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What Cost is Clean Energy Worth?

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The oil spill has allowed for the clean energy debate to be renewed (by the Administration). It makes me wonder what price for clean energy is too steep. Personally, I use water filters and reusable containers because it is green and cheap.

But, is it worth double the electricity bills for clean energy? What's the right price?
 

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Any price than it more than we currently pay is to steep.

What's so green about water filters and reusable containers?
 

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The oil spill has allowed for the clean energy debate to be renewed (by the Administration). It makes me wonder what price for clean energy is too steep. Personally, I use water filters and reusable containers because it is green and cheap.

But, is it worth double the electricity bills for clean energy? What's the right price?
Project the cost of oil, coal and natural gas in 30 years when India and China have truly massive middle classes.

Is the cost of clean energy worth it? Hell Yes.
 

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Any price than it more than we currently pay is to steep.

What's so green about water filters and reusable containers?
It's like some people think this is the only planet we have or something!
 

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marywollstonecraft

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It's like some people think this is the only planet we have or something!
in 2002 I recall the president of the AAAS said that f everybody in the world lived like an American, we would need four planet earths.

I suspect we would need five now.
 

marywollstonecraft

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Project the cost of oil, coal and natural gas in 30 years when India and China have truly massive middle classes.

Is the cost of clean energy worth it? Hell Yes.
I suspect also that the real costs of renewables have been overstated. Due to the fact that in other parts of the world these things are already coming on line, the relative costs are cmoing down.

there's also the simple fact its not just about using renewables - you can get a huge reduction in energy costs through better design alone, without even introducing any substantially novel or expensive design features.
 

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No, I care very much about the planet. Capitalism and free markets have a tendancy to make the most "green" decisions. I used to work for Wilson Sporting Goods, while I was working there we switched from metal cans to plastic cans becasue plastic was cheaper. We got complaints that we weren't being "green" (only back then they didn't call it green) because people reused the old metal cans.

The plastic cans are also reusable
The plastic cans eleminate the need for strip mining metals
The plastic cans consume less energy to make than the metal cans
The plastic cans consume less energy to transport
The plastic cans are made of recyclable PET plastic (one of the most recycled products on earth)
The plastic cans are made out of waste products which would other wise end up in a land fill

Of course we were being green, although being green was not our motive.

So as alternative renewable energy sources become efficent, they will become less expensive that our current energy sources, and we will make the switch to renewable energy not for the sake of saving the planet, but for the sake of saving our own bank accounts.

Generally, the most economical product is the greenest, although we may not always realize that.

So once again, what is "green" about filtering your water?
 

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It's impossible to determine the price because we just don't have the mechanisms for it. Polluters don't pay for their pollution (at least not directly, they don't pay the nearby landowners for that pollution and they can't determine the price for it because in this legal system polluters don't have much responsibility to those they pollute), so it's impossible to know the real cost of it. Pollution does have a cost, and we'd have much more technological innovation if we could price it with a market mechanism.
 

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Along the same lines as my earlier post, I was thinking about those "reuseable shopping bags", the ones that are "nonwoven polypropolyne", we print those things all the time. You know, the ones that they have near the checkout lines at the grocery store for about a buck. Some of the more liberal cities now basically require the use of these bags, because they have outlawed the disposable plastic bags. The manufactures rate them as an average "six times use" bag, meaning than on average, people will use them six times. Yet they are way more than six times the mass of an ordinary disposable plastic bag so they fill up our landfills a lot faster, they also use much more energy (both human energy and regular fuel) to manufacture. Thats why the stores give you the plastic disposable for free, they cost less than a penny each, yet they charge for the "green" bags. Those "green" bags are actually way less green than the disposable plastic bags, and that is reflected in the cost.

And what the heck is up with "organic" shirts? Now if it was food, I could almost understand wanting "organic", be we are talking tshirts here. Anyone ever eat a t-shirt? They dont taste too good without ketchup. We have people wanting to order these 100% cotton shirts that are marketed as "organic" (meaning that the cotton was grown without the use of pesticides). The shirts are double the cost of regular 100% cotton shirts, and there is no visible or texture difference. Any residual pesticides are washed off the regular cotton shirts because the cotton and material gets washed and bleached several times during the manufacturing process. Even the organic shirts use bleached cotton, so in reality there is no difference between the two products. Anyhow, one of the reasons that the organic shirts cost more is because the cotton cost more because they have to farm three times the land to produce the same amount of cotton, and they use three times the labor and three times the petroleum to plant and harvist it. Once again, the most cost efficient product is the most enviromentally friendly.

