Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

Tall ships make a comeback as oil price hits export

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Environment/Energy Donate to DU
cedric Donating Member (291 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:03 PM
Original message
Tall ships make a comeback as oil price hits export

A British schooner docked in Penzance yesterday carrying 30,000 bottles of wine on a voyage that enthusiasts believe will herald a return to wind power in merchant shipping.

The first commercial cargo of French wine to be transported by sail in the modern era is due in Dublin this week after a six-day journey, which is being touted as a green and ultimately cheap alternative to fuel propulsion.

The 108-year-old, wooden, triple-masted Kathleen & May has been chartered by the Compagnie de Transport Maritime la Voile (CTMV), a shipping company established in France to specialise in merchant sailing. This is beyond anybody's dreams, said Steve Clarke, the owner of the Kathleen & May, which was built in 1900 in Ferguson and Baird's yard at Connah's Quay near Chester.

When I bought this boat in 1966 it was going to be cut up with chainsaws. Nobody ever imagined it would ever sail again. He said that amid high fuel costs and concern over carbon emissions, commercial sailing ships could have a future. I think they might have hit on something.

Tall ships parade along the Mersey before race
Green shipbuilders hark back to age of sail
Frdric Albert, a former French radio journalist who founded CTMV this year, agreed. We are the only firm in Europe doing this and the level of interest in our project has far exceeded our expectations, he told The Times. A lot of big companies have contacted us.

His initial contract is with 80 vineyard owners from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France to carry their bottles to Ireland on the tall ship. CTMV is finalising another deal to bring Irish whiskey and Scotch back to France by sail, Mr Albert said.

The Kathleen & May, which spent most of its working life transporting coal and clay before being taken out of commercial service in 1960, left Brest in Brittany last Friday and spent yesterday in Penzance to be inspected by British customs officers.

It travels at a top speed of eight knots, about half as fast as a modern cargo vessel. Its supporters say that it is pollution-free - unlike almost all the other 50,000 merchant ships in the world, which emit 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Originally this was intended as an ecological project enabling producers to put a label on their goods saying they had been moved by a clean means of transport, said Mr Albert.

But it could become economically interesting as well given the high price of fuel. He said CTMV had chartered five sailing ships to transport products such as Fairtrade coffee, jam and alcoholic drinks. We are 5 per cent more expensive than standard merchant shipping companies at the moment. But we are going to build our own ships and when they enter service, we will be cheaper. His initiative comes with the French Association of Shipowners predicting that wind-powered vessels could capture 0.5 per cent of the commercial shipping market, which transports 90 per cent of the world's traded goods.

Trouble at sea

The International Maritime Organisation said this year that carbon pollution from the world's merchant fleet had reached 1.1billion tonnes - three times greater than previously thought

Nearly 4.5 per cent of all global emissions of carbon dioxide is generated by merchant ships, and the figure is predicted to rise to 6 per cent by 2020

When Tesco started ferrying wine by barge last year, 50 lorries were taken off the road each week. Three journeys are made each week along the 40-mile stretch from Liverpool to Manchester, carrying 600,000 litres of wine on each trip
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. I thought this would happen at some point
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Indenturedebtor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I was hoping it would. We all need to slow the hell down and take the wiser course.
Tall ships are the perfect analogy for that imho.

If you've never been on one it's a thing of true beauty. The ocean without the noise of an engine - just flapping sails, warm breeze, creaking timbers, and the ocean lapping against the hull. Instead of beating the waves into submission you move with them. Glorious.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. I live on the coast of maine. We still have many schooners here, but I've always
wanted to take a little trip on a square-rigger myself. :D
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Indenturedebtor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. I got to take a snorkeling trip on a sloop in Hawaii when I was 14
It was truly magical :D Catamarans are pretty awesome too, but they lack in grace and elegance what they add in speed!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:31 PM
Response to Original message
3. I LOVE to see tall ships. Nothing would make me happier than to see them
return to use.

