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Saturday, July 12, 2008


"An estimated 9.4 million motorists will have to pay more road tax in 2010-11 under reforms aimed at punishing "gas-guzzling" vehicles, ministers admit" saith the BBC.

This is another of our government's nasty "punitive" taxes which punishes those least able to do anything about it.

Let's get this straight. The evil we're trying to stop is the pumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now then, there are a few obvious things we can do here:

1. Ban the sale of all new gas-guzzlers. i.e. Set reasonable minimum efficiency standards, like 50mpg plus.

2: Tax the sales of NEW gas guzzlers. That might encourage people to buy more efficient cars.

3: Tax the fuel. The more fuel consumed, the more tax collected. However, because of inelasticity of demand, those taxes might have to be punitive to get people to consume substantially less.

4: Ration fuel.

5: Tax secondhand cars annually... Errrm, nope... That does no good at all. It won't force people to buy more efficient secondhand cars, because unless people have already chosen efficient cars over the preceding decade, they won't be available in sufficient numbers on the secondhand market. Secondly, being hit by a punitive annual car tax lessens the money people have to spend on replacements, and, via the "market mechanism", the more efficient cars will have higher resale values.

I detailed the other reason why Gordon's new punitive car tax is completely stupid here back in March.

It's not size that counts, it's how much you use it!

Posted by Phil at 2:09 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 10:35 PM
Categories: Comment, Environment

Wrong Numbers, episode 200,000,000,000

There was I, last night, driving home, my car consuming fossil fuel, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, when Radio 4's PM programme had an item about Russia's (supposedly) vast oil reserves.

I didn't catch the reporter's name, not that it matters, because the errors he committed are endemic in that formerly hallowed organisation's reporting about oil.

Not once in his report did he even mention "that which the BBC must never mention when talking about oil". No surprise, there, then. Maybe I'm getting paranoid but I've only heard one exception to that rule in the last six months, and that was from Andrew Marr a few weeks back.

Anyhow, back to the report about oil in Russia.

The reporter could scarcely conceal his joy at the prospect that Russia may have up to 200 billion barrels of exploitable oil reserves. Hooray!

(The EIA, by the way, states that Russia has around 60 billion barrels of proven reserves.)

Those 200 billion barrels are enough, he told us, to supply the world's oil needs for decades.


Current annual oil consumption is around 30 billion barrels. So Russia's reserves could fuel our oil addiction at current levels for under seven years.

Send this guy back to school for some training in simple arithmetic.


But my question is, because the Beeb isn't the only part of the mass media to prove itself incompetent, why is it so impossible to consider more than one aspect of complex problems like oil and climate change?

And why is there a taboo against mentioning climate change in the same sentence as oil?

Michael Tobis has noticed the EIA's disconnect in this regard. "I'm confused", he writes. "It's hard to know if this is wishful thinking or malice at this point". Malice, pure malice, from the lot of them :-)

Posted by Phil at 9:15 AM
Edited on: Saturday, July 12, 2008 11:36 AM
Categories: Comment, Environment, Waffle

Saturday, July 05, 2008

150 Barrels

I was listening to Jason Bradford interviewing The Oil Drum's Nate Hagens on the Reality Report the other day, and one thing Nate said stuck in my head.

Exploitable oil reserves in the ground amount to about 150 barrels for every man, woman, and child now living and all their future descendants.

So, simple arithmetic tells us that if we all fueled our oil addictions by using a mere 5 gallons a week, it would all be gone in 20 years.

Not to mention the untold damage that would do to our planet's ecosystems and climate.

Which leads to the big question:

How much should we consume now and how much should we leave for future generations?

And the other big question:

Why is the above question so completely taboo and unthinkable that it is never ever aired (except by quirky folk like Nate and myself)?

Addendum, June 2014

A handy graph from Planet 3

Which is from Lars Boelen's World Energy Outlook 2013 – What it doesn’t say

Posted by Phil at 2:44 PM
Edited on: Saturday, June 28, 2014 1:17 PM
Categories: Comment, Environment, Waffle