Endless spiral of waste?

Driving home from one of my jobs today, I saw the trucks and the machines and the rollers working to make sure that we have some good goddamned concrete on which to roll our fossil-fuel burners.

I imagine that this process of repaving a highway takes a shit-ton of energy.

Kickass.

I started to wonder what would happen if we didn’t solve our energy problems and if cars went to shit. Nobody could drive.

The self-inflicted punch to the nuts could be that all the maintenance of the the transportation infrastruture turns out to be a complete fucking waste. No cars = no need for highways. And we got a shitload of highways and we want even more. Who hasn’t wanted her own personal exit ramp?

Imagine all these cars rusting to nothing. Well, that’s what they’re gonna do. And every time I get in my piece of shit that I call a truck, I think about how your goddamned car is going to probably be worthless in 10-15 years. And then I feel better.

Yeah, keep praying for Baby Jesus to make more oil, you idiot. We’re not getting it. And unless you can get some sort of conversion going for our current engines–plus the new technology we so desperately need– these cars will be basically worthless.

If we can’t make personal transportation a part of the long-term, we’re really fucking ourselves right now.

Damnit.

MC Spanky McGee

The centrality of gasoline.

As gas prices soar, thieves grow more brazen

Most gas thefts are still perpetrated by motorists who drive off without paying. After seeing declines in drive-offs earlier this decade, after many stores began requiring drivers to pre-pay, the National Association of Convenience Stores says they’re rising sharply again. “

Gasoline is at the center of the American economy, but there are those who will doubt this.

One group, for example, is crazy enough to believe that Baby Jesus will create more oil. What a crock. He would have already done it by now. (I really don’t need to refute this hypothesis on this blog.)

We will see more crime of all kinds as gas prices go up. More gas will stolen from the pump, perhaps tankers will be hijacked.

I hate to be the ominous village prognosticator, but we are seeing the beginning of how crazy it’s going to get when oil becomes scarce. Food prices will go up, and I think those living in the big cities are going to have the hardest time. I don’t want to sound like these people, but you have to admit that the potential for chaos is real.

The question is, How likely is the chaos?

About as likely that we won’t find alternative energy sources to meet our demand.

-MC Spanky McGee

A system of waste. $2 billion in gas gone.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080522/ts_nm/airlines_delays_dc_1

Flight delays could cost airlines more than $2 billion in wasted jet fuel this year, according to a congressional report released on Thursday. “

We have designed (or have been complicit in designing) a system that is extremely wasteful, and then we have the nerve to cry about these gas prices.

Think of all the damned plastic we throw away, all the gas we waste driving faster than we need to (just to save 2 minutes of driving). Poor little Bro Taguchi was telling me last night that when he went to the recycling center in Des Moines, that they wouldn’t even accept plastics numbered 3-6 (or something like that.) That is absurd. Even if the people happen to be willing to do their part in saving energy, the system isn’t set up to allow them to do that to the best of their abilities.

Who was involved in setting up this system? I do not want to treat it as if it is some mysterious spooky entity like the invisible hand. (The invisible hand can bite me.) We are all responsible for the status of the system. Now it seems that it is too large to steer in any direction, and it will take a major crash for us to start to do something new.

We are certainly shortsighted creatures.

$2 billion. Up in smoke.

-MC Spanky McGee

Global warming is not the issue here, dude. A new argument for cutting emissions.

Well, maybe it’s new.

Let’s get some things out in the open here. I accept the old arguments for the conclusion that global warming is occurring and that it is caused by humans. Ok–I feel better.

We could wrangle over the data and findings, and nay-sayers will tell you that it’s possible that the warming is not occurring or it’s not being caused by us. However, we can skip this debate and use a much better argument that should have the exact same consequences if we had all accepted the old argument for the conclusion that we should curtail our carbon emissions. The result should be that nay-sayers will accept the conclusion that thy should conserve energy and switch to renewable sources.
The new argument relies on premises that all sane people accept:

  1. Fossil fuel sources are practically finite, and they are not renewable in a useful way. We use them up at a rate that exponentially exceeds the rate at which dead things turn into oil, for example. In other words, we can’t wait around for new oil to pop up.
  2. As far as I know, nuclear materials fall in the same boat.
  3. As these non-renewable sources become scarcer, their prices will rise, and that rise is not in the self-interest of consumers.
  4. We are going to require energy sources that are renewable at a rate that keeps up with demand. This is also important for economic reasons.
  5. The sun, the wind, and wave power are all good candidates for sources presented in #3, and once the systems are in place, their carbon footprint is greatly smaller than systems relying on fossil fuels, etc. Solar energy, especially, is practically infinite. Of course, the sun will burn out, as I have discussed in OIL ON TITAN? SWEET!
  6. . So it is not absolutely infinite. But it should crank out sunlight as long as we can stick around on this planet, anyway. (And we don’t cloud the atmosphere….)

Though the technology is still in the infant stage, we should research these new systems as much as possible, and implement them as soon as possible.

Concerning 3, we will have to strike a compromise. I’m betting that systems involving solar, wind, etc., will not be able to be able to keep up with projected demand. That means that we will have to reduce demand and conserve. So, we will have to use CFLs, turn out the lights when we leave a room, inflate our tires, drive less, etc.

Here’s the kicker. Once we make the necessary switch to these “renewable” sources, we will find that our carbon emissions will drop anyway. But the new argument relies on relatively uncontroversial premises. Even if carbon emissions drop and the average global temperature happens to keep rising, we will still be in a better economic situation, because fossil fuels and nuclear fuels are practically finite and our reliance on them will become a royal pain in the economic ass.

Bottom line: it’s in everyone’s self-interest to use fossil fuels as little as possible and to make the switch to renewables. Yep–oil companies are going to get hit, but you should keep in mind that they’re going to have to play a new game, anyway. Their oil won’t last forever, and I guarantee you that they are already thinking about new investments.