With modern construction materials and techniques, and modern navigational equipment, it's a whole new game.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
4. Visions of the future

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
napoleon_in_rags Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
6. Oh please God, make this the future.
That's just too awesome. I would love to leave my children a world where they can take to the seas in tall ships, sailing unpolluted oceans. I think about 4/5ths of this industrialization thing was just a mistake.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Indenturedebtor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:01 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Yes if it weren't for modern medicine the whole thing would be a disaster
Microwaves and whatnot would have been great if the rich didn't use them as an excuse to make us work more hours. Pfleh.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
napoleon_in_rags Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Yeah, good point.
We sit around talking about how far we've come because instead of cooking dinner, we have TV dinners to make up for the fact that nobody has time to cook dinners.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Indenturedebtor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:28 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. All so the oligarchy can eat the only REAL commodity - time n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
napoleon_in_rags Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Wow, you're right again. Time is the quintessential commodity, isn't it.
Because its life. If we looked at things in terms of not only things taking our time, but how enjoyable life is while they take our time, things would be very different. I imagine a lot of people would choose the pleasant work of tending a home vegetable garden over working that factory job then rushing all over town to buy shitty GMO imported vegetables for instance. Of course the latter makes "sense" when you think of it in terms of how much more money you are making...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Indenturedebtor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:01 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Man we're doing everything we can to get there. If we can somehow generate 2k a month
In an online business we're moving to Bangkok. We lived there for 2 months and god do we miss it! Almost no one takes a gap year here in the states... people have no idea what it's like to live poor. It really is much better so long as you're not the working poor lol! People make life good, stuff makes life empty and meaningless... unfortunately most of us aren't given or don't take the opportunity to find that out :(
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
NickB79 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-27-08 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #6
25. If this is the future, I'll miss bananas the most
I don't imagine sail ships would get tropical fruits to market in the Midwest before they spoil :(
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
lurky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:07 PM
Response to Original message
9. Can horse-and-buggy travel be far behind?
Tall ships are beautiful, but I have to wonder what we are seeing here...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Terry in Austin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:39 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Not to worry
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 04:40 PM by Terry in Austin
Sail power is probably second only to the bicycle as an example of optimum technological achievement. That is, optimum, rather than "most powerful" or "most complex."

Animal powered transportation -- exemplified by the horse and buggy -- is probably not there yet, but I suspect there is technological progress to be made on that front as the 21st century unfolds:

The proposal here is to resolve the dilemma by a fusion of cycling and equestrian technologies by doing for horses what the bicycle does for humans. The basic idea is to equip a lightweight quadricycle with a treadmill powered by a horse...

There were attempts at something like this in the early days of rail, for example The Cyclopede (scroll up a bit on the target page). These actually worked pretty well, despite 19th-century materials, but soon lost out to coal power.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Indenturedebtor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. People would use solar powered cars before horse and buggy
As cute as the idea is :D

Besides horses need a LOT of food. You can feed 20 peasants for every horse. So each peasant having a horse..... Yikes.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. And do NOT forget the other end....
Food goes into the horse and "Waste Products" come out the other end. These "Waste products" were a major way disease spread in cities before the Car, and why most cities quickly embraced the truck. I just do NOT see the horse coming back in urban areas, the waste product is to much for such a confined area. In the early 20th century, as the truck took over the role of heavy transport, you had three competing means of transport, first was the horse. As late as WWII horses were used in various parts of this country for urban transport. Milk deliveries are the best known, with the horses replaced just before WWII, and then reinstated for the duration, then ten replaced again post WWII (with the milkman disappearing as refrigeration and suburban stores took over how people obtained Milk). Most such horses, just before the switch to trucks, ended up wearing diapers for their waste products, to keep such waste products off the streets (Through some cities did NOT demand the use the such diapers, the waste products picked up by people who wanted to use it on their gardens and by professional street cleaners who manually sweep the streets in the days before the giant machines most cities use today came into use).

The main problem with the horse is its waste product and how to keep it off the streets. Some horses providing such waste products is tolerable, but to many horses it becomes intolerable. I suspect horses will be used in a high oil era, but only for heavy items that can NOT be hauled otherwise, diapers will be required. Trucks will be their biggest competitors for this niche. Trucks will have two advantages, their waste product ends up in the air not the street itself, and you do NOT have to "feed" the truck on the days it is NOT being used.

