Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bizarro World Strikes Again...

...yes, just when we thought things couldn't get weirder in the housing economy comes this story where a condo association is actually foreclosing on the lenders--who themselves had previously foreclosed on the property:
The Residences at the Bath Club Condominium Association in Miami Beach is pressing a foreclosure action against Wells Fargo as trustee for an investment pool that owns the mortgage on a unit that isn’t paying its maintenance fees.

The lender owes $32,252 in late maintenance fees on the unit it took back more than a year ago.

Determining exactly who is on the hook is itself difficult. The original mortgage was issued by Mortgage Loan Specialists of Irvine, Calif. A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said it was only the trustee for the bondholders who invested in a securitized mortgage pool. The servicer of the loan is Impac Funding Corp. of Irvine, Calif., which shares the name with the company that issued the mortgage-backed securities and is also named in the foreclosure suit, Impac Secured Assets Corp.
So now we're dealing with Foreclosures to the Second Power. Bizarre, indeed.

Interesting LA Times Article...

...projecting what things would look like at $200 barrel:
Besides the obvious effect $7-a-gallon gasoline would have on commuters, automakers, airlines, truckers and shipping firms, $200 oil would drive up the price of a broad spectrum of products: Insecticides and hand lotions, cosmetics and food preservatives, shaving cream and rubber cement, plastic bottles and crayons -- all have ingredients derived from oil.

A Shorter Work Week...

...that's what Utah's governor is doing to save energy costs:
Seeking to reduce state energy costs, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman announced Thursday that the state would close administrative offices on Fridays, while extending hours on Monday through Thursday.

The idea is to work longer during the week and reduce the amount of trips to and from work.

Following suit just in time for soaring summer gas prices is New York’s Suffolk County Legislator Wayne Horsley. His plan: Let employees work four 10-hour days from July 1 through Sept. 30.

What If...

...gas reaches $7 per gallon within the next two years? Do you have a plan on how to get to work? To the store to buy groceries? To church or school?

To travel statewide or even nationwide?

This WSJ article
discusses these questions:
And who will be parking their cars? The 57 million American households that have both cars and access to something resembling public transit. Gasoline at $7 begins to approach prices Europeans have paid for years, meaning that chunk of America “will start to act more and more like Europeans,” Mr. Rubin says. Not soccer moms in a minivan—soccer fans, searching for tokens:

Our analysis suggests that about half of the number of cars coming off the road in the next four years will be from low income households who have access to public transit. At their current driving habits, filling up the tank will have risen from about 7% of their income to 20%, an increase that will see many start taking the bus.

Gas prices already appear to be reshaping suburbia. But what Mr. Rubin is predicting is a far bigger shock to the American system. Europe has had decades to develop a society based on expensive energy. What will happen if Americans suddenly are forced to shoulder European-style energy prices — but without the European-style society to cope with them?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Proctor & Gamble Considers...

...making major changes to its distribution network. Why? Increasing energy costs:
Mr Harrison, responsible for the supply chain behind P&G’s global sales of more than $80bn, said the supply system was currently based on “large, single-category regional production sites with long supply chains”.

“Up to where oil was $70 or so, it was hard to justify building new capacity only on the back of new distribution costs. With oil at $140, the world has changed.”
Same song, different company. Expect to read this type article numerous times in the near future.

Growing Financial Risks...

...this article explains on certain key economny matters (especially inflation) are treading into potentially very dangerous water:
Barclays Capital has advised clients to batten down the hatches for a worldwide financial storm, warning that the US Federal Reserve has allowed the inflation genie out of the bottle and let its credibility fall "below zero".

"We're in a nasty environment," said Tim Bond, the bank's chief equity strategist. "There is an inflation shock underway. This is going to be very negative for financial assets. We are going into tortoise mood and are retreating into our shell. Investors will do well if they can preserve their wealth."

Barclays Capital said in its closely-watched Global Outlook that US headline inflation would hit 5.5pc by August and the Fed will have to raise interest rates six times by the end of next year to prevent a wage-spiral. If it hesitates, the bond markets will take matters into their own hands. "This is the first test for central banks in 30 years and they have fluffed it. They have zero credibility, and the Fed is negative if that's possible. It has lost all credibility," said Mr Bond.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Very Important Article

If you read anything this week on Daily Sprawl, then we recommend that you read this article:
The oil crisis is upon us. I hope to convince you that sharply curtailing our oil demand is the only and best way for Americans to negotiate the coming decade (2008-2018). To that end, I will construct three scenarios for you to consider in contemplating your future energy consumption.
As you can probably guess, I read hundreds of articles each week on topics related to Peak Energy and Sprawl. The above analysis is one of the most succinct descriptions that I've seen of the pending problems.

