Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What's Wrong with Saving Energy Voluntarily?

Barry O'Bama was correct that properly inflated tires and well tuned engines would save fuel. You don't have to be a motorhead to understand that. O'Bama suggests a perfectly cromulent nongovernmental, voluntary measure to save fuel, and the GOP, the supposed party of personal responsibility and small government, ridicules it.

There's lots we can do as Americans to reduce our dependence on oil. Small measures undertaken by lots of individuals add up to big savings. Turn down the heat and turn up the A/C even one degree, and the national savings would be significant. Unplug appliances that drain power even when not in use. Don't drive like an asshole with jackrabbit starts and lots of braking. Combine trips. Carpool. Turn off the lights when not in use. Don't be a douche; buy a fuel efficient vehicle. When did frugality and good sense cease to be virtues in America?

There are some larger steps that could be taken as well to achieve dramatic savings in energy consumption. If businesses and governments went to a four day work week, the reduction in commuting related consumption would be huge. If businesses and governments embraced telecommuting, that would help. Businesses and governments could help employees match up with ride sharing partners. They could subsidize employees' use of mass transit as a benefit.

I have to travel for depositions and hearings from time to time, and often the other participants have come long distances as well. The technology exists to permit video conferencing and keep all the parties off of planes, trains and autos. Let's encourage that whenever we can. Let's have court proceedings via video conference whenever possible. Let's have fewer in person business meetings and more vidoeconferences and virtual meetings.

Governments could do things to encourage frugality and good sense. For example, establish more HOV lanes and lower or eliminate tolls for carpoolers. Establish tolls for lone drivers on primary commuting roads. Stop subsidizing sprawl. Stop building roads and infrastructure that encourage long distance commuting. Change or eliminate zoning laws that are obstacles to denser development closer to business centers. Eliminate prohibitive property and school tax regimes that price residents out of communities closer to their places of employment. These measures mostly entail government's butting out of things.

3 comments:

Ineffabelle said...

"Governments could do things to encourage frugality and good sense."
The biggest of all might be:
Stop inflating the money supply.
But that's "crazy talk" of course.
How could all those financial firms pay out their multi-million dollar bonuses if we did that? And that's what's really important, after all.

CL said...

Aren't these the same libertarians who go ballistic over the supposedly wasteful spending habits of the underclass? I never understood this -- it's like saying "Dear poor person: Be frugal now and you will be rewarded later with riches and the right to waste them".

Toronto life insurance broker said...

This year of rocketing gas showed, how price can change our behavior, without any subsidies and government help. The price is high? We can lower consumption! For example, I introduced 4 day work week in my Life Insurance Canada company, in order to save gas and finally we realised it has many other advantages!
I believe the government has only one duty - not mess in people's life :)
Lorne