My long rant on "The energy crisis"
Fuel prices do not immediately effect pump prices.
It seems the US government and corporations in the US never learned the basic
laws of fuel economy, basic forecasting, and resource management.
If you look at the amount of oil the US has in reserves, VS the cost of oil imported from foreign sources, VS the amount of time that historically takes fuel prices to fluctuate you realize that the price of a barrel of oil today has almost no REAL impact on the price of gas at the pumps. Gas prices are artificially inflated based on numbers reporting, not based on quantities or the actual cost of the oil bought and/or sold by any one particular oil company. The gas you pump today is made from oil bought years ago.
The US is only *mildly* dependant on foreign oil sources, at this point in our
history the US and all the major oil companies in the US have HUGE reserves, yet somehow the change in a
barrel of crude effects gas prices the next day at the pump. Not only is this unfair,..it shows that oil companies are either willing to exploit the American
consumers, or that they're too stupid to do simple mathematics. In addition to the US
government maintaining oil reserves, Oil companies themselves maintain reserves
of oil. If Exxon stopped importing ANY oil today, they would still be able
refine and sell oil for years to come. We don't tap into US reserves in a
"pressure valve" manner, and oil companies instantly inflate the cost of ALL of
their oil immediately based on announced prices whether they pay those prices OR
So wait a minute....? that means they're selling oil today at expensive prices even though they BOUGHT at prices that were very low! And they jack the prices to what the market will bear, not what is a fair price based on markup? And now act like they're bothered that they're paying such a high prices for oil and that they in turn have to charge so much for it....but they're selling all their *reserves* based on today's high price. You can easily see that the government could sell reserves to oil companies at a fixed rate, or better yet to the American public and simply wait for fuel prices to drop to replenish reserves and/or allow the US to invest in obtaining fuel in a more efficient manner. Even if we sold portions of the US oil reserves to oil companies at the original purchase price, plus some markup (gotta make a profit) the cost to Americans would be less, the government would make a profit and the oil companies would have to show exactly how much they paid for the current amount of oil they have. The net result of this would be only the mildest fluctuations at the pump.
Sounds pretty shifty right? Wrong...Oil companies are just buying and selling commodities and they can sell for whatever the market will bear, mainly because they have a monopoly,..there are unsigned agreements across the board for oil companies to flux prices to the same levels at the same time, and the government can only step in for "price gouging" based on the price of the oil that day. So if oil sells for .01 a gallon and Exxon buys a million gallons, then the price of oil shoots up to 100.00/gal, they can (and will) sell ALL their oil back to us at that price. The oil industry is not a public service, they're a business, and they will do ANYTHING to boost those profits....ANYTHING.
Apples and apples
This is basically like me buying 100 apples,..for .50 Then selling one one a day for 1.00 (gotta make a profit). Then on the 10th day I had to pay 1.00each for another 100 apples, so I up the price of *all* 190 of the apples to 2.00ea People complain and I say "Hey,..I can't help it,.my COST of apples went up 100%!? there's no way I can give you a lower price.) But with the reserves/stock/surplus,.. I could actually maintain my *healthy* profit margin at $1.50 ea. When the price goes down however,...(lets say Apples go to .10 ea for my 3rd 100) THEN I get good at math and complain "Well I'm lowering my prices, but I can't sell apples for .20 because of all those 2.00 apples I'm sitting on,...remember how expensive things were for all of us,..buddy,..pal?,..So I'll tell ya what I'm gonna do! I'll just sell them for 1.00 each that's more than 50% off last time right?,..you should be happy!!"....and the insane cycle continues. Pump prices are based on what oil companies WANT to charge, based on how much they think they can make in profit NOT on the cost of their goods, not on the cost of oil..
Big Oil Companies work in direct conflict with the betterment of mankind, national interests, and are morally ambiguous at best.
The fact that big oil companies are just out to make a profit shouldn't matter...except for the fact that the product they're selling is a requirement for life on the part of most US citizens. For lack of a better term it's a basic human need. Not on the order of food and shelter, but until better alternatives are more readily available, it's in the ballpark of electricity and plumbing. Unlike any of the afore mentioned, the sacrifices that make their bottom line look better comes at the cost of lives. (When is the last time you can remember us going to war over who controls the supply of carrots?) And even this wouldn't be such a bad thing if our government was in a position to police this industry and insure that they were managed in the interests of the people and/or there were alternative sources made available. Unfortunately the org chart at the white house reads like a "Who's who in the oil industry" and so the interests of these companies is put above that of the American people time and time again.
