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posted by Blackmoore on Saturday November 08 2014, @05:59AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the too-depressed-to-care dept.

Drivers across America are rejoicing at falling gasoline prices as pumps across the country dip below $3 a gallon. But according to Sharon E. Burke while it's nice to get the break at the gas pump and the economic benefits of an energy boom at home, the national security price of oil remains high. Burke says that the United States should be doing everything it can to diversify global energy suppliers, and that ultimately the only way to solve our long term energy problem is to make a sustained, long-term investment in alternatives to petroleum. October saw a 52 percent jump in Jeep SUV sales and a 36 percent rise in Ram trucks while some hybrid and electric vehicle sales fell at the same time. “This is like putting a Big Mac in front of people who need to diet or watch their cholesterol,” says Anthony Perl. “Some people might have the willpower to stick with their program, and some people will wait until their first heart attack before committing to a diet—but if we do that at a planetary scale it will be pretty traumatic.”

Nicholas St. Fleur writes at The Atlantic that low oil prices may also undermine the message from the UN’s climate panel. The price drop comes after the UN declared earlier this week that fossil fuel emissions must drop to zero by the end of the century in order to keep global temperatures in check. “I don’t think people will see the urgency of dealing with fossil fuels today,” says Perl. Falling oil prices may also deter businesses from switching to energy-saving technology, as a 2006 study in the Energy Journal suggested. Saving several pennies at the pump, Perl says, may tempt Americans away from actions that can lead to a sustainable, post-carbon future.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @06:11AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @06:11AM (#113983)

    Once you vote for Black, you never go back!

  • (Score: 1) by anubi on Saturday November 08 2014, @06:28AM

    by anubi (2828) on Saturday November 08 2014, @06:28AM (#113987) Journal

    A lot of us made some serious changes, and got caught up in this. I certainly did. Caused me to sink a considerable amount of my resources into things there is no longer a need for. I was also a member of TheOilDrum and I took this peak oil scenario in hook, line, sinker, fisherman, boat, motor, and tackle box.

    I wasn't the only one who jumped the gun, either. [foxnews.com]. These folks did it big-time.

    But now, we have another problem - if this energy crisis shows its head again, will anybody listen?

    I mean we have had Jimmy Carter in on it, then Bush, and this coming from a source I used to consider credible: the President of the United States.

    These days are like watching old 60's reruns of BatMan with Adam West. Just when it seems the Dynamic Duo is done for, Robin whips out a can of Bat-Spray and sprays the problem into oblivion. It seems modern crises are solved the same way.

    Someone signs a paper and *poof!* ... problem gone!

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Saturday November 08 2014, @06:58AM

      by sjames (2882) on Saturday November 08 2014, @06:58AM (#113989) Journal

      I guess you didn't RTFA. This would be an excellent time for the federal government to start buying up oil for the strategic reserve. It can release the reserves when the predicted price increases are starting to hit.

      It's not like any unpredicted oil discoveries were made or anything like that. It's just political and economic movement of the deck chairs that temporarily reduced prices to about what they should have been all along.

      As for the solar plant, it hasn't failed (though it is under-performing). It is still perfectly capable of paying for itself, it's just corporations pulling the lever to see if they can hit the jackpot.

      Come next summer expect to see some really good deals on 6 to 8 month old SUVs that the owners can no longer afford to fill up.

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:50AM

        by anubi (2828) on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:50AM (#113993) Journal

        That is what has puzzled me so much... I thought I was quite aware of the monstrous size of the Ghawar reservoir, and all the data I was getting on the massive oil reserves of the mid-east it that they were watering out. Just like ours did in the 70's. I have no excuse. I worked for an oil company and had what I thought was excellent inside scoop, as I was in the reservoir research lab. And I have a personal copy of Matthew Simmon's "Twilight in the Desert", which I read cover to cover and what he reported was exactly what I had been seeing in the lab.

