It keeps you wondering

by Volker Weber

I just heard on CNN that one of the aids from Europe the US adminstration is asking for is oil. Why is that? To keep the price of gas down in the US. Let's do some quick math. I believe the price is hitting 3 US$ a gallon in the US. Google tells me that 1 gallon is 3.78 litres and $3 is 2.42 Eur. That would be 2.42 Eur/ 3.78 litre = 0.64 Eur a litre.

In Germany gas sells for 1.40 to 1.60 Eur a litre. That is $6.55 to $7.49 a gallon.


What bullshit. I sinerely hope that the EU tells Bush to fuck off.

And I am an American...

Rocky Oliver, 2005-09-02

Also, I hope the Europeans realize that (at least) 49% of us do NOT think like the US administration, nor do we back them. And quite frankly, many of us are quite embarrassed to be Americans - and that hurts to admit.

The Katrina tragedy is only the latest illustration of this administration's utter incompetence. I can only hope and pray that this finally wakes up the sheep in the US that elected this administration.

Rocky Oliver, 2005-09-02

they didn't want help in drinking water treatment plants or mobile hospitals nor specialized rescue teams ... but they concerned in the gas price and economy. they don't worry about their people.

"You loot. I shoot." as in here.

Cem Basman, 2005-09-02

We don't need oil to keep prices down. We need oil to stem shortages and a potential recession. Face it, if the US has an economic recession the rest of the world will also. If we didn't have pansy environmentalists here we could supply most of our own oil by drilling in ANWR and elsewhere. If we didn't have wacky environmentalists we could get by with just a few blends of gasoline. Instead we have about 40 blends of gasoline.

Did you also care to report that on CNN they are talking about the supplies and aid (finally!) arriving? No! Did you mention that Bush is meeting today with the mayor of NO in New Orleans? No!

Before leaving Washington, Bush told reporters that millions of tons of food and water were on the way to -- but the results of the relief effort "are not acceptable."

And what does Germany say about this?

The United States of America has asked the International Energy Agency (IEA) to put part of the international oil reserves on the market. It is natural for us to support that American request," said Schroeder told a hastily called news conference.

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-02

It'll be real fun if the "high" prices in the US stay around through the winter - and suddenly all the heating costs, etc. double...

I wouldn't be surprised if somebody in the White House has said, "Shame about the Gulf Coast there... but at least we can forget about Cindy Sheehan!"

Why is my country being "governed" by people I detest?

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-02

" If we didn't have pansy environmentalists here we could supply most of our own oil by drilling in ANWR and elsewhere "

What a load of crap!

The U.S. Geological Study concluded that, given America's current rate of consumption, ANWR would in all likelihood hold a 180-day (6-month) supply of oil.

So, that would solve our energy crisis?? Yeah right!

Let me guess, you voted for Bush? It's the same old attitude. Screw everyone else as long as I get what I want right now. Who cares about the future of the environment, about the poor, they're not my problem.

Well, excuse us "pansy" environmentalists who do care and dont want this country trashed just so you can drive your hummer around and pay less at the pump.

Dan Herman, 2005-09-02

I don't care who is president, I would never say I'm embarrassed to be an American. What a crock- sorry Rocky, I love you man, but you're full of shit on taht one.

I've seen that reaction constantly over Bush's presidency- my uncle refused to fly the flag until Bush is gone.

The process set up to elect our officials works. Just because it doesn't work your way this time doesn't mean you should denounce your country in such a way. Horrible.

Tom Nichols

Tom Nichols, 2005-09-02

Administrations Utter incompetence? So this whole thing is the Bush administration's fault? That they underestimated the impact of a storm? Hurricanes constantly change, they constantly shift direction and constantly befuddle the best meteorological technology in the world.

