Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 41

Thread: Fuel costs and the local variety store

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,953

    Fuel costs and the local variety store

    There are only a handful of factors people consider when shopping. These are price, quality, convenience, selection, and experience. Retailers will usually focus on a subset of these. In the case of general merchandise stores like Wal-Mart, this usually means price, selection, and convenience. Of these, I think it is selection that is the most important, especially in rural areas. In all categories of retail, the trend has been to ever larger stores with a greater number of SKUs.

    Smaller markets are generally not going to have a large variety of goods available. It is not uncommon for people to make shopping trips of twenty, fifty, or even a hundred miles to the nearest Wal-Mart. Sometimes the products they seek are simply not available anywhere closer to home. In other cases, the selection may be too limited. Retail trends and stores like Wal-Mart are partly to blame for this. Small market towns often once had a local variety store that stocked the items carried by the few large chains, though not nearly the same quantity or variety (or price). These are the local stores that have closed over the last thirty years. It is only right that they did. They did not meet the needs or desires of their customers.

    As I mentioned, the trend has been to locate very large stores in larger communities, serving a large market area. North Dakota would be an excellent example. There are eight Wal-Marts spaced at regular intervals along Interstate 94 and US Highway 2 across the state. Population from a very large hinterland comes to shop at these stores. It is very difficult to find other general merchandise stores outside of these communities.

    Let's assume gas becomes even more expensive, to the point where people are reluctant to drive. What are the implications for retail? Here are some possibiities:

    1) Increased use of the internets for shopping. This may fill the gap to an extent, but it is not practical to think that people will not leave home. Remember that one reason people shop is for the experience. People want to leave home. At other times, they simply have to see the product to make the purchase. The internets will take up some of the slack, but not all.

    2) Re-localization of retailing. Chains like Alco and Pamida are already filling a niche, locating in small towns without competition from the large discount retailers. At the same time, chains like Wal-Mart, Sears, and Kohls have launched new smaller prototype stores for smaller markets. Will these begin creeping into small markets? Possibly to some extent, but it is unlikely that we will soon find a Sears Essentials or Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in many rural communities.

    3) Grocery stores broadening their selection. This is another trend. As discounters carry more food items, grocers are carrying more general merchandise. It is another reason grocery stores now can be 50-60,000 square feet. Winn-Dixie's failure to follow this trend is one reason it is having so much trouble. While this possibility may have some merit, size limitations, inexperience, and lack of capital are going to hold back many of the independents and small chains serving small communities.

    4) Consumers change their habits. We have to admit the possibility that consumers will shop the market centers just as they have been doing, only perhaps more infrequently. They will make fewer trips and make bigger purchases as they stock up for the month instead of the week.

    So what other possibilities may there be? If you were a retailer, where would you bet your money?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Great topic!

    I was thinking about this as well as my soon-to-be 20-mile roundtrip to and from work is making me cringe. We are already taking necessary measures to minimize our trips when possible.

    As for the four scenarios you gave, I feel like it will be a combination of all of them. I see evidence of all four all over the city I live in, and I feel these trends will continue as gas prices rise.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,956
    For some unknown reason, we have a mess of stores that I cannot categorize. Family Dollar/Dollar General/Dollar Tree. These are in addition to our super WallyWorld. I have visited some of these in an attempt to understand their focus, but am at a total loss. Items and selection are similar to a huge convenience store None are stand alone, but are parts of strip shopping areas. All I know for certain is that I need a drink after leaving one. Bring back the downtown Woolworths and Kresgees of the 50s.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    West Valley, AZ
    Posts
    3,895
    The internet will only fill in for shopping slightly. you still have shipping, taxes, and your time to browse online. The experience is lacking and finding your products can be diffcult. Clothing is still easier/better to shop for in brick & motor stores. You need to hear and see a stereo or tv before you purchase it.

    I imagine you'll see fewer trips, less "shopping around" more one stop shopping, and larger purchases in the coming months. Sams/Costco will be busier than ever.

