GUSHER OF LIES - Book Review and Reply to Robert Bryce Pt 3
A Book That's Aptly Named for What It Is
By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS
If you loved how irrelevant the laws of BTU physics are in understanding MPG, you’re really gonna love this part. In his continuing effort to discredit and denigrate alternative fuels, Bryce states:
“Precious few Americans understand the rules of the energy game, and that lack of scientific knowledge allows them to be easily gulled by (outside groups)…who want to advance a no-pain agenda that sounds appealing but has not basis in reality.”
As evidenced by the BTUs issue, I’d say that the much more accurate comment would be:
Far too many so-called energy experts who purport to understand the rules of the energy game in fact lack the scientific knowledge to do so and have been easily gulled by the lure of oil industry compensation to help advance an agenda that has no basis in fact.
Bryce goes through a diatribe on two of the three or four laws of thermodynamics (it depends on who’s counting, I guess) in order to tell us that Big Oil has not launched a scandalous plot against alternative energy. It’s a very nice summation of what can be found in greater detail almost anywhere on the Internet. He explains it so that a 4-year old child can understand it. I asked my wife to go out and find a 4-year old child because I couldn’t make heads or tails of what he was talking about! Yes, that was a Groucho Marx line.
I understood what he’s talking about, really, the mental picture was very clear: Hot stuff turns cold but cold doesn’t turn hot. As everyone knows this is the famous second law of thermodynamics. But then I got to thinking, cold may not turn hot, but it does turn warm or at least less cold. And so if something becomes less cold isn’t that like getting hotter – but then how hot is hot, and is it a dry hot like in California or a moist hot like in Florida?
I’m only hoping that the people in one of a quantum physics’ alternate dimensions aren’t suffering from the excessive energy that gets displaced from our commercial airline jets caused by the first law of thermodynamics.
What’s really funny about this whole thermodynamic diatribe of Bryce’s is that he writes it as if the first car was built in response to some criteria contained in an 1820’s RFP (Request For Proposal).
We are looking to you to create a multi-wheeled conveyance in which the energy could be dissipated but not destroyed. Please note that it’s also very important that the constituent atoms increase as the temperature increases.
What’s more, please make room on the “dashboard” (we just invented that word, hope you like it) for the radio tuner, once we invent the radio.
The People in the One of the Alternate Dimensions
But really, all seriousness aside, I understand that Bryce is just trying to explain the principles behind how something works. And that even if the principle wasn’t in full view of the original inventors of the automobile or airplane or nuclear turbine, that this is like an English teacher telling us what Shakespeare really meant when he wrote “Much Ado About Nothing” hundreds of years before the teacher was born. (My choice for this particular Shakespeare piece was purely coincidental. I didn’t choose this it as a reflection of the topic’s value. Truly, it just popped into my head.)
Bryce then wraps up the whole discussion when he writes: “Taken together, the first two laws of thermodynamics provide the key to understanding why fossil fuels are so dominant in today’s economy.”
This statement by Bryce must be a joke, there’s no other explanation for making it. But he told the joke the wrong way; it goes much better when told like this:
The reason that gasoline is so dominant in today’s economy is because of the Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules. RIMSHOT!
There is one reason and only one reason why gasoline is the dominant engine fuel. In the early 1920’s, the world’s largest automobile maker, General Motors, invented a formula that added tetraethyl lead to gasoline, thereby emulating one of the best qualities of ethanol. Tetraethyl lead, while deadly to humans, was able to quiet the knock that prohibited the use of gasoline in high compression, high performance spark induced internal combustion engines. This was the birth of leaded gasoline.
GM was able to file for and get a patent on this process. GM combined that patent with a similar patent owned by the world’s largest oil company, Standard Oil. DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, and a large share holder in GM, joined the group. John Rockefeller and his company Standard Oil had become fabulously wealthy because of America’s need for a cheap fuel to be used for indoor lighting and heating. The previous most popular liquid fuel for indoor lighting and heating was alcohol, but because of a huge tax placed on alcohol production during the Civil War the public had no choice but to accept smelly, dirty kerosene that could be sold for just a fraction of the price of alcohol. Consumer purchasing decisions had nothing to do with any of the 3 or 4 laws of thermodynamics.