And, as the author does, Daily Sprawl suspects that Door #2 is the most likely. Get prepared.

Is GM Going Bankrupt?

It's almost unfathomable that General Motors could go under. After all, they've been one of America's bedrock companies for generations.

Yet, that's exactly what I am hearing and reading from a variety of sources today. Indeed, predictions are ramping up that GM may be bankrupt by the end of this year.

Maybe this is why Goldman Sachs is placing GM on its "Sell" list--an unprecedented move for Detroit's largest car maker:
Shares of General Motors Corp hit their lowest level since 1955 and dragged down the auto sector on Thursday after Goldman Sachs cut the struggling U.S. industry's largest manufacturer to a "sell" rating and warned it would have to raise capital.

The panicky slide in GM (NYSE:GM - News) shares capped a period of growing concern about liquidity risks to U.S. automakers and suppliers from a domestic auto market reeling from record gas prices and the impact of a housing slump and tighter credit.

The Goldman Sachs warning, including the unusual "sell" call on the U.S. auto industry's largest player after a period of sharp stock price declines just ahead of the close of the second quarter, prompted selling across the sector.
Then again, should we really be surprised that a company that based most of its business model on cheap oil could fade away into the abyss of those who lost the big bets on sprawl...

Want to Save Paper...and Hassles?

Then you can go to this website administered by the various credit agencies where you can opt-out of receiving unsolicited credit and insurance offers. There's a quick and easy on-line form that you can fill out.

Daily Sprawl recommends opting out for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it reduces junk mail waste.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The New York Times... rethinking the feasibility of suburban sprawl:
Juanita Johnson and her husband, both retired Denver schoolteachers, moved here last August, after three decades in the city and a few years in the mountains. They bought a four-bedroom house for $415,000.

Last winter, they spent $3,000 on propane for heat, she said. Suddenly, this seemed like a place to flee. “We’d sell if we could, but we’d lose our shirt,” Ms. Johnson said. Recently she counted 15 sale signs. One home nearby is listed below $400,000.

“I was so glad to get out of the city, the pollution the traffic, the crime,” she said. Now, the suburbs seem mean. “I wouldn’t do this again.”
Sad. And what's even sadder is the photo essay (an image of which is above) that accompanies the story.

Ode to Exurbia...

Goodbye exurbia...we knew ye only too long:
As I noted before, any lifestyle dependent on low gas prices - and low gas mileage vehicles - is becoming uneconomical. For those that own a home in a remote location, work in construction, and drive a low gas mileage vehicle, this must feel like a depression.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Last Desperate Gasps...

...of General Motors. That's the case that uber-economist Mish Shedlock is making.

It's actually pretty compelling:
Status symbols are out and frugality is in. That is especially tough on the Hummer because other than status, the tank had nothing going for it. I would question any company that would want to buy it. GM is late to the sales party by two years. GM is late to every party.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Several have recently asked how Daily Sprawl feels about the latest oil drilling political happenings. The answer is a big indifferent yawn but let's first recap.

McCain and several other elected officials have proposed that States be given authority to decide whether to approve oil drilling off their shores (note: contrary to the intellectually-lazy rantings of sportscasters turned cable t.v. commentators like Keith Olbermann, the issue is not whether Congress should approve such drilling itself but whether it should empower states to do so).

Well, in return, several other elected officials decided that the Talking Point response should be "No way because oil companies are not fully drilling their existing oil leases already. Do that first and then we'll talk."

For the uninformed, that may make sense at first blush. But, for the informed, its a non-starter. Why?

Simple, really. Just because an oil lease exists, doesn't mean that oil does. Indeed, many of the undrilled leases remain undrilled because they have been scouted but no significant oil was found.

Meaning that guys like Rahm Emmanuel are essentially saying that you have to first drill the areas without appreciable oil before states are given the authority to allow drilling in those areas that do.

In other words, just more partisan politics on this nation critical issue.

But, alas, what does Daily Sprawl think?