As to rural areas, the problems of the horse become manageable. The horse's waste product is spread over a much larger area with a much smaller population. Thus the problem of being a source where disease can linger disappear (The horse's waste problem in urban areas is do to the fact you have a high population in a small area AND the horses tend to be right on the street NOT a good bit back like most rural homes tend to be). Thus I see the horse dominating the Rural delivery system, even if slower then a truck do to the horse NOT needing oil for a long trip (Trucks will stay competitive with the horse as long as oil is "Cheap" but sooner or later that will end, and the horse, despite its slow speed, will take over).

The second means of Transportation will be bicycle. Small loads can be done by bicycle in both urban and rural areas. Speed will be less then a car or truck, but if the price of oil is to high, bicycle wins out. If oil stays "Cheap" i.e. below the cost of paying someone to bike to a location, then car and truck transportation will beat out bicycles transport.

Notice, the key point seems to be the cost of oil. When the cost of oil per gallon approximates the cost per hour of the wages, that is when they seems to be a switch to using horses and people instead of oil. Right now we are just below that figure, and looks like we will be below that figure for some time, but once oil hits that number I foresee both the horse and bicycle come back as a major form of transport. If you look at the reverse, when horses and bikes were replaced by trucks and cars, the same number seems to apply. the lower the price of oil, the quicker the switch to horses and bicycle. The higher the price of oil, the slower was the switch. Europe always had a high price of oil so even in the post-WWII period horses were used even in urban transport. As European wages increased and the price of oil held its own, this slowly reversed, i.e. horses started to disappear off European Urban Streets in the 1950s (Through horses as urban transport stayed important in Europe long after horses disappeared off US Streets, but that was do to the much lower cost of oil in the US then in Europe).

The third method of non-automotive transport during the 20th century was electric Railways (Trolleys or Streetcars). Most such electric rail systems had a fright division till about WWII (Pittsburgh Railway, the streetcar operator in the City of Pittsburgh had a fright division till 1940, Penn Railway, which ran the Streetcar lines in Westmoreland county PA, ran such fright operations till it stop rail transportation in 1954 just to name two). In earlier periods, where you had more rural electric lines, such lines were used to haul freight to steam locomotive rail lines. The electric lines were much cheaper to build and maintain then a regular rail line, and as such could be built in areas where no regular rail line could make a profit. The classic case of this was Hershey PA rail line, which hauled milk to the Hersey plant prior to the late 1920s. The farmers would haul their milk products, by horse, to the trolley stop, the trolley operator would load the milk and deliver it to the Hershey plant. In the late 1920s Hershey started to sent out trucks to the farms to get the milk directly, but that was tied in with the fall of the price of oil that occurred from 1900 till 1970, more than any real dissatisfaction with the rail line bringing in the milk. With the trucks the farmers no longer had to haul the milk to the trolley stop AND Hershey could contract with farmers no where near a trolley stop for milk.

As late as the 1960s the US Post Office had a policy of hauling its mail via local trolley and bus lines whenever possible, as a form of subsidy to them. When the Postal Service was formed in the early 1970s to replace the Post Office, replacing these with regular truck shipments was one of the ways the Postal Service promised to improve service and reduce costs (The take over of most urban mass transit in the 1960s was also part of this plan, for most cities did NOT want that subsidy to disappear but the Post Office was committed to it by the early 1960s, which lead to Congress coming up with money to take over various mass transit system throughout the US). The Postal Service ended what was left of such subsidies and the local mass transit systems were left on their own, without this last form of fright.

I go into the history of freight delivery on streetcar lines to show how this third system can and will work. In urban areas I can see electric railways taking small fright loads to a stop near the final destination and then having a bicyclist (or even a person on foot or hauling a dolly) take it from that stop to the final destination. In rural areas I see horse drawn wagons doing the same (Through Bicyclist may do some of the smaller trips in rural areas).

Now when I mention Rural areas, I mean the rural east, roughly east of the Great Plains. As you go west into the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains the distances between urban centers are much greater then East of the Great Plains And on the West Coast. This was the last area settled in the US, even the West Coast was settled before the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains do to the distances involved. In the Great Plains and Rockies I foresee the car and truck holding on long after both are replaced in the rest of the country, just do to the distances involved. The alternative would be to look inward and make only a few trips, but those trips being large in purchasing and selling (i.e. hauling what you want to sell the days or weeks it take you to get it to the nearest railhead by wagon and then buying what you need for the whole year on that trip, in the rest of the Country this can be done on a monthly basis even in the most isolated parts of the rest of the Country, but in the Great Plains and Rockies once a season or once a year trips will become the norm). The closer one is to a rail head the more often one will go, but as you move away from the rail head the distances become to large quickly in the Rockies and Great Plains.

