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Showing posts from May, 2008

The Future of Air Travel?

Few would call me crazy for suggesting that the airline industry is in a state of utter chaos right now. I'm not sure how many are considering, however, what that means for transporting ourselves in the future. With crude oil at $130, a lot of analysts see bankruptcy for the legacy air carriers as early as Q1 2009. If Goldman Sachs is right and oil breaches $150 and goes to $200, it is extremely difficult to imagine how the industry could survive at all. Given those numbers, where will Americans be traveling 5 years from now? James Howard Kunstler answers that question in today's Washington Post:

Fixing the U.S. passenger railroad system is probably the one project we could undertake right away that would have the greatest impact on the country's oil consumption. The fact that we're not talking about it -- especially in the presidential campaign -- shows how confused we are. The airline industry is disintegrating under the enormous pressure of fuel costs. Airlines canno…

Life in 2030

A trend seems to have emerged over the past few weeks on my blog, but with oil crossing well into $130 per barrel territory, topics like car culture, urban development, public transportation, and gasoline taxes have become quite mainstream. I have had lengthy discussions with a lot of people on all of these topics over the past several months, and this post is my attempt to organize my thoughts and present my positions.

Is the “American Dream” Dead?

American culture is wildly different from most of the developed world. We embraced cheap energy and built a suburban utopia on it. The “American dream” became one in which a family could live peacefully, 10 or more miles away from their jobs; they could drive big heavy vehicles to take themselves to work, school, the mall or the supermarket; they could live in huge homes that required huge amounts of heat in the winter and electricity for central air in the summer; they could have big yards with green grass and lawn mowers criss-crossing onc…

Car Culture

I spotted this sign while walking down the street in Dallas today; I think it says something interesting about Texas (and American) culture.

The irony is that Texas is a state where owning unnecessarily large and fuel-inefficient vehicles is something to be proud of. Yet as fuel becomes more expensive (and Texas still has some of the least expensive retail gasoline in the developed world) we do not want to pay for it. At first we complained about how unfair high prices are, then politicians pitched gimmicks that do not work (as I’ve blogged about), but now we are coming to the realization that fuel is something we have to pay a premium for if we want it. Thus Subaru dealerships in Dallas seem to be resorting to an interesing strategy of pitching “good gas mileage SUVs”. Of course, anyone with half a brain knows that SUVs do not get good mileage (compared to smaller and less expensive sedans), but the idea of being able to drive a big SUV and not having to buy fuel as often might be app…

National Swarm the Subway Day

As I was cruising around Dallas tonight I saw a guy at a Shell station in one of the wealthier parts of town updating its big sign to reflect the price of regular unleaded: $3.99. Not surprisingly, I found many of my friends joining the classic “boycott Exxon on May 26th!” group on Facebook. I’ve blogged about this topic before and don’t need to beat a dead horse: the boycott Exxon and gasoline strike gimmicks fail. They didn’t work last year or the year before and they won’t work this year. For more on this question, see my blog from last spring.

I realize though, I’ve spent too much time blasting the people who come up with these schemes, and after all, they are admirable individuals – they just need some help understanding what will and what will not solve the gasoline problem. So here is a scheme that we can all get on board with (pun intended), I called it: National Swarm the Subway Day.

An excellent way to reduce the demand for products like gasoline is to simply quit driving. Unf…