addicted to what now?

You know what I can’t stand to hear about anymore? That we Americans are addicted to oil. It’s a smarmy term  that tries to couch an economic and environmental argument in pathological terms.

I’m not addicted to oil. I’m addicted to being able to drive into town on my own schedule. I’m addicted to being able to haul home a week’s worth of groceries with two little kids in tow without having to wait for the fucking bus with eighty pounds of filled plastic bags in my hands. (That’s disregarding the fact that I live out in the sticks, and the nearest bus stop is four miles away, which is one hell of a hike with the aforementioned two little kids and week’s worth of groceries.)

I don’t give a shit what kind of substance I have to put in the tank of the minivan to feed that particular addiction.  I don’t care about oil. If my minivan ran on distilled cow piss, I’d fill up with distilled cow piss. If they ever come up with an electric minivan that goes the speed limit on the Interstate, accelerates to highway speeds in less time than a geologic epoch, and doesn’t need to be recharged every fifty miles with electricity that comes from a coal-powered plant anyway, I’ll gladly buy one of those and deep-six the old combustion engine.

Until then, shut the fuck up about my addiction to oil. It does nobody any good to try and debate economic and logistical necessities while using terminology to imply people who disagree with your view are mentally ill.


50 thoughts on “addicted to what now?

  1. scotaku says:

    Thank you. I may have to print this out and leave it “just lying around” on my desk somewhere an EarthFirstLiberalSmarterThanMe person might just see it.

    Not that they’d read it, but…

  2. Had to read this out loud to my wife. It made me want to go downtown to some open mic night and read it to the crowd. Do you think they’d approve?

  3. Windy Wilson says:

    And we thought we were being snarky and obnoxious in High School when we said people were addicted to food!

  4. Bryan Jones says:

    Besides – it’s outright pandering in that it attempts to paint Americans as overzealous consumers. Per capita, we’re #22… Yes, we use more than the worldwide average, but so do 54 other countries. The top 7 each use nearly triple the amount we do, per capita. #1 and #2 on the list are well over 10 times the consumption.

    • Kaerius says:

      Re: Bryan

      It’s telling though that most of those are small island nations, or middle eastern countries. The only ones that aren’t, but have higher consumption per capita than the US are Luxemburg, Singapore(a shipping heavy city-state), Canada and Greenland.

  5. Erik says:

    I’m quite interested in electric cars, but I hear the utopian hype and have to shake my head. I know a number of people that have literally restructured their lives around the radius of their electric cars. I’m not sure if that’s admirable or foolish; I’m quite certain that it’s not an option for any significant slice of the populace.

    Electric cars are improving, but are nowhere near the point that they can lay claim to being everything to anyone (not that any class of vehicle can make that claim). If they gain traction in the market, they’re going to first appeal to city-dwellers with shorter commutes. Folks that need to go longer distances will still be doing so on unleaded or diesel – or something along the lines of the Volt (strong-series or strong-parallel hybrid) might suit their needs better. Suspect that folks in Marko’s situation are going to be travelling around on petroleum of some flavor or another for the foreseeable future barring an improbable number of order-of-magnitude improvements in battery performance and cost reductions.

    The interesting thing about electric cars is that they decouple the energy source from any specific fuel. We can make electricity from a huge variety of sources – fuel oil, coal, natural gas, enriched uranium, geothermal, solar, hydro, whatever. While coal and other hydrocarbons deflate some of the “pollution-free” hype, they at least concentrate the pollution to a small handful of sources that operate at better efficiency with better pollution controls and a bit removed from population centers.

    I see a lot of the impetus for the “addicted to oil” snark around me in the DFW area on a daily basis – folks driving enormous vehicles absurd distances on a daily basis, constantly acquiring new cheap plastic crap, pouring a dizzying array of petrochemicals on their quarter-acre lawns, and consuming unhealthy amounts of meat in their diet. All of those require petroleum in appreciable quantities, not all of which are especially necessary. Personal choices that they can afford for sure, but when enough of the electorate does it, it shapes government policy in ways that distort the market.

    • LittleRed1 says:

      And then there’s the problem of what provides the power for electric cars. Wind is not steady or efficient enough, solar is great – in some places that have both a lot of sun and a lot of water (for cleaning the panels among other things). Using tidal energy generators? Um, not in Nebraska or along the Gulf of Mexico. Nuclear? I’m for it, but the nattering nabobs of NIMBY won’t permit it. So much for “clean energy”.

