KunstlerCast #74: Electric Society

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reikiman
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KunstlerCast #74: Electric Society

James Howard Kunstler is a leading thinker in peak oil circles. Peak Oil is a theory (rather well proved) describing how in the not too distant future (or perhaps already) we will see a decline in fossil oil production. There are more reasons for adopting electric vehicles than greenhouse gas stuff.. it's also that fossil oil production is very highly likely to decline. The situation of increasing demand for oil and a decline in possible production is likely to not be pretty.

Anyway in the most recent episode of his podcast he goes into electric cars starting from a Nova episode about electric cars. I've embedded both below.

James Howard Kunstler is very negative on electric car possibilities.

I agree with him on some points - I think the existing car-centric infrastructure is just wrong, it's ugly, it degrades quality of life with things like noise pollution and interferes with walkability and walkable cities. Further I think the car centric infrastructure is more energy intensive than to have more compact cities with better mass transit. I'm obviously coming from this as an American but my visits to places with good mass transit (Brussels and Prague) showed me it's possible to easily get around a decent size city without having to own a car, and to boot I'd be walking around more often and be in better health.

He also goes on about how it'll be impossible to build enough wind and solar power to cover the electricity requirement of having all cars converted to electric. According to a Stanford Univ researcher who I saw speed recently, he's just wrong about that. There's been an incomplete understanding of the amount of power possibly available through wind and solar power, and more recent figures show the potential is vastly more than Kunstler seems to be admitting.

In any case this is very interesting...

KunstlerCast_74.mp3

dp
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Re: KunstlerCast #74: Electric Society

I have been a Peak Oil advocate for years, its one of my main reasons for being interested in electric vehicles. However, I am started to get frustrated with the fatalism in the community. It's like they want the collapse of civilization, and do not want to solve the problems and avoid it.

In my own life I have experienced some great successes. I have cut my energy usage by 75% and I would like to do that again so that I am down to about 7% of original usage. Doing this has not required a lot of money or training. It is within the realm of average people who can read and take action and aren’t afraid to make and correct mistakes.

I have been super-insulating my house. Cellulose is quite inexpensive. It’s not even a petroleum product. I should get close to a passivehaus

I live close to work. I have been playing around with an electric motorcycle. I have not bought any gas since March. The electricity comes from a hydro dam but I could also get the energy from adding a small solar collector. The charger only requires 180 watts and I use less than two kilowatt hrs a day to commute. The efficiency of a small electric motorcycle in comparison to car is quite staggering and we are starting to add full dustbin fairings, which should give us an idea how good these will get.

I have been working with water capture and cisterns. I know it’s vain but I have the greenest lawn for blocks, all done with compost and waste water. Next year I will move on to significant food production.

If we could all drastically cut our heating and transportation energy requirements without using a lot of money, could we not extend our petroleum for fertilizers by many decades?

reikiman
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Re: KunstlerCast #74: Electric Society

Sounds like you're ripe for the Transition Initiative. You're already doing it (on a personal level).

I agree there's a lot of doomers in the peak oil movement. Interesting James addressed that a couple podcasts back (and claimed he's not a doomer...?).

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to be interviewed by a local writer doing an article about peak oil and the transition movement. He'd done five versions of the article for different local weekly free rags (The Santa Clara County Metro being my local one). By the time he talked to me he started the interview by saying he wanted to hear something positive, he was tired of hearing about the doom and gloom. I'm afraid I just started giggling because it's a really dark story and it's hard to see anything positive with the end of civilization as we know it.

I am also involved with Transition and am working with some people to jump start Transition in Silicon Valley.

For those who don't know - the Transition Initiative is a fairly new movement that brings together a lot of interesting ideas about social change and permaculture - one of the core things is to look at BOTH global warming (and other environmental ills) AND peak oil - to look for solutions related to relocalization, powerdown, lowering human impact, etc.

marcopolo
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Re: KunstlerCast #74: Electric Society

By the time he talked to me he started the interview by saying he wanted to hear something positive, he was tired of hearing about the doom and gloom. I'm afraid I just started giggling because it's a really dark story and it's hard to see anything positive with the end of civilisation as we know it.

For those who don't know - the Transition Initiative is a fairly new movement that brings together a lot of interesting ideas about social change and aquaculture - one of the core things is to look at BOTH global warming (and other environmental ills) AND peak oil - to look for solutions related to relocalization, powerdown, lowering human impact, etc.

You know, many years ago, (eons?) the accepted wisdom of the left elite was a pronouncement by the famous leftist think tank, 'CLUB of ROME' that 1977, would be 'The year the Stork passed the Plough!'! This would lead to wide spread famine, doom, destruction and the end of life as we knew it!!

Of course,much to the disappointment of it's others, this didn't happen!

My next encounter with intellectual groups, was the grandly named (and quite independent), 'International Institute for World Peace'. This august body foundered in 1929, was most active during from the 50's, into the 80's, when it reached it's pinnacle by publishing an 22 year, 7 volume body of work, with contributions from nearly every major leftist thinker of the twentieth century. This work was entitled " The Inevitable Destruction of Western Capitalism and the Ultimate Triumph of the Marxist-Leninist Economic Model" .

It is unfortunately ironical that the date of the official launch of this vast publication, was overshadowed by the coincidence with being the same day as the collapse of the Berlin Wall! (the IIWP also disappeared shortly after for lack of Soviet 'Independent' funding.).

Thing is, the vast majority of people want, rightly or wrongly, the freedom and convenience of independent personal transport! Not enough people actually want, or really like, public transport, except as a necessity.

So, right or wrong, it is my belief that we must cater for the demands of the mass market by the least harmful method, and that means EV's. It is simply against human nature to power down, reduce expectations, get smaller, simpler, and more basic. We are an aggressive, expansionist species! We will not live within boundaries, but will devise ever increasingly ingenious solutions to our problems, and expand, mostly through technology, or perish in the attempt!

Arrogant, possibly! True? absolutely!

marcopolo

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