55 MPG is Going to Cost Us

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It’s fortunate for the car industry that the government regards it as “too big to fail” – because it’s going to fail again. Because of the government.

This will be third time, actually.

The first time was back in the late 1970s, when Chrysler rolled over like a mortally wounded battleship – to a great extent because it wasn’t able to turn a profit selling the cars it had anticipated the market would want – but was stuck trying to sell cars the government told Chrysler it wanted. Cars that met the first round of federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which stipulated 27.5 MPG at a time when the typical American car was as large as the current-era’s largest cars, with a big V-8 under the hood instead of something Toyota Corolla-sized, with a four under the hood. The Japanese at that time made nothing but small, four-cylinder cars – so Uncle handed Toyota, Datsun (Nissan now) and Honda an artificial leg up in the market – while kicking Chrysler, et al, in the soft parts.

It’s true the American cars of that time were not of primo quality. And it’s true the first round of Japanese imports were also just good little cars that sold on the merits. But it’s also just as true that CAFE imposed ruinous costs on the domestics, who were forced to prematurely retire entire vehicle platforms (and engines) long before the investment in designing, tooling and so on had been amortized (paid off) over the course of these vehicles’ otherwise natural life cycle. It almost killed Chrysler – which was (and still is) the weakest of the Big Three, with fewer resources to fall back on. But it also hurt GM and Ford.

Arguably, they never fully recovered – and staggered through the ’80s and into the ’90s, with too many brands (GM, especially) and a business model that  didn’t mesh with the realities of the market – the government manipulated market. CAFE – the original law – provided an artificial incentive to mass produce the kinds of vehicles GM, Ford and Chrysler had been building back in the ’70s – big, heavy, with powerful V-8s – only now they rode higher off the ground and were marketed as “SUVs” – which were not required to meet the (much stricter) 27.5 MPG CAFE standard for passenger cars. For “light trucks, the CAFE standard was 22.5 MPG. But when the real estate bubble popped and Wall Street collapsed in ’08 and gas prices suddenly soared to $4 a gallon, GM, Ford and Chrysler were left holding the bag.


Actually, American taxpayers were left holding the bag – for the subsequent bail-out of these “too big to fail” companies, who found themselves in the economically impossible position of trying to please their customers and placate the government at the same time – and turn a profit doing it. This dynamic has been getting worse and worse ever since the first major interferences in the car market happened in the late 1960s.

Well, the stage has been set for what may prove to be the final implosion of the car industry. Caesar – oops, President Obama – has “finalized” his decision that CAFE will be upticked from the merely outrageous (by economic and engineering standards) 35.5 MPG in 2016 to the economically catastrophic 55 MPG – average – by model year 2025.  (See here for Caesar’s decree.)

The Great Law Giver – who apparently also holds the title of Chief Engineer – saith this will “save Americans $8,000 a year.” He does not telleth them, of course, what it will cost.

Some perspective:

There are exactly two 2013 model non-hybrid cars on the market that meet – just barely, or not quite – the pending 35.5 MPG CAFE edict that goes into effect only three years from now (and that’s only two short model years from now): The Scion iQ (37 MPG; see here for an in-depth story about it ) and the Smart car (36 MPG). They are microscopic in size – the iQ, all of ten feet long, end to end; the Smart having room for just two people.

These cars – call them Obama Cars – are the kinds of cars all of us can expect to be driving within the next few years.

Oh, there are also hybrids like the Toyota Prius. But while the 2013 Prius does manage to pass the 2016 bar of 35.5 MPG, even it falls well short of averaging 55 MPG. The Chevy Volt electric car easily passes muster on CAFE – but it also costs $40,000.

And the rest? Into the crusher they go. Visualize, if you can, the fallout that will attend the premature obsolescence by government fiat of not just a handful of car types but of 90-plus percent of the car models on sale right now. Almost every 2013 model year vehicle you can name (including every truck) is destined for either a major refit/overhaul years before it would otherwise have happened – or outright cancellation. There is no other way. Perhaps Augustus does not realize this, but one cannot simply decree, make it so.

Well, one can so decree. But it won’t be free.

Cars that average 35.5 MPG (and 55 MPG) are certainly possible from a technological/engineering standpoint. But there will be costs. Tremendous costs. There will be costs associated with the engineering R&D necessary to achieve this. There will be costs in the form of eating the ruinous losses that will attend the mass early retirement of virtually every type of vehicle currently in production. There will be costs in the form of reduced crashworthiness (as cars are made lighter to try to make them more fuel efficient) and performance – or both, as the car companies try to satisfy conflicting – and to a great extent, irreconcilable – requirements. And of course, there will costs in the form of diminished choices for consumers – and at their unwilling expense.

A car can be very economical. Or it can be inexpensive. Or it can deliver good performance. Or it can be very safe. It is very hard – if not impossible – for it to be all these things at once.

Someone is going to have to pay for Caesar’s 35.5 MPG car – and then his 55 MPG car.

Whom do you suppose that will be?

That’s right. As consumers, we’ll “save” $8,000 on gas. But we’ll also probably pay at least $8,000 more for the car itself. New technologies don’t just pop into existence, notwithstanding the endlessly arrogant conceit of the imperator.  They have to be conceived, designed and engineered. This requires some money, usually. And it will require especially clever – and very likely, not-free – engineering to reconcile the demand for a 55 MPG car that’s also a reasonably safe car. One that passes muster with Caesar, that is.

A 2013 Prius costs $24,000 to start. Do you suppose, with all the costs discussed above folded in, plus inflation, that the Future 55 MPG Prius will cost the same? Or is it reasonable to expect it will cost more.

Probably, it will cost a  great deal more.

What will happen when buyers decline to buy – because they can no longer afford?

Ah yes, my little chickadee. Then, as taxpayers, we will pay. We will pay either in the form of grotesque subsidies (a preview being the $40,000 GM Volt and the $32,000 Nissan Leaf, each of which transfers a $7,500 per car bar tab to the American taxpayer) or we will pay to bail out the automakers when they capsize yet again. Which is sure to happen when they start offering up the $30,000-plus “economy” cars decreed by the gilded one.
Is it not magnificent? Is he not great?

Throw it in the woods?


  1. This is still the best thread in this entire forum, Eric. You should pin it and make it required reading for anyone entering a discussion on peak oil, or limits to growth.

    Whatever happened to Methylamine? How did we replace solid posters like him with the likes of Tor???

    All I need to say about this I’ve already said here in this thread, a year and a half ago. Once again, take the time to view the Crash Course. It’s free, and very well done.

    Ya’ll behave.

    • You might be right, it might be the bestest. I too would enjoy more intelligent commentary, what’s preventing you from rising to the level of methylamine?

      Upon reflection, it seems you have uncovered a case of Peak Blog. Eric’s blog peaked in 2012 as the models predicted. His blog has been in irreversible decline as dumber and dumber American minds become tapped out and produce less and less intelligent discourse.

      If I had been born recently, maybe I’d be diagnosed as having Asbergers, ADD, NPD, and who knows what else. I’m doing my best to inhabit my self-imposed comment ghetto, that’s what I’m prepared to offer at this time, unless someone wants to break out the checkbook.

      I’ll take a total 24 hour hiatus for each $5 in donations to this site from anyone with a “Tor-Free” request, how’s that for a market response?

      Before I’m bribed to leave, and before Eric takes the time to revisit this topic, how about you answer his reasonable straightforward questions he asked in the 55 MPG article?

      [asked of Downrange]
      “(A) How do you account for the vast oceans of hydrocarbons found on lifeless (apparently) worlds such as Titan? (B)Where did this stuff come from?

      The first great oil shock you mention was not the result of dwindling supplies. It was the result of an embargo by the OPEC cartel. Oil prices then collapsed subsequently – such that gas prices fell back to about $1 per gallon in the ’80s, which – adjusted for inflation – was less than people were paying in the ’60s. (C)How do you account for this? If Hubbert was right, then prices should have consistently gone up, not down.

      Here’s something else: If you adjust for inflation and remove taxes from the bottom line, gasoline is still extremely cheap. It’s about the same price – in terms of hard money real value – as it was 30 or 40 years ago. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself:


      A gallon that cost $1 in 1970 cost the equivalent of almost $6 in today’s inflated funny money.

      What’s happened is that taxes have gone up – and our money has become entirely phoney, subject to constant devaluation by the Fed.

      Peak oil – like AGW – is a bogey; a scam to justify ever more control by the powers that be over our lives. An ever-declining standard of living – for us.

      Not for them”
      – – – –

      “There’s also the fact that hydrocarbons exist on other worlds – worlds apparently devoid of biological life.

      (D) Is it being a shill – or a “denier” to take these facts into account?”
      – – – – –

      [asked of Desertrat]
      “Most of us here – “get” that government (and big corporations) are not operating out of a sense of benevolence toward us Mundanes. (E) Why should we accept as true the claims made by them about peak oil?”
      – – – –

      Shouldn’t there be a mandatory $5 fine per instance of failure to answer a direct question from Eric?

  2. One interesting thing I saw a few years ago at a small car show was a device for saving fuel. What it consisted of was a small water tank, and a series of electrical hookups and vaccuum hoses. You put pure water into the tank and, using electrolosis powered by electricity from the alternator, the water was broken down into hydrogen and oxygen which were then sucked into the intake through the vaccuum lines. The guy had it mounted in a Chevy truck, which ran very well. He claimed some astounding gains in both HP and MPG. I wonder if his device actually worked or if this was an elaborate scam.

    • Yes that’s an interesting one, it’s actually generating “Brown’s gas”–sometimes used in welding.

      It’s simply as you say–electrolysis of water to yield oxygen and hydrogen.

      I don’t know about “astounding” gains, but it can increase the efficiency of combustion, especially in older diesels. The idea is that hydrogen burns efficiently in almost any ratio with oxygen, from five percent to 95 percent. Mixed with the incoming air, it permeates the combustion chamber. When it’s lit off by the sparkplug (or the initial flamefront in a diesel), it burns quickly and effectively–and lights off a greater percentage of the fuel than would otherwise burn.

      It’s good in theory and I’ve heard it’s fairly effective in practice. On the other hand, if it were that brilliant car makers would probably be using it–they’re desperate for every MPG they can squeeze these days.

    • It can’t work by energy balance. Simply there is no way to get all the energy back from the H2 and O2 that was put in to separate them from the water. Now does adding H2 to the gasoline result in better utilization of the gasoline’s energy to the point where it exceeds the energy consumed producing the H2? I cannot say. If it did I doubt it wouldn’t be in production cars or at least race cars. Even if manufacturers wouldn’t touch for some reason or the other racers would use it.

      • That was my objection to the whole Brown Gas injection idea, BrentP.

        A friend of mine who’s not clueless, but not especially scientifically literate, approached me with a gung-ho business idea of selling these systems…and they’re out there.

        I immediately pounced on him–“It’s not free energy, this is another perpetual motion machine!” I replied.

        Then when I investigated the claims to superior combustion, I had a small change of heart.

        Does the increase in combustion efficiency offset the energy cost of the hydrolysis? I don’t know. Certainly you’d have to compensate for it in the ECU programming, and probably tweak mixtures, spark timing etc. to take full advantage. I can’t see just pouring some hydrogen into the intake and hoping for a net gain.

        Here’s a pretty reasonable wikipedia article on it; it reckons it’s not worth it:

  3. I have a 2004 Ford Explorer with 325,000 miles on it. It still has just about all of it’s factory parts. It does not drip, does not use oil between changes, gets up each and every time I ask it to. I just put $600 into the front end. I put a set of brake pads on probably 20,000 miles ago–it still has the factory rotors. It gets 23 MPG overall, 15 pulling my 5800 lb car trailer. It gets better mileage pulling the trailer, at 70 mph, than the car on the trailer would deliver if I drove it, but the car that is on the trailer is not capable of doing 70 MPH at all, let alone for 2,500 miles. It doesn’t have air, power steering, power brakes, power windows, and a lot of other power stuff the Explorer has.
    I had a GMC pickup that had a bigger engine, longer wheelbase, and more weight. The Explorer has been a far superior tow vehicle than the GMC ever intended to be. In the GMC, at about 65, I turned off the radio, put both hands on the wheel, and paid strict attention to my knitting. The first trip with the Explorer, I had a Crown Victoria on the trailer–the same one that scared me at 65 behind the GMC. I was running on I-24 from Virginia Beach,VA to Joplin, Mo. I was just puttin’ along in the right lane, hand draped over the top of the wheel, when a semi blasted by me in the left lane, like I was not moving at all–I looked down at my speedo, and saw that I was doing damn near 90–just kind of moving along with traffic–my Garmin said I was doing 92. I have a 2 wheel drive V-8 Explorer, and it well get on the freeway, with the trailer in tow. You pick your spot, and stand up, if it is within reason, it will get there.
    I know what a different one will cost. My body and interior are in fine shape. I can easily justify a $2,550 Jasper transmission, and a $3,400 Jasper engine, instead of $8,500 for one that has 150,000 miles on it, and who knows how well it was taken care of.
    So convince me how much money I will save if I replace my already paid for tow vehicle with one that will cost me $40,000, and only get twice the mileage on $4 gasoline, vs the one I have now? You will have to convince me that the replacement will actually do the job, and get any better mileage. You also have to convince me that I can get all my gear and junk inside the replacement. The KIA really is tight, compared to the Explorer.
    We just returned from a 2,700 mile trip. We took the KIA because it only has 60,000 miles, where the Explorer has 325,000, and we want to save the Explorer for tow duties. Actually, the Explorer gets slightly better gas mileage, is roomier, and it is faster–and the passenger hand hold is better positioned for my wife to enter the car. When we bought the KIA, it replaced a GMC pickup that was really long, and she was driving in town. It was a better ride than the Crown Victoria I had as a company car. Unfortunately, it had zero tow capacity, which was the reason I ordered the Explorer to replace the CV.

    • Amen, John.

      I plan to do the same with one (or both) of my Nissan pick-ups. Both are nowhere near requiring any major work, but I’d absolutely spend say $2,000 on a new transmission or $3,000 on an engine rebuild, knowing that the trucks would then be good to go for probably another 8-10 years at least.

      Now, this is not to say anyone who buys new is foolish. But I do see it as foolish to buy a new car that – even with a massive federal subsidy – still costs about as much as many entry-level luxury cars… if the object of the exercise is “economy.” Because it’s silly to buy a car based on the idea that it is “economical” when it costs easily twice as much as a decent (new) economy car and three times as much as a decent used economy car.

      Buy a Volt or other electric car because you think the technology is cool, or because you think you’re being “green.” But please, spare me the talk about how “economical” it is.

    • That sounds like a joke to me. Pulling a 5800 lb trailer at 70 mph and still getting 15 mpg? I would like to see that one. Maybe a perfectly flat roadway with a tail wind. Clover

      I guess you can make anything up if you want to try to prove a point.

      Actually a 2004 car is practically new in car terms except for the miles. The average car or truck lasts more than 15 years any more. I think the last I heard it was a 17 year average.Clover

  4. According to a fact sheet sent to reporters today, President Obama will once again highlight a proposal to increase the tax credit for electric vehicles.

