Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

Comments for By The Numbers

In a recent NPR interview, Tom Friedman discusses the topic of energy focusing on both McCain and Obama. Pretty good interview (if you are interested):
There are quite a few things America can be doing to secure or strengthen its economic future from within without having to look to managing oil price fluctuations. Of course, being a large source of those fluctuations, it's also hard to see the US being motivated to quell them.

The real reason to need to control foreign oil producers is to keep them from shifting the oil trading currency from the buck to the euro, which will remove the one plank that supports the fiat dollar and expose the fact that it's vapor-backed paper printed at will with no reserves.

There seems to be some seismic activity in the economic world of late - Merrell Lynch selling to Bank America, Fannie/Freddie, etc. Even Greenspan is suggesting there's a long way to go. It's going to be an interesting ride, to be sure.

A follow-up on the NPR interview:
Hey Brent:

So I think the big issue isn't "friendly supply" so much as it is a dawning realization that as a fungible global commodity, the supply of energy (and therefore America's economic fortunes WRT the "productive economy") are ever further linked to unstable regions. If our reliance on foreign sources of energy is minimized, the impacts of fluctuations in those supplies will buffet the economy much less, leading to more efficient long-term allocation of capital (the pareto-optimal outcome).

I'm 100% w/ you on the conservation thing. It seems the most reasonable, rational, sale-able thing we can do in the first world and it needn't imply huge decreases in the standard of living. That Obama is nailing this (your tire pressure example) and McCain/Palin/Bush simply chortle at it as some sort of buffonish, backwards recipe which won't ever fly w/ the American people says volumes. When I hear McCain go on and on about an "all options on the table" energy policy, it really does make me excited, but then when I dive into the details of what he has supported and what he's proposing, it becomes clear that it's just so much posturing.

I'm afraid his sell-by date was probably sometime in '00.


by alex at
Re offshore drilling, I've always wondered why the fear and rhetoric is so hyperbolic wrt foreign oil dependency.

If you look at the US govt's own numbers on how the foreign oil is broken down by source country (see, you'll see that about half of it comes from Canada and Mexico. Many of the other big sources are still fairly strong US allies (altho it's starting to look like Venezuela could be a bigger potential threat to US oil dependency than Iraq by a long shot).

It seems to me that at worst between 20 and 25% of the complete US consumption can be construed to be coming from sources that are at risk of instability due to political relations. A concern, yes, but not a crisis.

Even promotion of modest consumption reduction measures such as keeping tires inflated (reportedly 3%) and regular maintenance (4%) could together cut foreign source requirements by a third. Building and promoting high-mileage cars could eliminate the risky part of foreign requirements entirely. There's certainly no need for people to be killing each other over an issue that could be managed in so many other ways.

I've come to the belief that nuclear power should be revisited as part of our long-term power strategy. My understanding is that with the right technology we can burn up most of the currently stockpiled nuclear waist and be left with little needing disposal.

Most if not all of our power generating technologies have waist products or other side effects that have long-term impacts. This is especially true of the fossil fuels but even includes hydroelectric.

France cleverly went nuclear after the first oil crisis in 1974 and is quite energy independent now.

"As a result of the 1974 decision, France now claims a substantial level of energy independence and almost the lowest cost electricity in Europe. It also has an extremely low level of CO2 emissions per capita from electricity generation, since over 90% of its electricity is nuclear or hydro."

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by Rob at