LJWorld.com weblogs On the Transition to a Sustainable Paradigm

Peak Oil: It Is Here Now


The President talked about peak oil in his national address without mentioning it by name. Oil companies are drilling miles below the ocean surface for oil because all the cheap, easy to get oil has already been drilled or is being drilled. The BP disaster represents only the beginning of what a Peak Oil world is going to bring.

If anything good can come from this tragedy, may it serve as a catalyst to wake our country up and get us to transition to sustainable energy with the same determination and urgency we had in WWII. If you haven't heard about this funny term, now's the time to learn about Peak Oil and share this perspective on the BP spill with your friends.

Linked to here is the best and most comprehensive Peak Oil FAQ available on the internet. I also help maintain a local independent media website that features some of the best videos on the subject that you can watch free on the internet.


RoeDapple 7 years, 10 months ago

"Oil companies are drilling miles below the ocean surface for oil because all the cheap, easy to get oil has already been drilled or is being drilled."

Wrongo, Timster! There is plenty of oil still to be found in areas far more accessible than drilling in waters over one mile deep! Places environmentalists have lobbied to be protected, places that would be far easier to get repairs made if accidents like the BP disaster occurred, places that could be brought back to their former state at much less cost when the drilling is over. As long as we remain dependent on oil for virtually every aspect of our lives, the potential for disaster will be with us.We have been pulling oil out of the ground at an alarming rate for over 100 years. Estimates are that in the next 100 years oil supplies will become depleted to the point it will no longer be cost effective to go after it. Unless we develop other energy sources to the same level as oil, we are looking at the peak of our existence, and likely will be living in worse than third world conditions in a few hundred years. I consider us lucky to have lived in the times we have, but at fault for the times to come. May our future generations forgive us for our mistakes!

tolawdjk 7 years, 10 months ago

Yep, Bakken sure is heavy and sour. Same with the Julesburg find in northern Colorado. Oh, and that Torquay formation is pretty nasty as well.

The largest discoveries in the US in the last 5 years have been exceedingly light and sweet.

headdoctor 7 years, 10 months ago

Seamus and JackRipper posting in three, two, one. What, not here? Oh, I forgot. They never post their thoughts and input on a thread or blog that might do some good and that directly covers some of their interests in what might be a chance for them to offer some good discussion. They just crouch in hiding to harass a bunch of women on the coupon blogs.

think_about_it 7 years, 10 months ago

Not unless there is a blog about peak oil.

headdoctor 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't know about that. You showed up here pretty quick.

Yawnmower 7 years, 10 months ago

No one ever talks about the real problem. This planet is overpopulated, which is causing the rapid depletion of our available resources. Renewable resource infrastructure is the only answer for the long term.

Oil may have peaked, but the demand is not going to lessen.

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 10 months ago

No, the real problem is that we're not living sustainably. If there were fewer people, we'd still be using up all the resources, we'd just be doing it slower.

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 10 months ago

The U.S. Army estimates we'll be having shortfalls within two years. http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2010/4/12/3620/69388

It's not just an issue of how fast it's running out, it's also an issue of the fact that we're still using it up faster and faster.

Charlie Bannister 7 years, 10 months ago

Peak Oil. Another progressive falsehood similar to Global Warming. What is it with you liberals? Can you not do research on the Internet and read about all of the places where oil IS, just in this country alone? Try reading "Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth Of Scarcity and The Politics Of Oil" by Jerome R. Corsi Ph.D. and Craig R. Smith. You will find in this book that when we refer to oil as a "fossil fuel", that is wrong too. Oh the sheep that get led down the path to tyranny!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!! LET"S HAVE PROSPERITY, NOT AUSTERITY!!!!!!!

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

The fact that you think politics has to do with a person's take on the environmental issues, points out your lack of understanding. I'm really impressed that you'e read two whole anti-global warming books. Suggest you read two books about the other side of global warming for some balance. As for prosperity, not austerity, if we don't address the issues of global warming and depleting natural resourses now, the there will be little chance of prosperity in your future.

fosso 7 years, 10 months ago

Peak oil is real. Takes a long time for mother nature to make. Don't you think all the geologist majors eaten up by the oil companies haven't looked in the best places?

