Friday, October 17, 2008

Elephant Shit and other Organic Wastes.

Brew Solar Ethanol Sticker bumpersticker

"Liberals," I'm widely informed by the "Drill, Baby, Drill" crowd are responsible for gas being the price it is.

No blood for oil! Bush, Cheney and Haliburton are evil!

You’ve seen the signs and heard all the protests blaming blaming Bush, Cheney, evil oil companies and Republicans for high gas prices but the real cause of rising gas prices and the faltering U.S. economy are liberals. Liberal agenda’s against refineries, oil exploration and drilling and Democratic votes in congress have taken America out of the oil production business and put it in the oil brokerage business.

Oh, he points out some valid things. Actually presents some real facts. And they are important facts to know:

John Lowe, Executive Vice President of Conoco/Phillips:
Access to resources is severely restricted in the United States and abroad, and the American oil industry must compete with national oil companies who are often much larger and have the support of their governments. We can only compete directly for 7 percent of the world’s available reserves while about 75 percent is completely controlled by national oil companies and is not accessible.
Stephen Simon Senior Vice President -Exxon Mobil
With respect to petroleum reserves, we rank 14th. Government-owned national oil companies dominate the top spots. For an American company to succeed in this competitive landscape and go head to head with huge government-backed national oil companies, it needs financial strength and scale to execute massive complex energy projects requiring enormous long-term investments.
To simply maintain our current operations and make needed capital investments, Exxon Mobil spends nearly $1 billion each day.

A BILLION DOLLARS A DAY! That’s a chunk of change, but don’t be fooled by the phrase, “record profits.” It’s just flat out misleading.

The average price of gas last year was near $2.80. Approximately 58% percent of that was the direct cost of crude oil. 17% went to federal, state and local taxes, 4% represents oil company profits. That figure is relatively unchanged from the previous decade. The point is, if oil companies gave up half of their profits, that’s 50%, the price of a gallon of gas would drop about a 5 cents. If we lowered taxes by half, we could all be saving 23 cents a gallon. John McCains gas tax holiday would save you and me almost 50 cents a gallon. Obama might scoff at that as a gimmick, but my truck has a 23 gallon tank and that would save me about $11 ever fillup, which I have to do at least once or twice a week. That’s real money.

It is indeed. And that tax windfall would be merely unconscionable - if it wasn't offsetting the cost of a war for oil. Which makes it, well, more than slightly evil.

The logic presented above seems unassailable - if you assume that drilling for oil, transporting oil, fighting wars for oil and maintaining the vast oil refining infrastructure is the only cost-effective way of putting energy in one end and having comfort and civilization come out the other.

The oil companies and their pet Bushistas argue that that's both true and obvious - though of course we may need to add to our vast nuclear infrastructure as well to make up for shortfalls.

Those assertions are not just self-serving; they are a steaming pile of elephant shit.

If T. Boone Pickins says we can't drill our way out of this crisis, I for one believe him. I know his heart is in the right place for this discussion. It's right where he keeps his wallet.

If T. Boone Pickins thinks there is as much money to be made in wind and solar now as there once was in oil, I also tend to believe him. T. Boone got rich by being right about where to "drill" and what to drill for. He's saying drill for geothermal energy; harvest wind and solar, free up natural gas for transportation - including your precious jacked up 4x4s - and transition as quickly as possible over to renewable for future fuel needs. You can convert damn near any internal combustion engine to run on LNG and it's widely available. So, why NOT do it? Is LNG "pussy fuel?" Does not burning gas make you gay?

Here's another little home truth for ya.

"Liberals" don't want to give up their cars any more than you do. Not that I'm a "liberal," but I know a bunch. The only way you pry a liberal out of their car is by making it more of a pain in the ass to have one than not or easier to get around without one than with one. Period. Just check out a California traffic web cam. Most of those people will vote for Obama - if they don't get stuck in traffic.

Mass transit is a damn good thing to have - but it only goes where it goes.

More to the point, cars are part of our North American culture and a status symbol. Status is as or more important to Lefties as it is to Righties. Nor is that a entirely silly affectation.

In point of fact, when you have a certain place in society, you have to behave a certain way and do certain things in order to keep the job that gives you that status. Unavoidable. It just IS. And for people like T. Boone and Al Gore, it's actually not merely nice, but absolutely unavoidable to have big houses, limousines and personal jets. When your time is worth in excess of 2k an hour, it's not "Green" to drive an electric car and live in a yurt.

