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Flood of Oil Is Coming, Complicating Efforts to Fight Global Warming (nytimes.com)
291 points by pseudolus 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 476 comments





Demand for oil&gas will continue to grow for a long time due to:

- SUV/pick-up boom (America's best-selling car in 2018 is the F150 series!) and more cars + trucks in countries like Brazil, India, China, Indonesia

- crazy growth in air travel (look at order numbers of Airbus, see how many airports are under construction, see miles traveled via plane)

- simultaneous shift away from coal+ nuclear, giving a huge boost to natural gas in the long term (LNG build-out is only now beginning)

- the world getting richer (more and more humans are living like Westerners). We're on a path towards $100tn/y world GDP and 10bn humans.

I provide more detail + resources on my blog: https://mxschumacher.xyz/post/long_oil_and_gas/


America's best-selling car in 2018 is the F150 series!

American's are going crazy for SUVs and pickups, but the F150 has been the best-selling vehicle for decades. Pickups have outsold passenger vehicles for a long time.


Coming in 2021, the electric Ford F-150.[1] That should be a great truck. Empty pickups have poor weight distribution; not enough weight in back. With a giant battery pack under the pickup bed, traction is better.

[1] https://youtu.be/bXFHgoon7lg


Plus, no propshaft or exhaust to get hung up on things, and you can get the CoG lower, improving handling. Plus, a level of traction control that simply isn't possible with ICE. I'm excited.

Plus, electric motors have flat torque curves, while ICEs need to get up to a certain RPM before you start getting decent torque. That means you get maximum acceleration and hauling power from the get-go.

https://www.carthrottle.com/post/how-do-electric-vehicles-pr...

(This incidentally is part of why Tesla started with the Roadster - the flat torque curve of an electric motor can give some great acceleration numbers, which is pretty nifty when you're building a status-symbol sports car.)


Gah. I agree that electric vehicles are cool, but there is no need for parroting "facts" about ICEs that were true in the 1970s.

If you look at the torque curve of a modern pickup truck engine, it's either completely flat or it's actually decreasing as you go from low to high RPMs. E.g. the GM Duramax 6.6 maxes out at 1200 Nm at 1600 RPM, then decreases to 900 as you go higher in revs. For comparison, the Model X P100D puts out 660 Nm at peak.

Wrt. Tesla's acceleration numbers - it's always been possible to obtain those. In fact, sub 2-second 0-60 times were achieved with road legal Ford RS200 in the mid 1980s. Sports car manufacturers have instead been competing on track times on famous circuits like the Nurburgring Nordschliefe. Tesla hadn't a snowballs chance in a hatching machine to compete on that, so they went and optimized for a spec where there was no real competition, and that fit their technology well.

As for traction control, there is no system in the world that is superior to just locking all three diffs. This is what you find in serious off-road machines, and many decent pickups. No sensors, no intelligence, no response times, just simple mechanical engineering that will always automatically distribute torque to where it is needed. Instead of being reactive, acting when slip has been detected, it is proactive and gives you torque where there is grip.


I agree re: power. I do not agree about traction.

Assume you're stuck in mud somehow, a perfect case for diff lockers. If you lock the rotational rate of all your wheels together you are either:

a.) limiting the torque you're applying to the amount the tire with the least amount of traction available can bear before slipping out, or

b.) letting 'em rip and hoping you don't dig yourself down into a hole.

The beauty of having fine control over the power going to each motor is that you can put down the max torque that particular wheel can manage regardless of what the other tires are doing. And you can do so with a granularity that is unmatched by any ICE TC system (which IIRC use the brakes to control torque?)


> Nurburgring

Where Tesla just put down a 7:13

> torque curve

What's the Duramax's torque at 0 RPM?


Tesla did a 7:23 in a heavily modified testing vehicle that has big extra air intakes for cooling, racing slicks, a massive rear diffuser, bigger spoiler, and is believed to have 3 engines.

For comparison, a front-wheel-drive stock Renault Megane RS does 7:40. Mercedes did 7:25 in a stock 4-door coupe last year, the AMG GT 63S. The stock supercars are down below the 7:00 mark mostly.

In the non-stock category, the record is 5:19 by one of Porsche's modified LMP1 cars.

If you look up how a stall speed converter works, you'll see that an automatic transmission delivers torque at a non-zero engine RPM even if the wheels are at zero RPM. The lowest you will go on the Duramax is around 1000 RPM, where you get 600 Nm torque.


The difference between a Tesla and an rs200 accelerating like that is the Tesla does it with zero drama. An rs200 Is not a daily driver.

but but.. the telsa pickup truck towing capacity is rumored to be 300,000 lbs.

This!!! I've told everyone who'd listen for years that an electric motor is the better option for a pickup trucks due to the more appropriate matching of the torque curve to the hauling load demands.

When my beloved '00 Ram 1500 died about 5 years ago I decided to hold out for an electric truck that I assumed would be coming to market. Looks like I may finally get my chance shortly. I honestly don't know if the cumulative environmental footprint is better, but I do know an electric motor will be superior.


Trains are electric motors powered by diesel generators. Seems like it should be an easy sell for people that whatever trains do is an effective way to handle heavy loads.


The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can do this too (replace diesel with gasoline)

Trains don't do hills very well. Train tracks are always mostly straight and level. They do that extremely well.

And freeways have regulations about what the maximum road grade can be to prevent trucks from slowing down too significantly on hills.

That's just a law of converting massive amounts of kinetic energy into potential energy as the weight goes up hill.


I used to own an old Ford Ranger, and in Winter I would have it loaded with bags of sand in the bed to improve traction on ice. I could have just as easily been hauling batteries everywhere.

When I was 17, I crashed and totaled my '77 Ford pickup because I slid out on wet pavement. Everyone said I needed sand bags but I loved being able to peel out so easily. Live and learn.

Love fishtailing the Camaro.

Love fishtailing the Hellcat at 70mph.

I did it first.

Lose half the battery capacity in cold weather. EVs are less efficient at highway speeds. Two things rural half ton trucks need. Add to that the loss of carrying capacity due to the battery weight. I'm not sure if motors and battery weigh a similar amount as a drivetrain and fuel, I hope so.

If it's only city travel it's fine but that's not what a truck was made for.

I'm all for electric vehicles and I hope the technology advances but people need to be realistic.

It's like the customer service industry if all the comments are compliments how do you know what is wrong?


A vehicle that has a towing capacity in the tens of thousands of pounds can have a big battery bank, and so it could have longer range than a small sedan. Of course the weight of the battery itself reduces range, and carrying a load will reduce range, and bigger batteries increase cost, but I suspect the reason Ford is introducing an electric truck in 2021 (and Tesla has one coming, too) is because they've done the math and it's finally starting work out right for some category of their customer base.

The truck market is downright scientific, and Ford is the leader in that market. They serve a lot of fleet customers and have huge amounts of data about how those fleets are used. They must have found a segment that will find electric vehicles cost-effective, otherwise they'd put it off another year or two or three. It's not the average truck buyer that's pushing them toward electric (there's a deep vein of stupid in that market that loves big, noisy, smelly, engines), but I'm confident they aren't doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. I believe Ford making an electric truck means there's a market for electric trucks, whatever their limitations, at the price they can deliver them.


But the Tesla pickup was announced to have 300,000 lb towing capacity and 400-500 miles of range.

That's like the hall of fame entry for things that aren't actually true about electric vehicles. Efficiency doesn't get worse at highway speeds as compared to gas engines. EVs and gas engines spend more of their energy going faster against air resistance. evs are vastly more efficient than gas cars in terms of energey efficiency, thats why electric cars have theoretical gas mileage of around 100 mpg. But gas is a very efficient energy storage mechanism, gas cars are about 1/4 the efficiency of electric cars but can be gased up quickly and have more net range usually.

Teslas don't lose half their range when it's cold. They do lose some range, but it's much less than other evs, because they heat up the pack. evs are great for cross country travel, if there are reasonable charging stations along the way (which is best with tesla).


> thats why electric cars have theoretical gas mileage of around 100 mpg

what good is that when your theoretical car can only hold 2.5 (maybe) gallons of fuel


theoretical gallons of gas is not useful when you have vastly different ranger per gallon (or kilowatts) of energy. Reporting miles of range is what makes sense. Cars get less mileage when they 70 miles per hour than 60 mph, but its not so visible because you don't ever have such an exact measure of gas and range available.

EVs are less efficient at highway speeds

Huh? Less efficient than what? There is no way it is less efficient than an ICE.


Less efficient than the same vehicle at lower speeds, I assume. But, that's true of every vehicle...so, it's a weird argument.

> I'm all for electric vehicles and I hope the technology advances but people need to be realistic.

Realistically most people driving full sized pickup trucks aren't farmers and aren't rural.


I own an F150 I inherited from my grandfather. As much as I lust after Teslas I wouldn't trade it for an electric for one simple reason: my F150 is what I drive if I must drive at all when it floods. AFAIK you cannot and should not submerge the motors or the battery on an electric car. Still, that's an edge case.

Telsa model 3s act as boats during floods. Have a look at youtube, there are numerous videos of people stranded in their engine flooded car and a Tesla floats right by.

And yet if I started a Tesla warranty climb with "So there I was, driving through several feet of water" I'm skeptical it would be approved. That was my point. Electrics are fantastic vehicles. I can't wait to own my first one, but they aren't yet built for every purpose.

I don't think the Ford dealership would warrant me driving an F-150 through several feet of water either but fixing the issues that come from it are a known quantity. Not so much with an electric pickup.


> Empty pickups have poor weight distribution; not enough weight in back. With a giant battery pack under the pickup bed, traction is better.

The problem you're mentioning being solved by a battery pack could just as easily be solved by putting any random ballast in the back of the regular truck. I think electric will have other advantages (and disadvantages), but I doubt this is a big one for most people.


That ballast would then make the truck use even more fuel, which wouldn't make much sense.

I put two sixty-pound buckets of gravel in the back corners of my pickup. That's a neglible difference in weight but a very noticeable difference in traction in cold wet weather.

The minimum required ballast probably wouldn't make any difference at all. We're talking about a V8 with tons of torque and horsepower.

>We're talking about a V8 with tons of torque and horsepower.

Take a look at the market. Lots of the trucks actually sold are dumpy underpowered RWD sixes or less, and the new motors are getting smaller, better, and more fuel efficient. Doesn't sound like the market wants a heavier boat to careen down the interstate in.

You can charge a whole lot more for the industrially useful V8's (which are still dumpy IMO, their job is "Don't stop turning over.") and much better diesels anyhow. At least telling uncle charlie about the OEM underslung sandbags will get quite a chuckle at Thanksgiving dinner.


Sure, but it solves the problem of traction. The electric vehicle also reduces efficiency by adding weight to the vehicle - being electric doesn't change physics. And being able to remove weight is always preferable to not being able to remove weight.

>adding weight [...] being electric doesn't change physics

Unlike Internal Combustion vehicles, electric vehicles typically feature regenerative braking. Therefore any added weight is much less of an efficiency handicap (compared with IC).


>The electric vehicle also reduces efficiency by adding weight to the vehicle - being electric doesn't change physics.

The battery adds weight, but that's more than outweighed by the tremendous efficiency of an electric drivetrain. The EV equivalent of a gas-guzzler (e.g. a Tesla Model X P90D) still achieves the equivalent of 90mpg.


I am not arguing that an ICE vehicle is more efficient than an electric vehicle - I am saying that adding weight reduces efficiency for both. I was not making a general comparison between the pros and cons of electric vehicles, I was pointing out that one person's comment about better traction for electric vehicles was incredibly disingenuous because ICE vehicles can get the same benefit by simply adding weight - and they can also remove that weight when they want to unlike the electric vehicle.

Your argument is incorrect as pointed out by dropin685 earlier. Additional weight by itself does not waste energy. It does require more power to accelerate. The extra power is turned into higher kinetic energy for the same cruising speed. However kinetic energy is not waste. It can be recovered during deacceleration. It's the lack of regeneration that causes ICE powered vehicles to waste energy, which doesn't apply to EVs with regeneration capabilities.

I am obviously failing to communicate as this was meant to be about the effects of weight and traction, and how batteries are not unique for adding weight to a vehicle (other than a lower center of gravity, but that has nothing to do with my original point).

While regenerative braking is most common in electric vehicles, this also is not unique to electric vehicles. A hybrid vehicle can just as easily benefit from this, such as the Prius.

> Additional weight by itself does not waste energy. It does require more power to accelerate. The extra power is turned into higher kinetic energy for the same cruising speed. However kinetic energy is not waste. It can be recovered during deacceleration.

This is incorrect unless the engine/motor, drivetrain, and tires are all 100% efficient - additional weight always wastes energy.

But I agree with you, electric vehicles are more energy efficient than gasoline vehicles.


> A hybrid vehicle can just as easily benefit from this, such as the Prius.

If you momentarily ignore the fact that its ultimate energy source is gasoline and focus only on the regen system a hybrid is an electric vehicle, just one that (sadly) lacks a plug.


> It's the lack of regeneration that causes ICE powered vehicles to waste energy,

Not just the lack of regen. ICEs waste energy while idling, as heat, noise, and vibration, and mechanical couplings like clutches and especially fluid couplings in automatic transmissions also waste energy. Automatic transmissions in particular are only 90% mechanically efficient, on top of all the losses from the ICE.


Good weight distribution in ICE cars is pretty exotic. Only fairly performance optimized ICE cars like a Porsche Cayman, BMW m3, and similar performance oriented cars get the ideal 50/50 distribution.

Changing that weight distribution is very expensive from a R&D perspective. Sometimes the battery is moved, or the engine is moved a few inches relative to the front axle. This is one of the reasons performance oriented cars are often rather large compared to their usable interior volumes.

Battery operated cars do have a weight penalty, but you can put that weight wherever you want. You could relatively trivially make a 50/50 distributor of significantly front or rear biased with no substantial R&D overhead or loss of efficiency.

For instance the Tesla model 3 not only has a very low center of gravity, but also a very low polar momentum. In an ice car that would require a mid engine design (like a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or the newest Corvette. While having an large usable volume, more like a bmw 5 series than a 3).

So basically weight distribution is easy to tweak with batteries, and even with the weight penalty have a substantial lead in efficiency.


I have already specifically mentioned that I am not talking about center of gravity or handling characteristics you'd find in a sports car. I have already written multiple comments about how you can put weight in a truck to add traction to the rear tires. I have already explained that electric vehicles are heavier but more efficient than ICE vehicles. You basically say similar things to what I said, and then come to the 100% wrong conclusion.

> So basically weight distribution is easy to tweak with batteries

No. You can do this when designing the car, but not afterwards. You want more weight in the regular pickup truck? Throw it in the back. You want less? Take it out. You can't take the batteries out of the electric vehicle. All my original comment said was you can add weight to the back of a pickup truck to improve traction on the rear axle. I didn't talk about center of gravity, or performance vehicles, or even mention that electric vehicles are heavier.

I am astounded by the amount of comments taking something I said, responding to it maybe tangentially and then concluding with "well that's why electric vehicles are better!" Let's just agree to disagree.


Yes, but on the converse side, the weight adds extra safety, at least with the Model X. Since it's heavier and the center of gravity is lower, they tend to not roll over very easily. https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/14/why-the-tesla-model-x-e...

What I said:

> I was not making a general comparison between the pros and cons of electric vehicles

And you replied:

> Yes, but on the converse side...[something that has nothing to do with traction]

Am I unintentionally arguing that electric vehicles are bad? I get the impression people think I hate electric vehicles and are trying to convince me of their virtues, when I was simply pointing out what I thought was a logical flaw from another commenter.


If the power density of batteries doubles the weight penalty likely disappears. Maybe that's not possible. But as electric vehicle production increasing there is going to be a lot of pressure to achieve that. With funding to match.

The battery weight is balanced by the removal of the engine, transmission and gas tank/gas weight.

It's not a controversial statement to say electric vehicles are heavier than gasoline vehicles. Typically an electric vehicle will weigh about 1/3 more than a competing ICE vehicle. Just look at curb weights for vehicles if you don't believe me.

1/3 sounds crazy high.

Most would consider the Tesla Model 3 a luxury car. The BMW 3 series and Telsa model 3 are positioned similarly. Both are $40k-$80k, optionally AWD, sold as performance luxury sedans in a range of different performances. If you want to pick two particular models I'd say the model 3 AWD and the BMW 330i xdrive are very similar.