Thumbs up for exposing people to the fact that oil resources are limited. Can't believe people think otherwise... the information is out there.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

kosmo, Yeah, those wacko Peak oil fanatics are just like the Climate Change freaks; in fact most of them wear both hats. You know, folks like National Academy of Science US Joint Forces Command US National Academy of Engineering General Accounting Office US Congressional Budget Office US Army Corps of Engineers National Petroleum Council

And to top it off, most of Big Oil believes in it! Who in their right mind would trust their judgment?????


Jeff Kilgore 7 years, 10 months ago

There you go again, trying to use facts to support your opinions, you shameless liberal.

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

There I was in the auditorium at the Air War College listening to a well known expert predict the end of oil. It was 1981. It was not. New prediction. Wonder if the source of this prediction is any more accurate then the earlier one? Maybe this time??

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

Maybe peak oil will happen right after the new glacial age they promised us in the 70s.

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

The way I heard it was the end of oil by 2010 if we kept consuming it at the same rate as we did prior to the Oil Embargo in the early 1970s. We've come a long way since then, but still have a tougher road ahead with more and more consumers.

tribalzendancer 7 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone spend at least a few hours researching issues before they make comments? Seriously. Peak Oil does not mean the end of oil. It never did. It didn't in 1970 and it doesn't now. It has always meant the point of peak production after which half the oil is gone. Whether an individual field, in a country, or globally - the bell curve is the same. After the peak, oil gets increasingly expensive.

This FAQ addresses the commonly misinformed idea that "because they were talking about this 40 years ago it's not true now."


George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

I think you are right on US (lower 48) oil production. The expert was taking world production. I think my comments are accurate on world oil production.

You had many other notions in your comments upon which I was silent. Cost of energy will go up - at least for a while. Failure to pursue alternate energy resources will be very unpleasant even if we suddenly find the "mother lode" under the arctic.

Doom and gloom does not move me - neither does speculation. The authorities are pursuing alternate energy sources. I believe they are doing it in a measured way to avoid an economic meltdown and consistent with the maturity of the alternate sources.

Are you one of those that wants to go in a big rush regardless of consequences?

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

when they could be building cities and towns like they use to be-walkable

Didi it ever occur to you that some people don't want to sleep 6 feet from their neighbors in the next flat over? I'd rather have 100 acres of worthless swamp in Florida with a house on piles than 600 square feet next to some weirdo in New York or San Francisco.

And you can keep your walking crap too. It's hard to walk a boat to the lake for a day of fishing or the car to the track for a day of hot laps.

Maybe you would be happy in East Flatblock 21, but most Americans want more from their lives.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

You don't pay squat for my chosen lifestyle. I pay cash for it all and on top of that I pay taxes on it all to support section 8 bums and bus-riding freeloaders.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

Pardon me while I pick my rednecked jaw off the table. I guess you don't use interstate highways, I take it you pay what it costs to produce the real price of that non-subsidized gas to fill the tank on your car produced by companies that bought up the mass transit options in so many towns so that the automobile had clear sailing. Oh, maybe not: maybe you're buying vehicles that are made from steel that was dumped in our country to bankrupt our steel industries.

I get tired of folks who like to draw lines and call folks across that line bums. What's the point in your delusion? The bottom line is that everyone gains if we build more efficient neighborhoods, cars and other ways of transportation. Prove otherwise.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

exactly which "that" is it you are referring to?

Folks who are drawing arbitrary lines and calling everyone on the other side "bums?"

Folks who want to build more efficient communities?

Folks who think everyone else is a freeloader when they themselves enjoy huge subsidies such as interstates, big oil subsidies, etc.?

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

You and I are not on the same planet.

You don't walk the streets of our major cities (megalopolises) without consequences. Just endless concrete and people who wish you ill (there are a few exceptions and they tend to look like Lawrence (or OP)).

