Sunday, May 4, 2008

Electricity Prices Quintupling Gets Juneau-ites' Attention

That the world is facing climate crisis caused by human inputs is not news. That we are living beyond our planet's ability to absorb carbon is not news. That we are facing likely shortages of fossil fuels and a huge run up in their prices is not news. But it sure does seem like people, in the absence of sensible policies (like the European Union has adopted) are very slow to adapt by actually using less energy and paying attention to their personal and household carbon footprint.
Juneau, Alaska, has seen how to get folks to decrease their electricity consumption by 30%. Electricity prices, due to a disruption of their normal hydroelectric sources, have increased five-fold. The attention Juneau residents now give to conserving electricity is considerable, even though the crisis is temporary. Retailers are conserving, too. The newspaper featured an electronics store that didn't actually have 27 TV's all blaring at once. Good idea. Do people pick which of the 27 models they want based on comparing the picture quality? I think not.
Evidence suggests that once people form new, lower-use habits, they generally maintain them post-crisis. Lots of us had parents or grandparents that kept up their Depression-created thrifty habits long into prosperity.
You will find an interesting thread at Get Rich Slowly, initiated by a freaked-out reader from Juneau on a crash course in energy conservation. Lots of great advice there for all of us.
I also recommend The End of Suburbia for a futuristic look at the impending energy crisis. Funny thing about that movie. I believe we've already surpassed the gas pump prices which they faked for the movie, to show shockingly high prices.
So how long til gas is $5 a gallon?

1 comment:

Kevin said...

"Do people pick which of the 27 models they want based on comparing the picture quality? I think not."

I disagree. I think that's exactly what almost everyone bases their TV purchase on. Why would it be any other way?