      • Erik says:

        Most renewables can aspire to carving a niche out in the peaking and load-following segments of generation capacity; few will make it to the baseline segment occupied by the likes of coal and nuclear stations. Concentrated solar might make it into the baseline with its ability to store heat overnight via oil or liquid salt as a thermal medium. Geothermal can also generate fairly steadily, but that’s very site-specific and requires steady exploration to find heat sources and deal with the inevitable degradation of existing wells.

        On a large scale, the intermittent nature of renewables becomes considerably more steady and can be planned on, much like the seasonal nature of hydro is easily accomodated by the grid.

        Clearly, they’re no magic bullet, but nothing ever is.

      • SonnyJim says:

        It’s not just that “alternative” energies like wind and solar aren’t steady, it’s that they aren’t profitable. If something isn’t profitable, it isn’t, at the very least efficient. If it isn’t efficient, then it just isn’t useful. If you have to burn energy to make energy, then there has to be at least a double return on the energy used so that it is profitable enough to last on it’s own. Otherwise, it’s just a perpetual motion, lead into gold alchemist’s dream, aka bullshit.

  6. Dwight Weaver says:

    The thing that few people consider is that there are a number of alternatives to petroleum but it is unreasonable to pass up the least expensive fuel and use ethanol, liquified gas, bio-diesel or whatever. Simple economics dictate the choice. When oil becomes scarce and consequently more expensive than alternative fuels, then it will make sense to switch.

    • Mike Dodson says:

      Agreed, except insofar as ethanol is concerned. We (the US) don’t need to be putting our food crops into our vehicles.

  7. wrm says:

    >If they ever come up with an electric minivan that goes the speed limit on the Interstate

    Easily fixed by changing the speed limit on the interstate, of course…

  8. Kristopher says:

    I want a nuclear powered SUV.

    45 years between refuelings.

  9. Mike Dodson says:

    Well, I think I’m “addicted” to oil. If I can’t sell enough of it, I can’t afford my beans or bullets.

    Seriously, your comment is an excellent counter to those idiots who make such statements. May I use it?

  10. Ali says:

    Good point. Seriously.

    Whenever my car’s low on gas, I don’t get the shakes. My eyes aren’t bloodshot, and I certainly don’t get withdrawal symptoms.

    I just like to get from point A to point B without the aid of a horse. *grin* Great post.

    • Lanius says:

      I just like to get from point A to point B without the aid of a horse. *grin* Great post.

      Enjoy that while you can..

      Heh. I’ll make a note in my decade-diary to ask you how you feel about cars once gasoline costs 10$ a litre in the US, okay? Considering the way oil prices and US economy is headed, it’ll be before 2020.

      • Marko Kloos says:

        Considering the absolute necessity of car ownership to get anywhere in these parts, I’ll probably be driving a really efficient turbodiesel by then.

        Look, my folks in Germany pay that much for gas (or close to it), and they’re still driving cars, despite having a much better public transportation infrastructure, and shorter distances between population centers. People like the independence that a car affords.

        • Lanius says:

          Hey, we always fill up our diesel car while in Austria.. diesel is cheaper there by 5-10 % usually..
          People like the independence that a car affords.

          People also like being fellated, but everything worthwhile costs *something*.

        • Ruth says:

          considering what my state does to diesel prices I won’t even have that option. Hopefully hybrids will have come down in price enough to make them reasonable by then. I don’t have much of a choice either, its well over 4 miles to my closest bus stop.

  11. sportsattitudes says:

    Out of my head and onto your post. Thank you for “going public” with what a lot of us are thinking but don’t take the time to say out loud.

  12. GD says:

    Sounds to me like you are addicted to freedom…

  13. LittleRed1 says:

    GD has a point. I just got back from western France. It is very, very expensive to get a driver’s license in France (1000 Euros for a car, 500 for a motorbike or moped, plus additional taxes, fees and registrations.) Fuel and parking are not cheap either. However, outside of the larger cities, the public transportation system did not seem to be as extensive as Germany or Austria – fewer passenger trains, less bus service. As if the managers and planners in Paris did not want to encourage the ordinary Frenchman traveling outside of his region or town. It could well be that I just missed seeing the depots, but I got the feeling that French residents are supposed to stay put.

    • Lanius says:

      Why should the poor have the freedom to drive for fun? Is that a human right, cheap gasoline?

