Skip to content

Peak Oil Matters

A fresh perspective on the concept of peak oil and the challenges we face

Archive

Tag: automobiles

 IMGP1593

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been quite a while—several years, actually, since my last post on transportation issues. But it’s still as important as ever; more so, if that’s possible. More than 90% of all transportation systems depend on fossil fuels—oil and gasoline, specifically. continue reading…

IMGP1142_Watermarked-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live in a society where it is impossible to live a functional lifestyle and not consume products made from petro-chemicals every single day — electronics, fabrics, painkillers, food additives, cosmetics, fabrics, cleaning supplies, building materials, the list goes on. continue reading…

IMG_1222_Watermarked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gail Tverberg shares some of the most insightful observations about the connection between economic growth and energy. In an article posted at her website several weeks, she raised issues which are too often shunted aside in the primary debate of  continue reading…

16030001_Watermarked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the risk of starting a cat fight where truth may too quickly become a casualty, why don’t we more forcefully challenge those who deny peak oil (and global warming) and who do so for reasons that generally ignore reality in favor of narrowly-defined interests? continue reading…

IMGP0758

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peak oil demand is a provocative theory and would rely on some unanswered questions being met: namely on the  continue reading…

104_0011

 

 

 

 

 

Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding. continue reading…

121_2174

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding. continue reading…

IMGP4276

 

 

 

 

 

Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

For those of us in northern climes, winter’s cold and its effects must be addressed in a variety of ways. It’s not always just us and family members who require adaptation when the temperatures plummet. Ignoring basic auto maintenance can prove to be costly—and a serious inconvenience.

Science lesson: water freezes when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. You’re welcome. Internal combustion engines (i.e., your cars) require water in the cooling system to keep the engine from … bursting into flames and other annoying behaviors. (Antifreeze of course also allows for water to reach temperatures above the normal point of boiling.) But if we recall our science lesson, in winter water freezes. And that’s why we have antifreeze, and why we need to purchase a container or two and have it on hand during the winter. Antifreeze + water = no freezing of said water.

Also worth noting is that antifreeze’s usefulness is not limited to automobile engines.

According to the EPA: “Ethylene glycol is the most widely used automotive cooling-system antifreeze, although methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and propylene glycol* are also used. In automotive windshield-washer fluids, an alcohol (e.g., methanol) is usually added to keep the mixture from freezing; it also acts as a solvent to help clean the glass. The brine used in some commercial refrigeration systems is an antifreeze mixture.”

* Antifreeze is also quite toxic, and disposal is typically regulated by state laws. The good news, as Wikipedia adds, is that propylene glycol, much less toxic than ethylene glycol, is gradually replacing the ethylene. “As confirmation of its relative non-toxicity, the FDA allows propylene glycol to be added to a large number of processed foods, including ice cream, frozen custard, and baked goods.” Yum!

As the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry helpfully informs us: “Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for deicing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products. It is a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in the paint and plastics industries. Propylene glycol is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions. Other names for propylene glycol are 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, and trimethyl glycol. Propylene glycol is clear, colorless, slightly syrupy liquid at room temperature. It may exist in air in the vapor form, although propylene glycol must be heated or briskly shaken to produce a vapor. Propylene glycol is practically odorless and tasteless.”

If you follow Wikipedia’s links, it’s only a few clicks away from learning that the propylene glycol is derived from Propylene oxide which in turn is derived from Propene. “Propene is produced from fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and, to a much lesser extent, coal. Propene is a byproduct of oil refining and natural gas processing. During oil refining, ethylene, propene, and other compounds are produced as a result of cracking larger hydrocarbon molecules to produce hydrocarbons more in demand.”

And so once again I ask the very same question I’ve asked before: When the supply of depleting conventional crude oil continues to decline, and reliance turns to the inadequate supply of inferior quality, more expensive, harder to come by unconventional sources such as the tight shale formations in the U.S. and the Canadian tar sands cheered on by certain factions of the energy and media industries, what gets prioritized in such a way that every cog of these multiple supply chains are still supplied at current levels and relative costs?

