24th June 2008

Gas Prices, Air Cars and Bad Decisions

posted in Lakeland, Florida |

So high gas prices are here to stay. That’s fine… I mean, it’s not fine, but it seems to be a fact of life now and America is in the midst of figuring out what exactly to do about it. Of the solutions I’ve seen:

  • Ignore it
    Eh, not such a great idea. I think that for the most part leaving everything up to market forces (as-is) will result in the US paying more and more until our entire economic industry collapses into untold inflation.
  • Act Like Drilling for Our Own Oil is Too Long Term a Solution to be Viable
    This one kinda bugs me. There are MANY people I’ve heard, seen and read about who seem to think that since it will take 10 or more years (many of the ignorant ones who apparently think the regulatory status quo is untouchable say 25 years) to develop and ship out new sources of oil, then we should simply avoid that option altogether. As if the rest of the world isn’t going to continue drilling or searching for new sources of oil. Yes, let’s completely ignore the single source of energy that drives the vast majority of locomotive power in this country. Essentially this is the “let’s really hose our children and grandchildren through avoidance” option. It’s also related to the next item.
  • If We Allow Ourselves to Get Desperate, a Magical Solution Will Arise
    I will be the first to admit that necessity is the mother of invention, however simply assuming that we’ll discover cold fusion, or how to generate enough amps to run an AC unit with solar power is kind of lazy. I would think we’d need a multi-pronged approach. Burning our food (ethanol via corn) was a very bad idea and even the most liberal news reporters are talking of food shortages as a result. Too bad they didn’t research that before they jumped on board in reporting it as a great idea the first time around. They’re like that guy who gets the hurricane predictions wrong each year… Why does he keep predicting them? Oh yeah, he probably guessed right one time in the 90’s.
  • Hybrids and Other ‘Bad’ Technology
    “Bad” may not be the correct word for it. More like ‘Not There Yet’. But just like lottery tickets are a tax on poor people, hybrids are a “tax” on people who are either bleeding heart environmentalists, or those who simply can’t do math. Somehow when I compare a $26,000 hybrid that gets 48 mpg with a fuel-efficient $13,000 compact car that gets 33 mpg I just don’t see the attraction. If you drive 15,000 miles per year it would take you over 7 years (at $4/gallon) to make up the difference. At that point the extra $13,000 you spent on the hybrid (were it put into an investment earning 6% interest) would have netted you $6,765. Yeah, math is cool.
  • Battery Powered Cars
    Cause, as we all know, electricity is “magic” (and supposedly free the way you hear everyone talking). Now, I have to admit that battery powered cars intrigue me. They are an awesome idea and they would almost certainly cost less than gas vehicles to operate – at least until everyone started using them and we flipped from gas to triple-levels of coal dependency… but at least that’s a domestic problem for now. Plus it might jump-start the nuclear revolution we’ve avoided for the past 30 years. The main problem with battery-powered cars are two-fold: 1) they look like tin cans, 2) they cost more than a luxury car. The Tesla car is the exception to the tin can rule, but it cost 6 figures. The new Chevy Volt is coming out in 2010 or so, but promises to incur price creep up to around $40k (even though they started the project saying it would debut at $30k).

So what excites me? Battery powered cars that don’t look stupid and don’t cost as much as a luxury car. Battery technology that works 10x better than current tech. Essentially, if batteries can be made better, smaller, hold charges longer and be more reliable (ie not have to be replaced so frequently) then solar power, electric cars and so much more become very much more attainable.

Nuclear power should have been developed to its fullest 20 years ago. Unfortunately the TV and print news media ruined that for us by reporting 3 Mile Island as a disaster instead of what it was: a very successful shut down with no deaths. And yes, I’d love a nuclear plant in my town, assuming it meant my energy bills would fall in half. As for the waste – that’s what Nevada is for. No, I’m not joking…

The other thing I thought was a hoot is the new Air Powered car (bet you thought I was going to forget to include that…) Couple links:

It’s a neat concept, but once again seems always to get paired with electricity and battery delivery systems. With this being the case, batteries are still the key to just about every new energy technology we explore. When batteries mature – or someone develops a serious breakthrough we’re going to see some serious innovation. Until then, we need to cut regulations and start drilling for oil. In Alaska, off our coasts, and anywhere else we can. Simultaneously we should build more refineries to come online. And we should cut regulations to lower the time frame to 5 years from the supposed 10-20 it takes now. At the same time we need to triple or quadruple the number of nuclear power plants in this country – and cut down the time-to-market by about 75%. That’s not time that’s needed. It’s just red tape imposed by Federal, State and Local authorities.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008 at 9:22 am and is filed under Lakeland, Florida. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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