Suburbia there is Lawrence here.

When we had small "cities”, the population was a lot lot lower. Have to put all those people somewhere.

By the by, free and open borders means more people to put somewhere.

Maybe the "Peoples Republic" is right - we cannot manage our affairs unless our betters do it for us.??

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

In other news, the sky is falling, run for your lives!

Peak oil is such an idiotic concept. Their is no magic curve or even a moment when the oil supply starts shrinking. Oil will become harder to extract, but it will be available albeit more expensive. Technology is turning the theory of peak oil into a laughing stock.

It's funny. In the last ten years, it has be proclaimed on more occasions that we have just hit peak oil than we have killed the number three man from alquaida. And it seems like we kill the number three man from alquaida once a month if not more ofeten.

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

“You can add housing without creating suburbia that requires a car to get everywhere. We use to do it in Lawrence if you look at the Malls, Hillcrest, places that had groceries and housing needs. They were all walkable(sp) for those in the neighborhood. “

That is a myth! Unless we are going to build a lot of soviet style architecture with very small rooms and facilities down the hall increases in population force us out. Now we could move our industries/government/finances and the like to smaller towns like Lawrence but that tends to run into the desire of many to have all the amenities like music venues, entertainment, many choices in companionship and the like. I bet if you looked in the mirror you would find someone causing the congregation around central cities that here abouts is referred to as sprawl.

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

Well sir, you have not addressed how we go back with triple the population. Clearly, you have a vision. You keep restating it. I grew up at 167th street in Manhattan. I understand the neat version of everything close by. Of course, we were 167 plus blocks from downtown. Last time I was there, you would not want to live there. Therefore, I am not sure most of the rest of us understand how to implement your vision or necessarily want to go to what results.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

You completely missed the point. Transportation loops cause sprawl. Bunch of studies prove that--the one that comes to mind is the study that compared Lincoln, NE and Des Moines, IA. Roughly the same population, but a billion dollars more interstate loops around Des Moines, and much larger footprint.

Funny thing is that the traffic congestion in both cities was virtually the same! Why is that? Folks drive a hell of a lot more in Des Moines to get from A to B because A is a hell of a lot further away from B than in Lincoln.

The illusion is a pretty darn expensive one, if you ask me, and it uses a lot more resources to boot. I suspect you could do a similar study between Topeka and Lawrence, as their population isn't all that different any more.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

The level of cluelessness is indeed astounding. While chasing our little storm this morning we drove through a few small oil fields. They weren't pumping because there is enough oil on the market now that the lease holders won't bother pumping for such a low price.

Magnify that by millions of square miles, then toss in millions more underwater and in foreign countries. When prices go up, the supply will follow. You chicken little 1970s throwbacks have been wrong for 40 years, and you are still wrong.

You can add housing without creating suburbia that requires a car to get everywhere

You can add whatever you want. I'm not ceding my freedom or means to travel freely on my own for your half-witted socialist pablum. The people of new orleans let themselves get trapped in that lifestyle and lots of them died for that mistake.

David Roberts 7 years, 10 months ago

A couple of thoughts...

First, Liberty275, you claim that "Peak oil is such an idiotic concept." You then go on to define what Peak Oil is when you say "Oil will become harder to extract, but it will be available albeit more expensive." Peak Oil isn't a stupid concept. It's just the realization that every time you use a resource that is not infinite, you begin to reach a point of diminished returns. I don't hear anyone saying "we're going to run out."

Peak Oil wouldn't be such a big deal if we hadn't built our lifestyles around oil's cheap use. The expansion of highways in the US in the 1950's and the American love affair with the automobile helped to grow the US economy after WWII, but we have so completely obliterated the way we knew how to live that consequences of Peak Oil are more likely to be catastrophic rather than merely inconvenient.

