18 thoughts on “Switchgrass Over Oil”

  1. While I read the article, I didn’t have to. Because this issue is really simple and Obama is really, really stupid.

    If you raise the taxes on oil companies, fewer will be able to compete. Fewer companies puts upward pressure on prices. Bottom line… these democrats are idiots.

    Focus on more competition (not with govt. duh!) by making it easier for smaller companies to compete. The big ones can take care of themselves.

  2. Oh, right, let’s have more energy-efficient appliances. I have a brand new front-load washer that is so sensitive to off-balance washloads that it completes its cycle about half the time. The repairman who came to check it out said manufacturers are using smaller motors now to meet Energy Star standards, and no adjustments can be made to insure that spin cycles will be completed. This is Consumer Report’s top-rated model.

    The junk toilets, the toxic light bulbs, bring it on. How long will it take for Americans to realize that the people in charge are simply not sane?

    1. Several friends with front loader washers have told me of problems with stagnant water that makes their clothes stink. I hope you don’t have that problem.

      1. No. Our last washer was a front-load Neptune that lasted 13 years, 1 month. No odors in that one, either. Having 3 pets, I use a lot of bleach. Molds don’t stand a chance.

    1. No, the height of nanny state idiocy is when said toilets, installed in San Francisco, produced so little water flow in the sewers they had to start pumping in extra water to avoid odors.

  3. So am I to understand from the article that President Obumble and the Democrats have told half truths, lied and kept the voters partly in the dark for political gains?


    I just hope that the general majority of voters are so fed up with these idiots that by November that they send them packing. But, having said that, I still believe that the Administration will find a reason to either halt the election or not count the votes because of ‘irregularities’ or a ‘terrorist plot’ or some other such cr@p.

    If this WH crowd doesn’t find a way to NOT relinquish power in January, and then go power mad, I’ll croak.

  4. One of the more sensible ways of easing energy problems, not often discussed, is energy-efficient buildings. Over here in the UK, newly built houses used to be required to have 2 inches of insulation in the roof; now it’s 12. Energy efficiency of central heating boilers is now much greater; I believe it’s because flue gases are now used to pre-warm the water coming into the boiler. And so on. I would imagine that all this would be even more important in most of the USA, because of the more extreme climate including much hotter summers; domestic air conditioning is extremely uncommon over here, and insulation works in both directions.

    1. Are you familiar with the concept of dimensioning gains? Each additional inch on insulation has less effect on heat loss than the last.

    2. No. As Pournelle pointed out in his classic which everyone should own (“A Step Farther Out”) we should produce so much cheap energy that

      1. [typing in the dark I hit the wrong key] I was going to say, that we waste more energy than we now use. However, you can really fill in anything you want after that… We should be producing gobs (the tech term) of too cheap to meter energy.

        1. “Too cheap to meter” is really just an assertion that meters will be expensive. This is technological pessimism. 🙂

    3. 12 inches of fiberglass is about R-38. That (or more!) has been recommended for attic insulation in the US since the last energy crisis in the 1970s, or shortly thereafter.

      Anyway: if the cost of insulation is proportional to its R value (which it isn’t, but this is an idealized analysis) then the economically optimal thickness of insulation scales as the square root of the cost of energy, and the inverse square root of the cost of the insulation (per unit of insulating capacity). So this kind of conservation can ameliorate increases in energy prices, but not completely.

      1. Here’s a diagram that shows a map of the US with color coding to indicate the required insulation values for homes in different parts of the country. Once you find your zone, check this chart to see the required insulation R values. Heat loss calculations aren’t that difficult and are explained here.

        There is always a point of diminishing returns, where adding additional insulation will cost more than the expected savings in energy consumption over a reasonable amount of time. Fiberglass is a very common type of insulation in the US and typically provides an R value of 3.1 to 4.3 per inch of thickness. The difference in cost between 2″ of insulation (R~8) to 12″ (R~48) is about 6 times as much for the materials and about the same for installation. Heat loss will be 1/6th as much. However, if you live in a zone that doesn’t have high heating or cooling requirements, you may not save enough money on your energy bill to justify the higher insulation costs.

  5. Peterh – Sure. However, I’m quite sure that a foot of insulation is considerably more effective than 2 inches. Also, a large part of the cost of roof insulation in particular is the labour cost for the job, which won’t be much different for the two scenarios.

  6. For all the folly of government energy R&D, it seems positively wonderful compared to manned space spending. There are larger markets, with greater impacts on almost everyone, and the approaches being investigated are closer to being economically feasible.

    As for biomass and fuels: are you familiar with Virent? They have an approach for converting biomass to something that’s pretty much equivalent to petroleum. It uses conventional catalysts rather than enzymes, can handle degraded molecules fermentation would choke on, and exploits cheap hydrogen from the current US natural gas glut.

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