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If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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GIThruster
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Postby GIThruster » Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:27 am

Sorry but you've got your story a bit backward. Mass transit is what gets subsidized. Auto users in the suburbs are who get taxed.

Amtrak hasn't operated in the black since it was nationalized four decades ago.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:18 am

Roger wrote:M- @100 yrs the transition would be complete?


That is the typical time (since the start of the Industrial Revolution) for energy source transitions. And it is never 100% complete. About 95 to 99% is the best you can hope for. People in America still use wood heat - either decorative or necessity.

Think of this - From the invention of the transistor until the early 80s tube eqpt was still produced in quantity.

What is left these days? High power tubes. Very high frequency tubes. And retro (guitar amp) tubes. etc. You can still buy Russian KT-88s for your Macintosh Power amp.

The dollar volumes are respectable but in terms of numbers tubes represent probably less than .001% of the total number of control elements produced.

Auto fleet turn over takes 15 years. So to take 40 years the replacement tech has to have taken over manufacturing 25 years from now. Usually 15 to 20 years of manufacturing experience is required to build the supplier base.

Consider that we are already 10 years into the hybrid transition and yet the volumes manufactured come in at around 1 million or so a year. The new all electric Leaf has about 7,000 pre orders for delivery in Dec. and that is considered a BIG deal.

Transitions that require replacing a lot of old logistics takes a very long time. It is not a matter of pieces it is a matter of systems. And systems are way more resilient than pieces.

You can buy an electric car rather easily. Replacing gasoline fueling with charging stations takes rather longer.

So why do computers have a (roughly) 3 year cycle? Performance doubles every year. So in 3 to 4 years your "old" machine can do 10% of what the latest machines can. Businesses junk them (or they go on the used market). For homes the cycle is 5 to 7 years. Except for gamers.

So you want to cut the transition time? Come down the learning curve faster. No one knows how to do that with autos, power plants, or any other big systems. If they did they would corner the market. For a while.

So let me put it to you straight: mass transit will not take off until the cost in time and money - door to door is less than the cost of doing the same thing with the personal auto. And the more the difference the faster the adoption. And don't forget to include time is money. People will pay a LOT to save 30 minutes a day for either leisure or productive work. Which is to say the elasticity is not just in the dollars per mile price.

A mass transit song The Time Has Come Today. The subway is mentioned.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

clonan
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Postby clonan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:30 pm

GIThruster wrote:Sorry but you've got your story a bit backward. Mass transit is what gets subsidized. Auto users in the suburbs are who get taxed.

Amtrak hasn't operated in the black since it was nationalized four decades ago.


Yes, roughly the time the heavy subsidies for oil companies began which drove down the price of gas. These subsidies include direct payments, reduced leasing costs legal protections and of course military support in dangerous areas.

I remember one paper that suggested the true, unsubsidized cost of oil including health and environmental risks is closer to $200-$300 a barrel. At that price Amtrak would be very competitive since both driving and flying are fuel hogs in comparison.

In addition, because of cheap gas, Americans have spread out into the suburbs and exurbs. This is the primary reason passanger rail is so pricey. Rail is ideal for high speed transport between relativly large population centers not as a feeder system for commuters.

But if you want to look at subsidized driving just look at the interstate highway system.

GIThruster
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Postby GIThruster » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:07 pm

I'm sorry but you just will need to convince me of your facts since I did a study of this years ago and found no such thing as subsidies to gas companies. Gas is taxed very heavily. Rail is subsidized very heavily. You can tell yourself it's otherwise but those are the facts.

Rail would not exist anywhere in the world for anything other than bulk transport if it were not subsidized, and only shallow thinkers presume it is more efficient than the auto. It is not. Mass transit is the number one reason that in general, those in Europe have much longer work days, but have much less time at work: they spend an inordinate amount of time commuting. There are reasons why Americans produce near twice as much as Europeans and this is one of them.

