Third Party & Independents Archives

Kicking the Oil Habit

Robert Redford’s recent commentary, “Kicking the oil habit”, is more of a press release for a new campaign than an opinion piece on energy, but the message is still clear - we must change our ways. Redford states:

The recent surge in gas prices has touched a raw nerve for many around the country, reminding us of an economy that is increasingly uncertain for the middle-class, a growing addiction to oil that draws us ever closer to dictators and despots, and a fragile global position with a climate that is increasingly out of balance. I believe America is ready to kick the oil habit and launch a new movement for real solutions and a better future.

This new movement is the Campaign to Kick the Oil Habit.

I don't agree with the fact that the campaign focuses heavily on E85 made from corn, but the website does acknowledge, "In the future, increasingly, a wider array of crops will produce ethanol". I've stated in a previous post that corn-based ethanol is not the future . . . at least not until better ethanol production methods are developed for corn. It's just too wasteful.

In his commentary, Redford also offers an inspiring list of efforts to curb or alter our energy use in some of America's more progressive cities and states . He lists:

In California this November, voters will be offered an initiative that cuts the use of oil by 25 percent and creates new funding to support innovation and cutting edge technology.

Austin, Texas, is leading a growing number of cities in calling for car companies to produce plug-in hybrid vehicles that can go hundreds of miles on a gallon of gas.

New Mexico has joined the Chicago Climate Exchange, pledging to reduce its carbon emissions, and at the same time becoming a national leader in creating a state-of-the-art clean energy economy.

In Minnesota they have jump-started a new biofuels industry driven by farmer-owned co-ops that are putting more money back into rural communities and lifting up people's lives.

Cities like Seattle are joining with others around the world and taking on goals for green development, while states like Colorado are passing bond initiatives for transit and new requirements for clean energy.

Man oh man do I wish Missouri wasn't moving backwards! The Campaign to Kick the Oil Habit isn't just some pet project of actor either, it's "based at the Center for American Progress and works with partners from the Natural Resources Defense Council to Consumers Union, MoveOn.org to the Apollo Alliance".

Amid all the organizations, articles and talk is this simple prediction:

Kick the Oil Habit will bring forth the dynamic narrative of American innovation and inspired thinking. It will give everyone who believes we can free ourselves of our dependence on oil, real solutions which embody real opportunity.

Let's hope so!

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Social Radiation - An evolving library of opinions and resources regarding important progressive issues

Posted by Vihar Sheth at June 2, 2006 2:41 PM
Comments
Comment #153844

We need to have a system to deliver solar power from the sunny states to the rest of the country. This energy could power the plug in cars
and save us millions of barrels of oil.
The government has a real chance here to create a new energy web,a project that would be as grand in scope as the building of the American highway system.
If we had the energy and gave incentives like no sales tax on plug in cars,we could make a serious dent in the energy crisis.

Posted by: jblym at June 2, 2006 5:57 PM
Comment #153860

jblym,

“We need to have a system to deliver solar power from the sunny states to the rest of the country.”

The infrastructure already exists. We just need more solar farms.

http://www.wapa.gov/

Posted by: Rocky at June 2, 2006 7:21 PM
Comment #153931

Gas prices ain’t too high. Why in Europe they’re paying $6 to $7 a gallon. We need to pay the same. It’s only fair. And the Pope is Jewish too.
I wouldn’t mind so much paying more for gas if I knew that the extra money was going to fund alternative fuel research. But I don’t think that a $400,000,000 retirement package is alternative fuel research. But then these poor CEOs need someting to live on in their old age. After all they only make 6 or 7 million a year.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 3, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #153935

Higher prices give incentive to alternatives and conservation just by being higher prices. The payoff for each gallon saved goes up each time the price does. And it does it very directly.

The other necessary think is nuclear power.

RE nuclear power, there is an interesting case of Greenpeace deciding first it doesn’t like nuclear power (Greenpeace is not serious about global warming) and then trying to figure out how to make it look bad. It is getting harder to find such bad news, so Greenpeace makes it up.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 1:04 AM
Comment #153956

Vihar,

I don’t really think solar power has a very large scale potential, I would prefer to see it developed to provide homeowners a self sufficient adjuct to being tied to the grid. We definitely need a race to the moon type energy policy. I just don’t see Bush being able to ween himself off his oil money.

Jack,
Hilareous story about Greenpeace. You’ve converted me to become an advocate of $5-6 gas. Just don’t give it to Exxon, they’ll just buy another executive jet and platinum parachute, and sink it into another blood money oil hole.

Posted by: gergle at June 3, 2006 7:13 AM
Comment #153981

Gergle

I would actually tax the gas and use the money for deficit reduction, but who gets the money (with a few exceptions) is less important than keeping the price high. The high price alone is good to encourage alternatives and conservation. Since evidently taxing oil at high rates is political suicide, I guess the practical course is to let the market do it.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #154024

Rocky- Yes I had read about the project in the Sacramento area,but I was under the impression that was primarily going to be hydroelectric and possibly wind.
I was thinking in terms of gigantic spreads of solar panels,hopefully able to be more efficient. By using up arid land with solar collectors,we gain electricity,shift some population, and create more income in less affluent states.

