Re: [carfree_cities] Re: permanent energy crisis
- Hi All,
After my last message, I happened to read today's Wash. Post:
which seems to be an even-handed summary.
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
- "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
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Ian Fiddies" <v03fiia@...>
> "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
We are told from day one that "more" is better, that's why. Most
people will not accept the notion that "less" of anything (of value)
is better. That's why they will always want and therefore use, more.
To break this line of thinking, you have to offer them something else
if they use less. Money is what most people respond to most
readily. So offer them monetary "rebates" if they use significantly
less energy (per capita) over the month/year than others.
Just as individuals and families should be paid for driving and
flying less (Message #9547), households should be paid for using
significantly less energy per capita in the household than average
household energy use today.
Utilities need to be more highly regulated by the government than
they are now. Economists have argued for this for decades, since
utilities are monopolies. The utilities should be forced to offer
positive financial incentives to encourage people to use less energy
in heating, cooling and lighting their homes, and for minimizing uses
of other forms of electricity in their daily lives. This would
reduce cumulative power demands, reducing the need to build more
power plants, transmission lines, fuel lines, and thus reduce all
other expenditures and environmental costs associated with satisfying
increased energy capacity demands.
Depending on the amount of the reductions, significant cutbacks in
global greenhouse gas emissions might be possible from power plants
that burn fossil fuel for electricity, or from other utilities that
distribute fuel and natural gas for direct burning in household
Households using low per capita annual energy amounts would be
eligible to receive monetary returns at the end of the year for
conserving on energy. The money "earned" could be used to supplement
family income, rewarding families who consumed the least amount of
energy over the year with a financial "rebate" for the year.
The methodology used for computing the incentives for low energy use
can be found in the paper: "Conserve, NOW!: Reducing Greenhouse Gas
Emissions and Other Environmental Costs by Offering Financial
Incentives that Reward Less Driving, Flying and Home Energy Use",
along with the methodologies to reward less driving and less flying
by the public. (Flying is also a significant contributor to
greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. - see Conserve, NOW!...)
"Conserve, NOW!" ... can be now be accessed as a file document at:
- I agree with the use of financial incentives to achieve many
environmental benefits. However, rebates come at a cost -- revenues
to fund the rebates must come from somewhere. Also, allocating
rebates accurately also requires a LOT of administrative effort and
complexity. We must somehow accurately account for energy non-use in
order to reward potential energy users.
Why not tax carbon emmissions to achieve the financial incentive? I
think you answer "political acceptability". Can carbon taxes achieve
political acceptability? Because it costs less and guides behavior
towards energy conservation rather than detection avoidance, it should
be more acceptable.
We could use the revenue from carbon taxes to fund other desirable
aims like reducing other taxes, funding schools, or providing services
to the needy.
--- In email@example.com, "Mike Neuman" <mtneuman@...> wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Ian Fiddies" <v03fiia@>
> > "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 Bush."
> . . . Money is what most people respond to most
> readily. So offer them monetary "rebates" if
> they use significantly less energy (per capita)
> over the month/year than others.
- Public surveys suggest that people respond more favorably to positive
incentives (rebates) than to negative ones (increased taxes). But if
the revenues from the taxes could be used to fund the positive
incentives (rebates), then that might help to overcome some of the
opposition to the higher taxes. But I'd put the increased taxes on
gasoline purchased at the pump, aviation fuel and therms of energy
used, rather than a carbon tax, for simplicity's sake.
My other comment is that your assertion that issuing
rebates "requires a LOT of administrative effort and complexity" is
unsupported. It would not be that terribly difficult to monitor
things like annual vehicle miles of travel, airline travel and
electricity and natural gas burning. Insurance companies,
transportation agencies and utilities have already been tracking this
kind of information. It would not be an insurmountable task to
gather this information for individuals who apply for the rebates.
The only other thing left to do would be to issue them a check at the
end of the year if they stayed under the identified threshold levels
for miles driven, flown and energy consumed per capita in the home.
--- In email@example.com, "dubluth" <dubluth@...> wrote:
> I agree with the use of financial incentives to achieve many
> environmental benefits. However, rebates come at a cost -- revenues
> to fund the rebates must come from somewhere. Also, allocating
> rebates accurately also requires a LOT of administrative effort and
> complexity. We must somehow accurately account for energy non-use
> order to reward potential energy users.
> Why not tax carbon emmissions to achieve the financial incentive? I
> think you answer "political acceptability". Can carbon taxes
> political acceptability? Because it costs less and guides behavior
> towards energy conservation rather than detection avoidance, it
> be more acceptable.
> We could use the revenue from carbon taxes to fund other desirable
> aims like reducing other taxes, funding schools, or providing
> to the needy.
>...Most people will not accept the notion that "less" of anything (of value)It's all in the definition of value. One might frame the argument as a
>is better. That's why they will always want and therefore use, more.
discrimination between standard of living and quality of life -- there is
no direct correlation.