The Interstate Highway System is not an example of subsidizing auto transport. It is THE example of the world's largest macro-engineering project, designed exclusively as a national defense measure. It was designed and begun during the cold war to make it possible to flee the cities should thermonuclear war break out. The outcome is a bennie for everyone (just like the internet) that defense dollars were spent for things we all get to use. And BTW, the highways we have are no longer paid for with federal dollars. The states have the responsibility for upkeep, which is why all the highways in PA suck, and those in NJ are excellent.

Your defense tax dollars at work for the benefit of everyone--now if they'd just let me borrow a B1 for my travels around, I'd be so much happier.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

clonan
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Postby clonan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:35 pm

GIThruster wrote:I'm sorry but you just will need to convince me of your facts since I did a study of this years ago and found no such thing as subsidies to gas companies. Gas is taxed very heavily. Rail is subsidized very heavily. You can tell yourself it's otherwise but those are the facts.


Example 1. Gas companies are exempt from prosecution for polluting water tables for additives to gasoline that leaks out of under ground tanks.

Example 2. Oil and mineral rights are given out at FAR below market value on federal land. This alone would add almost $50 to the price of a barrel of oil.

Example 3. A liability limit on spill clean up of $75 Million. This will probably change because of BP but the cap will not be removed just raised.

Example 4. Federal and state governments using eminent domain to buy land at the tax payers expense and than giving it to oil companies for pipelines and other infrastructure.

Example 5. Direct subsidies. Gasoline IS taxed but crude oil is also subsidized directly. There is actually a net profit to the oil companies between these two numbers of a few dollars / barrel.

Example 6. The Iraq war. This is by itself a 2 trillion dollar subsidy to American oil companies. Yes Saddam was a bad guy. Yes I am sure he would have loved to attack the US. However he didn't have the ABILITY to. This is all well documented. There was no national security need to go into Iraq AND they knew it before they invaded. But when we did take Baghdad, the Oil Ministry was protected. The ministries of Water, Agriculture, Security, Power and others were left unguarded and therefore were essentially destroyed which caused a HUGE amount of misery in the population and directly led to an increase in resistance. PLUS Iraq was forced to sell rights to its oil fields to American oil companies at a discount over real market value.

I could go on...



GIThruster wrote:The Interstate Highway System is not an example of subsidizing auto transport. It is THE example of the world's largest macro-engineering project, designed exclusively as a national defense measure. It was designed and begun during the cold war to make it possible to flee the cities should thermonuclear war break out. The outcome is a bennie for everyone (just like the internet) that defense dollars were spent for things we all get to use. And BTW, the highways we have are no longer paid for with federal dollars. The states have the responsibility for upkeep, which is why all the highways in PA suck, and those in NJ are excellent.


So, the federal government used its powers to tax people and force them to sell property to GIVE it to companies that build roads. This to the tune of 2-3 Trillion 2004 equivalent dollars for the initial investment (What became Amtrak was only given about 925 Billion 2004 equivalent dollars for lan purchase and rail construction from 1910-1955). That my friend is called a subsidy. The original motivation for the project doen't change the fact that it IS a subsidy. A quick search shows that the federal budget for 2008 included just over 40 Billion dollars for highways (this is less than a 3rd of the total investment in roads throught the country). Amtrak got 2.6 billion in 2008 (Almost 90% of total passenger rail investment). In addition, just because the sates provide additional money to roads does not mean that THAT money isn't a subsidy also.

So to sum up The US directly subsidizes roads to the tune of 120 billion dollars a year and passenger rail gets about 3 billion.

Personally I think it was an excellent investment. This is WHY we have a federal government. To do the large projects that benefit everyone but are too large / difficult for private companies. I can think of a few other examples of good project for the govt. Say a launch loop for easy access to orbit. That would be an EXCELLENT use of 2 trillion.


As for transportation, I maintain my claim that passenger cars are only practical because the Oil companies and roads are heavily subsidized. If the price of gas was actually allowed to reach its natural price than almost no one would drive and rail would be price competitive and even superior to driving because it uses so much less fuel per passenger mile than cars.