    If energy prices fail to come down, kiss the exurban housing bubble goodbye, and watch the values of properties close to transit and employment centers increase. I'm waiting for an income tax break to be created to encourage energy efficent windows, HVAC, insulation, etc in older homes. If people are complaining about gas prices to drive around, just wait till heating bills come in this winter. Last winter gas floated in the $6.50-7.50 range per 1,000 therms, my average heating bill (with my high efficency HVAC) was routinely over $200. Right now, natural gas prices are DOUBLE last year. I don't know how I can adjust to an extra $200 in heating bills each month. THe house HAS to be heated. Luckily, I can choose not to drive.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,953
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee
    For some unknown reason, we have a mess of stores that I cannot categorize. Family Dollar/Dollar General/Dollar Tree. These are in addition to our super WallyWorld. I have visited some of these in an attempt to understand their focus, but am at a total loss. Items and selection are similar to a huge convenience store None are stand alone, but are parts of strip shopping areas. All I know for certain is that I need a drink after leaving one. Bring back the downtown Woolworths and Kresgees of the 50s.
    These are what I call Limited Discount General Merchandise. Here is my own breakdown of the general merchandise category:

    High-End (Nieman-Marcus, Marshall Fields, etc.)
    Mid-Tier (Sears, JC Penneys, Kohls, etc.)
    Disount:
    Full-Line (Wal-Mart, Kmart, Shopko, Target, etc.)
    Traditional
    Supercenter
    Small-Format (Alco, Pamida, etc.)
    Limited (Family Dollar, General Dollar, etc.)
    Warehouse Club (Sams, Meijer, Fred Meyer, Costco, etc.)
    Off-Price Outlet (Big Lots, etc.)

    The Limited Discount General Merchandise are typically small stores offering a variety of low-priced SKUs dominated by consumables. Their merchandising strategy is to promote quick stock turnover and appeal to customers on price.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2004
    Location
    montana
    Posts
    336
    My first thought when I read your option #1 was that internet shopping will also see an increase in price simply because shipping costs (ie, the fuel used to get things to your house) are also going to rise. Don't know how much of an effect gas cost would have on this, or if the immediate benefit of not watching your own gas tank drain would outweigh any increase...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,956
    Leave it to Cardinal to have a label for everything. Is it just a coincidence that within 2 doors of each of these Limited Discount General Merchdise places is a Cash Advance/Money Lenders/Check Into Cash establishment?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    West Valley, AZ
    Posts
    3,895
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee
    Leave it to Cardinal to have a label for everything. Is it just a coincidence that within 2 doors of each of these Limited Discount General Merchdise places is a Cash Advance/Money Lenders/Check Into Cash establishment?
    I assume this was a rhetorical question?
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  9. #9

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    My experience in relatively isolated small towns is that grocery stores expand what they do, returning more and more to the old general or mercantile store format to serve customers' needs. How far this will expand as fuel costs rise is hard to say, but I won't be surprised to see more of it.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    444
    Kunstler has raised the possibility of big-box retail giants failing, simply because the lynchpin of their success - cheap oil - is becoming a thing of the past.

    Having goods made in China and other 3rd world nations with cheap labor costs is currently more cost-effective than having them made stateside because the shipping costs both to the U.S. and within the country have been low.

    But that's likely to change with oil prices going up and supplies going down. If that's the case, it seems to me that smaller, locally owned retail businesses could make a comeback. But the big problem I see in all of this is where do those local businesses get the goods to sell? Hopefully, we'll see a return of the textile industry to the U.S., but that may be a ways off. And it's only one example of the many types of products that used to be made in America, but no longer.

