I’ve got good news and bad news. Bad news first: switching from incancesdents to CFLs is not going to halt climate change. Although I agree that they help and encourage people to try them, CFLs, biodiesel, weatherstripping and similar tactics only distract from the underlying causes of inefficiency. The good news is, sound strategies for addressing energy issues aren’t just apparent, they’re entirely obvious if you think about it. Here are my top five ways of saving energy and stopping climate change.
5. Rework taxes and tariffs to punish wastefulness and pollution
This is pretty simple really: slap a tax on anything that emits pollution (especially the greenhouse gases) and a tariff on anything imported from an environmentally unfriendly factory or country. These taxes and tariffs should vary according to the severity of the pollution or waste. Then take all the money that’s collected, and give it right back to the public. This way, those who create the most pollution get punished, the average person breaks even, and that guy at the office who rides his bike to work makes out like a bandit. This has the added bonus of transferring wealth from the rich (who are a wasteful bunch on average) to the poor (who can’t afford to use as much energy).
4. Make extensive public transit free
This is a no brainer. Driving wastes energy. If we want people to stop driving, we should maximize the incentive of the alternative. Yes, this means public transit must be run by the government. What people don’t realize is that the massive savings from having fewer cars on the road, including less road maintenance and construction, can offset the cost of providing public transit. Free public transit also boosts tourism, gets people walking more, increases economic mobility, and decreases drunk driving and accidents.
3. Live in smaller homes
There’s no getting around it: big houses full of appliances waste energy. You don’t need three TVs, five computers, four sound systems and an electric can opener. You don’t need more rooms in your house than there are people living there. All that extra space wastes energy not only in its construction but also in heating, cooling, cleaning and maintenance.
2. Live closer together
With all this focus on more efficient transportation, people are forgetting that if you live within walking distance of work, hybrid cars are a moot point. The huge cost in energy and money associated with transportation is largely due to everything being way too spread out. Urban sprawl is a huge energy sink, not only in transportation costs, but also in road construction and maintenance, extra street lights, power transmission, utility provision, etc. There’s also the huge opportunity cost associated with the land use. And don’t even get me started about entire cities that shouldn’t exist. Los Vegas, Los Angeles, I’m looking at you. The energy required just to move water to these cities is unfathomable. Water-loving humans have no business living in the desert!
1. Scratch Capitalism
People have to start facing facts. Capitalism is antithetical to environmentalism. Capitalism is based on ever-growing consumption. Environmentalism is based on conservation. Our economic system is near perfectly designed to transform the Earth into an uninhabitable garbage dump. I’m not saying communism is any better, but capitalism, as it stands today, is untenable. It has to go. We cannot allow free market principles to freely destroy the natural world.