        This whole thing not only has economically sent me in a tailspin, as I totally misread the cards. To me, fracking was the equivalent of "blowing the gas cap" when we were ready to abandon the well and were willing to give up the pressure boost the underground gas was providing to help lift the reservoir oil to the surface. It almost seems like daddy mortgaged the family house and everyone is throwing a big party - just before getting thrown onto the street by the banker who bought the mortgage. I simply do not know how long this fracking party can last, but everything in my experience tells me the production of fuel from fracking is like getting the last fart out. Cuz its all gas. A lot of volume in a really short time. But, like a fart, the production curve is quite steep on both the rising and falling edge of production.

        To me, the price asked for petroleum is nowhere near what the stuff is worth. We still have all the gold thats ever been mined, except that we launched out into space, but every barrel of petroleum produced is consumed.

        Yet everyone still wants to hang onto gold, although there is not much that makes it nearly as irreplaceable as petroleum. It does have excellent corrosion resistance properties, but from what I can tell, we have adequate supplies of it for that purpose.

        Now, maybe Rossi's e-cat is viable and fixing to pull the plug on the petroleum market. I have not seen it, although I would love to evaluate it, as I feel quite confident in my knowledge of thermodynamics and knowing when the thing is really producing energy. All I get are reports from people I believe have a bias to sell one. I trust my instrumentation far more than I trust a salesman. ( Well, actually, I don't trust the salesman at all. ).

        I trusted my gut instinct, and am really paying the price right now. I have done a lot of work on energy efficient thermal transfer devices, only to find no-one wants a nonstandard device - and given today's cheap energy, neither would I. Mine only made sense if conventional energy was scarce.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Saturday November 08 2014, @09:17AM

          by sjames (2882) on Saturday November 08 2014, @09:17AM (#113997) Journal

          There are a few factors. I think you may have underestimated the short sightedness of most corporations and Wall Street for a start. As long as being thrown into the street doesn't happen this quarter, they see no reason not to party. Next quarter they'll claim it couldn't have been anticipated and pay their CEO a fat bonus all the same.

          At the same time, running out in this context doesn't mean we expect the last drop to be extracted tomorrow. It means that we will soon be out of oil that can be gotten to as easily as what we're exploiting now. The next step still involves years of production, but will cost 2 to 3 times as much up front to get at it.

          Fracking actually is one of those more expensive techniques (compared to hitting gas that doesn't need fracking).

          Even those few conservation and alternative measures that have been implemented have paid off, just not quite as expected. By slowing demand, they have actually lowered prices for fossil fuels.

          Anticipating the need wasn't wrong, just your timeframe estimates.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday November 09 2014, @06:12AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 09 2014, @06:12AM (#114222) Journal

          To me, the price asked for petroleum is nowhere near what the stuff is worth. We still have all the gold thats ever been mined, except that we launched out into space, but every barrel of petroleum produced is consumed.

          There's two obvious observations about oil that explains most of your concerns. First, it doesn't look pretty, is a hazardous material, and burns real well. One doesn't have to worry about liability or massive fire damage from their gold springing a leak. Second, there's a lot more oil to store than gold. For example, all the gold ever mined probably would fit in a cube 20 meters on a side (which is a bit over three Olympic swimming pools). For all the oil ever drilled, it's more like a cube over 5 km on a side (and around 60 million Olympic swimming pools). You aren't going to store significant amounts of oil in a little safe in your basement. It doesn't make sense to compare oil to gold because their roles and difficulty of storage makes them very different market-wise.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:00AM (#114010)

      Among the reasons I moved to Portland, Oregon was that it really got me down that Silicon Valley gas three hour long rush "hours" in both directions.

      Yes there is some public transit there - Valley Transit Authority light rail and bus - but it really didn't go to any of the places that I actually worked.

      Since 2010 I've lived in either Portland or Vancouver, Washington. I've never really felt the need to own a car - I can get everywhere I want or need to go on the TriMet (Portland) bus or MAX light rail, or C-Tran (Vancouver) bus.