    More importantly, the president will propose making that tax credit available as soon as you buy the vehicle.

    According to the White House, Obama will proposes that the tax credit is “available at the point-of-sale by making it transferable to the dealer or financier, allowing consumers to benefit when they purchase a vehicle rather than when they file their taxes.”


  5. If you are looking for a bulletproof car, look at the Mercedes diesels from the 1980s. I have a Mercedes 240 D with manual transmission (I wish it had a 5th gear) with 700,000 miles on it; the engine has good compression and has never been torn down for rebuild. My valve adjustments (easy to do) every 15,000 to 20,000 miles and regular oil changes keep it alive.
    These cars are SOLID . . .and good runners.

  6. Why do you not mention the Aptera? Here is a car designed with carbonated steel (virtually indestructible) with an engine/hybrid that gets about 400 mpg. A little pricey to start (about $35K) for most of the 99%ers, but certainly worth the extra money. They have a website and they were featured on NOVA, “Cars of the Future” (can still be found online PBS website).

    • Is carbonated steel fizzy? Perhaps that softens impacts?

      Wow. 400 MPG; that’s remarkable.

      And I believe it, too–just like I believe Romney will undo everything the Bad Man Obama has done, and kiss all my boo-boos and make them all better.

      Because he’s a nice man.

    • I actually wrote about the Aptera a couple of years ago; the article is here in the archives. I believe the company went out of business. The car was neat but would never make it past Uncle, unfortunately.

      • They still have a website. Will have to do more investigation. I am close to retirement and will be looking for my “forever” car (minus catastrophy) and was seriously considering getting one for a scuttle-bug. Would still own a larger sedan for multi-passenger travel.

        • Pauline, there are plenty of vehicles that will take you from age 65 until the end of life with no major repairs. My recently retired wife and I have a 2002 Corolla (65,000 miles) and a 2006 Altima (160,000 miles). We’ve never had a major repair on either vehicle and I would not hesitate to drive either of them coast to coast without expensive preparation for the trip.

          I’m 76 and my wife is 64. The assumption being that I will croak before she does, she might buy one more new car in her lifetime but does not feel pressed to do so.

          I am a retired Mechtec, 4/61 – 5/98, shop owner so my knowledge and experience exceeds that of most folks.


          • Amen.

            Pick a good car (that Corolla, for example) then take decent care of it. Such a car can be expected to deliver reliable A to Be service for 15-plus years and 150,000-plus miles (very conservatively).

            I have a ’98 Nissan Frontier with close to 150k on it – and the original clutch, too. It doesn’t feel tired. It does not use oil. It will probably be everyday driveable for years to come.

          • Tinsley’s right. My wife bought an ’81 Honda Civic new and we drove that car for 289,000 miles before it needed any major repairs (besides two clutch replacements). I have a ’90 Dodge W150 with nearly 300K on it right now, still on the original automatic transmission! Now the tranny seals are leaking and the oil pressure is low, but it still runs just fine. If you keep up routine maintenance on most modern vehicles, barring some major manufacturing defect, I would say 250K miles is the new 100K.

  7. Hi Eric,

    A slight quibble. Your discussion of CAFE uses EPA fuel economy figures (as quoted on window stickers); CAFE is based on NHTSA fuel economy. NHTSA figures are based on more ideal conditions (No A/C, 55 mph highway, etc.) leading to inflated numbers. Thus, your assertion that only two cars currently meet the 2016 CAFE mandate is not true. In fact Hyundai has announced that they already meet the 2016 requirements. In reality, 55 mpg (NHTSA) will be more like 42 mpg (EPA).

    With that said, I absolutely agree with your thesis. If it were economically sensible to create cars with higher efficiency, automobile manufacturers would already be producing them. There will be compliance costs and they will largely fall on the shoulders of the consumer.

    In fact, I would say that this highlights your greater point of the idiocracy of government bureaucracies. Having two government entities calculating (different) fuel economy measurements is moronic.

  8. I just read that there will be a review of this standard midway through and companies will be able to apply for waivers.
    Originally I figured it as an excuse to add a gas guzzler tax to every vehicle and generate additional revenue.
    But now it is obvious that some car companies are going to be exempt from complying and that will give them an automatic cost advantage. Sounds like something that would be applied to all cars not built by a car company the goobermint has a vested interest in.

  9. @Downrange:

    That thread was a bit too crowded so I’m spawning an offshoot down here.

    I’ve read a good deal on Peak Oil; Kunstler’s book “The Long Emergency” got me started a few years ago.

    As others have pointed out, Hubbert’s prediction regarded sweet light crude; but by extension, it should apply to all petroleum.

    The trouble is, when will the last type peak? Nobody really knows. Throw in abiotic generation, and the possibility that it’s drawing on some truly vast reserves, and the quandary deepens.

    That said–Yes, I believe oil WILL peak–and we’d better get smart about finding an alternative. Perhaps there will be a miracle, and we’ll discover that Earth is comprised of the same primordial stuff as the rest of the solar system (unlikely, we’re a rocky planet thought to have off-gassed our volatiles early on)…and abiotic oil remains abundant for centuries once we discover a technology for extracting it. But it’s not likely.

    The Long Emergency scared me in one key point: that we’ll have waited too long, and boot-strapping the next technology will require energy we no longer have. Case in point: converting to solar panels is a NET LOSS; it takes more energy to make them than they economically recover in their useful life. I have not verified that claim–but knowing how much energy it takes to make, purify, machine, and manufacture silicon cells, I’d say it’s close.

    So what do we do?
    1) let the market do its thing. Anarcho-capitalism to the rescue; not only will it price the remaining oil accurately, it won’t subsidize it with military conquest…
    2) most importantly, get government the hell out of the way and give freedom to develop the alternatives. Government is stasis and stagnation; it’s squelching alternative research while pretending to subsidize it.

    Fine so far?

    Eric makes the point above and I strongly second it–the thug Elite use scarcity memes to frighten the sheeple and herd them toward forgone conclusions.

    Global warming–the sky is falling! Deforestation! Overpopulation! Water scarcity lions tigers and bears oh my! Peak Oil!

    The latter also dovetails nicely into UN Agenda 21–the plan to herd us into megalopoli and tend us like CAFO’s*.

    So I’m extremely wary of scarcity memes; 99% of the time, they’re unadulterated excrement, and quite often the opposite of the truth.

    * CAFO–Confined Animal Feeding Operation, aka those disgusting factory farms that produce “chicken” and “pork”.

    • Yes, ultimately the problem is political power preventing competition to existing business and using fear to control people and get what they want.

      However, the oil can’t totally run out because it can be manufactured. Of course there would be a capacity issue without a market system that encourages building the plants.

      To give an idea of what I am talking about, these guys are still around:

    • Fair enough Methyl – I also note the employment of scarcity themes by the PTB. What’s interesting is that TPTB are not trumpeting about Peak Oil. Indeed, up until a year or two ago, there was virtually NO comment from any corporate of governmental agency about it. So, it’s my view that the whole subject of Peak Oil is one of those that defies type-casting those who discuss it, as it is truly based on scientific research and reasoning.
      Let’s pursue the lines you’ve competently opened in your post: assume the production of oil from all sources has peaked, or will peak in the next few years. That is to say, the light, sweet crude (low hanging fruit in Martenson’s Crash Course terminology – applicable to many things besides oil, btw) plus all the other sourced oil is heading down the backside of Hubbert’s curve. It may take some years for a noticeable decline, since we do have the ability to make up SOME of the decline with more energy-intensive processes, like shale oil extraction. But the ERoEI is not deniable – it is in decline (Energy Returned on Energy Invested). This is a fairly simple mathematical equation, and, as we know, math doesn’t lie (well, except in the work of corrupt statisticians!).
      What we would then be facing is a world that is rapidly approaching some kind of nexus with regards the available global supply of what has always been extremely inexpensive liquid fuels. Look at China. I visited there a few years back and was quite taken by the obvious growth everywhere I went, even into the relative backwoods areas. They are rapidly developing a middle class, or at least trying to, and that middle class wants it ALL, including cars. They have a very powerful military and have already made strategic moves to try to secure oil down the road. This is a geopolitical factor that most certainly has implications for the rest of the world. There’s also the effect of countries that were traditionally net exporters becoming less so, as their own oil needs increase with the relative wealth their people accrue. I think it’s called the Land Use Model.
      If we assume a near term peak, even with all the efforts to maintain current production levels, it’s highly probable that those levels will not be maintained, they will drop, even into the headwind of increased global demand. This will drive prices inexorably higher. And not just for gasoline and diesel, but for EVERYTHING that presently relies on oil energy input for its production – like FOOD. I mentioned that closed system petri dish a few posts back, and the idea of “overshoot.” It’s easy to see what happens when the cornucopians run out of rejoinders, and it isn’t pretty. You indicate in your post that you already understand this.
      So why is it, anytime the subject of Peak OIl comes up on a forum for discussion, even one possessed of so many erudite posters as this one, that we get the same tired cliches, disinformation, willful blindness, and complete failure to investigate the issues by so many? I believe it’s simply denial – and frankly I expect better of those who post about freedom. So, I feel I’m spinning my wheels here, and should just retire out of the discussion. There seem to be maybe two or three here who at least “get the basic ideas” of Peak Oil theory, but most are spinning an elaborate set of pretenses to AVOID seeing the elephant in the room. Abiotic origins, for example, which has been pretty much disproved by professionals in the field of petroleum engineering, is thrown out as some kind of holy grail for oil forever, baby, drill baby drill. That is such a fatuous argument of course, as it doesn’t matter WHERE or even HOW the existing reserves arose, they are being depleted, and this is measurable and the future trending is predictable and objective. That’s what Hubbert did in his ground-breaking research, conducted in the fifties, that correctly predicted the cornucopians of his time, in the industry, would see U.S. production peak around the early seventies. When it happened, it was a wake-up call for many, but, again, nothing much in the press.
      So, I really want to bow out of this difficult discussion here, as I’ve already put out everything there is really to say, except to throw in a plug, once more, for the Crash Course. I personally challenge every Peak Oil denier on here to go through the entire series – some twenty ten minute slides with audio, and come back and say they still deny what Chris Martenson has so skillfully assembled. Just google it. You have nothing to lose but your illusions.
      As to Kunstler, he’s fine as far as he goes, but I find he has a bit of liberal bias, he’s kind of caught up in a “Norman Rockwell painting” view of what America needs to return to – which I think is archaic, and a bit collectivist, actually. He supported the Obamination, which should be a clue, as well.
      Personally, I agree strongly with you that we need to act NOW to address what’s coming. Clearly (to me anyway) we need more nuclear, especially smaller scale, decentralized nuclear plants. Indeed, we need to DEcentralize as much as possible, DEstate, if you will, the planet, and go small, in Schumacher’s terminology. Google Hyperion to see what’s possible along these lines with nuclear energy.
      The best application of MIND to these problems is what is needed. Let’s hope that’s gonna be able to happen. The enormous statist oligopoly that’s got the world in its grip hasn’t really been much interested in using MIND, other than to increase its power and dominion over its subjects. This is the big question of our age: will MIND be able to win out over the forces that wish to make slavery the permanent condition of this planet’s inhabitants? The next few decades will be critical, and Peak Oil will play a huge role in my view.

      • Downrange–

        We’re in agreement I think, and I thank you for your copious and well-reasoned posts.

        On the topic of nuclear–100%. The problem with nuclear today is the same problem as everything else–The State. We’re using these craptacular 40-year-old designs that, surprise surprise, fall apart. Our plants are antiquated before they light the first pile. If our so-called “protectors” got out of the way, we’d have pebble-bed reactors, fast-breader reactors, liquid metal designs, thorium-cycle reactors.

        The latter are especially promising; highly scalable, incredibly safe, and thorium is something like 10X as abundant as uranium, not to mention less toxic and radioactive.

        And on the horizon? The One Thing that the Elites hope like hell we’ll never ever get?


        Simple trick. If you can do it that is 🙂

        But I remain hopeful we’ll find a shortcut to fusion, and in the meantime the brute-force approaches keep getting better. I can’t help but think it’s being suppressed; nothing that disruptive can survive the Eye of Mordor. Too many vested interests.

        • Wow!,Meth,I think I would sit at your feet to learn a thing or three,people do tend to get confused about “peak oil”(Its a good thing the Nazis and Japanese didnt know about “abiotic” oil We never would have beat them-they could have drilled a well through the Bunker and got plenty of oil)
          Seriously our planet is so geologically active a lot of the “reachable hydrocarbons”abiotic” have already been expelled-the Iron carbide in the inner core will probaly stay out of reach.

      • Downrange, as you point out, “peak oil” like “abiotic oil” is still just a theory. Do I believe the oil reserves of the world are finite? Of course! But how vast are the oil fields and how much oil yet remains? None of us, not even the “experts” really know for sure. In my short lifetime I’ve seen too many “proven” things, we accepted as “scientific facts”, disproven for me to put much stock in anything the “authorities” put out as “the gospel truth.” That being said, I’m a firm believer in widely expanding nuclear energy production in the U.S. It’s pitiful that France produces roughly 80% of their electricity through nuclear power and the U.S. is so paranoid and short sighted it does the inverse. Nuclear energy could easily supply the steam needed for Fischer – Tropsch synthesis of liquid fuel from coal as “waste heat” from power production. The U.S. has been referred to as the “Saudi Arabia of coal.” Even after the coal is gone, there yet remains biomass, natural gas, waste plastics, etc. to use for F-T feedstock.

        Would the American people still be able to cruise around the countryside in their SUV’s, motor-homes and cars like they do now on syn-fuels? Probably not; you would see more subcompact cars and particularly motorcycles, scooters and bicycles on the road than you do today. But I’m already noticing a lot more two wheelers on the road today than I ever recall. Just checking Craigslist shows you how much value any serviceable used motorcycle or scooter holds now that gas is bumping $4 a gallon. This condition is not (solely) the result of “peak oil” though. Much of it has to do with onerous regulations and taxes driving manufacturing jobs off shore and the receding economy. The welfare state has created a class of “poor” (poverty equals owning cars and cell phones exactly how?) consuming energy at similar or even higher rates than the productive. Plus the imperial U.S. military and their NATO cronies burn obscene amounts of fuel worldwide every day. Let’s not forget that we have a manipulated and monopolistic petroleum cartel working hand it glove with the gun-vernment to maximize both their revenue streams while controlling the sheeple.

        All of these factors will eventually reach their “peak” as well and we will see energy consumption drop off due to cost (everything is quaternal and cyclic, life tends to be sinusoidal). At that point the free market will step in and provide innovative and cost effective alternatives for “the haves.” Many of “the havenots” will die off (which I believe is a big part of the PTB’s goal) because modern agriculture is very energy intensive too. As that happens energy demands will drop off further. It’s not going to be pretty, that’s for sure. But (some of) mankind will undoubtedly survive. Our extinction has been erroneously predicted on many occasions in the past by far more learned men than me. So I think the concerns over our untimely demise due to global warming…no, climate change…er, peak oil…no wait, total nuclear war…no no, a mini ice age…ad infinitum, are all a bit overblown. Now a hurricane, tornado, flooding, social unrest, monetary inflation; those are things to genuinely be concerned about and if you’re smart, to at least nominally prepare for. But “peak oil”? What are we going to do at the individual level to prep for that? There’s really not much we can do besides position ourselves financially for $10 a gallon gas, now is there?