Not only that, they DID evacuate 80% of the city's population. Not bad, I'd say- especially for a city that hasn't been hit with a hurricane in over 40 years. Florida is very well prepared to evacuate and they know better than to think they can ride it out. New Orleans hasn't had to deal with that kind of thing in a really long time. I bet to get that other 20% out (if they even had time given the clogged condition of the roads, etc.) that they would have had to do it at gunpoint. Where are you going to send people who have nowhere to go? How are you going to get them out if they don't have the money or the means to get out themselves? With a couple of days to get ready?

After the storm, the feds are having to react to disasters from Alabama to NOLA. They're moving in 2000+ guard troops to the NOLA area every day and they're constantly air-lifting victims to ships, etc. They're flying folks out to military bases (Dobbins Air Force Base here in GA is one) and they're busing them out as fast as possible. I read an article that the feds didn't even find out about the folks in the convention center until yesterday, and when they did they immediately dispatched supplies.

I don't see the idea of blaming the Bush administration for this or thinking that anyone else would have done better. If they did, it would have been a lucky guess, because hurricanes are just unpredictable.

Tom Nichols

Tom Nichols, 2005-09-02


nationalism is overrated. it's a religion man. just say no.

John Vaughan, 2005-09-02

Dan - Have you seen the section in ANWR that was specifically set aside for DRILLING!! The fact is that we don't know how much oil is under the barren tundra that is ANWR. No habitats would be harmed because nothing lives where we would drill. Glad to see you putting words in my mouth though. You still haven't offered any resolutions to the problem you only slammed what I said.

Tom - I wasn't embarrassed when Clinton was in office. There are other living options for those who hate America that much now. Sorry to say that...

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-02

nah. Tell that to the folks in Iraq. You think they view patriotism that way?

What happened to love of country? I will quote a WW2 vet I saw- "my country first. right or wrong, my country first."

I will say that now, and I'll say it the next time we get a liberal president.

Tom Nichols, 2005-09-02

Hey Tom - when you say "folks in Iraq", do you mean the Iraqis? I know you don't, but imagine what would happen to our soldiers all Iraqis thought the way you do: "my country first. right or wrong, my country first.".....

Brian Benz, 2005-09-02

As a German, I can tell you what happens next.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-02

The point of our country is you can question our country. And yeah, you basically have to live with what the country as a whole decides to do for this term, but you don't have to love it. I am ashamed - by no means OF America, but FOR America.

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-02

These last two comments hit me like a ton of bricks man. Brian and Volker hit the nails on the head. blindly following your country and not questioning it when it is wrong is bogus.

We were founded on the fact that we questioned what our country was doing was wrong.

Tom, there is evidence that Bush was warned about 9/11. He was also warned about this potential threat to NOLA and yet the feds cut 44% of their funds over the last 4 years for flood protection. Oh yeah, and Bush's right hand man outted a CIA agent...

I don't think it's coincedence that two of the biggest American tragedies are getting fucked up on HIS watch.

One last thing, you stated the following:

"I read an article that the feds didn't even find out about the folks in the convention center until yesterday, and when they did they immediately dispatched supplies."

I guess they don't watch the news then... Because even I knew that there were folks at the convention center.


John Roling, 2005-09-02

Chris : You said "The fact is that we don't know how much oil is under the barren tundra that is ANWR. " and you also say that "If we didn't have pansy environmentalists here we could supply most of our own oil by drilling in ANWR and elsewhere"..

So which is it?? Either you KNOW how much oil is there and it will as you stated "supply most of our own oil" OR as you also stated " we don't know how much oil is under the barren tundra". Now, I would think you would trust the US Geological Study.

And either way, it doesnt make a difference. At one point or another we will without a doubt run out of oil. We can either plan for this, and put research money into fuel efficiency and alternative energy sources or continue on the same "lets just drill for more oil" approach. One of those options is a guaranteed failure.

Dan Herman, 2005-09-02

Isn't there a rule that by now the discussion has to deteriorate to namecalling and (out of respect for Volker I'll not mention a certain name or political party)?

Wow... Good work, Volker. (and I sincerely mean that) You got people talking...

