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Published on May 21st, 2009 | by Nick Chambers

35

New Fuel Economy Standards are Not Counterproductive

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Listening to NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday, there was a segment in which some environmentalists lamented Obama’s new fuel economy standards as being a small drop in the bucket for what needs to be done to solve our climate problems.

While this is true, two comments made by Harvard University Professor, Robert Stavins, during that segment struck me as weird and based in something less than reality — a kind of academic fantasy if you will. At the time, I was driving and the comments slid out of my mind. But last night an old friend from college brought it up again in a Facebook thread and it got me thinking more in depth about it.

Firstly, Stavins suggested that the fact that these new fuel efficient cars will cost an extra $1,300 over and above current less fuel efficient cars means that people will hold on to their older less fuel efficient cars for longer. In Stavins’ mind this is bad thing because, “Those older cars tend to be of lower fuel efficiency and significantly more polluting, so there’s a counterproductive effect.”

Secondly, Stavins went so far as to claim that the new standards will lead to more driving because, “by increasing fuel efficiency, it actually provides an incentive to use the car more because it lowers the operating cost.”

Okay. Wait, what? These two statements represent the kind of academic eggheadedness that drives me nuts. Just because some economist makes a model and generates predictions based on that model doesn’t make him or her an expert worth listening to. Based on our current economic predicament, we all know how good economists are at predicting how things are going to turn out.

So I call BS.

Holding on to your old car longer is good for the environment

Saying that holding on to your old car longer is counterproductive is exactly the kind of uber-consumerist attitude that’s gotten us into our predicament in the first place. While it’s true that your old car may have a lower fuel efficiency, the longer you drive it before buying a new one the more time you have to pay back the initial carbon cost of building that car in the first place.

In terms of total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, buying less stuff and holding onto your old stuff longer is about the best thing you can do, even if it emits a bit more. The act of building something like a car involves an incredible amount of energy and materials shipped from all over the world — all of which equals a large amount of emissions that new car is responsible for even before you start driving it.

Sure, a car with lower tailpipe emissions will take a shorter amount of time to payback those emissions costs, but if increased initial purchase costs mean people will buy fewer new cars then GREAT! That’s exactly what we’re looking for. Hold on to your old shit people and use it ’till it falls apart.

People will not drive more just because they have higher fuel economy

Stavins’ weakness here is that he assumes people have more miles to drive but don’t simply because of their fuel efficiency. This is patently false and even without supporting data just doesn’t make any sense. Nonetheless, we do have supporting data.

According to recent reports, the amount of miles that people drive as a whole in the U.S. has leveled out in the last 10 years and has remained steady regardless of fuel prices (a surrogate for fuel efficiency). This is due to several factors including:

  1. The number of women entering the workforce has plateaued (so the amount of new commuters has plateaued), and;
  2. People have a maximum number of miles they’re willing to drive in any given timespan before they go crazy and that number has been reached.

There are other factors, but those are the two most important. So regardless of some egghead economist’s calculations, people will not be driving more just ’cause their fuel efficiency goes up. Sure, people will drive less when fuel prices go up because that’s an actual option. But if fuel prices go down (or fuel efficiency goes up) there is no corresponding increase in driving.

Image Credit: Striatic‘s Flickr photostream used under a Creative Commons License




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About the Author

Not your traditional car guy.



  • Vishva

    Hi Nick, you are so right, specially your first argument. Sometimes these so-called educated people say something just because something has happened that was against what they wanted, or they don’t seem to like the person who is taking the decisions, or just because they want to come up with entirely new logic (even if it is absurd).

  • Vishva

    Hi Nick, you are so right, specially your first argument. Sometimes these so-called educated people say something just because something has happened that was against what they wanted, or they don’t seem to like the person who is taking the decisions, or just because they want to come up with entirely new logic (even if it is absurd).

  • Kwo

    Excellent analysis Nick – Some of these Academics in their ivory towers are so far removed from reality, with their pristine computer modeling, false assumptions, and far-off predictions and such – They make fools of themselves.

  • Kwo

    Excellent analysis Nick – Some of these Academics in their ivory towers are so far removed from reality, with their pristine computer modeling, false assumptions, and far-off predictions and such – They make fools of themselves.