    Consumers will "do the math" at some point, and ask themselves if they're really saving money by driving 100 miles to get to a Wal-Mart two counties over, or if buying locally is really the more cost-effective means of getting life's necessities.
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,854
    What about a fifth option? Assuming people will keep their cars and absorb the added cost of higher gas prices, I predict people will make fewer trips, perhaps carpooling with neighbors and friends, and those trips will be to the big boxes, although less frequent, yet more goods will be purchased per trip. This has implications for the home building indutstry, which is to say that if my prediction comes true, people will need homes with bigger pantries or larger garages to store the extra refridgerators and freezers.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,472
    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    What about a fifth option? Assuming people will keep their cars and absorb the added cost of higher gas prices, I predict people will make fewer trips, perhaps carpooling with neighbors and friends, and those trips will be to the big boxes, although less frequent, yet more goods will be purchased per trip. This has implications for the home building indutstry, which is to say that if my prediction comes true, people will need homes with bigger pantries or larger garages to store the extra refridgerators and freezers.
    Most americans don't have the disposable income to just absorb $4 a gallon.

    My prediction for this part of the country (which is a lot better equipped to handle what's coming than the west/sunbelt) -

    The suburbs won't collapse. The exurbs will fade away - over the course of 10-20 years. The suburban fringe will become a ghetto. Places like Cherry Hill, NJ will become more urban. Strip retail will lose parking and gain a housing component. You'll see retail components in the center of the bigger subdivisions. In the more rural counties around here (like Chester Co., PA or Cecil Co., MD) exurban growth will halt and the old farming communities will spring back to life. I wouldn't be surprised to hear about local farmers (in 20 years) buying up ramshackle subdivisions (that are now new) and returning them to farmland.

    Watch the price of dairy and beef soar. Organic local produce is the future. Food production with large petroleum inputs is near an end.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,854
    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    Most americans don't have the disposable income to just absorb $4 a gallon.
    Huh? I guess I don't understand this statement. The context of my "absorbing the added cost" comment was that of behavior change inclusive of fewer trips and more carpooling.

    Meh.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,953
    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    ...I wouldn't be surprised to hear about local farmers (in 20 years) buying up ramshackle subdivisions (that are now new) and returning them to farmland...
    Only if...

    ... the cost of ramshackle subdivisions would fall to a few thousand dollars an acre...

    ... the cost of removing the buildings, foundations, roads, and infrastructure amounted to even less than the cost of land...

    ...the ground had not been overly disturbed or the topsoil carted away when the subdivision was built...

    ... the farmer was located in very close proximity to the ramshackle subdivision...

    ...higher fuel costs had little effect on the farmer.

    Not likely.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,472
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Only if...

    ... the cost of ramshackle subdivisions would fall to a few thousand dollars an acre...

    ... the cost of removing the buildings, foundations, roads, and infrastructure amounted to even less than the cost of land...

    ...the ground had not been overly disturbed or the topsoil carted away when the subdivision was built...

    ... the farmer was located in very close proximity to the ramshackle subdivision...

    ...higher fuel costs had little effect on the farmer.

    Not likely.
    you're assuming ceteris paribus. post oil you can throw that out the window.
    Most importantly i don't think any planner should assume that the cost of food is going to stay the same . . . or that petroleum intensive ag has a future at all.

    Most subdivisions in the exurbs (around here) are either surrounded by farms or are "across the road" and most of the houses that far out are on large lots. I guess it would be just as easy to strip the houses of anything valuable and watch them rot in place while you farm around them.

    I wouldn't assume that those places are going to have any value at all if people can't afford to live there. Plenty of houses in this city were just completely abandoned and later sold at sherrif's sales for $500. The same thing happened to farms during the dust bowl/great depression.

    Farming in most of this country is done on very marginal land or what is rapidly becoming marginal land. I can't see it being that bad or worse here.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Down South
    Posts
    144
    I read The Long Emergency several weeks ago. At first, I was struck by the implications of losing "cheap oil" with no viable alternative. I was somewhat scared of the future.

    However, I have been staying on top of the issue a little more - and thinking about Kunstler's vision of the future. I just don't see the changes he suggests.

    For his future to be true, not only do Amercians need to be totally unprepared but so does every single country.