Again, practically and simply: drill where we believe appreciable deposits of oil exist--whether it is ANWR, the Gulf Coast, or Cheyenne, Wyoming. After all, we will need every drop we can get to aid in the Peak Oil transition. Leaving reserves in the ground--even though they won't themselves solve the issue--is a bad idea because the time will come where we may lack the energy resources to actually go and get that oil at all.

When you consider that petroleum plays a large role in our health care, food sourcing, and other key aspects like shelter, it becomes clear that you can be both anti-sprawl and pro-drilling.

In fact, not just "can be" but "should be".

A Return to Urban...

Young families might settle for tighter quarters closer to the city instead of the larger, less expensive homes with long commutes. For suburban professionals, a more expensive condo in downtown Boston might make financial sense. And baby boomers might consider giving up the family home because higher gas prices eat into their retirement savings.

Daniel Gustafson and his partner, Paula Parker, are buying a home in Milton that abuts the Red Line's Mattapan trolley. Gustafson realized he could ride the subway to work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge rather than drive his van, as he has done for years. That sold him. He calculated this would save about $200 a month in gas, after subtracting the cost of a subway pass.
Read the entire story here.

Saudis Lose Control

It used to be that the mere suggestion of an oil production increase (especially by Saudi Arabia--the world's largest producer) could send oil prices tumbling.

Not anymore.

In fact, within the last several weeks, Saudi Arabia has actually announced two production increases (totaling roughly 500k barrels per day) and what did the market do?

Go up instead of down

My what unexpected times we are living in these days.

Credit Card Companies Cut Limits... big surprise here. Credit card companies are cutting card limits as they continue to lose large barrels of money on delinquencies.

Ironically, this actually could be a good thing for the long term as it will hopefully help consumers realize that the old axiom "living within your means" actually means something:
The easy money that led Americans to depend on credit cards to pay their bills is starting to dry up.

After fostering the explosive growth of consumer debt in recent years, financial companies are reducing the credit limits on cards held by millions of Americans, often without warning.

Banks that issue cards like Visa and MasterCard, as well as the American Express Company, are cutting the limits for customers who have run up big debts, live in areas that have been hit hard by the housing crisis or work for themselves in troubled industries.

The reductions come as consumers, squeezed by a slack economy, a weak housing market and rising unemployment, are falling behind on monthly credit card payments in growing numbers.
This would be a good place to start learning this lesson.

What To Do for Fun in an...

...economic crisis?

Go to the library. It's generally free with books, movies, and special programs for the kids (and, in some places, lectures and such for adults).

A great value this summer as family entertainment budgets shrink:
Library cards don’t cost $4 a gallon.

Southwest Floridians struggling to make ends meet are driving to area libraries. They’re filling their intellectual tanks and keeping their children entertained on the cheap.

As Tara Andalman, 38, stepped out of her mini-van on Monday afternoon outside the branch library in Bonita Springs, cars were doing circles around her.

More than a dozen library patrons were coming or going every 15 minutes as Andalman unloaded four children, all in elementary school. Two of the kids were hers, the others friends. Clearly, it was time for distractions.

After cutting movie rentals from the family budget earlier this year, Andalman said she has had no problem finding free alternatives.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Analyzing Hawaii... a Peak Oil world.

While few Daily Sprawl readers live in Hawaii, the basic framework of the author's analysis is useful for almost everywhere someone lives.

Under this scenario, here in Montgomery is actually one of the better Southeastern locales to live in a Peak Energy situation.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Anecdotal Information...

...while Daily Sprawl tries to avoid too much anecdotal evidence related to Peak Energy challenges (after all, while often compelling, anecdotes sometimes are not actually representative of a trend), a recent Daily Sprawl conversation with someone in the rental car industry is worth noting.

The two interesting points to come out where these:

1. More and more customers are declining upgrades from the small cars they reserved to high level cars such as Yukons or Cadillacs. I remember in the not too distant past where Upgrade coupons at rental car agencies could even be sold on web-auction sites. Now, it's a quick "No, Thank you" when the rental car agent offers to upgrade from a Ford Focus to a GMC Yukon.

2. At least one major rental car agency is seriously considering a major flip-flop: smaller cars will cost more to rent than large ones. The reason is simple...very little rental demand for full size, SUV and luxury class vehicles leave the sitting on the lot generating no revenue for the rental company. Just imagine that the same Ford Focus might cost $40 per day with the Yukon costing only $20.

