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Monday, April 18, 2005

Energy Efficiency and National Security

"Some people like to fool themselves by thinking that a larger gas tank is the same as higher gas mileage. But when inevitable shortages occur because of world oil depletion and inadequate gasoline refining capacity, fuel prices will increase, everyone will be subjected to gas rationing, and a larger fuel tank will not help."

Energy efficiency is vital to the success of American Energy Independence. A nationwide improvement in energy efficiency will reduce the negative impact of energy price swings and energy shortages, and in so doing increase economic and national security.

The overall average MPG would be higher for a plug-in hybrid than for a hybrid that is dependent on fuel to re-charge the battery, because a percentage of the vehicle's mileage could be powered by electricity obtained from the grid, rather than only from the car's fuel tank. Plug-in hybrid cars could be the shortest path to freedom from Middle East oil.

If renewable energy is added to the grid and grid energy is used to charge the hybrid battery when it is plugged-in, then renewable energy would indirectly contribute to the highway fuel efficiency of the vehicle. In this way, wind, MOTO (motion-of-the-ocean), and solar energy could help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Unprecedented warnings from the scientific community indicate that the planet's ecosystems are stressed near the point of collapse; business as usual is no longer possible, and we have little time left to respond. Civilization is also approaching a nexus of social crises. All of these problems result from the nature of our existing economic system, and we cannot expect solutions from political leaders or corporations.

Which ever way you slice it the message remains clear that Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream is most probably inescapable at this late stage of the game. In the words of James Howard Kunstler, "We're literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up."

Since World War II North Americans have invested much of their newfound wealth in suburbia. It has promised a sense of space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. As the population of suburban sprawl has exploded in the past 50 years, so too has the suburban way of life become embedded in the American consciousness.

Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream.

But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.

The consequences of inaction in the face of this global crisis are enormous. What does Oil Peak mean for North America? As energy prices skyrocket in the coming years, how will the populations of suburbia react to the collapse of their dream? Are today's suburbs destined to become the slums of tomorrow? And what can be done NOW, individually and collectively, to avoid The End of Suburbia?

from Energy Efficiency and National Security, Surviving Peak Oil and THE END OF SUBURBIA

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