I agree; W doesn't need your supplies. (I'm not sure what they would do anyway. I hear the pipelines are down.)

Eric Parsons, 2005-09-02

And for the next few years, just remember this when it comes to W


Eric Parsons, 2005-09-02

Thanks, Eric. I think that name calling does not happen because most of the people here would have a lot to lose. I don't agree with some of the comments, and you probably know which ones those are, but I am fine with the discussion about them.

This party ends as soon as some random idiot comes in.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-02

Volker - Thanks for hosting this. I am glad to have a place to come where people generally are highly civil and respect each other.

Tom - you know how the talking points go. Blame Bush for everything, Anybody But Bush, etc...

Dan - you said "We can either plan for this, and put research money into fuel efficiency and alternative energy sources or continue on the same "lets just drill for more oil" approach. One of those options is a guaranteed failure."

Fuel efficiency - man, gotta love the 400-500 horsepower Vette, GTOs, Benzes that get 25+ MPG! My supercharged Pontiac GTP gets 29+ MPG on the highway. Think back to the 70s - instead of continuing to make muscle cars we threw all kind of restrictions on the cars. And they still got shabby gas mileage. Nobody would have thought of seeing a 505 HP Corvette getting 26 MPG highway back in the 70s or 80s! Just saying that we are doing a LOT in regards to efficiency. We're also seeing a lot of work being done with hydrogen. We're working to not be as dependent on oil, but this is the way our world economy is now driven.

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-02

Chris, 29 mpg when going 60 mph? You think that is an achievement? At that speed our two cars do 36 and 58 mpg. And we drive about 10k miles a year. Combined.

And besides, what is the best selling car in the world? Hint: It is only sold into a single market: Yours. And what is the average mpg for that?

Can you get to work without a car? Can your children go to school without a ride?

Volker Weber, 2005-09-02

I just want one of those Mini cars you posted yesterday. Those are cool, and they don't look like they only live in the digital world.

Ya got me on the last one. Is it the Porche's that you and Brill were driving?

Eric Parsons, 2005-09-02


sorry, i just reread your comment. a ww2 vet you say? how many vietnam vets will you find saying the same thing? that is easier to say when it seems like we were in the right. even that war is tricky historicall, lets face it no war is good, but ww2 was definitely more clear cut than every war since.

right or wrong? man you gotta be kidding. i seriously hope you will pause and rethink that.

John Vaughan, 2005-09-02

The International Energy Agency just decided to send 30 million barrels to the US.

Vince Schuurman, 2005-09-02

I got sidetracked there, but getting back to the oil - the prices quoted in Volker's original post were retail, yet crude oil sells at the same market price worldwide, so....what is the reason for the difference? Where does the money go that makes (pre-hurricane) retail fuel prices three times the price of Europe? Currency conversion? Extra refinement costs? Fat Euro-gas company profits? Taxes? All of the above? I don't have an answer but I WOULD like to know. Anyone?

Brian Benz, 2005-09-02

Brian, mostly taxes. Europe believes that oil is a natural ressource that is undervalued.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-02

Re: "Can you get to work without a car? Can your children go to school without a ride?"

Absolutely. We have worked very hard to be sure that we can get by without ever driving. Admittedly, we do drive for convenience when we need to go more than a mile or two, but we could go years without a car, if pushed.

Sadly, I suspect that this is very unusual for Americans. Many people at my office think nothing of a 30-40 mile commute in a car that gets 12 mpg. I smile, tip my bike helmet at them, and let them spend as much money on gas as they choose.

The thing that gets me is -- are we losing track of the real issues here? Politics aside, the people just need food, shelter, and basic health care. I really don't mind having an economic downturn temporarily if it means we meet those needs.

(Did it really only take a few days for people to be complaining about paying a few extra bucks a week for gas when there are people literally dying in the streets down south?)