I agree, mass transit does typically take longer, but not always. For instance, in New York City is is almost always faster to take a subway than a taxi. In heavy traffic areas it is usually better to take mass transit. It is almost always faster to take a long-distance train across country than drive because you don't stop when you sleep.

In addition, mass transit allows you to do other things while you commute. When I drive I can't read my paper, I can work on my projects and I can't catch up on emails. With mass transit, commuting time is no long a waste of time, it CAN be useful time.

Finally, it is important to remember that driving to work is easily the single most dangerous thing you are ever likely to do in your life. Where as every single fatality from trains make the news because it is so unusual.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:46 pm

So to sum up The US directly subsidizes roads to the tune of 120 billion dollars a year and passenger rail gets about 3 billion.


Once we get off oil we won't need paved roads. Brilliant.

And there may be other reasons than oil for Iraq. Iran comes to mind. And in the main whose oil flows are we protecting in the Gulf? Europe, India, China are the biggies.

If the US didn't protect the flows what would happen? Well a Naval competition for one. Competing armies in the ME. Sounds like WW2 all over again. I'm not sure that is a good idea. YMMV.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

clonan
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Postby clonan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:54 pm

MSimon wrote:Once we get off oil we won't need paved roads. Brilliant.

And there may be other reasons than oil for Iraq. Iran comes to mind. And in the main whose oil flows are we protecting in the Gulf? Europe, India, China are the biggies.

If the US didn't protect the flows what would happen? Well a Naval competition for one. Competing armies in the ME. Sounds like WW2 all over again. I'm not sure that is a good idea. YMMV.


Don't misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that our primary source of energy shouldn't be protected.

What I am saying is that people need to recognize that the price they pay at the pump is only about a fifth of the TRUE price of gas. The difference is due to the subsidies and other support our society has given these companies.

I am suggesting that if we replace oil subsidies with an ecuivalent number of matching subsidies for say solar, wind and polywell than the overal stability of the world will be dramatically improved.

Also, Iraq was blocking Iran for us. Iran was a mild annoyance while Iraq was there. Us invading Iraq mad Iran a more dangerous force NOT less.

Finally, once we get off oil we won't need an interstate highway system like we do now. Local roads adn state highways will still be necessary of course.

GIThruster
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Postby GIThruster » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:08 pm

clonan wrote:
GIThruster wrote:I'm sorry but you just will need to convince me of your facts since I did a study of this years ago and found no such thing as subsidies to gas companies. Gas is taxed very heavily. Rail is subsidized very heavily. You can tell yourself it's otherwise but those are the facts.


Example 1. Gas companies are exempt from prosecution for polluting water tables for additives to gasoline that leaks out of under ground tanks.

Example 2. Oil and mineral rights are given out at FAR below market value on federal land. This alone would add almost $50 to the price of a barrel of oil.

Example 3. A liability limit on spill clean up of $75 Million. This will probably change because of BP but the cap will not be removed just raised.

Example 4. Federal and state governments using eminent domain to buy land at the tax payers expense and than giving it to oil companies for pipelines and other infrastructure.

Example 5. Direct subsidies. Gasoline IS taxed but crude oil is also subsidized directly. There is actually a net profit to the oil companies between these two numbers of a few dollars / barrel.

Example 6. The Iraq war. This is by itself a 2 trillion dollar subsidy to American oil companies. Yes Saddam was a bad guy. Yes I am sure he would have loved to attack the US. However he didn't have the ABILITY to. This is all well documented. There was no national security need to go into Iraq AND they knew it before they invaded. But when we did take Baghdad, the Oil Ministry was protected. The ministries of Water, Agriculture, Security, Power and others were left unguarded and therefore were essentially destroyed which caused a HUGE amount of misery in the population and directly led to an increase in resistance. PLUS Iraq was forced to sell rights to its oil fields to American oil companies at a discount over real market value.

I could go on...