Shhh, just don't tell my customers about that, it would harm our sales.
 

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Of course we were being green, although being green was not our motive.

So as alternative renewable energy sources become efficent, they will become less expensive that our current energy sources, and we will make the switch to renewable energy not for the sake of saving the planet, but for the sake of saving our own bank accounts.

Generally, the most economical product is the greenest, although we may not always realize that.

So once again, what is "green" about filtering your water?
This is a really good point that is often overlooked. Often the common sense choice (from a financial perspective) is the green choice. This idea was obviously taken up in the UK with their "Save tomorrow, save today" campaign. and its true. I grew up with parents who had experienced the great deression, so learnt to conserve energy, switch lights off, not waste water, my father was into passive solar before it was ever heard of ... because he was into saving money. the environment wasn't even something people thought about then - and it certainly wasn't big on his agenda.

as for filtering of water .... I never bother with all that. I also will buy local produce in favour of transported produce, and in season produce, but don't bother with organic. I do think about packaging however - but excess packaging rather than type of packaging is what I take issue with ... and cleaning products? I use very few commercially produced cleaning products - for most jobs the average pantry has the best (and cheapest) cleaning products.
 

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I suspect also that the real costs of renewables have been overstated
Actually I think it's the reverse. The real costs of fossil has been understated by decades of subsidies and non-allocation costs of pollution. Remove the subsidies and allocate back the pollution costs and I suspect renewable looks relatively cheap. Especially when we add back military operation costs to ensure the free flow of oil.
 

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Actually I think it's the reverse. The real costs of fossil has been understated by decades of subsidies and non-allocation costs of pollution. Remove the subsidies and allocate back the pollution costs and I suspect renewable looks relatively cheap. Especially when we add back military operation costs to ensure the free flow of oil.
very good point - although I am still inclined top believe (after coming to forums such as this) that the real costs of renewables are also overstated ... this tends to support the resistance to change as much as hiding the real cost of alternatives.

another thing that also supports the resistance to change is the argument that we would all be living in the dark ages.

a long time ago I learnt you work smarter, not harder.

we need to adopt the same approach with out energy consumption.

why be a high energy user, when ypou can get the same standard of living on 70% of the cost?
 

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Have any of you been to Germany lately? What they have accomplished with solar power there is quite amazing.
 

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If gasoline were $7/gallon right now, those gas-guzzling SUV's? They'd be parked. Major car manufacturers would be tripping all over themselves to get more-and-more-miles-per-gallon.

If it cost $3 to buy a bottle of water in its plastic container, nobody would buy it. They'd actually, heaven-freakin'-forbid fill a reuseable container with water at HOME. Free.

If it cost $3/day to burn a lightbulb, people would quickly learn to shut off lights/appliances they weren't using.

If Pampers cost $8 each, people would find other ways.

It people were charged $25 per bin of "garbage" and recycling was free, we'd be recycling everything we could.

If dentists charged $2,500 to pull a tooth and $10 to fill a cavity, we'd all be toothless.

Money is the greatest motivator on earth.

The only way to encourage living green is to price living 'otherwise' out of sight. It's the only way to change habits.
 
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Have any of you been to Germany lately? What they have accomplished with solar power there is quite amazing.
Likely has something to do with the cost of fossile fuels in Germany. I just looked up the average price for a gallon gas there, it is double the price in the US. Probably the same with coal natural gas and other fossile fuels.

Anytime that the cost of alternative fuels become cheaper than the cost of fossel fuels alternative fuels will replace fossel fuels as the standard. That is a natural capitalistic result.

Personally, I would have no issue with huge taxes being placed on fossel fuels to create the capitalistic result of a migration to renewable energy - as long as that additional tax is a trade off for offseting lower income taxes for the lower income tax brackets.