GM, realizing that they would make billions of dollars during the life of the patents just from their share of leaded gasoline royalties alone, ceased any further efforts to use an ethanol-gasoline blend and concentrated on building engines that were optimized for leaded gasoline. Standard Oil also recognized the importance of leaded fuel in allowing all automakers to be able to design and build high compression, higher performing engines. Having a lock on leaded gasoline, Standard was able to insure that their service stations, and the service stations that were owned by Rockefeller’s other oil companies were able to remain the dominant filling stations in every geographic market.
Consequently, the world’s largest companies in the automobile business and automobile fuel business had the exclusive on the only product of its kind. This came at a time when alcohol production and consumption was illegal throughout America, so the other oil companies couldn’t easily develop a gasoline blended fuel that could be used in the new high compression engines. And because America happened to have more cars and more paved roads then anywhere else in the world, this made an extremely rich and powerful Standard Oil even more rich and powerful. Being extremely rich and powerful means you can buy more politicians, more voters, more media spokespeople, and more advertising. By the time America shook off the despised effects of the 18th Amendment in 1933, gasoline was enthroned as the king of fuels. See that, he who has the gold, rules.
Bryce definitely overreached here. The two laws of thermodynamics are no more relevant as to why fossil fuels are our primary fuels today then a couple of farts in a hurricane. Using complicated theories of mechanical actions to explain the domination of fossil fuels is simply wishful revisionist history to ennoble what was nothing more than consumer purchasing decisions brought on by a string of concurrent sociological and political events.
The inventions of the internal combustion engine and the first automobiles came before the discovery that the oily black goop (oil) found in Pennsylvania could be used to create fuels. The discovery of oil and gasoline didn’t beget the internal combustion engine. In fact, it would be correct to say that it is ethanol (alcohol) that begat the high performance engine, because without it or a substance that could emulate the properties of ethanol, a high-compression engine wouldn’t have been possible. If the world relied only on pre-leaded gasoline the automobile world might not have even advanced to the Ford Model T.
On the other hand, there’s no reason to not believe that had oil not been discovered that America and the world would not have gone on its merry way improving upon and inventing additional ICE machines that were powered by ethanol. The ethanol of today is the same ethanol of the 19th century. Ethanol can power the biggest, fastest automobile engines without needing a poison additive like tetraethyl lead.
Again, using the laws of thermodynamics or the laws of physics to justify our continued reliance on the use of gasoline and oil-based diesel is just an afterthought of propaganda and a ruse to fool the public along with the far too many ersatz energy experts.
This inability to understand and recognize simple business precepts is a good example of what I was referring to earlier when I wrote about the problem with people who’ve had no real business experience. Ironically, John D. Rockefeller, with his grass roots bottom-line business expertise, would probably have understood oil’s rise to dominance perfectly.
This is also another good example of how the public is being “gulled” by oil industry conmen and shills who want to retard any effort for America to become energy independent.
If you are interested in learning more the history of how gasoline became America’s primary engine fuel please read “The Rise & Fall of General Motors and the Subjugation of the Industrialized World” on The Auto Channel website.
OIL DOES NOT FUND TERRORISM – HAH!
Bryce spends a considerable amount of time attempting to argue that our dependence on foreign oil has little or no real significance to the kind of global terrorism that we have been subjected to over the past 30 or 40 years. First, as I pointed out earlier, Bryce takes the position that since we can’t do anything about needing oil that we will have to live with the consequences, as horrific as they may sometimes be – you remember the “lie back and enjoy it” analogy.
Second, he does what Jerry Taylor of CATO Institute attempted to do on this point and that is to mitigate the issue by virtue of the fact that it doesn’t require all that much money to get the people who commit the acts of terrorism to do them. So that the billion or trillions that go into the hands of the oil regimes doesn’t mean anything because a mere $25,000 can be sufficient to bring about a train station bombing or airline hijacking. In other words, Taylor and Bryce argue, if the Saudis only had a profitable lemonade stand in the middle of the thirsty desert that they would still be able to fund the World Trade Center attacks (the first and/or second attacks).
I think this level of thinking is nothing short of insanity. That’s what I told Jerry Taylor in 2010, and that’s what I’m telling Robert Bryce now. I contend that a sane person would take the position that any money given to those who sponsor terrorism is too much. I believe that any person with a working brain would say “We must do everything to reduce our dependence on the product that keeps these murderers in business. We must become energy independent.”