The BMW weights 3,763 pounds, so the Model 3P weight 4,072, which is just over 8% heavier.


I just looked at some numbers and you're right, it does seem like I exaggerated. If you choose the lower weight range for the 3 series though the difference ends up being 14% heavier, and obviously you can choose difference cars to compare. But you are right, 1/3 seems too high. Maybe half that would be more accurate.

I looked at the lighter weight BMW model 3 series. They were either smaller engines (not fair since the model 3 AWD is already faster), or RWD (again not fair to compare to an AWD electric).

Seems like 8% is about right to me.


If you look at the Model S which starts at 4800 pounds and Model X which starts at 5000 pounds the math works out very differently.

Sure, but they are much larger cars, 3 rows of seats available, etc. What cars are you comparing them to?

For the Model S my first thought was the M4, which actually does end up with the original 1/3 weight disparity I mentioned, but I think this is just a coincidence of my first choice. Compared to an E63 AMG, a car in a similar category known for carrying a bit of weight, and the difference is closer to 10%. Compared to an RS4 the difference is about 20%.

For the Model X I was really surprised how small the differences were. Compared to a G Wagon, which I'd say is really its competition, the difference in weight is about 8%. Compared to an X5, it's about 5%. If you consider the X7 to be the competition (which most people probably do), the X7 ends up being about 1% heavier.

And just to add it since I'm already doing this, I think the clear competitor for the Model 3 Performance is the M2 Competition. They're specifically meant to be track vehicles that you can comfortably use for your daily driver. This puts the weight disparity at 18% for that model. And just for fun: https://youtu.be/HycUgd6fTWI & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pu9046wX9g

So I guess the conclusion is electric vehicles are heavier, but as you move towards already heavy vehicles like SUVs the weight differences start to vanish. But as you move towards more smaller vehicles, the difference is much more noticeable.


Come now, that's not even close. That's comparing a BMW M4 2 door coup with a rear seat (rated for 4 adults) with a fullsize 5 door sedan (rated for 5 adults). The model S has around 3 times the cargo space (30 ft^3 s "8 to 11" ft^2 on the BMW).

A 5 series is much closer, 5 adults, 18 ft^3 cargo space, and even leads by a bit on passenger space (98 ft^3 vs 94 ft^3). The model S is AWD only, so to be fair lets add that to the BMW 5 series.

The BMW 550i xdrive "base curb weight" is 4,372, the Tesla S P100D is 4883, so 11.6%. Both cars have slower/lighter versions of course. The M550i has a 0-60 of 3.8 seconds, the Tesla 2.5 seconds.

They are both handle 5 passenger, have 4 doors (ignoring the heavier hatchback on the S), have AWD, are within 1 inch wheelbase and 0.6 inch in length. Having sat in both I'd say that feel relatively similarly sized, especially in the back seat (unlike the M4).

As for the m2 competition, I think the weight distribution can be partially attributed to it being a small 2 door with a token rear seat and tiny trunk than any strong statement about ICE vs electric. I'm not saying batteries (at least today) are not heavier, just that for comparably sized/marketed cars the difference is relatively low.

I think a common trap is to compare a large tesla that fits a family of 4+dog and to compare it to a high performance sports coup... because of the similar performance. Not because they are comparable cars for most uses.


All your points are valid, with one caveat. The Model 3 Performance really is targeted at people that want the "fun" car, so I think it's appropriate to compare it to other sports cars. But that said - there is obviously a huge benefit going towards the Tesla in having more utility due to its size.

Everyone throws some sandbags and rock salt in the bed, next to the shovel and tinfoil blanky. Sure gonna need it when you're stuck in the ditch :)

I'd take computer managed digital torque delivery over feathering my old clutch plate, if you even still get to run one of those. The dual-clutch trans will need your other foot. Mushy delivery (Sounds like an f150 to me) and out of the mud aren't really compatible.


> Everyone throws some sandbags and rock salt in the bed, next to the shovel and tinfoil blanky. Sure gonna need it when you're stuck in the ditch :)

At least you can remove that weight when you need to. I bet it's a lot easier to tow a 4,000 pound truck out of a ditch than a 6,000 pound truck.


No it isn't, not at all. The tow operator is equipped for both, already. And if you're pulling with a 3k winch maybe you need to make stop at harbor freight.

Anyhow, instead of faffing around with silly sandbags, a mid-engine truck is what you're dancing around. Closest thing I've heard of is the Isuzu ELF (NPR in my neck of the woods) which they've been producing since the 60's or so. The motor is kind of underneath the cab. Nobody wants what you're selling.


In non-coastal America, most of the pickup trucks you see on the road are empty.

That's true in coastal America too from what I can tell.

Why are pick-ups so popular? I can understand if you are a construction worker, farmer, etc. that actually needs a pickup truck; but why are they so popular for other people? The vast majority of pickup trucks I see have beds that are so clean that it is obvious that has never been used to haul even one bag of cement or load of dirt.

I expect part of the reason is utility vs cost of ownership. You can commute in a pickup but you can't move an apartment in a Prius (well not in one trip :-).

If you look at the marginal cost of a second vehicle[1] it is quite high. Thus you may be limited to owning exactly one vehicle, and that vehicle is going to consume a chunk of your income (insurance/gas/maintenance). In that scenario the most financially prudent choice can seem to be a truck over another choice. Towing things is another aspect, if you vacation a lot by camping rather than staying in hotels it costs less per day to camp/hike then to spend it at a resort somewhere. Or boating/fishing, same calculus.

[1] Things like parking, insurance, inspection/license fees, maintenance all add up. And the opportunity cost of that capital tied up in a car loan vs doing something else.


But, it's like $50 or less a day to rent a huge uhaul truck. And an SUV can easily haul a boat or other toys, plus keep gear covered and provide seating for more people. If you really need to haul something that wont fit in the back of the suv, you can always rent a uhaul trailer for about $20/day. Heck, you can rent a large flat bed truck from home depot for about $20 for a few hours that can probably haul more than an F-150.

Perception is important. A lot of these decisions aren't made by people who sat down and wrote down the numbers to arrive at the rational choice. But if I think I have utility for a pick up often because I like to think I'm that rugged, diy type of person, I'll think it's rational to own a pickup and assume the relative prices get massaged away.

/I drove a pick-up for a number of years for this reason until hybrid crossovers became viable.


The customer of a pick up truck is typically much more cost conscious than a SUV. The reason car companies push people towards SUVs is the profit margins are MUCH higher.

Generally you get MUCH more for your money with a pick up truck over a SUV.


I've heard this argument before but can't really make sense of it.

Moving apartments and similar activities are (a) rare; (b) can't be done in a pickup anyway - I'd need to rent a much larger truck; and (c) renting a proper truck every time I moved and will move apartments/houses in my whole life is cheaper than the cost difference between a pickup and a smaller car, especially as fuel is a huge part of total cost of ownership.


I understand this sentiment, it doesn't persuade me either (but I am also in a situation that allows me to own multiple vehicles).

That said, my experience is primarily anecedotal; people I know who own only a truck, dealers who are selling trucks, and various reader survey type "Why buy a truck" articles that show up in the popular press like Popular Mechanics or Car & Driver from time to time.

You have focused on the actual need versus the perceived need. The aforementioned dealers are big on selling the "unknown future need" and the fear of finding yourself in a position where having the truck would solve your problem but you don't have one.

Like your argument above, I tend to be much more analytical in my purchases and so I like to believe I am not influenced as strongly by the "what if ..." arguments. (It must have some effect since I don't own a pickup truck at the moment :-). I have also learned, that precision thinking isn't always the dominant force in a lot of buyers making buying decisions. I encourage anyone thinking about this question to talk to truck owners and ask them what they were thinking when they bought their truck and how much of how they anticipated using it was something they actually did post purchase.


> (b) can't be done in a pickup anyway

I've moved myself and a number of friends using just my mid-sized pick-up.


And I've moved myself using a Suzuki Swift. Doesn't mean it was particularly efficient compared to hiring a proper moving van though :)

I mean sure, if you are in a small apartment or a dorm, but you aren't moving your home/family in a pickup truck. Most adults have far too much stuff. Even then, moving is a very rare event.

My experience is that I never need a truck, because my friends that own one are strangely desperate for excuses to make use of them. I can just ask one of them to help me out.

In the South (especially in Texas, where I lived for a bit) they're considered a symbol of rugged manliness, which is the main reason why they're so popular among city dwellers. They're also nice to go off-road in areas with not good roads.

I've driven a few and they also offer a different perspective when you're driving (you feel "taller"). Also, they might be safer than tiny sedans (although not sure how they compare with the German ones w.r.t safety).

If you live in Suburbs, its also nice to have one for the occasional lugging around of furniture or moving heavy stuff.


Here are some points about pickups that appeal to me and maybe to others:

(1) Bumpers. Pickup trucks (PUTs) tend to have actual, steel bumpers (often chrome plated which indicates that they are steel), both front and rear. Passenger cars have, instead, plastic over some structures for crumple zones or some such. So, if run into something, say, a deer crossing the road in the middle of the night, then are better off with the bumpers; the plastic and crumple zone is less rugged and more subject to expensive damage. Bumpers can be useful otherwise, say, wrap and hook on with a steel cable and pull or be pulled.

(2) Passenger cars emphasize smooth ride. So, the springs and shocks tend to be soft. On PUTs, the springs and shocks are stiff enough to do well carrying heavy loads over rough ground. So, (i) the springs on both passenger cars and PUTs are usually spring steel with a not very long fatigue life, say, under 100,000 miles. Having the springs suffer from metal fatigue and sag is a bummer. The stiffer springs in a PUT flex less and so fatigue less and even when fatigued still have enough stiffness not to sage. (ii) Over rough surfaces, soft springs and shocks more easily bounce around and bottom out -- not good.

(3) In addition to the springs, PUTs have suspensions better able to take loads and bumps and, thus, last longer. E.g., in the front, passenger cars, again, emphasizing smooth ride, have soft suspension bushings, soft stabilizer bars and mounts for them, soft shocks, and struts instead of just A-frames -- the PUT suspensions last longer. In the rear the PUTs have leaf springs with extra leaves for heavy loads instead of coil springs common in passenger cars -- the stiff leaf springs last longer before sagging or actually breaking than the soft coil springs.

(4) PUTs have more ground clearance. So, e.g., if there is a traffic jam, when in a PUT might just head for a curb or a ditch, cross some rough ground, head in a different direction, and avoid the jam. At times extra ground clearance is darned nice to have.

(5) To exaggerate, PUTs are for people in work clothes with mud on their shoes, and passenger cars are for suits and evening gowns with spotless shoes. More generally the interiors of PUTs are more rugged, aimed at utility instead of luxury.

(6) PUT brakes have to be strong enough to stop the truck when it also has a big load, say, 1000+ pounds. This means that with light loads, the brakes will last longer.

(7) PUTs have more head room in the door openings and the interiors. Tall people have an easier time getting in and out.

(8) PUTs are commonly well designed for towing; for most passenger cars, towing is less advisable. Towing requires, yes, a trailer hitch but also connections for lights and maybe brakes on the trailer, a stronger transmission, a larger engine radiator, etc.

(9) A lot of small passenger cars have front wheel drive, and PUTs have rear wheel drive as the main drive with a solid axle which mechanically simpler, more rugged, and lasts longer.

In short, PUTs emphasize utility and passenger cars, luxury.

Similarly much of the US is big on blue jeans -- utility over luxury. Blue jeans are made of essentially the same canvas that was used for sails on sailing ships and, thus, is one of the toughest cotton fabric weaves there is; the seam sewing is very strong, and some stress points have brass rivets.


You’ve made a good case for pickup trucks for people who need them, but I highly doubt most pickup truck buyers need all of these features.

Most people aren’t carrying 1000+ lbs loads or going off road or towing anything, so the features that make that life easier don’t apply.


> need all of these features.

Humans need very few things. We don't need spices on our food, dye in our textiles, or windows on our houses. Almost no purchase is ever made based on pure utility and few humans ever make decisions with zero emotional component. Which is entirely rational, because ultimately emotions are what drives us. There's nothing logical about getting out of bed in the morning. You do it because you feel like it.


Most of those features don't have a lot of negatives though. More ground clearance is hard to be a negative (I wasn't able to use the front bumper as a snow plow?)

A towing capable engine is a negative if you're not using it, because MPG; but you can get small engined trucks too.


> A towing capable engine is a negative if you're not using it, because MPG;

If want to pull a 30' boat or a trailer big enough for a family of four up the Rockies, then, sure, can want a big engine. Otherwise two of the main things about a "towing capable engine" is (i) a bigger radiator and (ii) an engine oil cooler. The main issue is that when towing the engine can run at relatively high power levels for minutes at a time instead of the usual just seconds; then discover that the radiator is not big enough and the engine oil gets hot. The radiator never was "big enough" it's just that the high power levels lasted only for seconds instead of minutes, and the seconds were not long enough to overheat the coolant.


Sure. The big radiator and oil cooler (and transmission cooler) is nice to have, and is probably not a negative (additional maintenance maybe, though).

But if you intended to tow frequently, you're probably not opting for the 4-cylinder econobox light truck package.


E.g., I like the luggage rack on the top of my SUV: It's terrific for carrying home a Christmas tree. Otherwise I never use it. It wasn't an expensive option: A rental once of a truck to carry home a tree would cost more than the option.

Different priorities for different people I guess. And also very much dependent on profession & lifestyle. Couple of the points you raised though I thought that's the exact opposite of what I want.

Crumple zones - I want that. My life matters more to me than repair cost. And it's missing a second reason for soft exteriors - pedestrian safety. Deers aren't the only thing getting hit.

Suspension, brakes etc designed to carry 1000+ pounds, to me that just means the it's calibrated for a state it'll rarely be in - and by default is suboptimal for that state it is then. Same for the weight of PUTs - the lighter the better due to stopping distance.

More ground clearance/higher seating = higher center of gravity which bring ends safety & handling issues.

Solid axle are mechanically simpler, but there is a reason most of the world dropped them - they will chew tires on turns. Also prevents nifty stuff like electronic stability control applying variable braking left & right.

I totally get the utility angle in the sense you lay it out. But the US population is like 80% urbanized. I don't see them sling 1000 pounds of hay-bales on their rides and regularly hitting deer on the way back from work.

People that need that exist sure, but it doesn't account for 50%+ of sales being pickups. pm90's "symbol of rugged manliness" theory seems much better at explaining that.


I was just listing some of the advantages I and maybe others see in, say, the Ford and Chevy versions of pickup trucks. So, there are some advantages in utility; the attractions are not all just style and fashion. Yes, there are disadvantages. Welcome to the ubiquitous problem of engineering design trade offs.

I've recently moved from NY to TN -- yup, the fraction of pickup trucks is higher in TN!!! I'm liking TN a LOT better!

> Solid axle are mechanically simpler, but there is a reason most of the world dropped them - they will chew tires on turns. Also prevents nifty stuff like electronic stability control applying variable braking left & right.

The axle HOUSING is solid and is called a "solid axle" instead of an independent suspension. The actual axles that rotate with the wheels are inside the solid housing; there are two, each a "half axle"; they come together in the "center section" which has the "differential" with a "pinion gear", "ring gear", and 4 "spider gears" -- clever device. So, such an axle does not "chew tires" on corners. And anti-lock brakes, etc. are plenty easy, generally a little easier than for independent rear suspensions -- the independent suspensions usually have more linkages to work around. Also, for chewing tires, independent suspensions tend to do this more due to the less good control of castor and camber -- that is, an axle does better keeping the tilt and direction of the wheels where they belong than the linkages in an independent suspension. E.g., might have to have a independent rear suspension "aligned"; with a solid axle (HOUSING) and leaf springs, essentially never have to do this if only because typically there is no means of such adjustment and regarded as no need, either.

Yes, an independent rear suspension has some advantages in traction on uneven surfaces. The key criterion is to reduce "unsprung weigh". E.g., when MB went racing after WWII, they used a rear "swing axle" independent rear suspension with the brakes mounted inboard instead of at the wheels -- all for lower unsprung weight.

Apparently in a relatively heavy vehicle, the extra unsprung weight of a solid axle, rear AND front, causes no serious ride or traction problems.

The struts have cute geometry and do well with castor and camber but are comparatively delicate and with just a little wear give problems.

> Same for the weight of PUTs - the lighter the better due to stopping distance.