If that does happen, what gets sacrificed as a result?

How much more difficult is it going to be in the years to come to sort all of this out and develop alternative means of providing these goods and services if we’re not having the conversations now with real-life facts to guide us—before we’re having serious problems? Waiting is a strategy, but it’s usually not a very good one.

 ~ My Photo: A 1952 Packard which the owner won on a $2.00 raffle ticket

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

In a recent column discussing the inane transportation bill proposed by the House, Isaiah J. Poole noted this charming piece of legislative integrity—admittedly, no doubt used by both parties since forever: “A more bipartisan Senate bill, which is not nearly as ambitious as the White House would prefer but nonetheless has its blessing, was being hung up over Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s demand for an amendment denying aid to Egypt over the government’s detention of some America citizens and Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment that would permit employers to deny coverage for health services that run counter to the employer’s ‘religious beliefs and moral convictions.’”

The relevance of these two stunts to transportation funding will—no doubt—be revealed to all of us at the appropriate time. Our tax dollars hard at work….

When does it start to get better?

As I noted in two prior posts about this legislation (here and here), the philosophy/ideology behind the bill’s intent to eliminate assured financing (insufficient though it is) for mass transit in favor of more money for roads is what’s most troubling. I keep hoping that at some point, some legislator from the GOP will have the balls to accept reality and propose legislation that will actually mean something long-term and for our collective well-being.

I’ve admitted before and will say again, I pretend no expertise in transportation legislation or its funding. I come to these discussions with concerns about the strategies employed in light of what I believe is an even more serious and long-lasting problem for all of us: inadequate energy resources to provide us all with business-as-usual lifestyles—current economic conditions aside. The failure to incorporate public transportation on a much broader scale than Congress seems capable of understanding creates a serious deficiency in our ability to adapt in the future to a society with less energy resources at our disposal—if continued growth is a goal.

Typical arguments include the following:

[T]ransit has firmly secured its place in the federal budget and has acquired a large and vocal constituency in Congress which can be counted upon to defend its interests….
Restoring the Highway Trust Fund to its original mission of being a source of funds solely for the federal-aid highway program would accomplish several things. First, the program would no longer need to rely on speculative royalties from future oil and gas leases, as currently proposed in the House bill. Second, the Trust Fund would not need to be periodically propped up with contributions from the General Fund. Third, the principle of the highway program paid for with user fees would be maintained. Lastly, the House bill would return the federal-aid highway program to its original roots. It would restore the program’s lost sense of purpose and focus Trust Fund resources on what they always were meant to do—preserve and renew the nation’s prized asset, its interstate highway system. [1]

A few comments are in order.

As to the first point about transit’s defenders in Congress, a wonderful sound bite which means absolutely nothing in this Congress with its Tea Party-dominated inability to think, plan, or legislate beyond next week. “Defend” transit all you want, but if no one is paying any attention, it loses some of its vigor and impact.

“[T]he program would no longer need to rely on speculative royalties…” It never had to! That’s like retirement planning via the lottery. It’s an idiotic proposal to begin with, duly lambasted by many with far more understanding than I possess, and merits exactly no discussion or consideration.

As for eliminating the “need to be periodically propped up with contributions from the General Fund,” the House could actually … you know, legislate intelligently and put together a plan, even if, GASP! it contained ideas from the left. What a concept!

“[T]he principle of the highway program [being] paid for with user fees would be maintained.” Really? “Principle” sounds good; reality tells a different story.

Long before this legislation was drafted, Tanya Snyder discussed the Republican Party’s expected antics when Congress would eventually get around to … you know … do what we pay them to do—legislate!

