Tuesday morning, I attended a meeting at Dallas City Hall; the primary topic was how to make money in the post-oil economy. Sustainable Dallas apparently helped plan this event. Some interesting (?) observations:
Texas must be (!) the leader in per capita SUV ownership, and restaurants.
Dr Richard Wasserman, representing the Dallas Asthma Consortium, spoke briefly about the ozone impact on children in particular.
Greg Cook (a former regional EPA administrator) observed that environmental compliance and enforcement come after the violations; hence there's no incentive to alter behavior. His best line, when he explained how he acheived his best work when he was a lame duck in the EPA:
"the lack of fear of failure is important in a bureaucracy."There was a brief mention of TERP (the Texas Emissions Reduction Program) along with some successes, including one where Caterpillar used some tax incentives to buy some "Type 3" (apparently less polluting) heavy equipment. They also mentioned AirCheck Texas, which pays people to take old vehicles off the street ($1000/car and rising).
The featured speaker was Dr Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute (in Snowmass, Colorado .. near Aspen). He's written many books, including Natural Capitalism and Winning the oil end game. Both are available as free downloads, as well as traditional paper books.
Lovins predicts that companies we now think of as oil providers will evolve into generic energy providers, using a mixture of renewable and non-renewable energy.
- Before 1859, when the Drake oil well was discovered in Pennsylvania, the world survived on whale oil;
- primary reasons to reduce our dependence on foreign oil: national security, and national competitiveness;
- saved natural gas;
- largest civic energy savings: rubberized asphalt is made from recycled tires;
- CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) gridlock
- we can achieve superefficient transportation via breakthrough engineering;
- nearly 99% of gasoline fueled energy is wasted - only 1% results in passenger movement;
- carbon composites versus light steel (& aluminum);
- carbon composites allow for radically simplified engineering, as well as better vehicle strength/occupant survivability;
- carbon composites are very strong and lightweight: bicycle helmets aren't made of steel!;
- 2003 Europe already uses 17 times as much biodiesel energy as the US;
- the Pentagon's GDP is greater than Russia, and can influence significant amounts of energy savings;
- the market cap of US Big 3 automakers is less than Toyota;
- Toyota sold almost 1,000,000 Prius (hybrid) cars in 2004;
- Feebates : combines a fee and a rebate;
- as with everything, people initially resist change;
- 96% of hydrogen fuel is derived from natural gas;
- so-called "pay at the pump car insurance" would ensure that everyone is insured