If the Saudi government does nothing more than provide financial assistance (welfare) to Saudis citizens as social improvement - which they do in very large numbers - and some of those men who fall within Saudi Arabia’s extremely high unemployment rate decide to better their existence (in this world or the next) by choosing to commit a terrorist act in the name of Allah, we should not be helping the Saudis to keep these people alive. If the Saudi government uses some of the vast amount of money that they receive from oil to fund school programs that teach their kids that it is their duty as Muslims to kill the infidels (non-Muslims), I say its insanity to participate in funding those programs – which is what we do every time we buy a gallon of gasoline. As I wrote earlier, I don’t care what someone wants to believe in; I don’t care how they worship; and I don’t even care if they teach their children that it’s okay to kill me and my family, but I don’t want to keep paying for that.
The Saudis aren’t even the worst of the bad guys; some of the biggest oil producing nations want America destroyed, and they make no bones about it. The fact they might be living in high style because of our use of their product doesn’t damper their criticism of our way of life and their overt support of terrorism against us.
While I’m on this point, Bryce states that we shouldn’t worry about the really evil oil producing nations since we can refuse to buy their oil. This is an absurd point because as Bryce acknowledges elsewhere, the oil industry is a global industry. If we choose to not import oil from Iran, for example, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need the oil. So the oil has to come from somewhere else. Then another country that doesn’t have the same problem with Iran simply fills in their need with Iranian oil. And since it is all priced according to a global market, not local, the Iranians still get the same price for their oil whether we like it or not. They are not harmed.
To make matters worse, we are using Iranian oil regardless of what our leaders tell us. Some will get shipped to a middle-man country before us, relabeled, and then shipped to America. Some of this oil even comes to us as if it was “North American” oil from Canada.
Regardless of whether a particular act of terrorism was funded for $1 million or $1 thousand, if we got rid of relying on “global oil” we wouldn’t have to put on a happy face and turn our heads away from holding the right people responsible. We wouldn’t have to lie back and learn to love the rape.
My understanding is that Robert Bryce has children, as well as a wife. I say shame to him for putting his own family at risk just because he received a fabulous trip to Saudi Arabia and UAE or some other compensation. And if he’s never received any compensation from an oil industry member, then I say double shame on him for putting his family at risk without receiving any incentive to do so. If he’s passing along the lies and disinformation that’s contained in his book for free, then he is truly insane.
BREAKING NEWS: NO HOSTAGES TAKEN AT ETHANOL PLANTS ...AGAIN
Counting today, it appears - unofficially at least - that this is the 14,430th consecutive day since the October 1973 oil crisis that no hostages have been abducted by any militant group from any ethanol plant. There was a report in May 2003 that Mary B, a sales clerk at an Iowa-based ethanol plant was taken hostage, but it turned out it was just friends of hers who were taking her to the local Applebee's for a birthday celebration.
Today's report means that, once again, no lives were lost, no U.S. combat troops were dispatched, no naval assets were deployed, no Tomahawk missiles were fired, no helicopters were shot down, and no drones were needed to go behind enemy lines in order to protect any ethanol production facilities or the flow of ethanol to American service stations.
AMERICA’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE AUTOMOBILE STARTS TO SOUR
Who hasn’t heard the old saying a million times, “America’s love affair with the automobile.” It was so true, and to a large degree it’s still true even though young people seem to not have gotten the memo that all Americans love cars and trucks.
Interestingly, the bromide isn’t just correct about America, it’s also true around the world. The British also say, “Britain’s love affair with the automobile.” Although they say “motorcar.” The French are the same, the Italians are the same, the Germans – forgetaboutit, the Swedes, the Japanese, the Koreans, everyone has a love affair with the automobile. And judging from the way that the oil sheiks have spent hundreds of millions on their car collections, I’d say the Arab’s love for the automobile has spilled over to near religious ecstasy. I wonder if the word “car” is in the Koran.
Bryce writes about America’s love affair with the automobile. He writes, “American’s are incredibly mobile. They also love to fly, ride motorcycles, and take boating trips. But they really love cars.”
