Town Square

Sustainability 2: Green Tyranny?

Original post made by Tom Cushing, Danville, on Apr 18, 2013

According to one popular philosopher, “Life moves pretty fast.” But has the world really gone from ‘Silent Spring’ to ‘Green Tyranny’ in three generations? Some folks would have you think so.

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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Apr 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Agenda 21 is a great idea---for you guys. The world would be better off if people in the U.S. moved out of single family homes and into stack & pack housing near job centers.

Ideally, no one would have more than 900 square feet of living space. Less space to heat & cool. You’d need less furniture (likely made by slave labor in China out of wood illegally cut from endangered Indonesian forests).

You’d drive less, pollute less, walk more, interact with people. Roads wouldn’t wear out as fast.

If you want to see Agenda 21 in action, head to Oslo, Stockholm, or Copenhagen. Don’t stop at the Potemkin village they present to tourists, with the quaint shops, cafes, cobblestone streets, etc. Head out to where people really live. Better yet, as you fly in, look our your window at the endless sea of high rise apartments.

Personally, I would have a hard time adopting to this type of lifestyle. It’s too late for guys like me. I’ve tasted the good life and I’m not giving it up. I love my 4,000 sq. ft. house, my swimming pool, my SUV, Costco, etc.

But you guys should do it. Go for it.

Obviously, people need incentives to adopt an Agenda 21 lifestyle. One popular way is to make suburban commutes miserable. And we’ve done this. We’ve essentially stopped building new freeways in California. And we’ve created 26 government agencies that must approve freeway expansions. And our environmental laws enable activist groups to greatly delay road and bridge expansions. California freeways cost triple to maintain than the U.S. average. We also take toll money and other taxes away from roads and fund things like San Jose light rail and San Ramon buses (that no one uses). That’s a start.

We need to make suburban commuting more expensive. California already has the second highest gas taxes (after New York). We require a special gasoline blend that adds another 20 – 30 cents a gallon. And in 2015, when AB 32 kicks in, that should raise the price of California gasoline by another 18 cents. But gas is still much cheaper here than Europe. If we truly want to embrace Agenda 21, we should dramatically increase the price of fuel as Steven Chu, Obama’s former energy secretary, suggested.

We also need to make suburban living more expensive. One way is to raise utility rates on family sized suburban homes. We’re already doing this in California. If you have a typical Danville family size house, you’ll use around 900 kWh of electricity per month, which is less than the U.S. average. But you must pay $0.34 kWh for most of that. The U.S. average is around $0.12 kWh. It costs PG&E around $0.05 kWh to deliver it to your home. Under California law, PG&E is allowed to charge you $0.34 kWh. This provides people a financial incentive to live in smaller homes so they’ll use less electricity or switch to solar (which costs “only” $0.22 kWh). California law also requires PG&E to give financial subsidies to poor people. So, in effect, PG&E over-charges Danville family home owners so PG&E can give discounted electricity to small unit city dwellers. Spreading the wealth and saving the planet at the same time.

Increasing the cost of housing, education, and raising children will help people make the choice to have less children. We’ve eliminated the scenario where 25-year-old newlyweds buy $100,000 homes and multiply like they did in the 1950’s. When people have no choice but to live in small apartments, they’re less likely to have large families. Consider the benefits this could have on the environment:

Over his/her lifetime, each American born in the 1990s will produce an average of:

-- 3.1 million pounds of CO2 (same as 413 plane trips from New York to Tokyo)

-- 22,828,508 pounds of water waste (the equivalent of 48,060 10-minute showers)

-- 16,372 pounds of yard waste (enough to fill 442 large garbage cans)

-- 7,249 pounds of food waste (as much as 16 households produce in a year)

-- S/he will eat 1,654 chickens, 74 turkeys, 25 pigs, 11 cows, two sheep, and 18,675 eggs.

-- And s/he will use 1,870 barrels of petroleum (enough to fuel a Subaru Outback for 822,800 miles).

But we will never truly embrace Agenda 21 principles until we adopt a value added tax (VAT) as proposed by Nancy Pelosi and other forward thinking politicians. The U.S. is practically the only country in the world that does not have a VAT. That’s why goods are so cheap here. We pay a fraction of the cost for consumer goods than what Europeans and the rest of the world pay. This makes suburban life affordable for the masses. If we want the earth to survive, we must stop this massive consumerism. A VAT would encourage people to consume less and also fund important social goals, like Obamacare.

Clearly, Tom is right. There is no dark conspiracy. Just common sense.

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Posted by Citizen Paine
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

A Senator makes the religious case for taking action on climate change. Web Link

"...It is less an expression of religious thinking than it is of magical thinking. The statement that God won’t allow us to ruin our planet sweeps aside ethics, responsibilities, consequences, duties, even awareness. It comforts us with the anodyne assumption that, no matter what we do, some undefined presence will, through some undefined measure, make things right, clean up our mess.

That is seeking magical deliverance from our troubles, not divine guidance through our troubles..."