Oil is a tool--a very useful one--but we need to remember that before the big walkable cities, before industrialization; people knew how to cultivate land for food, people knew how to fix things rather than throw them away. I'm not advocating a time when we throw out all machines and technology, but we've so cast our lot with cheap easy oil that we are due for some pain in the future.

I am hopeful that we can ease that pain a little if we do a better job preparing now. The local farmer's market and the cyclists are doing a piece of that. What are some other things we can do to weather the transition?

Our lifestyles are due for a lot of change. Preparing for that will be up to us. Our government's job is to protect liberty. This will not turn out well if we are waiting on our government to take care of it for us.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't hear anyone saying "we're going to run out."

If we aren't going to run out, why even bother worrying about it? As for peak oil, oil's production is often portrayed with a bell curve, which is the idiocy of the concept. I know and you seem to know that the bell curve is inaccurate. Production will plateau and even increase for a long time as technology and price renders previously unusable supplies viable.

I'm not against any alternative form of energy, and like you I think we should look high and low for every sort we can find. But "peak oil" is just another in a long line of left-wing lies serving as propaganda for their anti-corporate philosophy. I don't care that we have lots of oil left, I can take that for granted. But I'll take every chance possible to point out the baseless fear propagated by people bent on using bald-faced lies to undermine the capitalist system that made America the great nation it is today.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

Given the finite nature of the earth, it's only logical that any substance on it is finite. Nobody has said oil is infinite, only that peak oil is a left-wing lie to scare the human herd into buying into their anti-corporate lowest-common-denominator philosophy. We will never run out of oil, not because we have an infinite supply, but because we have a large enough supply to tide us over until hydrogen is a viable alternative. At that point, oil won't be needed and can sit in the ground.

When the sun dies and evaporates the earth, I imagine it will take more oil with it than we ever thought about using.

But, if your happiness requires idiotic past-times like playing with race cars, toy boats and wasting as much fuel as possible, go right ahead.

Thanks for your permission. You can go sit in a corner and twiddle your thumbs if you want. I'll be happy to waste your share of oil.

camper 7 years, 10 months ago

I concur with many of the points (and sentiments) of the writer and posters. If you look at some of the problems and emergencies that confront us today, you can see that some of the impact could have been mitigated if we were better prepared. If it is the economy, we tend to wait for the "bubble" to burst before we concern ourselves. If there are energy or environmental issues, we tend to wait it out until things get real bad. Seldom are we moved to action beforehand. Somehow the oil crisis in the 70's was not so bad because we forgot about it and moved on. We seemed to get over Valdez and even the speculation induced crisis that drove gas up to $4.00/gallon recently. Will we soon forget the BP disaster as well?

Maybe this is our nature. Interestingly, John Steinbeck pointed out this paradox in man by making this comparison in his great "Log From the Sea of Cortez":

"With marine fauna, as with humans, priority and possession appear to be vastly important to survival and dominance. But sometimes it is found that the the very success of an animal is its downfall.......available food supply is so exhausted by the rapid and successful reproduction that the animal must migrate or die." And to paraphrase furthur, Steinbeck points out that the by-products of this success can prove poisonous due to this great concentration.

Interesting? Pollution certainly is a man-made by product. It is something we need to monitor and be serious about. If not for us, but for future generations.

But man, unlike marine fauna, is a thinking and enlightened being. Even sometimes spiritual and kind. This is what seperates us. But when we do not utilize our better intentions by looking long-term, we can unknowingly contribute to our decline if not careful.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

Interesting? Pollution certainly is a man-made by product.

I don't disagree with most of your post. It's perfectly reasonable and probably an accurate depiction of man the animal. OTOH, why can't we consider the plume of gas from a volcano as pollution? Of course, this pointless question leads to the real question; if a volcano can't pollute because it is organic to earth, then why is man different? We are as organic to the earth as Mt St Helens.

No argument with you, but just an interesting aside. Well, maybe a little argument regarding the imaginary spirit stuff and us being separated from other animals because we can think a little better. As for marine fauna, I'm under the impression that marine mammals are not magnitudes less intelligent than humans.

camper 7 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the comment. The Sea of Cortez is a great book. You may find interesting.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 10 months ago

"But man, unlike marine fauna, is a thinking and enlightened being." Considering the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election, I'd question that statement.