He adds, “Americans not only love to drive, but they also love to drive fast. And driving fast requires lots of horsepower.” Then he quotes an auto writer, “There’s no such thing as too much sex and too much horsepower.”
All of this is correct, or at least was correct, until the younger generation decided they would be more interested in following their friends on Facebook then in a fast car.
Then there was a story published on May 1, 2013 by NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) that revealed that fuel economy ranks as the #1 factor in all new car and truck purchases. As my business partner, Bob Gordon, noted on the NADA story, “What a sorry state of affairs this is! With all of the delicious new car choices American consumers are offered; for them to rank "fuel economy" as their number one purchase criteria is sad beyond measure.” You can read the full story HERE.
To be fair, the statistics pertaining to the younger generation’s disinterest in cars and the shift in purchasing criteria weren’t available to the same degree when Bryce wrote GUSHER OF LIES as they are today. Statistics in 2008 showed a cooling trend; it’s just that no one expected – least of all Robert Bryce - that the trend would become an avalanche.
To be fair on the other side, as I wrote earlier, Bryce never took into account any possibilities that things could turn sour for the oil industry and use of fossil fuels. To him, everything related to gasoline was rosy and climbing, and everything related to alternative fuels was crappy and going down hill. Sort of like the people in The Netherlands five centuries ago when they only thought that tulips would get more and more valuable. All it took was for a few people to point out that tulips weren’t the only beautiful flowers in the world.
However my real problem with Bryce’s entire position on America’s love affair with the automobile is his use of the quote, “There’s no such thing as too much sex and too much horsepower,” along with his follow-on comments about the intoxicating effects of horsepower. I guess none of the people that Bryce consulted with admitted or knew that if it’s horsepower you want then you want ethanol.
SWITZER PERFORMANCE: A CASE IN POINT
If a person buys a vehicle and they want it to go really, really fast they can take it to a specialty performance shop like Switzer Performance in Oberlin, Ohio. Switzer is expert in taking super cars and making them super-duper cars.
Three years ago this month, TheAutoChannel.com published a story titled, “Switzer Builds e85-capable 900 hp Nissan GT-R.” The story was written by Switzer’s PR guy Jo Borras and it relates how a client wasn’t satisfied with Switzer’s “run of the mill” customization of a Nissan R35 GT-R that only put out 800 hp. This client wanted more, he wanted 900 hp. (Reminds me of the classic funny bit in “Spinal Tap” when Nigel Tufnel talks about his amplifier that has knobs that go to 11.)
Switzer re-customized the already customized car by adding a new transmission and making clutch adjustments. But they still had the horsepower wall to climb and the barrier was gasoline. This is what Jo reported:
“We didn’t want to just deliver a race-gas package that tethered the client to a fuel drum in his garage, but we wanted to be able to turn up the boost, also.” The solution? Readily-available E85…”
“…In the end we had a fuel that gave us everything we needed to crank up the boost on this car and deliver over 900 hp. The E85 delivered other benefits as well: it is significantly “greener” than the pump-gas and race-gas versions of the GTR. “With most high-horsepower cars, you can barely breathe after just a few dyno runs. With the E85, we were able to run pull after pull to dial in the tune without feeling any effects of the usual emissions. It’s hardly scientific, but there was a noticeable improvement in the air quality in the shop compared to race gas.”
Jo Borras did say that some adjustments were made to make the engine ethanol optimized, as I wrote about earlier.
In a phone interview that I conducted with Jo at the time, I asked him why they would use ethanol (he was not aware of The Auto Channel’s position on ethanol), his response was, “Why in God's name would you not use ethanol? It’s cheaper, cleaner and gives the car more power."
My follow-up question was, “So why don’t you use E100”? His answer was, “We would if we could, but it’s not available to us on a ready basis. It’s easy to find E85.”
I can’t say how Switzer satisfies their cravings for sex, but it’s clear that ethanol does it when it comes to horsepower.
This story about Switzer is still available on The Auto Channel website along with a few others that document additional successes that they’ve had with ethanol. To find the stories click HERE.
Simply put, if you want the best for those you love? Then why wouldn’t you want the best fuel for the vehicles you love to drive, fast. Gasoline is not the fuel to use. Serious drivers and race teams love ethanol or at least high ethanol-gasoline blends.