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      07-23-2008, 12:40 AM   #1
lifesaride
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When's oil out of the picture?

So I don't know about you guys because I'm kind of a lurker on this forum but I'm really interested to see how our political economy fares and how geopolitics affect our driving habits.

I'm a bit conflicted myself, I had an SRT-4 for 4 years that pretty much epitomized conspicuous waste of our crude; with its big turbo I could kill half a tank in a half hour without a speeding ticket. Yet at the same time I'm a proponent of sustainability; I no longer have it so with my frugal tC I can avoid hypocrisy (and with my bicycle I hope).

I'm really interested in getting a 135i; the way I felt about the car when I saw it was the same as when I saw the SRT the first time, I knew it was the one. Its engine is also an amazing piece, yet BMW compliments the car with grace and handling, not to mention accouterments that make it more than the rocket sled my SRT was.

Where do you guys stand on the whole carbon footprint debate, and whether the 240% increase in worldwide oil industry new-production and exploration investment is worth it considering that oil futures look suspiciously like a bubble? Do you think we'll see $6 a gallon before next summer, and that the American consumer is stretched beyond his/her spending limit (as I do given the savage rise in both mortgage and credit defaults we're having combined with our government's horrid fiscal discipline (or lack there of)), do you think the FNM/FRE debacle is a drop in the pan and we'll be on our way to economic growth in a short year at worst?

There's a lot going on out there, I'm just curious to see if you guys are interested too, and how you see the future?

There's a lot of economics and politics behind this so be ready to swim, and I'll wear my flame suit but I occupy position in the pessimist's camp. While I wish to avoid the Iraq war for my thread's ability to survive, it is worth noting that some kind of government over-borrowing mixed with a huge next export gap is helping to weaken our dollar to the point it's killing housing more, making goods more expensive, and compounding our record-high inflation(not since 1981 have we had this inflation). It's also lowering aggregate driving habits as denoted by June's rise in gas inventories nationwide and playing into crude futures in a way that makes them appear more like a bubble; also they should be about 90/bbl given most analysts' sentiment and world demand.

Where are you guys on this fence?
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      07-23-2008, 07:48 AM   #2
Jack in Jax
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There are almost an infinite number of factors that tie into a topic like this: broad public policy, environment/GW issues and even one's personal lifestyle. Here are a couple of recent data points I think are relevant:

1. Within N America, the fundamental 'carbon' debate is not about oil because all economically feasible oil reserves will be, sooner or later, extracted and refined. "Tomorrow's" debate is on whether we extract and use our coal reserves, which are massive and promise significant environmental consequences even with better scrubber technologies. Think 'carbon footprint' with size 15 Boots.
2. Note the recent promotion by T. Boone Pickens, an oil man you now see on your TV and in front of congressional committees, pitching wind power, a renewable resource. It sounds wonderful. But it is not yet, in general, a financially viable power source, even when considering the cost savings of expanding or building new power generation facilities. Proof of this lies in the massive wind farms that are now spread thru-out N Europe, including those built on seabeds. Almost without exception, their financial model is built on government subsidies. So just like hybrid and plug-in car technologies, we're partly there but still have a long way to go. The promise of renewables doesn't yet offer easy or readily available options.
3. It's wide consensus that the single most effective way to reduce carbon-based power consumption is by lowering demand - IOW all of us modifying our lifestyles. 2 or 3 decades ago we could have forced this on ourselves by increasing fuel taxes modestly, which would have resulted in smaller & more fuel efficient cars, less refined petroleum, and far better maintained roads & bridges (which is where the tax revenue would have been funneled). Cheap gas now isn't...so this process is happening later rather than sooner, without better roads & bridges, and with a massive contribution to our trade imbalance. But it's certainly happening.
4. Reduced gas consumption has been available for decades at very cheap prices - from the Beetle of the 60's to our own 2002 DD Civic (it's an EX, so it has the "Big" engine) which gets low 40's at Interstate speeds. The choices have been there all along.

Bottom line? I'd like to think one solution that makes driving a BMW a socially responsible choice is for many of us to operate our own individual 'carbon offset' program. Choose a DD that is highly fuel efficient and absorbs most of your mileage, and enjoy the BMW for its recreation value. If only one car is feasible, do the carbon offset in other ways: public transport, car pooling, etc. and still enjoy the BMW with a (somewhat) clear conscience. <g>

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