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

So Obama was elected by voters who were not white/had no guns/trucks/diabetes? He got 46% of popular vote, 11% of voters are black, turnuot was about 60%.

how did he get elected?

228mil. white people 99 mil. pickup truck owners 20 mil. gun owners

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

do away with farm and oil subsidies

You spelled "ALL SUBSIDIES" wrong. If the government stops taking my money every time I turn around to subsidize bums, I can afford $25 burgers and $12 gas. I can already afford them. I don't mind paying for things I want. I despise having my money taken and handed to people that are too lazy to pay their own way.

Maybe oil companies can take some more taxpayer money and figure out a way to go back in time and create an accelerated dinosaur breeding program

Oil comes from decaying plant matter, not dinosaurs. I think oil companies should build nuclear reactors along coastlines and crack hydrogen from sea water for use as fuel. Capitalism wins, corporations win, we get a good fuel, water comes out the tail pipe and environmentalists can still complain about evil electricity generated by the nuclear plants causing light pollution and spotted salamanders not breeding in fake wetlands.

Now you go back and hang off the nanny state's teet where you belong.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't have a lake. I pay for a license to fish in reservoirs built to supply water to local communities. If I were where I'd rather be, I'd be fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and in natural lakes (mainly sinkholes).

Heartland Park isn't really a track, it is a corporate owned motorports park with several tracks. It looks like it was formerly a speedway that was rebuilt into a more complete facility. I'm no expert on Heartland Park's history as I'm little more than a long-term Kansas tourist. You are free to fill in the gaps about the "Heartland track" as you see fit.

I also know I spend hundreds of dollars in Topeka every time I go there and that is hundreds of dollars the retailers in the city of Lawrence will never see.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

My hundreds don't cover the costs. You are right. But the money spent by the thousands of fans and hundreds of racers multiplied by every weekend per year does over a few years.

do only to find out that you are as reliant on tax dollar funded projects

I'm not reliant on Heartland Park or any of the local reservoirs. I pay money to use them, but I could as easily not. I could race on the street with the teenagers and fish private lakes without a license.

As it is, I'll pay the entry fee or tax and use the facilities knowing that I'm helping to pay for them, and not getting anything for free. Ironically, every time I pay, I'll also pay sales tax which will go to support section 8 bums and other freeloaders. That should male you happy.

Let's not forget all the roads you want built

Which roads do I want built? Outside of finishing the SLE with an elevated roadway to help residents on the east side reach the retailers on the south side I don't really think we need more roads.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 10 months ago

completely fake "peak oil" [pique oil?]

most who try to claim "peak oil" are same idiots who keep us from drilling for it! keep us from exploring from it. thus, a self-fulfilling profesy!

Tim, ever heard of the Santa Barbara Channel? AlGore's mansion kinda overlooks this area. we could have a lot of wells there ... but environuts/greenie wheenies prevent it.
ever heard of ANWR? again greenie wheenies.

drill baby drill! the gulf spill is the first time in history this bad a spill has happened. you people are so ignorant: Obama is stopping offshore drilling and putting massive numbers of people out of work across the gulf! then, more oil has to be shipped by tanker.
far more oil is spilled by tanker than by drilling!

please, next time you feel the need to post Tim, post something based in facts, not emotionated videos full of self-fulfilling profesies by environuts who really do not want us to have cheap energy.

and, who's hurt the worst by expensive energy

well? any guesses?

its the poor and those on fixed incomes you liberals claim so often to care about and so often claim to fight for!!!

get real Tim

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

Exactly! peak oil means supply stop growing at about 2%/year besides known reserves there is oil shale, sand oil, deep antarctic oil.

and if one does not beleive we (humankind) cannot find ways to synthesize oil or retool autos to natural gas or find alternate fuel and solve or stumble across technology to survive then we wouldn't still be here now;)

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

It isn't about oil. They don't care about oil. They care about, and I quote, "what we can do to use less". At the base of that thought process is nothing but pure unadulterated envy. If the bums can't have it, neither should the people that work and are willing to pay for it.

