By John Dodge
Posting in Energy
A budding `don't buy green' movement has popped from people you'd expect would be first in line to buy green. The underlying message is we need large scale action by the Feds not just little acts of greenness. Fact is, we need both.
Separate articles on Slate and in The Washington Post recently argued that buying green is ineffective and often carries unintended behavioral consequences.
The one on Slate by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow headlined "Buy Local, Act Evil" cites a University of Toronto study that suggests people who buy green are more likely cut moral corners elsewhere. Buying green is tantamount to a free pass for commensurate bad behavior in other areas of their lives.
"People act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products as opposed to conventional products," according to the study's abstract. Now I understand why I have the urge to cut someone off in traffic on the trip home from Home Depot after buying compact florescent light bulbs.
The Washington Post article makes a bit more sense. Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Climate Action Network, advocates making December green free so we focus more on large scale action at the national level. The small stuff is little more than a fad, he says.
He makes good sense, but I don't agree entirely.
The reason I have put in compact florescent lights, insulated my hot water pipes and plugged air leaks is to cut heating costs. I don't wear these achievements and good deeds on my sleeve. I have to kids in college and wherever I can save, I will.
Secondly, I am going to front upward of $30k (put another way, two thirds of one year of college tuition) for installing solar panels on my house to generate at least half my electricity. Believe me when I say I am closely studying all applicable rebates, tax credits and ROI (seven year payback as presently calculated). Using Tuhus-Dubrow's logic, I should be able rationalize a gas station hold-up after this rather large small act of greenness.
It's all well and good that such a project benefits the environment, but my primary motivations are 1) economic, and 2) establishing a degree of independence from a utility.
Both articles are well done and worth reading, particularly Tidwell's. His is a call to action to move President Obama who understands the moral and economic imperative of environmentalism. But he needs to stop acting wimpy and really move on issues like demanding a carbon bill than mandates 350 parts per million.
Tidwell uses the progress on civil rights in the 60s as effective example of how a president can lead.
"Whenever key bills on housing, voting and employment stalled, [then President Lydon Johnson] gave individual members of congress the famous "Johnson treatment." He charmed. He pleaded. He threatened. He led, in other words. In person, and from the front," Tidwell writes.
I agree that Obama is too consensus driven and cautious. Leave obstructionist Republicans and Democrats behind if they can't be convinced. That said, I see signs of progress with tens of billions of federal dollars going into smart grid and renewable energy projects.
I think we have to do both - buy green and local stuff along with taking aggressive action at the federal level. At the same time, we need to curb those bad impulses unleashed by buying rolls of insulation.
Happy New Year and please follow me on Twitter.
Dec 31, 2009
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There areproducts on the planet that is injurous to human health individually and causing pollution to globe. In the last 60 years our mental disorders increasd from few to 39 in total.96% of this is nuron chemical tranmitted to our brain and blood vessels . 17th century and 18 th century Ranchers and Cow boys lived with Natural Indigo dyed jeans as adviced by European homeopaths of those days. They always protested not ot invent synthetic Indigo ,100 years after the invention ( all protestors dead)by 1950 it became success. This dye is classified as drug and poison in olden days scriptures of cost effective tribal medicine medicine books. Chemical poisons Lithium, Chromium, Magnesiaum were heavily used for past processing in large factories . Because it server their mass prodjects of introducing short product cycle . The oden day Jeans lasted ones life time ,now the modern one lasts only 3 /4 years or maximum 25 washes . We were producers of totally organic cotton natural indigo dyed Denim jeans. It can be live processd by simple people while they are living organic way of life.It just costs the same cost of 500gms curd making cost. It is done by effort less effort. This is what we have inherited as wealth from our ancestors. Heavy machinary and rigrous hard work ,not smart work , was invention of fear and confusion of olden days.With avialbe science technology rightly used every jeans made one day can be custom made and it will lost life time . Your body your fit your style.Small organisationd can do it now as much large ones were doing volumes once. Time bring changes but progress is we have to direct it meaningfully only then it is right movementum. Corporations can not do custom items , small organisations cannot do mass prodution. Fresh millanium, (creative one) must take advantage of science to serve better not the way of giving us 39 mental disorders. Cost of green is high, they say.The jeans produced green in JAPAN may be 1000$ a pair. Similar quality of world-class green now made in cottages in India comes to you at 50$ a pair. Think of 3/4 years lasting eye soar single colour synthetic blue sells at 80$ apair and, the natural one that life time lasts as totally herbal dyed green heals your body diseases as it did to olden day buyers ,and at the end it is natures gift you can pass on to your coming generations. There are green products we have to identify and bring it to use . We are now 30 years in the green jeans making now only I am able to talk you in discussion. So, facts have began to talk . We have to change our ways. Truth were searched in pitchdark thosedays are really true things. Truth we searched under neon lights are rational and logical however, are not really turth. Green products those searched once by our past ancestors were true and real fibres and colours. visit our web site www.transindiaexports.net to see the products.
