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going green for good!

Post in 'The Green Room' started by njtomatoguy, Apr 24, 2008.

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  1. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    No. I could spend quite a lot on a small piece of artwork. The consumption of resources would be small, though, despite the price.

    Joe

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    You are right, Joe, it does depend on focus BUT - I listened to a Science Friday show this weekend where a bunch of Mechanical Enginners at Harvard did some massive research into the American lifestyle and energy use. They found that the problem is largely systemic, and not individual. More specifically, they found that income is the predictor of Energy Use and that the lowest user of energy in our country is, of course, a homeless person! But the rest tracked almost straight line with income (and therefore expenditures). I tend to agree that this is the case...

    Although they made it clear that individual cutbacks are nice, they also stated that the problem cannot be solved that way - that it is the entire system which guides our energy use. I agree with that also.
    Here is the program:
    http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/200805023

    And a conclusion: "While the emissions of someone like Bill Gates were over 10,000 times that of the world per capita average, even a Buddhist monk who lived in the forest for half of every year had a carbon footprint of 10.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year. The average per capita carbon footprint globally is just 4 tons. Regardless of an individual's personal efforts at reducing their carbon footprint, the effects of shared services from courts, the military, roadways, and other public resources increased overall numbers in the United States, creating a baseline level of consumption that is impossible to avoid."


    It's tough out there!

    Here is a written article for those who don't want to listen:
    http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/04/mit-class-calcu.html
  3. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    I'd want to see the actual data. Averages are meaningless, without knowing the shape of the curve.

    It could be "ten tons average, with a standard deviation of nine tons."

    In other words, the difference between two individuals at the same income level could be huge, and the average would not reflect that (rather, in that case, it would reflect an imaginary third individual who was right between them).

    While there is likely some correlation between income and energy usage, correlation is not causation.

    Joe
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The correlation is between consumption and energy use, which seems natural.

    And does anyone doubt that increased income=increased consumption (in the USA)? Sound right to me. My old town in NJ was a perfect example, it was typical high-end suburban.....what we would call the "winners" (he was a jock, and now an executive salesman - she was a cheerleader, and now a soccer mom). New houses were over 600K 10 years ago, and there were typically 3+ cars in the driveway, including one or two large SUV's. They also owned a house on Long Beach Island as well as possibly one in coastal SC or NC.

    A generalization, of course, but such a person has to consume MANY times the energy of someone who works in a local factory.

    I'm not putting a value judgment on this, but I would certainly say that over a large group of people, increased income equals increased consumption (energy). Even if a wealthy person has dreams outside of big houses and cars (travel, etc.), this still means a lot of fuel.
  5. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Consumption in dollars is different from consumption in energy.

    As I said, someone could spend all his money on art, which is high in dollar-value, but not energy intensive.

    While I'm sure the correlation is a causal link for many, it is not one for all individuals.

    I've met multi-multi millionaires who live in modest houses and drive small cars, precisely because they would rather invest their money in things like artwork.

    And I've heard folks who have to "scrape" just to pay basic expenses like healthcare complain that the costs interfere with their European vacations.

    There's certainly a link on the average, but there are a lot of outliers, in my experience.

    Joe
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    100% right - and the study conclusion says exactly that...

    "For example, within a given disposable income level
    we found that energy use could vary by up to a factor of 10,
    but that the life styles representing these extremes were widely
    divergent, representing what we would characterize as
    “irreconcilably” different approaches to life."

    In other words, two people may make the same $$, but their energy use can differ 1000% - STILL, they suggest that the differences in chosen life style among these two are irreconcilable. Meaning that people are not going to voluntarily make the same "low energy" choice. Even at the lowest (1/10) energy use, our monk or 4 year old child still has a vastly larger print than an average world citizen. Here is the PDF - pretty short and sweet.
    http://web.mit.edu/ebm/www/Publications/ELSA IEEE 2008.pdf
    It does not suggest that we can't try - just makes the point that the massive changes are not going to come from shopping or not (in their opinion), but in system level changes.......less spent on military, better food production and choices, etc.
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    If we look at consumption = consumables on the individual level, then $ spent on consumables would translate to a useful indicator of energy use. Some gray area things also might not be considered, even though they may have elements of being consumables.

    For me, at least, consumables includes food, shelter and clothing. It also includes all the accoutrements and trappings for those things, which for most of us includes nearly everything we spend on things.

    So far this year my wife and I have reduced our consumption spending by nearly 40%. Not only have we saved energy and resources through purchasing less, we have those extra funds available for our future well-being during retirement. A win-win situation.
  8. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    Good points Jim. What we do is buy everything with our credit card. This way each month we have a running total of everything spent and what we spend it on. It's easy to forget the quick eating out because we were busy or just to lazy to cook. Now it's scary to see the actual amount spent on fuel etc but it does give us the items needing work. We also are careful to always pay our credit balance every month and as a bonus out card gives us a %% back, mailing us a check as the amount bills up. A win win for us.
    Ed
  9. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    My wife and I do exactly the same things. I also did a computer program, with account numbers, and then plug all expenditures into the program. Periodically, and at least at the end of each year, we do a print out showing what we spent in each category. We then decide whether we are spending too much in any category, and what our plan is for the future year to adjust a category. For example, we plan to replace some 30 year old furniture this year, and we have a plan to reduce in some areas to free up money for the furniture.
  10. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    It's not rocket science but the choice between operating like our gov. with no accountability and deep pockets or more like a successful business with priorities and goals. This free ?? money from Mr. Bush will buy us a more efficient refrigerator and a lap top to get rid of the power hog computer we now have. All on our credit card of course.
    Ed
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