OTOH, give these whiners 1000 acres of productive oil rights and they would change their tune in a second. They are hypocrites that way.

We already have several alternative fuels (nitromethane for instance, LOL). But hydrogen is the future. It is everywhere and it is free for the taking. The left will hate it because it will require corporations to break off the oxygen atoms and distribute the fuel. That makes it just about as perfect as possible.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

How is a blown out well 5,280 feet below the ocean plugged?

The oil industry has no idea or it would have been a done deal.

Yes the Obama panel is discussing the huge problem of oil addiction. The only way to fix that is for consumers to cut wayyyyyyy back.

This is as much a problem with consumers as it is with the oil industry. Consumers let the oil industry tell them they cannot give up oil or cut wayyyyyyy back.

When are consumers going to start thinking for themselves.

Oil is a polluter plain and simple. To think otherwise is looking stupid.

What the hell are american consumers afraid of?

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago


You lost me - loops? What has that got to do with "peak oil?"


I long ago lost any interest in New York City - that was an example of neighborhood merchants - kind of like the new urbanism. I suspect we may see some of that again if prices or the government dictate it.

Just exactly what are we arguing about? I commented that I had heard the "peak oil" refrain 30 years ago. That is a fact. The refrain turned out to not be a fact. I have no opinion on whether this time it will be accurate. Of course you do not either. I will agree that what we may find may be harder to harvest and therefore more expensive. I do not agree that alternatives for almost everything for which we use oil are not available - they are - they will just cost more - at least in the short haul.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

Loops? You know, loops of interstate bypasses that circle around major metro areas like 435, 635 around KC. The study I referred to indicates that all you do when you invest heavily in such critters for a metro area is increase sprawl and the number of miles you drive to get from A to B, See the connection between the sprawling layout of many cities and peak oil yet? For your convenience, I've rewritten the previous post to explain the term "loops" so it is clearer for you below:

You completely missed the point. Building interstate bypasses and ever widening circles of concrete "loops" around metro areas cause sprawl. Bunch of studies prove that--the one that comes to mind is the study that compared Lincoln, NE and Des Moines, IA. Roughly the same population, but a billion dollars more interstate loops around Des Moines, and much larger footprint.

Funny thing is that the traffic congestion in both cities was virtually the same! Why is that? Folks drive a hell of a lot more in Des Moines to get from A to B because A is a hell of a lot further away from B than in Lincoln.

The illusion is a pretty darn expensive one, if you ask me, and it uses a lot more resources to boot. I suspect you could do a similar study between Topeka and Lawrence, as their population isn't all that different any more.

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago


Could you list again the URL for the study?

For your info I have done loops all my life since I lived in the megalopolises of both coasts for most of it – I think w called them “cloverleaves”. I know what they are – drove through the intersection of I95/395/495 every day for more than a decade – that was some “loop”. I still have problems connecting them directly to the concept of "peak oil".

It seems to me that you are linking “sprawl” to oil usage - a fact I do not dispute. What I do dispute is the notion of returning to the new urbanism too quickly. I have no complaints with having small mom and pop stores in my neighborhood. I do have a concern about how we get there - if we can given our much larger population.

Now, if this is about Lawrence – well maybe your concerns are a stretch??

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

Sure! Here it is: http://www.ctre.iastate.edu/pubs/semisesq/session2/kelly/index.htm

Here's an interesting excerpt from the study's discussion, which, I think is relevant to even little Lawrence, which has not graduated to being its own Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area:

"If you want to look like the Lincoln metropolitan area, annex to the central city the land necessary for development but then attempt to limit utility services to that area, and develop an integrated grid of public streets to serve local commuting needs; most important, do not ask (or encourage) state officials to improve the interstate highway system through town to provide improved commuting."