  • Adam

    Hmmm.. so the massive decrease we saw in driving when gas was close to hitting $5.00/gal wasn’t because people were finding ways not to drive because it was so expensive? And the buses filled up and the subways experienced a peak season because people finally figured out it was cheaper for a $3/day subway pass than to spend $10/day on gas?

    Wasn’t this big decrease responsible for oil prices coming off $150/barrel? Because the supply and demand formula kicked in and the demand fell because of the high prices. Don’t forget this was before the economy took a big dive at the end of last year. Which greatly helped accelerate that drop in oil prices.

    I don’t agree there is a “maximum” amount of miles people will/can drive. If gas was only 50 cents a gallon you would see a BIG increase in miles driven. People would drive longer distances for vacations, weekend trips, business, pretty much everything because it was so cheap. Why pay $89 for a 500 mile commuter flight when you can drive for $10(at 25mpg/$0.50/gal)? When gas is closer to $5/gal, that driving cost becomes $100+ and it is cheaper to fly.

    At 2.50/gal, our current prices, that drive is still only $50 gas cost.

    We have experienced a sizable decrease in driving due to the higher fuel prices. As you mention above in your comments. But why you forgetting that cost of fuel and fuel efficiency are directly related? And therefore considered the same in the eyes of the consumer? Heck if my car started getting 2X the mpg it does now, I know I would doing much more driving, knowing 1) It will cost half as much to go twice the distance and 2) I will be much easier on the environment driving twice the distance than I was before.

  • Bob

    I don’t know the answer to this, but, if economists don’t know what they are doing, why is there a Nobel prize for economics? If there is no good answer, I suggest that prize be given to Green Engineering.

  • Adam

    Hmmm.. so the massive decrease we saw in driving when gas was close to hitting $5.00/gal wasn’t because people were finding ways not to drive because it was so expensive? And the buses filled up and the subways experienced a peak season because people finally figured out it was cheaper for a $3/day subway pass than to spend $10/day on gas?

    Wasn’t this big decrease responsible for oil prices coming off $150/barrel? Because the supply and demand formula kicked in and the demand fell because of the high prices. Don’t forget this was before the economy took a big dive at the end of last year. Which greatly helped accelerate that drop in oil prices.

    I don’t agree there is a “maximum” amount of miles people will/can drive. If gas was only 50 cents a gallon you would see a BIG increase in miles driven. People would drive longer distances for vacations, weekend trips, business, pretty much everything because it was so cheap. Why pay $89 for a 500 mile commuter flight when you can drive for $10(at 25mpg/$0.50/gal)? When gas is closer to $5/gal, that driving cost becomes $100+ and it is cheaper to fly.

    At 2.50/gal, our current prices, that drive is still only $50 gas cost.

    We have experienced a sizable decrease in driving due to the higher fuel prices. As you mention above in your comments. But why you forgetting that cost of fuel and fuel efficiency are directly related? And therefore considered the same in the eyes of the consumer? Heck if my car started getting 2X the mpg it does now, I know I would doing much more driving, knowing 1) It will cost half as much to go twice the distance and 2) I will be much easier on the environment driving twice the distance than I was before.

  • Bob

    I don’t know the answer to this, but, if economists don’t know what they are doing, why is there a Nobel prize for economics? If there is no good answer, I suggest that prize be given to Green Engineering.

  • Adam

    Correction above

    1) It will cost half as much to go the same distance, therefore the same to go twice the distance

  • Adam

    Correction above

    1) It will cost half as much to go the same distance, therefore the same to go twice the distance

  • Nick Chambers

    Adam,

    Your major point seems to be that the amount of driving is directly correlated with gas prices, your example being that as gas prices went up over the last two years people drove less. That is true. However, you are ignoring the fact that regardless of gas prices over the last 10 years (with the exception of the last two) the total amount of miles driven by Americans has remained steady. This indicates that while high gas prices correlate to fewer mile driven, the opposite is not true… which leads to the the conclusion that Americans have reached the maximum amount of miles driven that they can tolerate and are capable of. These statistics are borne out in the linked study.

    The only pressure capable of occurring on Americans’ driving habits is downwards, meaning that as gas prices go up people will drive less because they can, but as gas prices go back down people won’t drive more than they were before gas prices were low.

