.  The Natural Resources Defense Council has said that a 35 mpg standard will save about one million gallons of gas per day. Steven Milloy asks how that savings balances out against the 2,000 fatalities that the National Academy of Sciences says are caused each year by making those cars lighter?  He points out that the proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than the Iraq War.

The supposed end of all the taxpayer bailouts and federal control imposed on the auto industry is to restore the car companies to health and profitability.  Yet every mandate imposed by the government just ensures that the bottom line will suffer.  It means fewer jobs and producing unprofitable vehicles that consumers don’t want.  Greg Pollowitz notes that if the Obama plan actually managed to save the proposed 1.8 billion barrels of gasoline, it would mean that something like $16.1 billion in taxes will be lost to the states and the federal government.

This all begins to demonstrate how the old Soviet Union’s central planning ended up with factories producing all left shoes.   A 2008 Center for Automotive Research survey found consumers unwilling to spend more than $200 extra on cars to have environmental improvements.  Irrational doesn’t even begin to describe it.

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