Now, you notice I mention rail occasionally in the above. Steel Wheels on Steel rail is still the most energy efficient means of transportation. It as do to this efficiency that the Streetcars stayed competitive with buses till the 1950s (where oil started to reach its lowest price ever in real constant dollars). Heavy rail, diesel locomotive rail is still more efficient from an energy point of view then are rubber tire vehicles. Furthermore it is possible to convert the rail lines to electric drive relatively quickly (The Rail lines were already doing that around 1900, but then the Diesel came in and as the price of oil drop, diesel became the option of choice instead of electric since you did NOT have to install electric power source for the diesels, even if the diesels were NOT as efficient as the electric drives). Given the various options we have for electric power generation, wind, hydro (A recent plan has been to install electric generators on the Mississippi river, generators that are propelled by the current of the river and do NOT need a dam to be built), solar as while as Nuclear power, electric power will stay with us. Batteries will be part of the solution, but for every FOUR watts of power you put into a battery you only get one out, points out the inherent greater efficacy of a direct electric power source. Theoretically you could install electric lines over the interstate system, but if you do that the trucks capable of using that power source will have the same restriction as to movement as a train (without the train's greater energy efficiency do to its steel wheels on Steel rail). I can see the interstate highway system being converted to some sort of electric power source, but once you do that why stop, go to putting rail on the system and use it as a alternative rail system to the existing rail system (Which may be done in areas where rail service is weak or a rail lines with less stops is needed). Rail will be a factor in out future transportation needs, and this is important for transportation will be the economic function that will be most affected by peak oil.

One last comment, flat boats. Flat boats were used from the opening up of the Ohio in the late 1700s till about the 1920s. Even today, Flat boats have the right of way on all major rivers by federal law. Plat boats were just rafts, often with a cabin built on them, that were floated downstream by the current of the river. They had no engines, thus why they had the right of way, they could NOT move out of someone's else's way even if they had to. Flat boats disappeared in the early 20th Century first do to the fact most of them had been built of timber and then used on a one way trip to New Orleans, where the Timber was sold along with any other product the flat boar was hauling. With the drop in the price of coal in the early 20th Century, followed by the drop in the price of oil, flat boats dropped out of style (Especially as the timber most were made from was cut down around 1900 in the Eastern Half of the Country, where the Flat Boat was most popular). I foresee the Flat boat coming back, but only as it become unprofitable to haul timber out of rural areas by truck (i.e. when oil, on a per gallon basis reaches 3-4 times what a person earns per hour). At such prices, hauling the wood by river with a crew to keep it near the shore makes economic sense, Until that time, the lower crew requirements of having a tug that can use its engine to keep itself on its side of the river makes economic sense. Why have a crew of 20 (Which you will need to keep a large flat boat on its side of the river) when you can operate a tug with a crew of three and use the tug's engine to push the vessel on its side of the River.

Just some comments on traditional means of transport that oil has made "obsolete" and will come back as oil disappears.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 12:56 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. One of the arguments against horse power for transporting goods:
How far is it from LA to the nearest LARGE agricultural areas?

Yeah, people in Sacramento would probably still have fresh fruit every day, but people in LA? Or anywhere where it gets COLD during the winter? And how would transporting fruit by horse be affordable for most people? I fear we would see the return of nutritional deficiency diseases.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 06:47 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. That be done by train, or light rail
Remember, light rail hauled freight till about 1940, with much of the fright hauled by wagons to a light rail stop and from a light rail stop. Heavy rail was used to haul fruit around till replaced by trucks in the 1960s, more do to the demand that one truck haul fruit from California to New York City while rail cars switched engines (and railroads) in Chicago. This sped up fruit transportation by 1-2 days do to no need to wait for a trail in Chicago.