    Additionally, I have been increasingly looking into alternatives to "cheap oil." Unlike what Kunstler states, I believe that they are there. ( And in a strange way, the Hurricane may be the wake-up call that pushes us out of our collective state of denial before it is too late).

    Kunstler argues that there are no really good substitutes for cheap oil because it permeates so much of our society (in ways we do not fully appreciate). But I would contend that we do not have to find an oil substitute for everything (as Kunstler points out, we have lots of oil (around 1 trillion barrels left), but we're just running through it faster than we can produce it).

    I believe that there are REAL technologies on the horizon, that will now get the jump-starts needed to become reality (both political and financial jump-starts). A Toyota Prius (hybrid car) gets 50 or so miles per gallon. An easily modified plugged-in Prius (one that can be plugged into a wall and uses gas when needed) gets up to 300 miles per gallon of gas (plus the eletricity). Additionally, right now vehicles in a couple of states are being sold that run on E85 (15% gas to 85% ethanol mix). If those two technologies are combined, get this you could get (believe it or not), up to 2,000 miles per each gallon of gas used (plus the electricity and ethanol).

    Unlike Kunstler, I believe that technology is here TODAY that can change the world. Super high gas prices, caused by events that do not cause permanent disruption to the oil fields, are going to push us forward that much faster.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    106
    If oil & gas prices remain level or increase, consumers will change their habits but not by shopping at different locations - they'll simply shop less.

    Wal-mart has already admitted gas prices are hurting sales. Consumers aren't redirecting $ from Wal-mart to town center shops or the internet, consumers are redirecting $ to energy. The proportion of income dedicated to energy will continue to grow - but not in the South and West. Energy costs will hit consumers most in the Northeast and Midwest as soon as residents there begin receiving this winter's home heating bills.

    Wal-mart and other growing discount retailers like Family Dollar will continue to gain market share because they offer what consumers demand but local shops and the internet can't deliver - convenience and value.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Milwaukee
    Posts
    484
    Quote Originally posted by jtmnkri
    The proportion of income dedicated to energy will continue to grow - but not in the South and West. Energy costs will hit consumers most in the Northeast and Midwest as soon as residents there begin receiving this winter's home heating bills.
    Because air-conditioners don't use energy, nor are they needed to maintain the quality of life in the south and west.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,472
    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    For his future to be true, not only do Amercians need to be totally unprepared but so does every single country.
    Most other countries are already much better prepared than we are.
    I think you might be missing the point that Americans make up 26% of the world's energy demand. (No snickering Canadians - per capita you're the worst of the worst)


    Kunstler argues that there are no really good substitutes for cheap oil because it permeates so much of our society (in ways we do not fully appreciate). But I would contend that we do not have to find an oil substitute for everything (as Kunstler points out, we have lots of oil (around 1 trillion barrels left), but we're just running through it faster than we can produce it).
    There's lots of oil out there (even though 1 trillion barells will only last us about 600 days). The problem we face is that it takes more energy to get to most of it than we get out of what is recovered.

    I believe that there are REAL technologies on the horizon, that will now get the jump-starts needed to become reality (both political and financial jump-starts). A Toyota Prius (hybrid car) gets 50 or so miles per gallon. An easily modified plugged-in Prius (one that can be plugged into a wall and uses gas when needed) gets up to 300 miles per gallon of gas (plus the eletricity). Additionally, right now vehicles in a couple of states are being sold that run on E85 (15% gas to 85% ethanol mix). If those two technologies are combined, get this you could get (believe it or not), up to 2,000 miles per each gallon of gas used (plus the electricity and ethanol).
    A lot of people are hung up on making our cars more efficient. It should've been done 30 years ago but hey, better late than never. The only problem with that is cars and light trucks only make up about 13-14% of US energy demand. After you pry all of the SUVs from their cold, dead hands and build everyone a new hybrid (and how much energy will they use while they're plugged in every night) . . . then you make ultra efficient planes, ships, farm equipment, buses, trains, etc. you've still only accounted for about 27% of US energy demand. So then you come to the task of making everyone's computers, cell phones, televisions, refrigerators, washer/dryers, stereos, water heaters, HVAC systems, etc, more efficient.

    But before you get to all of that you have to ask yourself how much energy it's going to take to make all of that stuff and how long it will take to get to market and how long the old stuff will be around for?

    Finally, what will be the total reduction in energy consumption. Will it be enough to level prices? How much energy will we need to make the photovoltaics, wind turbines, and hydro plants that will power us in the future? How much oil will we have to set aside to ensure the future of important plastics - like those used in medicine?
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Down South
    Posts
    144
    To the OP, sorry to threadjack a bit.

    To jresta: A full critique/rebuttal of Kunstler's book would require a book of its own, so this is not the best forum. So I picked on one or two issues to address.

    I recognize that it seems people are fixated on the belief that a 60 mpg car will solve all of our ills. I agree that this is not the case. It will take a more fundamental shift. But, Kunstler's main point is that the availability of cheap oil will drop so quickly that there will be no time for conversions for alternatives to become reality (such as nuclear power). After a little analysis and critical thought, I really don't see that happening. My own example about ultra-fuel efficient vehicles is not to say that this is the solution forever. But rather 1) evidence that alternatives can be viable, 2) the oil crash can be made to be a soft landing rather than a crash and burn, 3) when needed the market can adjust very rapidly.

    Another of Kunstler's important points is that we are banking on hydrogen power. I can agree with him that hydrogen has some potentially fatal flaws. I appreciate his efforts to point out those problems. So we really need to look for realistic alternatives (nuclear, biodiesel, etc.).

    For the anti-suburb/anti-sprawl critics (certain planners, environmentalists, and others), I believe that they see the end of cheap oil as finally an end to the evils of suburbia. So in their glee for this future to happen, they are willing to quickly adopt any belief system that gives them what they want (ie the end of suburbia). But, the market will adjust. Suburbia may change, and I hope it does in many ways. But I am not praying for an oil crash to make this happen. I believe those folks are lost in their own type of denial. We will be motoring on in the future, just differently.

    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    There's lots of oil out there (even though 1 trillion barells will only last us about 600 days).
    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    The only problem with that is cars and light trucks only make up about 13-14% of US energy demand.
    jesta, I have to disagree with some of your facts. According to Kunstler, the earth originally had a total oil supply of 2 trillion barrels. We are at the halfway point (1 trillion barrels). By his estimation that is 30+ years of remaining oil (not 600 days). (As an aside, 1 trillion barrels total divided by 84 million per day leaves 11,904 days – not 600 days).

    Additionally, Kunstler writes "America consumes one-quarter of the world's daily production of 84 million barrels of oil. More than half of our share is burned in cars and trucks" (200 million vehicles). So 84 million barrels X 25% = 21,250,000 million barrels per day for total U.S. consumption. 10,625,000 barrels per day go for vehicles in the U.S. Each barrel of oil yields 20 gallons of gas. So the U.S. currently consumes 212,500,000 gallons of gas per day. These are using today’s consumption figures.

    Anyone still following me ?

    Theoretically, if we were all to drive the previously mentioned plugged-in Prius that gets “just” 100 mpg (http://www.calcars.org/ and http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nat...orld-headlines) on Ethanol 85 (http://www.e85fuel.com/index.php). Then we can get approximately 660 miles per gallon of fossil fuel. Those 10,625,000 barrels of oil per day that currently go for vehicles in the U.S, would drop by precipitously. THAT is what would allow us to have a soft landing.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,953
    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    To the OP, sorry to threadjack a bit....
    No problem, and great post! You are articulating many of the thoughts I have long held about planners. Generalizing to some degree, planners are brainwashed to believe that there is only one good form of human settlement, and that is some Utopian urban enclave where everybody can walk to work, school, shop, etc. The level of denial that there is any merit to other forms is sometimes unbelievable. It provokes planners to make some really ridiculous statements about economic collapse and abandoning whole swaths of suburbia.

    Kunstler has long ago lost any credibility as an urban critic. His popularity is based on pandering to the people who want to believe his rants. He is no longer attempting to describe, comment and offer reasoned critique. He is simply trying to shock and incite people to buy his books or pay his lecture fees.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  22. #22
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Milwaukee
    Posts
    484
    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    jesta, I have to disagree with some of your facts. According to Kunstler, the earth originally had a total oil supply of 2 trillion barrels. We are at the halfway point (1 trillion barrels). By his estimation that is 30+ years of remaining oil (not 600 days). (As an aside, 1 trillion barrels total divided by 84 million per day leaves 11,904 days – not 600 days).

    Additionally, Kunstler writes "America consumes one-quarter of the world's daily production of 84 million barrels of oil. More than half of our share is burned in cars and trucks" (200 million vehicles). So 84 million barrels X 25% = 21,250,000 million barrels per day for total U.S. consumption. 10,625,000 barrels per day go for vehicles in the U.S. Each barrel of oil yields 20 gallons of gas. So the U.S. currently consumes 212,500,000 gallons of gas per day. These are using today’s consumption figures.

    Anyone still following me ?

    Theoretically, if we were all to drive the previously mentioned plugged-in Prius that gets “just” 100 mpg (http://www.calcars.org/ and http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nat...orld-headlines) on Ethanol 85 (http://www.e85fuel.com/index.php). Then we can get approximately 660 miles per gallon of fossil fuel. Those 10,625,000 barrels of oil per day that currently go for vehicles in the U.S, would drop by precipitously. THAT is what would allow us to have a soft landing.
    Just remember that no on really knows how much recoverable oil there is in the world. Everyone can give you their estimate, and I would take anybody's lightly. Also, as far as the US using 25% of the world's oil, how can you be sure that it will remain that percentage for the forseeable future. China and India will become large energy importers, just as we have been for years.

    I just want to say, Kunstler is a little out there. If "the era of cheap oil" ever comes to an end, I don't think it will happen overnight.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    No problem, and great post! You are articulating many of the thoughts I have long held about planners. Generalizing to some degree, planners are brainwashed to believe that there is only one good form of human settlement, and that is some Utopian urban enclave where everybody can walk to work, school, shop, etc. The level of denial that there is any merit to other forms is sometimes unbelievable. It provokes planners to make some really ridiculous statements about economic collapse and abandoning whole swaths of suburbia.

    Kunstler has long ago lost any credibility as an urban critic. His popularity is based on pandering to the people who want to believe his rants. He is no longer attempting to describe, comment and offer reasoned critique. He is simply trying to shock and incite people to buy his books or pay his lecture fees.
    Agree. Many people seem to quote Kunstler's words as the ultimate truth, as if he were some divine being. Truth is, he's never even had any formal training as a planner.

  24. #24
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,267
    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Truth is, he's never even had any formal training as a planner.
    Well, nieither did Jane Jacobs, so that's not really a great measure of legitimacy.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,472
    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    To the OP, sorry to threadjack a bit.

    To jresta: A full critique/rebuttal of Kunstler's book would require a book of its own, so this is not the best forum. So I picked on one or two issues to address.

    I recognize that it seems people are fixated on the belief that a 60 mpg car will solve all of our ills. I agree that this is not the case. It will take a more fundamental shift. But, Kunstler's main point is that the availability of cheap oil will drop so quickly that there will be no time for conversions for alternatives to become reality (such as nuclear power). After a little analysis and critical thought, I really don't see that happening. My own example about ultra-fuel efficient vehicles is not to say that this is the solution forever. But rather 1) evidence that alternatives can be viable, 2) the oil crash can be made to be a soft landing rather than a crash and burn, 3) when needed the market can adjust very rapidly.

    Another of Kunstler's important points is that we are banking on hydrogen power. I can agree with him that hydrogen has some potentially fatal flaws. I appreciate his efforts to point out those problems. So we really need to look for realistic alternatives (nuclear, biodiesel, etc.).
    You're banking on there being enough uranium in the world to make up for the loss of oil. You're also betting that the uranium is going to be cheaper to recover than oil and that it won't take a good deal of energy just to get it to the power plant . . . never mind how much energyit will take to build the actual power plants or what we'll do with the waste.

    I'm sorry but ethanol is a joke. It would take 75,000 square miles of arable land to run just 10% of our cars on E85. Fuel efficiency would actually go down because ethanol is 25% less efficient than gasoline. After we've converted millions of acres (raising the price of food in the process) to ethanol production and gone through all of the petroleum (fertilizers, pesticides, farm equipment, processing plants, and transportation) required to get the finished product to the pump we only wind up with 10% more energy than we put in

    For the anti-suburb/anti-sprawl critics (certain planners, environmentalists, and others), I believe that they see the end of cheap oil as finally an end to the evils of suburbia. So in their glee for this future to happen, they are willing to quickly adopt any belief system that gives them what they want (ie the end of suburbia). But, the market will adjust. Suburbia may change, and I hope it does in many ways. But I am not praying for an oil crash to make this happen. I believe those folks are lost in their own type of denial. We will be motoring on in the future, just differently.
    That's such a ridiculous caricature that i'm not even sure how to address it. I'm concerned about the future of this society and you're calling it contempt. Contempt, that I apparently learned in planning school, for certain styles of suburban development? I've already relayed to you that cars and light trucks are only 1/8 of US energy demand. A lot of changes will have to happen but they can't happen as long as people are denying what is coming. The market should adjust but as i've been saying for a few years on this board we don't have a free market. We have one ruled by special interests that demand subsidies to keep their otherwise unprofitable industries afloat.



    jresta, I have to disagree with some of your facts. According to Kunstler, the earth originally had a total oil supply of 2 trillion barrels. We are at the halfway point (1 trillion barrels). By his estimation that is 30+ years of remaining oil (not 600 days). (As an aside, 1 trillion barrels total divided by 84 million per day leaves 11,904 days – not 600 days).
    You're absolutely right. That wasy sloppy math. I think i forgot a zero because I came up with 6,000 days. Even when i was spellchecking it before I kept reading 6,000 days.

    In any case, assuming that all 1 trillion barrels are accessible (which they're not) and assuming that demand stops increasing tomorrow (which it won't) that's still only 32 years away from being completely gone. The fact is that most of what remains take more and more energy to get out of the ground. As you lose efficiency the price goes up. As things become more scarce the price goes up.
    Every aspect of our life is based on cheap oil. How can someone say to themselves - there's 32 years of oil left on the planet, demand is increasing, everything is cool.

    Theoretically, if we were all to drive the previously mentioned plugged-in Prius that gets “just” 100 mpg (http://www.calcars.org/ and http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nat...orld-headlines) on Ethanol 85 (http://www.e85fuel.com/index.php). Then we can get approximately 660 miles per gallon of fossil fuel. Those 10,625,000 barrels of oil per day that currently go for vehicles in the U.S, would drop by precipitously. THAT is what would allow us to have a soft landing.
    You need to rework your math here. First you need to account for ethanol being 25% less efficient than gasoline. Then you need to figure out where this energy is coming from when I plug in my prius? How much electricity am i pulling from the grid? What is the equivalent in gallons of oil?

    Then we need to know how quickly these cars can get to market and how long the older, non-hybrid cars are going to be out there guzzling gas. Then we need to remember that while it's us burning 1/8 of the worlds oil everyday motoring around that it's not the case in the rest of the world.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Your Local Hardware Store
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 29
    Last post: 08 Feb 2006, 9:03 PM
  2. Replies: 7
    Last post: 15 Nov 2005, 3:44 PM
  3. Replies: 13
    Last post: 29 Apr 2005, 10:50 PM
  4. Replies: 1
    Last post: 10 May 1999, 6:20 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last post: 07 Aug 1998, 6:30 PM