‘Drive less’ update

  • May 16, 2008
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I found the stat I was looking for about the effect of conservation on gas prices. Courtesy of Geoffrey Styles:

> If we all drove just 12 miles less per week, fuel demand would fall by 5%, the equivalent of almost half a million barrels per day, or all the ethanol produced last year. The impact of that on gas prices would be much more dramatic than waiting for someone else to fix the problem.

The whole post is interesting. The basic premise is that in the short run, the only possible way to lower gas prices is to curb demand through conservation and efficiency. This could be true in the long run as well, given the realities of the oil market.

Speaking of curbing demand: sign our gas tax petition. We’re over 2,500 signatures now.

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  1. Five Percent is A Lot - May 16, 2008

    Adam —
    Wow. All of the ethanol we use? Now that’s a 100% of something, with only a trivial little change.
    There are at least a few reasonable publications that assert a five percent reduction in consumption of … whatever … would make a real difference.
    Now, we just need to actually
    make those small changes.
    In this case, how many miles do you, me or anyone drive to work each week? If your commute is 12 miles, could you find it in your heart to take the bus or train, or even car-pool one day a week? How about tele-commuting?
    I rode my bike to work this week. My commute is 7 miles each way. And my wife thinks my legs look “hot”.
    Small changes make significant differences. :-)

  2. Anonymous - May 17, 2008

    I’ve been cycling on good weather days now for the past month. With the improvement in our Seattle weather that’s about 4 days per week. Since I don’t have access to a shower at work and have to sport a suit, I normally bike the first 3 miles to a park and ride then bus in for the last 6 miles. In the evening, I cycle the whole 9 miles. (Insert plug for twowheelgear.com’s suit pannier which is awesome.) It’s been great getting back into better condition and cycling is really a lot of fun on a high quality bike. One suggestion is that if you’re going to do this, invest in high quality gear like lights and a helmet you like. Cycling shoes seemed a bit extravagant but the stiffness in the soles and ease of entry even with pedals that have toe clips has eliminated my foot pain after rides and made it easer to take off from stop lights. I use the Shimano Sonoma shoes. The sole actually has a removable rubber plate that covers a socket for cleats so you can convert to clipless pedals easily when/if you want. Also, a high quality head light like the Dinotte 200L makes it possible to not only be seen but to truly be able to see in low light conditions. The 200L can even use AA batteries so no need to buy an expensive LiIon power source. Even though I normally burn biodiesel in my vehicle, I’m happy to use less of any fuel especially one that now sells for $5.50/gallon.

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  4. Aaron A. - May 22, 2008

    Tom/Five Percent (comment #1) said:
    how many miles do you, me or anyone drive to work each week? If your commute is 12 miles, could you find it in your heart to take the bus or train, or even car-pool one day a week? How about tele-commuting?
    I can’t speak for TerraPass, and earlier posts suggest that many of them rely on pedal power, but the average American commute is about 33 miles round-trip: [1, 2]
    That’d be three days every two months (give or take) commuting by bike, bus, carpool, or Internet. Once a week would be better, because busses and carpools aren’t completely carbon-free.
    The good news, though, is that gasoline consumption seems to already be on the decline [3,4] And all it took was a forty percent price increase over the last two years.
    — A.

  5. Five Percent is A Lot - May 22, 2008

    @Aaron A —
    There’s no doubt whatsoever that for most Americans, a 33 mile round trip commute would be inconvenient in most cases. I can only imagine how small is the fraction of people who ride to work as their primary mode of commuting because most of us don’t live close enough.
    But for an intrepid few (or for anyone who lives in one of those flat states :-), a 16 mile ride would be reasonable at least every once in a while.
    I really think we need to start thinking not about how one change can solve all problems, but instead how a number of small changes can take some of the heat off the most immediate problem. Maybe this will give us a little chance to come up with some real policy changes that will do more than any one of us can do alone.
    But bus, train, carpool — these are all reasonable and immediate changes that some people, if by no means all, can take. Inconvenient? Yes. Less appealing than the “freedom” of driving your own car? Perhaps. Better for the environment? Almost without doubt.
    And I am still unsure whether it’s good news or not that gas consumption is declining. That it took such a large price increase over several years to result in a modest change suggests that fuel prices don’t have as much power to actually affect our behavior as is needed.
    It sounds like we’re both seeing kind of the same thing. Sigh.