  • Martin

    I disagree with the new standards but those were weak arguments. However, you can’t say these artificial standards won’t results in some ill effects.

    To meet these standards the car companies will probably make lighter cars with weaker materials. They might have to reduce the output of fuel robbing A/C systems. The cars will probably be smaller and less comfortable. Maybe they’ll get rid of the side mirrors to reduce drag. Maybe trunk space will be greatly cut back too. It’s unused most of the time isn’t it? How about wheel covers to cut down on drag, but also make changing a tire twice as complicated?

    Then there’s the results of reduced gas usage. We’re driving just as much but using less gas. That means less gas tax revenue to build and fix roads. They’ll probably just raise the tax to make it up (bye-bye savings). Even worse, this could result in more intrusive methods of determining your gas tax burden (GPS tracking, periodic odometer checks). Also, gas stations will be getting less revenue. They’ll either have to raise prices (never a popular decision) or lay people off (much more palatable to those with jobs).

    Long rant short, this kind of thing needs to happen in its own time, not based on some benchmark the politicians pulled out of their a–holes.

  • Martin

    I disagree with the new standards but those were weak arguments. However, you can’t say these artificial standards won’t results in some ill effects.

    To meet these standards the car companies will probably make lighter cars with weaker materials. They might have to reduce the output of fuel robbing A/C systems. The cars will probably be smaller and less comfortable. Maybe they’ll get rid of the side mirrors to reduce drag. Maybe trunk space will be greatly cut back too. It’s unused most of the time isn’t it? How about wheel covers to cut down on drag, but also make changing a tire twice as complicated?

    Then there’s the results of reduced gas usage. We’re driving just as much but using less gas. That means less gas tax revenue to build and fix roads. They’ll probably just raise the tax to make it up (bye-bye savings). Even worse, this could result in more intrusive methods of determining your gas tax burden (GPS tracking, periodic odometer checks). Also, gas stations will be getting less revenue. They’ll either have to raise prices (never a popular decision) or lay people off (much more palatable to those with jobs).

    Long rant short, this kind of thing needs to happen in its own time, not based on some benchmark the politicians pulled out of their a–holes.

  • Alan

    Holding onto your old car results in less pollution if and only if the initial the amount of extra pollution produced by your less fuel-efficient car is less than the pollution caused by the production and use of a new, more fuel-efficient car. There is no data on those two quantities, or at least there isn’t any provided here, so the the conclusion made by the article is at best unsupported, and at worst BS.

    Predicting that people will drive more if it costs them less is hardly eggheaded. The underlying theory, that people’s behavior changes when the costs of the behavior are altered, is behind the majority of policies, both public and private, and has been for all of recorded history at least.

    While only time will tell whether the theory will correctly predict public behavior in this instance, it is absurd to compare anyone’s ability to correctly predict one facet of human behavior to that person’s ability to predict a multi-trillion dollar economy. That’s like saying that because someone can’t say what the weather will be like in a hundred years that they have no right to say that since there are clouds today it will rain.

  • Alan

    Holding onto your old car results in less pollution if and only if the initial the amount of extra pollution produced by your less fuel-efficient car is less than the pollution caused by the production and use of a new, more fuel-efficient car. There is no data on those two quantities, or at least there isn’t any provided here, so the the conclusion made by the article is at best unsupported, and at worst BS.

    Predicting that people will drive more if it costs them less is hardly eggheaded. The underlying theory, that people’s behavior changes when the costs of the behavior are altered, is behind the majority of policies, both public and private, and has been for all of recorded history at least.

    While only time will tell whether the theory will correctly predict public behavior in this instance, it is absurd to compare anyone’s ability to correctly predict one facet of human behavior to that person’s ability to predict a multi-trillion dollar economy. That’s like saying that because someone can’t say what the weather will be like in a hundred years that they have no right to say that since there are clouds today it will rain.

  • John

    Wow, the anti-intellectual rhetoric sure is flying fast and furious here… maybe we should just kill everyone who wears glasses.

