Toronto, Ontario -- September 8, 2016 -- This week we take a look at a couple of toddlers who stole their parents’ car to visit their grandmother, thieves in the UK who used a tow truck to make off with a vehicle and the world’s first flatpack truck.
- The Ontario Provincial Police report that this past Labour Day was the “deadliest” weekend in 20 years, according to an article in the Windsor Star. “Police said 12 people were killed on OPP-patrolled roadways … ” according to the report, which also noted that a distracted driving campaign over the long weekend saw “close to 800 distracted and inattentive driving charges” laid against drivers. So far this year the OPP have laid 8,800 distracted driving charges.
- Lorraine Summerfield, a Driving.ca columnist based in Edmonton, notes that Lexus has cut a deal with the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) that will see “30 parking spots in choice locations reserved for those who own a Lexus.” The “spots are close to elevators and walkways – prime real estate.”
According to Summerfiled, this “might be one of the few advertising campaigns I’ve seen that relies on people to be Canadian; it needs us to be polite and laid back and, while maybe banging the steering wheel when we can’t find a parking spot, still just cruise on by.” Apparently the airport has said it won't enforce the measure. And so,” while Lexus has paid a bunch to be able to tell their customers they can avail themselves of this specialty treatment, there really is no guarantee. You might get there and find a row of Ladas instead of Lexuses. My dark heart hopes you do.”
- Newspapers around the world ran reports of a couple of preschoolers decided to visit their grandma ... and took the keys to their parents’ SUV to do so. “The 3-year-old and 5-year-old managed only to reach an intersection near their house in Federal Way when they T-boned a Volvo,” according to one report. Neighbours said they heard a loud crash and rushed out to see what happened.
- Thieves used a tow truck to steal an Audi A3 TDI from a station car park at New Pudsey in Farsley, West Yorkshire. The car was lifted up on to the recovery vehicle before being towed away.
- The Toronto Star ran a story recently about a resident in the city who wanted to take advantage of new rebates on electric cars being offered by the provincial government. The problem: “After buying a shiny new Chevy Volt in April 2016,” the driver finds he has to “run an extension cord from the charging station he installed on the lawn of his Riverdale home to a public spot kitty-corner from his house. If the space is full, he has to park in the no-parking zone in front of his house,” to charge the car. “So far, he said he’s been fined about $300, and he’s worried the cord is a tripping hazard.” The driver was quoted as saying, “I don’t think someone who drives a gas car would put up with not being able to use a gas station on a daily basis.”
- Bloomberg reports that ride-sharing service Uber, in the early days, “wanted to be 'everyone's private driver.' Now the company and its main US competitor, Lyft, are playing around with the idea of becoming the bus driver, too. Uber has partnered with a handful of local public transportation agencies to strike deals … where its drivers would effectively become part of the public transportation system.” According to the report, “It quickly became apparent that in areas with few riders, paying for part of a private ride was cheaper than running a bus … Suburban areas with less density and lower ridership are particularly expensive to run, making ride hailing an attractive alternative ...”
- Is “Peak Oil” about to make a comeback? Through the 2000s, a story about future crude oil availability generated by a long-dead Shell Oil geophysicist named Marion King Hubbert flooded through the culture at a professional and grassroots level.
Prior to that, the story hadn't been heard since the era of oil price volatility in the 1970s. But it returned last decade as the price of crude exploded from $15 a barrel in late 1998 to almost $150 a barrel by July of 2008.
As the disciples of Hubbert explained at the time, the reason the price of oil was spiking was simple: After a century and a half of constant growth in the amount of crude oil produced, daily growth in flow was ending. The amount of crude oil produced every 24 hours was “peaking.”
Over his life, Hubbert thought deeply about the question at the heart of this modern oil-fired industrial culture: How much oil will come up from the ground? Hubbert through the oil age would be about 300 years long. There would be a 150 year period in which total production of crude oil would generally rise over time. After that, for another century and a half, daily production would decline as there were fewer and few fields to find.
He assumed a peak in global production of oil would happen early in the 21st century, about now. This is what seems to be happening today. For all of the years between the start of the harvest around 1858 up until about 2005 the amount of crude oil produced each day increased from, basically, “zero barrels a day” at the start of the harvest until now when daily production is about 93 million barrels a day. The largest period of growth in flow was in the post-war years when daily production increased rapidly through the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s.
But now flow is no longer growing as it used to. Production has stopped expanding, and will in fact soon begin to decline for the next century and a half. The production and consumption of crude oil happens in so many places over such a long time the general trend in production and consumption is a bell-curve. This bell-curve pattern (as found in the production data gathered by the Energy Information Administration in the US) is unfolding roughly as Hubbert predicted. Hubbert went public with his method as a way of warning the culture about peak oil. He did that in 1956, and he did so against the wishes of his employer, Shell Oil. It looks like he’s turning out to be right. Even though shale production in the US has expanded, production in other existing areas is falling.
This week HSBC Bank warned that declines could begin in the 2020s. It has also been reported recently that China peaked in terms of production. Discoveries of large oil fields have been dropping since the mid-60s, when dozens of major new oil fields were found each year. Now we find one or two every couple of years.
Long story short, our culture began using more oil than it finds each year by the early 1980s. Hubbert testified to Congress in 1974 that once our culture reached peak, interest rates would have to go to zero to maintain growth. The peak oil movement of the early 2000s is about to return. This is the nature of a finite source of energy such as crude oil. Get ready for another super spike in the price of gasoline a few years out.
- Acclaimed F1 race car designer Gordon Murray has designed the world's first “flat-pack vehicle.” The entire truck can be shipped as a relatively compact set of pieces. It takes several hours to put together, but works great once it's assembled. You can watch a time-lapse video of the assembly process in the player below.