Volume 1, Number 9, – September 2006
People you should con-
Getting Around—The Future of Transportation tact about peak oil:
We’re very fond of transporta- for business on cheap, reliable •Senator Barbara Boxer
tion lately, and we’re very depen- transportation. What will we do if http://boxer.senate.gov/con-
dent on it. We drive to work, the transportation that supports
•Senator Dianne Feinstein
school, soccer practice, the mar- them becomes unaffordable?
ket, the mall, the movies, out to In the USA, oil use for transporta- stein/email.html
dinner and to the doctor—even to tion is immense: more than 10 mil- •Congressman Sam Farr
go do our exercise. We drive or lion barrels a day. Much of that is 1221 Longworth House Of-
fly for vacations and family visits used for private vehicles carrying
Washington, DC 20515
and to go on business trips. one person. There are about 210
Though we may feel our cars million cars and light trucks in the FAX (202) 225-6791
give us a lot of independence, US, and they can only be replaced http://www.farr.house.gov/
they make us dependent on a lot at enormous cost, and over an ex- •Governor Arnold Schw…
of things that will be letting us tended time: a little over four trillion
•President George Bush
down soon--like faltering oil pro- dollars, if you figure about $20k per
duction. unit, and something like 14 years—
In addition to transporting our- maybe more. If we don’t start mak-
selves and our families and ing substantial efficiency improve- Thanks to all those who have
friends, we transport everything ments before oil production begins contributed help and funds to
we buy: winter berries flown in dropping, the energy to build what
from South America, manufac- efficient replacements are built will
tured goods shipped from China have to compete for scarce fuel
and the rest of east Asia, etc. with concurrent transportation.
Our food travels an average of Of course, cars can be driven
about 1500 miles from farm to ta- more efficiently: Never go past ¾
ble, and that’s mostly by truck. throttle. Reduce maximum speed,
Our local tourist trade and agri- plan ahead to reduce the need for
culture are both highly dependent braking, and don’t follow closely.
September 6: Video--Sustainability 101: warming
Arithmetic, Population and Energy, Sept. 25: Environmental Justice Tour at
Café Stravaganza (Humanists) CSUMB Education Center at 6pm
Sept. 10th, 17th, 24th quot;Tomorrow Mat- September 28: End of Suburbia at CV
tersquot; on KRXA 540 AM, 2 to 3 pm. Chapel
September 14: SMC Discussion Group: October 5: SMC Discussion Renewable En-
“Transportation Alternatives” Thursday, ergy
6:45-8:30, Monterey Youth Ctr. October 7: Sustainability and Solar Fair at
September 16: Sea Studios and Aquari- Carmel Middle School
um film and discussion forum on global November 9: Discussion Economics
Mission: To ensure an orderly transition through the fossil fuel decline by co-
operatively developing a sustainable economy for Monterey County.
SUSTAINABLE MONTEREY COUNTY
The Thermodynamics of Cycling
Probably the most efficient way of moving a person over
land from one place to another is the bicycle. It’s not very
practical on snow or ice and it’s not much fun in the rain—
but it uses very little fuel. And it could be improved quite
CARS WASTE a bit.
• To properly compare a gasoline-burning car with a flab-burn-
ing bicycle, we need a way of comparing energy for energy.
Besides being vastly bigger and Pierre says a gram of oil yields about 10 kilocalories of heat
heavier than they need to be for when burned. Since there are about 2800 grams of oil in a gal-
the numbers they usually carry, lon of gasoline, it should give about 28000 kilocalories of
• Throw away all the energy The calories consumed while bicycling vary by weight and
it takes to get them up to speed. A small person riding slowly on the level will consume
speed, every time they about 30 kilocalories (usually referred to as “calories” when
stop. talking about diet) per mile. A heavy person riding fast in
• Waste the energy it takes hilly country might consume 70 calories per mile.
to climb a hill in braking So a car getting 20 miles per gallon uses about 1400 kilocalo-
during the descent. ries per mile, while an average person riding a bicycle might
• Take in air through a throt- consume only 50, or about 1/28th as much.
tle valve at low pressure, So what’s wrong with a vehicle that gets 28 times better fuel
heat it and expand it, then economy than a car? The aerodynamics are awful, the brakes
pump the greater volume still convert your hard-earned kinetic energy into low-grade
at higher pressure through heat, and not everyone is an athlete who wants to arrive at
a muffler. work all sweaty.
• Idle while sitting in traffic. Maybe the ideal would be a very light recumbent bicycle or
• Use too large engines run- tricycle with a sleek aerodynamic shell, regenerative braking
ning at sub-optimal effi- (stores braking energy for later use), and a very small, efficient
ciency. motor (electric or diesel or?).
• It’s not out of the question to get over 1000 miles per gallon in
a single-person motorized vehicle (especially if supplemented
by pedal, sun or wind), in fact, it’s been done.
What is Peak Oil?
Peak Oil is the simplest label for the problem of energy resource depletion, or more specifically, the
peak in global oil production. Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, one that has powered phenomenal
economic and population growth over the last century and a half. The rate of oil 'production,' meaning
extraction and refining (currently about 84 million barrels/day), has grown in most years over the last
century, but once we go through the halfway point of all reserves, production becomes ever more likely
to decline, hence 'peak'. Peak Oil means not 'running out of oil', but 'running out of cheap oil'. For soci-
eties leveraged on ever increasing amounts of cheap oil, the consequences may be dire. Without signifi-
cant successful cultural reform, economic and social decline seems inevitable. –Energy Bulletin
SUSTAINABLE MONTEREY COUNTY
WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN CARS, TRUCKS AND PLANES?