The standard model of friction in physics is just a coefficient of friction. So, the force to slide against the friction is just the down force (weight) times the coefficient of friction. So, a vehicle that weights twice as much has twice the friction when the brakes are locked or nearly so (as in anti-lock brakes) and with sufficiently larger brakes should stop as fast as a lighter vehicle. In practice, I'm not sure whether a 2500 pound car or a 4500 pound truck with a 1000 pound load stops in less distance.

> regularly hitting deer

Hit a deer with a good bumper and usually just stop, drag the deer to the side of the road, and keep on going. Been there, done that with my old SUV that does have good front bumpers. With one of those plastic covered crumple zones, maybe are in for $1000 in repairs.

Bumpers are good protection when parallel parked: The guy in front or in rear who parks "by the audio method" will just hit the bumpers and do little or no damage to the truck although there might be damage to his crumple zones. Every time I see a car front or rear end with lots of plastic and no good, strong steel bumpers I think little bumps and $1000 repair bills -- that's just me.

The bumpers are at least just some prudent protection.

Trucks need full frames; now lots of passenger cars have mostly just sheet steel instead. The frames "crumple" less and are "stronger" -- maybe that makes the truck safer in some respects and less good for the passengers in other respects.

Yes, the higher center of gravity of a truck increases the chances of rolling over. My SUV came with a sticker with stark warnings about the threat of roll over. Also it appears that they deliberately put a lot of extra steel in the frame just to lower the center of gravity -- the frame looks like something off the battleship Missouri.

For people who want to do a lot of 80 MPH driving on Interstates, a car of about 3500 pounds, 600+ horsepower, wide tires with especially high coefficient of friction, stiff suspension (so the car won't bounce around), small frontal area, and low aerodynamic coefficient of friction -- maybe Corvette, Camaro, and Mustang are examples -- will be better than a truck. The issues of frontal area and drag coefficient might be huge, for fuel economy and maybe for stability in some winds.


Good points - esp on the axle. Didn't realise that's what solid axle meant.

> So, a vehicle that weights twice as much has twice the friction when the brakes are locked

At full lock (or near) the limit factor is likely tire/road. A bit of googling suggests the effect is give or take 10-20% [0]

Regarding bumpers - the plastic used is flexible exactly because of "the audio method" of parking. It bounces right back in most cases. Frankly I just don't see how a chrome finish bumper is going to work out cheaper than plastic.

Maybe if I spend some time living in the US I'd understand. To me the trade-offs, especially on safety seem less than ideal.

[0] https://www.arrivealive.mobi/stopping-sight-and-driver-react...


Because the pickup truck form factor is the most efficient and inexpensive one there is. No really, hear me out! I see this asked all the time, but you're actually asking the wrong question.

I mean, think about it, what's the most minimal, lightest, cheapest form a motor vehicle could possibly take? It would have wheels, of course, some sort of frame to attach everything to, somewhere to put the engine, and somewhere to put the driver. That's it! A cab up front to house the engine and driver on a frame with wheels. Add some simple low sides to the frame to keep stuff in and that basically describes a pickup truck.

The truth is, for any particular load carrying and/or towing capacity, a pickup truck is the most efficient and least expensive common consumer option. Adding a cover over the back, additional seating, and other amenities just adds weight and cost. A tiny subcompact pickup truck version of even the smallest little hatchback can be cheaper and lighter then the hatchback can ever be simply because it's the same thing but made with less stuff.

I suspect the real question you want to ask, is this: why are such high cargo/towing capacity vehicles so popular? In other words, why do we buy such huge vehicles?


I think you're implicitly talking about a classic style 2-door pickup truck, but most consumer trucks these days seem to have four doors.

Small two door pickup trucks are even more extinct, at least in the US. I remember seeing a new Mazda pickup truck in the showroom, probably a B-series circa 1995, and it was tiny, had steel wheels, a relatively long bed, and probably a manual transmission. Price was maybe half what trucks today cost, adjusted for inflation. It's been a long time since there was a market for those.


> I think you're implicitly talking about a classic style 2-door pickup truck, but most consumer trucks these days seem to have four doors.

Replace the shortened bed in the back with a cover and a third row of seating, though, and you have an SUV that's still going to be even heavier and more expensive.

> Small two door pickup trucks are even more extinct, at least in the US.

Very true, and as a small pickup lover that makes me sad. :(

> It's been a long time since there was a market for those.

Indeed, which leads back to the question I posed above... why do we prefer such large vehicles?


Well, I would say there isn't a huge penalty for the benefits, and it's nice to have 110% of your maximum expected needs covered rather than 80%. And big vehicles keep getting better and better fuel economy, plus scaled down versions aren't significantly cheaper.

I think a major issue is that most of the cost of a car is not in the quantity of metal used to make the body/frame. So you aren't going to cut manufacturing costs much by making it smaller. This is probably why nobody can make small cars at a profit in the US. Any additional amount a customer will pay for a larger vehicle goes disproportionately to profit, so it's a win-win for the manufacturer and customer.


> ...and it's nice to have 110% of your maximum expected needs covered rather than 80%.

That depends very much on the person. For someone with no kids and that needs to move very large cargo every once in a while, it may be the pickup truck that's the 110% and the SUV that's the 80%.


I mean, think about it, what's the most minimal, lightest, cheapest form a motor vehicle could possibly take? It would have wheels, of course, some sort of frame to attach everything to, somewhere to put the engine, and somewhere to put the driver. That's it!

You appear to be describing a motorbike.


Ha! I didn't even think of that. :)

We're talking about a vehicle that's not really even relevant to the question of why different countries prefer different four-wheeled vehicles, though. People looking for a four-wheeled car or truck are generally not looking for a motorcycle, and vice versa.


Interesting perspective. If we control for size and stick with basic principles, does converting a hatchback to a pickup provide more gain from the lower weight than losses from inferior aerodynamics? I'm not convinced it does.

Depends on the speed you most commonly drive. For urban drivers, they spend a lot of time at slower speeds where aerodynamics is less critical. Also, even pickup trucks are designed to be much more aerodynamic and efficient then they used to be these days.

For rural drivers, they probably have other reasons to want a pickup truck besides simple cost effectiveness. They're usually the ones who actually do need the carrying capacity.


Pickup trucks are popular because they're almost the right vehicle for any occasion. There's a lot of variation within any named truck model to get you closer to what you might normally need a vehicle for.

If you regularly have up to 5 people in your vehicle, get an extra cab. If it's usually just you, a regular cab works (if you can find one). If you need 6 or more people, you could put seats in the bed, but probably get a van.

If you want to occasional carry large items, but save gas otherwise, get a small engine; a compact truck with a 4-cylinder is no prius, but should be better than CAFE average. If you're towing a boat every weekend, stronger engine options are available.

Maintenance is generally easier than on a modern sedan because things are more accessible. And parts are easier to find because model generations are longer and some parts work for multiple generations. Tires are often more expensive though.

If you want butt warmers and leather everything, that's an option too.

And then you have things like visibility advantages due to ride height and a big, unobstructed rear window (at least for a regular cab).

It's also amazingly easy to clean the bed, if you care. Park on a hill, open the gate, spray water at the top until it runs clean. Or wait for a rain.


While I agree on the utility that other posts have mentioned, I also must say it also has room for kids in a smaller form factor.

With three kids in car seats, I found the F-150 4-door cab to be a great option. They are designed with enough room for 3 large adults to ride in the back so fitting the car seats is no problem. It's really tough to fit three proper car seats in the back seat of a sedan.

While I could get a large SUV, I don't want to banish one of the kids to two rows deep in the back of a large SUV. We are all together in the cab. Comfortable.


> construction worker, farmer, etc. that actually needs a pickup truck

I take it you don't own a pickup.

Try owning one and it will surprise you how many friends, co-workers, etc. will come out of the woodwork and show you reasons why you/they need one.


This is true. Buying a truck is the fastest way to become everyone's friend.

To me, it has more do with symbolism than actual utility.

Worryingly I am seeing the same trend in London, UK where I live. At my local train station , which is 20 mins from City, I see the F150, Rams and what not parked. The owner clearly working/taking train into City. They are sparkling clean and occupy parking bay edge to edge.

London where space is constrained, public transport is readily available and rental vans can be arranged on your phone, I fail to understand why City working person would need it except for the messaging impact of owning a macho looking vehicle.


A pick-up truck, especially one with a four-door cab, is by design the swiss army knife of vehicles. If you are not constrained by something specific, then a pick-up is the rational choice.

A friend had one in college, turns out a 8 year old pick up truck was dramatically cheaper to insure and repair than a similar sedan. Seems like just about everything about the truck was designed to be rugged and reliable. The engine was tuned for less HP, the interior was less attractive, the suspension was less comfortable.

It wasn't fun to drive and was loud on the highway, but it was cheap.

I think there was a break on registration as well.


I bought my F150 2 years ago and I love it (coming from a Honda CRV.) I'm a software engineer that works from home. If I need a 2x4 or mulch for the yard, I can throw it in the back without worry. They're versatile vehicles. Getting new couches for the living room? Throw it in the back of the truck instead of paying the ridiculous delivery fee.

I paid $500 and put a hitch on my Model S. I can tow more with a trailer than I could've put in my Toyota pickup truck bed (in 10 years of ownership, I never once towed anything more than 1000 lbs with my pickup). Not saying your use case is wrong (I get the appeal having owned a truck for so long), only that folks should consider that a pickup truck is not the only path to easy cargo logistics.

Ya, I don't think I would be too excited to haul a trailer with my $80k+ luxury vehicle. Nor would I have a place to park and store that trailer.

To each their own. Too many folks out there with pickup trucks who don't need them is my point.

> Too many folks out there with pickup trucks who don't need them is my point.

Too many folks out there with opinions about what others should do with their money is my point.


I have an opinion (backed by a consensus of scientific practitioners) on the burning of fossil fuels (because of rampant climate change) in products because someone feels they need it versus a legitimate need. There's no point in arguing about an entitlement complex of a subset of the population ("right to own a pickup truck"), just gotta drive progress forward so people make better choices (behavioral economics) or don't get to make the choice at all (regulation).

If climate change is less important than someone's "right" to own a "garage queen" (if the vehicle is never going to see service other than asphalt and rarely have a load in the bed or on the hitch), that's not an argument I'm interested in expending cycles on, as these political beliefs can border on religious fervor.


If we are wanting to save the earth, then maybe instead of buying an $80k Tesla, people should buy a much cheaper Nissan Leaf (or ride a bike) and put all the money saved into carbon offsets.

If one must pick either an expensive EV where the manufacturer is pouring the margins into expansion (factories, charging networks, etc) or a slightly cheaper, weak EV that is barely an effort (compared to their total manufacturing capacity), it's obvious which I would (and have) picked. Tesla invested over $400 million into a charging network so EV buyers could be confident about traveling with their cars, other manufacturers have not (VW's Electrify America is a requirement of their Dieselgate settlement with the US gov). Expensive Teslas (Roadster, S, X) helped deliver cheaper Teslas (you can get a Model 3 for $40k, within spitting distance of the average price of a new car).

The thesis is straightforward. People aren't going to stop driving outside of areas that have public transit (most of the US), therefore we must default to cars sticking around. EVs don't get cheaper unless battery manufacturing scales up. Cheaper batteries means cheaper EVs as well as energy storage (both utility scale and for the home). EVs and energy storage reduce fossil fuel consumption. Serious companies scale up their EV powertrain manufacturing. No manufacturer's actions have been as serious as Teslas. Carbon credits are fairly useless if you're not contributing to the rapid electrification of transportation, like a bandaid on a bleeding artery. Clean up the blood after you get the bleeding stopped.

Or buy that cheap Toyota while Toyota still flails trying to convince the world fuel cells (and the 35 or so hydrogen fueling stations in the US) are the future, while they continue to pump out 10 million internal combustion vehicles per year.


Or, buy any reasonably newish used car with reasonable parts availability, drive it gently, and keep it well maintained.

Over the long haul an electric car should be superior in total lifecycle emissions relative to a comparable ICE or hybrid, but Tesla’s questionable initial build quality (reworks figure into total emissions!) and odd design choices (like needing to replace the flash unit for the MCU, semiconductor manufacturing is highly polluting), I would question the “greenness” of Tesla in comparison to other makes.

That said, overall it feels unproductive to focus only on a car when thinking about the total impact of oneself on the environment. Someone who drives a brand new Tesla, lives in a single family home, and eats steaks every night I would guess has a larger impact than someone who drives a used Corolla, lives in an apartment, and eats lentils every night. Personal transportation matters, but it’s a part of a larger whole that’s about consuming much less.


Having to rent or store a trailer is a huge pain in the butt - for me anyway.

Never thought I would like owning a pickup truck, then I borrowed one for a while, and now I own one. I am not a farmer or construction worker, but my bed is also not clean =). So somewhere in the middle.

1) Get the obvious out of the way: they are big. This is both a negative and a positive, but with an energetic 6 year old, 2 full sized dogs, parents, and gear on a trip, there is enough room in our F-150 to relax and spread out. Negative is the gas mileage of course, mine gets about 20 all around. For commuting I drive an electric to pay back the gas karma tax.

2) Hauling stuff. Sure, you can rent a truck from the local hardware store, but the instant accessibility of loading up and go has appeal and value, at least to me.

3) Camping. I distinguish this from "off-road" because that's a different animal. Camper on the bed or trailer behind, truck is your supplies, bike haul, power, emergency living quarters and with appropriate care in drive lines can go almost anywhere after you unhitch.

4) Surprisingly, ride. This is entirely subjective of course but both the wife and I enjoy the ride quite a bit in the truck. It doesn't HANDLE well in performance situations, but that's not what trucks are for.

5) Also surprisingly, ergonomics. We both love the livability features of the truck. Storage all over, comfy seats, practical control layout, various automation assistance features. In the right trim they are pretty luxury, and we didn't even buy a particularly high end version.

Negative values that exist for some but not me are looks tough, usual male insecurity compensation stuff, it's bigger in the intimidate others sense, etc. There's a vanity identity to being a "salt of the earth" type with a truck, and of course the truck has nothing to do with the person driving it being one of those people, but there are those who believe it does.

My favorite goofy truck thing is people who get super jacked lift kits. Reason given is often ground clearance; rarely does this allow for much - it's the differential that often matters, and even with bigger tires, you're moving that thing maybe an inch or two up. It makes the center of gravity often pretty terrible as trucks don't do well in that regard to start with. I've seen people with massively jacked kits who then have to buy drop-down hitches to be able to haul anything.


For everyone outside of the biggest cities there are truly rough roads you may need to traverse to see a friend or take your family to the strawberry festival. Remember that a very large part of America looks nothing like the New York (or even Raleigh’s) of the world.

Sure. But you still see them in cities and parked at very nice driveways. Many trucks have never seen a bad pavement since they were manufactured.

Some people just want a truck because they like them.

Whether or not the need them or make full use of them is another story, but that's not criteria for making the purchase.


In addition to the many other answers I would add- the thrill of owning something that feels vaguely “industrial grade” or heavy duty.

I have a 2002 Toyota Tacoma, which was a mid-sized pick-up back when "mid-sized" actually meant something. I love it. Here's why:

1. I'm tall and it fits me much better. I have plenty of headroom, and the seat is high enough from the floor to support the backs of my legs. In many sedans, my heels get sore on long drives because they're taking much of the weight of my legs.

2. I like the better visibility. In particular, I have fantastic visibility out the back of the vehicle. Any time I drive other cars, I feel like I have blinders on and can't see behind myself well.

3. It has real steel bumpers. I once caught the edge of the truck on a fence and yanked the bumper out a few inches. To fix it, I just gently drove into a tree and pushed it back into place. Good as new. In most sedans with plastic covered crumple zone panels, that would be a thousand dollar panel replacement. A few weeks ago, I watched a poor parallel parker repeatedly bounce off my truck as she wormed her way into a spot. Not a ding on it.

4. It's a tank. The reliability of pick-ups is generally great because manufacturers have to cater to work truck consumers who care about reliability over all other considerations. If it's good enough for that landscaping company who puts 50k miles on it a year while hauling a trailing, it's going to be good enough for you. My Tacoma will likely outlive me.

5. It was cheap. Sedans are often designed to cater to an audience that wants superficial luxury and then charges people for it. I don't care about heater leather seats and touch screens. I just want something comfortable and solid. My truck was $18k new and I've gotten 18 years out of it so far. The amortized cost of ownership is incredibly good, even when you factor in the lower fuel economy.