Posted by: jblym at June 3, 2006 1:54 PM
Comment #154026

Jack
Are the oil companies doing alternative fuel research? On a large scale?
Or are they just over paying their executives with the extra money?
Like I said, I wouldn’t mind the higher prices if the money was being used for alternative fuel research.
Nuclear power is great for electricity. But I don’t see it very viable to power cars.


gergle
As I understand it solar power isn’t all that reliable for powering a complete house. It does OK for heating water. But it’s not all that great either.
We installed a solar water heater back in 94. It gives plenty of hot water on sunny days. Even on cloudy days we can get hot water. But if we run the hot water at night it runs out pretty fast. And get a string of cloudy days, like we can get in the winter, and the efficiency goes down fast.
You definitely need a back up heater. At least around here.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 3, 2006 2:10 PM
Comment #154034

Ron/gergle
You have touched upon a good point. That is why I have always thought that in addition to a web that sends energy from sunny states to the others,we need to create orbital collectors that are not dependent on weather patterns.

Posted by: jblym at June 3, 2006 2:41 PM
Comment #154041

Ron

Oil firms are doing a lot of reserach on alternatives, since they want to get in on that business. But they have no responsibility to do this, as you imply.

We use oil because it is the cheapest and easiest alternative. It stops being the cheapest at around $60/barrel. If the price stays high, we will conserve and develop alternatives.

We are still looking for the magic bullet. There is none. Higher prices and more nuclear power are answers, but some ain’t got the word.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2006 2:59 PM
Comment #154055

Oh my God! I’ve entered into a Twilight Zone episode. I agree with Jack!

Posted by: jblym at June 3, 2006 3:30 PM
Comment #154163

Jblym, that’s where i saw you! the little red headed boy who was sending everyone to the cornfield.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 3, 2006 11:52 PM
Comment #154262

Sorry, but I just don’t think solar power is a technology that is likely to solve large scale problems in the near future.

It can be used to provide energy to private homes, stored by battery, passive solar energy can be used for heating water, homes, and even cooling. The trick is the design. Not easy to retrofit. All of these are expensive to install and maintain and will likely need supplement.

Orbital panels….waaaaaay, waaaay off. Not a viable technology. We’ll have warp drives from Spock first.

vegetable oils, coal oils, even wind power, drilling in alaska and offshore florida and california, nuclear energy, and geothermal energy are all reasonably acheivable.

Posted by: gergle at June 4, 2006 12:18 PM
Comment #154279

jblym
I have to agree with gergle on this one.
Solar power isn’t the most efficient source around. Like I said earlier, we have a solar water heater. I’m about to rip the thing out.

gergle
The problem with wind power is you need to live in a place that has category 2 or high winds. Google wind power or wind generators. The area I live in only has category 1 winds. Wind generators won’t work here.
Also I don’t see wind as a major source as it takes miles of wind generators out in California just to power Palm Springs.
I’m considering a hydro generator for my place. I have 2 springs on my place and a river bordering it. All have enough flow to give me more than enough power.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 4, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #154495

Alternative energy sources, are this countries no 1 priority TODAY! OPEC has this world in a stranglehold, (sorry TED) the price of oil just went up to over 73$ a barrel. we have already went passed through the crossroads of oil, and the devil has been in the details for a long time.Jack and gergle, present the best possible and common sense Alternatives that are available today! with current Technology.let’s try to be reasonable, and go from Point A to Point K. Before we try to go to point R. that would be a Recipe for diaster.Just with going from point A to K we could Remove70% of co2. these applications are available RIGHT NOW! do we stop there NO,we progress when the Technology affords it.that is not putting the brakes on, that is using clear headed thinking, and commom sense.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 5, 2006 2:51 PM
Comment #154520

Ron/Gergle
The problem with solar power is twofold.
One is the fact that present panels only convert a small fraction of the energy into something that is usable. Quick fix money could certainly develop more efficient materials.
Secondly,we don’t have enough of them out there. Envision if you will, a hundred square miles of panels all being used to convert sunlight into usable clean energy.
As far as orbiting platforms,the technology is not from Star Trek,but exists today. Geo-synchronous orbits,L1,L2 etc. would guarantee steady power with little or no upkeep. Again better materials and large panels are key.
ISS workers could easily begin such construction now,if funds were made available.

Posted by: jblym at June 5, 2006 3:47 PM
Comment #154527

your talking about millions of pounds of materials to be shot up their, and a shuttle that will be retired in about 5 years, and no known backup to replace it with, and that can safely carry those payloads up their.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 5, 2006 4:03 PM
Comment #156149

Ron-
Talking about far fetched I wish we could build an orbital tower,payloads would only cost pennies per pound. Perhaps more research into synthetic diamonds will give us a strong enough material. We can however go with ESA,Russians and our own private industry to provide raw materials for building. Now if we could only get to the asteroid belt.

Posted by: jblym at June 9, 2006 6:57 PM
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