The alternative, letting a lot of independent suburbs spring up all around a landlocked central city, leads to suburban sprawl, lots of extra concrete loops, etc.

And yes, you are right about linking sprawl to oil usage. I'd also would love to see some way for mom and pop stores to return to neighborhoods, which would then be more, well, neighborly. Either way, more efficient autos would benefit well planned, denser cities and suburban sprawl alike, and I think it'd be cool if you could plug in your commuter electric car to your home energy production unit, either wind or solar, and sell the surplus to the grid, so no more coal plants have to be built. Time will tell, I guess.

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

Doug County

They moved the study to another part of the UoI web. Without a name I will be wandering in the wilderness looking for it.

Sorry about "cloverleaves" I was actually thinking beltways. Age is getting to me.

In your note your expansion raises the very question I was going to explore. How do you get people to do those things? It costs them time and money.

Over my not so short life I have noted that our way of life has changed significantly and most voluntarily. The smaller industries around our mid size cities have closed. New industries have emerged on the periphery. People remained in their homes in the "downtown" for a number or reasons and commuted to the new plants on surface streets. They paid for it in time. They petitioned their elected officials and low and behold a new interstate extension appeared that by passed the "downtown". Now commuting was quicker and longer. This is one version.

Big cities have a different narrative.

Economics may reverse the trend overtime but I suspect that any attempt by the government to really change the dynamics in the short haul will lead to a revolt.

My short point is that reverting to a more localized economic model will take time - it took my lifetime to get here it may take that to move back - if we choose to do so.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry the link sent you on a wild goose chase--I just tried it and it took me right to the study, so you might try it again.

It might be very interesting and instructive to look at the specific histories of Lincoln and Des Moines to see why Lincoln opted not to go the billion dollars of subsidized beltways that Des Moines pursued, don't you think?

I agree that shoving something down the throats of those who are supposed to "benefit" from something is very questionable and almost never works, but what I'd like to think could help reverse that lifelong trend you've observed about increasing sprawl would be to have significant amounts of federal dollars that have been made available for all of those beltways to also be available for alternatives that don't include endless overpasses, exit ramps and bypasses. What about supporting the development and support of local economic models at the same intensity as the interstate/intermodal/global distribution level? What would be possible then?

Speaking of big city narratives, I heard that Walmart is now petitioning to invade the Chicago meto area with dozens of stores that have so far been kept out, and the city is interested because of the jobs and revenues that they would generate. Will be interesting to see how that develops, don't you think?

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

Hi Doug County

I wanted the link to check the methodology. Where are the transportation sinks and sources in each city? Did we consider things like that? Did one city use better planning methodology or did luck play a part? Did one experience job and population loss because of decisions made. I will try the link again. It took me to a note that took me to their transportation think tank where I lost my way.

Big cities challenge me because many I have lived in are just endless suburbs with occasional malls (strip and otherwise). If Wal-Mart or anybody injects them selves into that pattern what impact is there? Wal-mart is cheap. Mon and Pop stores are generally more expensive. Can they compete even if transportation costs rise? Perhaps funding for local (whatever local might be in a city like Baltimore for example) business development could help. Of course the result must compete favorably or we will end up supporting it forever and the public will may not be there to do that.

We have the interesting problem that we now have all those roads and they are falling apart. Do we abandon them or fix them. If we fix them will there be money for other investments?

What are our priorities? If we ask people to invest in their homes to make them more energy efficient will they be receptive to paying (taxes or higher costs) for the local economic model? Can we invent a local economic model that is attractive enough to compete? Does cap and trade help or hurt a local economic model? I believe there will remain needed items not readily available locally.

Can we break our love of the automobile? Once the auto is purchased for whatever reason the economics are very different than if there is no sunk cost for the car? We can make the car more expensive but will people still opt to have one for reasons other than simple transportation?

Many questions? Not as many answers. Perhaps if we are patient and let events determine outcomes rather than try for some form of central planning?

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