GIThruster wrote:The Interstate Highway System is not an example of subsidizing auto transport. It is THE example of the world's largest macro-engineering project, designed exclusively as a national defense measure. It was designed and begun during the cold war to make it possible to flee the cities should thermonuclear war break out. The outcome is a bennie for everyone (just like the internet) that defense dollars were spent for things we all get to use. And BTW, the highways we have are no longer paid for with federal dollars. The states have the responsibility for upkeep, which is why all the highways in PA suck, and those in NJ are excellent.


So, the federal government used its powers to tax people and force them to sell property to GIVE it to companies that build roads. This to the tune of 2-3 Trillion 2004 equivalent dollars for the initial investment (What became Amtrak was only given about 925 Billion 2004 equivalent dollars for lan purchase and rail construction from 1910-1955). That my friend is called a subsidy. The original motivation for the project doen't change the fact that it IS a subsidy. A quick search shows that the federal budget for 2008 included just over 40 Billion dollars for highways (this is less than a 3rd of the total investment in roads throught the country). Amtrak got 2.6 billion in 2008 (Almost 90% of total passenger rail investment). In addition, just because the sates provide additional money to roads does not mean that THAT money isn't a subsidy also.

So to sum up The US directly subsidizes roads to the tune of 120 billion dollars a year and passenger rail gets about 3 billion.

Personally I think it was an excellent investment. This is WHY we have a federal government. To do the large projects that benefit everyone but are too large / difficult for private companies. I can think of a few other examples of good project for the govt. Say a launch loop for easy access to orbit. That would be an EXCELLENT use of 2 trillion.


As for transportation, I maintain my claim that passenger cars are only practical because the Oil companies and roads are heavily subsidized. If the price of gas was actually allowed to reach its natural price than almost no one would drive and rail would be price competitive and even superior to driving because it uses so much less fuel per passenger mile than cars.

I agree, mass transit does typically take longer, but not always. For instance, in New York City is is almost always faster to take a subway than a taxi. In heavy traffic areas it is usually better to take mass transit. It is almost always faster to take a long-distance train across country than drive because you don't stop when you sleep.

In addition, mass transit allows you to do other things while you commute. When I drive I can't read my paper, I can work on my projects and I can't catch up on emails. With mass transit, commuting time is no long a waste of time, it CAN be useful time.

Finally, it is important to remember that driving to work is easily the single most dangerous thing you are ever likely to do in your life. Where as every single fatality from trains make the news because it is so unusual.


This is all so tiring. I can address each of your points which are all in error but I just don't have the time. Lets just take this at face value.

The US Interstate Highway System is complete. There are NO federal tax dollars being spent on it. Using figures from a couple years ago might be convenient for you, but it is also a hoax.

Likewise, were we to count every hidden cost of any transport system, we would be here for ages. These are not subsidies and if you don't know the difference between hidden costs and subsidies, we can't have a discussion about them. What you're talking about are not subsidies, and the crazy notion that we went to Iraq for oil just demonstrates we can't have a cogent discussion on the subject. That's clearly a Cool-Aid statement.

Can't have this discussion. I suggest just go check your facts. There are no significant oil subsidies. Examples of rail being cheaper in a city than is a car are bogus, irrelevant, red-herring examples to our discussion and demonstrate again you are not thinking clearly nor communicating honestly on this subject. You're just trying to win a debate and I have no time for such foolishness.

Facts are, you are simply wrong. For personal transport (as opposed to bulk goods), rail costs more than the automobile and people do not need to be ashamed for living in suburbia. That's an urban, eco-terrorist, myth. When I TA'd a class in Environmental Ethics at Portland State, this was the subject of many debates and I can tell you, there is no substance to your belief. It's all propaganda, promulgated by those who live in cities.
Last edited by GIThruster on Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:16 pm

I am suggesting that if we replace oil subsidies with an ecuivalent number of matching subsidies for say solar, wind and polywell than the overal stability of the world will be dramatically improved.


Do you have any idea how long it takes to change a major system like our oil system?