6. It stores stuff. 90% of the time, the bed is empty. But that other 10% of the time is really convenient. I've moved apartments using it. Numerous camping trips. I lived in the bed for two days for the last eclipse. Dozens of trips to Ikea and the hardware store. When I was in a band, I put amps and instruments back there. I bought a couch on a whim the middle of a road trip. Sure, you can rent a truck for days you need the storage. But in practice, that can add so much overhead that you just do fewer things. If I want to hang some new closet doors or do some gardening, I can just go.

7. I like the way trucks look. Maybe it's a side effect of a childhood in Texas, but I like the design of older trucks. They feel simpler more "iconic" to me. They have an elegant form over function aestehtic. Most sedans all look the same to me. The parts that are functional -- the aerodynamics -- make them both and the other parts feel like pointless decoration. (That being said, newer truck designs turn me off because they're now all huge jacked-up monuments to masculine insecurity. The new Tacomas make me want to cry.)

Really, trucks are great, simple, cheap, utilitarian vehicles. People always complain that "the beds are empty 90% of the time", but 90% of the seats are empty in any given sedan, so what's the difference? A vehicle always has more capabilities than you need at any point in time. My truck doesn't have as many passenger capabilities, but it has a hell of a lot more hauling stuff ones.


Brainwashi^W Propagan^W Advertisement.

As long as we live in a global economy we will be hungry for oil. A global economy depends on shipping goods around the world, and for that to work you need a high energy density fuel source, and there is really no alternative nearly as good as oil.

This isn't about SUVs or consumer air travel. The world will need oil for cargo transport to sustain the trade necessary to maintain our economic way of life. Hydrocarbons are high energy density which is an essential property because otherwise your fuel becomes your cargo.

The problem isn't SUVs, it's the fact that your local grocery store has bananas shipped from 10,000 miles away for $0.59/lb. The only way you can make that happen is with oil. All the neat stuff you have shipped to your door from Amazon requires oil. Even if you buy your coffee from a local store and it's roasted by your neighbor it took oil to get it to you.

We could have a 100% renewable grid and we would still need to use hydrocarbons to support global economy


Is there any technological reason we couldn't use nuclear-powered container ships? They're the same general scale as nuclear aircraft carriers.

Trains can also be electric and powered by a third-rail type system. Trucks and drones can be electric.

Obviously there are political barriers but if it really came down to this or the end of sea shipping I suspect those barriers could be overcome.


Nuclear reactors on ships require bomb-grade uranium fuel and an elite crew of masters-degreed engineers to run them.

Container ships can run on hydrogen

>SUV/pick-up boom (America's best-selling car in 2018 is the F150 series!)

My understanding is that this is a misleading fact - There are less models of SUV in the market than other classes of vehicle, so even if less SUVs, as a class, are sold than other cars, the lack of variance means the total number of a particular model is likely higher than sales of a model in any other class.


That might be true, but total volume of SUV sales in the US is giant. In fact, SUVs are now the standard car model, with sedans being left behind. This is the result of a strong push from auto companies in terms of advertisement and diversification of SUV offers.

Crossovers apparently make up the bulk of it (40%), but yeah those plus pickups and SUVs combined eclipse small, medium, large, and luxury cars combined.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/276506/change-in-us-car-...


It seems like Crossover is just a name for "I can't tell if that's a bulky sedan, a minivan with slightly bigger tires, a small SUV, or a short station wagon." I think statistics that classify them as SUVs are a little misleading because the distinctions are blurring.

It's a platform difference. The starting point for a crossover is a car chassis, whereas SUVs are derived from a truck.

The word crossover implies a unibody car-like vehicle, but people call things SUVs whether or not they are car-based.

a trend right now is a lot of wealthy/upper middle class buy brand new pick up trucks, SUVs have replaced sedans/minivans are too washed dadcore

I completely disagree.

While I do not believe we have hit peak oil yet, I do not believe we are far off nor will oil and gas demand continue to grow for "a long time".

- The personal transportation industry will go through the biggest change it ever has in the next decade. Bigger than horse + buggy -> automobiles. An electric car will be cheaper to operate and maintain. Production of EVs will proliferate even countries like China (already happening), India (already happening), and others. Autonomous ride networks, especially in dense urban areas, will also take a massive market share. The need for individuals to own vehicles will decrease in urban and even suburban environments. Couple that with almost any good or service you need being delivered to your door "instantly", the vehicle is no longer needed. The rise of remote working will also contribute to this. Yes, some people like their SUVs/Trucks, but that will pail in comparison to the reduction elsewhere.

- Air travel will grow, assuming economic stability of course. Towards the end of the decade, we will also have short length, all electric aircraft operating. That will shore up the growth of air travel in regards to the demand for more oil.

- Natural Gas growth long term... no way. Not happening. Within this decade, we will see the price of solar and batteries drop to levels never before imagined. Production and efficiency will also greatly increase. We have only just begun. You will have distributed "grids", where many more people are generating their own power, and borrowing from their neighbor when necessary. BRIC countries will also be leading on adopting these types of grids as well, especially in areas where the grid is not stable/doesn't even exist. See Puerto Rico. They have only just begun.

- Yes, the quality of life across the world is getting better. That means the demand for alternative energy and the Capability to pay for the infrastructure is ALSO increasing. This will move the growth needle forward for renewable energy. This will be your peak oil. Your peak oil will be in the past once you see entire areas of housing in BRIC countries running on Solar/batteries. Goodbye. Oil.

Also, I think humanity will do the right thing as a whole. Governments will STOP subsidizing oil like they do today. It will become much more expensive. Peak oil will be in the past at this point as well.

So go on, go invest in your oil companies and throw your arms in the air saying "yes, but it's not my problem, I'm just making money". War profiteers say the same thing. They never come out on the right side of the history book. Neither will you. Oil and Gas will NOT have growth for a long time.


>The personal transportation industry will go through the biggest change it ever has in the next decade. Bigger than horse + buggy -> automobiles. An electric car will be cheaper to operate and maintain. Production of EVs will proliferate even countries like China (already happening), India (already happening), and others. Autonomous ride networks, especially in dense urban areas, will also take a massive market share. The need for individuals to own vehicles will decrease in urban and even suburban environments. Couple that with almost any good or service you need being delivered to your door "instantly", the vehicle is no longer needed. The rise of remote working will also contribute to this. Yes, some people like their SUVs/Trucks, but that will pail in comparison to the reduction elsewhere.

You give no reason at all why you think any of this is true.

>Towards the end of the decade, we will also have short length, all electric aircraft operating.

This is quite optimistic. Realistically, this market is yet to be proven viable at all, and even if it is it's likely to be much more than a single decade (assuming you didn't actually mean the "end of the decade" coming two months from now) to reach beyond the prototype stage.

>Natural Gas growth long term... no way. Not happening. Within this decade, we will see the price of solar and batteries drop to levels never before imagined.

Again, why? All of this is pie-in-the-sky optimism without any attempt at justifying it.


And ignores the move away from nuclear. Europe alone is shutting down lots of nuclear. Since they are not going to do coal natural gas is very likely to be needed.

Everyone who has actually done the math wrt actually meeting our global energy demands agrees: petrochemical dependence is not going away any time soon.

Electric car demands increases demand on the grid, which will centralize demands for fuel. Electric aircraft are a long way off, except in the private jet world. Battery energy density just isn't there and would massively increase costs. Plus there's the whole issue of explosive failure modes; contrasted with avgas which is relatively safe in liquid form.

Renewable energy technologies are made with petrochemicals, so they have their own built in oil & NG demand.

The most, wealthiest (on average) people live where renewable energy is least effective.

The numbers do show that we can drastically reduce our oil dependence, but ONLY if we're willing to trade quality of life to do so. There's little chance of that happening.


I think this overlooks several key facts. 1. Poor countries cannot afford the EV infrastructure. As Africa gains in wealth it is absolutely going to rely on gasoline engines, the government stability is not there to allow for a wide spread EV charging infrastructure. Plus EV is far more expensive putting it out of reach for emerging economies.

2. You are overlooking the power of existing industry. Natural gas has massive lobbying power vs electric and solar and is seen as 'greener' than coal. It is also easier to retrofit existing power plants to natural gas from coal than to build massive solar fields keeping jobs at their current locations.

3. You will have distributed "grids", where many more people are generating their own power, and borrowing from their neighbor when necessary - see the above point. Entrenched industry, lobbyists and industry capture are working hard to prevent this, at least in the US. Laws already exist in many states to prevent this.

Use of combustibles is only increasing: https://yearbook.enerdata.net/natural-gas/gas-consumption-da...

I would love to transition to a green, renewable infrastructure but unfortunately I don't think it is going to happen for a very long time.


> 1. Poor countries cannot afford the EV infrastructure. As Africa gains in wealth it is absolutely going to rely on gasoline engines, the government stability is not there to allow for a wide spread EV charging infrastructure. Plus EV is far more expensive putting it out of reach for emerging economies.

On the flipside, poor countries with less sunk infrastructure costs in place have more raw capability to leap frog on infrastructure evolutionary steps. There's no reason to run copper telecom lines to bootstrap fiber telecom lines if you are building from scratch today. There are developing nations with far faster internet speeds than the US average because they don't have miles and miles of copper to replace. Just as you accuse the previous poster of ignoring the power of existing industry, the same applies in the other direction to poor/developing countries that they have fewer existing industries to side-step in a bootstrap process.

A lot of people may not appreciate it yet, but EV infrastructure has less bootstrap costs than gas infrastructure. A lot of industrial nations have already invested so much sunk costs in gas infrastructure it seems cheap as free or magic, but gas stations don't build themselves and gas doesn't magically show up at the pump. The bonus that EV infrastructure is concomitant with Electric Grid infrastructure means that poor countries need only "one bootstrap" rather than "two" to get a strong renewable (distributed) EV Grid. EV infrastructure is almost a two-for-one deal with Electric grid infrastructure. It's a lot cheaper than reliable gas infrastructure, especially when you consider the overlap with other electric grid needs.


I think it's likely that basic electric vehicles will soon be cheaper than basic gas vehicles. Right now, batteries are the biggest part of the cost (if you want long range), but they're getting cheaper all the time. If you're optimizing for low cost and mass production, you don't need rare-earth permanent magnets in the motor or battery chemistries that require cobalt.

Power grids may be a problem, but it's possible to solve in a decentralized fashion by installing solar panels and/or wind generators near the place where the car is being used. Right now, solar is more available to wealthy people, but there again costs are coming down and in many cases solar is cheaper than buying power from a utility.


Disagree. 1. poor countries already have electric power. most of the countries are using 220volts, that charges your electric car just fine. evs will soon be cheaper that most gas cars because no maintenance, 1 million mile power tranes, no spark plugs, fan belts, clutch, heater core, oil change, air filter, gas, gas filter.

2. The power of the existing industry - ha. Economic forces conquer all. Coal is failing because nat gas is way cheaper. Just like solar power and wind power will soon be cheap enough to attack nat gas.

3. Tesla is doing just fine against basically the entire gas, financial, automotive industries, etc.


The is delusional optimism. All signs point to increasing amounts of pollution. There is no existing plan that will fix the solution that is being executed. All environmental or alternative efforts being pursued are falling short.

There is no indication ‘green’ energy will be a significant portion of the world energy supply. There is no indication we are removing our dependency on oil. We are continuing to consume coal, oil, and natural gas at increasing rates. All metrics that show positive change are local and not global. All coordinated global efforts results are over promised and under delivered.


Every problem exists until it doesn't. Saying that a problem has not yet been solved and therefore cannot be solved is a fallacy.

It's not a question of whether the human race can solve this problem, it's a question of whether we will solve it. There are no fundamental physical or technological limitations that prevent us from running the world on 100% clean energy, it's just a matter of overcoming our species' collective political apathy on this issue...and the kind of blind pessimism you're expressing tends to lead to more apathy, not progress.


> Saying that a problem has not yet been solved and therefore cannot be solved is a fallacy.

I didn’t say the problem cannot be solved. I said the problem is continuing, and current data indicates it will continue to be a problem.

You may call my opinion pessimistic. I think I’m being realistic, and our outlook is just this bleak. The global effort to fight climate change is falling significantly short to the task.


I don't think anyone is saying that we've already done enough and the prognosis is good. Also, you appear to be criticizing the people who are doing useful things, without offering any alternative. Bleak indeed.

I’m not criticizing people working on the problem. I’m criticizing the viewpoint that we are right around the bend and the fight is almost over. This is an unrealistic viewpoint.

We aren’t right around the bend. There is no indication that governments will stop subsidizing oil. Personal transportation might be electrified, but it’ll take decades and meanwhile other pollution sources would have grown to eat out the progress gained.

It’s unknown how far we can reasonably advance solar and battery technologies. It’s likely that raising global wealth and raising global population will result in raising global consumption (and pollution). Electric airplanes are decades (centuries?) away from taking over significant portions of air traffic.

This is a hard problem. You’re patting yourself on the back and pretending that we’re almost done.

We don’t have the political or economic structures to solve this problem. We don’t have good enough science or engineering to compete against fossil fuels. We don’t have enough time to build either.


I don't think anyone has the view that you're criticizing.

Sorry to repeat myself.


Most of your reasoning hinges on spread of electric cars and electric planes. If that doesn't come to pass, oil will still be in huge demand. EVs have been in existance for almost a decade and now and they're still only 1% of US car sales: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/us-electric-veh...

If you extrapolate their upward line forward, it'll take an extremely long time before % of EVs becomes greater than 50%.

And as for electric air travel, as far I know it's not even happening yet in the commerial passenger planes and the air travel industry moves even slower than the automative industry.

In 100 years ago, I would agree with you. But, for now, we're stuck with using oil for quite a long time.


Discussion around if something that is in the works "may not happen" and therefore negates a particular thesis is wishful thinking. It is a real risk which should be considered, particularly if one's livelihood is dependent on the continued market dynamics of Oil & Gas.

Re: Your point on electric car adoption.

Your notion of linear adoption is not backed by history. Any kind of breakthrough technology follows adoption in the form of an 'S-Curve'. Example: http://www.foresightguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Scu...

In addition to that: everyone is so focused on % of the installed fleet being electric. The key metric that is more important is "what % of passenger car kilometers driven are electric". A relatively small electric car fleet run by a ridesharing service, driving around 80% of the time can displace lots of ICE passenger car miles.

When you factor in that fleets use TCO for purchases rather than purchase price / monthly payments (like most consumers do) electric vehicles become economical sooner due to the economics of operating electric vehicles.


That S-Curve your talking about is mostly for software and other technologies that have low barriers to entry. Cars are far harder than software and thus will take much longer for adoption. I mean just look at the production number projections for electric cars. It's not spiking like an S-curve. this is gonna take some time.

> If you extrapolate their upward line forward

Extrapolations are a bad idea for "tipping point" kinds of curves. Electric vehicles are steadily improving, and as they become better in niches (like high performance cars) the curve can change to be nothing like the extrapolation.


Look at it a different way. How many years is the average car on the road? Even if we banned the sale of new ICE vehicles today, it would still take well over a decade for them to filter out of operation.

But there are very real, very possible existential crises that could massively impact the ICE fleet and filter out existing vehicles faster the usual replacement rate. To obvious examples: the cost of gas rises fast enough, and/or entire gas chains go out of business making stations hard to find.

Electric vehicles have been around for over 100 years: https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car

>EVs have been in existance for almost a decade and now

EVs have been in existence for nearly as long as ICE vehicles have. The 1867 World Exposition had an electric cycle and you had electric taxis in London in 1897 [1] and by 1912 there were 33,842 electric cars registered in the United States [2]. In the 50's you had Deutsche Post of the GDR using electric delivery vans (I believe an electric vehicle was being used in either London or Paris much earlier than that for postal use but I'm having a hard time finding a link, I swear I've read about it before though). Even Anderson Electric Car Company produced something like 13,0000 'Detroit Electric' cars int he early 1900s. Even the Apollo-era LRVs (lunar roving vehicle) were EVs (for obvious reasons).

EVs are old-school, the only new-school thing about them is lithium battery chemistry.

I genuinely don't think EVs are going to catch on any time soon.

- They're far more expensive than ICE vehicles as there aren't a whole lot of used EVs but there are tons of used ICE vehicles at vary price levels.