Dave Armstrong, 2005-09-02

Ah. The big question - have they cut back on taxes now that rising crude prices reflect a value more in tune with their estimated resource values?

I think I know the answer....;)

Brian Benz, 2005-09-02

Eric, the mini cars are of course total fakes. There isn't even room for legs in them. Look at the car with the guy sitting in there. That is a Porsche Carrera GT with former rallye world champion driver Walter Röhrl. Before and after.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-02

Brian, no, they have not. There is some debate, but of course that money does not go into the bank but is used elsewhere. For instance to keep the cost of retirement plans down. More than half of the worlds tax literature is written in German. That is an area we need to fix.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-02

In certain areas, though, life without a car is a drastic cost of living choice. The amount of people that work in downtown DC and commute a long way can be easily explained by the incredible cost of housing close in to the city. Many people I work with face hour commutes each way at least - even though they hate that fact of their life, when they were looking at houses, there was no way they could afford to be close even to the ends of the Metro lines.

Although being about a mile walk from a rail station and about 5-7 miles from our work, we still drive, but at least we take only one car to transport my two kids to their daycare, and my wife and I to our respective offices.

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-02

Don't know whether anybody noticed, but he is finally giving the real reason behind his war. Replace "terrorists" with "not us" and you got it.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-02

I'm just heart broken...[sniff, sniff] I'd scrunch for those cool little cars, and I'm 6'+.

I still haven't seen the answer to the "And besides, what is the best selling car in the world? Hint: It is only sold into a single market: Yours. And what is the average mpg for that?" question.

Now I think I'll have a cold beer... Volker, you up for that?

Eric Parsons, 2005-09-03

The site looks good on my Blackberry.

That's 29 mpg at about 75mph. I didn't say it was impressive for today but compared to the 70s. You missed my whole point that things are progressing.

Just wanted to add that there are 211 school and city buses underwater in NO. If their mayor cared about evacuating people he would have loaded up his buses and gotten thousands more out. But its Bush's fault! Come on - let's start hearing about the Democrat's failures in this!! The NO governor was too concerned to blame republicans that she failed too!

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-03

Re: the "Real Reason..."

I keep seeing "Bill" from the Amazing Thunderlizards holding his head, pulling his hair, and screaming "When will the pain stop!"

I guess the good news is that he only has a few more years, unless he ignores the US Constitution one more time, and declares himself Dictator for Life.

Eric Parsons, 2005-09-03

Eric, I am going to hold off until somebody else finds the answer. I can tell you the mpg: 14/18.

And btw, we just started production of a road going car that does 2.35 mpg at 250 mph. For 12 minutes. Then it needs a refill. Nobody can afford it anyway, but they will be happily shipped to Saudi Arabia and the US. Do you know which car that is?

Volker Weber, 2005-09-03

I think he's talking about the hummer... The typical liberal line that we don't care about the environment! =)

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-03

Ford F150. I saw that Top Gear too. :-)

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-03

Kevan, darn, you should not have given it away.

Chris, don't try to insult me with liberal. That only works in your country. We think that liberty is a good thing.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-03

I love that the real reason comes out when gas prices are suddenly an issue. If this reason had been admitted to around the elections, I wonder how that would have played out.

Anyone want to bring up the Bush famiy ties to Big Oil?

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-03

Yeah, really, I would have taken that as a compliment.

I just came back from a trip to New Mexico - once you got outside Albuquerque or Santa Fe the amount of cars that were pickups was astounding. Kind of scary, actually.

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-03

Wow, I step away for a few minutes, and all hell breaks loose here.

Tom - I am a veteran. I LOVE my country, and what it stands for. But I sincerely believe that the current administration is completely incompetent. I believe that they have completely mishandled the Katrina crisis, and are now being reactive rather than proactive.

I can post a bunch more on this - and I probably will, later on tonight, on my own blog. I don't want to type out a longwinded post here.

More soon...

Rocky Oliver, 2005-09-03

I have a guess as to your German gas guzzler, Volker, but I'll wait for someone else to try. Did Jeremy race a boat in it?

