2011-07-19 10:26:19Pierre-Emmanuel Neurohr
Rob Honeycutt


Okay...  It's not just the extreme right.  Loons come from the extreme left as well, as evidenced by this guy.

2011-07-19 18:30:12
Paul D


I actually agree with Pierre on many of the things he is stating.
I think you are brushing aside the problems that air travel cause to easily.
It comes down to emissions per capita and the way these technologies make polluting easy and without conscience.
Personal footprints are very important and one should not deny it.

Bizarely on the SkS article someone has stated that air travel is important for the 'global' economy!???!

It's the global economy that has created most environmental problems.

2011-07-20 01:32:58
Rob Honeycutt


I also don't completely disagree with him but his approach spells nothing more than economic collapse as a solution to climate change.  His prescription is:  Everyone stop driving.  Everyone stop flying.  Everyone should live like Cambodians.

Quite literally that "solution" would force billions into starvation.  It would certainly work because you would reduce the world population by about 2/3 over the course of 100 years.  It's a highly pessimistic solution.

I would have to say also, what we have today is a global economy, like it or not.  That is our starting point.  And, quite honestly, I don't think that the fact that the economy is global affects the two single largest contributors of CO2.  Surface transportation and buildings.  Those account for close to (if I remember off the top of my head) 70% of emissions.  Those LOCAL economy issues are the biggest bang for reducing our carbon buck.

Global economy issues are certainly big contributors but pulling the rug out from under the economy that we already have will dramatically affect our capacity to effectively address the most basic carbon emissions problems.

2011-07-20 02:17:11
George Morrison

One thing that should be kept top of mind is that certain sectors are going to be significantly more intractable to emission cuts than others. Agriculture in particular is going to be very difficult. I think that Kevin Anderson at Tyndall says we would be wildly optimistic to target even 50% reductions in food emissions/capita by 2050. But with projected population growth, that means we only get something like a 25% reduction in non-CO2 emissions (methane, NOx) by 2050. And he gives other examples like this.

What this implies is that to achieve 80% to 90% reductions, then other sectors have to contribute significantly more than those headline numbers.

Finally, because of the cumulative nature of the CO2 emissions, we really need the low-hanging reductions early.

And, reluctantly, unfortunately, I think all this makes it largely inescapable that we must include behavioural changes and choices. I.e. reduced flying, etc.

As Kevin Anderson said at the end of his presentation at the "4 Degrees Conference" in Oxford, 2009:
"(Cumulative emissions)... changes the agenda significantly. And it also reduces the value of technology in the short- to medium-term... That's why I keep banging on about behaviour, despite the fact that I love technology. Because we have to get the behaviour to change on emissions very rapidly indeed, to give space for the low-carbon technologies to come in place as we proceed out from 2020, 2030..."

So it's really a remarkable balancing act between needing to curtail these activities, and not reducing demand so much that economies crack. But I am convinced that we truly need to make these lifestyle changes quite urgently - because we have left things so late.

2011-07-20 03:08:40
Rob Honeycutt


rust...  Absolutely, there are huge changes that must happen.  Making personal choices about how often you fly or drive makes a difference but comes up far short of what we need to accomplish as a species.

This is why I keep saying the big challenges are political.  Pricing carbon will do far more to change broad social behaviors that a sense of personal responsibility will.  People Dana do an amazing job on the personal responsibility front.  My best friend who lives in a Quaker community in North Carolina is the same.  I have a broad circle of friends, though, who are product designers.  Taking the same level of personal responsibility for them would mean quitting their work and going back to school to learn a different skill.  And that would do nothing to alter CO2 because someone else would be hired to do the work.  Zero impact.

But pricing carbon could easily tip the balance to where manufacturing could start coming back to the US.  THAT would make a big difference.  I ran a factory in San Francisco for 15 years.  Still I continually have people asking me to talk to them about that.  People want to bring that manufacturing back but it's just not economically viable yet.

So, yes, reduce your personal carbon footprint where you can.  Don't make anyone out to be bad if their personal situation does not yet allow it.  And to make a big difference vote.  Vote for whomever you believe can help us get carbon priced in the marketplace.

2011-07-20 05:04:20
Paul D


But pricing carbon could easily tip the balance to where manufacturing could start coming back to the US.  THAT would make a big difference.  I ran a factory in San Francisco for 15 years.  Still I continually have people asking me to talk to them about that.  People want to bring that manufacturing back but it's just not economically viable yet.

It is viable if people are willing to pay higher prices. Nothing has changed really. Americans aren't any different today than they were 20 years ago, it's just that people go for the cheapest goods if they don't know the provenance of the product. If they no where a product is made and the effort that went into making it, they have a different attitude. If you buy a TV on the internet you won't know where it was made until you unpack it at home.

Even simply forcing manufacturers to display such information, along with carbon footprints and other stuff, would change the way people shop.

The people that say they want manufacturing back in the US, still buy Chinese goods, many of which they don't have to buy. In fact they would probably be better off if they left the money in the bank. It's not like their dollar is keeping Americans in jobs when they buy a TV.

2011-07-20 05:09:24


We should try to understand the German economy better. They still have a manufacturing capability that runs a surplus - and even a surplus with China.

And the cost of living in Germany is about the same as in the US; in the western German cities, a bit higher.

2011-07-20 05:15:33
Rob Honeycutt


Paul...  I completely agree.  The "Made in America" bit holds little sway in the marketplace.  Believe me, I know this better than most having run a "Made in America" brand for so long.  It has meaning to a very small subset of the population.

But, the point here is, if carbon were priced into the market that would tip the scales.  Supply chains for even fairly simple products can be extensive.  When moving goods around costs more people are going to look for ways to more efficiently move goods.  That doesn't mean all manufacturing will instantly roar back into the US.  A slow transition should start to occur, though.  The auto industry learned a very long time ago that the most efficient way to get products to customers is to build it near to them.  That is why Toyota, Nissan, Honda, etc all have US factories, and factories in Europe.  The cost of transporting finished goods is greater than the difference in labor costs.  Build carbon pricing into the market and that mechanism gets magnified and carries over into lower and lower priced goods.

2011-07-20 05:19:50
Rob Honeycutt


Neal...  That's a very good point.  And I think that comes more from the demand side of the equation.  There is a statistician named W. Edwards Deming who help rebuild Japan after WW2 and is one of the fathers of the quality movement that came out of Japan, he always said, "Quality is always cheaper."  

Americans are stuck in the Walmart cheap disposable goods mode.  That is actually a more expensive way to buy goods.  Germans are more likely to pay a higher price for quality goods, and ultimately end paying less for the products they purchase over time.