That's right. Our Enemies Are Demons. Kill 'em all. You get the torches, I'll get the pitchforks. That way we don't actually have to listen to their arguments. They don't have any. They're just Obstructionists. Hey! Someone's doing Obstructionism right now! LALALALALALALALALA! My serious and considered answer to your post is OBSTRUCTIONISM ALERT LALALALALALALALALA! LALALALALALALALALA! But your statement, "Leave obstructionist Republicans and Democrats behind if they can?t be convinced," is chilling is another way. How, precisely, is Obama going to do this? Dissolve the Senate and appoint a replacement?
There is a definate, calculable value to bio-diversity. You can assign a value to each and every known species on the planet; as well as an estimated value on undiscovered species. You can calculate to costs and divide them by the number of people effected for the loss of any species. You can calculate to costs and divide them by the number of people effected for the change in environmental factors on human health. The levels of human pathogens and toxins in the environment today are NOT acceptable base-lines for decision making. The base-lines are the levels in the non-urban environment of 10,000 years ago. Current "acceptable" levels are the extreme high end of the scale and are the point at which definate harm to human health becomes easily measureable.
The germans have done a thorough test on fluorescent lights. The result is more devastating than I would have thought. Here's the link (it's in german) http://www.oekotest.de/cgi/index.cgi? artnr=94054;bernr=01;co=;suche=lampen
Hope you also picked up your HAZMAT Kit, just in case you break one of those CFL's. Guide lines on how to handle a breakage have raised some concerns in in our household. The old incandesent lamps don't have anywhere near the problems of disposal that the new CFLs do. Can anyome say major enviromental problems 5-10 years from npow when these start showing up in landfills in number.
We in the Mahoning County/Trumbull County areas of Ohio Have a congressman who will gladly provide you 70 or so high tech jobs and endorse all the green technology to make you ultra left leaning libs as happy as possible, at the expense of 100s (read hundreds) of legacy energy producing jobs. Gee what a great guy!! Makes me wanna go out and buy a dozen or so underperforming CFL lightbulbs.
When I post using Chrome (which I use 99% of the time now) the paragraph breaks are strange here and at some other sites. I agree with you on the CFLBs. Just like with ethenol, It's just another example of governments mindlessly forcing bad technology on us in the brainless name of correctness. It's great policy if you're in the business of making or selling CFLBs and their components, but harmful to both consumers and the environment.
Why does your comment box break up my text when I post it? It looks weird and visually decreases credibility. I didn't see anything wrong with the formatting when I wrote the text.
A conventional lightbulb, LB = 20 cents. I can easily afford it. It produces light and heat. I use lights in the winter, not summer, so all heat given is utilized in the winter for warming my home, and is not wasted. Outside, when it's 26 below zero like now, only the LB lights up immediately. The LB consists of glass and metal, both safe for the environment, if it breaks or is replaced. A fluorescent light, FL = 12 euros. I have to work a lot more to afford it, thus wasting a lot of energy and natural resources while doing so. The FL doesn't produce much heat, so I have to use an equal amount of additional heat to warm my home, compared to a LB. FL doesn't save any electricity in the summer when I don't use it. Outside, when it's -26 degrees like now, only one in three FL lights up at all, and even they take a long time doing so, and give a very poor light in the cold. The FL is made of a lot of stuff, glass, fluorescent powder, electronic components with a lot of different chemicals, plastic, and worst of all; about 14 mg of poisonous mercury, which is dangerous if the light breaks, and is poorly handled, if at all, when the FL needs replacing. And there are now already billions of them out there. That's a lot of mercury waiting to be released to the athmosphere. The claim that a FL lasts longer than a LB is partly myth. It depends on the voltage rating of the LB. If You choose a LB with a voltage 5 to 10 percent above your mains voltage, it can hold several years. I have some LBs that have not been replaced since the early -90's. And who was it who originally said that FLs are the ecological choice? The FL manufacturers of course. Would they lie? Even if only their whole business depended on it? Yes, they save electricity, locally. But that's only a fraction of the whole truth as you can see. I'm sure an intelligent person can find many more faults in the so called "green" discussion. This was just one little segment. I'll stick to LBs because they are environmentally friendly.
I stopped reading after the first two grammar mistakes. I can't take an article seriously if I can't read it properly.