        • “What are we going to do at the individual level to prep for that?”

          Horses? I have four, and all the stuff you need to get them to carry things.

        • Very good post, Boothe, I’d like to address some of your points:

          “Downrange, as you point out, “peak oil” like “abiotic oil” is still just a theory. Do I believe the oil reserves of the world are finite? Of course! But how vast are the oil fields and how much oil yet remains? None of us, not even the “experts” really know for sure. ”

          OK, here’s the thing: peak oil theory doesn’t attempt to put a number on how large the finite reserves of the planet are – it instead looks at the extraction rates, the rates of new discoveries of oil, their size, and the ease of extracting them, the rates of consumption, smoothed for the normal spikes caused by market pressures moderated by everything from recessions to geopolitical instability – and then projects a peak, followed by the other side of that bell curve. So, it’s not necessary to account for shale oil for instance, or deep sea reserves, or even some fairly significant technological innovation in the drilling field, as these things smooth over time too. We will never extract “the last barrel of oil, ” and peak oil never says we will. The point is that when the rear view mirror shows, beyond any doubt, that the peak has occurred, and that all effort to increase production, even those that are ERoEI unfavorable, are not enabling “growth,” well then you have to expect some consequences. Many have written “doomer” porn about this – I do not ascribe to this fantasizing, personally, but I do see that the economic reality will impact the run-up we’ve had through the oil age.

          “In my short lifetime I’ve seen too many “proven” things, we accepted as “scientific facts”, disproven for me to put much stock in anything the “authorities” put out as “the gospel truth.” ”

          Oh, agree. However I don’t let the truth of that lead me to “cornucopianism,” such as assuming that “oh we’ll just think of something to replace oil.” Studying the unique aspects of petroleum, and what that’s meant for the past hundred years, leads me to doubt any “easy replacement,” especially considering ERoEI. The other thing is “authorities” are not the ones touting Peak Oil theory – quite the opposite. One might ponder why that is.

          “That being said, I’m a firm believer in widely expanding nuclear energy production in the U.S. It’s pitiful that France produces roughly 80% of their electricity through nuclear power and the U.S. is so paranoid and short sighted it does the inverse. Nuclear energy could easily supply the steam needed for Fischer – Tropsch synthesis of liquid fuel from coal as “waste heat” from power production.”

          I agree. We’ve been fools for letting Three Mile Island and Hollywood set our national nuclear energy policy the past forty years!

          “Would the American people still be able to cruise around the countryside in their SUV’s, motor-homes and cars like they do now on syn-fuels? Probably not; you would see more subcompact cars and particularly motorcycles, scooters and bicycles on the road than you do today. But I’m already noticing a lot more two wheelers on the road today than I ever recall.”

          No question about it. I bought a Prius a couple of years ago, seeing the trend toward higher gas, and also seeing what a great vehicle it is for the kind of driving I have to every day. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made lately, and should continue to be, especially as it appears oil at 80-100 USD/bbl seems to be the new “norm.” And the prospect of higher prices down the road means true hybrid tech (and by that I mean with regenerative braking) will get bigger going forward, along with more two wheelers. The free market can handle this though – we don’t need the nanny state to prescribe mileage standards.

          “All of these factors will eventually reach their “peak” as well and we will see energy consumption drop off due to cost (everything is quaternal and cyclic, life tends to be sinusoidal). At that point the free market will step in and provide innovative and cost effective alternatives for “the haves.” Many of “the havenots” will die off (which I believe is a big part of the PTB’s goal) because modern agriculture is very energy intensive too. As that happens energy demands will drop off further. It’s not going to be pretty, that’s for sure. But (some of) mankind will undoubtedly survive. Our extinction has been erroneously predicted on many occasions in the past by far more learned men than me. So I think the concerns over our untimely demise due to global warming…no, climate change…er, peak oil…no wait, total nuclear war…no no, a mini ice age…ad infinitum, are all a bit overblown. Now a hurricane, tornado, flooding, social unrest, monetary inflation; those are things to genuinely be concerned about and if you’re smart, to at least nominally prepare for. But “peak oil”? What are we going to do at the individual level to prep for that? There’s really not much we can do besides position ourselves financially for $10 a gallon gas, now is there?”

          I mostly agree, although I’d put it a bit differently. First, gas at 10.00 a gallon would still be a bargain. As Chris says in Crash Course, if you want to see how valuable a gallon of gasoline is, run your tank dry, put one gallon in, then drive until you run out. NOW, push the car back to your starting point-that’s how much a gallon of gas is worth. Yeah ten bucks – no sweat.

          My point would be that, first of all, humans are not going to be driven to extinction by the reality of peak oil; there are too many other things we have going for us. There MAY be some kind of die-off, either through the inability to feed the hordes that have flourished during the oil age (understand surplus energy and what has happened by seeing those chapters of the Crash Course), or through some kind of cataclysmic world war or crisis – it’s hard to predict. But we have amazing resilience and I would not be surprised to see as many as 10 billion people still doing pretty well by the next century. I’m not a doomer. But it’s clear to me that we are going to see some pretty big changes going forward.
          By far the biggest thing I personally am concerned about is the rampant statism and creeping totalitarianism I see everywhere – especially since 2001 in this country. I believe it is crucial to look at the big picture, and I see Peak OIl as a fundamental part of that picture, and not just Peak Oil, but Peak Everything. It’s gonna be “interesting,” in the Confucian sense!

          • @Downrange–

            As usual, a well-written and well-reasoned post. I’m truly enjoying your contributions here, thank you.

            On your last point–“rampant statism and creeping totalitarianism I see everywhere”–yes, absolutely!

            Statism presents the greatest single danger to humanity, far beyond any other threat excepting perhaps a massive comet strike.

            Democide is responsible for conservatively 262 million deaths in the last century; and that does not include war deaths, which I also ascribe to the affliction of statism. What people want war, when not driven by the psychopaths-at-large in the State? None.

            Peak Oil? Peak anything? Peaceful, consensual commerce and trade, unfettered by the state, will provide us solutions…just as they have in the past, for equally formidable problems.

            I’m hopeful that the Internet Reformation will debunk the religion of Statism, just as the original Reformation driven by Gutenberg’s press destroyed Papism.

          • And I enjoy your posts – Methyl. The one thing about change that gives me some hope is that often it’s not clear until after it’s happened, and that the reality that emerges from all these factors is even more complex than I usually imagine it. I remain hopeful about things, including our combined ability to somehow absorb and learn things that need learning. I also affirm the ultimate good nature of most people – and that times of crisis often bring out the best as much or more than the worst in folks.

    • Meth, reading this comment from 3 years ago reminds me of many things and “peak oil’ is just one. I was just reading an industry newsletter earlier in the week(Rigzone). One article pointed out that 2015 is going to be the “new” peak oil year, besting 1972 for the first time.
      I tend to agree as I see it happening. Last year I built oil off-loading stations, some with a great deal of storage. Now we’re hearing rumors of a few companies with a common pipeline making a loop back to a location with a huge amount of storage facilities. I occasionally get called to do one thing or another at one of these off-loading sites and every time each off-loading station has a line of trucks waiting to unload, day and night.

      Some drilling companies are increasing rig production as companies such as Shell are continuing to explore for oil. It’s not a hit or miss thing these days as companies who specialize in “thumping” for oil become increasingly more sophisticated with very accurate results. Even lease roads have become hugely better to accommodate more trucks.

  10. Oguano flies jets everywhere so he won’t have to worry about riding around on a moped like the rest of us. I’m sure they’ll exempt limousines for politicians.

  11. Environmentalretardists Clovers do not have the brain power to be able to understand that car exhaust is – in reality – Plant Food.

    Driving a Hummer H1 at 100 mph makes plants “green” MUCH more than a smug hyper-milling humanitites twit in a Prius…Just try and get the Clover understand that one!

    • It’s fear. Just like they were afraid the snake god would eat the sun unless they obeyed and paid the priest class in ancient times. It’s an old scam in a new wrapper.

      Except this time it’s about the rulers taking power over life itself with the scam.

    • For years, I’ve written about the fact that any car built since the early 1990s is effectively pollution-free, in terms of the compounds that form smog and affect air quality. Appx. 95 percent of the exhaust stream consists of water vapor and carbon dioxide. So, when you hear that Proposal X is going to “reduce new car emissions by 50 percent,” what they actually mean is 50 percent of the remaining 3-5 percent of the exhaust stream that isn’t C02 or H20. A fractional reduction at (typically) tremendous cost.

      Cars have been “clean” for decades now. The point of diminishing returns was arrived at circa the late 1980s.

      • Since the 1994 EPA regulation, cars have actually been cleaning the natural air. Tons of NOx, CO2, CO, Radon, and H2SO4 are naturally seeping out of the ground/oceans everyday and have been for billions of years. Mother Nature does not wear a catalytic converter on her butt. Just try and get a gunnerment-worshiping Clover to understand that!

        • Yep.

          After 20-plus years of covering this stuff, I’ve come to believe that at root, for many people in the “policy” world, lies a dislike of cars as such. Nothing will ever be good enough – “clean” enough or “safe” enough. The primal urge is to get most people out of cars – and herd them into public transportation, which they (the “policy” people) can control.

        • Volvo began coating the frontal area of the radiator with a catalyst material in the ’90s for exactly this purpose. Notice how it just… fell off the radar screen?

      • The point of diminishing returns was arrived at circa the late 1980s. -Eric

        You are certainly correct as far as power train management is concerned. The arrival of the O2 sensor years earlier changed everything for the better. I have often thought that a bar graph among the instruments would be a big plus for the informed driver. The O2’s input to the ECU could even have even been tweaked with a potentiometer in series with the input signal.

        I was in the service and repair business from 4/61 until 1998. I was wrenching in a VW dealership when the first production car with EFI arrived. The transition from carbs to electronic management was a torturous time for the commissioned Mectecs who took a financial beating while dealing with it. Overnight, quick guess parts changing instead of proper diagnosing was no longer a substitute for knowledge and time consuming testing.


          • Right on, Eric. Autometer (and I’m sure others) offers an AF bar graph gauge that reads the O2 sensor signal. It’s almost a necessity on a T-Bird TC if you’re running high boost so you can make sure the old EEC-IV is keeping you in the stoichiometric (14.7:1) combustion range. Plus it looks really cool mounted in an A-pillar pod with your boost gauge. Gawd I miss that car (sigh).

          • The idea came to me soon after O2 sensors were incorporated into the systems. Of course it is the sort of idea that would come to many with passing time.

            • I don’t have this set-up on any of my (old, carbureted) stuff but am thinking it would be neat to get one to see how close to “right” I have dialed them in.

              I guess it’s just a matter of installing an 02 fitting in the exhaust pipe, then seeing what you’ve got.

              I’m gonna look into it…. might make for a fun article!

      • Big oil is running scared now(beings the alternative fuel cars are starting to come out)if we had no alternative our reg gas would probaly be at $5 a gal know,big oil has opened the spigots hoping to keep people buying the guzzlers(as long as gas is cheap-believe me ,they will,no matter that you can tie up 50-60K in one)
        I hope they build more pipelines,the retiree,escapees around here are fighting tooth and nail,to try to stop the construction of a gas pipeline through Beautiful,backward Highland county(and possibly parts of Bath,VA)my take is the pipeline will hurt less then hundreds of CNG tanker trucks on beautiful torturous RT 220 and 250,the gas pipeline through Lexington to Gala,VA,is an asset for the wildlife and access,for firefighting ,etc;

  12. Nixon created the EPA, Executive Orders are authoritarianism writ large. Does anyone expect should Romney(Obama Lite) get elected that he will repeal this madness? The only question is how fast this nation will implode, regardless of whom is at the helm of the ship of state.

  13. Eric, don’t worry about this CAFE garbage. The chances of the US surviving to 2025 are virtually nil. IMHO the collapse and breakup will likely happen in the next few years. Once the dust settles the Clovers (the surviving ones, that is) will flee to the Marxist “blue” states, while the real Americans will take over the “red” states and restore liberty there. It will be the political version of the 1947 India-Pakistan partition.

    • It will be the political version of the 1947 India-Pakistan partition.

      I agree with your scenario, although I fear the body count will look similar as well.

      However, don’t expect the irrational fear and hyper-nationalism of the red-staters won’t do their own ugly work. Left-Clovers will go quietly into the night because they don’t have the arms to push an agenda, and without the heterosexual christian white bogeyman to unite them in their fears their alliances will fracture.

      Armed right-Clover fuck yeah Amurrikuns, on the other hand, these are the folks most likely to organize and seize the police and military tools that will litter the landscape. If these kind of people decide they have a “right the wrongs” mandate, we could end up worse off than we are now. Especially if you’re a “terrorist sympathizer who loves the Muslims and hates America,” or something along those lines.

    • I suspect that within 5 years only the upper 20% will have access to personal transportation and the lower 80% goyim stinky animals will be stuffed into cities and puh-blick transportation and bicycles. It will be worse than Yer-up was in 1980 and a little better than 1990 Russia.

  14. Perhaps 15 years ago, I had read with great fascination a series of credible reports from a company named “Electric Fuel Corporation.” They had developed and road tested a zinc-air battery with so much power that it enabled a step van to travel on one charge from London through the “Chunnel” then on to Paris with significant charge left to spare. It appeared to me at that time that the electric car battery limitation problem had finally been solved. Yet later, just as suddenly, Electric Fuel Corporation rapidly withdrew itself from the limelight and sank down the old memory hole. My attempts to contact them and learn what became of their extraordinary research repeatedly failed. I merely concluded that the PTB within the automobile and oil industry complex [they operate together hand in glove] would simply not permit enlightened cost-saving benefits to escape into public consciousness. Draw your own conclusions.

  15. Reminds me of the cars in Idiocracy. Saw a photo on the interweb tubes of a hybrid smashed between two cement mixer trucks but I’m not sure if it was real or photochopped. Comrade Central Planning the immaculate messiah knows best. He is the one! The Savior!

  16. 50 mpg in 1984-1999 with 2L. 4cyl Mazda diesel mounted transversely on a Ford Escort chassis…kind of lessens the thrill of paying $20 to fill the Roadking that gets 42mpg. I’d consider a smaller
    but I DO look marvelous and I like the air ride suspension.