About 100 years. The things that look like good candidates for subsidy this year may turn out to be a total waste in 20 or 30 years. And given the slowness of legislatures those subsidies will eventually hamper the required change.

And to dislike oil subsidies because they entrench current technology and then propose subsidies for a "new" technology is nuts. What if the subsidy goes to the politically connected and not the best technology/management?

BTW actual direct subsidies to oil companies amount to about 10% of revenues. The subsidies required to make wind and solar work are 5X revenues. You will not make up the difference in volume. BTW no one is predicting a 5X improvement in wind/solar over the next 20 years. And did I mention that storage is getting almost zero attention? Why? Energy is sexy. Storage is not. However without storage on a massive scale AE is going to be a near total waste.

You might want to follow the links in this paragraph:

I wonder what their plan is for days when the wind doesn't blow? Or days when it blows too strong? Solar I guess until the sun goes down.


From here:

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/201 ... rmism.html

Let me just say that I was worried about energy in the early 60s and did my first solar project in 1962. I'm not as much a believer as I used to be. But as compensation my engineering skills (see my sig below) are better.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

clonan
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Postby clonan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:16 pm

GIThruster wrote:This is all so tiring. I can address each of your points which are all in error but I just don't have the time. Lets just take this at face value.

The US Interstate Highway System is complete. There are NO federal tax dollars being spent on it. Using figures from a couple years ago might be convenient for you, but it is also a hoax.

Likewise, were we to count every hidden cost of any transport system, we would be here for ages. These are not subsidies and if you don't know the difference between hidden costs and subsidies, we can't have a discussion about them. What you're talking about are not subsidies, and the crazy notion that we went to Iraq for oil just demonstrates we can't have a cogent discussion on the subject. That's clearly a Cool-Aid statement by someone disconnected from reality.

Can't have this discussion. I suggest just go check your facts. There are no oil subsidies. Examples of rail being cheaper in a city than is a car are bogus, irrelevant, red-herring examples to our discussion and demonstrate again you are not thinking clearly nor communicating honestly on this subject. You're just trying to win a debate and I have no time for such foolishness.

Facts are, you are simply wrong. For personal transport (as opposed to bulk goods), rail costs more than the automobile and people do not need to be ashamed for living in suburbia. That's an urban, eco-terrorist, myth. When I TA'd a class in Environmental Ethics at Portland State, this was the subject of many debates and I can tell you, there is no substance to your belief. It's all propaganda.



I provided numbers.
I provided well documented examples on Iraq.
I provided current tax law

You provided nothing except blanket statments and insults. When you provide numbers people might start listening. I suggest you do a simple google search "2010 US budget highway" and look at link #1 and 2. In the mean time I leave you with a quote:

“Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 - 1778

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:30 pm

If we are not going to dismantle our highway system when we get off oil then it is not a subsidy. It is a cost of doing business.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

clonan
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Postby clonan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:48 pm

MSimon wrote:
Do you have any idea how long it takes to change a major system like our oil system? About 100 years.


It depends on the demand. Most of the infrastructure is already in place via existing powerlines. If gas wasn't so cheap there would be a strong push for implementing a new system. Supply and demand is a great thing when it is unleashed.


MSimon wrote:The things that look like good candidates for subsidy this year may turn out to be a total waste in 20 or 30 years. And given the slowness of legislatures those subsidies will eventually hamper the required change.


Given, tomorrow we may discover a hand held zero-point energy device that would last forever and cost $300 to build... But I doubt it. It is unlikely that any undiscovered, revolutionary and safe energy system will be developed capable of generating power on the surface of the earth in the near future. The last new energy tech was Fission. The next one (which most people on this site expect soon) will be fusion. However, even if fusion was proven tomorrow, nanosolar and other $1/watt cells will still be competitive. While the efficiencies of solar are not likely to go 5X, the price / watt is. Historically the price of installed solar has been dropping in half every 10 years or so and that rate is speeding up.