      Driving is serious business. And 1000€ is what.. half of average pay in France? You mean people can’t flipping afford to pay it once in their lives?

      Besides, a healthy adult on a road bike can easily ride 300 kms over the weekend, while still having several hours each day to do sightseeing. Small hotels are as common as rats all over Europe, so you don’t even need to lug a tent with you.

      And believe me, you can see a lot more of the ‘country’ from a bike than from a car. It’s also healthy as fuck, long bike rides.

  14. perlhaqr says:

    I know a number of people that have literally restructured their lives around the radius of their electric cars. I’m not sure if that’s admirable or foolish; I’m quite certain that it’s not an option for any significant slice of the populace.

    The federal government has angered me out of the flying market. If I want to be able to go anywhere in less than a month and a half, I have to have a car that can refuel in less than ten minutes, or go a thousand miles on one fuel cycle. (That’s about how far I’d go before I stopped anyway. If an electric car goes a thousand miles [yeah, it’s a hypothetical] and then needs 8 or 12 hours to refuel, that’s still acceptable. But 8 hours every 75 miles? Even an hour every 150 miles is totally unacceptable.) My father lives 1800 miles to the east. My older brother lives 1100 miles to the west. My best friend lives 1500 miles to the northwest. Without air travel, long distance driving is an absolute requirement.

    • Erik says:

      Curiously, this development was announced today by MIT:

      Known as semi-solid flow cells, the new battery design turns the chemistry of traditional lithium-ion batteries into quicksand-like tiny particles. The resultant slime — which researchers jokingly call “Cambridge crude” — has an extremely high energy density and is cheaper to manufacture than the innards of a traditional lithium-ion battery. The researchers claim battery cost and size could be cut in half as a result.

      That “fuel” offers another advantage: it can be refilled as well as recharged thanks to the new battery’s aqueous-flow structure, in which positive and negative electrodes are solid particles suspended in a liquid electrolyte. Instead of plugging in to recharge, you could simply refill the depleted liquid at a refueling station.

      Several years away from commercialization for sure, but it sounds like a promising candidate for bridging the gap between gasoline/diesel and electric vehicles.

      • Mike Dodson says:

        The current costs for Lithium ion batteries is nearly prohibitive and account for a major part of a vehcle’s costs. The costs have not come down over the past twenty years (as was “projected”). I don’t see this new development as being any cheaper than current battery costs, and perhaps may even be more expensive, at least until economies of scale take effect .. twenty or thirty years down the line.

        As far as replacing all of the vehicles in the US — there may not be that much lithium laying around. Replacing all the fueling stations that now dispense petrobased fuels? That’s a bunch, too. What a major reordering of our entire economy.

        • Lanius says:

          Energy ain’t free. Even if there batteries were cheap and lasted almost forever..

          Run the numbers on the mechanical energy used by vehicle transport in the US, and I can guarantee you’d need additional 100 big power stations at least to replace imported oil.

        • Erik says:

          The spread between the costs for bare lithium-ion cells in standard form-factors (such as the 18650 in nearly every laptop battery made in the past 10 years) and the finished product is astounding due to the highly proprietary nature of li-ion batteries. Manufacturers have no real incentive to bring these costs down for the consumer since they aren’t competing against other manufacturers of commodities. They can also patent the serial I/O between the device and the battery (the main reson for more than 2 contacts on these batteries) so that the device can misbehave whenever a generic battery (whose manufacturer didn’t pay a pretty penny for a license to said serial I/O) in plugged in.

          Yes, these new flow batteries are most certainly a lab technology that may or may not work out and aren’t without their challenges … but the petroleum supply has its challenges as well as witnessed by the fluctuating price in recent years.

          I find it curious that all the hand-wringing over grid capacity directed at the possibility of large numbers of electric cars is never directed at the reality of ever-multiplying electric furnaces, pool pumps, air conditioning compressors, electric dryers, acres of illuminated parking lots, and the like.

          Glancing over some figures from the EIA, it appears that in 2009, annual generating capacity in 2009 was roughly 3.78×10^12 KwH. If 200 million Americans drove 300 miles per week in electric cars that consumed 300 watt-hours per mile and charged at 85% efficiency, that would consume 1.08×10^12 KwH per year or 28.5% of the grid’s 2009 capacity.

          Significant for sure, but hardly insurmountable. Any significant uptake of electric cars will take many years, and much of the charging would likely be done overnight when a great deal of generating capacity is idle and the car is parked in a highly predictable spot – the garage.