    Speaking as a non-academic economist (have a PhD, but don’t work in academia), I think that the problem with this Harvard guy isn’t that he’s an academic or an economist. The problem is that he’s just being lazy and perhaps has a political slant. If a good economist were to really make an effort to analyze this, he/she would use data to estimate a demand curve and might very well find that Nick’s intuition is correct — that demand for oil is fairly inelastic, particularly over the more relevant parts of the demand curve. Also, Nick is making an economic argument that makes a lot of sense about the initial cost of building the car in the first place. A good economist should take that into account too. The fact that this guy you heard on the radio didn’t certainly doesn’t speak well for him, but I think it’s a little hasty to impugn an entire profession. Typical blogger, I guess ;-)

  • John

    Wow, the anti-intellectual rhetoric sure is flying fast and furious here… maybe we should just kill everyone who wears glasses.

    Speaking as a non-academic economist (have a PhD, but don’t work in academia), I think that the problem with this Harvard guy isn’t that he’s an academic or an economist. The problem is that he’s just being lazy and perhaps has a political slant. If a good economist were to really make an effort to analyze this, he/she would use data to estimate a demand curve and might very well find that Nick’s intuition is correct — that demand for oil is fairly inelastic, particularly over the more relevant parts of the demand curve. Also, Nick is making an economic argument that makes a lot of sense about the initial cost of building the car in the first place. A good economist should take that into account too. The fact that this guy you heard on the radio didn’t certainly doesn’t speak well for him, but I think it’s a little hasty to impugn an entire profession. Typical blogger, I guess ;-)

  • Adam

    Nick, I agree with your last statement. I don’t think that we will necessarily exceed our previous ceiling of mileage driven just because prices might dip below what they previously were. And I think the general reason for the “maxing out” of the American’s driving habits do correlate to many things, better public transportation, environmental awareness(big one), which leads to ride sharing more, carpooling, etc. Also one I personally have taken to, telecommuting. I used to drive about 40 miles roundtrip commute to work, now I commute zero miles per day because I am working from home! So instead of filling up every 4 days, it is more like once every two weeks now.

    However as I said before, if my car suddenly got 2-3X the mileage it got now, I would personally embark on more recreational driving than I do now. Same goes if they can make an electric car that gets 400+ miles per charge. Also, if my job requirements suddenly changed, which they could at any time, and I found myself commuting 50+ miles a day again, having a vehicle that got great mileage would ease the pain and reduce the emissions and pocketbook pain.

    Another side effect, as our use of gasoline decreases because of these efficiency improvements and reductions in miles driven, the fuel being in less demand will decrease in prices overall. Which will increase our miles driven.

    2 hypothetical scenarios.

    #1) Every car/truck/road vehicle suddenly today got over 100mpg or was electric (e.g. consumed no gasoline)

    — I think you would see a great increase in the miles people would be willing to drive because of low costs and environmental impact (much less junk going into the air, less smog, cleaner air etc)

    #2) Suddenly (hypothetical remember?) gas and diesel fuel costs only 25 cents a gallon, with no change to the current car/truck efficiency. I don’t think you would see as nearly the same increase in miles driven as #1 above, but there would still be some. Because the environmental impact would be very adverse. However, with these big decreases in expenses to business and consumers, I think you would see a big economic boon in other areas.

  • Adam

    Nick, I agree with your last statement. I don’t think that we will necessarily exceed our previous ceiling of mileage driven just because prices might dip below what they previously were. And I think the general reason for the “maxing out” of the American’s driving habits do correlate to many things, better public transportation, environmental awareness(big one), which leads to ride sharing more, carpooling, etc. Also one I personally have taken to, telecommuting. I used to drive about 40 miles roundtrip commute to work, now I commute zero miles per day because I am working from home! So instead of filling up every 4 days, it is more like once every two weeks now.

    However as I said before, if my car suddenly got 2-3X the mileage it got now, I would personally embark on more recreational driving than I do now. Same goes if they can make an electric car that gets 400+ miles per charge. Also, if my job requirements suddenly changed, which they could at any time, and I found myself commuting 50+ miles a day again, having a vehicle that got great mileage would ease the pain and reduce the emissions and pocketbook pain.

    Another side effect, as our use of gasoline decreases because of these efficiency improvements and reductions in miles driven, the fuel being in less demand will decrease in prices overall. Which will increase our miles driven.

