Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Via Free Exchange I found yet another article considering the enormous challenge of meeting climate change stability targets. I agree with their opening point that efficiency will be the key issue, but I think that there is more than one facet to being efficient.
  • Carbon-efficient power generation is all the article considers. This will be important, and we can probably make a lot of progress in that area. They focus on electricity generation, but we all know that efficient burning car engines etc will also matter.
  • Efficient use of the generated power will also be important. Think car engines again, but also using other forms of transportation when a car's peculiar attributes are not required. Technology will move us forward here, but pricing (economically and/or socially) will help to make people aware of when they are choosing the inefficient option from the array of 'green' technology to hand.
  • Unless the above work far better than expected, we're still going to have to make choices about what is really important to us. Expect pricing to feature again here, to help us determine what pursuits will efficiently achieve our key goals. Put differently, the up side of scarcity is clearer thinking about what we really want. So long as the scarcity is in luxuries this can be seen as good (if rather bracing). Unfortunately some of us will certainly retain the freedom to choose luxuries while others will be pushed to meet their most essential needs.
Heather and I are quite optimistic that a sustainable lifestyle can be devised which is truly enjoyable, but think it will require a shake-up that few are talking about at present. It could be quite healthy for us in the affluent 'West'/'North'.

p.s. We have just returned from a holiday weekend on Waiheke Island, where it proved really useful to have a car available for getting to/from the further-than-expected beach. On the other hand, as Dad and I paddled a rented kayak through the wake of various launches I pondered the ratio between the vastly greater resources required by a launch and the extra happiness it generated compared to our exertions.

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