  17. The freedom to travel is a fundamental right. Cars have given the citizens of the formerly great Amerika the ability to travel freely and cheaply any where and any time they choose, without the ability to be “monitored” by satans agents. This just won’t do. In Yurrop, they did not develop “cars for the masses” until the VW, so they have a developed rail system. That requires tickets etc… The citizens can be monitored with ease, and the ability to travel can be tightly controlled. If Caeser (I like that title) were to banish cars outright in Amerika, he would recieve several million middle fingers instantly, and all of the elected minions would be strung up post haste. So, they have to have a “better” idea. First, they take over 2 of the big 3 US car makers, and close dealerships (other peoples privately owned businesses) making access to new cars and service more difficult. Now they will “save us”8K on gasolene making the program appetizing to clovers everywhere, but in reality limiting the ability for the upstart population to move about the country freely. If the herd cannot afford to save fuel at Caesers Magnificent Teeny Car Emporiums, well in the governments beneficence, they can have “car sharing” set up in no time. Couple this with the currently talked about plans to tax-by-the-mile, with GPS forced on every car on the road, and presto, more enslavement for the masses, with hardly a peep uttered in protest. Baaaahhhhhh.Isn’t out government magnificent??

    • Nah you’re just a mean paranoid man.
      Government is good people. They care about the Earth. And you.

      Especially your money. And your soul.

  18. Whether 55 mpg or any other problem–monetary or social or whatever–you will always find that it’s due to governments futzing around in the marketplace.

  19. From what I’ve been reading, it’s not folks in government who talk about peak oil so much as it is folks like Dan Simmons et al, who’ve spent much of their lives either in the awl bidness or in analysis of its economics.

    Hubbert was spot-on as to his prediction of the peak of US production. Not hard for him and other geologists to broaden the view to a worldwide similarity.

    But again: It’s not the totality of oil “somewhere down there”. It’s the cost of getting it and its derivatives to the consumer.

    And you think that the US government is screwing with cars? On a world basis, it’s even worse as to how governments are screwing with any orderly production of oil. (Or anything else, really.)

    • Right, as I see it. We probably passed global peak oil in 2006. As Hubbert pointed out, the only way to see it is in the rear view mirror. Also, distortions can creep in on the small scale, like geopolitical instability, that skew results temporarily one way or the other. But longer term, we are nearing the end of cheap oil, and, yes, I agree it is still cheap.
      But it’s not just oil – it’s practically all resources – ores, uranium even. We really need to move toward a free market approach to energy provision, and decentralize its production in a big way. The technology exists to do this, and, if we could people past their irrational fear of anything “nuclear,” we also need a massive increase in nuclear energy, if for no other reason than to process the increasingly difficult to access remaining oil (tar sands, for example), and to create viable liquid fuels that require a net input of energy.
      This is, again, all explained in the Crash Course. Highly recommended – everyone I’ve talked to about it said it opened their eyes. Last post on the subject – don’t want to threadjack.

      • A great alternative and much cleaner form of nuclear energy is thorium. Thorium reactors are safer as they do not create or require highly radioactive isotopes and much less of the spent fuel can be utilized for nuclear weapons.

  20. Rhetorical question, probably: Any thought been given to the needs of farmers, ranchers and the trade folks who need real, work-truck-type pickups and 4WDs to deal with their work? What’s the cost picture going to be for them?

    Back to oil: The rate of decline in production from existing fields is greater than the rate of new production coming on line. Were it not for the worldwide recessionary slowdown, odds are that oil would now be somewhere around $150 and rising. “Peak” and “abiotic” are irrelevant.

    But I’ll bet that you could have all the transportation fuel you’d ever want, at $200/bbl equivalent.

    • Sure – and the thought is: fuck ’em.

      The elites don’t care about the costs their “plans” impose.

      On your statement, “The rate of decline in production from existing fields is greater than the rate of new production coming on line.”

      Note my italics. Coming on-line is not the same as what’s potentially available. If abiosis is right – and there is some pretty decent evidence in support of this – then depleted fields may replenish. And there may be vast reserves as-yet-untapped.

      I’m not saying that’s fact. I’m saying it’s a real possibility – according to the evidence.

      We – most of us here – “get” that government (and big corporations) are not operating out of a sense of benevolence toward us Mundanes. Why should we accept as true the claims made by them about peak oil?

      • Peak Oil isn’t about running out but when oil is no longer an economic source of energy. If it takes one or more barrels of existing oil to recover one barrel’s worth of oil from the ground then oil becomes an energy carrier than an energy source. The question is whether new technologies (like fracking) means the formerly uneconomic crude oil sources can become economical thus giving enough cheap oil for a few more centuries so we don’t have to worry about Peak Oil our lifetimes.

        • Gil,

          I am encouraged by your latest posts. They’re more than just snide name-calling. Excellent!

          Ok, on this “peak oil” business:

          It is hard to get around the fact – note carefully, not the opinion, not the assertion – that when you factor for inflation and exclude taxation, the cost of a gallon of gas is actually at or near historic lows. It is a fact that we’re not so much paying more for gas – we’re just spending more money on it. This is a very important distinction to make. And one that must be accounted for by the proponents of “peak oil.”

          If the dollar’s value – its buying power – were the same today (2012) as it was back in 1970 – that dollar would buy more than one gallon of gasoline at current prices.

          Not an opinion – a fact. Consult the government’s own inflation calculator.

          How can this be explained? Simple: Money is worth less today than it was yesterday. We have been slyly defrauded by the banking cartels, who have the legal ability to counterfeit. To increase the supply of money – pieces of paper – which devalues the value of the pieces of paper already in circulation. This, in turn, causes prices to go up. However, prices rising does not necessarily correlate with rising cost in real terms. It just means you’ve got to hand over more pieces of paper to acquire the same amount of whatever it was you’re buying.

        • There is more oil now in terms of volume and years at present consumption than there ever has been.

          My challenge to peak oil believers is to have the CEOs of the big oil companies brought up on charges of fraud. Because that is the only way any of them are correct about the oil running out soon, is that the annual reports of the big oil companies are lies. That’s big time fraud.

          Since most peak oil folks also dislike big oil, why haven’t they worked towards this?

          • There is so much disinformation and outright distortion in these two posts that I must respond. It’s obvious you two have NO CLUE what peak oil means; you’ve simply pigeon-holed and stereotyped “peak oil people” into a convenient niche, that happens to also be grossly inaccurate.
            I’ve seen this before – it’s a function of denial, and it’s sad to see it on a forum that otherwise is a bastion of sanity. You are demonstrating that people will go to any lengths to preserve a cherished illusion.
            The problem is there is no refuting the SCIENCE of peak oil. Oil follows Hubbert’s curve, over time, no debating the fact of that. It does NOT MATTER if its origin is abiotic, it only matters that the rate of extraction of existing reserves along with discovery of new wells has peaked. There are several “big lies” being propagated in this thread as well. One is that the existence of vast pools of hydrocarbons on other planets is somehow proof that the “cornucopianism” being displayed here is justified. Better minds than yours and mine have PROVEN peak oil – you need to read and understand/comprehend what you’re reading. Again, this is science, folks. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, read about it and learn. I suggest starting with The Oil Drum, there are voluminous resources there on what peak oil is and isn’t, and you can educate yourselves and stop throwing around stereotypes, bob-tailed reasoning (like the oil on other planets – how do you propose to transport it here??) and outright distortions of the truth.
            OK, a second big lie of this thread: guess what? Big Oil denies peak oil. So does our .gov, for the most part. There is virtually NO discussion of the subject in “official,” corporate-type channels. Even the Hirsch report the DOE commissioned years ago CONFIRMED peak oil as a scientific concept, but put the date of the peak out in the 2020’s somewhere – which most in the peak oil studies area have said was extremely optimistic. Indeed, many believe the global peak was reached around 2006. We shall see.
            What’s not debatable is what happens when the peak has occurred. There will be cost increases based upon free market competition for the remaining, and steadily decreasing supply. This again, is not debatable – it’s proven economic reality. While we’re on this, why does Eric keep putting up this blatant falsehood about the price of gas in 1970? I actually drove in 1970, and remember well the price was around 38 cents a gallon for premium. Recalculate your inflation figures, see what you get with the real numbers. (You see a dollar then bought nearly three gallons) Gas went above 55 cents in the mid-70s, and that was an actual shock for those of us driving then. Over a buck by the late seventies, peaking around 1.50 or so, then it went down when the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia came on strong in the eighties.
            Canterell and North Sea have already peaked, Ghawar has probably peaked, and “new discoveries” are either deep in the oceans, much smaller than needed to replace the rapidly depleting ones, or are energy-net losers like shale oil. Again, why don’t some of you take the time to educate yourself (Chris Martenson’s Crash Course would be an excellent start – google it!) so you can offer some informed comments about this subject? Do you even understand the concept of surplus energy and how that fueled the run-up in everything, including population, during the past century, and what MUST happen given the fact we live in a closed system and the low hanging fruit is disappearing? Do you understand what it means to be parroting basic “cornucopian” philosophies – these, by the way, being the predominant ones spouted by .gov and the corporations? It’s painful to see the ignorance on display in what should be a forum of truly impressive thinkers, and even more painful to see its leader taking the bait and parroting such nonsense.
            Desertrat, thanks for trying to shed some light here on this subject – there are few who can discuss this intelligently, primarily because they are a bit lazy, and also because they enjoy the comforting illusions of cornucopianism, I suspect. I’m pretty disappointed that folks who can write as well as many here do about liberty and objective reality haven’t truly investigated this subject, and are resorting to fatuous arguments, distortions, and cliches to refute the FACTS of peak oil.
            It’s discouraging and, frankly, makes me think nothing can ever come of libertarianism because so many of its most ardent supporters actually allow themselves to take such mental shortcuts as what I’m seeing in this thread.
            So, I don’t know. Peace out.

            • Hi DR,

              I’m trying to approach this rationally. I don’t take it as gospel that because Hubbert said it’s so, it’s necessarily so. Maybe – maybe not. Let’s consider some facts – not what so and so claimed or hypothesized.

              You state that you bought gas in 1970 for .38 cents a gallon. Ok. I plugged that figure into the BLS inflation calculator. It gives me $2.24 in 2012 dollars.

              Now add taxes to that.

              The cost of a gallon of gas, in real terms, is in fact the same today – or very close to the same today – as it was in 1970.

              Here’s the BLS calculator; see for yourself: http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

              I agree the earth is a closed loop system in some respects. However, not all respects. We receive energy from the sun, for example – a limitless (for all practical purposes) source of outside energy.

              And I think it’s important to keep in mind how truly vast the earth is – especially with regard to its interior volume. This literally beggars imagination. It is entirely possible there are oceans of hydrocarbons – literally, volumes comparable to the Atlantic or Pacific oceans – within the earth itself.

              I’m not being an apologist for Big Oil – or a “cornucopiast.” I base my conclusions on the facts presented, such as the fact that in real terms, gas is no more expensive today than it was 42 years ago. There’s also the fact that hydrocarbons exist on other worlds – worlds apparently devoid of biological life.

              Is it being a shill – or a “denier” to take these facts into account?

          • @DownRange
            I think what you aren’t getting is that many believe not just that oil generation is abiotic but actually being generated continuously. Your premise is that it doesn’t matter wheter oil is abiotic or organic plant matter because the reserves by volume would still be finite. This would be true but if you step back a bit I think you might see that its possible that the oil is being generated concurrently and quickly by an abiotic process. Therefore you are comparing a fixed volume of gas in a tank (reserve) to a tank that might be self-refilling. I’m not saying that the peak oil argument isn’t true, I’m simply saying that the origin of the oil might have some impact if in fact the process is quick and replenishing. There are possible scenarios that could explain such an occurence, one being that the oil is still fixed but has huge volumes further down in larger deposits similar to other planets or immense eserves and seeps its way up through crevices into the resevoirs which continuously refill (basically an understimation of the reserves of oil would be this case) . Two that it might be generated locally by an ongoing by a conversion chemical process utilizing the rocks, heat, water, pressure, and another source of carbon. In this case an abiotic process would establish a Le Chatliers principle of equilibrium and by removing oil it could accelerate the production of more. Again I’m not arguing that peak oil isn’t true, but your premise is that all known oil is accounted for and that it doesn’t matter the source (abiotic or otherwise). But your premise could be false a) if the process is ongoing or b) if abiotic even larger volumes of the stuff might exist than was previously pondered when we were stuck thinking it was all decayed orgaincs and this could mean even deeper and larger volumes make their way to fill the surface wells we are accustomed to drilling. I’m not a geologist but to keep an open mind and question the assumptions and your premises is logical. I personally think the oil is not abiotic and fixed and peak oil is a truth, but I can still keep an open mind.

          • Well, Eric, that .38 price included all taxes, that was at the pump, and for premium. I don’t think I can buy a gallon for 2.24 these days, more like 3.24, or 40 per cent more. But, really, today’s prices in the U.S. are indeed low, especially by global standards for the developed world. And, remember, price will fluctuate some, while still maintaining the relationship Hubbert defined – Hubbert’s curve – the basic bell-shaped curve all should be familiar with. So, even at the US’s bargain price, it’s at least 40 per cent more expensive, in real inflation-adjusted terms, than it was when we drove muscle cars with leaded gas around, right?
            And, if it goes to 5.00 gallon in the next couple of years? You see, peak oil doesn’t predict exactly when any price point will be reached, since so many factors make the curve less smooth, just that the end result is inevitable.
            You are correct and it’s good you mentioned solar input to the closed system that is this planet. It took a very long time for the stores of hydrocarbons we’ve been burning through (isn’t it fun, though! I’m not disparaging HP – I love it too) for the past hundred years or so. The surplus energy harvested from all those years (whether abiotically or not) the forces of nature produced and stored up all this oil has enabled a planetary transformation of a sort. We’ve gained enormous mobility and the ability to project material at a distance unlike anything our great-grandparents might have envisioned. The point is that no one is really planning for the peaks that are starting to become evident in virtually everything the planet furnishes for our existence. Simply put, we’ve done just what bacteria in a petri dish always do – given finite resources in a closed system, they overshoot and have a die-off.
            Homo sapiens has an opportunity to utilize the one thing that makes it unique and separate from bacteria – we can think, use our minds. Doing so has already led us to nuclear energy, a tremendous accomplishment. Don’t you agree it’s time to start thinking about oil objectively, realizing its impact and role in helping structure what we have, and plan for its eventual diminished role? That’s what “peak oilers” think too. Cornucopians shrug their shoulders and say, “oh, we’ll come up with a replacement for it,” without even beginning to comprehend just what that means. Oil is unique in many ways, and as the days of cheap oil disappear in the rear view, many changes will come.
            To get on point, I’m against the .gov prescribing our behavior, including mandating CAFE standards. I prefer the free market address all this, as I ascribe to essentially a libertarian/capitalist-anarchist viewpoint about how things should be organized.
            Nonetheless, I also see that there is this huge .gov/corporate power that subsumes the role of the free market, and that, in fact, they are doing almost nothing PUBLICALLY about peak oil issues. They are, in fact, avoiding the subject.
            My sense is they KNOW these things as well as anyone else who has studied the issues, and are trying to position themselves for what is coming. What’s that? Well, why do we have such a projection of force into the Mid-East, home of the largest global reserves of oil? Why are they mandating 35 and 55 mpg standards for the next couple of decades? You connect the dots.
            I really don’t want to fight with the folks here, with whom I feel a great bond already, but will simply ask you all to investigate the issues honestly and see what you find. Pat answers, cliches, of which many abound in this thread, and stereotyping should be below this group. Peak Oil, as a science, and it is one, is essential, I have found, to developing a framework for what’s happening, and what we can expect going forward.
            Good luck!