    2 hypothetical scenarios.

    #1) Every car/truck/road vehicle suddenly today got over 100mpg or was electric (e.g. consumed no gasoline)

    — I think you would see a great increase in the miles people would be willing to drive because of low costs and environmental impact (much less junk going into the air, less smog, cleaner air etc)

    #2) Suddenly (hypothetical remember?) gas and diesel fuel costs only 25 cents a gallon, with no change to the current car/truck efficiency. I don’t think you would see as nearly the same increase in miles driven as #1 above, but there would still be some. Because the environmental impact would be very adverse. However, with these big decreases in expenses to business and consumers, I think you would see a big economic boon in other areas.

  • Adam

    Martin. I wished what you were saying were true! But unfortunately completely false. Let me give you some real examples.

    My 1986 VW Golf GTI. 2110 pounds, 100HP 4cyl engine, 0-60 9.0 seconds, if you were good on the clutch. Observed mileage after driving it over 300,000 miles, 24city, 32hwy.

    My 2006 VW GTI, 2950 pounds, 200HP turbo 4cyl, 0-60 6 seconds, auto transmission. Observed mileage after 45,000 miles, 22-24city, 32+hwy.

    My new car is 840 pounds heavier than my 23 year old one. it is significantly faster, more comforable, tons of modern gadgets, and safety features, airbags, ABS, you name it, double the power. And it still gets as good as mileage as my old 1.8liter non turbo 100HP much lighter car.

    Who would have thought that you could double the horsepower, add almost a half a ton of weight to a compact car and not significantly reduce the mpg?

    With modern automotive technology, the major savings in consumption is in a few important factors, aerodynamics, rolling resistance, and drive train efficiency and losses. You could make a 8000 pound car get 50mpg if you wanted to. But you would have to sacrifice acceleration and performance. Once a car is underway at speed, the air and rolling resistance is pretty much all that matters. That is why they say if you don’t drive as aggressively you can see good gains in economy.

    With the MASSIVE amount of automotive improvements, many of them legislated, e.g. safety related, the automakers cannot reduce the weight of vehicles at the expense of these other factors(safety), and they really don’t want to either. So the changes will come in the materials they use to make the cars, more Al and Ti and Mg instead of Fe. Lighter plastics, better engineering. However these things will only allow the cars to maintain their performance and still get good mileage. The real improvements are in the electrics/hybrids that store wasted energy, and deliver it when needed, for acceleration. Start/stop technology, to not burn fuel when the car isn’t actually moving, and many other creative ways to simply not waste fuel.

    A side note, where the laws aren’t nearly so tough in the safety category, Europe/Germany, VW makes the Lupo, a tiny lightweight cheesebox car, has 12″ high pressure wheels, tin can body, 1.3liter 3-cyl turbo diesel engine, and it gets about 95mpg! So if you really want outrageous mileage and are willing to sacrifice safety for it, you can have it. But that car isn’t really designed to be driven on the autobahn at top speed, more of a city car.

  • Adam

    Martin. I wished what you were saying were true! But unfortunately completely false. Let me give you some real examples.

    My 1986 VW Golf GTI. 2110 pounds, 100HP 4cyl engine, 0-60 9.0 seconds, if you were good on the clutch. Observed mileage after driving it over 300,000 miles, 24city, 32hwy.

    My 2006 VW GTI, 2950 pounds, 200HP turbo 4cyl, 0-60 6 seconds, auto transmission. Observed mileage after 45,000 miles, 22-24city, 32+hwy.

    My new car is 840 pounds heavier than my 23 year old one. it is significantly faster, more comforable, tons of modern gadgets, and safety features, airbags, ABS, you name it, double the power. And it still gets as good as mileage as my old 1.8liter non turbo 100HP much lighter car.

    Who would have thought that you could double the horsepower, add almost a half a ton of weight to a compact car and not significantly reduce the mpg?

    With modern automotive technology, the major savings in consumption is in a few important factors, aerodynamics, rolling resistance, and drive train efficiency and losses. You could make a 8000 pound car get 50mpg if you wanted to. But you would have to sacrifice acceleration and performance. Once a car is underway at speed, the air and rolling resistance is pretty much all that matters. That is why they say if you don’t drive as aggressively you can see good gains in economy.