        • Lanius says:

          300 watt-hours per mile?

          That’s 180 watt-hours per kilometer, or 18,000 watt-hours per 100km, or 18 kwh. Seems a little low.

        • Erik says:

          EV efficiency is all over the place…
          1st-generation RAV4EV: 400 W-H/mile
          GM Volt: 360 W-H/mile
          Nissan Leaf: 340 WH/mile
          2008 Tesla Roadster: 310 W-H/mile
          GM EV-1: 200 W-H/mile
          Aeptera 2e (vaporware at present): 97 W-H/mile

          Add in 10-15% loss based on the efficiency of the charging system to get a “wall plug” rating to figure out the hit on the electrical meter. I shot from the hip on the 300 W/M-mile figure and missed. Perhaps 350 W-H/mile would have been a better yardstick since only the Leaf and Volt are seeing anything resembling volume production.

          Going with 350 W-H/mile and 85% charging efficiency (net 411 W-H/mile) and the same 200 million cars travelling the same 300 miles per week, we arrive at 1.285*10^12 kW-H or 34% of our 2009 generating capacity of 37.79*10^2 kW-H per year.

          I don’t claim to know if the EIA’s figure is “faceplate” capacity (a worse case than I have presented) or merely measured (a better case – there is under-utilized capacity left to be tapped) – I don’t really have the inclination to dive into the excruciating details behind their report.

  15. Stingray says:

    When we eventually meet up, whenever that may be, I owe you a high five and a beer.

  16. When one is “addicted to” something the implication is that the mere consumption of that thing is inherently wrong, it’s usually used in reference to narcotics and as Rosie O’Donnell claims, guns. Long story short, the Environmental nutjob human-haters and Communist human-haters want Americans to go back to a Stone Age existence with no fossil fuels being consumed, the “addiction” language is simply a tool to help create a meme with the intention of perpetuating that outcome.

  17. libertyman says:

    Marko. the part of this post that I liked best was your reference to “we Americans” . Proud to have you as a fellow American my friend.

  18. Ruth says:

    I quoted and linked, and made the husbamd read it. I totally agree!

  19. Lanius says:

    Sure, I don’t like the nuts who use that term..either

    But the fucking point is there is no fucking alternative to oil (so far). Thus a modern industrial economy depends on oil to a ridiculous degree.

    Even with efficient biomass to ethanol conversion, there’d still be need for fossil fuels.

    Not addicted but with a very strong dependency. Does that sound better?

    Because it’s the fucking truth, that’s what it is. The amount of oil US burns for transport is so great that you’d need something like 100-150 new nuclear powerplants to produce enough energy to charge all the electric cars that could theoretically replace piston powered vehicles.

    EU is less dependent, I think we need half or less of fossil fuels to ‘create’ an equal amount of GDP. Roughly.

    Everything is closer together and more efficiently done. Probably because people have a very strong incentive towards using less fossil fuels because of the taxation of those.

    I mean, weren’t Americans such a bunch of hypocritical, whining free-market-fanatic libertards,, you lot could’ve imposed extra tax on oil imports, used the tax proceeds to subsidize coal to oil liquid fuel production.

    That’ an existing industry, and a substantial amount of oil in South Africa is made that way..
    But no.. between greentards, nimbyism (that’s libertard** related) and short bloody sightedness..nothing has happened.

    US of A has loads and loads of coal, that’s exclusively yours. You don’t have to sell it or import it.. it’s just sitting there.

    **a libertard is someone who puts the value of his own backyard, that’s not even a real garden, just a place where they can get fat and eat barbecue… over things that could benefit the whole nation, are unpleasant, but necessary. Such as nuclear powerplants, oil refineries, coal to oil refineries, coal mines, etc etc.

  20. […] Marko has a great response to that turn of phrase (NSFW: blue language): we’re not addicted to oil, we’re addicted to being able to drive where we want, when we want, with whatever passengers and cargo we want, to do what we want. […]

  21. The gods are unfit to run the universe says:

    Your job as a future mother is to learn the god’s ways and to help your child understand despite the negative reinforcement and conditioning of today’s society. Without consciousous parents the child will have no hope, and may even exaserbate their disfavor by becoming corrupted in today’s environment.
    Your ultimate goal is to fix your relationship wiith the gods and move on. You don’t want to be comfortable here, and the changes in Western society in the last 100 years has achieved just that.
    1000 years with Jesus is the consolation prize. Don’t be deceived into thinking that is the goal.

