What We Burn Up Every Year (Apr, 1930)

What We Burn Up Every Year

(1). The total energy in gas burned in the United States in a year would run a 530,000-horsepower turbo-generated and supply electric light to New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire for 176.

(2). A 3,300,000-horsepower turbo-generator could be driven by the energy in the coal burned in this country in one year, and this could supply light to the entire United States continuously for 176 years.

(3). The energy in gasoline and oil burned in America in a year would run a 1,000,000-horse-power turbo-generator and supply light to New York and four neighboring states for 176 years.

  1. Randy says: July 2, 20087:34 am

    This is an insightful article. The energy the whole country consumes in one year would last longer when used by only a small part of the country. Amazing!

  2. Michael Patrick says: July 2, 20089:43 am

    “….would run a 530,000-horsepower turbo-generated and supply electric light to New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire for 176.”

    I believe this also applies to Al Gore’s home/spread in Tennessee.

  3. Gregly says: July 2, 20089:53 am

    What’s up with the “176 years” bit? Was there something special about that duration that they used it three times?

    And I wouldn’t worry about Al Gore’s home; good old Cheney will make sure we kill whomever it takes to get us our precious oil!

  4. Bob says: July 2, 200810:10 am

    Cheney uses less polluting energy than Gore did when he was Vice. And, remember that 9-11 was planned when Clinton was President.

    You might be right though, who needs all that oil, few million people might freeze this winter, but most of them live in the blue states. And, without the water pumps a few more blue staters might get a bit thirsty.

    Let’s require every city or metro area to be self-sufficient, then they wouldn’t have to import stuff over a long distance.

  5. Charlie says: July 2, 200810:27 am

    Bob: You’re absolutely right. I can’t believe how expensive gas was when Clinton was president. How did people ever manage to fill their tanks?

  6. Gregly says: July 2, 200811:34 am

    My Cheney comment was a knee-jerk reaction, and I apologize. The fact is it’s stupid for us to be making partisan political comments on Modern Mechanix of all places. There was no reason whatsoever to bring up Al Gore except to provoke a flame war, and I stupidly took the bait and fueled the fire.

    The one thing that ties us all together is our love for these old articles, so let’s set politics aside.

  7. Charlie says: July 2, 200811:47 am

    That works for me.

  8. Jim Devlin says: July 2, 200812:41 pm

    Back in 1930 they seemed proud of how much fossil fuel they were burning. No indication that it might start running out before the 176 years was up.

  9. KHarn says: July 2, 20083:15 pm

    I’m sorry, I ment to respect the “no polotics” agreement, but I have to respond to……
    Jim Devlin
    That’s because CERTAIN PEOPLE won’t let us use our resources because it might make the polar bears CRY!
    Al Gore’s own graph shows that tempatures rise BEFORE CO2 levels rise. Anyone with a brain can conclude that tempatures result in high CO2 levels, not vice-versa. I wonder what other lies we’ve been told?

  10. Charlie says: July 2, 20083:38 pm

    Yes, how silly. I forgot that the entire global warming issue is about crying polar bears. See, it’s the tears that raise the sea level.

    And yes, everyone with a brain knows that tempatures cause high C02 levels. I just can’t remember if it’s high tempatures or low tempatures. One thing I do know is that high C02 levels do cause increased temperature. I haven’t measured it myself, but I think I’m going to trust the opinion of Al Gore and, oh, pretty much every climatologist on planet earth that doesn’t work for an oil company.

  11. Blurgle says: July 2, 20085:47 pm

    I love election years in the US. Everyone becomes so respectful of others’ viewpoints.

  12. Eamon says: July 2, 20089:25 pm

    Devlin, a lot of articles I’ve seen from the first half of the 20th seem to be like that. My favorite was one that gushed about bringing wolves and big cats to the edge of extinction.

  13. Baron Waste says: July 3, 20084:21 am

    The notion of anything “running out” was unconsidered in 1930. Laurence Manning’s SF story “The Man Who Awoke,” describing an ecologically low-impact society which arose after the vividly-described “Age of Waste” had burned itself out, raised eyebrows.

    Heck, we only had a population of, what, eighty million people from coast to coast. We weren’t running out of anything. If the US population was still 100 million today, gasoline would still be 75¢ a gallon.