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-03

No, but Jeremy's got to have it. In the next season.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-03

Im guessing the road car is a Beemer. Mercedes would probably do better on the fuel.

Eric Parsons, 2005-09-03

Nope, there is only one car with that top speed of 250:

Volker Weber, 2005-09-03

@ Volker,
Re Chris' compliments :);

It's just not fair of you durn forners. Y'all just refuse to pick a major American political party and absorb their talking points and labels as your beliefs! I mean, how are we supposed to engage you in a noisy, hateful content-free, thoughtless, meaningless, unconstructive political argument that distracts us from real problems unless you get with the program? Thoughtful arguments with original thoughts are SO un-American.

And then there's those languages. It's like you have a different word for everything! Bah.

Brian Benz, 2005-09-03

Ok guys, I need to get some sleep. Behave yourselves. It not, Rocky has "shoot to kill" orders.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-03

I knew it was an F150.

Ed Brill, 2005-09-03

LOL. I shall tip-toe around Rocky. Fascinating debate. I just can’t get my head past those who seem to equate “I love my country” with “I love Bush / Republicans / whatever political party”.

The US of A pre-dates the Democrat and Republican parties, and it certainly pre-dates the festering wound that is Bush. You can love your country — that’s fine — but don’t blind yourself to what rich, over-fed politicans do in the name of your country. And for Christ’s sake don’t turn NO into a political debate. Just realise that what hasn’t been done there for its poor is criminal, regardless of your poitical allegiances.

Sorry, I haven’t even started on the gas situation...

Ben Poole, 2005-09-03

Oh, and Brian? ROTFLMAO :o)

Ben Poole, 2005-09-03

@Brian. Too much, dude. Well put.

Eric Parsons, 2005-09-03

Kevan, what's scary about pickup trucks? in a rural area? That's where they're necessary tools.

My husband grew up on a farm in mid-Missouri. No farmer could live without his truck. And not for macho reasons: you have to haul hay, feed, and equipment. Not to mention the occasional hog.

Someone asked if Americans could get around without their cars. It depends entirely on where you are. In cities with intense downtowns, such as NY, Boston, and San Francisco, it isn't a problem. Elsewhere, that's another story. Phoenix has almost no public transit (though there's a light rail system under construction), and it covers an area that's 40 x 60 miles. Few people here could imagine living without a car. (And I bought a brand new one this week, a fact that seems self-centered in the midst of this crisis. ::sigh::)

Back to vowe's original question... it's not the price that's in question, really. There's at least two issues. One is that the prices went up almost 50% in less than a week, when the southeast gas lines were shut down for only a couple of days and there _is_ gas in storage. The other is that gas prices have been rising for quite a while, and everyone has felt that the "reasons" for it are just a big scam. So the anger is building on top of something else.

Esther Schindler, 2005-09-03

I don't have time to address much, but I'll just throw out a couple of points...

Liberal and liberty are two different things. In America it was the liberals on the Court that said other private individuals can confiscate the land and homes of other individuals. It was the liberals in the Senate who didn't stand up against this. It was these liberals who took away the basic liberties of private property for the sake of more tax revenues. So let's not confuse the two!

Where would the hurricane victims be right now if there weren't gas guzzling trucks, SUVs, and military convoys bringing them food and supplies? I don't see 50mpg cars able to tow huge trailers of relief aid!

The mayor of NO (back to the original topic!) went on his tirade. He failed to tell everyone that he approved a bus to go pick up the tourists and employees (mostly white) at the Hyatt hotel and take them to the Superdome. It's where the mayor and his team were operating from. Once at the Dome they were placed at the FRONT of the line to be bused away. This happened YESTERDAY after the mayor was so livid with his comments bringing race into the picture as well. Talk about hypocrisy!