By the 1960s most railroads had stopped Express services, for such services were always tied in with passenger train service (Which most railroads wanted to get out of by the 1960s). Thus you saw a drop in train times do to the decision to concentrate on bulk cargo (Coal, automobiles etc) than fright that needed to be transported quickly. The truckers took advantage of this and the then new interstate highway system to get the fruit to market quickly (remember the 1960s was the time when oil was cheapest). This also permitted the fruit packagers and buyers to squeeze the shipper for the lowest cost possible, while the Fright rail line said no to the price cuts.

Thus I foresee railroad providing a lot of fruits to the nation, even LA. Horses will be for the short haul only. That is the most economical way (from an energy point of view) to haul fruit if OIL is not available.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Too bad there's not a train service from the Valley to LA then
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 04:37 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. There is an existing rail line between the valley and LA
That is all that is needed, it may have to be upgraded but here are some resources on California rail Lines. These appear to be all freight today, but can be used:

Proposed high Speed rail line, connect the Central Valley with LA: / /

The Railroad Maps, I found on the net, in California are either poor, or the level of rail lines is poor for a state the size of California. For comparisons look at the rail line maps for Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

Railroad map of Minnesota:


Here is a list of Abandoned rail lines in the US (Including CA) /
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Indenturedebtor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:09 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. A very good and thorough post!
And I'm certain that if we can't solve our energy issues, and society doesn't just completely fall apart, that your scenario is likely. However, seeing as how we do have the capability of switching over to renewables if we actually tried... why would people revert? Reverting would be almost as hard at this point - the way that our society is organised.

Personally my main concern regarding peak oil is growing food. We use so many petroleum products to grow our food that I'm worried for massive famines. Long distance transport could be handled by rail and sail, local by solar and wind powered electric cars (hydro, geo, tidal, etc).
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 06:58 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. I point out the old system to show how bad it can get
And that it is NOT that bad. As to renew ables, a horse is more efficient in converting food energy to hauling power then any internal combustion engine. The internal Combustion engine came into use do to access to cheap oil, without cheap oil the internal combustion engine main advantage (Speed) becomes less and less important as the price of oil goes up.

People forget that "renew ables" they are using today is raised using oil. As oil increase in costs, the renew ables itself will be used to raise the crops, and that in effect will raise the cost of those crops. Sooner or later you cross a threshold where it is more profitable to raise the crops using "traditional" methods. At that point the horse comes into its own, both on the farm and elsewhere.

Thus the problem with "Renew-ables" is raising the renewable crop. Prior to the 1950s most people spent 40-50% of their income on food, it is now down to 10-20%, all do to the farmers using oil and tractors instead of horses in the fields. As the price of oil continue to climb food prices will continue to climb and with it the costs of the renew ables forms of energy. Sooner or later the problem of transport will get to much and the horse will replace the tractor and with that movement renew ables, except for certain areas where speed is needed such as ambulances, will disappear.

Rail can use Solar, Hydro, Nuclear and other sources for any conversion to electric drive, thus will survive as the main form of heavy, long distance transport, but renew ables have the problem of how do you raise the crop that will become renew ables? It will be more efficient to feed the crop to horses then to convert the crop to bio-diesel and then feed that bio-diesel to an internal combustion engine.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Terry in Austin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #16
21. Good analysis! The importance of historical context.
re: And do NOT forget the other end...

I think one important message of your post is that the particular mix of transportation depends on the particular historical context. For two or three generations, we've had a "monoculture" of automotive transport -- nearly every transport task is done by an individually-owned automobile or truck.

In previous historical contexts, as you point out, there was more of a mix, and in the future, there probably will be, too. Certainly, the car monoculture depends on the high energy-per-capita that we currently get from cheap and abundant oil.

Upthread, Indenturedebtor said that people would probably prefer solar-powered cars, and I definitely agree that, given the choice, they most certainly would. However, as oil becomes scarcer and energy-per-capita declines, that choice may become less and less available. As the context changes, so, too, will the mix of transportation solutions that are best suited to it.

Fossil fuels power the infrastructure that makes solar panels and electric cars possible, so it may be risky to assume that alternative sources of energy will give us a high enough overall energy-per-capita level to sustain the car-centric transportation model we've gotten used to.