These are very strange days indeed. Most peculiar.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

...there was this thing called "overnight shipping":
Budget-conscious shippers are deciding their packages and envelopes can take a slower path to their destinations, going by second-day air or, even slower, by truck. Some businesses are just plain sending less.

The shift, propelled by the declining economy and record fuel prices, was reflected in FedEx Corp.'s dismal earnings report Wednesday.

The changing outlook has altered the way the Big Three express delivery companies compete for air and ground shipments. It's also pushing DHL Express into the arms of a rival, probably bringing layoffs to DHL's 350-employee West Coast air hub in Riverside County.

Gas Prices and House Prices Intersect...

Thanks to the reader who forwarded this MSNBC article on gas prices affecting home purchases:
Stroud's choice represents a fundamental shift in the way more Americans are approaching home buying in this era of ballooning gas prices. Real estate agents, transportation officials and industry surveys indicate that home buyers are placing more importance on cutting their gas bills and commute times than they have since the oil shocks of the 1970s.

And there are some early indications that homes near urban centers, and subway, train and bus stops are often selling faster and at better prices than those in the distant suburbs.

On Wednesday, a survey of 900 Coldwell Banker agents showed a remarkable 96 percent said that rising gas prices were a concern to their clients, and 78 percent said higher fuel costs are increasing their desire for city living.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CNN is Asking an Important Question...

"Is America's suburban dream collapsing into a nightmare?":
When Shaun Yandell proposed to his longtime girlfriend Gina Marasco on the doorstep of their new home in the sunny suburb of Elk Grove, California, four years ago, he never imagined things would get this bad. But they did, and it happened almost overnight.

"It is going to be heartbreak," Yandell told CNN. "But we are hanging on."

Yandell's marriage isn't falling apart: his neighborhood is.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Significant Quote...

As of June 2008, the entire U.S. air transportation system is operating on borrowed time. Between January and today, the situation has degenerated from a crisis to a survival situation
Read the entire Dallas Morning News story here.

Solitary in Suburbia...

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has an interesting piece on a growing trend:
Every so often, William Saunders snatches up a golf club and steps behind his Smyrna townhouse to whack balls down a line of neighboring lots.

He never hits another home and never hears complaints from neighbors. But that's an easy accomplishment. Most of Saunders' neighborhood is a ghost town, another fallout of metro Atlanta's housing market horrors.

One of just two residents in what was to be a 105-home development, the 54-year-old information technology manager strolls down lonely streets past silt fences, weedy lots, nearly 20 vacant homes and a sign cheerily announcing that a pool and cabana are "Coming Soon!"
While the story goes on to discuss some benefits of being alone in an almost unbuilt development, the reality is that increased crime is a real potential problem. Plus, they cost alot for the city This is not a good thing for anyone in any sense.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Export Land Model...

...yeah, that sounds like a somewhat fancy technical term but, its also a very important piece to the Peak Oil puzzle. This article explains why:
Which brings us to the Export Land Model (ELM). The basic thesis expressed by students of the ELM is that, to fully appreciate the impact of peak oil, you cannot look only at the production declines so presciently anticipated by ML Hubbard in 1956. You also have to look at the rate of local consumption and the importance of that consumption on the ability of a country to export their oil.
Read more about the crucial topic of ELM, here.

Article on Potential Cellphone Dangers...


Since the issue of cellphones and brain tumors is starting to gain coverage, I've spent alot of time over the last week researching the issue. I've done this because I disdain alarmists--which I define as someone who "cries wolf" without first carefully and objectively researching the issue.

So, Daily Sprawl brings you this article to help you make an informed decision.

I will say this--I am seriously considering reducing my cellphone usage to only an emergency communication tool for the car. I know that to some this may seem extreme and I will say that I have not made a final decision. However, the mounting evidence is very startling.

Please consider this issue carefully. Remember, people smoked and installed asbestos with assurances that both were safe.


You know. Some people accuse Daily Sprawl of being a bit gloomy.

But, not even this site has gone where ABC News is going:
Are we living in the last century of our civilization? Is it possible that all of our technology, knowledge and wealth cannot save us from ourselves? Could our society actually be heading towards collapse?

According to many of the world's top scientists, the answer is yes, unless we take action now.

This September, in Earth 2100, a dramatic ABC News 2-hour broadcast, the greatest minds across the globe will join together in a countdown to the year 2100 to tell us what we must do to survive the next century … And what may happen if we don't.
Like I said, "Wow"--especially considering that this is coming from a mainstream network news division like ABC News.