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-03

No, Esther, you're right. In a practical, work use setting (farmers, contractors, etc.) a pickup is probably one of the most invaluable tools. Similar to the delivery/panel van in an urban setting, it serves a key role. In fact, in New Mexico, it actually did make sense - most of the pickups looked like they were well used and had hauled all manner of items in their lives. What was probably astounding to me was that it drove home how agricultural the area is.

What is scary to me is here in close-in Northern Virginia, or when we visit relatives in Ohio, I see pickups that are driven because it is "cool", a lifestyle choice. What I love is the fact that a lot of the ones around here are often rear-wheel drive. A bit of snow, and they are spinning out almost more than any other car. Meanwhile, in my front-wheel drive Saab or all-wheel drive Passat, I can cruise right past them and shake my head (of course, around here, all-wheel drive is probably not necessary for a good portion of the year, but we do make a lot of trips further into the Northeast and New England).

Kevan Emmott, 2005-09-03

Chris, you seem a little desparate with your arguments.

As I said, you cannot insult me with calling me a liberal. I think we got over this point.

You are also confusing trucks that the National Guard needs with gas guzzling SUVs and trucks that some Americans love to drive to work. When gas hits $10 a gallon some people may start to wonder whether they really need a 3 ton truck to carry a 300 pound body. That can easily be done with a 50+ mpg car. Or a bicycle.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-03

I wasn't being desperate - I was trying to answer someone's statement that we need to progress with fuel efficiency by demonstrating that we have come a long way. Part of fuel efficiency is also making the vehicle run cleaner. Our federal goal for fuel efficiency was 27.5 mpg in 1985. Considering my car (29mpg) as a comparison to 20 years ago, the Nitrogen Oxide emissions would be 56% less and volatile organics would be 67% less. Not only are we making headway with 50+ mpg vehicles but we're sharply reducing emissions! A gas guzzling SUV probably has much less emissions than a high mpg car from 1985. So simply looking at MPG gets one nowhere. I wasn't directly trying to insult you, by the way. Over here whenever someone (liberals) wants to point to fuel inefficiency and how bad it's hurting the environment they tout the Hummer as if every conservative has one.

1950s Average NOx - 3.6
1975 NOx - 3.1
1988 NOx Heavy Truck - 1.7
Toyota Prius NOx - 0.07
Hummer NOx - 0.7

I'm well aware of the Guard trucks. However, I've also seen where citizens were using their trucks and SUVs to tow boats to the flooded areas to go out and rescue people.

I've always looked at it that if people can afford a big SUV they can afford the gas too. I also have an SUV that may get about 21 mpg if I'm lucky. I do use it sometimes to haul things in the back (something you cannot do in a 50 mpg car...) as well as to drive around my extended family on vacation or out to eat. Sure, we could take two more economical cars and end up consuming the same amount of gas.

Personally, I hate it when people complain about the gas prices - if it bothered me that much I would have an ugly hybrid (sorry, but the 50 mpg cars I've seen around here do nothing for me...) But for me to finance $10,000 + for a hybrid to save $600 in gas a year is ludicrous! For one, gas is a product that hasn't gone up in price historically as others have up until recently. Adjusted for inflation, in our current time of "shortage" here prices are just now getting to be above those we paid for gas around 1981.

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-04

Chris, again: I am not envolved in your liberals - conservative debate. I am this little boy in The Emperor's New Clothes. I fail to see what I am supposed to see. What I do see on your streets is huge trucks everywhere. They are not all Hummers. There are a lot of those F-150 and god knows how else they are all branded.

One question: What parts of the world have you travelled?

Volker Weber, 2005-09-04

Volker stated in the initial thread that German gas prices would be equal to 6.50 + US Dollars. In Atlanta last week gas was $6.50.

Volker - glad you would rather focus on where I have or have not travelled instead of addressing the facts that I presented you showing that we've made tons of progress...

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-04

Chris, I am curious. Which parts of the world have you travelled?