- John Q Public can't do much to repair an EV and has to take it to a mechanic, yet even something like an engine rebuild can be done in someone's garage if they are so motivated. I've never taken a single minute of mechanic training yet I've helped 4 different friends pull engines with borrowed hoists and do major work to them and without YouTube, only printed manuals for vehicles, I've done plenty of other work to my own vehicles (dropped the gas tank, replaced ball joints/pitmans/idle arms/electrical work/replaced most of the stuff under the hood in various vehicles).

- People like me, in an apartment, can't charge at home and you're not going to see property owners rushing to install EV powering (even if they get to recover their costs by taking on a few % fee) any time soon, probably not even for new-construction. I can go to the gas station and fill a nearly empty tank in 2~ minutes which will last me 2 weeks of commuting and then some, for the same range in an EV I'm going to have to park somewhere and sit for 30+ minutes.

Two of those three things keep me from having an electric vehicle (can't charge it, can't afford it) and the third, the fact I can't do any major repairs, is a big turn off. Even my 2013 Impala I can repair/service basically everything, and if I don't have the tools I can go rent any specialized tool I need for a nominal fee from the 3 big part store brands.

I think these things are going to keep EV adoption pretty low for the foreseeable future. Even in my own experience here in Indianapolis I've only seen one tesla on the road (I actually see it most days on the way to work) in the wild and only know one person here that owns one (and he's stated it's impractical for anything other than driving to work and back).

[1] https://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/the-surprisingly-old-story...

[2] https://www.britannica.com/technology/automobile/Early-elect...


> - They're far more expensive than ICE vehicles as there aren't a whole lot of used EVs but there are tons of used ICE vehicles at vary price levels.

For now. That's a combination of efficiencies of scale problems. VW Group says that they'll hit the efficiency of scale where EVs are cheaper across the board for every make and model to produce than ICE vehicles sometime between now and 2023 (that's less than four years).

Similarly there seem to be fewer used EV cars on the market than expected at this point, and they are retaining their market value better than comparable ICE models for interesting reasons: the average replacement rate is way down compared to the ICE average (where the average owner keeps a vehicle 3-5 years, the EV average is currently closer to 7-10 years), and the replacement rate seems to reflect overall reliability (Nissan Leafs have the highest replacement rate, and arguably the lowest battery reliability).

> John Q Public can't do much to repair an EV and has to take it to a mechanic, yet even something like an engine rebuild can be done in someone's garage if they are so motivated.

It's so very apples-to-oranges though. Most EV motors are essentially permanent magnet drivers with essentially no moving parts that will outlast the plastics and the frame of the car the motor is built for. There's no gas tank, fewer to no ball joints/pitmans/idle arms/timing belts/so forth and so on. Plenty of electrical work if you still want it, though most of it is now High Voltage and will take a bit more of an electrician background, some EVs still have a 12 volt system for bootstrapping the cabin systems.

> I can go to the gas station and fill a nearly empty tank in 2~ minutes which will last me 2 weeks of commuting and then some, for the same range in an EV I'm going to have to park somewhere and sit for 30+ minutes.

You think it would be hard to schedule a 30-45 minute meal somewhere once every two weeks? The car has to sit while it charges, but you don't and can schedule it as your grocery trip or your lunch break.


"You think it would be hard to schedule a 30-45 minute meal somewhere once every two weeks?"

I think there is an issue that may not be obvious with the charging time.

Let's say for the sake of argument, sure, people can tolerate taking ten times the amount of time to charge as filling a gas tank.

But what that means on a large scale, if everyone switches to electric, is that we need ten times the number of charging stations as gas station pumps in order to have the same number of locations open per person.

Of course, you say, people mostly charge electric cars at home. Sure, but if they do it 90% of the time, we still need just as many public chargers as there are gas stations now. On top of a charger for (almost) every home.

Without much faster charging or much higher capacity batteries, it seems to me like this is a basic problem with switching everything to electric that I haven't heard about from others.

Maybe there's something obvious I'm missing, but I never see people address this or identify the incredible infrastructure requirements as a problem. People describe occasional waits for access to a charger and don't extrapolate.


Everyone charging at home in off-peak hours "fills in the bathtub" on energy usage charts. Peak demand during the day is huge, and it drops off substantially at night. We already have the power capacity to support every car switching magically tomorrow to EV so long as everyone agrees to charge in off-peak hours.

Yeah, there's absolutely no reason for chargers to be rare. In much of the world we have the electricity already spread amazingly wide. Every outside plug is already a potential Level 1 charger. You may frown at how slow Level 1 "trickle" charges, but think about how long most cars spend sitting somewhere, anywhere. Gain a few miles every time the car is parked. You can't put a gas station in every parking space, but you can certainly put a boring old fashioned three-prong plug there. (We have that technology. We've had it for like a century now.)

"Charging Stations" as a construct are certainly a convenience, especially when looking for reliable charging away from home, but chargers can be anywhere the (electric) light (bulb) touches (and that's a lot of the developed world). Thinking of chargers in traditional gas station terms is missing the opportunity, and confusing how the supply chain works. We don't need to centralize big reservoirs of "fuel" to maintain an EV fleet, we use the electric grid we've already spent a century building out, diversifying, and largely decentralizing.


I've never had an apartment offer power at the parking lot. I couldn't buy a non-hybrid EV until a solid majority of them install that (either metered or on an indoor switch if I have an assigned space). Street parking is a harder problem.

I just moved out of an apartment building that did have chargers, but they had like two in a garage for hundreds of cars. They didn't seem to have plans to provide one for everyone.

I don't get this. If I can't rely on having a charger every day, I have to plan on being able to get home without one, and then why have it?

Again, there are so many options, and it's just almost sad the lack of imagination everyone is bringing to these discussions. The same anecdotes appear, and the discussion just keeps going around in circles. Are you trying to solve the problem or are you just complaining that you won't bother?

You have never had an apartment offer power at the parking lot? Isn't that an issue with your landlords like any other apartment feature/benefit? Isn't that the same as price shopping for an apartment with in-unit Laundry or up-to-date Appliances? Maybe the Landlord doesn't presently see a need for such a convenience, but they should be willing to compete, open to suggestions and the right sort of incentivization, right? (At least, so claim the free market folks.)

Do you even need to charge at home? What's your daily commute, can you buy an EV with enough range that a supercharge once every two weeks will do it? That's the exact scenario discussed just posts above, this discussion is a flat circle.

Can you charge at work? Can you charge at the grocery when you are running errands?

Most Americans can, statistically, find a range in an EV today that they could charge once every two weeks and handle 100% of their average work life. Yes, everyone has an anecdote of how they are a special outlier that needs personal attention to their complaints.

You couldn't buy a non-hybrid EV, or you just aren't willing to put the work out into figuring out any sort of strategy or plan? It's not even rocket science. Electricity is everywhere and this should be really easy for everyone to figure out.

Does the building you are parked outside of have electricity? If yes, ask if it can give you an outside plug. That's it. Level 1 charging is that simple.

Level 2 charging is nearly as simple: Does that building have Dryers or any other reason to already have 220+ Volt A/C circuits? (Maybe you are somewhere like England where that's actually the wall sockets.) Get a "dryer plug" installed in the parking lot. Admittedly we use a bit fancier of a plug socket in that case, but the basic electronics are the same.

You aren't probably going to get a Level 3+ supercharger at an apartment complex any time soon (though it depends on your municipality and electric company and their goals for subsidizing the fun), but you probably don't need it. In most cases it's a lovely either/or: Level 1 or 2 charging at home/work, slow and steady every day, or Level 3+ charging in short bursts every two weeks or so. (Though it's not an exclusive-or; you could do both.)

There are options already. None of these are hard problems to solve. We have the technology, it's just amazing we don't seem to have the will or the imagination, at least in terms of how often these same questions come up in repeat on HN comments, and HN is an audience I'd expect to be more willing to explore creative technical solutions to problems rather than to just stop at the first anecdotal problem to mind.


You know what would be a lot more convincing, or at least valuable to the conversation?

If you provided some anecdotes about how you live, in an apartment, with a BEV as your only car, on a middling salary for a white collar worker (say $40-50K USD). Possibly some numbers/calculations based on your experience.

Putting people down for "anecdotes" and not having "imagination" gives the impression you might be basing your opinions on theoretical ideas.


The problem is there are more anecdotes than useful information. Apologies for getting a small bit of angry there. It's one of those cases where I've had a lot of different people pop up in my "mentions" with variations of the same anecdotes, and there's that imbalance in that even if it is the fiftieth time I've responded to the same anecdote, it can still be that person's first time thinking about it.

If you really want my anecdata, I do live in an apartment building with a tiny shared garage. I use a "range extended" EV (Generation 1, 2012 Volt) as my only car. I do my entire daily commute on a Level 1 charge, 8-12 hours charging each night for roughly 35-42 miles of charge depending on weather, entirely off of a boring, normal three-prong garage outlet. I have a dedicated parking space for my unit, but it's not entirely as convenient to the plug as I would like, but it's served me well enough now for 7-ish years. I've not yet convinced my building to install a Level 2 or higher charger, but as some of my neighbors start to talk about the idea of also buying EVs it could happen as a joint effort.

The only big maintenance issues I've had with my car in all this time have been related to its gas engine for range extending and partly related to how little I've wound up using it. (I used it a lot in the first couple of years for a dumb commute I wasn't happy with; on an average year since then I use a full tank of gas at most twice in that year for big road trips, with rare sips for weather or the car's own monthly maintenance cycle.) At this point, I do feel certain my next car when it comes time to replace the Volt will be entirely battery electric. A gas range extender made sense in 2012, but I'd strongly recommend against it in 2019, the range in BEVs is now good enough to cover 100% of my daily driving for two whole weeks between required charging, and I do have years of experience now that I can also easily cover ~140% of my daily miles in the evenings on the most boring of a Level 1 charger (110 volt, standard US three prong wall outlet), not even counting how long my car usually sits on the weekends, nor how much of a charge I could get if I could convince my office to give me even a boring old Level 1 plug while I'm parked at work.

There's this perspective that Chargers are something new and unique and need to be giant gas-station like things, and it just belies the fact of how ubiquitous our electric grid already is, just how many plug outlets we've placed throughout our cities. In my years of owning my car, I've found a small game of cataloging outdoor outlets and their rough distance to parking lots. (I've found parking spots to charge in at the back of hotels I've stayed at. The hotels didn't even know they had spots that could charge a car, and always had fun reactions if I asked to use those outlets.) Then that lead to a game of cataloging the nearest electric device to a parking spot. Do you realize how many parking lots have lots of bright shining lamps every so many feet? How many street lamps on the average street? Do you know how easy it would be to install a plug at the base of each and every one of those lamps?

(More interestingly, it was brought to my attention that the vast majority of parking lot lamps run in the US actually run at 220 volt A/C for reliability of the most common type of halogen lamps at the time a lot of parking lots were built. In theory we should be easily capable of adding Level 2 chargers near every parking lot lamp.)

We could argue middling salary multiple ways, and I'm not sure I'd fit some of your definitions, but I will offer as some evidence that I'm driving a 7-year old car, expect to keep it until at least 10-years old, and my previous car was 13-years old (and I had driven it for 10 of those) when I upgraded. I had to buy this car new to put my money where my mouth was on EV as the present in 2012, but it was a trade-off I felt important. For the most part I've saved on maintenance and gas more than enough to make up the difference from buying used, at least according to the last time I did a back-of-the-envelope check (which was an important check for my father, who is very adamant from experience about never buy a new car, always buy used).

So yeah, electric charging is already the past and present for me, I'm not just talking theoretically.


"Chargers are something new and unique and need to be giant gas-station like things"

Well, nobody is comparing a charger to a gas station. More like a gas pump. And I don't understand your tone of "oh, electricity is everywhere, you can basically get it for free". It costs what it costs. When almost nobody has an electric car, public chargers can be installed and subsidized as a gimmick. At some point, if people actually use them, "free" will vanish in a puff of logic.

Also, you know, I have seen public chargers in parking lots that cost money, and you know what was missing that gas stations always have? A sign with the price! I guess there are no specific regulations or something, but as far as I'm concerned if you can't see the price up front (and probably have to agree to a click-wrap list of terms) I think nobody is serious.


It's not like it's a gas pump at all though. A gas pump spends a lot of energy to move liquid from a reservoir. An electric charger is "merely" a plug or an outlet to an electric circuit. Existing outlets work just fine! We've made these shiny free standing things with crazy cables and fun new connectors that sometimes connect to more exotic circuits with higher voltages (though that's not guaranteed, I've seen Level 1 chargers in the fancy charger form factor that may as well just be a wall plug).

Yeah, electricity has a cost, but when was the last time you checked your utility rates? Electricity itself is stupid cheap, it's a commodity, as it should be. Depending on city and time of day, you are talking dimes per kilowatt-hour. When was the last time you were asked to pay 45 cents for the energy you used to charge your phone in a café, restaurant, or at an airport?

For mostly one-off, random charges at places you are only at for a couple of hours, existing parking costs can and should cover it.

Sure, you do that every day for a month and those cents add up to dollars, and that's why a lot of the chargers are more like clubs where you pay monthly dues. Which is a business model that almost works as intended, except to really work well it should just be part of your monthly utility bill with your electric company with no extra middle men in the way.

But right now the vast majority of public chargers, at least in the US, are costing a whole lot more than the raw electricity prices. They've got tons of service fees they cost to pay for their "subsidized" installation costs. It is a bit of a racket, and should be better regulated.

Which is also why it's a psychological game they are playing right now to make you think that you need expensive chargers everywhere, because it is marketing that makes them (outrageous amounts of) money. The wall outlet at your home is good enough. A wall outlet from your employer would be good enough. An electrician can install an extra outlet on a circuit for sometimes dozens of dollars (after the basic service charges of making an appointment), and if you are more the DIY sort you can pick up most of what you need in a Lowe's or Home Depot and watch a YouTube video or three. You probably don't need to invest thousands of dollars into a gas pump looking charger. If you want to worry about the cost of electricity you are adding to the electric bill of whatever building it is you don't even have to install an extra meter, just do the math, round up a bit and pay that. While you are doing the math, maybe do the math on everybody's cell phone charging while they are in the building?

Yes, there's going to be a need/use case for superchargers at Level 3+, especially for long distance travel, but all the public chargers in the middle (Level 1 and Level 2) that are fancier than just a boring old wall outlet are in many ways a psychological game that charging is more of a service and less of a commoditized utility than it actually is. Electricity doesn't magically get 5000% more expensive because it's coming out of a machine made up to look like a gas pump with lightning bolts painted on the side and a fancy cable with a silly looking connector.


"Electricity itself is stupid cheap"

Yeah, yeah...the DC fast chargers though? I saw where somebody said they were charged like $10 for enough electricity to drive less than 20 miles. I don't know if that is really representative, but what feels right to you or anybody in terms of price is even less meaningful than one random data point.

Gas stations can sell gas for minimal cost usually due to having a convenience store with high margins attached. You can charge at home due to having a connection to the grid, a house, and wiring, all of which cost substantial money beyond the per-kwh charge. So regardless of what charging "really" costs, your reasons for why it should be essentially free seem obviously flawed to me.


I'm not saying that it should be "essentially free", I'm saying there is far less competition than there should be, competition should be easy and a lot more prevalent, and part of that is the very hurdle that people think we need to install electric chargers like gas pumps in the gas pump business model only as big installations of just fast chargers, because right now we aren't doing that well either. To be doing the gas pump business model well: Yes, a lot more fast chargers should be working with convenience stores and restaurants and what have you and should be value added to higher margin industries.

The "parking meter" business model is also a valid strategy. My complaint with that business model, if its not apparent enough yet, is not that they are charging more for that business model, but that they aren't being transparent about it and double and triple dipping. If you want to charge $5-$15/hour parking, that's fine, that's a parking fee. Don't call it "electricity fees", because that's not what that is. Also, don't charge me $5-15/hour parking at both the Gate and the Meter (Charger), because that's $10-$30/hour parking and your signs are wrong.

But the further point is that those aren't the only business models. You don't need fast chargers everywhere, because cars spend most of their lives parked and the electric grid is everywhere, if we could just drive enough business models that encourage "slow" chargers everywhere we "win" when it comes to competition. Utilities make great amenities to bundle with other products, services, employment relationships.