Duh. They’re not stupid.

-MC Spanky McGee

OIL ON TITAN? SWEET! updated for the modern human.

(Post updated 2/14/2008)

Heh. I commented on Titan’s oil back in November of 2006 (that post is below), and now the news is saying:

Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new Cassini data. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes. http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMCSUUHJCF_index_0.html

(See also http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/02/titans-organic.html)

Ok, ok. This is very good news for us. Kinda. It depends on what we mean by the word, “us.” Here’s what I’m thinking.

  1. Someday the sun is going to go supernova and engulf the Earth. Fact.
  2. That means that we are going to want to pack up our Taco Bells and get the hell out of here. Thus, the Grand Planetary Hop.
  3. However, (and this is the juicy fun part) not everyone will “qualify” for the GHP. In other words, when the sun swallows Mercury and the Earf heats up, not everybody is going on the rocketship. “This is ground control to Major Tom…. it’s getting very waaaaarm….
  4. Solution? Lottery. “Free” markets. In other words, ya better start a trust fund for your temporally-distant relatives. Don’t say that MC Spanky McGee never got anything right.
  5. Ok, so you’re gonna need tons o’ cash to go. You hit the moon, Mars, and then you’re off to Titan to load up on some sweet rocket fuel. Brrrr.
  6. Have fun getting your ass to Proxima Centauri. http://www.astro.wisc.edu/%7Edolan/constellations/extra/nearest.html “Gonna make it… gonna make it…. not gonna make it”

By the way, if you’re left behind when the supernova is about to occur, I know it’s going to suck. Total chaos. Total anarchy. Sorry we didn’t have the foresight, will, or ability to do ya better.
Peace out.
-MC Spanky McGee


So I’m reading the December 2006 issue of National Geographic last night, la la-la, checking out these kickass pictures of Saturn (I’m a dork. So what?), kinda reading the article about the Cassini and Huygens probes, when I hit page 54. At the top of the page in bigass letters, it quoted Hunter Waite, from the Southwest Research Institute:“THERE’S A LAYER OF FROZEN HYDROCARBONS, SIMILAR TO GASOLINE, COVERING MUCH OF THE MOON [TITAN]. IF YOU COULD MINE TITAN, YOU’D NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT OIL SHORTAGES.”-Sweet! This is going to rock. You can drive 95 after all! We will send a freakin’ huge rocket to Titan, which will take 7 years. We’ll load up on oil, and then we’ll send it back, and wait for 7 more years. Come on, now, don’t wuss out on me. You can wait 14 years for oil so that your ol’ Corvette club can still roll around and listen to Elvis–just for shits and giggles. Of course, this will only please us if we use more oil than we’re getting out of the trip.-
Below: the totally rad moon of Saturn, Titan.
oil_on_titan.jpg

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What is extra-sugary is that National Geographic is in the middle of story about these strange objects in our solar system, and one of the things they highlight is how we could plunder that shit for oil. (Man, I hope there are some life forms on Titan that we can screw over. We have the God-given right to any oil in the solar system.) That’s like talking about a quadratic equation in a math book and then telling the reader that you could apply it to some chicken strips. Sure, Grown Pumpkin thinks about chicken strips a lot, but do you really have to torture the lil’ guy when he’s trying to do his math homework? How can I focus on the pretty pretty rings of Saturn when I start daydreaming about going to the gas station?
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Too bad I’m not gonna be around for the Grand Planetary Hop. Humans are going to be intergalactic oil pirates some day, and I’d be a freakin’ sweet foot soldier in that shit. I just played 3 hours of Gears of War with Pumpkin on his monstrous plasma screen this last weekend. I’m ready to kick some alien-ass.

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Ah, for some reason, I hear Queens of the Stone Age: “GIMME SOME MORE… DEEP FRIED, GIMME SOME MORE!” Now there’s the American motto: “GIMME SOME MORE!”

We soooo rock the house. Beeg time.

Exxon posts record profits…. BULLSHIT! A hose job on you and me.

http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/01/news/companies/exxon_earnings/index.htm?postversion=2008020111

Exxon Mobil made history on Friday by reporting the highest quarterly and annual profits ever for a U.S. company, boosted in large part by soaring crude prices.

Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said fourth-quarter net income rose 14% to $11.66 billion, or $2.13 per share. The company earned $10.25 billion, or $1.76 per share, in the year-ago period.”

How many times have we been told that the cost of gas is due solely to market forces??? How can the price go up so much, placing so much strain on the average American household, yet Exxon posts the highest profit, ever?

I can hear it now: “It’s because the invisible hand is rewarding them. The market rewards successful businesses.”

I got your invisible hand, right here. The article continues:

“Exxon’s record results, which coincide with smaller rival Chevron’s (CVX, Fortune 500) profit jump, are likely to draw fire from consumer rights groups, who contend the oil industry is deliberately restricting supply and profiting on the back of U.S. motorists.”

You bet your sweet ass Exxon is controlling the supply. Newsflash, people: OIL IS FINITE ON EARTH. IT WILL RUN OUT BEFORE ALL THE CHICKEN AND COW FOSSILS WE CREATE CAN TURN INTO MORE.

No, Baby Jesus will not make more. This fact alone shows you that any oil company will have to deliberately ration their product, so that they can continue to make a profit, near and after the end of oil. They’re not stupid.

That’s why they’re so awesome. They’re loading up now, while they can. If you want to make a killing, you go into oil stocks and futures. Cash prizes.

As for me, I’m thinking big. I’m headed to Titan. “That’s when the big bucks start rollin’ in….”

And then we’ll see who the new King is.

By the way, I filled up at the pump this morning…

-Agent Spanky McGee