Why do "they" seem so optimistic? Or perhaps, simply complacent?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by parmalee, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You're joking. I live in the Washington region and the traffic here is always ranked as #1 or #2 worst in the nation. Even on a Saturday afternoon in the Maryland suburbs, the main road through Bethesda, Rockville and Gaithersburg is gridlocked.

    The DC Metro only carries a small fraction of the commuters. It only extends about ten miles into Virginia, a short way beyond Arlington into Fairfax County, while the population density extends all the way to the other end of the county and on into Loudoun County. It only extends about fifteen miles into Maryland, just to the northern limit of Rockville on one side and a few miles past Silver Spring on the other, while the population density extends all the way up to Frederick County to the north and Howard and Prince George's County to the east.

    The answer is not bicycles or tax-subsidized public transit schemes, but telecommuting.
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  3. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    Most Americans may be deluded, but there are a very large number (including non-Americans) who are far from deluded and are sniffing the profits to be made from alternatives to oil. Those non-deluded geniuses are hard at work creating the oil replacements. These will be trundled out when the time comes, and a new generation of the very rich will arise.

    On bikes.
    These will only be OK when the powers that be create widespread networks of exclusive bike tracks. I see no sign of that happening any time soon. Certainly the cars that kill cyclists are not gonna go away.
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  5. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    We will use alternatives, but to think they can replace the oil economy is delusional. It will place severe limits on growth for the foreseeable future.

    We will bike existing roads which will eventually be replaced with gravel or cobblestone due to lack of asphalt (or money). Cars are going away.
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Sorta proves my point. The roads are failing.

    The real answer, of course, is a combination of all three.
  8. livingin360 Registered Senior Member

    Its all part of the whole Positive/negative thinking ideologies that have penetrated almost all cultures. When i bring up things that are big i usually get a response that im being negative and depressing. I think they gain a awareness of something they have chosen to forgot and the awareness gets them depressed. I also believe in the ideology but i just say... Hey I'm the man that can handle reality in a positive way instead of moping about it in a negative way.
  9. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    You've already heard how it actually is in DC. In NYC - which exhibits, by far, the highest rate of mass transite commuting in the USA - it's still only about 50% of commuters. And NYC has - again, by far - the longest average commute time of any city in the USA.
  10. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Right-it's the cars that make bicycles really dangerous, not the bicycles.
    All the wipeouts on bikes alone have just cost me skin...the big plate and the screw collection in my left arm are from totalling my first car.
    Cars kill-what?-30,000 people in the U.S. a year?
    If we had a public transport system that killed that many we'd be in hysterics.

    @Spidergoat-Edison bred a goldenrod plant to produce rubber...it did so fairly well, just not quite as well as rubber trees.

    I doubt the Smithsonian's seedstock (Edison gave it to them, along with his notes) is still viable, but we could recapitulate his work, and there's our bicycle tires...

    Admittedly, though, horseback may become the preferred mode of transport again a few hundred years from now in some areas...but you'd be surprised at how delicate horses are...1000-odd pound disaster areas...and can't do without grain...

    BUUUT...there is such a thing as a solar metal furnace, and there's lots of metal already lying around to use.
    So industrial society can, with care and planning...continue on at a lower level on old tech...with innovation-possibly indefinitely.

    And how about a bicycle with a tiny friction motor, fired by ethanol, to extend your range beyond what your legs alone can manage? they already make these motors...you can order them now...

    But complacency assures we'll run off a cliff-which is why it drives me batty. People keep assuming we must go on as we have...and we literally can't, because the planet can't support it.

    We have to innovate, adapt, and realize that things aren't going to be as comfortable as they once were for us.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  11. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    sorry for chain-posting...but I found this.


    I could make a version of this myself to fit our two existing south-facing windows...pop them in, save on heating...

    Next winter, I'm totally trying this...
  12. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    Peak oil will not cause any instant loss of fuel. What will happen is slow and steady. Slowly and steadily, oil production will fall behind consumption. That will boost prices, which will rise steadily over a period of many years.

    This will lead to people looking for alternatives. Perhaps some will use bikes. (Not me, though.). When oil derived fuels get too expensive, that will permit alternatives to become competitive.

    Personally, I think battery electric vehicles will become far more common. Some will be hybrids. Some plug in electric, and some totally electric. Lithium battery technology is improving by leaps and bounds, especially with nanotech becoming much more sophisticated. Within 20 years (plus or minus a few years), I think new electric vehicles will exceed new petrol vehicles.

    The old hay burner will not get a look in!
  13. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    You are wrong about the prices. When demand cannot be met, they will start to fluctuate wildly, and there will be shortages. It will be a very different world marked by economic and political instability. The kind of consumer base required to market electric cars will vanish, even though they will become technically viable.
  14. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    We have been there before. In the early 1970's we had the Middle East oil crisis. Prices did not fluctuate wildly. They went up, as we would expect, but without those fluctuations.

    Electric car introduction has already begun, albeit in a small way. Hybrids first. Now all-electric and plug in hybrids are starting. Peak oil may begin to bite in a few years. That will simply serve to accelerate electric car production, as fuel gets too expensive.

    If we look back over the last 100 odd years, we see that technology and standard of living always rise in the long term. The graph is not steady, with lots of jumps up and down in the short term. But the long term trend is up. This is what we can expect in the future also. Peak oil may cause another brief downward drop, but we can expect that, long term, the economy will adapt and recover.
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Probably because "they" do not learn from history - if you read C. Northcote Parkinson's East and West, you'll discover that what is happening is what has always been happening. I don't think Americans will realise what is happening until after they have become an economic colony of the East. So in a way, its good for us Easterners that they have plenty of space for agriculture and lots of land for colonisation and lots of resources which have not yet exploited. I don't think they realise [yet] that you cannot eat guns or bombs.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    NYC number of people who commute by train: 45%
    By car: 31.4%

    Average distance covered by NYC train commuters: 7.7 miles
    Average car distance: 6.9 miles

    Train passenger-miles, NYC commuters: 55% of total
    Car passenger-miles, NYC commuters: 33% of total

    Now let's compare NYC as an example of mass transit to Los Angeles, the city that is surely the City of the Car:

    NYC 17.7 million people
    LA 12.5 million people

    Annual per person congestion delay, average:
    NYC 23 hours
    LA 50 hours

    Rush hours per day:
    NYC 6 hours
    LA 8 hours

    Annual passenger miles of travel on public transit (trains+buses):
    NYC 18.5 billion
    LA 2.8 billion

    Fuel wasted by congestion (idling in stopped traffic, stuck in trains etc) annually:
    NYC 11gal per person avg
    LA 33gal per person avg
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I rode a motorcycle as primary transportation for almost 20 years. It was a lot of fun but I had two major-injury crashes. I hung up my helmet after the second one. It's only for risk-takers.

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