Wed Nov 8th, 2006 at 10:40:08 AM EST
I think we need to start a dialog on how to introduce energy savings. When this is proposed on a site like dKos we get many comments from individuals about the little things they do to make themselves feel virtuous.
So how about a discussion of where the savings could be found, who stands to benefit from the status quo, who would benefit from a change, and how and where to apply pressure so that this change will happen?
Promoted by Colman
In point of fact many of the largest energy uses are out of our control and will require national or international planning to change. For example, the single biggest user of liquid fuel in the US is the military. Another big use of power is fissile material enrichment. Much of this in the US is from hydro power, but this just means the power has been diverted from commercial uses.
There are many industrial energy uses that are inefficient especially in things like process control where pumps, motors, valves and the like could be redesigned. Walmart has gotten a lot of publicity about their "green" effort. They are going to cut truck fuel consumption, improve lighting in stores and promote compact fluorescents for the home. This will yield about 10% savings for them, they estimate. What they are not changing is their supply and distribution chain which moves their average product over 1500 miles from source to store.
Auto efficiency is another area where consumers have little they can do. Even if we all were to want to buy hybrids tomorrow there aren't enough being made to satisfy demand. The last time efficiency when up so did auto usage. The result was a wash.
To get the ball rolling, several of my pet peeves:
- Bottled drinks, especially water. In any place with a decent municipal water supply there is no need for people to be buying bottle water for home use. At most, if there is some slight impurity in the water a final filter at the tap using charcoal or similar is all that is required. Bottled water uses energy for pumping, preparation, transport, plastic containers and waste disposal. It also upsets the water table where excessive amounts are extracted for export from the region. Install many clean drink water fountains in all public spaces and prohibit or tax bottle water.
- Newspapers. I toss out half of my morning NY Times without opening the sections (it is even worse on Sunday). It is time that a serious development effort was made to distribute a usable electronic book reader. Sony has just come out with one, but it is still far from the mark. The technology can't be all the difficult look at the progress in mobile phones, PDA and Ipods over the past few years. A good electronic book would have a wireless connection to allow automatic download of subscribed reading material as well as books (and perhaps web pages). Transitory publications like newspapers consume huge amounts of natural resources (trees and water), require shipping bulky and heavy paper around the world and create a disposal problem.
- Packaging. Every electronic gizmo comes in a box with foam packing or in a plastic bubble pack which is immediately disposed of once the package is opened. The same is true for many grocery items, toys and other small items. Stores should carry one package with "eye appeal" on the shelf and then the actual items should be sold in a utilitarian package (or none at all for self contained items like shampoo or toothpaste). Supermarket carts could be redesigned so that the basket part belongs to the customer and is place on a rolling frame in the store. The cart is lifted off after the checkout and taken home for reuse. There is, thus no need for "paper or plastic". Different size (or multiple) baskets could be accommodated for different size families.