We’ve Seen That Movie Too

We’ve mentioned in passing that like the generation that grew up in the Depression, being 14 when the 1973 gas crisis hit changes your outlook on life, or at least that part of life dependent on motor vehicles. This is the world moving forward, you think. Best not to get too tied to it.

We also use October 1973 to start the clock, when America was put on notice. And with that clock now approaching thirty-seven years — we should have used a calendar instead — we have no reason to be shocked, Shocked!, to learn that not only do old habits die hard, they don’t die at all:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar dug in to defend the administration’s drilling plans last week. “We should be honest with ourselves. … We are dependent on oil and gas and we will be,” Salazar told senators. “As an economy in transition, it’s something that we need to do.” Obama, too, reaffirmed his belief that offshore drilling should remain in the country’s energy portfolio in his weekly address Saturday.

But the Obama administration is basing this argument on a dubious premise — that more drilling will enhance the nation’s energy security. Yet drilling offshore here will not do much in that regard, or at least not nearly as much as smarter use of oil would. The U.S. uses 23 percent of total world oil consumption, but has only 3 percent the world’s oil reserves within its borders. Drilling off every coast in the U.S. won’t resolve that issue. Even the most productive portion of the new area opened to drilling in the March announcement, a 24 million acre area of the eastern gulf, is expected to yield only 3.5 billion recoverable barrels of oil. The U.S. consumes 19.5 million barrels of oil per day, which means that these wells would only produce about 180 days worth of oil — hardly worth the catastrophic situation we face in the gulf today.

Barack Obama was 12 when the first gas crisis hit. Sarah Palin was 9. None of us have any excuses for ignoring one of the defining facts of our lives.

The big offshore lie [Kate Sheppard/WaPo]

Much of it spent with our collective heads up our asses.

I remember as a teenager at the end of the “last” gas crisis in the mid 80s asking my dad “why are folks driving SUVs and why is the gubbiment (led by big chinned moran and pal of senile coot Raygun, Mulrooney) cutting alternative power programs?”

He just looked at me and said “people are idiots.” Throw in some denial and well, there you go.

Not to worry – Disco II will come save us all and pull us out of our national malaise.

@redmanlaw: I listen to Rob Zombie when I work out….does that count?

@Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: Zombie’s awesome, although he canceled the only time Son of RML and I had tickets to see him. No wonder you post those phenomenal numbers on the elliptical. Power of metal \M/, !

The RML’s family trip to see U2 this summer if off, due to Bono’s back injury. Kind of bummed me out today, but we saw them last November and this show was not going to be much different although we were going to be much closer to the stage. Oh, well . . .

An eCONomy in transition to what? Swindleism?


How’d you know Space Oddity was playing on my ‘tunes?

P.S. Scissor Sisters’ new album comes out verrrry soooon!

his movies suck.
except for Halloween.

@Capt Howdy:

I liked that other one, that one, wossname, you know. The Devil’s Rejects.

You know, I am involved in the automobile business, but not on the side that decides what gets made, and I am simultaneously amazed, and horrified, by what we have done since 1974.

I am a little bit of a gearhead, I enjoy a little pep in my automobile, so I am sensitive to what has happened.

Back in the 70s, thats when I was a gearhead, and back in the 70s, thats when cars sucked. They sucked, because of the emissions standards that were coming online, in order to meet the emissions standards, the power output of the older engines was destroyed. Back in the 70s, a 350 cubic inch v-8 didn’t put out 175 horsepower. It was plain pathetic, and almost every car was underpowered, and yet still guzzled gas. This is why I still brag that I had a Ford 351 Cobra Jet engine, that put out 320 horsepower, at 12 miles per gallon.

Engine technology has undergone an amazing transformation since then. Here is an example, the diesel Rabbit of the 70s put out 40 horesepower, there was a reason people didn’t switch to the diesel, despite the amazing increase in fuel efficiency that diesel engines always have offered.

My 2002 diesel Jetta was 190 horsepower, thats more than the chevy 350 V-8 was putting out in the 70s, thats more HP than they were putting in “performance” cars back then. And my Jetta got 50 mpg, all day, every day.

The average sedan made today, the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord, the Chevy Malibu, these cars are all offered with standard engines that put out 200 horsepower, or more, and they get mileage near 30 mpg.

Engine technology has doubled power output, while cutting fuel consumption in half. This is not hyperbole, engine tech since the 70s, has doubled power output, while cutting fuel consumption in half.

This means that, if people would just be happy with cars with the same amount of power output as those 70s cars, they could be enjoying a 75% reduction in fuel usage.

