Monday, January 29, 2007

I'd like to say how much of a pleasure it is to work with and read with all y'all. I speak for myself when I say that some of the greatest minds at CLU will be meeting in Humanities on Fridays this semester to talk about some really important stuff. I'm not too optimistic about the world as we know it. Rest assured none of you are my reason for skepticism, but still I'm sure you'll understand my rationale by the end of the semester.

These are some reasons (or a rant) for why I feel the world cannot be saved.

1. Every time a product becomes more energy efficient, due to technological advances, it is just an excuse for everyone to have six of them instead of one, or, in the case of auto makers, an excuse to increase power, weight, or amenities cancelling out the savings of resources due to efficiency. If everyone can own a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon at a low price, the number of cars on the road will only increase and our pollution problem will remain. Large cars used to get around 20 miles to the gallon in the 1970s; SUVs today rarely get 20 miles per gallon. Consumer demand and ignorance perpetuates this trend.

2. People will not give up what they already have. It is damn near impossible to convince someone to voluntarily give up some energy or resource hogging device that makes their life, what they consider to be, easier or more convenient. It would be even more unlikely to get a politician who benefits from sale or application of that device to restrict or prohibit its use.

3. Most of the organic food eaten in America is consumed by babies, and even that is tainted thanks to those wasteful little jars.

4. Most people, including myself, are in denial. It can really be as bad as Al Gore says it is, can it?

5. People drink bottled water, religiously.

6. Most will not give up what they already have. It is damn near impossible to convince someone to voluntarily give up some energy or resource hogging device that makes their life, what they consider to be, easier or more convenient. It would be even more unlikely to get a politician who benefits from sale or application of that device to restrict or prohibit its use.

Like I said, a rant.

-Cheers

5 comments:

Scott said...

Matt I couldn't agree with you more...which is weird since I have started this whole book study...

But regardless of how much I agree with you, I WILL NOT GIVE IN. The things listed are EXCUSES. Excuses and cop-outs to become blind to realization of what is going on. I'd rather flight to the death clawing my way through then to become inert and apathetic and lay on my ass and watch discruction all take place.

Like I said, Regardless of fate itself that does not change who I am, and what I make myself to be.

Imagen that you KNEW someone was going to slaughter your whole family. And YOU KNEW they would succeed? Would you walk out of the house, and forget about it?? Would you just lay on the couch and watch it all happen like your watching Television??

Or

Would you stand up and fight, even if it meant your death?

The decision is yours...

I will NOT be like everyone else.

mlinden said...

I understand this is a question of life and death, I do however know that most everyone else does not. If they do realize this, they don't want it to effect them. The problem with that is it effects everyone. There are so many contradictions and positive progress is so bogged down by ignorance and rejection of truth that it can at some times be quite frustrating. I haven't seen you bomb any government buildings or disrupt any transport of hazardous materials so I am hoping you are like me and feel that coercion and education are the means to a positive outcome. This is as much a war as anything else, but subtlety and common interests are important to recognize. It has to be in each humans best interest to save the planet, and they must believe this in their heart of hearts. I think it is in our best interests, I do however fail to see society readily recognizing this.

Scott said...

Very true...in time we'll have to see how our future plays out....

The question is, will we humans have to wait til things get SO BAD that we have NO OTHER choice but to do something...do we really have to touch the stove before we know how hot it actually is??

Jonathan Pfeiffer said...

Matthew, thanks for introducing real issues. You *might* be right about what you say--which is scary.

On your first point (about the car example), what about raising the price of fuel *in parallel* with efficiency gains? (This idea comes from Ernst von Weizs├Ącker, whose argument I heard first-hand at a UCSB seminar last year.) Let's say, for argument, it takes one dollar to go one kilometer on one liter of fuel. Then imagine increasing efficiency so that we can travel two kilometers on one liter. A typical driver might be tempted to travel that extra kilometer, *unless* we double the price of fuel so that it takes the same dollar to go the same kilometer, but this time with half a liter of fuel. Make sense? The beauty of this idea is that the driver will experience no real change in utility; the same dollar will still buy the same kilometer of distance.

Your second (and sixth?) point is mostly true. But why could the "someone" not replace the resource-hogging device with a more efficient one that saves them money? Or with a whole new way of doing things that might make life even better? Also, as you indicate, we should finds ways of empowering politicians with progressive agendas. Why do plutocrats get elected in the first place?

A positive way to move this conversation forward might be to focus on the possibilities for change via government and big business. Perhaps more on that later?

mlinden said...

Sorry, Jon, about the 2nd and 6th points being the same. I just wanted to put an emphasis on the second.....who am I kidding, I messed up copying and pasting and didn't proofread my work. Anyway, I agree with raising the price of fuel to decrease its use and increase our efficiently, but that extra money we pay at the pump now, even since oil prices are lower than they were months ago, is going into the profit pockets of some tycoon oil baron(sp). Increased taxes on fuel are what you are talking about, but getting those initiatives past makes oil companies jealous. They will slow production and limit supply to maintain their profits. I buy the idea, but what if the price you paid at the pump were determined by the vehicles you drove. That would be an incentive not to drive a Hummer if gas for one was twelve bucks a gallon and for a Civic it was two dollars. There would inevitably be fraud and this wouldn't work, but you get the idea. Oh well. I've got other ideas, or rather I share other ideas with great minds, that are more realistic. The key words are culture and innovation not government and law. It has to be the cool thing to do to save the world. A democracy dominated by capitalism will not choose to legislate positive environmentalism. It may, however, think its cool. People buy cool, SUVs are cool. Someone is not going to vote to make their Winnebago illegal or twice as expensive.