Volker Weber, 2005-09-04

Volker, I have not travelled outside of the US and have spent time (not just passed through) in 13 states other than my own. Nothing in my life has required me to do travel abroad.

But, I would love to someday come visit "the motherland" (Europe). I would love to see some of the many landmarks in the history of the world as well as some religious sites such as Geneva and Wittenburg.

I'm not certain where you're trying to go with this, but it really has no bearing on whatever point you're trying to make about me not having been a world traveller...

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-05

Chris, I was expecting that you stayed all your life within your own country, but I did not want to imply it. It looked like all your reference points where within your own country.

The more reference points you get, the wider the view is. Which makes you rethink many assertions that you take for granted now. A short trip -- we joke about "See Europe in five days" -- does not help much, since you will only see some landmarks. People who have to deal with many different cultures, like Ed Brill, who has sales teams over the world, can relate to that.

I have lived and worked in your country. There are many things that I really like, but I also see that you have an incredibly wasteful lifestyle when it comes to energy consumption, food supplies and the usage of land. Of course there are statistics on per capita consumption, but I do not want to quote them right now.

The supply of all these things is not endless. Many of them do not regenerate. Oil for instance is bioenergy that has been conserved for millions and millions of years. It's not a matter of how fast you can dig it up and consume it, the question is what to do with it. There are so many things that are more important than to burn these treasures.

When you visit Europe you will see that people live much closer to each other. This has more implications than having less space. In many cities you can walk to get everything you need. You can take a bike to work or use public transportation. If you have been to cities like San Francisco or Manhattan you get a glimpse of how intense life can be if you walk along stores and interact with people around you, instead of sitting in a big truck. Take this one step further and go into an Italian town that is hundreds if not a thousand years old. The people you meet there will look at you as if you had two heads when you tell them about the progress you made in fuel efficiency.

The debate you have inside your own country between Democrats and Republicans, and whether one side depicts the other as either liberals, communist or pantsy envorinmentalists is moot as soon as you leave your country.

And this also applies to us. Germans are so fixated on being allowed to drive as fast as they can on major stretches of the Autobahn as you are on your right to possess weapons. It's complete idiocy, but we both fail to see it. I have been to your country and I know that is perfectly acceptable to only drive 70 mph. The French have the same speed limit, they would also concur. But we can't see it.

Now let me come back to my original point in the post -- way, way up on this page :-)

Imagine you would have a (let's no try to be PC) really fat neighbor. His house has burned down. You are asking how you can help him. He would suggest that he needs more food. You can see why he would think so, but you would not necessarily agree. :-)

Volker Weber, 2005-09-05

On a side note, around the 1900s America used to have one of the best developed public transports in the world. There are several links to this on the web, here are two links : one and two.

The years after, the automobile industry received large federal subsidies that made certain that public transports died out.

A book by Bill Bryson (forgot the name of the book tho) has more details about this as well (that's where I learned about it in the first place).

Alex Boschmans, 2005-09-05

Good summary. Just because it piqued my own curiosity, I went and found a reference on per-capita energy consumption. In 1995 the U.S. citizenry consumed, on average, 327 million BTUs per year, which is more than twice what many developed countries use per capita, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Japan.

One of the nice things about travelling in Ireland ten days ago with someone who was basically new to Europe was experiencing some things in new ways. The way the supermarkets don't offer bags unless you pay for them -- encouraging people to bring their own cloth bags each time they shop. That neither tapwater nor ice were offered in restaurants unless asked. That parking in Dublin centre was upwards of Eur30 (US$37) per day. That Dublin recently installed new tram lines, and is building a tunnel for truck traffic to bypass the city (cars will have to pay to use it).

I suppose I could write a book... ;)

Ed Brill, 2005-09-05

Volker, so what if my reference points are in my own country. Like Ed said, one could write a book trying to cite every minutia on every topic. You were focusing on America and I tried doing the same thing.

Speaking of world travel and consumption, airline travel can also be viewed as a huge waste of resourcess.