    With the MASSIVE amount of automotive improvements, many of them legislated, e.g. safety related, the automakers cannot reduce the weight of vehicles at the expense of these other factors(safety), and they really don’t want to either. So the changes will come in the materials they use to make the cars, more Al and Ti and Mg instead of Fe. Lighter plastics, better engineering. However these things will only allow the cars to maintain their performance and still get good mileage. The real improvements are in the electrics/hybrids that store wasted energy, and deliver it when needed, for acceleration. Start/stop technology, to not burn fuel when the car isn’t actually moving, and many other creative ways to simply not waste fuel.

    A side note, where the laws aren’t nearly so tough in the safety category, Europe/Germany, VW makes the Lupo, a tiny lightweight cheesebox car, has 12″ high pressure wheels, tin can body, 1.3liter 3-cyl turbo diesel engine, and it gets about 95mpg! So if you really want outrageous mileage and are willing to sacrifice safety for it, you can have it. But that car isn’t really designed to be driven on the autobahn at top speed, more of a city car.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    A similar flawed argument is that if healthcare was free somehow we’d decide to spend our free time in doctor’s waiting rooms.

    But, like driving; sitting in doctors waiting rooms has limited appeal, with so many demands on our time.

    As someone who grew up in a land of free healthcare, let me tell you, that free availability becomes routine. Excessive use doesn’t happen. It is just a service that is there when you need it.

    I suspect your intuition is right, Nick.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    A similar flawed argument is that if healthcare was free somehow we’d decide to spend our free time in doctor’s waiting rooms.

    But, like driving; sitting in doctors waiting rooms has limited appeal, with so many demands on our time.

    As someone who grew up in a land of free healthcare, let me tell you, that free availability becomes routine. Excessive use doesn’t happen. It is just a service that is there when you need it.

    I suspect your intuition is right, Nick.

  • ChuckL

    There is more than one way to build a crash safe car. Currently we have heavy, large, and beefy cars that cause a lot of damage when they hit something, or someone. It would cost more, but it would be possible to build much lighter cars with the interior room of a compact and the exterior size of a mid-size. Or it could be a full size car that is the size of a 1960s full size and the weight of a current compact. The difference could be made up of crushable styrofoam, as is used in crash helmets, and the car itself could be the crash absorber. A benefit of this construction would be an increase in the torsional resistance of the car and an improvement in the roadholding capabilty. Proper design could replace the exterior, which is now repaired, with simple replacement parts. Don’t fix a fender, replace it.

    All that we have to do is open our minds. If the cost goes up, that might be the incentive needed to have people avoid the crash in the first place.

  • ChuckL

    There is more than one way to build a crash safe car. Currently we have heavy, large, and beefy cars that cause a lot of damage when they hit something, or someone. It would cost more, but it would be possible to build much lighter cars with the interior room of a compact and the exterior size of a mid-size. Or it could be a full size car that is the size of a 1960s full size and the weight of a current compact. The difference could be made up of crushable styrofoam, as is used in crash helmets, and the car itself could be the crash absorber. A benefit of this construction would be an increase in the torsional resistance of the car and an improvement in the roadholding capabilty. Proper design could replace the exterior, which is now repaired, with simple replacement parts. Don’t fix a fender, replace it.

    All that we have to do is open our minds. If the cost goes up, that might be the incentive needed to have people avoid the crash in the first place.

  • Ernest

    I believe that what ever any one thinks or predicts will happen is based on old habbits and technologies and is basicly flawed. With the new electric vehicle that are in fact on their way it will not matter how much any one may or may not choose to drive. As to what ever number one wants ti use for added costs one only need to look back at the computer or digital technologies and how pricy they were and look now. The bottom line now is they are quite reasonable and there production cost savings is gigantic. Going down the road we are now traveling on has already given rise to many companies that are even now producing the first great advances in green tecnologies. Magnacoaster Motor Company, Raser Technologies, Hydrogen Technology Applications Inc. and there are many more these are real companies doing what some believe to be bull crap. It’s coming and by the way they are already discussing charging you based on miles driven. My opion green is going to happen a lot quicker than some may believe possible and when the real green explosion occurs I will be very thankfull no matter what the initial costs. As to goverment and their taxes well they will always have their hand on your wallet and take what ever they want the real answer to that is play their game have two wallets. Here is another good informatioal sourse http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2009/03/26/454807.html