But the alternatives aren't readily available and they're just now coming on the scene!
When you follow the money trail within the world of fuel commerce, you see that our dependence on oil is a direct result of the will of "big oil", the pockets that they fill in major corporations, the pockets they fill in Washington DC, and any seat in localized government that has a say in alternative fuel technologies initiatives. Politicians who oppose making emissions standards more strict suddenly find that they have millions in their campaign contributions funds. It's amazing how visible all this is. It's clearly documented and can be proven based on the cash flow from big oil companies via gifts, grants, lobbyists, contributions etc.. When GM was developing electric cars, big oil companies donated millions of dollars in funds to them and suddenly the electric cars disappeared. People argue, why would a car maker not sell cars and the answer is easy...would you rather try to create a new market and product, incur all the cost involved, and have to go through all the normal profit/loss channels, or just take a steady stream of millions and millions in payoffs to do NOTHING. Money for nothing....who's going to turn that down? Money that has to be given to them in a way that (when the time comes) they can still go and work on the technologies that you and I want, providing there's no new bundle of cash providing incentives to drag their feet in the process....
But don't big oil companies donate millions into
"alternative fuel research every year!?
Let's put aside the REALLY creepy scary things that big oil companies have done (murders, assault, bribes, perjury, intimidation, war profiteering, treason etc..) Lets just say that at their very best they are "obsessively self interested". If we skip the big drama and just look at their "on the books shifty business practices" you still that things are still pretty scary...
Most all electric, solar, wind, hydro powered initiatives are squashed or at a minimum hampered by big oil companies. Millions are donated to campaign funds, municipalities, research programs etc... to stop solar energy stations from being built, to stop solar recharging stations from being developed, from allowing laws and legislature that pushes and/or allows equal footing for green electric technology. Big oil is constantly giving technology ultimatums in favor of technologies that maintain the "big oil infrastructure" in the following manner:
"We here at Shell, Exxon, Texaco etc.. will donate 20 Million to your research institute as long as your research is into Hydrogen and Biodiesel and NOT electricity."
You see, Hydrogen is an EXPLOSIVE gas, so there MUST be an infrastructure in place to provide for it (pumps, containment, safety, transport etc etc etc...) and all that means we can keep it 15 years in the future, and even when it does come about, we can stay on a "price per gallon" type billing system with oil companies (who own the current filling stations) becoming Oil and Hydrogen and Biodiesel companies. Biofuels need the same infrastructure that oil does...it has to be transported, refined, pumped, stored etc etc.... Big oil companies already have that infrastructure in place, they just have to convert part of their inventory over to deal with this type of fuel, and once again they're free to charge what they want because of all the "Infrastructure costs" involved. Ie,..they control the infrastructure and the supply, so you pay their set prices at the pump. You can't set up a hydrogen or Biofuel station at your house and there WILL be laws in place prohibiting you from running your own hydrogen fueling station and/or refining your own biofuel locally before the first hydrogen station is in operation.
On the other hand we already have a 100% sound understanding of the infrastructure of electricity, capacities, safety etc.... and it needs no help from the big oil companies to get rolling, or maintain it's self. And yes,..you CAN put solar on your house, put up a wind generator and power your car by yourself. THAT is the #1 terror to these companies. Affordable power and fuel for the people without big oil having their fingers in the pie. When you have an electric car you see how quickly investing in (even high dollar) solar/wind solutions quickly pay for themselves. In spite of huge payoffs to hamper their development by stage/federal agencies, public investors are now coming forward to setup solar and wind energy stations in the US. These companies are constantly fighting legal battles, zone issues, and tons of other political red tape thrown in their way by state officials who get nice big checks from oil companies to do so. Surveys will show you that almost no one is against solar/wind power (minus a few people in the "wind turbines kill birds" camp) And yet when you look at city/state/federal legislature across the US, you'd think that a solar power plant is as bad to have in an area as a nuclear reactor, or toxic dump.