There is actually no downside to this:

1) Our aggregate taxes will remain the same thus having no negative effect on our economy
2) The economy will naturally adjust to accomidate any effect on individuals at varying income tax brackets and/or useage of fossil fuels
3) Our enviroment will be improved
4) Our dependace on foreign fuels will be reduced
5) We will tend to make personal lifestyle decisions which will enhance our life (small things like only driving to the grocery store once a week instead of twice a week, moving closer to our work or working closer to hour home, etc)
6) Our gov will have less need for expenditures for maintance of roads, for driving law enforcement, etc resulting in even lower taxes on income
7) Our overall health will tend to improve due to an improved enviroment
8) we will have less traffic deaths and injuries
9) health care cost will be reduced
10) we will spend less on vehicle maintanance
11) we will spend less on insurance
12) higher prices on fossil fuels will provide capitalistic demand for non-fossil fuels
13) with lower taxes on working, working is thus encouraged instead of our current policy of penalizing people for working.
etc.

There is no down side other than for peoples ignornant emotional knee-jerk reaction against higher fossil fuel prices.

Now that said, I in no way support cap and trade or cap and tax as both of those concepts are intended to have the end result of enriching certain special groups and have no provision for an offseting reduction in other taxes.
 

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If gasoline were $7/gallon right now, those gas-guzzling SUV's? They'd be parked. Major car manufacturers would be tripping all over themselves to get more-and-more-miles-per-gallon.

If it cost $3 to buy a bottle of water in its plastic container, nobody would buy it. They'd actually, heaven-freakin'-forbid fill a reuseable container with water at HOME. Free.

If it cost $3/day to burn a lightbulb, people would quickly learn to shut off lights/appliances they weren't using.

If Pampers cost $8 each, people would find other ways.

It people were charged $25 per bin of "garbage" and recycling was free, we'd be recycling everything we could.

If dentists charged $2,500 to pull a tooth and $10 to fill a cavity, we'd all be toothless.

Money is the greatest motivator on earth.

The only way to encourage living green is to price living 'otherwise' out of sight. It's the only way to change habits.
Thats all very true.

Of course no brainwashed right winger is ever going to agree with you (by the way, I tend to be a right winger, I am just not brainwashed). Most right wingers would say that is "social engineering" and is evil. What they fail to recognize is that it is governments roll to social engineer.

Having laws against murder and rape and theft is social engineering and having a penale system that deals with lawbreakers is social engineering. Building roads is social engineering, having a military is social engineering, having tax breaks for borrowing money to buy a home is social engineering, the current tax deduction to companies that offer insurance to employees is social engineering, but even most far right wingers would agree that our government should be doing those things.

Extreme right wingers frequently shout about how unfair it would be to have "sin" taxes, and how wrong it is to tax income from investments, and how we need to repeal the "death tax", they will even complain about our progressive income tax system, and they love to point out all of the things that government shouldn't be doing, but rarely do they have the guts to suggest alternative ways to create income to support the functions of government that we all agree government should be doing.

If given the choice between our current system that encourages waste of resources and discourages work (the tax on working), or having a system that discourages waste (a tax on waste) and incourages working (by eleminating the tax on working), I would gladly accept the latter because I know that it would improve my life, my lifestyle, and provide a better life for my children an grand children and great great great grandchildren.
 

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Solar energy is too expensive right now. It doesn't recoup the cost. As for pricing out fossil fuels, that doesn't seem like the right solution because you're arbitrarily putting a price on oil. We need a more realistic price on the cost of pollution from oil.
 

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... that doesn't seem like the right solution because you're arbitrarily putting a price on oil. We need a more realistic price on the cost of pollution from oil.
It might not be an ideal solution, but other than "cap and trade" I haven't seen any alternate suggestions, and personally, I think anything is better than cap and trade.

So whats your suggestion? Having a government inspector riding on the tailpipe of every car?
 

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It might not be an ideal solution, but other than "cap and trade" I haven't seen any alternate suggestions, and personally, I think anything is better than cap and trade.

So whats your suggestion? Having a government inspector riding on the tailpipe of every car?
For auto pollution, it should be the road that pays nearby landowners, and the roads should charge for pollution based on what they have to pay local landowners. Of course, that would be if deals had been made before the roads were built. As we're stuck with what we have, I'd say try to get an estimate on how much damage it causes and charge based on that. Once that's done, try to phase in a program whereby polluters would have to strike deals with nearby landowners before polluting so that they can pay for and have a limit on the amount of pollution they create. This is the only right way, but it can only be done with new buildings. Everything else just has to be estimated.
 

