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The problem will play out in different ways in different parts of the country and different parts of the economy.

What wil take the place of oil based energy for transportation in the great basin of the west and the rocky mt. region?  There is nowhere near the population base to have public transportation fill the gap.  I cannot forsee electric vehicles that will adequately provide transportation across driving ranges of 5-600 miles per day.

What kind of power will provide the desert southwest and the deep south with air conditioning, without which it will be very difficult to maintain its current population and growth?

What will fuel the tractors and combines of the midwest and the California central valley?

The landing could be abrupt.  I do not believe that the "market" will suffice to get us through this, and I don't see the political will to drive the research and production of alternatives.  Remember Jimmy Carters "malaise" speech, well, the 30 years have passed and now we are in a fix.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 02:32:53 PM EST
How many people drive 600 Miles a day on a normal day?
by btower on Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 04:09:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that there are two or three different ways of looking at it. Technologically you could "solve" the transportation problem, but it would be expensive and people might not be happy. Or, you could solve the CO2 problem. Or both. But political realism is probably what the Exxon guy is talking about, and eons of history show that politicians are followers, not leaders. So until there are several repeats of New Orleans-scale flooding, and a change in the Gulf Stream that freezes out Europe, getting the political will to actually do anything will be very tough.

Looking at the problem from the viewpoint of a technologist, though, I think you're too pessimistic.

  • Wind power, at a oil-equivalent price in the neighborhood of $75 a barrel, will provide electricity for fixed-location appliances like air conditioning and heating. Or, nukes.
  • Tractors. Well, you must have missed my proposal for extension cords for tractors. Seriously, this is not a big problem as the diameter of the problem is severely constrained.
  • Electric cars going 100 miles between recharges, and five minute recharges? On the horizon, it seems to me, but let's not get into that argument again.

The point is that if the political community could ever get its act together to say clearly what problems to solve, the engineers could go off into their corners and work on solutions. This is the problem that engineers face every day: Poorly defined, unstable requirements, stated by people who have an axe to grind on every subject.
by asdf on Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 10:30:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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