OT: Why General Motors is doomed

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dpb wrote:

I was wandering through a prairie recently with a professor of botany. Since we had just found the oddity of two types of plants that are usually widely separated - one a wetland plant, the other a dry prairie plant - within a few feet of each other, I started thinking about something I had recently read about the agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies. I asked him about the controversy in some circles about proposals to plow massive agriculture areas under and let them go back to grassland. He quickly corrected me on the exact nature of the natural plant growth in these areas (not all grassland) but then said he believed it would be better to revert much land to nature than continue to produce surplus crops and misuse the land in many areas.
He then mentioned the dust bowl and the precipitation. I was paraphrasing his comments on the amount of rain/wetness of the area. While direct weather measures are not complete going back much more than a century, careful soil and plant remains studies can reveal the weather characteristics over longer periods of time. Hence the fact that the area of the dust bowl has been drier over a long period than in recent times. Trying to farm such lands over a long period of time can be more trouble than it's worth, especially if other areas can produce more grain/oil seeds/whatever. France produces more wheat than Canada, for example. Hard to sell these concepts to most farmers.

If you look at it globally, there is a new weather record set every day somewhere.
Mike
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Michael Daly wrote:

Where might this "praire" be located? W/O some idea it is very hard to know what you and the prof might have been seeing...
Exotics are certainly nothing particularly unusual almost anywhere any more given the extent of transportation and other widespread movement. I would suspect the wetland plant won't be there long unless there is a source of water other than native (or it is marginally a "wetland" plant)... ...

Well, that again depends on where you're talking about. Certainly there was very little that wasn't grassland in the vast majority of what was the heart of the dust bowl. What few trees there are here today (even the cottonwood) along the river bottoms or other low-lying spots are not native in the sense they weren't there when Lewis & Clarke came through, for example.
Other areas (mostly farther east like in the Flint Hills or other tall-grass prairies had a much wider variety of vegetation than the short-grass prairies.
And, "better" in what way, and for whom?

Again, w/o knowing what/where you're talking about and what period of time is meant by "longer periods of time" and "recent" this means little, if anything, to me.
As for whether farming it is "more trouble than it's worth" or not, if that were the case it's quite unlikely we would continue indefinitely. It certainly isn't easy work compared to sitting at a desk, but then again while you can eat a pencil eraser, it's not very satisfying.
So, since France with heavy (even with respect to US) government subsidies can grow more total wheat than Canada, we're supposed to not grow any here?
I see no concept worth trying to "sell" here...otoh, I see a great deal of effort and dedication in improving farming practices and maintaining quality of the land and water and other resources by those with whom I mingle every day. It is exemplified by the aforementioned facts of the difference in the effects of extreme dry weather as compared to the similar times in the past.

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Hey guys, to paraphrase what a formerly prolific poster once said here, "Why don't se stick to subjects we know something about like lektricity?"
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote: <stuff snippage>

Whooooooah there! We need more light than heat here, and should really open minds/close mouths a bit.
Think about the above mathematical nonsense. "square of the distance"? That's bs.
Fact is, long-distance electrical power transmission can be very close to 100% efficient.
J
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On 20 Jul 2006 08:39:45 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:

I already acknowleged my brain fart on the "square of the distance" but now you are going the other way. When did we start using supercondducting HV lines. Last time I looked they were still an aluminum/steel alloy which has plenty of "R". So much, in fact, that they have to use sag calculations for the amount of current they pump through them so they don't drag on the ground from thermal expansion. The average HV power line could easily fry an egg.
BTW the square deal does come in when they add extra current to a power line because we don't have enough capacity. I just mis-spoke about which issue we have to deal with. Distance and the amount of current the lines have to carry are both becoming critical. In the eastern half of the US it is virtually impossible to build new power lines, particularly in the north east where a significant number of the users live. Even here in the swamplands of SW Florida FPL is having a very hard time getting a power line easement. No matter where they want to put it, somebody is carrying a sign.
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snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:

How close? According to who?