It's a key point you make, that "obsolete" forms of transport will be coming back as oil gets scarcer. It's also worth noting that we'll have the benefits of the advances in knowledge that have been made in the meantime, so future versions of those returning forms are likely to be more sophisticated and more appealing to live with.

In a lower-energy world, we would see more use of horses wherever their use is suitable. Not everybody would have horses, and they would probably be found in more rural settings than urban ones. I suspect that the huge proliferation of horses in cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries was kind of an anomaly unique to the sociology of that period. Things like light rail and bicycles certainly make more sense as general transport solutions in an urban setting, although there will probably still be some kind of role for horses in any low-energy urban scenario.

In the era of urban horses you speak of, it's a little surprising that they had the manure problems they did, since the low-tech "tailbag" goes a long way toward managing the problem in an effective and sanitary way. Of course, that's a bit of 20-20 hindsight, even though it's not exactly rocket science! Now that we have methane-digester technology, it's not hard to imagine a future situation where the urban livery stable might even have a tidy side-business in biogas for cooking and heating.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-27-08 06:25 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. While I tend ot give example from the past, we have to look at the future
To understand what will happen look at how things have happened, thus I study history, not who ruled what or who defeated whom, but details of why did Rome Fall? Why were the rights of the poor and women better in 1000 AD then it was 500 years later (The Dark Ages were more a pro-working class/peasant time period then was the Renaissance which was a more pro-upper class period). Why did it take over 600 years for the water wheel to go from the Middle East to Western Europe during the height of the Roman Empire (Hint, it helped the poor, and the Rich cared less about it) while the iron plow went from Asia Minor to the Ukraine to Poland, Germany, France and England during the Dark ages and apparently within 100 years (Again it was a pro-peasant invention, the Heavy plow permitted farming on land with snow on the ground in winter, leading Northern Europe going from a herding society to a farming society within a 100 years). Things that help the poor and working class were NOT written down when they occurred, such things just happened. Things that helped the rich were written down for the rich wanted it written down to justify why they were rich AND that they could afford to have it written (Prior to the introduction of Linen paper in the 1200s, the most common form of "paper" in Western Europe was Parchment, which was made from thin sections of animal hides Parchment was thus expensive and often reused even by the people who could afford it, peasants and other poor people could not.

Anyway taking that view, that we have to look at how things were done in the past to get an idea of how things will be in the future, less look at the pre-oil world to get an idea of what the post-oil world will be like. The biggest factor is that in a post-oil age we will be in an age with knowledge of materials not known (or more accurately not used) in the pre-oil period. For example look at the horse drawn wagon of 1750. The wood in the wheels and frame can be replaced by steel or Aluminum, making the wagon lighter and easier for a horse to haul (I remember reading a National Geographic article on Poland in the 1970s and seeing pictures of steel wheels on wagons not old fashioned wooden wheels). Will a post-oil horse drawn wagon look like a pre-oil horse drawn wagon? In outward appearance yes, but with better wheels and axles, lighter and needing less maintenance then the wooden wheels and wagons of old. In the days between WWI and WWII was a debate on what type of wheel should an artillery piece have? Sold Steel wheels where clearly more effective if speeds were kept below 25 mph. These wheels where lighter then pneumatic tires and wheels, did NOT go flat and lasted forever. Pneumatic tires only advantage was the ability to be pulled at speeds in excess of 25 mph. As long as the artillery piece as being pulled by horses, solid steel wheels won, only when trucks became the norm to haul such pieces that the pneumatic tires became the norm.

Thus in a post-oil age, we may go back to solid steel wheels and tires, do to the fact they can last forever and if speeds are kept under 25 mph, superior to any pneumatic tire.

Another example is the net. Will it be cheaper for people to pay a high tax so satellites can be kept in obit so the net can survive then to go back to printing and transporting books. In that situation I foresee the net holding its own. The electrical requirements of Computer have been dropping and even today you can provide enough power for one by a handheld generator. The power requirement of a microwave transmitter to a satellite is also relatively small (Through a community transmitter would do it even cheaper). On the other hand preparing a book for print, printing it and distributing it can be very energy extensive. Given the difference is what one can get in quantity of items AND the cost of each method of spreading information, I expect the net to win out. The net will need greater local support (maintaining the communication lines) AND extensive state and National support, but even if the price increases by a factor of 100, compared to hauling books around it will be cheap. Half you income may go to maintain access to the net, but the information provided will be worth the money and thus it will be paid.