You’ve heard it a thousand times from the highway lobby: Roads pay for themselves through ‘user fees’ — a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls — whereas transit is a drain on the taxpayer. They use this argument to push for new roads, instead of transit, as fiscally prudent investments.
The myth of the self-financed road meets its match today in the form of a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group: Do Roads Pay For Themselves? (link) The answer is a resounding ‘no.’ All told, the authors calculate that road construction has sucked $600 billion out of America’s public purse since the dawn of the interstate system. [2]

Quoting Dan Smith of U.S. PIRG, Ms. Snyder noted that: “Road advocates use these myths about the gas tax being this user fee and that highways pay for themselves to get preferential treatment, and to get a larger chunk of the dedicated fund.”

Paying a toll is a user fee; paying the gas tax when you fill your tank is not a user fee. Not very complicated, but you’ll find almost no one on the Right who dares explain that simple fact. As the above-referenced report makes clear, highways do not pay for themselves—period! Great talking point offered to the uninformed, but not true … if that kind of stuff matters—which, for some of us, it does.

And Mr. Orski’s final point, that this legislation will “restore the program’s lost sense of purpose and focus Trust Fund resources on what they always were meant to do— preserve and renew the nation’s prized asset, its interstate highway system.” Hate to break the news to those on the Right so desperate to return to Mayberry RFD, but this is 2012. Times have changed.

More changes are in the offing, and the GOP’s determination to keep us locked into a fossil-fuel dependent transportation system at the expense of our future well-being may not be such a good thing, great sound bites notwithstanding. And as Ms. Snyder made clear in the article I cited above, the gas tax/Highway Trust Fund—created during the Hoover Administration—was not intended solely for highways. Only during the 17 year period during which the interstate state was being built were federal gas tax revenues directed exclusively to roads. “Since 1973, the gas tax has been used for a variety of transportation programs and has even been used, on occasion, to pay down the deficit.” Facts….

And of course, no GOP-inspired legislation these days can be marketed without a snarky, irrelevant, and misleading statement or two, Right?

The new infrastructure bill no longer obligates states to spend highway funding on non-highway activities, such as museums or landscaping. But spending for mass transit appears to continue, even though there are better uses for the funds. States now spend 20 percent of their Highway Trust Fund allocation on mass transit, yet only two percent of passenger miles are used by mass transit.…
Just as users of roads should pay all of their costs, such as construction and maintenance, so should users of mass transit. If individual states want to subsidize mass transit, they should do it out of their own revenues. With Uncle Sam broke, the Federal government should not be subsidizing expensive mass transit systems. [3]

Just wondering how much of the funding states are obligated to use on “museums or landscaping?” All of it? Half? A third? Ten percent? Five? Perhaps less? A wild guess on my part, but I’m betting that “museums or landscaping” aren’t a primary focus, but we wouldn’t want to clue in the uninformed about that, now would we? And the lame “passenger mile” standard used by the Right is addressed nicely by Eric Jaffe here as well as in the report cited above, but I’ll admit it is a popular sound bite: “20 percent … for two percent” usage sure does sound unfair! But why add context if that ruins the point?

“Uncle Sam” is not “broke”, but it is another Page One sound bite from the Right’s playbook,  which does induce an appropriate measure of fear in the electorate. Nice strategy, huh? [Kinda like “Cheerful” Newt Gingrich’s uplifting comment in Debate # 4367 held in Arizona two weeks ago: “But everybody needs to understand — and by the way, we live in an age when we have to genuinely worry about nuclear weapons going off in our own cities. So everybody who serves in the fire department, in the police department, not just the first responders, but our National Guard, whoever is going to respond, all of us are more at risk today, men and women, boys and girls, than at any time in the history of this country.”]

Writing on the “we’re broke” theme, commenting on Speaker of the House John Boehner’s identical comment last year, E. J. Dionne offered this:

Bloomberg News looked at Boehner’s statement and declared simply: ‘It’s wrong.’ As Bloomberg’s David J. Lynch wrote: ‘The U.S. today is able to borrow at historically low interest rates, paying 0.68 percent on a two-year note that it had to offer at 5.1 percent before the financial crisis began in 2007. Financial products that pay off if Uncle Sam defaults aren’t attracting unusual investor demand. And tax revenue as a percentage of the economy is at a 60-year low, meaning if the government needs to raise cash and can summon the political will, it could do so.’
Precisely. A phony metaphor is being used to hijack the nation’s political conversation and skew public policies to benefit better-off Americans and hurt most others.

And this*:

America’s Tea Party has a simple fiscal message: The United States is broke. This is factually incorrect—U.S. government securities remain one of the safest investments in the world—but the claim serves the purpose of dramatizing the federal budget and creating a great deal of hysteria around America’s current debt levels. This then produces the fervent belief that government spending must be cut radically—and now. [4]

So I’ll ask the same question raised in the first post discussing this legislation: “How much money, time, effort, and resources can we be expected to waste by devoting all of those assets to highways and roadways used by gasoline-chugging vehicles … highways and roadways and vehicles whose usage and very existence will be challenged in decades to come when the availability of affordable, efficient, and plentiful fossil fuels is no longer routinely assured to the masses?”

Or this, from last week’s related post: “[W]hat transportation options will be available to us if we continue to allow shortsighted, narrow-minded ideologies dictate how we plan and prepare for our collective future?

* as his Wikipedia bio notes, Simon Johnson, author of the quote, “is the ‘Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management[1] and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.[2] He has held a wide variety of academic and policy-related positions, including Professor of Economics at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.[3] From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund” so really … what would he know about American being “broke”?

Sources:

[1] http://transportation.nationaljournal.com/2012/02/now-were-getting-political.php; Now We’re Getting Political by Fawn Johnson – 02.06.12; Response from Ken Orski: In Defense of the House Highway Bill
[2] http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/01/04/actually-highway-builders-roads-don%E2%80%99t-pay-for-themselves/; Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves by Tanya Snyder – 01.04.11
[3] Now We’re Getting Political by Fawn Johnson – 02.06.12; Response from Diana Furchtgott-Roth: How to Improve the Highway Bill
[4] http://www.slate.com/articles/business/project_syndicate/2011/08/the_tea_partys_circular_logic.html; The Tea Party’s Circular Logic – Its revolt undermines the private sector more than it reins in “big government” by Simon Johnson – 08.16.11

Although it is likely that the President and his Secretary of Energy understand that a decline in world oil production is not far away, it is simply not a topic to be raised prior to an election as the political risk is simply too great. Someday, likely within the next decade, the US and the rest of world’s governments will have to acknowledge there is a problem here, and unless alternative sources of energy can be developed and brought     into general use quickly, major changes in economic activities and lifestyles are going to take place. [1]

So that’s sufficient reason to be allowing moronic decisions to serve as current policy instead? Do any of our “leaders” in Congress understand the concept of “long-term planning”? Foresight? How about just plain ‘ol basic “planning” … the kind that runs beyond Election Day? Are they all clueless … and self-serving beyond all bounds of basic decency?

The latest demonstration of short-sighted, narrow-minded “leadership” comes courtesy of the House Ways and Means Committee. Last week, the Committee’s majority, in their infinite wisdom, proposed a much-needed transportation bill which managed to all but eliminate currently-legislated funding for public transit, among other egregious, ignorant and decidedly ideological proposals having very little to do with national best interests.

This awesome display of brazen hypocrisy (and a giant “screw you” to millions of not-wealthy citizens who use and/or rely on public transit) calls for that funding to now take a number and wait in line for crumbs from the general fund—the same general fund which supplies the needed revenue for all other government spending. Now, the billions collected from the (wildly insufficient) gas tax will be directed exclusively to road programs, rather than allocating a percentage of those revenues to transit as has been customary and routine for decades.

But the good news is that the House wants $40 billion in spending cuts to offset this “transfer” of funding to the general fund. Another giant “screw the future” message….