MSimon wrote:And to dislike oil subsidies because they entrench current technology and then propose subsidies for a "new" technology is nuts. What if the subsidy goes to the politically connected and not the best technology/management?


I repeat, I DON"T dislike the oil companies. I actually own quite a lot of Exxon. However I do get annoyed when people complain about subsidizing an immature field that has an excellent chance of reducing our dependence on outside power sources while at the same time increasing subsidies in various forms to a mature industry.

All I want is for there to be a fair reckoning and then let the market decide. If that can't happen then at least even the playing field for AE power.

I also suggest that subsidies are already given to the politically well conected in preference to all others.

MSimon wrote:BTW actual direct subsidies to oil companies amount to about 10% of revenues. The subsidies required to make wind and solar work are 5X revenues. You will not make up the difference in volume. BTW no one is predicting a 5X improvement in wind/solar over the next 20 years.


Direct subsidies are only about 10%. While I have used the word subsidy loosly, I will be happy to rather say Grant. Grants include both indirect and direct assistance. Total grants to the oil industry, a mature industry which should be able to stand on it's own, total about 3x of revenues. If oil companies had to pay fair market prices for many services and had to cover thier own risks with insurance and all of this was reflected in the price per barrel of oil than the oil would cost between 2and 3 hundred dollars a barrel.

I agree, efficiencies of wind and solar are not likely to increase exponentially but price will, especially for solar. The cost of solar PV installed has been dropping by half every 7-10 years for the last 40 and this rate has sped up recently.

MSimon wrote: And did I mention that storage is getting almost zero attention? Why? Energy is sexy. Storage is not. However without storage on a massive scale AE is going to be a near total waste.


Absolutly, storage is the Achillies Heel. But the rate of improvment has increased dramatically over the last decade and it is also accelerating.

Price per stored watt is dropping fast.

Plus there are movements to a smarter grid. For instance the three national power grids are now connected via superconducting cable. This allows power from the west coast to make it to the east for the first time.

Much improvement is necessary and I am also certain that hydrocarbons will be with us for always in one form or another.

clonan
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Postby clonan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:53 pm

MSimon wrote:If we are not going to dismantle our highway system when we get off oil then it is not a subsidy. It is a cost of doing business.


The highway system was a choice not a requirement.

Eisenhower could have decided to do a rail system but he didn't.

National high speed travel IS a "Cost of Doing Business." The highway system is not.

ltgbrown
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Postby ltgbrown » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:01 pm

I really don't see the connection between "getting off oil" and "dismantling our highway system"? If anything, getting off oil would expand the requirement for an extensive system. Hell, if I had an all electric car (i.e. the Leaf or much better yet the Tesla Roadster), I wouldn't be riding the metro to work everyday. I would be driving by myself in my "eco friendly" and cheaper to operate vehicle (tesla motors quotes something like an equivalent of <$1 per gallon of gas cost) that would take me less than half the time, while I listen to the news.
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clonan
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Postby clonan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:17 pm

ltgbrown wrote:I really don't see the connection between "getting off oil" and "dismantling our highway system"? If anything, getting off oil would expand the requirement for an extensive system. Hell, if I had an all electric car (i.e. the Leaf or much better yet the Tesla Roadster), I wouldn't be riding the metro to work everyday. I would be driving by myself in my "eco friendly" and cheaper to operate vehicle (tesla motors quotes something like an equivalent of <$1 per gallon of gas cost) that would take me less than half the time, while I listen to the news.


The original statement I made about 2 pages back was that assuming the range of an electric car stayed where it is now at 40 miles, and oil was prohibitively expensive because its cost represented the true price, than a high speed rail system seems likely to replace cars and planes for long distance travel. A few back and forths later MSimon suggested that dismantling the roads is a the test of necessity.

Personally I think the range of electric cars will increase dramatically to 300-500 miles and either high speed chargers or a battery swap system will be implemented. At first you will only see these on highway stations since long distance travel is the only place you need these stations. But gradually they will integrate into more local areas.


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