            • Well, yeah – but:

              The federal gas tax in 1970 was only 4 cents per gallon (which gives us 34 cents for the gas itself, so about $2 a gallon in today’s money).

              The federal gas tax today is 18.4 cents per gallon. State and local taxes (which were lower or nonexistent back then) pile on top of this. In my state of VA., for example, there is currently an additional 17.5 cents per gallon tax. Plus local/county taxes. It comes to about 60 cents per gallon in taxes. In some states, the tax is much higher.

              Adjust for these factors (that is, remove the current and much higher federal, state and local taxes, then adjust for inflation) and the cost of a gallon of unleaded is not much more, in real terms, than it was back in 1970:

              51 cents vs. 34 cents.

              And that uptick of 16-17 cents?

              One would also have to take into account today’s much more costly/complex refining, including the various mandates for “reformulated” and “oxygenated” gasolines. Back then, it was leaded regular and leaded high-test. One size fits all. No California gas – and 49 state gas.

              We’re also in the midst of an economic crisis which has upset the normal equilibrium across the board. Just a few short years ago, gas was selling for less than $2 per gallon – far less than you paid for gas back in 1970, adjusted for inflation.

              Now, granted, it might be “peak” oil. But it might also be other factors, too.

              And bear in mind, also, that the peak oilers are also generally the same shitheads who try to sell us one scare story after the next, in order that we look to them for “solutions” that seem to always entail a diminishment of our liberties, of our economic well-being.

              I don’t trust them – so I don’t believe them absent incontrovertible proof. We don;t have that. We have theories. And we have other theories. There is solid evidence both pro and con.

              That’s all I’m trying to say here.

          • Eric, this is what I have trouble with:

            And bear in mind, also, that the peak oilers are also generally the same shitheads who try to sell us one scare story after the next, in order that we look to them for “solutions” that seem to always entail a diminishment of our liberties, of our economic well-being

            If I believed “peak oilers” were monolithically as you describe, I would salute you and agree completely. The fact is I don’t see that to be the case at all. There are some wacko left wing greenies in the discussion, but most are more like US. OK? We can agree to disagree, but we need to be sure we’re talking about the same things. There’s so much disinformation – just check out The Oil Drum, and, if you get a chance, view the Crash Course. I’ll bet we’ll have some points in common to discuss afterwards.
            That’s all I got.
            Thanks for a great forum.

          • Downrange, I very well know what peak oil is and \I have no illusions regarding peak oil because I actually dug into it and applied my knowledge of engineering to it.

            Peak oil was prediction regarding light sweet crude. Not oil in its other forms. Light sweet crude is becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the total oil production yet oil and oil products cost no more in real terms than they did before.

            Hydrocarbons on other planets prove that hydrocarbons are not entirely from carbon based life forms. Either that or carbon based life forms on a time scale that predates the formation of the solar system. You’re free to speculate on alien worlds lush with life busted apart and reformed as new worlds, some with life some without.

            Speaking of reports, have you read the annual reports of big oil? I have. Did you know it is felony fraud to lie in a corporate annual report? If peak oil is about all oil then you need to get these CEOs locked up for fraud. Instead of trying to convince me that you and those like you should get to run my life, start by putting big oil CEOs in prison.

            The gasoline issues of the 1970s was the result of political driven dislocations in the market. Namely the inflation to pay for the vietnam war and the closing of the gold window.

            As to low hanging fruit, the oil was supposed to run out when Uncle Jed type oil ran out. Turns out it didn’t because people learned to get other oil.

            Peak oil cannot be applied to all oil, because at any given time what constitutes all oil changes. It can only apply to specific oil recoverable with specific technology. That’s the simple engineering fact behind production curves.

          • On the price of gasoline the CPI cannot be used because CPI doesn’t include energy. Inflation of fiat money is generally not even across the economy. CPI tries to make a one-size fits all number.

            For this reason I use 90% silver US coin. Gasoline with tax has been around 17-18 cents a gallon lately and has been under 25 cents a gallon for some time now.

  21. If $8k can be saved over the life of the $8k more costly, but more economical vehicle – it doesn’t appear to be a totally losing scheme! The cost of a gallon of gas is going to go up, nobody knows by how much! What if it doubles? Then the additional cost of the more fuel efficient vehicle can be justified and recuperated even faster!

    Let’s wait and see what the industry can achieve!

    • Perhaps – but the underlying issue is the use of coercion; the forcing of “efficient” (more expensive) cars on the market. Why not let free people freely decide what makes sense for them?

  22. I was checking the prices of used cars lately, and the prices seemed high compared with what I was expecting. I then remembered that the federal government intentionally destroyed thousands of perfectly fine used cars, in an attempt artificially to stimulate purchases of new cars. Who pays for the higher new car sales – all of the other consumers who now have to pay more in the secondary market.

    • You’re buying your cars in the wrong place. This last year I have purchased the following for my taxi company: 2001 Ford Expedition 4×4 XLT with off road tires and dual fuel (propane & gasoline) $2100. 1998 Ford Crown Victoria LX (156k miles) $1200. 2003 Ford Crown Victoria LX (128k miles) $1800. 1999 Lincoln Town Car Signature (167k miles) $1100. And a 1999 Lincoln Town Car Signature (real cream puff) $1300. I put new paint on all of them except the truck. I think I have right around 2 grand tied up in each one.
      Check Craigs list for people who want to sell fast, and check out the auctions. Auctions are awesome places for bargains. Stay away from used car “pot lots”. There are hundreds of real good values to be found out there. But you have to hunt.
      Eric, maybe I can write a post for your blog about shopping for used cars sometime. You can post it if your fingers get sore from typing.

      • I recognize that there are still good bargains out there. However, there are fewer good bargains after the government artificially limited supply during the “Cash for Clunkers” scheme, to boost then current sales of new cars. The current consumer is now disadvantaged from the lesser supply of good used cars that the government removed from the market a few years ago.

    • This is a reason to save your shekels. All dealerships exist more to sell financing (where the real money is made) than the cars themselves. And it gets worse at the low-end lots that mark outrageous prices on the cars, which are mostly the leavings of trades that the new car dealers wouldn’t put on their used lot, repos, and confiscations. An experienced dealer can tell a cream puff from a dog at first glance. But ALL prey on ignorance of the buyer, both in things mechanical and in finance. At any time, but especially in these hard times, he that has cash is King. It also well makes one able to buy off private parties, but the phrase ‘caveat emptor’ applies like in no other situation! You have to know not only values (and since Kelly Blue Book has a mobile app, what excuse does anyone have anymore?), but also how to evaluate the vehicle’s condition…or at least get with a trusted mechanic who’s willing (perhaps for a fee, of course) to evalute the prospect.
      A reputable dealer (often an oxymoron) is, of course, mandatory for new cars, and practically has a monopoly on the late model stuff. Otherwise, take your time and browse with wisdom.

  23. Don’t sweat the Peak Oil argument. What’s fact is that the cheap oil has been found, developed and used. Ain’t no mo’. And only some 25% of today’s oil is “light, sweet crude”.

    A dozen years back I rented a then-new Ford Escort. 1,400 miles at 70 mph with the A/C on; mostly on the flat part of I-10 from Houston to Tallahassee and return. 42 mpg. Seemed to me to be a great general-purpose around-town and light-duty travel car. So, why not now?

    • Thank you, this is correct. One reason why is that cars have to be much heavier to protect occupants, as has been pointed out by Eric many times. Cars will have to get much smaller, and certainly adopt hybrid technologies, esp. regenerative braking. That’s what makes the Prius so great, btw, that and other advanced technologies, like doing away with power accessory belts in favor of electric systems for AC, etc.
      But, I’d love to see cars like my original 79 Corolla, with 1.2L and 5 spd, that always delivered in the high thirties; diesels today in a smaller car like this could easily produce 45-50 MPG, but for pollution requirements.

  24. Our insane, and poorly educated politicians, have no comprehension of the laws of physics and thermodynamics. But neither does our ignorant populace. However, when the whole catastrophic government collapses, CAFE will go too.

  25. Eric, this is my first post although I have been a big fan for a while.

    Wanted to pick your brain about a couple of related things.

    First, I agree with your comments about motorcycles. But I was wondering if you have any thoughts about trikes. They seem to be growing quickly in popularity especially among older people.

    And second, there are dual purpose street legal motorcycles which are basically dirt bikes with headlights and turn signals. Why not add the same to ATVs and let them be ridden on the roads too? I of course know the answer: if it has four wheels then it must be regulated by the same standards as cars. (Why anyone thinks we live in a free country is beyond me.)


    • Hi Skunk,

      Thanks – and, welcome!

      On trikes:

      The models specifically designed to be three-wheelers (the Can Am Spyder, for example; see here http://www.can-am.brp.com/ ) are great. But owner-built trikes, or sidecar equipped, not so much. Why?

      A bike is a single track vehicle. It steers in part by leaning. But if you add a fixed axle and a pair of wheels to the mix, as is the case with most trikes, you have a conflict between the front (single) wheel, which wants to lean (along with the bike) and the rear pair of wheels, which do not want to lean. Which cannot lean or even articulate up and down independently, unless they’re independently sprung – which in most cases, they aren’t.

      The tendency is for one of the rear wheels to “jack up” during cornering, leading to a very unsafe situation. These bikes are inherently unstable – I’d stay clear of them.

      On ATVs: You’ve already given the answer! If it’s classified as a car, it must meet all applicable DOT, EPA standards. That would be impossible for any current ATV.

      • Thanks for the feedback, Eric.

        As for ATVs, may I propose an idea for discussion: what if a Governor and the legislature of a state, like say North Dakota, simply passed a law allowing ATVs on the highways and roads? (The vehicles would have to be equipped with turn signals and proper tires etc. – let the engineers work out the details. And let the insurance companies do their math on coverage for them.)

        It would be a states rights issue, one that would set up a conflict against the bureaucrats at DOT. But I think it could be won.

        The feds will threaten to with-hold highway funds but I think the population would support the state especially if the case can be made that it will help create jobs. Polaris makes ATVs in America and I think Can-Am does too. And how many start-ups will join the market?

        And FYI I have no connection to any ATV company or dealership. Truth is I have never even ridden one. But I would buy one in a heartbeat if they were made street legal. (I do ride motorcycles; just got a new Honda NC700X and love it – 60+ mpg.)

        Thoughts everyone?

        • I think allowing them on the roads in the same capacity as a 50cc scooter would be cool, but highways would be unpractical/safe. The Polaris Rangers, Rinos, and other side-by-sides would flip very easy at high speeds (just the first thing I thought of). I think buzzing around town and non-interstate highways would be awesome. Sometimes I ride my 1985 Honda 350x three wheeler to the store down the street.

          • Your trips to the store are exactly what I am talking about! Why should someone have to drive a car to get groceries at the local market when a trip on an ATV with a cargo box would do just as well?

            Good point about the side-by-sides but would regular sit-on-top ATVs be ok on the interstate?

            Which by-the-way, the feds do not have traffic cops (yet!) so how would they enforce any laws against ATVs on the road? The Gov could just order his state troopers to stand down on their enforcement. This would take some fortitude by the Governor (I know- I am not being realistic!) but if the state’s population would show overwhelming support for him/her it can be done.

            We can fight back if we only have the will…

          • I think a regular atv with street tires would be okay at high speeds (around 45 mph). Thing about the atvs in general is the very narrow and short wheel base in relation to grip. Anyone can bring just about any atv up onto a side wheelie with very little effort. These units are tipsy. They are engineered to be in the dirt and have some slide/give/skidding when they turn. Because of this I’d say just keep them in the same category as the 50cc scooter and limit the roads they can go on. One can literally drive one on the street at a relatively low speed, turn to sharp, and just flip it.

            Honda 350x


            • Ditto!

              PS: Here’s a sad – and moving – video about Concorde’s first flight back in early 1969.

              It gives you a sense of how far ahead we were back then – and how far behind/stagnant we are now, 40–plus years down the road.

          • Thanks for the info, dom.

            As I said, I have never ridden one but think it would be useful if people could drive them around even if it is only on 45mph or less roads.

            And I would think that ATV manufacturers would come up with a more street friendly version once they were made legal.

            Just out of curiosity, have you ever been ticketed on your three wheeler?

          • Where I live, on the weekends, pretty much all the traffic is on atvs! I live in the mountains and love it here. I’ve been pulled over a few times on it, but never ticketed. Everyone in my neighborhood does it. When I was in Japan there were atvs on the roads.

          • Eric, that Concorde video you posted really was sad. 1969…that was also the year that Armstrong stepped onto the moon. I turned 21 that year, how glorious I believed my future would be. And look at what we are dealing with now. I can hardly carry on any positive thoughts about how the remaining 30 or so years of my life will be. 1984? Brave New World? Fahrenheit 451? The Hunger Games? The Road? Or is there still some glowing ember just waiting for the slightest fresh breeze…many here on this site DO have that!

            • Hi Tom,

              Yeah – it got me, too. So sad to see what could have been – and contrast that with what is.

              An idiocracy – only worse than the movie. Violent, ugly. Depraved. Mean. Nihilistic.

              As opposed to this:


              Once upon a time, the country held its breath – was interested in things like this. Had deep respect for technology, engineering, science – achievement.


              Bugabuga buga… bix noood. Dancing with the Stars. Fuuuuuuhhhhhhhtball.

          • It is just friggin sad to think that the most valuable company on Earth makes little phone and computer pads…It just proves that Amerikans and most humans in the world are stupid little brats.

            Amerika went from walking dirt paths to putting a man on the moon inside of 70 years…Using friggin slide rules! Now look at the stupid place with its stupid bratty parasites everywhere…Just stupid tax cattle.

          • @DD
            “It is just friggin sad to think that the most valuable company on Earth makes little phone and computer pads…It just proves that Amerikans and most humans in the world are stupid little brats.”

            Its a free market and I see nothing wrong with the most valuable company making little phones and computer pads people really want or need. Could be worse and it could be the most valuable company could make bombs to kill all the stupid Amerikans? Here is a suggestion, maybe you could enlighten the free market with an invention that they need and make more money rather than despise the decision they make freely. I say this as a friendly gesture because you know its just a matter of degrees and you get the very same kind of people in government thinking they too are smarter than the people voluntarily exchanging and working for one another. I’m sure you’re intelligent but I seirously doubt you are smarter than the free market.

