FORT WORTH AND TEXAS
I stayed with a friend in Fort
Worth. I do not believe that
there is "backpacker" style accommodation in Texas.
Worth & Dallas are adjoining cities, like
Parramatta-Sydney. Together they
have a population of 5.6 million, which exceeds that of Houston
(at 4.3 million, nominally the fourth largest city in the USA, and
somewhere in size between Sydney and Melbourne). The USA has
three levels of government, and this can result in seeming paradoxes.
For instance, the population of San Francisco is about 750,000
people. However the San
Francisco region has a population of 7,000,000.
Texas and Australia have about the same population, (Texas has 21
million, Australia has 20 million). Both places have a couple of
cities around 4-5 million, and a couple of other cities around 1
million. Texas has temperature ranges similar to those found in
Australia. For example Fort Worth has a climate somewhat better
than Melbourne (which admittedly, is not
saying much:). Houseton probably has a temperature range and
humidity similar to Sydney (15C=40F to 35C=95F). and humidity up
Some of the things I noticed about Texas were unexpected. In
Australia we have
a media that is very much what Americans call "Liberal", meaning the
media does not, by and large, support conservative politicians.
So I had been led to believe that Texas was an environmental
I first began to suspect that there might have been a little bit of
biassed reporting when I saw the river that runs through Fort
Worth. In California, around LA, even between LA and San
Francisco, rivers are concrete
troughs. In Fort Worth (And Austin and Houseton) the rivers in
the middle of cities have grassy banks, and are tree lined.
Travelling through the countryside, the lesson was reinforced.
No clouds of smog, (like LA) no erosion, just flat, green fields, lots
In central Texas the annual rainfall seems to be around 750mm (30") to
1000mm (40"). Of course the gulf of Mexico provides the
Hurricane and Tornado. The only instance of questionable
practice that I saw was the siting of refineries at Corpus
Christi is a coastal city on the gulf of Mexico. Apart from that,
environment appeared pristine. If there were offshore oil wells
they were not evident from the coast.
I met native Texans in Austin. Austin is the capital of Texas,
and like our own national capital, Canberra, it is dominated by
radicals (liberals). One thing we had no difficulty agreeing on
was our envy for the Californians, and their ability to sack an
unsatisfactory governor. I argued (and I think might have partly
convinced them) that more important than the Democrat - Republican
divide was the issue of constitutional reform.
I must say that Americans are quite passionate about politics.
In Australia is that it doesn't matter that much who
gets control of the treasury, we are all still f****d, except if an
election is due. I would dearly love the power to dismiss a
government in mid-term. I would immediately vote for
whoever offered a meaningful constitutional reform referendum to that
Fat chance. Look at what happened when politicians offered us
a president (the problem is, they chose the president, not us).
A car is a necessity in Texas. The transport system in FW is
slow, infrequent and does not service many destinations.
Most of the arab world believe that oil is the reason for
Iraq. (That is, when it isn't a zionist conspiracy). Others
note that the demand appears to be outstripping supply. Currently
the price of petrol (gas) in the US is US$2.00 per gallon, which (at an
exchange rate of US$0.70c = AU$1.00) means about AU 70c a litre.
Simply put, an industrial civilization uses energy. At the
moment, the cheapest energy is produced by combustion of hydrocarbons
mined as gas, liquid or solid (LPG, oil or coal). A motor
weighing about 40Kg will produce 5 KW and run on about a litre of oil
based fuel per hour. Oil is mostly found in and about the middle
east, gas is found in many places, including offshore Australia, coal
exists as extensive deposits in the USA, Europe and smaller quantities
elsewhere. Oil is the most convenient of these, it can
readily be refined into liquids having an energy density of about
Another potential source of liquid hydrocarbons is oil shale, of
there are extensive deposits in Australia. If oil ever reaches a
price greater than about $70/barrel, these shale deposits will become
Some doomsayers are attempting to make a quick fortune by selling
books that predict that the release of carbon from fuels is warming our
world & destroying our weather. American scientists have
found that precipitation in the Colorado catchment of the Boulder dam
that supplies water to the LA Megaplex, and New Mexico, Arizona and
Colorado (and a couple of other states) is returning, after a few
decades, to the historic levels that existed for the past few centuries.
Other doomsayers are attempting to make their fortune by selling
books that predict that the price of oil will shortly pass $100/barrel
because the demand curve is rising against limited supplies.
I would like to point out that if the second named doomsayers are
correct, then the first named doomsayers need worry no further - there
will shortly be no liquid hydrocarbons left to burn. And of
course the second named doomsayers are wrong, because oil is not the
only fuel that our technological society can use for
transportation. Here is a list
Hydrogen is clean burning and environmentally friendly, in that it
produces no carbon pollution. (burnt in air there may be nitrogen