Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

Electrification of transportation as a response to peaking of world oil

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
jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 01:36 PM
Original message
Electrification of transportation as a response to peaking of world oil

The imminent peaking of global oil production and its potential impact is triggering concern at the highest levels of many countries, including the United States. Policymakers and the public in general are searching for timely and appropriate responses to "Peak Oil", and this paper highlights an under-appreciated option.

U.S. DOE study

Recently, the US Department of Energy (DOE) commissioned a study on the prospect of peaking oil production, particularly with a view to evaluating possible responses and effects. This study resulted in a report, Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management, by Robert L. Hirsch (Project Leader), Roger Bezdek, and Robert Wendling, published in February 2005.

The report is available online at the following URL:

As the DOE study authors note,

The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.

<much more>
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
LongTomH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
1. One word: monorails
Monorails were a feature of "World of Tomorrow" features when I was growing up in the late '50s. I thought they looked futuristic and, well, just plain cool. Actually, I still think they look cool as hell; but the important point is that they may be least environmentally-intrusive form of transport, especially if they're electrified.

There are a handful of monorail systems running in the U.S., primarily in theme parks. Future oriented Japan has a number of monorail lines along with its electrified bullet trains.

What's keeping us from having a system of monorails and 200-mile-an-hour bullet trains in the U.S.? Well, the auto industry for one thing; but we may have another chance with energy costs going through the roof.

Actually, I think building a system of monorails and bullet trains should be part of the Democratic Platform for 2008. Anybody agree?

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I agree but Pig Automotive is only half the problem. The other half...
is the uniquely American attitude that mass transport is only for the poor -- the racially identified poor at that. All U.S. domestic policy is ultimately determined by racism -- and this nation's racism is by far the most savage on the entire planet:

Add into that the fact the time for building mass transport was 30 years ago, when the Johnson Administration and its immediate successors provided unprecedented federal matching funds for the purpose. Most cities and counties simply ignored the available funds and many made no secret of the bigotry that motivated their decision; even in places that overcame the bigotry of the citizenry to build such systems, the systems themselves became the target of racist hatefulness: for example Atlanta's MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) was quickly Ku Kluxed into "Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta."

Apart from the bigotry factor, the passage of time, the outsourcing of industry, the growing worthlessness of the dollar and the concurrent skyrocketing inflation in real estate and raw materials costs means such funding will never again be available -- the economic ruling class will simply not spend the money -- which means such projects will never be built.

Bottom line, by passing up the opportunities inherent in the federal matching-funds programs that were part of Johnson's Great Society and continued into the late 1970s, America condemned itself inescapably and forever to a Third-World transport system: limos for the ruling class, slow stinky uncomfortable herky-jerky buses for the rest of us.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
megatherium Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Mass transit in Portland, Oregon, is ridden by the middle class,
both the bus system and the light rail and trolley system. These are clean and attractive. This has been a key part of the efforts Portland has made to make itself attractive to the knowledge-based industries coveted by many cities. (Portland is now the major base of operations of Intel.) Portland also has bike paths and greenways, and a spectacular forested urban park system. Perhaps most importantly, Portland had an "urban growth boundary," so if you drive out from the city, you very abruptly are in farm land. This prevented the sprawl that in a peak-oil environment is a recipe for future urban decay.

So this can be done. I now live in the Louisville, Kentucky area, another river city not dissimilar in size to Portland. The locals have some awareness that Portland is ahead of them on these issues. Unfortunately, they were unable to put together a good plan for light rail that would have support both from local business (which favored a north-south line paralleling I-65) and the public (which favored an east-west line paralleling I-64 or I-71, where much of the exurban sprawl has grown). A new bridge, to complete the I-265 beltway, is planned. And there is little by way of bike paths. But to their credit, they have made progress on the river greenway. (Unfortunately, some geniuses put I-64 as an elevated expressway right along the river in front of downtown. They've talked about removing this but there's little hope of that happening.)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Portland's core system was built with the same federal matching funds...
I was talking about -- the same money that is no longer available (and will never be available again).

At the same time Portland was starting its light rail system -- late 1970s -- Seattle was using its disproportionate influence in the legislature at Olympia to kill a proposal for a Puget Sound regional rail system. Why? Seattle's legendary xenophobia and bigotry: "We don' wanna be like Jew York" -- the same reason local politicians and bureaucrats have so thoroughly sabotaged Seattle's (absurdly minimal) light rail system it is now nine years behind schedule and obviously will never be built as originally planned.

The kind of conflict you're describing in Louisville is typical of the kinds of conflicts the ruling class fosters when they don't want to build ANY public transport.

You're absolutely right the middle class will use mass transport -- but only if it's convenient (that is, if it reduces commuting time): note for example transit utilization in the Northeast. Thus the necessity of electrically powered high-speed rail systems. Rule of thumb, if a commute by automobile takes an hour, it will take at least two hours (and maybe three) by bus, but no more than 30 minutes by train.

(I know these things because I covered public transportation for about a third of my newspaper career, including the only truly exemplary mass transport system in the United States: the New York City Transit Authority, this during the John Lindsay years.)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Coastie for Truth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania - 1969 - Mayor Peter Flaherty - "Skybus"
After many many years of study, Pittsburgh's Transit Authority (Allegheny County Port Authority) came up with a plan to utilize these funds to build "Skybus" - a computer controlled, rubber tired system utilizing a lot of DC Metro and San Francisco BART technology. The initial line was to go from Downtown Pittsburgh to the (fancy, high income) Southern Suburbs.