          • DD.. Better question is why wouldn’t I think it? I’m not trying to start something up here, and I want to suggest I too have gotten annoyed with people who have toys and seem to not get any real work done with them. As you know economic value is purely a subjective thing. Personally I make products I woudn’t dream of using myself or even want. But, I don’t find my customers the least bit stupid for wanting these things. The bigger danger with these cell phones is getting a brain tumor, thats just a theory like peak oil but I’d put good odds just like peak oil theory that something isn’t too good technology that has the frequency of a microwave oven and can heat the side of the head tissues. Personally I find the technology dangerous and not very useful, but some people swear by the technology and I guess its up to them, its their money and their life. I don’t find it at all a sign of stupidity that the largest company makes products that I personally wouldn’t want. Most real intellectuals don’t want the stuff that appeals to the majority.

          • DD..not to put words in your mouth as you didn’t say it was stupid but “sad”. Just curious what would you expect should be the largest company given the offering you see most valuable? I do hear you though that when I see how popular “Dancing with the Stars” or “America’s got talent” or some reality TV show I get the same sense that we are all screwed. So I’m not a hypocrite or anything but I still stand by the free market even when its a “sad” from my perspective.

          • Like most theories peak oil will becom a “Peak Oil Law” when the last drop of oil is sucked out of the ground. Until then I’m going to put it into my storage bin alongside of Malthus Theory and Population Bomb. After all its eerily familiar to me. Also, I have no interest in oil. The price of gas is already too high for me, I’m looking at alternatives for myself so it really makes no difference. There are much better alternatives to the internal combustion engine most people got their head wrapped around. Electric cars aren’t too bad but its hard to stay warm in an electric car midwinter in Montana so that isn’t what I call seductive. Nope there are better ways, but its for the fertile mind to find out. Also, no offense but I think nuclear sucks. Its not clean and its too big to fail government power. I’m just no fan of that club. All other things considered I don’t think I’m a yeast in a solution of sugar water. I’m connected to much more power than that, but I think its fun to discuss all these anyway.

          • @BrentP

            Yes there is no last drop and there is no way to know how much of it really is in reserve down there. But even if one is really worried about oil running out, I think in the bigger picture it means nothing. Even without natural oil formation, people will find a way to move. Natural Gas is quite capable of supplying a population with all the locomotion they need for quite some time. Id never vote for 1000 year half life nuclear waste because of some concern about peak oil. I’d say that peak oil is probably right, and I don’t think oil is abiotic myself though I think its interesting. Coal certainly doesn’t seem to be abiotic as fossilized crocodiles have been pulled out of the old peat swamps that became coal. Coal may be the source of oil in some unknown process it gets liquified. If thats the case then running out of natural oil in the ground or even worrying about peak oil would be nonesense. Further, the only thing I think could be good about pondering peak oil except as an intellectual curiosity would be if you were a speculator. Doug Casey believes in peak oil and thinks theres money to be made, I’d say thats one really good use for the theory if one believes in it. But I’m really not a speculator in raw materials like Doug, so I see no gain I get about worrying about some nonexistent worry. The economy won’t be destroyed by peak oil, only dumbshit politicians can do that. This is where I merge again with Doug on peak oil.

            • Morning HR!

              Your mentioning natural gas brings up a very relevant point: We have reserves (by most reckoning) to run all the vehicles in the US at current and predicted consumption, for at least 50 years. That’s just domestic supply. So, we’re not running out of energy – or even easy to get, affordable energy – even if we do run out of oil.

              Which brings us back to the underlying politics. I suspect the “peak oil” thing is another elite scare tactic to justify their power – and control. More taxes (and things like CAFE) to “nudge” people out of their cars and into public transport. Out of their single family homes – and into stack-a-prole apartments, as in Russia (and many European countries).

              Again: I don’t trust the claims and statements made by the elites. Why should anyone trust what these serial psychopaths tell us? Consider the track record.

        • I’m all for that – but would expect the federal government to strenuously defend what it regards as its prerogatives. It would – rightly – regard such an effort as an attempt to end-run the DOT and EPA. Not just for ATVs, either. And it would never allow that.

          But, you’re right. It’s up to us to insist otherwise, ultimately.

  26. The praise for foreign cars is somewhat misplaced. Today’s domestic cars are just as good as foreign cars. There are some wrinkles in the mix as build quality of American cars was not always up to today’s standards, BUT people conveniently forget that the first imports were notorious “rustbuckets”. Here in Michigan, it was not uncommon to see two-year-old Hondas and Toyotas with bubbling paint, rusted-out doors and rocker panels and in general, no better than American cars of the age in the body department. Ever wonder why there are so few 1970s vintage import cars around?? Iron oxide, my friends . . .

    • And the earliest Hyundais were severely underpowered, accelerating like crippled snails. (I know because I test drove one.)

      The difference is that the foreign car makers learned from their mistakes and made high quality their #1 priority. Now Hyundai is at or near the top in reliability. The Big 3, OTOH, continued to build crap. As a result, they lost an entire generation of consumers who will never even consider a domestic car, regarding that as the equivalent of going back to an abusive spouse.

      • I loved my early hyundai. I paid next to nothing for it and beat the crap out of it for years. The only thing I changed was the oil and brakes. I drove that thing every where and through everything. It didn’t really get good gas milage I guess like 30mpgs or so. But I often drove it 70 miles per hour or so. About the only thing it didn’t like was standing water, it would try and hydroplane. I don’t think I would have wanted an automatic. But with the stick I could make that little buggy go. That was back when still had a lead foot and trust me it was a rare day when anyone passed me.

        Given the choice I would buy that car for $5,000 over what is offered today.

  27. Eric,time for a third party?(the party of Paul?) we do need less government(can tell you first hand what the gov’t does to free thinkers)-Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,

      If only a third party had a chance!

      The Demopublican duopoly has a stranglehold on US politics because most Americans are authoritarian collectivists of one type or another. Republicans are fundamentally the same as Democrats. Both believe in “democracy” – that is, in forcing other people to do (or pay for) X or Y – so long as a majority (or its claimed representatives) have so voted or decreed.

      They only differ in what X or Y happens to be. Neither believes in the old common law precept of no victim, no crime. Much less individual rights as sacrosanct and inviolable. Whether it’s to “help” the poor – or “for the children,” the end result – a gun in your face – is the same. Neither the Democrat nor the Republican is interested in – or even tolerant of – the idea that people should be free to live their lives as they see fit, beholden to none, so long as they cause no harm and violate no one else’s right to live their lives as they see fit in the process.

      Until a significant portion of the population rejects the collectivism and coercion of the Demopublican Party, no liberty-minded third party stands a chance of being more than a sideshow.

      • Juris doctors and career office holders rule America. Until Americans have the knowledge and the will necessary to deal with that criminal unpleasantness, enforced respect for Unalienable Rights will continue to be nonexistent.


      • Why ANY party? In time the importance of the party will always eclipse the Principles underpinning the non-amendable Unanimous Declaration.

        When I see throngs attending the present party functions, I feel like puking. Are there really that many stupid assholes in America? Goddammit people, don’t you even have enough sense to simply stay home? I’ll bet poor senile Eastwood wishes that he had.


    • Hi Kevin, “the party of Paul” is the Libertarian party.

      Mr. Paul ran against both Bush(Sr.)-Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election as the Libertarian Party candidate.

      • “the party of Paul” is the Libertarian party.

        Nope. The “Libertarian” (capital “L”) party is today a wholly-owned subsidiary of the neocon Koch Brothers and their ideological allies. It is no longer the party of Misesian/Rothbardian principle that Dave Nolan founded over forty years ago, and hasn’t been for nearly a decade. Proof? The 2008 presidential election. The supposed “party of liberty” ran, as its candidate, ueber-drug warrior and long-time GOP insider Bob Barr. Why? Because he was a “recognizable name” that the apparatchiks controlling the LP considered to be most “electable.” Principle be damned – the LP Beltwaytarian “leadership” wanted a seat at the king’s table, and someone like Barr was the one most likely to deliver it to them. It was an insultingly laughable slap in the face to the long-time party faithful, who weren’t the least bit fooled by Barr’s front and who promptly called BULLSHIT on the party hierarchy. I had already torn up my LP membership card back in ’04 when some Demopublican/Republicrat-esque financial shenanigans started going on within the national party, but I would have torn it up anyway for sure after November of ’08.

        More to the point, real (i.e., “small ‘l’) libertarians don’t need a political party, because we’re not interested in participating in politics at all. We know it to be a rigged sucker’s game, scripted from beginning to end by authoritarian kleptoligarchs who aren’t about to allow things to change. Given this reality, the argument about a “third party,” as Eric says, is an exercise in pointless intellectual masturbation.

        Ron Paul DID run for president as a Libertarian (big “L”) in ’88, but soon thereafter realized that the party’s modus operandi made it certain that it would go nowhere, fast. He switched back to the Republican party ONLY because he knew that it would give him a platform from which to make a real differernce, not because of any ideological connection with it.

  28. Let the (mythical) free market decide. ‘Course, it doesn’t really exist. But that’s the ideal here. If you’ve researched the material on Chris Martenson’s excellent Crash Course I linked a couple of weeks back, you probably came to the same conclusion as many: Peak Oil is not debatable; it’s a fact, and the only question is “when.” Sure, we can create liquid fuels that move our machines around, using other energy inputs, but the days of relatively (and by that I mean as cheap as bottled water!) inexpensive gasoline are numbered.
    My Prius in the summer manages very close to 55 mpg overall. Clearly a 25K car, capable of transporting four adults in comfort and getting 50mpg is already available. As oil goes down Hubbert’s curve (and, in fact all resources begin to “peak,”) we SHOULD see the effects of marketplace work to bring more and improved, less costly hybrid technologies to the front. We don’t need the nanny state to mandate anything; just get out of the way.
    Those who can afford to and choose to pay the free market gasoline prices that are coming are free to do so. I remember the gas hikes of the seventies – you would see these beautiful old muscle cars sitting out with obscenely low for sale prices clipped under their windshield. I personally, and to my everlasting chagrin, drove past a Buick GS 455 convertible one fine day in 1979, in very good condition, that had a 400 dollar sign on the windshield. But Uncle wants to DICTATE what we can drive, and penalize (tax) all of us if our choices don’t go along with what he says we MUST do.
    There is no better arbiter than the free market. Pity we can’t have one.

      • I’m inclined to agree – based on what I’ve read about hydrocarbons being abiotic in origin especially. We know this to be fact, actually – unless there were dinosaurs (or mass algae blooms) on Saturn’s moon Titan, where there is pretty strong evidence of lakes of hydrocarbons.

        See here for some interesting reading:


      • You are correct. Look up “abiotic oil”. You will find that the Russians are drilling wells far deeper than most well-drilling today and are coming up with oil deposits much deeper than can be accounted for by “fossils”. You see, the concept of “fossil fuel” was promoted starting in the 1950s to this day; oil is produced within the earth by yet unknown processes. Many of our old depleted oil wells are filling back up. The concepts of “fossil fuel” and “peak oil” are false concepts that need to be consigned to the “dustbin of history”.

        • Guys, abiotic is a chimera. Read a little deeper, or, better yet, actually view the Crash Course. Fact is, it doesn’t really matter where the oil comes from, the point is it will peak, just as oil production peaked (as correctly predicted by Hubbert) in this country in the seventies, causing the first great oil shock.

          Ghawar is, arguably, already past peak (as is Cantarel and the North Sea), but the Saudis keep info like that as a national secret. Shale oil is never going to bring prices down to a dollar a gallon. We will gradually have to realize that oil is going to be more and more expensive going forward, all the “drill baby drill” neocon blather to the contrary.

          • Well, that’s an assertion. But is it backed up with facts?

            How do you account for the vast oceans of hydrocarbons found on lifeless (apparently) worlds such as Titan? Where did this stuff come from?

            The first great oil shock you mention was not the result of dwindling supplies. It was the result of an embargo by the OPEC cartel. Oil prices then collapsed subsequently – such that gas prices fell back to about $1 per gallon in the ’80s, which – adjusted for inflation – was less than people were paying in the ’60s. How do you account for this? If Hubbert was right, then prices should have consistently gone up, not down.

            Here’s something else: If you adjust for inflation and remove taxes from the bottom line, gasoline is still extremely cheap. It’s about the same price – in terms of hard money real value – as it was 30 or 40 years ago. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself:


            A gallon that cost $1 in 1970 cost the equivalent of almost $6 in today’s inflated funny money.

            What’s happened is that taxes have gone up – and our money has become entirely phoney, subject to constant devaluation by the Fed.

            Peak oil – like AGW – is a bogey; a scam to justify ever more control by the powers that be over our lives. An ever-declining standard of living – for us.

            Not for them.

          • Yes, it’s an assertion – one based in fact. Do the research – even if oil is abiotic in origin, it’s still peaking.
            The fact that SOME people use Peak Oil to try to increase .gov is an assertion as well, one I would disagree with. In fact, .gov is actively trying to avoid any discussion of peak oil. Also “peak everything”, which the Crash Course so eloquently explains. Limits to growth, simply put.
            Something about a horse and a water supply here, I think…

            • DR,

              Were any of the points I raised in error?

              Is it true – or not true – that enormous quantities of hydrocarbons have been found on Titan? (Lending credence to the abiosis origin of hydrocarbons and – implicitly – that they are renewable.)

              Is it true – or not true – that the oil shocks of the ’70s were the result of OPEC’s embargo? That is, because of artificially created scarcity?

              Is it true – or not true – that adjusted for inflation and removing taxes from the equation, gas today is actually cheaper in real terms than it was in 1970?

              Just asking….

          • When you compare the price of oil to the price of gold, you will find that oil has remained a relatively stable price since the 70s. what has changed is the value of the dollar. It has shrunk due to the Federal Reserve increasing the money supply (inflation). Oil prices are not going up in real terms, and oil is just as cheap, in real terms, as it was 40 years ago. The oil shock of the 70s was much more related to the bastard Nixon taking us off the gold standard than it did to anything else. This article explains it well. http://strike-the-root.com/state-of-freedom

          • I’ve been hearing this chicken-little-ish shrieking about “The World is running out of Petroleum”. Magically, more keeps getting found. The spike in gasoline prices reflects more the debasement of its currency. In fact, for all practical purposes, oil IS the World’s currency. I’ve seen the latest decline, and it’s frightening: In the early 90s, after Gulf War One and the “Fall” of the Soviet Union, Gas was slightly above $1/gal. This persisted until ’96, when suddenly it shot up to about $1.50/gal, and we were in shock THEN. It stablised for about four years, then in 2000 (concidentally, another Presidential election year) to $2/gal, and we THEN thought “it’s all over”. Then there was a scare after 9/11/2001, but almost immediately afterwards there was a glut which dropped prices all the way down to, in some places, below $1/gal (I remember gassing up in Fresno for $.88/gal around Christmas 2001). Then it shot back up over the next year to over $2/gal, and stayed there even in the conquest of Iraq. It wasn’t until 2007, in the wake of the beginning of the real estate crash, that we saw it spike up again, and by the 2008 elections it was at $4/gal. Another coincidence? BTW, I also noticed a peculiar pattern in EVERY election year (2004,2006,2008, and 2010). Gas prices declined sharply in October (which to some extent you’d expect once summer driving is done), but the day after the November election they’d spike right up again, by about ten to fifteen cents a gallon! We’ve seen gas fluctuate between $3-$4/gal under “O-Bummer”. Meanwhile, the prices of most consumer products heavily dependent on energy prices, especially food products, has been markedly increasing. The “Gubmint” still trots out the lie that inflation is under control, but to “Joe Bag-O-Donuts”, it’s real at the pump and at the checkout stand.
            What we’re running out of is men with cajones to stand up for what’s right.

