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Great points you make Garvin. Have you seen the Oil Imports Map from Rocky Mountain Institute? Fascinating to see exactly where our oil comes from - who knew we were so dependent on Canada, for example?!

Check it:


Garvin Jabusch

Thanks Claudia, cool map. American progress has a similar one I like to show during presentations. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/05/oil_imports.html
The good part about getting 100mm+ barrelsday from Canada is that at least the $$ spent doesn't fund a hostile (well, not yet, lol) regime, and it does't require the same massive supertanker emissions to get it here. The bad part about Canadian oil is how much of it is derived from extremely dirty tar sands.
No matter how you slice it, replacing oil with renewables where it's commercially practical to do so is clearly the way to go.

Garvin Jabusch

This Bioscience article provides a fascinating addendum to the 'we're gonna need a ton of renewable energy to keep economies afloat and even growing' theory. Here's NSFs synopsis:

A study published in the January 2011 issue of BioScience establishes macroecological correlations across countries and over time between per capita gross domestic product and per capita energy use. The authors infer a causal linkage. Correlations between these same two measures and measures of life-style quality lead the authors to believe that energy production would have to increase several-fold to support a still-growing world population in the current U.S. lifestyle.

Here's the link to the article:


Jean Leroi

Hey Garvin, cool article. i could not agree more about the myth of "scheming" speculators being behind the 2008 $150 oil price. If you looked at the exchanges at the time, the open interest overall was decreasing as the prices shot higher - meaning that speculators in aggregate were getting "out" (much of it at a loss from short bets!) I fear that major behavioral changes for the better in the US will matter little (sweet tart in the ocean?) - as long as major net oil consumer nations like China and India continue to grow 5%+ yearly without needing to answer to the same regulatory pressures. A Beijing trafffic jam is an almost unquantifyable sight - if you have ever seen one ? "tertiary" fuels - like ethanol are also bullsh*t i feel, due to displacement of food producing acreage - aggravating food prices in turn, and at the base of it, the fact that most/all so called "bio fuels" use oil at the refinery stage. Ditto for battery production (and the eletricity generation needed to "fuel" them, and hydrogen production! We need a magic pill on a scallable/storable/self-sustaineable basis. 'Don't know of one. I look fwd to carrying on the conversation over some wood fired/farm distilled apple jack!

Garvin Jabusch

Merci, M. Leroi.

Yeah, honestly, folks such as yourself with the wherewithal to take even a short look at the underlying data knows better than to believe the 'speculator' story. And you're right again that both population growth and rising affluence are having a huge effect on oil demand, which, of course is the real basis of price increases. I do think that as the (for the moment) largest economy and as by far the largest per capita consumers of petroleum products, the US could lead by example and furthermore could create a lot of value and wealth by leading the world in cleantech. Unfortunately, for now, we've ceded that lead to China. And, you're correct again in that small behavioral changes won't matter too much; what I mean by 'leading in cleantech' is major, disruptive change, such as converting the entire passenger car fleet to EVs. On that, it's true that battery production is energy intensive. But the final EVs are so much more efficient than gas-burners that it's still worth doing. Further, once we have an electric fleet, we at least have the possibility of powering them with renewables. But here again, China is leading the inexpensive EV business with BYD, which will begin selling cheap cars into the US market in early 2012. These are all topics I tackle in upcoming blogs. I gotta get to work on one on biofuels, too. There's a current study about deriving fuels from land unusable for crops that could change the conversation. I'm still not a huge fan of the whole topic, though, except for some specific uses and only when the source crops don't in any way hit global food supplies. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/01/study-weve-got-plenty-of-land-for-biofuels/

Garvin Jabusch

The Economist is making essentially the same argument today. They stop short of concluding that we need to get off oil, though.


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