  14. Neil Russell says: July 3, 20087:46 am

    I know I catch heck for saying it, but gasoline at $4 a gallon is in line with the price of everything else.
    We got spoiled because it was so cheap for so long and then the rest of the world started on the bandwagon too and the price got on up.
    It’s about 10 times what it was 40 years ago as is the price of a house, a car, a pack of cigarettes, and certainly a cup of coffee.
    Considering the demand as Baron Waste points out above, it really says something that gas is as (dare I say it?) cheap as it is.

  15. jayessell says: July 3, 20089:57 am

    Neil, just because we understand why it’s $4.319/G,
    doesn’t mean we have to like it.
    Yes, still cheaper than in Europe.
    The good news:
    Every day we’re closer to being Forgien Oil independant,
    then Oil Independant alltogether.
    (For energy I mean. Peteroleum would still be used
    as an industrial chemical for plastics and such.)

  16. Neil Russell says: July 3, 200811:49 am

    JSL: I agree completely, I don’t like it one bit, just put $65 in the tank today in fact, ouch!
    I would love to see us go 100% nuclear and become an exporter of coal.
    It will happen, it’s just a shame it takes some hurting to do it. We could have been on this road 25 years ago or more.

  17. Tracy B. says: July 3, 20081:23 pm

    One transportation sector that adapts well to nuclear power is railroads; no, I’m not talking about nuclear reactor equipped locos; rather the railroads simply become electrified. In the southwest solar power might work for the railroads (at least during the day.) 🙂 When we figure out how to make a nuclear loco, the nuclear car is just around the corner.

  18. Charlie says: July 3, 20084:02 pm

    Of course one easy way to become more energy independent would be to just increase the CAFE standards for fuel efficiency. The average car in Europe consumes 35% less fuel per mile than the average American car, and no, that’s not because the measure it in litres per kilometer 🙂

  19. Rick Auricchio says: July 3, 20089:22 pm

    I’ve seen one article that says the military is burning 3 million gallons of fuel daily in Iraq. It’s a kerosene-type jet/diesel fuel, but the crude from which it was made could have been cracked to gasoline.

    Costs are estimated at $42/gallon to get the crude from there to here and back. Not counting the cost of the actual fuel itself.

    Cost aside, our trucks, airlines and railroads would do nicely if all that fuel were available for use here.

  20. Baron Waste says: July 4, 20085:35 am


    Sixteen gallons of oil. That’s how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis — either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone.Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That’s greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million — and yet it’s a gross underestimate of the Pentagon’s wartime consumption.Such numbers cannot do full justice to the extraordinary gas-guzzling expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, for every soldier stationed “in theater,” there are two more in transit, in training, or otherwise in line for eventual deployment to the war zone — soldiers who also consume enormous amounts of oil, even if less than their compatriots overseas. Moreover, to sustain an “expeditionary” army located halfway around the world, the Department of Defense must move millions of tons of arms, ammunition, food, fuel, and equipment every year by plane or ship, consuming additional tanker-loads of petroleum. Add this to the tally and the Pentagon’s war-related oil budget jumps appreciably, though exactly how much we have no real way of knowing…

  21. ratpack says: July 5, 200812:59 pm

    “It’s a kerosene-type jet/diesel fuel, but the crude from which it was made could have been cracked to gasoline.”

    Gasoline is a by product of making diesel and kerosene.
    When you refine crude in to diesel you distill out gasoline http://www.elmhurst.edu…
    You cant make one with out the other. so the crude that the military is using has already been “cracked to gasoline”

  22. Jim Devlin says: July 5, 20082:31 pm

    As jayessell said, gasoline over here in UK over $8 per gallon. About $100 dollars to fill my typical euro size compact.
    You’ll also find over here in Europe far fewer in denial of climate change. And also looking forward to the day that US becomes independent of foreign oil – hopefully no need for contrived excuses to invade other oil-rich countries.

  23. jayessell says: July 5, 20083:02 pm

    Jim, other than the Russians disassembling German factories and shipping them east after WWII,
    can you cite a war of resource appropriation?
    (Oh yes, the Japanese before WWII.)
    OK, where the USoA did it.
    (Include the 19th century.)

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