          • The problem is indeed that the money is not a constant.

            Currently gasoline with taxes in my area is about $0.18/gal in 90% silver US coin.

          • Eric,

            We all know from our public school text that Titan is where all the dinosaurs in the universe went to die (kinda like humans and Florida). Some got lost on the way and crash landed in Saudi Arabia. Come on guys! Didn’t you study? Or were you all goofing off working on your hot rods?

      • Paul, the important part of the argument against bio-engineered solutions to the energy problem is mention in the citation you give; even bacteria need feedstock to produce fuel, and if every ounce of corn, soy, etc. produced in the USA were diverted to feed those bacteria, the resulting fuel would only replace 10% of current demand.

        Downrange’s comment about the irrelevance of biotic or abiotic oil in the Peak Oil analysis is a good one; it doesn’t matter where it comes from, if you’re consuming it faster than it’s being produced you have a problem. It’s basic supply/demand economics. If oil is abiotic in origin, it *still* has a natural rate of production. If the rate of consumption exceeds the rate of production, you run out. It’s not hard.

        • “Paul, the important part of the argument against bio-engineered solutions to the energy problem is mention in the citation you give; even bacteria need feedstock to produce fuel, and if every ounce of corn, soy, etc. produced in the USA were diverted to feed those bacteria, the resulting fuel would only replace 10% of current demand.”

          This of course assumes that the source of biostock is food, the solution using bioengineering that would change all this would be if inedible cellulose could be converted to glucose and then fermented. Basically the difference of ruminants that can eat grass (cellulose) and then convert that using symbiotic bacteria to glucose, except in an industrial process. But yes the current idea of using yeast and starches and sugar would be coutnerproductive.

          “Downrange’s comment about the irrelevance of biotic or abiotic oil in the Peak Oil analysis is a good one; it doesn’t matter where it comes from, if you’re consuming it faster than it’s being produced you have a problem.”

          So i disagree if abiotic matters. Because if its abiotic and the well self replenishes than that would yield totally different results than the case where the can is finite and once consumed takes another 1000 years to replenish. The question isn’t just about abiotic its how long does the abiotic process take to replenish and whether old wells can become fully replenished.

          • I think the argument that abiotic or biological oil not mattering is based on a thin premise. That either abiotic or biological oil would be slow, therefore not changing the equation. But this is exactly the premise to be questioned, because many well that were so called empty and capped refilled over time. Sure it could be just neiboring resevoirs seeping back into the fold. But it could be that abiotic generation is local and a quick process. Kind of like Le-Chatliers process where once the equilibrium is broken by removing the excess oil the process actually speeds up to re-establish another new equiliberium of pressure/fluid. I’ll say its all speculative, but to say abiotic does not matter is assuming that abiotic would be just as slow to make no difference. This may or may not be valid in itself, and many wells seem to invalidate this.

        • Of course if they can convert cellulose (basically fiber or inedible carbohydrate) into edible carbohyrdate then we might find that the price of food would go down for a whole new reason. Candy could be made from grass and tree pulp, not that I would want any. I think this is where they are going with genetical bioengineering they want to create a special kind of bacteria that does what bacteria in cows and horses stomachs due. Its really not that far fetched, I know alot of people don’t like HFCS as a sweetner but it was pretty smart engineering using enzymes and bioengineering that made that possible. Ethanol fuel from straw would not cause as much a problem as the current ethanol production scheme.

      • The only way there will be “Peak Oil” is if the sun burns out…We can achieve this by setting up another armed gubbermint terror group and task it with keeping the sun burning….Wow…How can’t people understand this? I just laugh at the programmed robots that use the term “Fossil Fuel”. This isn’t the Dark Ages anymore…There are physics and chemistry text everywhere but Thermodynamics requires a bit of brain power. There are quadrillions of barrels of the “liquid Sunshine” under the oceans and massive amounts of HCs are produced everydamnday naturally in the earth crust. Where do you think all that sun energy goes?

    • If we are going to discuss the fact of peak oil, peak oil refers to a specific type of oil and a specific type of technology to recover it. That’s it. It was meant for light sweet crude recoverable easily with 1950s-60s technology. Now could it be reapplied to other oil types and extraction technologies? Sure. But the time lines get recalculated with it because today different oil is extracted with different technologies. Oil that is largely untapped.

      There is more known oil today in terms of years at present consumption and in straight up volume than there has ever been since it was first proclaimed to be running out soon in the 19th century. Perhaps it will eventually run out but what we are seeing again is a simple minded look at the world. The oil that could be recovered with the technology and methods of 1890 has probably run out. But it’s the 21st century now. Will there ever be a time where the technology and methods can’t stay ahead of the game? Perhaps. But that’s not now or in the near future.

      However, I doubt technology will fail to keep up. Because the biological manufacture of light sweet crude is advancing. By the time oil from the ground is getting more difficult faster than the technology to recover it increases the manufactured oil will be well advanced and start wide scale mass production.

      Because manufactured oil is such a consistent and higher quality product there is a good chance it could drive drilling for oil into a niche market at some point without drilling for oil ever becoming too difficult for the prevailing technology.

  29. Obama wants to make America like Indonesia where he grew up – where the majority of people ride motorbikes. It is the destruction of America he is after.

  30. All of you miss the point! Agenda 21 is being forced on us by the President and the UN!

    Population controll and depopulation. Farmers are being forced out of farming due to vehickles desighned to force us off our ranches and farms in rural areas and this will lead to famine! removing steering wheels, automation takes use of controll of driver farmer from driving down rural and forest service roads OFF ROAD USE! NO LONGER POSSIBLE, manual transmissions needed, ELCTRIC WINDOWS CREATE HAZARDS ON RANCHES, WE NEED AN OLD FASHIONED FUEL EFFICIENT TRUCKS WITH NO PHONES AND ELECTRONIC DEVICES!

  31. Has everyone else seen the Honda commercial where a new college grad high-fives his buddy, so excited that he has bought a new Civic?

    I thought Civic was a HS grad’s car? I bought my first one, brand new, in 1989 for about $9,000. 5 years at $200/mo would have made it all mine, if it had not been stolen and wrecked with only 5 payments left. I bought my next one, used, for about $3,000 cash.

    Why would any college grad buy a NEW Civic? If that’s the only NEW car you can afford, you can’t afford a new car, and college economics should have taught you that. So not only has the guy in the ad wasted his money on a new car, he’s apparently wasted several years’ worth of tuition payments, as well.

      • The banks take more and more of what we earn. Right off the top.

        People talk about being able to make a good living at a simple job. Recently elsewhere Henry Ford paying $5 a day came up. I converted that to a $5 gold piece. Took that at today’s melt value and calculated an annual salary. $105,000.

        The reason I believe people lived poorly back then was because productivity was low and everything was incredibly expensive because of the human labor involved in creating it.

        As a product development engineer I know what stuff costs to make part by part. What has occurred is that on a historical basis most everything that doesn’t have massive government interference is remarkably cheap now. Productivity now is astounding compared to the early 20th century. But the bankers have stolen and continue to steal most if not all (and then some) the productivity increase through fiat money.

        If we were still paid in gold our standard of living would be nothing short of incredible. Our wages have gone down as our productivity increased. What was once very expensive is now very cheap so it looks like our standard of living increased over time.

        In capital goods our real lost earning power often becomes apparent. The capital goods usually increase in what they offer in some way offsetting the cost reduction in whole or in part. Cars do this both from government regulation and market forces. Thus a car purchase shows our reduced buying power.

        That’s my current theory. Essentially holding a unit of work constant and then looking at what it produces and the money value paid for it as variables.

        Rough and I’ve kinda babbled here but I think most will get what I am trying to convey.

        • Brent you’re absolutely on target; look up some other median salaries in the 1910’s, convert to gold at $20.67/oz (the absolute price then during direct dollar-to-gold convertibility)…and calculate the value in today’s gold prices.

          Hell, cut them in half if you think gold’s in a “bubble”; when in fact, gold is probably well below its actual fiat-dollar value given the enormous manipulation in the ETF paper-fraud casino market.

          What you’ve noticed is the very master plan of the banksters–to steal by stealth and very slowly the very substance of our labor, and do so at about the rate of increase in productivity so the marks–that’s us–don’t notice.

          Bernanke and others have come right out and said the Fed’s goal for inflation is roughly 2%…which corresponds to the historic average annual increase in human productivity.

          In other words, only miraculous jumps in productivity have put us ahead of where we were 100 years ago.

          Had it not been for their stealthy theft, we’d be light years ahead. I have no doubt we’d have colonized off-planet by now and work for most people would be a pleasant hobby a few days a week.

          In effect you’ve summarized what Austrian economics describes another way through praxeology.

          For in the end, all wealth is generated by human labor leveraging capital. So mining an ounce of gold takes great human labor, regardless of the age. Likewise, creating all the materials for a fine suit of clothes and assembling them into that suit takes great human labor. Both acts are now leverage by machines, aka capital.

          And yet, the price of a fine suit of clothes has remained roughly the same–one ounce of gold–for at least two thousand years!

          It’s a profound fact and perhaps the best (if somewhat esoteric) argument for gold as money. And it displays magnificently the point you make–it’s the (human) unit of work that’s constant.

  32. Many commuters are going to do what I do. Drive a reasonably dependable old car, but use a motor scooter for most commuting. I ride a Vespa 250 cc, top speed close to 80, gets 60 miles per gallon around town. With what is coming in the automobile world, you’re going to see many, many more scooters and motorcycles on the road. Most of them will not be produced by American workers.

    Another unintended consequence . . .

    • Yup. I already have a small fleet (five bikes).

      My worry is they’re going to outlaw them. For “safety” or “emissions” reasons. Especially the older ones.

      • That’s a good point. But it’s more likely they’ll encumber them with regulations. However, it will time for them to get around to that. One can hope it is a very long time.

        In any event, the basic design of a motorcycle is always going to be superior to that of a car when viewed through the lens of the environment. Hopefully that fact will not be lost on the politicians.

        • “Safety” is the big one.

          If motorcycles were a new invention they’d never be allowed. The only reason they are allowed is because they’ve been around almost as long as cars – and because (historically, in the U.S.) bikes have been a small segment of the vehicle fleet. What happens when bikes become say 30 percent of the vehicle fleet?

          I full expect the government to mandate air bags (already an option on the Honda Goldwing) as well as other cost-adding “safety” features that may make motorcycles cost-prohibitive or at least, erode the current advantage they have over cars as an affordable way to get around. I suspect not nearly as many people who might be tempted to buy a new bike will do so when the cost is comparable to the cost of a basic economy car…

  33. No president, including Obama, has the legitmate autority to determine anything about the vehicles I drive. Neither does EPA, NHTSA, DOT or any other federal agency.

    Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    • True – but he exercises his illegitimate authority nonetheless. As does the rest of the government, both federal and state and local. Much of it is cheered by Republicans – or Democrats – or some combination of them.

      Few Americans give a damn about the Constitution – much less liberty.

      • Well I’m not American, so perhaps that’s why I’m confused but I’m always puzzled by this attachment to the constitution. It hasn’t protected you so far and is used as toilet paper on a daily basis, so why do Americans still talk as though it means something?

        It’s like we’re talking of driving somewhere in a car which we already know has shot transmission, 4 flat tires and a missing distributor, yet we’re discussing if we should or shouldn’t break the speed limit? The thing doesn’t work in the first place, so why even discuss it?

        • Hi Alan,

          Your point is well-taken.

          The Constitution has been a nullity since at least 1913 – when the income tax was put into effect – and arguably, since the victory of the federal government in the War of Federal Aggression, 1861-1865.

          • There are still some of us who take the Constitution seriously. In today’s day and age, we TAKE freedom without asking for permission, flying “under the radar” makes it possible. Freedom cannot be imposed from without. . .it must be fought for by stealth and possibly in blood.
            Best regards,

      • Agreed – as Bush II remarked, “It’s just a damned piece of paper”. So, we are living in a time of lawlessness –by government. Where our rulers are governing from the barrel of a gun – see NDAA. What, then, are we slaves to do? Trying to obey, and work around the latest order from our masters, will only encourage them.

    • Automobiles used to be under private standards as many products still are. The problem is that private standards are largely created and controlled by geeks.

      The people at large believe in myths largely created by government and statists to think the government has to have these regulations. They’ve been lied to but they are too lazy to look into it and find out the reality. When confronted with it they don’t want to be embarrassed so they double down on the myths.

      People are manipulated so well it’s nearly impossible to get through.

  34. oh hey, Eric – longtime reader, first time posting.
    I’m surprised no one has brought up the Aerocivic, a 92 Honda mod, only $400 in material, gets 85mpg at 70mph on a level hwy.
    Aerocivic dot com to check it out. I want one, lol.
    Thing is, the body shape is very much like my old ’65 Citroen ID 19, that got 40mpg at 70mph going from LA to Vegas with 4 people in it back in the ’80’s. It’s doable, I think, with just some smarter body work.

    Thanks for the great site!

  35. I mentioned this on another site the other day and was told if Europe can do it than so can we. They forgot this part.


    If you crave high gas mileage but aren’t a stickler about low emissions, then a European diesel-powered car will beat out a hybrid any day. The only problem: They are illegal in the US.

    That’s mostly because Europe’s high-mpg diesels lack the sophisticated and pricey after-treatment systems required to meet the latest US emissions standards. And carmakers have been unwilling to make them legal by passing emission and safety regulations, and marketing cars that are small but relatively expensive.

    • I drive a yaris as my commuter car and I get 43mpg on the norm. There is no doubt in my mind if I had a similar, or maybe even smaller, displacement diesel it would double. Diesel kicks ass!

    • Interesting little note about the 2005 EPA mandate that killed US diesel autos. I was doing test bench development work at the time, and just prior to that mandate, Toyota and Ford were road-testing their micro-injected diesels for 2007 production. (micro injection pulses a series of tiny fuel pulses to get a smooth flame front rather than the typical diesel detonation)

      It would appear that someone at GM or Chrysler wanted time to catch-up, and thus purchased some convenient EPA diesel soot mandates.

      The micro-injected diesels accelerates like a gasoline engine with diesel economy. Also doesn’t have the diesel “rattle” so standing beside one you cannot tell it’s a diesel. Can’t have an advance like that in the hands of the competition, now can we??

      Once again, political entrepreneurship trumped the real thing.

      • How can you tell the diesel rattle from the fuel injector cycle noise? LOL!

        No doubt Detroit buys DC Mafia protection…Look at Akerson’s and Marchionne’s resume…And Mulally/Ford/Boeing is also a CFR stooge.