Right now too, there's a lot of "worst of both worlds" business models, at least in the US. I've seen grocery stores with both free parking lots and low margin gas pumps, and yet very high electric parking fees. Some of that is simply because the same grocery stores that just spent millions in becoming their own gas stations are outsourcing their chargers to third parties because they don't have to compete on margins yet, and they aren't paying attention to what the chargers are costing, and how it affects the public perception of their overall amenities just yet. I suppose we'll know when electric is finally on their radars when you can use "gas points" for electric rates.


> The hotels didn't even know they had spots that could charge a car

Wait. A 115 VAC socket exposed to the elements with no meter? How do you pay for it? Was it under lock and key?


Yes, normal wall outlet. On the outside of buildings since forever for grounds keeping tools like electric leaf blowers. You see them all the time on buildings (and homes!) every so many feet in those little plastic boxes where they just flip up and are rarely with any sort of lock or key. When I've used such outlets in my travels, I've made sure to clear it with the Manager first before ever plugging in, which as I said was often a fun conversation. In my small assortment of times asking the question the majority of the time the answer, after a lot of confusion about what I was asking and sometimes which Manager I should talk to in a multi-Manager situation was "Sure, I don't see why not." A few times it was "No, I'm not sure we'd allow that," or "The person you could ask isn't in this week," and I respected that outcome.

In all the times I asked, paying for it never came up. Admittedly, when I was asking it was always a "nice to have it" request and at least to some degree I hit a sweet spot between "Hospitality companies want to agree to things that are easy for them to provide to make customers happy" and "this is new enough and uncommon enough a question that they aren't going have written policies on it yet". I was also making sure to only do it with businesses that I had an established customer relationship with (I'm staying in this hotel and/or Since I'm paying for parking here anyway). Much of the time the extra bit of electricity I was using was a drop in the bucket of the business' usual utility overhead, and/or a drop in the bucket compared to my existing expenditure (the cost of a hotel room, even the cost of parking).

(Aside rant: I think it's a scam to meter some Chargers at all. Chargers in some of the parking garages I've used or attempted to use had some outrageous surcharges to make it seem like metering was a useful value add to the process. Use something like $0.75 in electricity, tops, get a combo of $12+ in surcharges from three different middlemen [the garage, the charger company, a bonus kickback to the power company], all on top of $15-$30 parking fee just to get into the garage. You could easily cover $0.75 of electricity in that $30 parking fee.)


>You think it would be hard to schedule a 30-45 minute meal somewhere once every two weeks?

Uh, not everyone can afford to go out to eat once every two weeks just to charge their car. Another HN myopic view "I make a lot of money, everyone must make a lot of money".


Nothing to do with money, pack a picnic and find a charger near a pleasant park. The point is there are all sorts of options to spend your time for 30-45 minutes. Grab a laptop and work from your car. Go for a hike. Walk the dog. Whatever you were already going to do out the house on the weekend once every fortnight.

Key thing about electric car introduction vs other technologies is an electric car is a car and automobiles have a 100 years with of well developed infrastructure already. The only thing that's needed is the charging points. Which is point infrastructure for the most part.

That makes the switchover seamless. Which means it's only production and price limited. Not like the original cars when there was only a few hundred miles of paved roads and no gas stations.


I followed peak oil back in the day. I think I agree with the idea that the oil cartels know there are plenty of oil deposits and they hold them off the market to support prices and otherwise pretend they don't exist till they need them.

>The personal transportation industry will go through the biggest change it ever has in the next decade. Bigger than horse + buggy -> automobiles.

I'll take your bet on that one. The difference between having to keep an animal alive and in useful physical condition and maintaining a model T or A in roadworthy condition is far, far greater than the difference between one source of motive power and another.

I think your overall predictions are generally right but your timeline is too aggressive by at least half an order of magnitude.


You are spouting nonsense. Use of oil and gas isn't a matter of "belief". It's a function of demographic, developmental and economic variables. Pretty much the energy use for the next decade or two is nearly set in stone barring fusion energy.

Also, if you think going from gas cars to EV is a greater jump than horse buggy to automobiles, then you simply don't have a clue. As for china and india, EVs account for 0.0001% of cars.

If you think we are going to be using "all electric aircraft" at the end of this decade and that it will dent the need for oil for air travel, once again, you haven't a clue what you are talking about.

If you think natural gas growth is going to slow anytime soon, once again you haven't a clue what you are talking about. The bigger growth in energy has been in natural gas. It has solely been responsible for the collapse of the coal industry in the US. And there are tremendous room for growth in natural gas production in the US, Russia, etc.

> Your peak oil will be in the past once you see entire areas of housing in BRIC countries running on Solar/batteries. Goodbye. Oil.

Dumbest thing I've ever read. It much more likely that these countries are going to increase coal production to keep up with energy demand needs than going "solar/battery" route.

> War profiteers say the same thing. They never come out on the right side of the history book.

Nope. This is the dumbest thing I've ever read. War profiteers are some of the biggest winners we have.

> Oil and Gas will NOT have growth for a long time.

If you say so. But then again, people like you were claiming the end of oil a decade ago.


> SUV/pick-up boom

Not sure why but I see the same here, in Berlin. There is even a meme circling about SUVs being just mothers (usually talking on a phone) driving their kids to school.


Probably a true meme, I drive an SUV just because it is worlds easier to get young kids in and out of car seats in a higher suv. Had a rental car the other day and it was just unpleasant, constantly hitting my head on the interior ceiling etc.

I've heard that consumers perceive SUVs as safer

Consumer Reports seems to back this up, but they cite an added rollover risk:

> "In car vs. SUV head-on crashes, the study found that the odds of death were 7.6 times higher for the car driver than the SUV driver. In crashes where the car had a better front crash-test rating than the SUV did, the car's driver fared a bit better but was still four and a half times more likely to die than the SUV driver. "

> "Choosing an SUV for safety isn't an automatic win, as their higher center of gravity makes them more prone to rollover, an often fatal event. "

[1] - https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/05/suvs-are-sa...


A criticism is this being at the cost of the other crash participant (due to mass), thus it being a spiral were everyone will drive military tanks a bit down the line.

> everyone will drive military tanks a bit down the line.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummer


I would say CR doesn't back up the "SUVs are safer" argument; they say SUVs are safer in head-on collisions with smaller vehicles, but don't really indicate whether they're more or less safe overall.

*For the people inside the SUV.

larger vehicles afford larger crumple zones

It's insane that SUVs are back again, after their original wave during the Bush years.

Self-reinforcing arms race to sit up high and see over the top of traffic. If people could be trusted to reliably signal, merge, etc. the perceived need to see 300 feet ahead to predict behavior of immediately adjacent drivers would diminish.

They're not really back. Station wagons have just grown into them to compensate for the compromises in features that modern sedans have suffered in the name of fuel economy and safety.

People want something that's AWD, has a belt-line lower than your nose and a trunk that's integrated with the rest of the cab. In order to get that in a package that meets modern safety requirements it needs to be decently big and decently heavy. To make a decently big and decently heave vehicle comply with modern fuel economy and emissions rules you have to be able to call it an SUV with a straight face. Enter the "crossover".

Sedans and compact hatches make great commuter cars but if you can only afford one payment at a time then you can only really justify buying a multi-tool of a vehicle. On the small end that gives us things like the HRV. On the large end that gives us crew cab pickups.


SUVs were a thing during the Reagan years. Although they were mostly 2 doors and based on small pickups with body on frame construction and very little power by today's standards.

In 1987 I remember you could get a 4Runner, a Pathfinder, a Cherokee, a Blazer, or a Bronco.


Tesla is coming out with an all electric pick-up and semi. Hopefully others will follow. But at least a few years before mainstream uptake.

It's important to note that even with electric cars, it will still take a long time until most electricity is produced without the use fossil fuels.

Getting all of the required cobalt out of the Congo to make millions of large batteries isn't exactly ideal either.

Storage and long distance transport abilities make natural gas extremely attractive.


Based upon the makeup of the grid in the United States, using an EV would be the equivalent of a 68 MPG car[1]. It will be a lot better than that if you live in a state that is 99% renewable like Vermont but even in the states with the least renewables like West Virgina it still won't be any worse than the average ICE[2].

[1] https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cl...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_electri...


I find that people like to think of this as a theoretical problem, when it is tractable to solve the bulk of it for a lot of folks. Thinking of the average price of a US vehicle $37k, here is what we did with that same amount:

Installed 9.4 kw of solar panels (32 panels) on our roof which generates the same amount as all of our electricity usage on an annualized basis for $24k. Bought a used Nissan leaf for $10k. Refuel at home, from the sky. No oil changes. Prepaid power for life.

I know a lot of people don't live in such a sunny state as Arizona but given that I live in Oregon they can take heart.

Then I got 11k back from state and federal subsidies.

I wish electricity and gas prices would go up, that's the only way to drive additional investment into a non stupid energy future.


I never figured out why the cobalt has to come from the Congo. There are cobalt mines in North America that are sitting idle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt,_Ontario

It's cheaper when you don't need to follow labor and environmental regulations.

Bingo, and when it becomes too expensive there, you just do your typical political corruption/bribery dance and get the rules to change here so you can continue to profit from environmental destruction.

Besides, warlords often want lots of Nickel and other metals for projects. The Cobalt is "waste product" from what they were going to be mining for in the first place.

A few news are hinting at rare earth free batteries. Also I'd bet a grand that the minute EV tech is just good enough the market will flip. It might also trigger some electric fad that will make people root for renewables, storage, even nuclear (granted the passive failure micro reactors can materialize)

The mix of power sources varies by state. In NY, Canadian hydro provides a lot of the electricity and coal virtually none.

When people say "haw haw, your electric car runs on coal", that might be true in West Virginia, but how many people have electric cars there anyway?


Lithium iron phosphate batteries don't use cobalt, and the chemistries that do use cobalt are using less and less.

Lithium ion manufacturing has been migrating from 6-2-2 (iirc that's 60% nickel, 20% magnesium, 20% cobalt) to 8-1-1, to 9-0.5-0.5, and so on.


I thought the primary user of oil and gas is industry, not consumers.

I'm not sure the distinction matters, because all industry eventually serves consumers.

The distinction is crucial with respect to regulating pollution standards.

Regulation isn't the answer.

First, politics will never allow it. Look at the political environment in US, Great Britain...

Then when regulation is put in place, it isn't effective. Loop holes, grand-fathering, unintended consequences, incompetent gov't agencies.

And then even if one country goes green, it won't help if the rest of the world is spewing air pollution and dumping plastic into the oceans.

The probability of all this getting aligned to make regulation effective is zero.


I'm sure the residents next to the Hudson river in Upstate NY would love more GE polychlorinated biphenyls dumped into their rivers.

I think what you mean is that our current bought politicians don't have the guts to properly stand up to the people who pollute the environment.


Shouldn't prices on electric cars fall enough eventually to produce affordable electric SUVs and pick-ups? Or that's too much into the future still?

We need a $3/gallon gas tax in the US. And/or completely stop subsidizing oil production.

- simultaneous shift away from coal+ nuclear, giving a huge boost to natural gas in the long term (LNG build-out is only now beginning)

I have a feeling natural gas plants will not be built out to the extent you are imagining, because solar, wind, and lithium-ion storage are now competitive, and still getting cheaper very quickly.


Annually the world adds more power to the grid. Renewables are maybe 25-30% of it. We need to reach 120-130% where new demand is all met by renewables and we are shuting down coal and gas plants.

The thing about evil capitalists is that they like to have low cost equipment and operations and high price outputs.

IF you exclude government subsidies, these evil capitalists that are out for a buck are not rushing into implementing what you are talking about.

Which means that: It is not nearly as close to parity as you apparently believe that it is.

I mean no insult, but: If evil capitalists are not rushing towards doing it without government subsidies - it isn't as close to parity as you think it is. YMMV.


Those evil capitalists are choosing to build offshore wind, without subsidy in the UK. Gas expansion has completely ceased, and based on the last auction round for offshore licences is nearing a point where building new wind is cheaper than keep running existing gas plants. So I expect to see the decline of UK gas start soon. Fossil simply cannot compete on price. It would be even more of a no-brainer price wise, if we didn't have a government stupid enough to cease onshore wind.

Coal is almost completely out of UK generation - the single digit number of plants left spend almost all their time idling as source of last resort. Gas is next. It might survive a little longer as a fill in source used in lieu of battery and storage, again temporarily.

TL;DR Gas is on borrowed time unless it has been given an artificial leg up, i.e. regulation or fossil subsidy.


Great! Depending on geography, one would hope this to be the case...

Do you have projections that include the temperature rise as a result of this?

I have a hard time taking this article too seriously.

>not coming from the usual producers, but from Brazil, Canada, Norway and Guyana — countries that are either not known for oil or whose production has been lackluster in recent years.

Canada ranks 5 in oil exports, Norway 13, Brazil 21. Sure, Guyana belongs in that sentence. But... uh, okay? Rank 5 is "not usual"?

Next part, wtf do you expect? Oil companies are going to bull rush to increase their cash supply in the coming years due to gas car bans coming in the next decades along with the push for renewable energy. Did people actually think these multi billion dollar companies are going to just say, "Oh well, we had a good run. We should take ourselves out to pasture now"?

>Years of moderate gasoline prices have already increased the popularity of bigger cars and sports utility vehicles in the United States

I'm pretty sure that "demand" is a drop in the bucket to the past decade of Chinese demand that's been increasing.

Fun point I really, really like: "The added production in Norway comes despite the country’s embrace of the 2016 Paris climate agreement, which committed nations to cut greenhouse-gas emissions."

Hmmm, so Norway taxes the shit out of oil(which they should, don't pretend I'm for oil). What does that mean? Oh, let's see, 2018 oil tax rev was NOK 155 billion (17b USD), 2019 is estimated NOK 176 billion (19b USD). I have a truly difficult time believing that the government will go, "No, we don't want that money! Away with thee!" Especially in a country of 5.3million. That splits to services among their citizens pretty well. Enough that if oil disappeared, there are public services that are going to get cut back pretty badly.

Uh huh. At a 1.2 trillion NOK operating budget (131b USD), it'll hurt to lose, what is that... oil taxes makes 12% of the gov's income? I'm trying to figure out when the memo came out where we all started to believe political rhetoric.

Don't think for a second I'm "for oil". But I'm a realist. A lot more needs to happen to end oil's stranglehold. Not drum circles, UN circle jerks climate summits with teenagers crying nor bullshit "plant trees" PR stunts(past tree planting stunts have real piss poor success rates of the trees surviving after a year. Single digit percentages. And no one tries to learn from the past ones.)


Also contributing probably is the rising risk that if you don't pump that oil as fast as possible and sell it now, you might never be able to sell it. This is weighing on the Saudi Aramco IPO. Although probably not as much as the general opaque and untrustworthy reports from the Saudis as to how much oil they have left.

We used to worry about peak oil, where a supply crunch would cause the price to skyrocket. Now it's clear it will end in a whimper with demand just trailing off until only the very cheapest producers are still in the market. Too bad Canada, Brazil.

It's a good thing to be clear, and can't happen fast enough.


To be fair, I think the "peak oil scare" was good. That's when we all started to focus and take renewables seriously. I find it funny that OPEC never learned from its mistake from the 70s when there was the oil shortage and fuel efficiency became a thing. To be aware, fuel efficiency before then was never worth mentioning in a car sale. Yes, it never became too big because the shortage ended, but it at least got started.

Without the peak oil scare, we wouldn't be "this" far, I think. Humans need a burning fire under their ass to actually do something.

Promise you this though. Don't think big oil will be down and out. They're going to collect all the cold hard cash they can this next few years. Then, they're going to strangle the commodities needed for renewables. They'll start buying rare earth mining rights, processing plants, manufacturing companies and all. Making sure they make the biggest dollar from the beginning of the energy food chain to the consumer's doorstep. If they can't make money from oil, both God and I as their witness, they'll make their money from lithium and battery manufacturing. To think they're a bunch of mustache twirling dummies is the biggest folly people have.


> they'll make their money from lithium and battery manufacturing

This isn't much of a problem though I think? It would be a problem if they bought mining rights then refused to mine causing shortages of raw materials needed for renewable tech.


As a capitalist, I want to own all the lithium mining rights in the world. I dictate the price and flow when I seem fit. Like De Beers in blood diamonds... cough, sorry, "ethically sourced diamonds".

