[lit-ideas] Re: The continuation of Eco-hobgoblins

  • From: Teemu Pyyluoma <teme17@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 26 May 2008 01:44:18 -0700 (PDT)

--- On Sun, 5/25/08, Julie Krueger <juliereneb@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> From: Julie Krueger <juliereneb@xxxxxxxxx>

> Tangentially, it crossed my mind yet again today what a
> marketing asset "going green" etc. is -- as in, "Shop with
> us, your Green choice for _____".

Yes, the problem being that green means environmentally better, not 
sustainable. All the sustainability metrics I've seen are next to useless, the 
"footprints" in particular come to mind as hopelessly abstract. Lack of clean, 
fresh water is a serious global problem. But I live in a nation with no 
shortage of fresh water supplies what so ever, and in a city where the problem 
is that too little water usage causes maintance problems on water pipes, thanks 
to new water saving machinery.

I do not think we can reasonably expect a consumer to make ecologically 
informed choices most of the time, due to the effort needed to acquire the 
information needed to make a rational choice. Consumers however do understand 
prices, which is one more reason why Pigovian taxes are an obvious solution and 
good economics too.

> look at the let's make
> ethanol oh wait now basic crops like corn and rice are in
> danger and thus
> human hunger is escalating fiasco...

Given the modest scale of biofuel production, I doubt their effect on food 
prices even if amplified by expectations is that big. Even if environmentaaly, 
substituing bio-fuels for coal in power plants often makes sense, making car 
fuel out of it does not.

>  we simply use too much of the planet's
> resources w/out taking sufficient action to replenish and
> fit in with the natural ecosystem.  Somehow I have grave doubts that the
> human race can or
> will turn that around anytime in the near future.  (Unless
> you hold out hope for a massive re-vamping of the human race's essential
> infrastructure.  I'm  open to miracles.)

To give an obvious but by no means the only example, our standard mode of 
transportation is moving couple tons of steel to move one person from A to B, 
so improving energy efficiency really shouldn't be that difficult. It is just 
that, until the energy prices started climbing energy efficency didn't matter.

Over here, and I can't tell whether we are behind or ahead of the curve, 
business started turning green about ten years ago. Which is about ten years 
after educators in engineering started paying attention to environmental 

I am moderately optimistic.

Oh and btw, we recycle almost all the bottles over here. Through what 
conciousness raising effort was this achieved, you may ask?

Simply, there is a 20c tax on a bottle, you return it to any shop and you get 
the 20c back. From the shop the truck that delivers new beverages returns with 
the used bottles, thus in theory no transportation costs because otherwise it 
would return empty.

In out-door events, there is always someone gathering bottles, which given that 
these are Finns having a picnic means he probably makes pretty good money. One 
day I got lazy, I had some bottles to take out but I wasn't going to a shop so 
I just left the bag on the street, maybe two euros worth, and it was gone in 
five minutes.

The law has been in effect for as long as I can remember, I don't even think of 
it as an environmental measure, it is simply part of life. Which is precisely 
why it works.

Helsinki, Finland

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