"The Green Way" to be a member of the liberal eliete is to pay for offsets in the most practical way - to help more people afford their own electric cars and yurts. But at the same time, that personal jet will run just fine on fuel refined from pork fat. Ask Mr. Richard Branson; filthy rich eliete liberal bastard. And your big o'l mansion can be just as comfortable and just as impressive using a tenth of the energy the average McMansion does. Over time, you can buy a lot of solid gold plumbing fixtures with the savings.

And there's no law from Nature, God or Congress that says you can't make plastics out of green feedstocks. It's not exactly cutting edge tech. Henry Ford was making steering wheels out of soybeans way back when.

Oil refineries are not built here because they are big, stinky, poisonous and potentially explosive as well as being childishly easy targets for terrorism. They aren't lovely places to work, either.

Frankly, bio-fuels are just a heck of a lot less dangerous to have around. Even the highly explosive ones; they might go bang, but the fallout ain't lethal. Nobody would let you refine petroleum in your back yard, much less applaud even the safest nuclear battery system, but bio fuels are about as problematic as a gas water heater. And that means a secure energy supply that cannot be destablized by one terrorist or a plain old hurricane.

Finally, green jobs present opportunities for job creation on the local level, particularly in the job-strapped Mid and southwest; where the wind, the solar and geothermal resources are and where there's lots of potential to combine bio-fuel harvests with sensible crop rotation standards.

Finally, I'm strongly minded in all this of what happened when tee-pee burners were banned in the pacific northwest. Oh, doom was predicted! The end of the forestry industry was at hand! What could be done with the sawdust if it could not be burned?

So what did we end up with? Pres-to Logs, pellet fuel, inexpensive charcoal briquettes; oriented strand board, engineered wood materials, wood dough and all the jobs and profits that come from them, which used to go up in smoke.

You know, real conservatives actually look at waste as a sin - metaphorically and sometimes quite literally.

Look up "Earthship" on the internet, do the math on making your own fuel from waste, look into sticking up a windmill or a solar array and start swapping canning recipes with the hippie commune in the next town over. And screw those compact flurescent lights - they are filled with mercury. Get LED lights - they use even less energy and last damn near forever.

Make your own fast food. Go yard-saling for good solid real things you can fix up instead of buying cheap plastic crap from China.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do. Learn to weld. Start USING those tools you get for Christmas every year to make things worth having.

"Appropriate Technology" does not mean settling for less! Generally it means better, often faster and certainly cheaper.

Energy independence IS freedom. Making a widely dispersed, reliable, diversified energy network IS conservative. You can whomp up a fuel still out of scrap you find at the dump and the BATF will hand you a free license and point you toward plans. Conversion is pretty cheap; with some cars these days, you don't even need to convert; ethanol, gas, methanol - whatever you put in it, the car figures it out and runs just fine.

And remember, every gallon you brew out of yard waste and food scraps is a gallon you didn't pay taxes on. And - jeez - your waste product is either animal feed or concentrated compost, instead of stuff you have to pay to have hauled away. Nor did you pay to have it transported to your car. So, you know, that fact alone can subsidize all KINDS of boy toys!

There's a guy I've heard about, has a luxury stretch Hummer running on bio diesel. All the air conditioning and all the electronic toys known to man run off solar power that comes from the roof.

Doesn't sound like a "sacrifice" to me.

If I had some land, I'd be looking toward growing a few head of cattle and a dense organic garden in a big plastic greenhouse, using the waste from both to reduce or cover fuel costs. It wouldn't just be subsistence - I'd make a ton of money, by not wasting money on buying energy I could have for free.

As for your 4x4 - well, do you have any idea what sort of low-end torque can come out of a diesel-electric system? And I don't mean the current ones, I mean an intelligently designed one with motors in the wheels, driven by high-density storage batteries and a high-efficiency, constant speed generator. Like a train engine.

It's a rugged and accessible technology; one that's potentially a lot easier and cheaper to maintain, service and repair. The batteries are here. Not yet cheap, but here, and if you don't mind big and heavy, you could build one now in your garage out of stock parts.

The interesting thing about electric vehicles - the acceleration on them can be neck snapping. Modern materials make it a lot easier to manage the battery weights and still keep a decent horsepower to weight ratio. We will be seeing Nascar performance from electrics within the decade, if sanity prevails and some good ol' boys stop bitching and get to tinkering.

We leave this shit to big energy, big government and big auto and we will be still paying through the nose and bitching about it twenty or thirty years from now.

So, shaddup - and head for the garage

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