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--John
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dpb wrote:

Which also has to be transported, refined, and burned

Ditto.
Which requires large scale construction with very significant environmental impact

So how many windmills will you need to meet the demand?

And none of them are free or even cheap.

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J. Clarke wrote:

I listed current alternatives that don't consist of _burning_ oil for central station electricity production which was the claim that I read (and now re-reading realize isn't precisely what you meant, I see you were actually meaning at least some oil is required for electricity generation--that I'll agree with.
I never claimed any of the alternatives are free (or even cheap) -- although both coal and nuclear are certainly cost-competitive to oil or gas generation at current prices and will only get more so. As noted in another reply, there's active consideration of new nuclear generation and I expect a new plant to be online in a relatively short time.
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J. Clarke wrote:

But you use a lot _less_ oil with the battery. They don't make hybrids to burn _more_ fuel.
Mike
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Michael Daly wrote:

How much less?
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J. Clarke wrote:

Go look it up yourself. You might learn something useful. There are plenty of resources on the web that explain how these technologies work.
Mike
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Michael Daly wrote:

In other words you haven't a clue.
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Michael Daly wrote:

If you don't count the impact of the mining, smelting, processing and manufacturing of the materials for the batteries...
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These NiMh batteries are still not good for the environment and you don't replace 1 battery. You replace a bank of batteries that run in the $5K range every 60,000 to 80,000 miles.
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Hm...how to put this? You're wrong. Battery life expectancy is estimated at 8-10 years/150K miles *minimum*. They put a 2001 Prius to work as a taxi in Vancouver, BC. Put over 200,000 miles on it. Wanna guess what went out? The struts and the AC temp sensor.
See a short write-up (including the service records for the car) here: http://www.hybridexperience.ca/Toyota_Prius.htm
Nice thing about the Prius, for one, is that its battery packs are modular - meaning if a single cell within the pack goes bad, you can replace it, as opposed to the entire pack. There are also lithium-ion batteries now in development, which will extend battery life even further.
Jason
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wrote:

I guess the key word there is time. Time is as damaging as miles. May users will simply not put 150K on in 8-10 years. My personal vehicle has 65K and is 10 years old. I drive it almost daily and is a perfect candidate for being replaced by a hybrid. If every one has a job a job driving a taxi and a shop that takes care of it on a daily basis I am sure that battery life will be extended. For the rest of the real world the life is not likely to go that far. Typically the vehicles in general that run up the most amount of miles are driven above average on a daily basis. It is easy and more likely to put 200K miles on a new vehicle than it is to put 200K on a 5 year old vehicle with low mileage to start with.
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wrote:

World of difference between a taxi putting 200k miles in what, a couple of years, vs. real-world driving of 12 - 15 k miles per year. Also a world of different environment between Vancouver, BC and those of us in the south and southwest. Here, 60 month car batteries last 24 months, 48 month car batteries last 24 months, i.e. the hot, dry climate kills batteries. The batteries are a different technology you say? That may be, but heat still kills batteries with that technology as well, maybe not quite as fast. I'm going to wait to see what peoples' experience is before I become a beta tester.
... snip

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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Leon wrote:

Compared to?

Look up the definition of battery.

More like $2000. Figure out the cost per kilometer and then compare it to the cost of fuel saved.
Mike
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I know the definition of battery. More than 1. A battery of guns, a car battery is typically composed of 6, 2.2 volt cells.
But with the common terminology the electric and hybrid cars are like to have more than 1 battery.
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Leon wrote: ...

Don't think "arrogance" had anything whatsoever to do w/ the decision to close Olds--it just no longer made any sense whatsoever to keep all five lines as they overlapped so much and the middle ones (Olds, Pontiac, Buick) almost completely, particular since the time of the "entry-level" concept of Chevrolet is no longer.
It was the same decision as Chrysler made years ago to eliminate DeSoto and subsequently, Plymouth. It appeared Ford was going to do the same w/ Mercury for a while, but seem to have decided to reassert it recently.
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