"milonfz", you demonstrate an understanding that few people seem to have. It's sad to see that those other people, who are not stupid, still don?t know the first thing about economics. We always hear people speaking about the ROI of something for their own usage, but they fail to notice that if subsidies are involved, then their calculations and decisions tell us exactly NOTHING about what would be a good thing for everybody to do. The problem comes in when people use the distorted picture created by subsidies to preach to us about public policy. The up-shot of this is that if everybody put photo-voltaics on their roof, it would collapse our economy due to the sheer inefficiency of those systems. We need a lot more sophistication in all discussions surrounding these topics, but starting with the general innumeracy of the populace, and concluding with their lack of any understanding and practice with real economics, the chances of the discussion reaching the necessary levels seem bleak. Sadly, politicians seem to know this, so they just pander with whatever theme promotes their own interests.
sometimes the comment ' a plague on both your houses' is appropriate. much of the green thing is to save one some money. and it works. it was almost 30 years ago that we put an active solar water heating system on our house. out cost of gas, for hesting water, decreased to almost zero. gas was then cheap but we knew that as with any nonrenewable resource, the cost would rise. at the time there were also state and federal tax credits to be used that helped with the cost. sometime later, we sold the house and a bit later the new owner, who must have taken stupid pills , removed the whole apparatus, for reasons only known to him. here he had a working system costing him nothing and he went back to the sameold same old at about the time that gas prices started to increase. some sit and worry about how long things will take to pay off, but many just go ahead and do the necessaries. were large numbers to do this, we all would be a lot better off in all sorts of ways , that anyone could figure ou with just a few minutes consideration.
A 7 year ROI on a 30K investment for solar panels? Assuming you have a $200/month electric bill, that would only be $1200 per year, or $8,400 over 7 years. Where does the rest of the money come from? Let me guess, subsidized by the government to by paid by tax dollars, leaving a debt to be paid by our children, and our grandchildren. See, you have already stolen from other taxpayers and their children, and are proud of it... Guess the argument isn't such a stretch afer all.
The actions described in one article sound like how people act when they are dieting. They get diet foods and think that a cut in one area allows an excess in another. The best reason to go green is to save money on energy or reduce amount of energy. The economic impact is greater when everyone reduces their energy needs as could be seen by the price of oil for the last 12 months. The cost of oil went down when the demand for oil decreased.
...that the majority of their electric bill (as well as water, gas, etc) goes to support the generation and delivery infrastructure and not the energy that actually makes the electricity. So wbranch is right; I'll only save money as long as I'm using substantially less than everyone else. If everyone saves the same amount of energy, then there will be minimal economical benefit.
The best part of this is when the utility companies start charing you more per kilowatt hour for your electricity to offset the smaller amount of electric you use. You think you'll be able to save money, but you won't. So you'll be stuck with poorer performing technology that you have to pay the same (if not more) to use, but hey, at least your 'saving the planet'. Except you're not, the planet can take care of itself. I'm all for saving money, but I don't think the utilities and the government will let us get away with it. FYI, be VERY careful with those tax credits. They sound great, but the government loves to tell you you'll get them, and then screw you out of them when you actually apply for them, and then you're stuck with a 30,000+ investment that you have to pay the whole nut on (thus killing your ROI).
I've long mocked the eco-celebrity crowd and their use of "carbon offsets" as a method to justify their eco-hypocrisy. I never considered the idea that simply buying a CFLB could entitle me to the same opportunity to be "evil" elsewhere in my middle-class life as buying offsets allows Al Gore, David Suzuki, Tom Friedman and countless other of our betters to live in mansions and freely traverse the globe in private jets. Interesting. Like you John, I look for ways to be energy efficient not because I'm worried about my "carbon footprint", but because it's a sensible thing to do. My house was built when natural gas was considered a waste byproduct of oil production, so it's simply in my economic self interest to do what I can to improve it as it hits my wallet in a very measurable way. I'd invest in solar panels tomorrow if a case could be made that I'd see a return. (Alas, I don't use enough electricity to justify the cost) I'm even considering painting part of my roof in a reflective color before summer, which is much less expensive, and definitely would provide a economic return. I avoid CFLBs because I've been disappointed with their performance and don't like the idea of highly breakable vessels of mercury all over the house. (I'm waiting for LED lighting to go mainstream) I do what I do because it's sensible. I reflexively recoil at all attempts by activists or government to alter my behavior on "moral" grounds. I always suspect ulterior motives by those who use such non-arguments. As for the politics of it, I find it fascinating that the radical left in this country which has always recoiled at the moral imperialism of the radical-religious-right feels free to use the same moralistic tactics to legislate control of my behavior. That, is just as evil.
I was enjoying your article up until; "Both articles are well done and worth reading, particularly Tidwell?s. His is a call to action to move President Obama who understands the moral and economic imperative of environmentalism. But he needs to stop acting wimpy and really move on issues like demanding a carbon bill than mandates 350 parts per million." Then you go down hill based on the premise that the basis of acting green argument is that it is misunderstood. What you are advocating is activism when the motivation you stated yourself is self-serving economic reward. Wouldn't your article be more effective if you used it to change the discussion from revolution (changing the motivations away from the self-serving economic reward) to economic advancement (embracing self-serving economic reward)in order to achieve by fiat the ecologic goals you perceive as important? Shame on you for bring polarizing politics into a moral argument. After all these years I'd think that liberals would learn that no matter the laws, you can't legislate morality.