As a consumer, I want many, many capitalists owning different lithium mining rights in the world. They fight each other to lower the price and be competitive. Then find cheaper and cheaper ways to obtain lithium or even figure out better alternatives.

I am a capitalist. But I'm also not a total fucking monster. Oil companies don't play massive competitive games. They like working together. So no. I don't want them to have a hand in the future.

By the way, research lithium mining. A lot of big media have reported on it. It's fucked up and pretty much a modern day humanitarian/slave crisis.


Lithium is easily sustainable to mine and there are wildly ample amounts of reserves in the US. Almost all negative articles about vehicle electrification are hit pieces that intentionally conflate lithium and rare earth materials like Cobalt.

I agree with you, but Cobalt is not a rare earth material.

And just to reiterate: lithium is abundant, widely distributed, and cobalt isn't required for batteries (LiFePO4 is a common chemistry, uses no cobalt, and has very long cycle life... good especially for grid applications).


> To be fair, I think the "peak oil scare" was good. That's when we all started to focus and take renewables seriously. I

No not really. It made me focus on looking into the 'peak oil' claims and I then realized that was major nonsense and people who proclaim it should not be taken seriously and are instantly discredited in anything they say.

Peak oil was a major distraction about the actual issues that should have been talked about.


I remember listening to a Michael Moore book in 00s where he talked about peak oil and had a funny story about a grandparent telling kids what it was like to have petroleum products like plastic and whatnot. He listed all the things made with oil that would disappear. I thought that was a bit crazy so did some research on the topic and realized that he was either full of horse apples, or stupid, or being deceitful, or some mix.

Since then, I’ve been curious about peak oil claims and they all seemed really wrong headed.

The best I can think is that they were trying to trick people into using renewables. But I think tricking people is short sighted because when the trick wears off, I don’t trust the person again.


I don't think that's fair. Our methods of determining oil reserves and our technology to extract oil from previously un-economic raw materials (shale oil, tar sands, heavy crude) have improved dramatically, which is the main reason for the glut of oil that we see today.

Good point. I think the challenge is trying to figure out what is BS put out by the oil companies (that never showed peak oil) vs BS put out by other people (that I guess inaccurately failed to include technology improvements in their forecasts).

I think the part that is fair is the belief that we would run out of oil to the point that we wouldn’t be able to make plastics. That’s just me not taking into account of the supply demand curve where plastics would be able to use oil even if we were not able to affordable fuel cars.


That what brought the price down. But there are huge known fields in the Golf and other places that have major potential, but those are rationed by a cartel.

"The house is burning! The house is burning!" A child laughs.

Parents take the child out of the house quickly in fear. After a moment a plane crashes into the house, obliterating it.

While yes, the child was full of shit. It still led to something marginally good. Maybe the parents should have left him in the house because he's a little shit. That might make the situation better. But that's an ethics question I don't feel like exploring.

Peak oil might have been a false flag scare, true. I'm not going to argue with you on that. Fuck it, I'm going to agree with you. It was a total bullshit scare! But it was a scare that led to a big push in getting away from fossil fuels. So still, it was a good thing. Ends justify the means.


The problem with this is when a group cries wolf, are the people going to continue to listen? Eventually, Machiavellian tactics turn your credibility to mud. You end up in a place where folks don't believe anything a group says. Then you're stuck shaking your fist at "the stupid general" public when your organization's tactics are largely to blame. This is where both sides of the environmental discussion have ended up and why the issue is so polarized (in part).

Exactly. We've hit "the point of no return" in regards to climate change at least twice in the past 10 years and depending on who you ask, we're projected to hit another "point of no return" in 2024 if we don't change our ways. Look up the early climate change movements and there have been people predicting the imminent death of the earth for the last 70 years.

So, yeah, I don't blame people when they eat their plastic wrapped burger in their F150 while giving up any efforts to "save the world".


>Peak oil might have been a false flag scare

Oil is a limited resource, the value of its extraction is differentiable, it started at 0, and will finish at 0, following Rolle's theorem, it has a maximum, the peak oil.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolle%27s_theorem


> Oil is a limited resource

So oil is like every other resource, good to know.


> It was a total bullshit scare! But it was a scare that led to a big push in getting away from fossil fuels. So still, it was a good thing. Ends justify the means.

When this kind of thinking is common, though, you lose the ability to engage at all with people who might not believe that "getting away from fossil fuels" is valuable as an end in itself.[1]

Is it valuable for other reasons? Certainly not any reasons that might come out of your mouth.

[1] Which, frankly, should be everyone. What kind of terminal goal is that?


I'm not saying it's right.

I'm saying it's effective.

If you say the right thing but people still do the wrong thing... who cares?

If you say the wrong thing, but people do the right thing, is that bad?


If you say the wrong thing, and people call you on it, and you demonize them and call up the mobs against them for it, then yes, it's bad.

The "ends justify the means" mentality has been the cause of many (most?) atrocities in history because it takes the assumption that one side just knows what's right without being able to recognize our own fallibility

Is it effective? I think there’s some confounding factors involved. For all we know the narrative made it worse and kept us on oil longer because companies tried to pump faster and drove prices down.

The notion of crude oil becoming a stranded asset seems a little silly. It will be many decades before the transportation infrastructure transitions off fossil fuels. And even then there will be demand for oil as a feed stock for chemical manufacturing (plastics, fertilizers, etc). (I'm not claiming that this is a good thing, it's just the economic reality.)

I can't remember where I saw the numbers and I'm pretty sure I'm off a bit. But I think only half of all crude oil gets distilled into "fuel". The rest ends up as plastics and other chemicals, as you mention. I just remember it's a very significant of non-fuel oil use is out there. A quick google search, I can't find the chart I saw. Maybe someone can chime in better on that?

Edit: Listen to Retric's comment below, not me on my stats


Worldwide, only 1/4 of oil is used for industry.

46% of oil is turned into gas. However, include diesel, aviation, plus boat fuels and transportation adds up to 69% of oil used.

Home heating is 3%, and electricity is 1%.


Personal transport going close to 100% electric is going to take a long time, but combine all electric vehicles with plug in hybrids and demand may start to drop within 10 years. Especially if bio fuel production remains steady, the total demand for oil could actually start to fall significantly within ~15 years.

Remove oil as an energy source and industry would still keep 1/4 of current demand. So, oil is not going to become stranded, but that’s still going to crush any company or country depending on current profits.


We have a LOT of oil in the ground. If most of it doesn't get stranded we're in for much, much worse problems.

I don't understand why people say oil is useful for plastics and such as though that was fundamentally different from its use as fuel. In either case, the reason we use it is because it is a pre-existing store of energy. If you have an energy source, then you can make oil, plastics, and whatever else you want. I have, or had, a mug from a former employer that was made out of plant-based plastic. It appeared no different from any other.

Sure synthetic hydrocarbons will eventually take over for those purposes. But we don't have anywhere near enough renewable energy to make it economically viable today. It will take decades to build the necessary infrastructure.

I think the peak in "peak oil" is a very wide peak with a lot of noise in it. That makes it easy for certain people to make-believe it's not going to happen. But it is... we just might not be able to predict which decade with certainty.

Perhaps this is a kind of an intelligence test for human civilization. Can we stop the global guzzling of petroleum resources before there's a profound ecological and economic shock? I think not.

There's no "free-refill" of oil unless we all go extinct, get covered by sediment for a million years before we're liquified to petroleum.


Look, I'm just about a complete package when it comes to being an asshole. My history on HN is more than enough to prove that.

But, I don't' think humans are that useless to where they're going to fail in fixing this. This can be reversed and we're in the beginning stages. The hole in the ozone layer was deemed doomed and without repair. NASA has it in track on being fully recovered in around 2060 since we stopped using shit aerosols in the 90s.

I think Musk is a complete and utter cunt, but I also recognize the good he's done for electronic cars. Now, all the big players are releasing real electric cars. Hell, VW is doing so to fix their PR image after the diesel scandal. This is good. Still will take time, but you can't have a critical mass breaking point without a slow beginning. A point will be reached (when, I'm not smart enough to answer) and fossil fuel cars will look like a home phone compared to cell phones. If you're old enough, you'll remember that cell phones were "secondary" phones. Then, in a flash, people realized "Oh, we all stopped paying for landlines". And few people have landlines anymore.

The moment Dodge/Ford/GM come out with an EV that has the same feel and balls as a muscle car, that's my personal breaking point. Right now it's all focused on the luxury, feather, Italian aesthetics feel. Fuck that dumbass nonsense. Give me a mean and angry electric vehicle. Or an ultra long range EV Jeep. That'd be cool.


> The moment Dodge/Ford/GM come out with an EV that has the same feel and balls as a muscle car, that's my personal breaking point. Right now it's all focused on the luxury, feather, Italian aesthetics feel.

There's nothing stopping them from doing so from a technology perspective (and heck, the Dodge Charger has an ideal name for a EV remake). It's just that they don't believe there is a market today for EVs among people with your tastes. Add to that the fact that margins on muscle cars are probably huge vs an equivalently specced EV, because muscle cars are decades old technology (big V6-V8 engine) repackaged.

I've had people with similar tastes tell me that the sound and vibration of a gasoline/petrol engine in a ICE car is something they don't want to give up. They like the uneven jerky feel of switching gears, even if they are accelerating more slowly overall. When I point out that both of these things could be simulated relatively easily in an EV, they often pivot to cultural nostalgia and "authenticity" of a petroleum burning engine.

Depending on their political beliefs, some at that point invoke political arguments against renewable energy and denying climate change.

For the most straightforward evidence of how hard it is to change the cultural addiction to gasoline, just look at Harley's struggles to market its electric motorcycle.

But the segment that matters more than muscle cars or motorcycles is the family hauling/commuting crossover/SUV. This is both the fastest growing segment, accounts for far more miles driven, and is also the segment historically plagued by poor fuel economy. This is also where many manufacturers are introducing EVs and PHEVs.


The ozone hole was mostly fixed by changing refrigerants. This was fought at first until it became apparent that substitute refrigerants could be produced. At that point, the refrigerant manufacturers and the manufacturers of air conditioning equipment saw that there was a pot of gold in the transition and dropped their opposition. The consumer paid for it, but consumers are often led astray and aren't organized enough to fight for their self interest.

No.

Montreal Protocol of 1987 forced a ban on the production and use of ozone depleting chemicals without alternatives. This was a way bigger problem than just refrigerants and aerosols. Asthma inhalers contain ozone depleting chemicals, but those are allowed due to no good alternatives (at the time). Those same companies "found" the alternatives and made them work because of it. By found, a multi-national decade long study through the UN found them before the protocol was signed. Those companies continuously fought the need to ban the old chemicals well into the 90s. No one cared or listened because of the environmental repercussions. Consumers didn't suffer from this in the least bit.

The idea it was some anti-consumer endeavor is just as silly as going green is anti-consumer because the consumer has to then pay more for oil down the road.


> This was fought at first until it became apparent that substitute refrigerants could be produced.

You mean that once costs become reasonable people moved fast and in concert to resolve the problem?


> where a supply crunch would cause the price to skyrocket

Hum... How do current prices compare the the 90's? What is the definition of "skyrocket" you were expecting?

Or are you talking about the people that kept saying we'd be back to a medieval economy? Apocalipse fantasizing is a hobby since that book exists; and I'm pretty sure it just had a different name before it, it's not sane to take those people seriously (it's not healthy to fight them either), and it's not sane to pretend everybody is like them.


[flagged]


Like... do inflamed Canadians hold the door open for you but not tell you to have a good day...ah?

Jokes aside, Canada actually stands to profit well from global warming. With thousands of years of resting, fertile top soil, lands not suitable for agriculture due to short growing seasons... well, you'll have better growing seasons. Plus still be cool enough to not be a scorching wasteland. Just being realistic. Many countries used for agriculture will dwindle in the average increase of temperature. Canada will actually increase. Same with Russia, most of Siberia is fantastic top soil, just really, really shitting growing seasons... well, lack there of.


Har har stereotypes.

Most of Canada's north is in fact granite "Canadian shield" country with thin or non-existent top soils. See map here: https://cdn.britannica.com/s:700x450/98/180898-050-810A6879/...

Also the bulk of the population lives next to the border, in areas as far south as northern California / southern Oregon.

In reality Canada will not likely benefit economically from global warming because for its entire history it's been mostly an exporter of resources, not a producer of finished goods. Right now a large part of GDP from exports is from oil and gas, and the dominant economic class here benefits from keeping it that way. Similar to Russia, actually.

Canada already has plenty of fertile soils (rapidly being destroyed by urban sprawl, but that's another story). And it used to be one of the world's biggest food exporters. It is now a net food importer. Because it's cheaper to produce food elsewhere with dirt cheap labour in Mexico and so on. That isn't likely to change.


I know stereotypes are fun. Us yankee-pollocks are consistently drunk and shooting off guns, all the time.

Also... humans... if there's a will, there's a way. Just because today is not true, does not mean tomorrow is not. That's been human history. If the food starts to not come in from other countries, I highly doubt Canadians, in all their kindness, won't result to scorching the earth and planting potatoes. Hopefully they don't use them to make vodka. But that's still plenty of land in the west that if the population goes hungry, they're going to figure it out... let's see, in America we have invading to spread freedom... oh! Canadians! "Looks like you all need some kindness!"

That and when it comes to Russia, you anglo-saxon-frenchie descendants have an extremely bad habit of underestimating that bear. If the Russians have the ability to adequately utilize that hell hole called Siberia, they will. Right now, there's nothing to be gained from a 2 month growing season. If temps rise enough to about a 4-6 month season. They will force farmers out there. As working farmers or as ground up fertilizer. Because they've done it in the past.


The rural parts of Canada that aren't currently being used for growing are in the arctic/near arctic.

The changing climate won’t make the days longer. Canada will always have a shorter growing season.


As per this article[0], "The eastern provinces rely on an oil supply that's imported from Saudi Arabia, Africa and Venezuela."

Canada, an oil rich country, imports oil from Saudi Arabia... how does that make sense.

It would be better for Canada and the environment if a pipe is built. First, Canadian environmental standards vs. Saudi, Africa, Venezuela. Second, less tankers burning diesel and oil tanker accidents. Third, Canada keeps the economic benefits.

[0] https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-imports-oil-while-ba...


Logistics and refinery technology. It can be easier to move a cargo of crude via ocean than build a pipeline. And refineries are not all identical, western canada has tar sands that produce very heavy oil which require a much more complex refinery with more capital expense, the existing refineries in eastern canada have lower complexity refineries that are well suited to refining Saudi Arabian oil.

Actually incorrect. Bitumen from Alberta shipped through Line 9 is now refined in Ontario and Quebec and is now the majority of oil consumption in central Canada. The poster above posted an out of date article and then drew incorrect conclusions from obsolete information.

No, it's not out-dated dude. In a different post from you, you're quoting the National Observer which I've never heard of. In Wikipedia's entry it says this: "According to an article by Vivian Krause in the Financial Post, the National Observer has received funding from The Tides Foundation of San Francisco, and Linda Solomon Wood is the sister of a former chairman of the Tides Foundation. Terence Corcoran in the National Post referred to the National Observer as a "left-wing Vancouver online magazine".

For facts: As per BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019 report, Canada consumed 108.8 millions tonnes of oil equiv. It imported 29.1 of crude. 65% from US, remainder from rest of world. 19% from Saudi.


Come. On. Read what you just posted. It does not disagree with the article I posted. 108.8 million tonnes of crude vs 29.1 tonnes imported means only 25% of _all of Canadian_ oil is imported, and of that 65% of it is from the U.S., not Saudi.

By your own quoted numbers only 5% of Canadian crude comes from Saudi Arabia. (20% of 29.1 = 5.82 million barrels, 5.82 million barrels out of 108 million barrels is 5.3%)

The CBC article was 2012. Before Line 9 reversal. You may not want it to be true, but it is. And you actually just confirmed it.

And in fact most of that Saudi oil is going to eastern provinces, not central Canada:

https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/nrg/ntgrtd/mrkt/snpsht/2019/03-03m...

Breaks down oil imports by source and province and -- this is the NEB, not a 'left wing' source -- its first sentence is: "Canada imports around one barrel of crude oil for every seven and a half barrels it produces."

Note that the rest of the page only breaks down imports and doesn't show domestic sources, which as I pointed out is 75% of consumed oil _nationally_ and 90% of Ontario's.


Also here from the NEB: https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/nrg/ntgrtd/mrkt/snpsht/2019/08-01q...