Oil companies in bed with auto manufacturers,. but what could they possibly have to gain from each other?
Oil companies and the auto manufacturers in their pockets have known/feared
the advent of "green" fuel technology for years and years and have killed
themselves to stem the flow of new electric technology into the world.
Energy Conversion Devices (One of the leading developers of high capacity
lightweight batteries, solar cells etc..was purchased by oil companies, and told
NOT to sell high capacity batteries to people developing electric cars. Oil
companies buy into emerging energy tech companies all the time, then the
mothball the IP for breakthrough technologies. This is one of the top reasons
electric cars were inefficient, thus maintaining our dependence on the
corporate teat of the big oil companies. This is pretty normal in the
industry...Oil companies make Microsoft look like saints when it comes to
shutting down any company that tries to play in their sandbox. At least MS
doesn't mothball cool tech, they buy it and sell it back to us, so at
least we still get to SEE and benefit from it.
Only through one of the most ironic snafu's in auto manufacturing history, did the push for "high efficiency cars" actually become a reality. Big oil paid millions to crush the EV1 electric car project by GM (and other projects from other mfgs) but there was so much demand (especially in CA) that GM still needed to put *somethig* out there, something to say "we're working on it for you,..sure it will be here soon just give us time and we'll WOW you!!" GM announced that it would build Hybrid cars in the future (though they had no intention of doing so anytime soon as they were making millions NOT to make hybrids at the time). Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it,..the Japanese auto manufacturers saw these announcements about hybrids and got really worried. They rushed to developed hybrids of their own to compete. Later when Japanese hybrids were showing up in America, the big 3 would be caught with their collective pants down, and would have to go rifle through all the cool technology they had mothballed just to come out with (woefully inefficient by comparison) American made hybrids at the last minute.
It all reads like some great conspiracy novel, the difference being that this is all factual there's a great documentary on this:
(See "Who Killed the electric car")
The thing that really brings this home is that GM had electric cars and released them with materials that were well behind the efficiency curve that they could have provided,...they did this thinking that people wouldn't like the fact that they had less room, or could only travel 60 miles on an 8 hour charge, they governed the low end acceleration etc... So in effect they released the worst electric car that they could. Of course they didn't *sell* their electric cars, they just leased them. That way if they got paid enough (as they eventually did) they could bring them all home at the end of the leases, and never let them out again. They were expecting people to hate the hobbled cars anyway, so at the end of the leases they brought the perfectly functioning EV1's in slated them for demolition. They started destroying them in crushers one by one. There was no recall, there was nothing WRONG with the cars. Owners BEGGED to buy the cars at the end of the leases, or to re-up their leases, but GM refused and started destroying them or mothballing them. Why?,.. because they were paid off to slow the rise of the electric car. When trends started showing (contrary to their estimations) that people WOULD want these cars, and were lining up on waiting lists thousands long to get this model, or the one slated to come after it. In the end the EV1 lessees offered 1.9 million dollars to get a few of the cars back with no warranty/service expectations, but the cars were destroyed by GM anyway. The reason they gave for this (and for subsequently pushing CA to remove charging stations ) was that there was "not enough public interest".
American auto manufacturers crush innovation and then cry that meeting lowered emissions standards would cause them to go out of business and are even so bold as to sue states who try to pass such standards. This is especially incomprehensible when you consider that NON-HYBRID Japanese cars not only beat these standards but outperform the best American Hybrids on the roads. So as the DEMAND for more fuel efficient cars rises, big oil pushes their efforts towards killing emissions standards, and pushing programs that develop hybrids, biodiesel, and and hydrogen. Hybrids and biodiesels still use the big oil infrastructure, Hydrogen will use proprietary pumps, and big oil companies can ALWAYS jack the price up to cover the difference....kind of like what's happening now..?
No More oil!?
Every time there is a rise in oil prices at the pump, some scientist starts talking about "peak oil production" (what is supposed to be the half-life for the global oil reserves) We actually have no idea how much oil reserves there are, all guesses are based on "Oil we know about" and that is what we know to be pump/drill accessible. So daily we see the rush to find MORE OIL! Where is it?,..Where can we find it?, Lets spend billions to look in Alaska, in the sea beds, in the forests and in the sands!! We must find the oil so we can sell it, use it, stockpile it!!!!