Even the Daily Sprawl mind is churning trying to process this one. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the official ABC News website made for this program.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Further Dispelling the False Hopes...

To the peakists, these standard oil industry ripostes are starting to wear a little thin, and have been damaged by the crashing and burning of some great white hopes. Not a single barrel of commercially viable shale oil, made from oil-rich sedimentary rock, has yet been produced. Oil made from tar sands found in northern Canada is near the top of the list of innovative sources of oil, but even the oil companies themselves admit that the amount of energy currently needed to produce a single barrel of it makes it very inefficient. And while drilling into ever-deeper waters might keep world production on its current plateau, the peakists say the days of "easy oil" are over.
Read the entire UK Independent article here.
Business Week Headline: "You Think Flying is Bad Now...":
This consolidation will come with a cost: Experts believe that for the U.S. industry to shrink to a size that would allow the surviving carriers to earn a profit will require hefty fare hikes and a 20%-to-25% cut in capacity. That means fewer routes, fewer flights, and even more crowded planes. The biggest losers would be smaller cities like Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Baton Rouge, La., that became accustomed to dozens of daily flights, usually on 50-seat jets that the majors use to feed traffic to their hubs. But oil priced near $130 has rendered those smaller jets uneconomical, meaning that carriers are likely to fly one much larger plane on marginal routes each day, but no more. "We might keep one flight just to keep Congress off our back," muses one industry executive.

Potentially Good News...

...from Congress on rail funding. Thanks to the national smart growth guru who sent this article along:
A nearly $15 billion Amtrak bill passed the House on Wednesday as lawmakers rallied around an alternative for travelers saddled with soaring gas prices.

The bipartisan bill, which passed by a veto-proof margin of 311-104, would authorize funding for the national passenger railroad over the next five years. Some of the money would go to a program of matching grants to help states set up or expand rail service.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Return of International Food Treaties...

The move towards bilateral agriculture contracts marks a policy U-turn as such deals were gradually abandoned in the 1990s as countries started to rely on the international food market for their supplies, abandoning previous policies of self-sufficiency.

Analysts say that while bilateral agreements could help secure supplies, prices are likely to be at market prices rather than discount levels.
Read the entire story here.
A Sobering Assessment.

Eliminating Food Waste... of the most frustrating things in these days of rising food prices is to waste food. Though we think about it, the Daily Sprawl family (like most I suspect) end up wasting a fair amount of food. Especially from the fridge.

This article discusses the problem:
The news on this front is not all dreary. Americans are taking steps to curtail waste. College campuses are taking away lunchroom trays that encourage students to take more food than they can eat, and they are composting more kitchen scraps. Local governments are setting up programs to divert trashed foods to livestock farmers. Some restaurants are reducing the size of their portions.

Blogs, such as Jonathan Bloom's at, reveal consumers sounding off with anti-waste tips, such as learning to cook so that odds and ends in the refrigerator can be transformed into a meal rather than muck. And they complain about all-you-can-eat restaurants that throw out food rather than allow patrons to take home even a tiny amount of leftover.
One food saving principle that I found especially useful was the idea of accuracy in meal prep.

How often does your family's leftovers get put into the fridge likely to never be seen again? What if, instead of that approach, the leftovers were minimized. Maybe even to the point that second servings weren't available.

Something important to think about.

Sprawl, Cell Phones, and Potential Health Problems...

One major problem with sprawl is that it leads to less and less in-person communication and replaces it with, among other things, mobile phone communication. This is primarily because, if you are stuck in your car for even basic chores, then you're not likely to talk to other humans as frequently as you would if you passed them while walking or biking.

There are many problems with extensive cell phone use from a social standpoint. However, companies that Daily Sprawl trusts are beginning to explain the potential health problems too.

Seventh Generation is one of those companies. This is concerning and certainly warrants additional consideration.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More on the demise of cheap air travel from the WSJ:
You can fly between New York and Los Angeles for as little as $370 round-trip, not including taxes and government fees, on JetBlue, and $20 more on American. And out of that, how much will the airline spend on fuel?

Almost $300 per passenger for JetBlue at current prices, and nearly $500 for American. Just Friday's $10.75 leap in oil prices would raise the cost to JetBlue Airways Corp. to fly someone from New York to Los Angeles and back by almost $24.
There just isn't a rational business model at these oil prices. Expect to things break down sooner than even Daily Sprawl anticipated.
Very thought-provoking.