The best alternative to our cur- If we just improved automotive gas mileage,
rent transportation system is less
wouldn’t that solve the problem?
Consider that the number of new cars purchased each year
economic relocalization, and in-
is about 8% of the number on the road, while the number tak-
creasing the density and functional
en out of service is about 6% of the fleet; the number on the
diversity of communities would
road grows about 2% per year. So, what would happen if the
make transport less necessary.
average car, starting tomorrow, were to get 25% better
Next would be switching to more
mileage than the current fleet? The aggregate fuel consump-
efficient modes of transportation:
tion of the new cars coming in would be 75% of 8% of the to-
buses, trains, bicycles or walking
tal for all cars, or 6%, while the cars removed from service
instead of cars; trains and ships in-
would likely have an aggregate consumption of—6%. So, by
stead of trucks or airplanes.
taking this radical and very unlikely step, we could just man-
Lastly, we should make trucks
age to hold the total fuel consumption of cars at what it is
and cars and airplanes we continue
now. How much would we need to improve fuel economy if
to use as efficient as possible.
the fuel available dropped at 4% per year?
There’s no excuse for going to the
mall carrying 7000 lbs. An airliner uses the same amount of fuel per passenger
mile as a single-occupant car. So a 12000-mile vacation
flight uses an average year’s auto fuel.
Peaking of World Oil Production… www.projectcensored.org/newsflash/the_hirsch_report.pdf
The Oil Drum http://www.theoildrum.com/
Energy Bulletin http://www.energybulletin.net/
Oil Addiction: The World in Peril, Pierre Chomat
Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil, David Goodstein
Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, Kenneth Deffeyes
The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, Richard Heinberg
SMC Gift Selection Please Donate Now
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CONTACT There have been several times when I have seriously considered go-
ing car-free. The first time was when I was in Southern California and
the U.S. was invading Iraq. I thought, quot;That's it! I will not participate in
this petroleum culture any longer! No one is going to go to war and die
Phone: 831 648 1543 so I can drive my car around.quot;
But I talked myself out of it: quot;How will I get the kids to school, camp,
the ocean, Grandma's? The transit system here is terrible.quot; So, I kept
driving. Then recently I went to preview a movie called quot;Crude Impactquot;
by Vista Clara Films (see the trailer at www.vistaclarafilms.com), and I
learned more about the global impact of oil extraction on poor communi-
Steering Committee Members ties in Ecuador and Nigeria. During the movie, I thought to myself, quot;I'm
Deborah Lindsay, Director deb@sus-
never getting in a car again. Can't make me, I just won't do it.quot; But then
I start thinking...quot;Well, I'm in San Francisco, by the Embarcadero at
11:00 at night--how will I get to my friend’s house in Noe Valley? How
Ruth Smith, 831-620-1303
will I get home to Monterey?quot; The excuses began again, and I realized I
Committee Chair and Budget Chair
think like a crack addict. I might as well just roll my sleeve up and inject
petroleum into my arm. I'm hooked, in fact, I'm more than hooked, I'm
Secretary and Co-treasurer
downright dependent on the stuff! I cannot live without my beloved, fab-
ulous, priceless car! To heck with the folks dieing for oil and the kids rid-
dled with cancer because toxic waste is dumped into their drinking wa-
ter from oil production runoff. I'll just block those thoughts out of my
mind. I'll just rationalize all my good work in this world as a free pass to
using fossil fuels. I'm only using a little. I'm entitled. I'm busy.
831-372-0659 And so it is, I've given myself quot;permissionquot; to keep driving. Me, Miss
Committee Evaluation Coordinator Peak Oil and Do-Goodie Two Shoes. I'm a hypocrite and I'm sick inside
Denyse Frischmuth, because somewhere in there a piece of me is dieing too. Dieing from
831-643-0707 too much exposure to pesticides, too many pharmaceuticals, too many
Volunteer Coordinator and Urban Envi- cans of tuna, too many haunting pictures of the kids surviving in horrific
ronmental Accords Coordinator conditions, and too much of nature, my world, becoming extinct before
Robert Frischmuth, my very eyes.
The best I can say is that I'm weaning myself away from the car. I'm
breaking old habits and I'm slowing down. What is so important that I
have to agree to the terms of a contract that is riddled with destruction?
Maybe the trip isn't even worth it, maybe I should just stay home and
Sustainable Pacific Grove
work on my garden--it's a more prudent use of my time and in the long
run will probably serve me better and it will certainly serve humanity. I
phone # 831-656-0664
hope I have the courage. --Deborah
Big Sur Powerdown
Newsletter Design by
Can Existing Cars Be Made More Efficient? Yes. How??
They might be retrofitted--Throttling losses consume a lot of power when an engine is un-
firstname.lastname@example.org der light load. BMW solved the problem and improved mileage 15% by using valve lift
and timing to control engine output and eliminated the throttle. Operating engines away
We’re on the Web! from their peak efficiency makes them consume excess fuel. High-efficiency continuously
See us at: variable transmissions have been shown to increase the fuel economy of an SUV by
about 20%. Energy involved in braking is dissipated as useless waste heat. A US auto
manufacturer has tested a hydro-pneumatic accumulator system that can store braking
energy and return 98% of it for the next acceleration. Such a system might be added to
existing cars by putting a hydraulic pump/motor on your driveshaft and a pressure tank in
Such retrofits might help but neither they, nor any other single solution will be sufficient
for the whole task.