Sunday, August 10, 2008

More Pressure

After a lot of this tire air pressure debate, I wondered who among us have actually, as a result, checked the pressure on their car's tires. I, embarrassingly, had not until today.

A tad more background regarding the numbers we're going for: Csaba Csere, Editor of Car and Driver Magazine, reluctantly entered the debate only to contribute his expertise on tire pressure. He said that, yes, it is agreed that if all four of your car's tires are 10 PSI underinflated, you would gain about 3-4% of your mileage by properly inflating them. This would mean that, for a nation to gain 3-4% reduction of oil use just by inflating your tires, every car in the nation would have to have every tire underinflated by 10 PSI. Csere was doubtful this was the case, though it might be feasible that all cars in America are underinflated by an average of 10 PSI. Unfortunately, no empirical data here.

My car's tires require a pressure of 44 PSI. When I checked today, They were each at about 30-35 PSI. I could just be unusually negligent, but in my defense I've been biking more than I drive lately. Coincidentally, my bicycle, which requires 125 PSI, also had each of its tires deflated by about 10 PSI (a level of deflation that's actually kind of normal for tires of that pressure over about a week's time, which was the last I checked my bike). If you're concerned, all mentioned tires are now up to par.

Whether we're talking about ANWR drilling (3% of consumption according to Csere, though I haven't found that number duplicated anywhere) Offshore drilling (1% of consumption) or properly inflated tires (up to 3% of consumption) it's clear we're not talking about actual energy-independence solutions (which was, at the time, Obama's point, quote: "...we could save all the oil they're talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires, and getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much.").

Also worth note: the reason why most of these projections use 2030 as a benchmark year is that models predict that production would peak around then (ANWR in 2028, for example), which means that once we hit that 3% mark, were we to begin drilling in ANWR, production would decline rather than maintain that level.

More worth note: Mankiw posts today regarding Obama's justification for oil-company-windfall-profits-tax, quote: "That would be a logically coherent story, but not an empirically plausible one." My personal opinion is that I've yet to hear even a "logically coherent story" from his opponent, though I'm of course disappointed that we as voters have to settle for logical coherence and not empirical plausibility.

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