Community Supported Agriculture...

...NPR recently did a piece on CSAs.

Daily Sprawl highly recommends joining a CSA. We signed up for this local one and have enjoyed fresh peppers, tomatoes, honey, cucumber, squash and much more.

In fact, combined with our home garden (pics to come later this week on our nascent Daily Sprawl backyard effort) and we're starting to freeze fresh veggies for winter sauces and casseroles.

All for much, much less than we would spend buying these at the grocery store.

ANWR is Not the Answer...

I often speak with people fascinated by the "But, if" scenrios in response to Peak Oil. As in "But, if we were just able to extract our oil from the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge."

Well, that is an extremely flawed hope for two reasons: 1. Available production and 2. Time to Production.

This post explains a recent CNN discussion on how, at best, ANWR would produce 3 years worth of oil and that it would take almost a decade to begin production.

Sounds like a band-aid solution--and a lousy one at that when the real facts are considered.

Eye Opening Article of the Week

While this article discusses the situation in Great Britain, the challenges certainly translate across the Atlantic:
Conventional wisdom had it that in an age of mechanisation, the cost of producing the food that we eat would decrease as technology found new ways of improving yields and minimising labour costs. But there was a problem that hadn't been factored in. Production methods are now such that 95 per cent of all the food we eat in the world today is oil-dependent.

The 'black gold' is embedded in our complex global food systems, in its fertilisers, the mechanisation necessary for its production, its transportation and its packaging.

For example, to farm a single cow and deliver it to market requires the equivalent of six barrels of oil - enough to drive a car from New York to LA.

Unbelievable? One analysis of the fodder pellets which are fed to the vast majority of beef cows to supplement their grazing found that they were made up of ingredients that had originated in six different countries. Think of the fuel required to transport that lot around the world.

Now factor in the the diesel used by the farm vehicles, the carbon footprint of chemical fertilisers used by most nonorganic beef farms and the energy required to transport a cow to the abattoir and process it. The total oil requirement soon adds up.

I'll be in Gulfport, Mississippi...

...for a SmartCode work session next week:
Chad Emerson, a SmartCode consultant and associate law professor at Faulkner University, where he specializes in land-use laws, will conduct the training session for members of the Zoning Board, Planning Commission and the city's SmartCode committee.
Emerson helped develop the SmartCode area plan for Florence Gardens, the most recent community in Gulfport to adopt the zoning rules.
Stop by if you are in the area.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Good Article Discussing Mass Transit...

...from Grist Magazine:
In 2007, U.S. riders took 10.3 billion trips on transit systems. That marked the highest level in 50 years -- since before the Eisenhower interstate system, since a time when streetcars rattled down the boulevards of many American cities. Usage this year is up 3.3 percent nationally over last year's highs. The largest gains have come, somewhat surprisingly, in predominantly automobile-oriented places like Denver, Dallas, and Charlotte, N.C.

The Drive 55 Conservation Project...

...I'm not really old enough to remember the Drive 55 movement from the 1970s, but those that are tell Daily Sprawl that the new Drive 55 Conservation Project is a very retro response to Peak Energy.

And, one that makes alot of sense when you consider the cost/benefits:
in a family sedan, every 10 mph you drive over 60 is like paying 54 cents per gallon more for gas you bought at $3.25 a gallon. That extra cost is even higher if you're buying more expensive gas, and for big SUVs and other less-efficient vehicles
And the time you save by going easy on the accelerator may not add up to as much as you thought. On a 300-mile trip, driving 65 instead of 70 mph would cost you only 20 minutes -- but save money and spew less carbon.
So, if you're looking for cheaper gas, it appears that your own gas pedal is an efficient place to start.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

ALERT: $6 Dollar Per Gallon Later This Summer...

Click here for the CBS News report predicting just that. This discussion board is debating the story.

Potential Citi Group Fraud Warning

If you are considering any type of loan with Citi Group (including a readjustment of an existing loan), then we urge our readers to first review this article on apparent fraudulent practices by Citi.

Ultimately, Daily Sprawl recommends all consumers avoid business interactions with Citi Group.

No Fast Food Update...

...starting May 1st, the Daily Sprawl family joined on with a 3 Month Long "No Fast Food Pledge".