With a House like this, what advances can American transportation policy make?
Actions by members of the U.S. House over the past week suggest that Republican opposition to the funding of alternative transportation has developed into an all-out ideological battle. Though their efforts are unlikely to advance much past the doors of their chamber, the policy recklessness they have displayed speaks truly poorly of the future of the nation’s mobility systems. [2]

Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just announce that they genuinely don’t give a shit about 99% of Americans? Think of how much time and energy they’d save by making it obvious to even the densest of right-wing, (non-wealthy only, of course) supporters that what’s in their best interests really does not matter any more than it does for those who support the Democrats.

Dan Smith of USPIRG put it like this:
The House Ways and Means Bill stops just short of defunding America’s public transit system. Instead it says that the real money with a funding source will all go to highways, while the tooth fairy will pay for transit. For Big Oil and the highway lobby, this is a dream, but it’s a nightmare for America’s transportation future. [3]

Here in Eastern Massachusetts, the state’s Department of Transportation recently rolled out a grim set of proposals designed to counter severe budget shortfalls. All indications are that an increase in the state’s gas tax as a viable source for funding is a dead issue before it’s even raised in the legislature, so cutbacks in Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority [MBTA] services—  coupled with fare hikes affecting commuter rail, bus, ferry, and subway riders—are Plan B. Parking fees at various transit stations would also be raised.

Under one scenario, fares overall would increase by 43 percent, while under the other, they would increase by 35 percent.
Under both scenarios, MBTA ferries would be eliminated, commuter rail weekend service would be eliminated and nighttime service would end at 10 p.m., and weekend service on [specified transit lines] would be eliminated.
But in the second scenario, a larger number of bus routes would be cut, generating savings that would enable the smaller fare increase. [4]

The MBTA also provides commuter rail service to the Massachusetts North Shore community where our summer home is located. We try to spend as many weekends there as we can during the late spring through mid-autumn period. But under what I labeled as the MBTA’s Plan B as noted above, elimination of weekend rail service there is also on the table.

… [O]fficials said there is no way to quantify exactly how many weekend visitors who come by commuter rail would stay away if they had to drive instead.
But during the summer, Rockport and Manchester fill with out-of-towners, many of whom take the commuter rail in order to save money or to avoid the difficultly of finding parking space. [5]

(That same article also notes this distressing fact: “According to the MBTA, 12 percent of commuter rail passengers would be affected by the cuts, and 6.7 million fewer people would ride the commuter rail each year than do currently.” That’s not an insignificant number of people obliged to now use autos instead….)

I’ll admit that to date this is not an issue affecting me personally. We drive to our summer home, as I’ve noted in other posts such as this one. I did, however, make use of public transportation on one notable occasion back in 2010, as I recounted (here):

As I noted way back when in my introduction to this blog, we are very fortunate. We own an exquisite (at least to us), spacious summer home a hundred yards or so from the Atlantic Ocean. We vacation here and enjoy every blessed minute of it! In normal driving conditions, it takes us fifty minutes or so to go door-to-door from our suburban Boston home to the ‘beach house’, which is where I am as I write this. What a treat for us!
Summer vacation usually means grabbing as much time as we can here—work and young adult schedules permitting. That means frequent travel along the Route 128/Interstate 95 corridor … most times with more than one vehicle; most times more than once or twice a week.
As a strong proponent of Peak Oil, I have decidedly mixed feelings about this, as I have mentioned before….I love this lifestyle, and I approach my task of disseminating information about our soon-to-be-curtailed availability of fossil fuel supply with more than my fair share of selfish trepidation. We do not yet own hybrid vehicles, and so we spend more than our fair share of time filling the gas tanks of my wife’s German import and my Japanese SUV in order to make many trips to and from our summer home from Memorial Day through mid-October. I balance that guilt with the acknowledgment (rationalization?) that I work from home, and that my wife’s office is about 6000 feet from our home, so we actually spend no more on gas than most other families.
Once gas prices begin their inevitable climb up, whether that’s later this year, next year, or a couple more years down the road, and with a simultaneous curtailment in how much fossil fuel will remain available to us to meet all of demands and expectations and needs, my rationalizations may not matter much.
With that in mind yesterday, for the first time in the 6 summers that we’ve owned this home, I used public transportation to make most of the journey from home to here at the beach house. My daughter drove me a couple of miles to a commuter rail stop which took me into Boston’s North Station, where I then—some fifteen minutes after my
arrival—boarded a different rail line to take me to the North Shore. I then hailed a cab to take me the three miles or so from the train station to our summer place. (I’ve already informed my wife that I will soon take public transportation door to door, just to see what that’s like. That will add two bus trips and a decent amount of walking at the beginning and end of my trip, along with two separate subway rides. I’m expecting at     least an additional hour of travel each way, but no more than a few more dollars in fares.)
The one way trip yesterday cost me about $20.00, and took me two hours and ten minutes door to door. Compare that to less than $10.00 of gas and less than 60 minutes of travel time when I drive. More expensive certainly, and clearly more time-consuming, but all in all it was a pleasant enough experience, and surprisingly scenic in several places along the way. It was nice to be able to read and engage in some computer work while traveling … not an option when I’m barreling along at 65 miles per hour on Route 128.