Now I do NOT know exactly how things will turn out, no one does. The issue is to look at technology and energy and deal with the decline in oil (Then 20 years later the decline in Natural Gas, then 20 years later the decline in Coal). On the other hand, while all three forms of energy are expected to decline, that decline will last for decades (Oil and Natural Gas till about 2151, 146 years after oil peaked in 2005, 146 years after oil production started in 1859). Coal will last longer, since it has been in production longer, several centuries longer. I mention this is energy will NOT disappear all at once, a gradual decline will set in and adjustments during the gradual decline will set the pace of how we switch to a post-oil age.

Also remember, Hydro electrical power can survive for Centuries, as can wind power (Through Wind is tied in with having an Arctic and Antarctica so wind may slow down if the poles cease to be ice capped). Solar power can increase (and Hydro power will also increase, but in the form of using the power of rivers flowing naturally i.e NO dams. Recent research has indicated this can be done in a cost effective way, providing electrical power is a oil less natural gas less coal less society (Nuclear power is a different situation, nuclear material comes NOT from past living organizations, like oil, natural gas and coal, but from the center of the earth. How much nuclear material we have is unknown. Recent studies indicate that the Earth has a mantel do to having a nuclear frisson reactor in the plant's center core. When the Plant formed the heaviest elements en to the center, Uranium is the heaviest natural element, Uranium and iron makes up the extreme center of the plant. From a particular point of view what this mean is Uranium outcroppings can be any where and thus, unlike the carbon based from of energy, coal, oil, Natural Gas, we can not predict with accuracy where the Uranium is at on this plant. Furthermore we may even be able to use the hear of the mantel itself to provide electrical power.

My point is we will have access to electric, the only real issue is how much and how gets to decide who gets it. I see the Satellite getting first right, just to maintain communications, ambulance and other emergency care second (You can NOT have medical care without communications thus communications is first). Railroads will be third in line, do to how much they can haul at low usage of electrical power. Then police and Fire. Then Defense (Which will be minimize to save electrical power for other uses). Then industry (Mostly mining i.e. coal and Uranium and other materials we need). Finally retailers and people. I see the later two groups paying a high price for oil so to minimize they usage of oil.

Notice I have to be vague about the future, to many ifs to make a solid prediction but the above will give you ideas of where we can go if and when oil hits.

The chief problem with the upcoming energy crisis is that it is long term. If oil would ceased to exist on just one day, the adjustments would be hard, but quickly done for they would be no alternative. The problem is in the upcoming "Long Emergency" the key will NOT been what will replace oil etc, but when to make the switch. As I wrote elsewhere I fully expect a "moped" period of the decline. That is when people can no longer drive their car to and from their suburban homes, but want to keep their homes. Mopeds offer a way to reduce the cost of oil from a personnel point of view. My 80cc honda scooter gets 90 mpg. I joke about it and my Jeep. I fill my Scooter twice as often as I use to fill my Jeep, but at 10% of the cost of filling up my jeep (The Jeep gets 20 mpg, the Moped 90, but the Moped only has a one gallon tank, thus I have to fill it twice as often as I use to fill my Jeep 15 gallon gas tank, but only one gallon at a time not 15).

Back to the topic, Mopeds can be used by suburbanites to keep their suburban homes for a period after they could no longer keep their car AND the home. This is part of the transition from oil to post-oil. It will last a long while as oil production declines, but demand also declines do to the high prices. Sooner or later even the Scooter will fail to be able to keep the suburbanite commuter in the Suburbs and the suburban home will be abandoned. Just a word of warning for the transitional period. People who no longer maintain their existing suburban life style will embrace the moped as a "solution" without realizing it is just a temporary solution (i.e. till oil production declines even further). People want to hold on to things they always had or wanted. Most people want a suburban homes, that is their dream and as such will die slowly. During the Transition you will see it dieing and people trying to save it all at the same time.

Just comments on the upcoming down slope of Peak Oil. It looks like it will be 146 years of decline, but when it is over if we work together now the world will be a better place.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Thu Jan 18th 2018, 07:55 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]

Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Environment/Energy Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators

Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC