Reducing Oil Usage

Similar to 1973, we are faced with an energy crisis or a coming one. Our usage/demand is outstripping supply. The nation is a bit more prepared this time. I am not seeing the long lines waiting to add a couple of gallons of gasoline to top off. We have done a lot since 1973 in the US while European countries are doing more.

This rendition of 10 points of things we could do is taken from Treehugger, authored by Lloyd Alter, and entitled “International Energy Agency Issues 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use.”

Some of this is not new and has been suggested, not demanded, of people before. We still do not listen until it becomes a crisis or the old “crap” moment. We may again be at this point where our decision may be crucial globally. The ten points:

1. The zinger here is to reduce the speed limit being driven by driving the speed limit. By driving the speed limit on US Highways, 290 thousand barrels of oil per day (kb/d) could be saved. Even so, many drivers today admit to driving 15 mph over the speed limit (The American Addiction to Speeding) and get angry if you are in their way no matter the lane. More emphasis is being placed on minimizing their anger then on driving the speed limits nationally.

2. According to the IEA, working from home up to three days a week where possible nets oil savings of 500 thousand barrels per day (kb/d). Since we click on the air in Summer, practicing the three day a week at home work schedule nets more of the savings. Side point; don’t see many of those toobig-toofast-toonoisy-toooften vehicles in Europe due to law and costs. Their vehicles are 40% more efficient than American vehicles. In other words, we have a long way to go.

3. Vehicle free Sundays in cities would net 380 kb/d (if you forgot what kb/d is, look at the examples above). If you are in and around Chicago or NYC, this is a no brainer, just take the trains and the buses. If you did not notice that during the pandemic shutdowns, we had less pollution. Wildlife actually started to show up again because we were not around.

4. Subsidize more public transportation and incentivize micro-mobility, walking, and cycling. Kind of hard to have bike lanes in our cities. When I was riding bikes, you really had to watch the cars. Some just did not care. Europe again leads the way with this with subsidies. Electric bikes move pretty fast. Savings of 330 kb/d.

5. Alternate private car access days to roads in large cities. If there are alternative transportation methods available. Cheaters get big tickets. Saves about 210 kb/d.

6. Ride share going back and forth to work. Maintaining your car’s tires as well as other things contributes to gas savings. The study suggests increasing car occupancy by 50% from the average 1.5 people per car trip adds up to 470 kb/d and you may get to ride in HOV lanes.

7. USPS does last mile delivery to many homes. It is cheaper for them to do it and also saves fuel. The article suggests piggybacking on rail flatbeds the same as containers, for long haul trucks. We already do this for containers arriving on the west coast. I can not see independent truckers doing this. There is a potential for large trucking companies doing this. There would be more time involved. Prioritizing fuel savings over time savings could make a far bigger dent than just 320 kb/d.

8. High-speed rail lines could connect major cities at distances under 1,000 km [621 miles]. Trains provide a high-quality substitute for short-distance flights. We do need a better railroad connecting cities. When I was in China, it was relatively easy to travel in and out of Shanghai via the 200mph trains. Today, the IEA expects it to only replace 2% of aviation activity and save 40 kb/d. The trains do not exist in the US in abundance.

9. More Zoom, WebEx, Cisco computer meetings rather than flights to meet with clients and inhouse personnel. This makes sense. I can see great pressure on airlines due to this and a decreasing industry. However, it decreases time spent on nonbusiness traveling and fuel. IEA is calling for a reduction of about two out of every five flights and a savings of 260 kb/d or more.

10. Hastening the adoption of electric vehicles will have a sustained effect in the future. Mandating higher efficiency in conventionally fueled vehicles would do more too. It must be fun for people with their pickup trucks that have never carried dirt or bags of Portland in the back. Fun in the manner of filling up a 30 -gallon tank with gasoline at $4.60 a gallon. There is no return coming from a nonwork related vehicle to offset the cost of tooling around in such a vehicle to get a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. Oh, and I forgot the six-pack of Budweiser. Projected saving off of alternative energy vehicles more than 100 kb/d in the short-term.

There never seems to be any urgency, even when there are critical dates and timetables to cut emissions and stay below a 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) increase globally. The 10 points (or my version of them) needing to be accomplished to offset increasing global temperatures have been documented as a way of reducing carbon emissions and preventing climate change. Still, we are plodding along oblivious to the impact we are making.

I am sure we will hear it is my right to do as I wish. True, you always have the right to do things as long as your doing something does not impinge on another person’s rights. We do need to change our perspective on how we live and its impact on the world around us.

The original version of this article can be found at Treehugger, authored by Lloyd Alter, “International Energy Agency Issues 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use.”