But thats not the way this new technology has been used.

Instead of taking advantage of what would be a 75% reduction in fuel economy, which would happen, if people accepted cars with the same power output of those 70s cars, and took full advantage of the new efficiency, instead, the public demanded, and the industry provided, cars that took advantage of the new tech, by offering more power, instead of greater fuel efficiency.

Oh, fuel efficiency has doubled, this is true, but, thats only half the amount the new technology allows, if people weren’t hungry for the increased power, and accepted cars with the same horsepower as 70s cars, fuel efficiency could have been quadrupled, not just doubled.

Oh, I am not innocent, I am enjoying it, I drive a car thats almost dangerously overpowered. I have a Toyota Rav-4, a small, light SUV, but I have the V-6 model, its ridiculous, the power, if not for the electronic traction control, I don’t think I could control this vehicle when I smash the accelerator. As it is, with the traction control, the thing rears up, gets all squirelly, and takes off like a scalded cat. It was only after I bought it, I was talking to a Toyota dealer, he said the V-6 Rav 4 is the fastest accelerating toyota made. If I am doing 60, and pull out to pass someone on the 2 lane roads I have to commute on, I am doing 90 within 4 seconds or so, its amazing, exhilarating. It snaps your neck back.

Its fun, I enjoy it, but, its sinful, this car would be absolutely acceptable with half the horsepower, and double the fuel economy.

leave aside the SUVs, which are outside the fleet economy standards because they are considered “trucks,” what is going on with standard sedans is sinfully wasteful.

I am talking about a 50% overall reduction in fuel usage, by all vehicles on the road today, if they were all offered with the same horsepower as 70s vehicles. Half the efficiency of the new tech has gone to reduce fuel consumption by half, but the other half of the benefit of the new tech has gone towards simply adding more power. Thats a luxury, and a waste.

@Promnight: leave aside the SUVs, which are outside the fleet economy standards because they are considered “trucks”

Which, as you know, is not an innocent oversight.

But I’m not in a mood to blame manufacturers or scold gearheads. This is just another example where we clearly saw the problem and chose to ignore it, which will make the inevitable reckoning all the more harsh.

@nojo: Of course the exclusion of SUVs from the fleet standards is not an innocent oversight, its the elephant in the living room, its a loophole the manufacturers lobbied for, got, and then proceeded to use to ram the whole camel into the tent, once they got the nose in. This SUV exemption from the fleet fuel economy standards is criminal, and completely ignored, in public debate. Its the equivalent of the way they have changed the unemployment measurements, since Reagan, and the way they have jiggled the inflation measurements, the marksince Reagan. A consistent pattern, of changing the metrics to alter the final numbers, in so many measurements that are critical to public policy debate.

The numbers we use today on unemployment, inflation, fuel economy, I am sure there are more, are not comparable to the historical numbers.

I was just isolating fuel economy in one narrow sector, family sedans, to make this point, that the new technologies have been misused, and fully half of the efficiency gains have been squandered on completely unnecessary and wasteful increases in the horsepower offered in new cars, compared to the past. I wonder, if someone did the math, whether the elimination of the SUV exemption as “trucks,” combined with public acceptance of less power, if these things alone, would be enough to make the US self-sufficient in oil.

@nojo: And I will join with you in not wanting to scold anyone. It is what it is, our culture, that we all live in, and benefit from, and are respoonsible for, is doing this.

You know how it is obviously insane for the libertarians to believe that they are outside of this culture, and are solely responsible for their destiny, the way they ignore the benefits they gain from our larger culture, when they espouse their delusions of self-sufficiency and sole responsibility for both their achievements,and failures, you know, we all know, thats insane, they are ignoring the benefits they get from this culture, whether they philosopphically reject those benefits or not?

Well, its equally insane for us liberal-progressives to beleive that we can absolve ourselves of the sins of the larger culture, by taking our little individual measures of economy. We only have the luxury of running our diesel jettas off of used McDonalds frier oil because we are a part of the wasteful economy that produces excess McDonalds frier oil.

Real change requires fundamental change in the energy economy.

@Promnight: There’s what we’ll call a Hippie Survivalist community around Eugene, and yes, if you’re not part of that solution, you’re part of the problem.

So no, I don’t bother myself with moral preening on this. I’m an American, dammit, and I’ll enjoy my iPad and widescreen TV as much as I’d like. My Civic isn’t a statement, it was the cheapest jalopy on the lot when my S-10 died.

What we have here is a massive societal failure, manifested in our national politics since 1981. There’s no guarantee we could have managed this if we tried, but we never took the time to find out.

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