But really are we in any danger of running out of oil
soon, in the near future, off in the distance??
Nope. We are not even remotely in the slightest danger of running out of oil in the next 40, 100, 400 years.... and here's why....
Now this part is VERY IMPORTANT and I ask that you read it VERY carefully. I assure you it is 100% factual, proven and tested. This isn't a joke or a scam this is Documented fact!
There is a company called Changing World Technologies (CWT) that has
developed a process called "Thermal
Depolymerization" that breaks items down into their basic components, and as
most of you know a large part of organic and inorganic materials is petroleum
products. The basic concept of this is that you take items that WERE destined
for the dump, run them through this process and on the other end you get some
very valuable output, things like: Pure water, alcohol, carbon, animal feed,
fertilizer and oh yeah,...type
2 oil (that's better than CRUDE GRADE!).
"Unlike other solid-to-liquid-fuel processes such as cornstarch into ethanol, this one will accept almost any carbon-based feedstock. If a 175-pound man fell into one end , he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of type 2 oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water."
"Almost any carbon based foodstock,..." we're talking
wood, plastics, raw sewage, dead animals, medical waste,..you name it! And it's
great for things like medical waste and tainted dead cow beef, because they come
out the other end 100% free of toxins.
The process is 85% energy efficient and actually runs off the materials that it creates, so when you dump the remains from a meat processing plant into it, it runs on a small portion of the fuels that it creates for the output.
Yes you read right a "Recycler" that takes in GARBAGE, and spits out viable things that we need including CRUDE OIL. I'm not making this up,..check the wiki above and here's the discovery article on the company. Seriously this is one of the biggest breakthroughs in the past 50 years, and they've gotten small and scattered coverage, and are constantly snared in political red tape as they try to move forward (so much so that they have said they're considering taking the technology to a different country where they will be welcomed and assisted by the government instead of being road blocked.) CWT is a NIGHTMARE for the big oil companies. They hate CWT almost as much as they hate electric cars due to the fact that CWT is a "We don't play ball" kind of company and won't do things like "Take buyouts to slow development" and "Charge 500% markups" Big oil may not even be able to buy in to CWT's proprietary technology and that means that they're resigned to only being shipping/storage and limited refining. (and if that's ALL their doing, other companies can take over if they start jacking prices.) CWT wants to work with municipalities to do things like setup places where a city's refuse stream gives them price cuts at a city run fuel station, etc.... (GIVING FUEL AWAY!? the arteries of big oil execs just started getting harder by the second.
originally CWT expected that they would ramp down to $15/barrel for crude oil, (fixing gasoline at about $1/gal forever) but it seems currently at $80/barrel and dropping. Much of this is due to the technology still being in it's infancy, and the fact that they only recently became eligible for the same Gov subsidies that all other fuel manufacturers get. They have also run up against opposition funded by big oil companies, the government, and even acts of sabatoge. As the process is refined these costs will absolutely go down,..how low? We hope $10/barrel or less,..but even if they just slowly crrep down over the next 10 years (the time they expect it to take to get to $10/gal no matter what the world market is doing) $70/barrel roughly = $3.00/gal and $60/Barrel = $2.25ish then theres some CRAZY math between paying $60 and and paying $18 a barrel,..and the oil industry (who historically has kept their markup insane) charges @ $18/Barrel around .99/Gallon, and gas won't go lower than that even if the price hits .10/Barrel.
So CWT *can* operate in a lab at $30/Barrel right now and expect that to get lower as time goes on, in the real world they're at $80 but we have to assume they can at lest get down to their lab conditions as technology is advanced and the process is refined. To me, being free from foreign oil and having to pay $2.00/gal sounds pretty damn good.
Now I'm not saying we could become 100% oil independent overnight using this process, but based on today's oil prices, as they refine the process, it's becomes a viable alternative to wean us off. And while we're weaning, Oil companies could buy some of those US reserves at those 1998 prices they paid for them and we could all pay less at the pump, and remember to put our recycling bins out for a good reason. Currently all recycling with the exception of aluminum actually causes more environmental damage than it fixes. All recycling done through CWT yields usable products and none of them go into landfills.
