oil price in free fall

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For a while it looked like the law of supply and demand was not working. I guess the oil price level finally reached too high. Lets hope it will fall all the way down to reasonable level.
I also wish that we have learned a lesson from this and continue search for new sources of energy.
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I hope you're right because the lesson fron the previous oil crisis sure wasn't, judging by the number of SUV's that were sold in the years after.
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Mike hunt turned on the Etch-A-Sketch and wrote:

Concur. In an open market such as ours, it cannot possibly work. It only "works" in a closed market such as the USSR, and even then it falls apart over time.
Our governer in teh '70s, Jerry Brown, tried to stop us all from driving and implemented massive carpool lane projects. All additions to adding lane miles to california freeways were curtailed or halted.
As a result, we have a horrendous mess, and people still don't carpool or take public transportation.
I did try that for about three years, and found it awful. I much prefer to drive myself, rely on my own schedule and listen to audio books on the drive.

I certainly don't miss the gas lines.
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oil has been expensive in Europe for a long time and it has meant improvements have been made in trains and other public transport. A lot of people do not need a car anymore. There are even combinations of trains and car/truck/bicycle hire by the hour at the stations.
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Gosi wrote:

The problem is that it would never work in the U.S. Mass transit for major cities is already in place. The problem is that there are FAR more places than large cities that would never have coverage. The distances usually traveled are also MUCH farther than Europe.
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Steve W. turned on the Etch-A-Sketch and wrote:

Bingo - I lived in Germany for a year then Switzerland for three months. In neither case did I have a car. I was able to get by either hitchiking, using the trains and/or other local transport.
However, the distances travelled were *far* less than I'd need to travel here in the US.
After coming back from studying in West Germany (Tubingen), I thought I'd be a good green-party liberal and take the bus to university. I mapped out the plan and figured I'd be able to study on teh bus.
Turns out the busride for the 20-mile trip took me a little over two hours each way. By comparison, I could get there in about twenty minutes (it was 15 miles by car) in my truck.
I did end up later carpooling with a buddy of mine. She had also studied in Germany (and now lives in Switzerland with her husband and two kids) so we were able to talk a lot.
Still, mass transit just isn't suited for most places. Unlike in Europe - where towns were created around central lines - we don't have many centralized locations.
Case in point - I work 21 miles from home. There is a metro train station a block away from my work. However, to get to it, and to get to work at 7:00, I'd have to hop a train from my house at 5:24AM, hope it got into downtown LA (30 miles away) by 6:11 on time, then switch trains to another line, take the 6:25 train from LA and hope to be at my next station at 6:45. Total travel time, 1:20 - then I have to walk about a half mile to my office.
Or, I could just leave at 5:30 - like I often do - take the freeway for twenty miles, and get to work at 6:00. Total travel time, 0:30, and I park in the first row of parking.
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You have to design cities around the tansport system. If you design it around the car you will never have a good transport system. Design a good transport system first and you will not need many cars.
http://www.vectus.se/eng_index.html
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One reason we don't have the infrastructure is the automobile. I work 24 miles from home, a typical 33 minute drive. Fact is, if the auto was never invented or was never cheap, I'd be working closer to home and public transportation would be available. The automobile allowed for the suburbs to be built and for no allowance for trains to be made. It took 50+ years to evolve to where we are and would probably take twice that to devolve into a cluster of larger cities with mass transit.
The building that our company was in until recently used to employ 1200 people in its heyday into the 1950's. Most were locals and came to work on the (no longer existing) trolley car that ran up main street. The company eventually moved manufacturing south, etc. Those 1200 people, or their descendants, are now scattered and using their cars to get to work
You can at least take a 2 hour ride to work if you want. I'd have to walk the 24 miles as nothing exists between our towns, or even in the towns. I can't imagine what would have to be done to make it viable today.
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Edwin Pawlowski turned on the Etch-A-Sketch and wrote:

Partially true - In LA, they tried to use the trains but it just wasn't viable. Twenty years before the famed LA Trolly system gave up the ghost (and the rumors started flying about the tire industry colluding to remove teh trains), they were continually in the red and had to be government supported.

That may be. Of course, the auto has also opened up the ability for many to become wealthy, so we may have been stuck longer otherwise.

Heh - I don't think the auto is responsible for the suburbs but the suburbs wouldn't have been feasable much without it.
Keep in mind, my grandparents moved to the "suburbs" of Los Angeles in the 20's. They certianly didn't have a car yet.

There are other alternatives as well. When I was a worker bee, I would work one day a week from home. I have staff members who do that now.