The reasons were several-fold: 1. Fast food is generally bad for you (hormone, antibiotic, and preservative-laced food that is especially bad for children) 2. Fast food is generally bad for the environment (excessive packaging using unsustainable products) and 3. Fast food is generally bad for the local economy (as it rarely uses local products and, on average, pays less than local businesses).

Most of all, it was the health factors that really convinced us.

Before doing so, we talked about how this could potentially cost us more to eat and its effect on our budget.

However, now that we're one month into it, we're excited to announce that we've actually spend less money. Here's how:

1. We've eaten out less and, instead, packed picnic lunches when we go places (especially on road trips where we stop at rest areas and enjoy a relaxing picnic in place of a hectic interstate exit fast food joint

2. We've found good deals on non-fast food places in town. Restaurants like Zoe's Kitchen, Moe's, Chappy's Deli, and Roly Poly can be nearly as cost-effective if you use coupons (especially from the web) and other discounts (like free kids dining or discounts with church bulletins on Sunday)

All in all, we encourage anyone to contact us at on how to sign up for a No Fast Food Pledge that advances alot of good things without hurting the family budget.

Electric Car Challenges...

...while many (including Daily Sprawl) believe that electric vehicles pose reasonable options for future transit, they are not a silver bullet. This article discusses several of the challenges--with batteries being the primary problem:
The replacement cost of all those batteries is prohibitively high. The Tesla Roadster is powered by 6,831 lithium-ion batteries, the total replacement cost of which is around $25,000. And the world’s supply of lithium is limited to the Andes and Tibet (with minor reserves in Nevada and Australia); Meridian International Research speculates that we may simply not have enough raw materials to satisfy an electric vehicle boom.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Finally, Some Wisdom... seeping into the current oil price analysis:
“I don’t know how else to say it, this is not a bubble,” Jan Stuart, global oil economist at UBS, said. “I think this is real. There is a whole bunch of commercial buyers out there who are spooked and are buying. You are an airline, right now, you’re scared. I don’t see who would buy at these prices unless they need to.”
Read the entire NYT article here (including the maddeningly ridiculous suggestions that this is merely some type of artificial price bubble).

Gas Prices

Daily Sprawl has received word to expect Regular Unleaded gasoline prices to break the $4.00 per gallon threshold this week in the Montgomery area.

While there is very little actual monetary difference between $3.85 and $4.00 per gallon, we believe that there will be a major psychological effect.

We strongly recommend that your family spend several hours in the next week engaging in a Household Mileage Audit. Essentially, that's a fancy term for tracking how many miles your household drives each week. Once you've done that, we recommend even more strongly that you develop a plan to reduce that mileage by 25% each week.

This is a pressing issue. Plan accordingly.

Hampstead Continues to Develop...

...for those of you interested, I'd expect a late June/early July announcement related to the opening of Montgomery's only Duany, Plater-Zyberk & Company community.

On a day in which...

...the stock market, oil prices, and unemployment numbers all suffered significant body blows, the Global Economic Trend Analysis blog has a series of highly informative posts today that cut through the rhetoric.

Check it out.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What If You Could Eat...

...a large portion of your backyard while also enjoying an aesthically-pleasing landscape?

Good news. In most climates, you can.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Grew Up in the Detroit Area...

...and this article is very sad...and very accurate:
Driving northwest out of the city on Grand River Blvd, another empty eight lane arterial, gave me the feeling that I was Will Smith in I Am Legend. Block after block, mile after mile the scenery was the same: empty, abandoned, dilapidated, boarded up, burned out, decaying storefronts and vacant lots. Most of the functioning businesses were streetfront churches or missions. Here and there were sad down-and-outers loitering on the corner, old men wandering in the vacant lots, poor souls in tattered clothes out in the middle of the street, trying to make the crossing from noplace to nowhere. It gave me such a deeply disturbing feeling that I am at a loss to describe. Here stands one of America's once great cities, a gilded age paradise, home of the automobile manufacturing giants and the dictum that what is good for GM is good for America and of course good for Detroit. Today, the prosperity that once built the sturdy, now vacant high quality brick homes and buildings has evaporated away with America's manufacturing economy.

Daily Sprawl Highly Recommends...

...this book--especially if you have young children whose development can be affected by overly-common yet often little known household chemicals and other dangerous stuff.

Click here for the Method website and the Seventh Generation website. We strongly endorse the household products from both of the eco-friendly/health-friendly companies.

Sprawl Humor

Thanks to the reader who forwarded this funny piece on sprawl. Gallows humor is often some of the most compelling, eh?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Last Gasps of a Dying Industry?