So when we all begin experiencing first-hand and on a regular basis the myriad consequences of reduced availability of the fossil fuel resources we’ve long taken for granted, how quickly can our local communities, regional administrations, states, and federal authorities reinstate and create new transportations modes? Has that thought occurred to any of our brilliant Congressional officials who now feel emboldened to all but eliminate these options right now because they are intellectually incapable of thinking beyond November, and morally opposed to anything that might smack of decency and national interest (except, of course, the national interests on the wealthy)?

How much money, time, effort, and resources can we be expected to waste by devoting all of those assets to highways and roadways used by gasoline-chugging vehicles … highways and roadways and vehicles whose usage and very existence will be challenged in decades to come when the availability of affordable, efficient, and plentiful fossil fuels is no longer routinely assured to the masses?

… A]s the consumer of a quarter of the world’s oil supply, we can have a significant effect on the world oil market by making sure that our economy can adjust quickly and easily to changes in the oil price….
Increased investment in alternative modes of transport, such as mass transit (both buses and rail), bike lanes, bike and car sharing, and walking improvements to allow many more workers the option of getting to their jobs without the use of a personal car.
Improvements in our nation’s rail system to allow more freight to be shifted from truck to rail.
Encouraging the electrification of transport (including the alternative transport options mentioned above) to provide transport options which are not dependent on oil.
In short, we need to make the market for transportation services more efficient by encouraging new entrants (mass transit, bikes, trains) and competition with the incumbent car/internal combustion engine infrastructure. [6]

Wouldn’t it be nice to have voted into office leaders who think about these fact-based possibilities on our behalf (even if these contrary-to-their-ideology issues are not 100%, absolutely guaranteed to occur in every moment and circumstance?)

Why should this be wishful thinking?

Sources:

[1] http://www.fcnp.com/commentary/national/11048-the-peak-oil-crisis-election-2012.html; The Peak Oil Crisis: Election 2012 by Tom Whipple – 02.01.12
[2] http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2012/02/06/time-to-fight/; Time to Fight by Yonah Freemark – 02.06.12
[3] http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/02/02/house-gop-takes-transit-funding-hostage/; House GOP Moves to Decimate Dedicated Transit Funding by Ben Goldman – 02.02.12

[4] http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2012/01/state-unveils-two-mbta-fare-increase-service-cut-scenarios/DoUG26YM6frTKPtULQkOUK/index.html; MBTA fares could rise as much as 43 percent; ferry, bus, commuter rail cuts also eyed by Martin Finucane – 01.03.12

[5] http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x1666061106/MBTA-service-cuts-seen-hurting-Cape-Ann; MBTA service cuts seen hurting Cape Ann by Stephanie Bergman – 01.05.12

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomkonrad/2012/01/26/the-end-of-elastic-oil/; The End of Elastic Oil by Tom Konrad – 01.26.12