America is definitely a huge consumer. Ed, it would be interesting to see how many BTUs Big Blue consumes each year. But America is also a huge producer - something that we usually leave out of the discussion.

Speaking of trams, when I was looking around for how much NOx a Hummer emits, I found an article stating that certain light rail/tram systems that cities are installing actually emit as much NOx as a Hummer...

While this has been fun, it will be my last post. Two more real quick things: Volker, an SUV weighs about 6,000 lbs not 3,000. A Porsche boxster weighs about 3,600 lbs... Just fyi

Also, can your 50 mpg car do this: =) Have a great week - I'm on vacation starting tomorrow...

Chris Whisonant, 2005-09-05

whoa hang on Chris -- if a light rail/tram emits as much NOx as a Hummer, but can carry a hundred people instead of eight, isn't that ok?

And -- Big Blue's consumption will be far less than the typical American corporation, since so many of our US employees are mobile/home office. All four of the Chicago-area IBM offices have recently been downsized because of decreased need. Less worries about leaving the lights on at night, running HVAC, security, etc.

Last, so what if we are a big producer of energy -- a surplus would be a good thing, we could even go back to being an exporter... and as for air travel, airlines move as much or more cargo than they do passengers, and you surely wouldn't find much to buy at Wal-Mart without that.

Ed Brill, 2005-09-05

Speaking of world travel and consumption, airline travel can also be viewed as a huge waste of resourcess.

Desperate Chris, desperate ;o)

In fairness to the US Alex, I think just about everywhere had better public transport in the early 1900s compared with now. LOL!

Ben Poole, 2005-09-05

Chris, I never said it weighs 3000 pounds. I said it weighs 3 tons. Google says 3 tons is 6000 lbs. Those are short tons. 3 metric tons, and I was speaking of those, are 6613 lbs. Well, an H2 weighs 6200 to 8400 lbs. An Escalade weighs between 5367 and 7000 lbs. An F-150 weighs, well that's not so easy to find out. A Boxster weighs 1325 kg. That is 2912 lbs

Volker Weber, 2005-09-05

As for, well, that would be AWESOME, having a car that could do that!


(To explain: I live in Essex in the UK. This area is known for its “boy racers”. They do stupid shit like this all the time: UV lighting kits, sundry other car customisations (usually to very old crappy cars), handbrake turns, tyre-burns, etc., etc.)

Ben Poole, 2005-09-05

Wow, this thing took off-

A couple of things to follow up from what I've read:

1. I feel a sense of responsibility to my country similar (although somewhat diminished) to the responsibility I feel toward my family. I would never say I'm embarrassed to be part of my family, although I might bad-mouth a bunch of the family members. I would also never say I'm embarrassed to be an American, regardless of what I may think of the political landscape at the time.

2. I'm quite sure there are a number of Vietnam vets who would echo the sentiments of the WW2 vet I quoted. I absolutely feel that way- as long as the system of government we currently have in place stays there. If it changes, then all bets are off, but the system we have is, I firmly believe, impervious to extremeism as a whole. There are obviously pockets of it (on both sides of the fence), but overall things go the way the majority of the people in the country want them to. I believe in our system, therefore I support it 100%- if I don't like what's going on, I'll vote to change it.

3. Oil- gas prices might be much higher in Germany, so what's the big deal here, right? Well, not so easy. I do take the bus to work daily (and it runs on natural gas, not gasoline), but I still have to use my car a lot. Germany has the best public transportation I've ever seen (I lived in Illesheim and Vilseck for 2.5 years). I could go absolutely anywhere on a train or a bicycle for that matter. You just don't have that here. While my bus gets me to work, I have to drive to a park-n-ride to catch it- and trips to the store, etc. require a car.

Not only that, but I haven't budgeted for a sudden rise in gas prices. Holy crap, it's insane- I drive a small Corolla, btw. My wife drives a Sierra, but we drive it much less.

Tom Nichols, 2005-09-06

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