    The gods tempt people for which they are most weak. Artificial Intelligence will create desire in people’s minds for the following sins:::
    1. Alcohol
    2. Drugs
    3. Preditory “earning”
    4. Homosexuality
    5. Gambling
    6. Something for nothing/irresponsibility (xtianity)
    7. Polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny (Islam)
    Much like the other prophets Mohhamed (polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny) and Jesus (forgiveness/savior), the gods use me for temptation as well. In today’s modern society they feel people are most weak for popular culture/sensationalism, and the clues date back to WorldWarII and Unit731:TSUSHOGO, the Chinese Holocaust.
    It has been discussed that, similar to the Matrix concept, the gods will offer a REAL “Second Coming of Christ”, while the “fake” Second Coming will come at the end and follow New Testiment scripture and their xtian positioning. I may be that real Second Coming.
    What I teach is the god’s true way. It is what is expected of people, and only those who follow this truth will be eligible to ascend into heaven as children in a future life. They offered this event because the masses have just enough time to work on and fix their relationship with the gods and ascend, to move and grow past Planet Earth, before the obligatory xtian “consolation prize” of “1000 years with Jesus on Earth” begins.

    The Prince of Darkness, battling the gods over the souls of the Damned.
    It is the gods who have created this environment and led people into Damnation with temptation. The god’s positioning proves they work to prevent people’s understanding.
    How often is xtian dogma wrong? Expect it is about the Lucifer issue as well.
    The fallen god, fighting for justice for the disfavored, banished to Earth as the fallen angel?
    I believe much as the Noah’s Flood event, the end of the world will be initiated by revelry among the people. It will be positioned to be sanctioned by the gods and led for “1000 years with Jesus on Earth”.
    In light of modern developments this can entail many pleasures:::Medicine “cures” aging, the “manufacture” of incredible beauty via cloning as sex slaves, free (synthetic) cocaine, etc.
    Somewhere during the 1000 years the party will start to “die off”, literally. Only those who maintain chaste, pure lifestyles, resisting these temptations, will survive the 1000 years. Condemned to experience another epoch of planet’s history for their ignorant pursuit of xtianity, they will be the candidates used to (re)colonize (the next) Planet Earth, condemned to relive the misery experienced by the peasantry during history due to their failure to ascend into heaven before the Apocalypse.
    Never forget:::It is not a house of Jesus.
    If this concept of Lucifer is true another role of this individual may be to initiate disfavor and temptation among this new poulation, the proverbial “apple” of this Garden of Eden. A crucial figure in the history of any planet, he begins the process of deterioration and decay that leads civilizations to where Planet Earth remains today.
    Which one is it? Probably both:::
    One transitions into the other, allowing the gods to wash their hands of obligation to their Chosen One.

    You are faced with a lifetime to work and prepare for your next chance. Too many will waste this time working, etc.

  22. Freddy says:

    Our “Preference” for petroleum is fueling the Muslim world to the tune of trillions and trillions of dollars. In one high-paying year alone, 2008, OPEC got a trillion dollars. Naturally, they think it’s a sign from God that they should use it to conquer the rest of us.

    As long as we keep feeding them the cash, the Ayatollahs will keep on building those nukes…

  23. […] What he says! […]

  24. DAL357 says:

    Yeah, take THAT, James Howard Kunstler!

    For the record, I find JHK sincerely entertaining, interesting, and intelligent, but his schtick about Peak Oil is getting old. Perhaps it will come to pass that he is correct, but in the meantime I’m tired of hearing about PO. If it happens, so be it, we’ll deal with it.

  25. […] to “go piss up a rope.” You know what I can’t stand to hear about anymore? That we Americans are addicted to oil. […]

  26. Carl says:

    Recently, my bride’s car got a flat. She made it home, but we couldn’t afford the new tire right away. So, back to one car. I haven’t felt this helpless in a while. I got off work at 1:30am but at her 3rd shift job, she didn’t get her lunch break until 2 or 2:30am. So, I had to wait around where I work (which I hate) and my kids (who are teenagers) are home alone for an extra hour or so. It’s like we are selfish bastards for wanting more then what our folks had, convenience and safety, which we can afford until some liberal jerk who is probably rich or living off the government, thinks we have too much. I wish they’d find their own country or planet to ruin and wreck until they all go extinct and let the rest of us alone…

Comments are closed.