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Since you say that the best we can do is to estimate anyhow, why not just have the cost of polution directly built into the cost of fuel? It would likely be just as good of an estimate to say that for each gallon of gas used that $X worth of polution is created, and that for each pound of coal used there is likely $Y amount of polution created. In most cases that would be just about as good of an estimate as a government employee looking at a house and guessing how much polution that house generates. I would assume that a big truck burning 10 gallons of fuel every five miles polutes about the same per gallon of fuel as a small hybrid car burning 10 gallons every 100 miles, so taxing by the gallon makes a heck of a lot of sense. Now if someone came up with a zero emissions vehicle, most likely it would not run on gas or diesel, so it wouldn't be paying any of the polution tax anyhow. If it were electric, and if the electic company made it's electricity from fossil fuel, the electric company would be the actual consumer of the fossile fuel, so the electric company would pay the tax. If someone came up with a zero emissions car than ran on fossil fuel, then that would be really awsome and maybe they could get a tax credit for owning such a vehicle as a setoff to the fuel tax.

Charging by the unit of fuel would be way more efficient than charging based on the type of car or particular construction of a house as we wouldn't have to pay a polution expert to examine every building or every car. In my case, our house is all electric and so is my business. I shouldn't have to directly pay a dime of "polution tax" on either one.

Generally, the simplist solution is the best one.

I am pleasantly suprised to see that I didn't get attacked for suggesting higher fossil fuel taxes, typically most libertarians and/or right wingers would lash out at the thought. There are very few right wing type people who are willing to compromise their ideology, even when it is in their best interest.

As for the roads thing, thats crazy. The road doesn't polute, cars and trucks and tractors polute. How is each vehicle going to pay the road? Do roads even have bank accounts? Most of the time the value of land increases when a new road is built through it or near it, if anything, the landowners should have to pay for the cost of the road, not the road paying the landowners.
 

phattonez

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It's not that easy though because the cost of pollution in a big city is not the same as the cost of pollution in a desert. That's why you can't just have a flat fuel tax to cover pollution.

And if you think about it, people near roads already pay for the benefit of being near a road with higher property values. The people near the roads shouldn't have to pay the road itself since they have no contract with them. However, the pollution does affect the landowners so the road should have to pay for that. It would be impossible to charge individual cars, but you could charge the road (imagine if a company owned the road).
 

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So now we are going to setup a toll booth at every streetcorner? Sometimes being slightly "unfair" is more pratical and thus more fair, that to try to recectify every individual unfairness. I would really rather pay extra for my fuel that to have to deal with a toll booth every time I drive.

Polution is polution, I understand that at a given time polution in a big city may be more concentrated, but in the big scheme of things polution created in the city migrates to the desert and over the ocean, and everywhere else. Even polution created in the desert adds to the concentration of polution in the city. If city dwellers have an issue with the concentration of polution in there area, they are more than welcome to move to the desert.
 

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Thats all very true.

Of course no brainwashed right winger is ever going to agree with you (by the way, I tend to be a right winger, I am just not brainwashed). Most right wingers would say that is "social engineering" and is evil. What they fail to recognize is that it is governments roll to social engineer.

Having laws against murder and rape and theft is social engineering and having a penale system that deals with lawbreakers is social engineering. Building roads is social engineering, having a military is social engineering, having tax breaks for borrowing money to buy a home is social engineering, the current tax deduction to companies that offer insurance to employees is social engineering, but even most far right wingers would agree that our government should be doing those things.

Extreme right wingers frequently shout about how unfair it would be to have "sin" taxes, and how wrong it is to tax income from investments, and how we need to repeal the "death tax", they will even complain about our progressive income tax system, and they love to point out all of the things that government shouldn't be doing, but rarely do they have the guts to suggest alternative ways to create income to support the functions of government that we all agree government should be doing.

If given the choice between our current system that encourages waste of resources and discourages work (the tax on working), or having a system that discourages waste (a tax on waste) and incourages working (by eleminating the tax on working), I would gladly accept the latter because I know that it would improve my life, my lifestyle, and provide a better life for my children an grand children and great great great grandchildren.
I'm one of those right-wingers that thinks we should move our tax-base towards taxing consumption not production or income :) .

$7 a gallon is good. Taxing jet fuel so as to make flying more expensive is also nice.

I'm motivated by 2 reasons: Being able to flip off half of Middle East and I like 'em nice green trees (makes more critters, venison is delicious :) .)
 
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