    • When “Euro 6” emissions kicks in next year, diesels in Europe will start to becomes as scarce as they are in the USSA.

      Your Owners don’t want you in personal transportation devices because they can’t track/control you…The automobile makes their slaves have thoughts of individual freedom. Diesel powered cars are easy for the terrorists to ban because all they have to do is tell their slaves that diesel is too dirty and unhealthy so they can easily regulate them out of existence.

  36. As usual you express the exact same points I talk about with my friends anytime cars and/or Obamney come up. lol

    I will be sharing on Facebook with my friends there, and mentioning this on my blog. Thanks for saying it like it is, Eric!

  37. History repeats itself. Hitler wanted “the people’s car”. A small four cylinder car tapered on both ends: The Volkswagon.

    We now have the National Socialist Obama and cars are being mandated that are tapered on both ends with small four cylinder engines.

  38. One thing I have not researched about this CAFE law is the possibility that more cars will be subject to the gas guzzler tax and fuel mileage penalties. That means that a gas guzzler penalty will apply to more vehicles than before and car makers may opt to pay the penalty in order to produce what consumers want. It will cost us no matter how, but maybe carmakers will realize that not everyone wants an electric Smart car.

    • CAFE fines/taxes are calculated, at least in part, on volume. The more of Model X produced, the higher the costs. So, the negative incentive really hits popular, mass market (read: affordable) units. The low volume, expensive stuff not so much. This is why the medium-large/RWD sedan with V-8 power virtually disappeared as a mass-market car. Such cars continued to be built; but in smaller numbers and priced “for the rich.” Or at least, the comfortably affluent.

      The new upticks will – already are – widening the scope of the effect. Very soon, even mid-sized cars with middling sized V-6s (think: Camry, Chrysler 300, etc.) will become as E and S Class Benzes are now. Trucks as we know them will all but disappear.

        • I’m not sure what you mean by “layman’s car,” Clover. If you mean, accessible/affordable for the average (not rich) guy, then yes, such cars existed for years in this country.

        • Gil,

          Through the 60s and 70s the 6 cylinder car was the bargain base model.

          Maverick like the Falcon before it was marketed as an economy car. Both came with straight 6 engines. Other companies did similarly with their models.

          However both were also available with V8 engines in sport verisons. Yes, a V8 in what was otherwise an economy car. Again, same in other makes.

          Then there were the pony cars etc….

          I think the only thing more offensive about control freaks besides being controlling is their astounding ignorance in the areas they want to control.

        • Pony cars with small block V8s back in the 60s WERE targeted to young people (or the middle-aged guy, ala “Mike Brady”, who had the wifey and kids in a Station Wagon but wanted something both sporty yet affordable). They were fast, they handled well, and they weren’t terribly expensive.
          WHAT WENT WRONG?
          When the free market was able to work its wonders, it worked wonders.

    • Do it!

      You won’t regret it. Bikes are a lot of fun – and (if you pick the right bike) very cost-effective fun, too. They’re kind of like ice cream that doesn’t make you fat!

      • Just completed the Basic Rider Course today.

        The course was fun and informative. Fortunately the heavy rain held off till after 12:30. 🙂 It will take a little time to save cash for gear and a ride, but I completed the first step.

        We used Suzuki GN125 motorcycles. As my first motorcycle (not as a passenger), I thought it was very forgiving of my errors.

        I still will need to practice the skills I learned, but this course was a good start.

          • Probably a standard. Definitely something relatively low in HP/Torque until I improve my skills. Probably a 250cc engine.

            I do not really see my self on a sport bike although I do like the looks of the Honda CBR250R.

            Cruisers look nice but I am not sure how easy it will be to maneuver if I am sitting further back. The Yamaha V-star was comfortable for me. (at least it was sitting in the dealership.)

            I will need to go to dealerships and start sitting on several motorcycles to get a feel for different bike styles.

            If I look for a used bike, I will need to find a good bike “wrench” to spot any potential mechanical issues.

            • Mith,

              Take a look at the Suzuki SV650 (new/recent vintage) or (slightly older) the Honda Nighthawk 750. These are both “standard” bikes that are very docile, but not so small you’ll outgrow them in six months – which you probably would a 250. You didn’t mention your height/weight, but for most adult men, a 250 is just too small. They’re fine to learn on, or for toodling around the neighborhood – but there’s often not enough engine for sustained highway use and beyond that, the bikes themselves are physically too small to be comfortable – unless you are also small!

          • Eric,

            I’ll be sure to give those models a look.

            I;m about 5’11” and 250lbs.

            The GN125 did not seem uncomfortable to me. However, I was only going around the parking lot and not riding more than a few minutes at a time. 🙂

            • Yup – you’re way too big for a 250!

              I’m 6ft 3 and about 210 – us bigger guys need bigger bikes! (Dom’s bigger than me – and his bike is huge!)

              The Nighthawk series has been around for decades. In addition to being easy bikes to ride, they’re also very versatile. Long-time riders often ride them – they’re not just for beginners. The engine is simple, rugged and very durable: Air-cooled in-line four with hydraulic lifters (no need to adjust the valves, a common maintenance chore with most bikes). Some (CB550 – I once owned one of those) have shaft drive, too – which is nice because they’re basically maintenance-free. These are 100,000 miles bikes that can be picked up used in very nice shape for less than $4,000.

              The SV is a more modern take on the same concept.

              You might also check out Yamaha’s “star” lineup of middleweight cruiser bikes (650 cc).

    • Mithrandir, IMO there is nothing in this world like motorcycle riding, not even flying. It will make you a better driver all around too. You must be aware, alert and in control at all times or ye shall surely die. But here’s the real icing on the cake. A couple of days ago one of my coworkers was lamenting that filling his truck up cost $81.00. I just handed him the pump receipt for filling my bike up that morning…$8.14. I’ve been hearing noises out of him about getting a bike now. I’m seeing a lot more bikes on the road these days and scooters too. We’re becoming more like Europe.

      • And: Bikes easily surpass the economy of any economy car, while still being capable pf delivering performance as good or better than the most powerful high-performance exotic cars. Even “slow” bikes will typically be capable of running a 14 second quarter mile.

        Most sport bikes can run 10s.

          • Absolutely.

            The only way to ride – and survive – is to ride paranoid. Assume every car is driven by an addled idiot. Assume that car up ahead is going to turn left in front of you. Assume that SUV is going to blow through that red light. Never assume you’re seen. Never assume they are going to signal – or not turn into your lane.

            That’s the only way I know of to stay shiny side up – and not six feet under.

  39. As I understand it CAFE, emissions, and sticker fuel economy are measured in different ways and thus cannot be compared. The sticker cycle results in a lower number than the CAFE cycle for most if not all vehicles.

    Back when this higher CAFE thing started I predicted one of two things would happen.

    A) More automakers would follow BMW’s lead and just pass the penalties on to the customers. This would make CAFE simply another tax. When the cost of CAFE as a tax is less than the cost to make the vehicle comply this will become very likely.

    B) Pretend the automakers are complying. During the NMSL era the government cooked the books with ever more creative ways to show that people were obeying the 55mph speed limit. Then when it got too tough they went to 55/65mph NMSL speed limit. Then when it got completely absurd they gave up and repealed the whole thing. CAFE has a good chance of going the same route. The cycle to measure fuel economy for CAFE is already all its own and has greatly diverged from the real world. So the ground work is done to further make the entire process one of illusion. The political figures can blather on about how they are saving the environment with the new CAFE and the reality will be something different entirely.

    Of course there is always C) wreck the entire industry. I still feel many in government want to turn cars back into the toys of the rich, however I don’t think it will happen with CAFE being the primary mechanism. Most likely “safety” and emissions will drive the car back into the hands of only the rich. CAFE is tracking along the lines of stealth taxation and just plain political bullshit.

    BTW, one of chrysler’s big problems in the early 1980s was executives paid bonuses on output rather than sales. So while sales lagged they kept building inventory. Self interest of the executives, like in any political system be it government or a large corporation.

  40. I recently saw “The Ides of March” about a campaign for the democrat’s presidential nomination. The character played by George Clooney (who else?) gave speeches outlining his intention to make hydrogen powered cars mandatory. He claimed that terrorism was rooted in the fact that “we need their product” and that, if the US didn’t need oil to run cars, everything else that the idiot Greenies wanted to impose upon the rest of us would be perfectly possible and acceptable.

    It struck me that the end result of this kind of mandate would be to eliminate the private ownership of automobiles by ordinary Americans. Maybe that’s the goal of these control freaks.

    • Ed,

      I think that’s exactly it – the ultimate goal is to make individual/owner-controlled transportation so expensive (and such a hassle) that it will be effectively eliminated.

      The ability to go where you want, whenever you want – easily and cheaply – is at odds with the elites’ goal of controlling us from cradle to grave.

      • I don’t know about that Eric. Wouldn’t too much revenue be lost? I mean private ownership of cars has to be the one of the largest, if not the largest, revenue generator in America.

        • Things like this, higher CAFE, etc do not come from the political office holders. They come from the people who own most of the political office holders, the wealthy that control the various foundations and policy orgs.

          The political office holders care about revenue but they have to please their owners and are usually too dim witted to see how what the foundations and policy groups are telling them negatively impacts the revenue. They actually defer to what these groups put out because intellectually, that is knowledge of diverse subjects on a technical level and the application there of, most of them are imbeciles like the ‘man on the street’ or worse.

          The wealthy who control the groups that turn out these papers and recommendations don’t need more revenue. Their goal now is to wreck everyone else. They already have everything anyone could ever want, now it’s about everyone else having nothing. To these sociopaths personal success isn’t enough, everyone else must fail. Everyone else must be impoverished.

          They don’t want competition. They think it’s a fixed pie and if someone else is successful that makes them less so. It’s not enough for them to be wealthy, everyone else must be in poverty.

          • Dom, just my not-so-great attempt at applying power elite analysis to the very good question you posed.

            You made the observation that this is against the obvious best interests of the political office holders. So I had to think about it. Power elite analysis is what came to mind.

            Then it made perfect sense. They think they are working in their best interests. The political office holder is unaware of revenue impact They just don’t have the knowledge and the ability to apply it. If the think tank says it is good, it’s good. The end. They got places to go, people to see.

            There’s all sorts of stuff out there on power elite analysis. From Rothbard to the “Rockefeller Files” to an article on LRC just the other day.

          • I spent the better part of the day drinking, dipping, doing yard work, shooting my pellet rifle with the wife and kid, installing a fucking awesome surveillance system (which by the way I have wired up the the internet now, 8 cameras and 60 day dvr), and all the while pondering your reply Brent. At first I couldn’t grasp your stance, or Eric’s (maybe I still don’t). But just now after thinking about it all day I have something. It’s actually really simple. The automobile is no longer going to be the cash cow for the economy. These fuckers are going to get our money a different way! The car is now the dog!

          • To these sociopaths personal success isn’t enough, everyone else must fail.

            Or, as Gore Vidal put it, “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies”, “Envy is the central fact of American life”, and – most appositely of all – “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

      • Makes you wonder if the auto bailouts were the perfect opportunity to take nominal control of the Big Three so they could be more easily dismantled.

      • No, Eric, there is no “ultimate goal”. Over my years of driving taxi, I have had literally thousands of conversations with thousands of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds. And here is the thing: Environmentalists and safety freaks, “Clovers” as you call them, are not motivated by goals. They have no goals. Goals are a reason for pursuing certain actions to a conclusion. Rather, these people are motivated by fear. And the fears that they are motivated by are always vague, with deep, shadowy, consequences. People whose lives are motivated by fear rather than goals are willing to do anything, to give up everything, if only their fear will not come to pass.
        And I am beginning to think that the monsters in charge of our government are not motivated by goals either. Rather, they are the most fearful of the bunch, and honestly believe that running (and ruining) other people’s lives is totally legitimate because they are saving us all from that which we FEAR. (terrorism, global warming, drugs, whatever)
        That their fears are ridiculous, or that the consequences of their fear being realized are minor, is of no consequence to them. Fear is an emotion, and you can’t talk someone out of it with logic. (Try using logic with a woman who is upset.) Which is why logic and science and engineering hold NO sway with these people. And because fear has so permeated society, you will not see logic or facts win the day with the electorate either.
        Clovers are dominated by fear. They no more have goals than a guinea pig or a rabbit or any other terrified rodent. And because of it, the society they end up with will resemble a rabbit warren more than a civilization.

          • I too agree with the cab driver. There are 3 kinds of people in this world from my prospective. The Brave, the i don’t cares aka goalongs, and the liberals that don’t have any guts so everything is okay with them. They live in fear of offending, hurting, intruding, being disagreed with and all their othr petty fears which has caused their backbone to disolve. “don’t keep score, we wouldn’t want to OFFEND some one” ya because they have fear of contfratation. “oh please don’t yell it hurts my feelings”
            When the gov says gas is going up or food or anything else they just say, “oh okay it must be for a good reason”. They will be the first to get on the train or bus where the keys will be collected. Remember Bill Clinton taxed everything in his state. VCR’s were even taxed. Don’t you think the government can figure out something to tax? There is always toilet paper tax because they’ll tax the shit out of you.

        • Everything you wrote is correct Paul.

          However, one thing is not accounted for. You, me, Eric, others here can understand how fear works in the population. Now lets say we wanted to take advantage of that and had the wealth to do so?

          Or better yet, let’s say we had a fear of anything we couldn’t control and had the wealth to implement the manipulations of other people’s fears to control them?

        • Yup…Fear and Laziness…They tend to go together.

          Clover studies “Humanities” stupidities at their indoctrination camps instead of math and science because they are weak, fearful and lazy. They will spout off about the evils of car exhaust and over population and yet the stupid brats have never in their lives opened a physics or chemistry book and can barely do simple math…Physical Reality is tooo Haaard for their weak little brains to comprehend!

        • I’m a little late to this post but I can’t help but comment on Paul’s insight. After nearly 7 decades I’ve concluded that Americans can be characterized by six attributes. Without getting into the details in this forum, Americans are 1) thieves, 2) killers, 3) pagans, 4) idolators, 5) totalitarians and 6) cowards. Paul’s insight into and descriptions of their cowardice is priceless. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Until this cowardice is dealt with we’ll have to continue to be porn stars or sexually molested, or both, in order to travel by air (and maybe even by bus or train or just go to the mall).

          • I agree, Lee –

            For me, one of the most startling things about American society, generally, is the blase attitude toward petty meanness – which encompasses things like the TSA’s Submission Training, random stops, the expected slavish deference toward any authority – and the corollary of this – that anyone who objects to such things (let alone resists) is to be mocked, abused – and worse – and will have deserved it.

            I become almost physically ill when I hear the anthem of these people:

            “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free….”

        • …the society they end up with will resemble a rabbit warren more than a civilization.

          Awesome, Paul, just awesome. It made me think immediately of Watership Down–your statement is deadly accurate.

          I’m not sure if the ultimate Elite are fear-driven; but certainly they’ve succeeded in making their minions right down to the serfs scared little rodents.


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