Look a the pie chart "crude oil supplies to Quebec" and look at how small the "Other" in the pie chart is. There's Kenney & Scheer's "saudi tankers."


Even if you accept your argument, as you pointed out, a pipeline (Line 9) helped the situation.

Sure, an existing pipeline. It was originally built to move oil east decades ago. Then it was reversed because oil coming from the other direction was more economical. Then they reversed it back recently.

My overall point is that almost every Albertan I've spoken to doesn't even know about Line 9, and politicians and media there keep repeating points about Quebec and Saudi Oil and Saudi tankers, and being denied access to markets. This doesn't accord with reality: oil from Alberta is already distributing across the country. Oil from Saudi Arabia is only a minor part of the mix in Quebec and almost none in Ontario.

Also worth pointing out that as a % of GDP and as % of exports manufacturing still tops oil and gas and mining. So the claims that "Alberta is holding up the economy of the country" sound pretty unsound and shrill.

In fact, when Alberta is doing really well because of high oil prices, the manufacturing centres suffer due to a high dollar.


What does it matter if it's existing or not. The pipe helps Canada reduce spending money elsewhere. It helps the environment vs trucks, rail and tankers. A new pipe will help further, whether you think 25% imports is still high or not (it is still high, see next paragraph). You've already shown the benefits of adjusting Line 9.

Oil prices are not high. Today WTI is at $54 and Alberta oil (which is also Canada's oil) is selling at $12 cheaper (21%) because of transportation issues... that's then on top of that we pay an addition cost for refined products! $12 is per barrel... and we import 592 million barrels PER DAY according to the website you linked.

EDIT: you also said in a previous comment "and the world wide price of oil has been sagging for a half decade because of global macroeconomic forces"... but now you're saying oil is high? Ok, I'm really out of this discussion now, you're just making stuff up.


What? I never said oil prices are high. You just didn't read. I said _when_ oil prices are high, central Canada's manufacturing industry suffers.

Stop throwing insults around and read.


I can't reply under your reply.

>imported means only 25% of _all of Canadian_ oil is imported

Yes! 25% of Canadian oil is imported! Don't know why wrote "only". An oil rich country gets 1/4 of it's oil from elsewhere, including Saudi and apparently Azerbaijan.

Anyway, HN reply mechanism is nudging me to move on from this discussion, so I will.


That 25% number does not accord with the CBC article from 2012 you posted. And it's for the entire country -- from looking at the NEB chart the majority of that is going to the Atlantic provinces.

You posted an extremely out of date article.

This is actually incorrect since the reversal of Line 9, 90% of Ontario's oil consumption comes from Alberta. 44% of Quebec's comes from Alberta, with the remainder being other North American sources from the U.S.

Here's my source: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/11/13/news/guess-where...

Suncor's refinery in Quebec now processes 25k barrels of Alberta bitumen a day.

There's links in the article to primary sources, including industry documents.

I know many Albertans think we're burning Saudi oil here, but we're not. Strangely enough, Kenney doesn't seem to advertise this fact, and keeps going on about oil tankers going up the St Lawrence.

P.S. I'm born and raised in Alberta. Moved to Ontario in my 20s. Line 9 runs 2km north of my house.


I replied to another comment of yours. It's not out-dated info.

And from another HN commenter: "This seems more like a heuristically constructed perception of reality, presented as if it is fact."


"Constructed perception of reality" is _exactly_ what's going on in Alberta right now.

Read my reply to your comment. All you did was confirm my numbers.


> This demand whimper thing is inflaming politics very poorly in Canada. There is a very vocal and strong wing of right wing politics centred out of Alberta that blames central Canadian liberalism for its economic woes (for not building pipeline capacity and enacting carbon taxes).

This seems factual.

> Or at least that's their public line to inflame the masses while they know full well that their oil is expensive low quality oil and the world wide price of oil has been sagging for a half decade because of global macroeconomic forces that the rest of Canada has no control over.

This seems more like a heuristically constructed perception of reality, presented as if it is fact.

> It's becoming quite toxic, and is an example (along with Trump's nonsense coal jobs rhetoric) of the kind of thing that we are going to have to deal with as the economic and political realities of climate change become more visible.

This seems to equate the economic feasibility of coal jobs with that of oil in Canada (if a pipeline to transport the oil existed). Again, this doesn't seem consistent with a factual evaluation of reality.

> (That, and xenophobic hostility to refugees which will inevitably increase as climate change further damages the global south.)

  xenophobic having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.
This seems to presume a specific line of reasoning behind a presumed level of disapproval of refugees (and I would presume this judgement would also extend to immigrants in general?), when the reality is there is actually no way to know with a high level of certainty precisely what and how (or if) large groups of people think on complicated multi-dimensional topics.

The mind is a very tricky thing, it seems prudent to learn the sorts of powerful but error-prone things it does without our conscious knowledge, such that we can improve the quality of discourse on these and other topics, before time runs out.


Norway puts their oil revenue into a fund, and puts the surplus of this fund into their yearly budget (the rule is to use less than 3% of the current value of the fund). This amounts to about 20% of the budget I believe.

> A lot more needs to happen to end oil's stranglehold.

So what's your plan? Honest question. No sarcasm. How do we get from words to action?


You want my honest answer? No fucking clue. I'm focused on cement. I've given up on tech, IT and programming and went into the cement industry to work towards a smaller CO2 footprint in cement production. It's the second largest CO2 producer on the planet behind fossil fuels. I found making apps and backend software to be a waste of time in my own desires. There's a shit ton of science in cement and infrastructure to keep me interested.

Maybe I did give a partial answer? And I'll paraphrase Neil deGrasse Tyson on this one, "You can't save the world with an app." Get INTO the industry you want to fix and fucking fix it. Enough people do it, someone is bound to figure it out.


This at least points to an answer, one of maybe three answers I've seen with actual credibility.

(The others are "pray that a geoengineering plan works without disaster" and "try to mitigate a whole bunch of warming while emissions gradually stabilize". Not exactly inspiring.)

Visions of fixing global warming with high gasoline prices and renewable electricity subsidies are ludicrous. Focus on reducing personal emissions is almost always a distraction (perhaps excluding air travel and diet). As soon as you dive into numbers, it becomes obvious that even the most optimistic gains from those things can't come close to solving the problem. There's just too much CO2 output from production (concrete, plastics, farming, etc.), non-car engines (cargo ships, planes, heavy machinery, etc.), and hard-to-replace, high-emissions power (e.g. coal in outlying China). And power improvements are often less good than they appear; it's common to report fossil fuel reductions without accounting for any offsetting harms like sulfur hexafluoride leaks from wind turbines, or CO2 emissions from solar panel manufacture and disposal.

That doesn't mean things are hopeless, or oil is blameless, or America should ignore the problem because China, or any of the other cop-outs. But I think you're exactly right: existing producers aren't going to roll over and quit, and meaningful state action will require promoting deep, pervasive changes, not just subsidizing rooftop solar.

We need lobbying and outreach and communication and legislation; we also need a million practical things to be made better, or used better, or supplanted. All I can see to do is pick a problem that suits me and dive in.


That's awesome! Can you share more about how you got into the cement industry? Did you need to go back to school? What was the transition like? Where did you start looking? etc?

Really, nothing special in the whole thing or to write about. First off, to be clear, I'm no saint. I figured I'd align both making money and doing my part to lower CO2. I told my business partner to be on the look out for a cement/concrete manufacturing opportunity, year later we found one (who you know situation). I'm learning the industry first hand and researching how to lower emissions (really no good solutions out there for very good reasons). I never went to school to begin with. I don't feel like sucking up to academics for permission to do anything in my life. It's another business, so there's no real transition for me. Except I get to be outside more often and get dirty. I grew up poor and did a lot manual labor as a kid. So, it's nice not being glued to a computer or chair anymore. Way easier to stay in shape now.

>Get INTO the industry you want to fix and fucking fix it.

Might as well walk the walk, I thought myself.


In my opinion, the communication approach we are using is obviously (from observing the results) ineffective.

Corodra above says: "Don't think for a second I'm "for oil". But I'm a realist. A lot more needs to happen to end oil's stranglehold. Not drum circles, UN circle jerks climate summits with teenagers crying nor bullshit "plant trees" PR stunts(past tree planting stunts have real piss poor success rates of the trees surviving after a year."

I think there's a lot of truth in this. The current propaganda/meme-based approach (repetitive half true newspaper articles, Greta Thunberg, etc) to the issue is not only not moving the ball forward, it's actually causing unrest and resentment in our populations. It is causing people who likely don't really differ all that much in underlying beliefs to split into opposing psychological/ideological camps, and as the conversation continues in this same form, become further entrenched in their opposing stances. If you pay close attention when reading forum discussions, this seems quite apparent to me, even here among relatively more intelligent HN folks.

I believe people need to start realizing this, and then we have to study the nature of the problem, and then we have to find a new approach to the global public discussion on this topic, and others like it.


My solution would simply be to massively focus on nuclear. Replace all existing coal plants with nuclear plants and plug them into the network.

Once you have mass production of nuclear power plants, you can start using nuclear power to create liquid alcohol fuels. Start a process of changing cars to electric or alcohol based fuels, the same goes for ships and eventually planes.

The process of switching to alcohol based fuels can be started in parallel, with early on using fossil fuels.

Start taxing fossil fuel usage to make people move over to liquid fuels.

This vision was created out by one of the nuclear innovates. He invented the PWR (currently used nuclear) but rejected it as a terrible design for human energy production. His insistence that PWR were not 'perfectly save' got him essentially fired. He had come up with Molten Salt reactors to fix all the issues of PWRs.

His vision was more to use nuclear heat to turn salt water into water you can use for irrigation. Not really produce Liquid fuels in a carbon neutral way but the vision makes sense.

Now, unfortunately this should really have started in the 70s, but it would have been the most systematic approach to actually solving the problem. But of course that requires the population not to freak out about nuclear and to accept potentially higher oil prices.


> Now, unfortunately this should really have started in the 70s,

Today's solar and wind boom was started in the 70s. It's kind of amazing how many people prefer the "bird in the bush" over the "bird in the hand".


That depends on definition. Yes, people were playing around with those things. But the idea that from the 70s to 2000s you could have systematically used wind and solar to replace fossil fuels is nonsense.

Even today no industrial country is even close to having even all its energy from solar and wind. And were not even talking about transportation.

For an alternative level you can look at France. France basically removed fossil fuels from its electricity production in less then 20 years of producing nuclear. And we know that CO2 saved earlier is more valuable.

Now they never went to the step of trying to introduce alcohol fuels, as of course their goal was to limit import of oil to make the French economy resilient and not to save CO2.


> But the idea that from the 70s to 2000s you could have systematically used wind and solar to replace fossil fuels is nonsense.

I didn't say anything like that! What I meant is that the sustained technology development effort you called for actually happened for other energy-generating technologies, starting on the date you suggested. The result is that costs fell by several orders of magnitude, and also that it makes sense to widely deploy them now.


> Even today no industrial country is even close to having even all its energy from solar and wind

There are reports that Scotland has been generating 200% of household energy needs from wind alone in 2019. That sounds close to me. Here is a news report, and wiki: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/15/scotland-has-produced-enough...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Scotland


Doesn't burning ethanol still create CO2? I don't think we can maintain our current level of energy use from hydrocarbon based fuels (ethanol or otherwise) while still keeping CO2 emissions low.

Yes but if you get that CO2 from the air in production its carbon neutral.

But of course during the transition you would not really save on CO2. As methanol would still be produced by natural gas. But once you have it carbon neutral you can at least still use liquid fuel, and that's something the world will continue to use.

But alcohol fuels also burn much cleaner and release less actual harmful stuff and would make cities much healthier. So there are other things to consider outside of CO2.

But in general, for personal cars and stuff like that batteries are a better solution. The thing is, we could have done more alcohol fuels much earlier.


With ethanol, the carbon which burns to create the CO2 came from atmospheric CO2 in the first place, during the growth of the sugar cane which was used to produce that ethanol. That is, the CO2 emissions from ethanol are not a problem because they are matched by an identical amount of CO2 capture.

"That is, the CO2 emissions from ethanol are not a problem because they are matched by an identical amount of CO2 capture."

You're missing every other machine using non-ethanol fuel to operate which is required for harvesting/producing ethanol biofuel.

Ethanol's net CO2 output is positive, not negative. That is not good.


That would imply that producing ethanol requires more fuel than it produces, so producing ethanol costs more money (for fuel) than the resulting fuel can be sold for - which is simply not true.

While you might argue that some cases of bioethanol in the first world are essentially just farm subsidies, producing sugarcane ethanol in favorable conditions (e.g. Brazil) definitely is profitable in the financial sense and also in the CO2 sense because it saves most of CO2 emissions compared to the fossil fuels they replace.

Of course, even in ideal conditions any fuel has zero net emissions and can't possibly have a net negative CO2 contribution by itself (that would require carbon sequestration) but every liter of gasoline/diesel that gets replaced by a low-CO2 fuel means a reduction of CO2 emissions.

You shouldn't compare something against a fictional zero, you compare it against realistic alternatives, so CO2 emissions are not only acceptable but actually desirable if they replace much larger CO2 emissions.


Setting aside that these are not the CO2 emissions from "burning ethanol", do any of these "machines required for harvesting/producing ethanol" require a "non-ethanol fuel", or do they use that fuel for now just because it's convenient, and could be easily replaced by other sources? I know that the power for the refining plants is produced by burning the remainder of the sugar cane plant (which produces so much power that the refining plants sell the remainder electricity), but I don't know which fuel the trucks and tractors currently use.

Tractors and trucks currently use diesel, but you could convert them to ethanol if required. Most likely existing ones would just be gradually phased out, and new machines would just run on ethanol.

"Setting aside that these are not the CO2 emissions from "burning ethanol", do any of these "machines required for harvesting/producing ethanol" require a "non-ethanol fuel", or do they use that fuel for now just because it's convenient."

You can't set that aside. Consider the whole chain of production and usage or be consigned to a disingenuous selective argument upon the level of quack doctors. Plain and simple.


I'm primary talking about methanol, ethanol is not really as good a fuel and producing it by using biomass is not very efficient. So generally I would be against it but cars should still be able to use it.

Let's suppose this is a good plan. But it's still just a plan. How do we actually realize it? We both know voting alone won't cut it.

No clue. Some leader or party making it their program. Very trick in democracies specially today with people having been so indoctrinated into so many of the old environmentalist ideas that are counter-productive. Meaning things like Anti-Nuclear, Anti-GMO and so on.

Usually this wouldn't happen because of climate change. France pushed nuclear because they wanted to be independent of Saudi princes.

But the French example clearly shows that a industrial country can go away from fossil fuel electricity in 15 years if its actually determined to do so and using nuclear energy. And they did it with 1960s technology, the same kind of effort with modern types of nuclear plants, could potentially be even faster.

There is no question in my mind if there was political consensuses on a plan, any industrial nation could move away from 90% of fossil fuels usage within 20 years and it wouldn't actually cost as much as people tend to think.


The global economy needs to properly account for the cost of carbon emissions and reductions.

For the oil and gas industry this would translate into a tax at the pump.


[flagged]


I'm thinking that might be challenging in the case of two of the world's top 4 oil exporters.

So that leaves the despots. Err how many countries have been invaded or been gifted a regime change because of oil? You think the perpetrators will ignore someone starting a shooting campaign against Saudi oil?


It's worth noting that currently the largest oil producer in the world is USA.

Exactly right. Incentive caused bias is one of the strongest forces in economics.

I’m in general agreement with you. If governments actually cared about ending ending oil dominance they would continually increase taxes on it to financially force consumers and industry to pursue alternatives. And then use all of those tax revenues to fund renewables, public transit, and climate repair technologies. Outside of a few countries this isn’t even close to what happens in reality. Everyone will continue to squeeze as many dollars as they can out of oil drilling until demand drops to the point where it’s no longer profitable, some number of decades in the future.

>And then use all of those tax revenues to fund renewables, public transit, and climate repair technologies

And what happens when those revenues are threatened by people responding to the incentives and cutting out oil? Any money earned by environmental tax needs to go 100% into matching environmental restoration program with a hard limit defined that decommissions the program once the incentive is "complete" with acknowledgment that this is the preferred result. Otherwise you get ridiculous pervasive incentives in government that don't fix the problem and destabilize politics further


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