But lets say we DID want to become 100% fee of the foreign oil sources....keep in mind that this is a NEW technology, it's not been refined to it's most efficient state (one that could occur with more aid from the government) but even in it's infancy...
"Agriculture represents over 50% of the estimated 12 billion tons of solid waste produced each year in the U.S. The food processing industry in the U.S. alone generates billions of pounds of organically rich wastes each year. These wastes are associated with the processing of both animal and plant products. If all agricultural waste were made available for use in the TCP, an extraordinarily large amount of oil could be generated that almost meets the 4 billion barrels of oil that are imported to the U.S. each year."
And this is just ONE of the new technologies out there,...how many more will be unearthed from the pile of companies paid to keep their efficiency secrets under wraps is hard to say.
And here's another great little fact....Using Domestic oil
(on average) actually makes gas costs go down as much as 1/3 due to location,
shipping, availability of refining etc..so more expensive local oil is the same
as having cheaper imported oil.
But that's still keeping us dependent on "fossil fuels" and their pollution!
Ask any scientist, group of scientists and or anyone who even has the most
basic understanding of the logistics involved in moving from fossil fuels to ANY
alternative and you'll see that there is no quick and easy solution. *EVEN IF* we didn't have huge companies spending billions of dollars to try
to hamper and re-direct alternative fuel technology to their own personal
gains,...Building the "new infrastructure" takes time,. luckily for us we're at
a point in human history where the people know just as much about the technology
as the people who hold the reins of that technology. It's getting hard for oil
companies, and auto manufacturers to pull the wool over our eyes because there
are a million small companies out there waiting to fill the gap being left by
the incompetence of big oil companies.
People know that we are very close to being able to live with a drastically reduced carbon footprint in a manner that isn't unaffordable for the average person.
Over the last 10 years solar panels have become more and more efficient (again they would be even more so if big money hadn't been invested by oil companies to quell research) and the cost of pulling your house off the grid right now is a little over 100K (for an energy hog eating 2000 kWh/Mo) that cost goes down if you go hybrid wind and solar, and if you happen to live near a lake or river, then you can go solar/wind/hydro and your costs go down again. Get REALLY creative and you're going to be making money off the grid when all is said and done. Back to my electric car angst,..if you were going solar AND had an electric car, the cost savings would start to rack up in no time.
If the choice was ours,...if we had cheap oil, would we make the choice to go green?
When gas prices soar, everyone and their mother has a great way to save
energy, and a few people here and there get an electric car, go off the grid
etc... but as soon as the prices get lower, everyone forgets how green they
could live until the next big gas hike.
Now we get to the real heart of the matter...
It makes sense that we would be able to develop these new GREEN technologies, test them, and refine their efficiency, cost, safety etc.. if we knew for a fact that our fuel costs would be 100% fixed in the meantime, if we knew that we wouldn't have to go to war to defend/obtain foreign power ties to oil, if we knew that while we are still using a pollution heavy fuel, that at the same time we were cleaning up landfills, and recycling at the very highest level, then maybe we would be more eager to go the next step and go to all renewable energy.
When you're not worried about defending the gates, you can get to work on building a better castle...
But what about our complacency...the thing that's kept us believing the lies over and over, the thing that's stopped us from questioning the status quo an demanding more earth friendly technologies before gas hit $3.00 a gallon. Even in the path that I suggest,..once we can put trash in and get oil out and the process is providing gas at $1.00/gal, will we still make the CHOICE to develop these other technologies. Will the big oil companies take this time to get their hearts and minds in line with the people, or just buy their way into the new infrastructure and make sure that it's business as usual? Will we demand an electric car from our auto manufacturers, or will new auto manufacturers fill the gap,...from electric supercars, to electric SUV's they're already starting to appear.
Will we choose to invest in technology to make ourselves more grid transparent, or will we remain complacent till the next time the economy takes a dip and that monthly fuel bill, or gas and electric bill, starts to make a bigger impact on our lives? If we're really lucky, some crazy new invention will come along and make it all moot.
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