This article reveals that this may well be true for the airline industry:
Imagine two scales at the airline ticket counter, one for your bags and one for you. The price of a ticket depends upon the weight of both.

That may not be so far-fetched.

``You listen to the airline CEOs, and nothing is beyond their imagination,'' said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. ``They have already begun to think exotically. Nothing is not under the microscope.'' He declined to discuss what any individual airline might be contemplating, including charging passengers based on weight.

With fuel costs almost tripling since 2000, now accounting for as much as 40 percent of operating expenses at some carriers, according to the ATA, airlines are cutting costs and raising revenue in ways that once were unthinkable. U.S. Airways Group Inc. has eliminated snacks. Delta Air Lines Inc. is charging $25 for telephone reservations. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines last month became the first U.S. company to charge $15 for one checked bag.
One of my most enlightening discussions in recent memory involved an airline industry person. His simple statement was that airlines were not equipped to provide mass air travel at oil prices above $175 to $200 per barrel. At those prices, they must raise fares so much that it would price out most of the market.

In other words, "does commercial aviation have a long-term future?", used to be the question I asked. Now, its "does commercial aviation even have a short-term future?" My research is starting to reveal that the answer is a stronger and swifter "No" than any of us ever expected.

Montgomery Happenings... Montgomery continues to expand its smart growth efforts, here's an update on what would be one of the major highlights: establishing a new state house opposite the state capitol on Dexter Avenue.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Is the Cost of Oil So High?

This article from the Oil Drum does a nice job explaining the stats that answer the question.

The Impact of Reality

So, again, we highly recommend getting those Skymiles, Worldperks, and other airline points used up soon. Why?

Well, check out this article from the Orlando Sentinel tourism blog:
A once-optimistic trade group for the world's airlines is now projecting deep losses for the industry because of unprecedented fuel-price increases.

The International Air Transport Association said this morning it thinks global airlines will lose a combined $2.3 billion in 2008. In doing so, it lopped a whopping $6.8 billion off of its initial projection of $4.5 billion in industry-wide profits for the year.

“The situation has changed dramatically in recent weeks. Oil skyrocketing above US$130 per barrel has brought us into uncharted territory. Add in the weakening global economy and this is yet another perfect storm,” Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO, said in a written statement.
Okay, this is almost surreal. Allow me to quote the key sentence again:
In doing so, it lopped a whopping $6.8 billion off of its initial projection of $4.5 billion in industry-wide profits for the year.
How in the world does someone wake up one day and realize "Oops, we missed our projection by nearly 7 billion in the red".

The answer is simple: combine a little Pollyannism with a crisis that isn't easily defined by precedence. What you get is a massive readjustment--like this one.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Welcome Aboard Newsweek...

...the rate at which mainstream media is not just reporting on Peak Energy issues but actually recognizing the reality of their effects is, well, startling in many ways.

Just scroll through the Daily Sprawl archives and you'll find the NYT, Wall St. Journal, Business Week and other big hitters joining the Peak Energy calvacade.

And, lest they be left behind, we now welcome Newsweek and its recent report on "The Coming Energy Wars":
Oil drives so much of the global economy, it's almost impossible to fully imagine the world of $200 oil. No question, the shock will force nations to go greener much faster than now, particularly by conserving energy and developing and adopting new non-fossil fuels. But none of this can happen full stop in six to 24 months. So the predictions tend to be gloomy: some analysts see a shift toward regional trade, and even a major reversal of globalization itself, as rising transport costs make it too expensive to ship many kinds of goods long distances. A major acceleration in the transfer of wealth that has, in the past five years, shifted trillions of petrodollars from oil consumers to producers would alter the world balance of power—including a boost for the troublesome oil autocrats of Iran, Venezuela and Russia. At $200 a barrel the proven oil reserves of the six Gulf nations alone would rise in value to $95 trillion, about twice the size of public equity markets, according to Morgan Stanley managing director Stephen Jen. That would make the Sovereign Wealth Funds of oil states market kingmakers. Western efforts to press more openness on these funds, many controlled by royal courts, would surely grow.

Peak Oil Editorial

The Knoxville News-Sentinel published my Peak Oil editorial today.

Click here to read.

UPDATE: Several blogs are covering the op-ed. Apparently, the topic is crossing a variety of ideological lines. That's good because peak energy really is a post-partisanship issue.