The proposed second spur was not yet determined, but appeared to be likely to "Go East" through a predominantly racial minority neighborhood, to and through "Oakland" (Universities, Medical Center, Civic Center) and out Fifth Avenue to rapidly growing (at that time) Eastern Suburbs.

Mayoralty Candidate Pete Flaherty (an "Independent Candidate Against The Machine" - and himself a product of "The Machine") built his campaign against "The Machine" and against SkyBus. His silly platform:
    * "Unproven Technology" as in DC Metro and SF BART
    * Sweetheart Deal for Big Companies (Westinghouse was a major Pittsburgh Employer when Flaherty took office)
    * SkyBus would make it easy for a "Bad Element" to get out to "Good Neighborhoods" and commit crimes (not so subtle racism)
    * SkyBus would require cops at each station and a cop on each train (with some racist double talk thrown in).
With enough "noise" thrown into the air - Pete was elected and SkyBus was killed.

Subsequently the Authority bought the PennCentral tracks coming into Downtown, paved the tracks over for "BusWays" - which dumped buses onto crowded downtown streets to spew ever more diesel exhaust.

I am an Independent Progressive Democrat -- this election was two "firsts" for me---
    * My first election after I came home from the service.
    * The first (and only) time I ever voted Republican - I voted against Pete Flaherty and for Skybus.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
OhioNerd Donating Member (197 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. I disagree about the attitude you mentioned.
I'm referring to the American view that public transportation is only for "poor black folks" (My phrasing, not yours.)

The problem isn't with attitute, it's with practicality. First of all, the system we have SUCKS.

Every single time I have to travel long distance I look into Rail travel. (I was spoiled by a couple of years of living in Europe.)
Every single time I do that I end up either going by car or airplane, because you just can't get anywhere IN reasonable time or AT reasonable times.

Even for commuters, say in the NYC area where I used to live (Bergen & Rockland), how can you take a train into the city if there's nowhere to park you car at the station? What am I going to do? Have "Wifey" drop me off? Who drops HER off? And what about the kids?

I think we should look at redesigning our entire urban/exurban way of life over the next century.
I also think that we should have Diesel/Electric cars, just like we already have Diesel/Electric trains.

But whatever problems we have with public transportation it in't attitude, it's practicalities.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 08:02 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. What you describe as "practicalities" are in fact physical expressions...
of attitudes. For example, why is there not adequate vehicular parking at the Bergen County stations? When these stations and the trains that serve them were run by the Central of New Jersey and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (the fabled "Delay, Linger and Wait"), the stations and stops had parking aplenty. Likewise the Rockland County stations formerly served by the Hudson Division of the New York Central -- an entity I believe is now called Metro North.

In fact every example you give of how the system "sucks" is an expression of attitude: the ruling class attitude that public transport (or any other social service) isn't a profitable investment; the betrayal of the public by politicians too pathetically powerless (or too greedy) to do anything but slavishly serve their ruling class; and the numb/dumb indifference of the general public prompted by growing recognition of their own powerlessness.

However despite the complicity of both parties the lack of adequate public transport was largely a matter of neglect until the Bush Regime took office. Then it became policy: the Nixon mandate for worsening the conditions of life in the United States as a flail with which to whip the working class (ourselves) into ever more frenzied competition in the economic rat race -- with the lack of public transport merely one of the deliberately inflicted hardships of poverty: "if you don't want to ride the bus, get a better job."
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
OhioNerd Donating Member (197 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 08:33 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. You know, sometimes...
Sometimes society just changes.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-01-06 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. A recent Ray Bradbury editorial in the L.A. Times

L.A.'s future is up in the air
By Ray Bradbury, RAY BRADBURY is the author of "The Martian Chronicles," "Fahrenheit 451" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes," among other books.
February 5, 2006

SOMETIME IN THE next five years, traffic all across L.A. will freeze.

The freeways that were once a fast-moving way to get from one part of the city to another will become part of a slow-moving glacier, edging down the hills to nowhere.

In recent years we've all experienced the beginnings of this. A trip from the Valley into Los Angeles that used to take half an hour all of a sudden it takes an hour or two or three. Our warning system tells us something must be done before our freeways trap us in the outlying districts, unable to get to our jobs.

In recent months there has been talk of yet another subway, one that would run between downtown L.A. and Santa Monica. That would be a disaster.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-02-06 12:04 AM
Response to Original message
10. I certainly support electrification of transport.
However, out of respect for our long standing disagreement, you may wish to correct any misapprehensions that arise from this excerpt in your first link:

The US could learn from the French "Grand Strategy" of using domestic nuclear and hydroelectric power to operate electrified inter-city transportation and urban rail. A majority of French towns of 250,000 or more are now getting at least one new tram line.

In 1973, France emitted 89,563,000 metric tonnes of carbon from liquid fuels. In 2000, France emitted 58,626,000 tonnes of carbon from the same source, a 34.5% reduction. By contrast, the USA released 592,991,000 tonnes in 1973 and 607,204,000 tonnes in 2000, a 2.4% increase over the same time period. Further reductions are expected in French emissions and further increases are expected in the U.S. for 2005 totals.

I think you may wish to clarify, and indicate that you do not endorse the articles linked in their entirety.

Don't ever say I don't ever look out for your interests. ;-)
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 Sun Jan 21st 2018, 10:35 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