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9591Re: [carfree_cities] Re: permanent energy crisis

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  • Ian Fiddies
    Feb 19, 2006
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      "Why, oh why, can't we ever seem to talk about doing more
      with less? It's just not all that difficult. Must be bad for friends of

      In Sweden there have been several houses built without heating systems. By
      use of improved insulation and heat exchange systems coupled to ventilation
      and wastewater you get sustainable buildings with low running costs. The
      constuction cost is about the same as a conventional building as the savings
      made by not having to install central heating offsets the other costs.

      Most new building in Sweden however doesn't take advantage of this
      technique. In fact not only is a heating system usually needed but also a
      cooling system for the summer months in most cases. Why cooling systems are
      necessary in Sweden is entirely due to architects designing (and winning
      prizes for) structures that are essentially more suitable for growing
      tomatoes than as offices and homes.

      "if there is a huge blackout now, people can at least go
      listen to their car radios"

      Back to the business of cars. I can't take the radio in a power cut argument
      as a serious reason to own a car but it leads to an interesting point. When
      I'm discussing carfree with caroholics they always have a long list of
      reasons why just they need their car (denial). I'm sure I'm not the only one
      who's noticed this. Common reasons for needing a car are; I've got kids, I
      don't have time, I've got a dog, the bus service doesn't work, my spouses
      needs to regularly visit the hospital.

      What they don't dare to say is; I like speeding, I'm too lazy to even think
      of walking to the bus stop, I look like I'm really something behind the

      My point is that people are generally defensive of their cars while being
      well aware of the damage they're doing. Even in a city with an excellent
      public transport system, people will find an inaccessible corner they need
      to get to and can only use a car as an excuse. I'm afraid that the only way
      to stop some people driving is to wait for them to die. In the way drug
      addicts are given methadone it would be reasonable to give carohoics low
      environmental impact cars.

      Most people find paying heating bills and buying petrol unpleasant
      activities. The savings made in not heating houses goes into the pocket of
      the user instead of the builder. This means there's little fiscal incentive
      for the builders to embrace energy efficient techniques. At the same time
      there's no financial disadvantage in building energy efficient. A parallel
      can be drawn with the auto-industry.

      Why is it case that house and car builders are not producing low energy
      products? It could be explained by conservative attitudes and a refusal to
      change but this I feel can only be a partial answer as most profitable
      companies nowadays are defiantly more innovative and dynamic than

      If you give someone a choice of two alternatives of achieving the same thing
      and the choice has no effect on the chooser, they will usually make the
      choice that is ethically best. It you have the choice of stepping on a snail
      or not on the way to the bus, most people will choose not to crush the
      snail. What would make someone a snail crusher would be if they got a euro
      for every squashed invertebrate.

      I know it's dangerous place human ethical values on capitalist corporations
      but I think it's quiet reasonable to assume that some of the profits from
      selling energy is somehow getting into the pockets of builders and car
      makers. Finding proof of this theory would make a very nice scandal indeed
      wouldn't it?

      Ian Fiddies
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