      Just look at how much cars cost these days. What is it getting you, to spend so much money just so you can be stuck in traffic on the way to work, where you work to make your car payments?

      • (Score: 2) by Appalbarry on Saturday November 08 2014, @10:44PM

        by Appalbarry (66) on Saturday November 08 2014, @10:44PM (#114134) Journal

        YMMV. I live on the North Shore above Vancouver BC. Transit here sucks.

        Every couple of weeks I need to go to a meeting in downtown Vancouver. Barring some kind of massive traffic disaster, I can drive there from my home in about 25 minutes, and it will cost me about $3.00 in gasoline.

        (NOTE: My vehicle is for business, and the costs of ownership, insurance, and maintenance are sunk costs that aren't relevant to my decision how to travel.) (Which is actually true of every vehicle owner. The fixed costs of ownership are the same whether you drive or leave it parked.)

        If I want to make the same trip by transit I need to add a MINIMUM 45 minutes each way (assuming I make the connections) plus pay $8.00 in fares.

        There's simply no way that makes any sense.

        Transit is only appealing if it's cheap, frequent, and goes where you need it, when you need it. Aside from daily communing at fixed times, transit needs to be easy enough that you don't feel the need to plan in advance.

        • (Score: 2) by hankwang on Sunday November 09 2014, @06:45AM

          by hankwang (100) on Sunday November 09 2014, @06:45AM (#114227) Homepage

          "the costs of ownership, insurance, and maintenance are sunk costs that aren't relevant to my decision how to travel.)"

          Maintenance costs depend on usage, and so does the cost of ownership as you have to write off a heavily used car faster than one that is left unused in a garage. Say, $24 k purchase price over 200,000 miles mechanical lifetime makes $0,12 per mile, which is significant compared to $0.07 per mile for a 38 mpg car at $3/gallon - not even including the increased maintenance costs. You could refine this calculation by looking at used-car prices for different milages, but fact is that there are other usage-dependent costs besides fuel. IMO you are deluding yourself by not weighting those costs in your decision on how to travel.

        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday November 09 2014, @12:16PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 09 2014, @12:16PM (#114250)

          If I want to make the same trip by transit I need to add a MINIMUM 45 minutes each way (assuming I make the connections) plus pay $8.00 in fares.

          You live in a pretty advanced area, at least WRT mass transit. Where I live its much cruder so its more like two hours although only about $4 in fares.

          Theoretically the IRS would let me deduct about $10 but I have a small cheap commuter car so its much cheaper, and its only about a 25 minute drive door to door. Thats about $4/hr which is very cheap compared to ... everything. Its about a tenth my income rate, about a third what a movie theater costs per hour, cheaper than going to any restaurant above McDonalds level.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09 2014, @01:54AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09 2014, @01:54AM (#114178)

      The Saudis are fighting a proxy war in Syria and Iraq, against Iran and Russia. Saudi Arabia is putting the screws to them by collapsing the price of oil. This is political, just like the 70s oil crisis.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:03AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:03AM (#113990)

    I was surprised six years ago that the gas prices were low leading up to the 2008 Presidential elections. I said to myself: It's too good to be true, the prices will go back up to pre-election levels. They eventually did--employing the old 'boiled frog' trick to gradually increase the prices back to what they were. Discussed this with another persion and he held the same view I did and told me the simple reasion for such a gas price drop at such a time: simply an incentive to encourage people to go out and drive to the polls to vote. Once that is done, the prices go right back up.

    Puppet-on-a-string stuff.

    Here is an opportunity to make a few extra bucks (if safe, legal, and feasable to do so) by buying LOTS of gasoline when the prices are low like this, 'sit on it', then sell it at the old, pre-election price levels once the markets 'force' the prices back up to the former levels.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:59AM (#113995)

      Blah-blah-blah conspiracy theories.

