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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: permanent energy crisis

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  • J.H. Crawford
    Hi All, After my last message, I happened to read today s Wash. Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/18/AR2006021801059.html
    Message 1 of 19 , Feb 19, 2006
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      Hi All,

      After my last message, I happened to read today's Wash. Post:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/18/AR2006021801059.html

      which seems to be an even-handed summary.

      Regards,


      ----- ### -----
      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
    • Ian Fiddies
      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. In Sweden there have
      Message 2 of 19 , 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
        Bush."



        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
        wheel.



        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
        conservative.



        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
      • Mike Neuman
        ... friends of ... (snipped) 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
        Message 3 of 19 , Feb 20, 2006
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          --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Ian Fiddies" <v03fiia@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > "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."
          (snipped)

          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
          furnaces.

          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:
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ConserveNOW/
        • dubluth
          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
          Message 4 of 19 , Feb 20, 2006
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            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.

            Bill

            --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Neuman" <mtneuman@...> wrote:
            >
            > --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Ian Fiddies" <v03fiia@>
            > wrote:
            > >
            > > "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.
            >
          • Mike Neuman
            Public surveys suggest that people respond more favorably to positive incentives (rebates) than to negative ones (increased taxes). But if the revenues from
            Message 5 of 19 , Feb 21, 2006
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              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.

              Mike

              --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.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
              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.
            • Randall Hunt
              ... It s all in the definition of value. One might frame the argument as a discrimination between standard of living and quality of life -- there is no direct
              Message 6 of 19 , Feb 22, 2006
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                >...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.

                It's all in the definition of value. One might frame the argument as a
                discrimination between standard of living and quality of life -- there is
                no direct correlation.
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