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All we need to do is get the government and the environuts our of the way and American inventors will find the solutions to our need to import oil
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wrote:

One way that can work is van pools. The last company I worked at bought and maintained vans for employee transport. These were white collar "professionals" and clerical. There was some cost charged to the employees using them. One employee would be the driver and keep the van at home. Seems there were about 15 of these vans up until about 10 years ago, each shuttling about 6-10 people. Some came from 30+ miles away. I only noticed 3 or 4 when I left a couple years ago. The driver might have had 1/2 hour added to his commute from picking up the others people in his area. The van pool was started sometime in '70's, when corporations still had a sense of community and actively looked for solutions to community problems. Companies in an geographical area working together could make this concept more efficient. It's not rocket science. Any complaint that it isn't "convenient" is answered simply with "Then don't join a pool. Get to work on your own." Van poolers always left work on time, because managers knew any petty bullshit in holding the poolers up would bring down the wrath of the management leaders who put the plan in place. Yes, there were actually "leaders" in corporations way back then. There were the usual petty complaints about sharing a ride with this or that person. BFD, use your own car or take a bus if you don't like it.
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Get real. Oil is more expensive in Europe because fuel, as well as vehicles, are heavily taxed to give the citizens the "FREE" social system benefits like "FREE" health care.
You do not know this county if you think we can rely on trains and buses for general transportation. There are states in the US that are as big, or bigger, than counties in Europe
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oil has been expensive in Europe for a long time and it has meant improvements have been made in trains and other public transport. A lot of people do not need a car anymore. There are even combinations of trains and car/truck/bicycle hire by the hour at the stations.
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Gosi turned on the Etch-A-Sketch and wrote:

I hope so. I can't imagine people buying oversized gas-guzzling cars and trucks anymore. I'm glad I don't drive one.
I also hope that this allows the US to get around to thinking about home-grown fuels more.
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I agree PR, but I really think that bio-diesel makes a lot more sense than alcohol. We just have to keep the pols from mucking it up again. Also allowing speculators to buy on a 5% margin rather than the 50% allowed on most other commodities looked good on paper but really came around to bite us in the butt big time. Regards, JR

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JR turned on the Etch-A-Sketch and wrote:

I'm all for it!
I say soybeans are the way to go. Between them, peanuts, coconuts, palm trees and whatnot, we could go way far with biodiesel.
Believe me, I'd love to stick a 6.5L or a duramax in my truck and run solely on bio.
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Just an additional comment here. I don't think very many 4cyl econoboxes would pull my 3000lb sailboat back up the launch ramp. Regards, JR

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JR wrote:

Well, they might. I would bet it would be fun to watch !!!!
I have a friend who makes a bunch of money this time of year. He goes over to a couple different lakes on the weekends and sets there, just waiting for the yuppies with the fancy boats to show up, and discover that that "little boat" they towed around with the BMW or Volvo suddenly became kin to the Titanic when they try to pull it out of the water...
His tow vehicle, 1 ton Dodge with a Cummins in it.
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That sounds like good, cheap entertainment. Add a video camera and win the 10 grand on "Funniest Home Video's".

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Rent a slip or sell the boat.
( there;s always a solution )
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'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html
In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.
Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.
Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far- off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."
Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.
The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.
Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.
The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said. 'Giant leap' for clean energy
Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world's energy problems, said Nocera. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for one year.
James Barber, a leader in the study of photosynthesis who was not involved in this research, called the discovery by Nocera and Kanan a "giant leap" toward generating clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale.
"This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind," said Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. "The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem." 'Just the beginning'
Currently available electrolyzers, which split water with electricity and are often used industrially, are not suited for artificial photosynthesis because they are very expensive and require a highly basic (non-benign) environment that has little to do with the conditions under which photosynthesis operates.
More engineering work needs to be done to integrate the new scientific discovery into existing photovoltaic systems, but Nocera said he is confident that such systems will become a reality.
"This is just the beginning," said Nocera, principal investigator for the Solar Revolution Project funded by the Chesonis Family Foundation and co-Director of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center. "The scientific community is really going to run with this."
Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.
The project is part of the MIT Energy Initiative, a program designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the needs of the future and to help build a bridge to that future by improving today's energy systems. MITEI Director Ernest Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, noted that "this discovery in the Nocera lab demonstrates that moving up the transformation of our energy supply system to one based on renewables will depend heavily on frontier basic science."
The success of the Nocera lab shows the impact of a mixture of funding sources - governments, philanthropy, and industry. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and by the Chesonis Family Foundation, which gave MIT $10 million this spring to launch the Solar Revolution Project, with a goal to make the large scale deployment of solar energy within 10 years.
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