      The problem with that bullshit is that you are saying that the 2014 elections were so important to deserve price manipulations but the 2012 elections were not and in fact went almost exactly the opposite direction, [gasbuddy.com] peaking a little over a week before final voting on Nov 6th and then dropping to a 12-month low mid-december.

      Ignorance & Confirmation bias, nothing more.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:23PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:23PM (#114149)

        Our gas prices have been manipulated since the early 1970s.

        It is called OPEC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPEC [wikipedia.org]

        The problem they are running into is 2 nations (key ones at that) are now basically under the control of the US gov and the oil companies. A 3rd one is starting to think this OPEC thing is hurting them and they are actually talking to the US again.

        When you see it hit 65 you will see the opec cartel really ramping up the rhetoric and trying to drive up prices again. Thing is they no longer control 80% of the market.

        The 100-120 a barrel prices we have been seeing are purely because or market manipulation and poor federal policy nearly doubling the money supply. Now that the Russians, Chinese and Americans have their own supplies under control a glut is starting to appear. As much as the dingleberrys in DC want to take credit they cant. It is a market distortion being removed so the true price of gas is reappearing. I expect it to settle between 1.50 and 2.20. Which is near the historical average (given inflation).

        Given that we should step on the gas as it were for more energy sources. That pollute less. It is just simply good business sense. Pollution is waste. Waste costs money.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by richtopia on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:10PM

    by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:10PM (#114041) Homepage Journal

    I'm always confused why the world's largest economy must give itself the handicap of cheap gasoline. Of the first world countries, USA is consistently the cheapest fuel.

    But I'm very libertarian, and feel that the best regulation is taxation. I don't know why we should have CAFE regulations and cheap gas... such a roundabout way of increasing efficiency.

    The tax wouldn't need to even be an overnight spike. Increasing tax one cent a month forever would allow people to react in their future car purchases and not be punished for their current vehicle/commute chosen before taxation. But alas, I do not make policy.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Entropy on Saturday November 08 2014, @04:24PM

      by Entropy (4228) on Saturday November 08 2014, @04:24PM (#114059)

      Because that slows the entire economy. Here's a few things that it'll do:
        1. Higher prices on online shopping. (shipping goes up)
        2. More costly to get to work every day, so almost every working family has less income.
        3. Higher cost for entertainment, so people consume less. Less movies, less dinner out, less everything.

      Basically you retard everything in the economy. People buy less, travel less, do less, consume less..and ultimately produce less. You're not taxing "cheap gasoline" you're taxing energy/movement in a very fundamental way.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday November 09 2014, @05:40AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 09 2014, @05:40AM (#114214) Journal

      I'm always confused why the world's largest economy must give itself the handicap of cheap gasoline.

      You'll be far less confused if you consider instead why the world's largest economy HAS the ADVANTAGE of the cheapest gasoline in the developed world.

      But I'm very libertarian, and feel that the best regulation is taxation. I don't know why we should have CAFE regulations and cheap gas... such a roundabout way of increasing efficiency.

      Why emphasize efficiency when gasoline is cheap? The very cheapness of gasoline implies the unworthiness of the consideration. And when gasoline becomes expensive, the incentive to conserve gasoline is baked in to the situation.

      Basically, this argument only makes sense, if gasoline has in total, large, negative externalities that come inevitably from consumption of gasoline not from treatable effects like reducing pollution from incomplete combustion of gasoline and air. So that might be subsidies for US-based petroleum consumption or the emission of CO2. At the same time, cheap gasoline, particularly in its role in cheap transportation infrastructure, has positive externalities (like everything being cheaper) which need to be considered as well.

      • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Sunday November 09 2014, @02:07PM

        by TheRaven (270) on Sunday November 09 2014, @02:07PM (#114266) Journal
        Part of the problem is volatility. The majority of the price of petrol at the pump in the USA is the cost of oil. The majority elsewhere is tax. A change in the price of oil by 20% is a big change to the pump price in the US, but elsewhere it's less than the difference between competing petrol stations. That makes it much harder to budget in the US without buying fuel futures (which, in turn, increase the volatility by encouraging speculation).
        --
        sudo mod me up
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday November 09 2014, @05:03PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 09 2014, @05:03PM (#114288) Journal

          That makes it much harder to budget in the US without buying fuel futures (which, in turn, increase the volatility by encouraging speculation).

          "Much harder" still isn't particularly hard. And speculation is the cure for itself. Those who can speculate will do so and those who can't will cease, one way or another.

      • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Sunday November 09 2014, @06:16PM

        by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 09 2014, @06:16PM (#114300) Homepage Journal

        Basically, this argument only makes sense, if gasoline has in total, large, negative externalities that come inevitably from consumption of gasoline not from treatable effects like reducing pollution from incomplete combustion of gasoline and air. So that might be subsidies for US-based petroleum consumption or the emission of CO2. At the same time, cheap gasoline, particularly in its role in cheap transportation infrastructure, has positive externalities (like everything being cheaper) which need to be considered as well.

        I thought it was safe to assume that high gasoline consumption has been deemed undesirable by the general public, given the USA has CAFE laws specifically designed to reduce gasoline consumption. I'm also of the mindset that in the future gasoline will increase in price naturally (open to debate); hence a gradual increase would allow lifestyle changes (smaller car, selecting living with commutes less than 100 miles) without the shock of a sudden spike in gasoline.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday November 10 2014, @05:29AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 10 2014, @05:29AM (#114415) Journal

          I thought it was safe to assume that high gasoline consumption has been deemed undesirable by the general public

          There are several things wrong with this claim. First, what is high gasoline consumption? Invariably, it's something other people do. I bet there is a far stronger consensus that almost no one considers themselves to be high consumers of gasoline. So we have a problem that has been deemed by the general public to always happen to other people, but not to themselves.

          Second, the only justification you give for this is peoples' opinions. At one time, in the US, the general public would have deemed various ethnic groups to be undesirable, sometimes even to the point of rationalizing slavery or mass murder of members of those groups. Even now, there are plenty of abominable group beliefs and behaviors that one wouldn't want sanctified on the flimsy grounds that a lot of people do that.

          Third, what process has decided that the general public desires such a thing? The fact that in the US, gas is cheap, indicates that the democratic process hasn't conformed to this alleged belief of the general public.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:14PM (#114043)

    Good MPG will still save you money. I have a cheap economy car that has already saved me lots of money, even more than the cost of the car. People who bought premium fuel-efficient cars will just have to wait longer for their investment to pay off or realize that they weren't buying the most cost-effective car in the first place.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by iwoloschin on Saturday November 08 2014, @05:41PM

    by iwoloschin (3863) on Saturday November 08 2014, @05:41PM (#114075)

    Here in Massachusetts we've got "record" low gas prices, at least in recent years, but NStar (my electric utility) has just requested a 27% increase in electrical prices due to "constrained" natural gas supplies in New England. That's a huge jump and will easily cost me $20+/month based on my typical electrical usage patterns. Considering I rarely drive, I think I'd rather cheap energy and expensive gasoline.

  • (Score: 1) by warcques on Sunday November 09 2014, @12:41AM

    by warcques (3550) on Sunday November 09 2014, @12:41AM (#114168)

    sell my beater Jeep YJ :)

  • (Score: 1) by cesarb on Sunday November 09 2014, @12:55AM

    by cesarb (1224) on Sunday November 09 2014, @12:55AM (#114170) Journal

    This week, we had a 3.7% increase in gasoline prices here in Brazil. The news article I'm looking at says it's now at R$ 2,79 per litre.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09 2014, @10:31AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09 2014, @10:31AM (#114239)

    Why are those a-rabs sitting on our oil?!