  • Ernest

    I believe that what ever any one thinks or predicts will happen is based on old habbits and technologies and is basicly flawed. With the new electric vehicle that are in fact on their way it will not matter how much any one may or may not choose to drive. As to what ever number one wants ti use for added costs one only need to look back at the computer or digital technologies and how pricy they were and look now. The bottom line now is they are quite reasonable and there production cost savings is gigantic. Going down the road we are now traveling on has already given rise to many companies that are even now producing the first great advances in green tecnologies. Magnacoaster Motor Company, Raser Technologies, Hydrogen Technology Applications Inc. and there are many more these are real companies doing what some believe to be bull crap. It’s coming and by the way they are already discussing charging you based on miles driven. My opion green is going to happen a lot quicker than some may believe possible and when the real green explosion occurs I will be very thankfull no matter what the initial costs. As to goverment and their taxes well they will always have their hand on your wallet and take what ever they want the real answer to that is play their game have two wallets. Here is another good informatioal sourse http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2009/03/26/454807.html

  • Mkkby

    Several key points are missing here:

    3. Obama’s CAFE standards are misguided because as we consume less gas the price goes down and people will once again demand larger cars. The better way to regulate this is to use taxes to keep prices high. If oil stayed at $150+ for the long term, all kinds of good things happen. People would voluntarily switch to fuel efficient cars. They would insulate their houses. And our tech geniuses would find all kinds of ways to exploit renewables. No policing, no bureaucracy, just good clean market forces.

    I would argue the entire problem with fossil fuels is the price is so low that we waste it.

    2. Miles driven is down the last 2 years mainly because of the recession. Many people in large cities, myself included, have seen a noticeable drop in highway traffic.

    3. This is also the reason why the price of every fossil fuel is down. There is such a glut of natural gas right now, there is nowhere left to store it. I can cite this, but you have a search button too.

  • Mkkby

    Several key points are missing here:

    3. Obama’s CAFE standards are misguided because as we consume less gas the price goes down and people will once again demand larger cars. The better way to regulate this is to use taxes to keep prices high. If oil stayed at $150+ for the long term, all kinds of good things happen. People would voluntarily switch to fuel efficient cars. They would insulate their houses. And our tech geniuses would find all kinds of ways to exploit renewables. No policing, no bureaucracy, just good clean market forces.

    I would argue the entire problem with fossil fuels is the price is so low that we waste it.

    2. Miles driven is down the last 2 years mainly because of the recession. Many people in large cities, myself included, have seen a noticeable drop in highway traffic.

    3. This is also the reason why the price of every fossil fuel is down. There is such a glut of natural gas right now, there is nowhere left to store it. I can cite this, but you have a search button too.

  • http://www.statgrad.com/ David Diez

    “Holding on to your old car longer is good for the environment”

    Not always.

    http://www.statgrad.com/abou/commentary.php#new-car-costs

    Sometimes it is smarter to use new and more efficient technology instead of making old products last (and pollute) as long as possible. Would you not want to shut down high-pollution coal plants that are already built in favor of renewable energy sources? Sure, if the improvements are very minor then make the older goods last longer. But in many cases, scrapping old cars or old technology in favor of new goods is a wise move and does in fact reduce emissions.

  • http://www.statgrad.com/ David Diez

    “Holding on to your old car longer is good for the environment”

    Not always.

    http://www.statgrad.com/abou/commentary.php#new-car-costs

    Sometimes it is smarter to use new and more efficient technology instead of making old products last (and pollute) as long as possible. Would you not want to shut down high-pollution coal plants that are already built in favor of renewable energy sources? Sure, if the improvements are very minor then make the older goods last longer. But in many cases, scrapping old cars or old technology in favor of new goods is a wise move and does in fact reduce emissions.

  • AMcA

    Economists? Obviously a bunch of morons.

    Climate scientists? Utter geniuses. Infallable. (At least as long as they’re predicting warming.)

  • AMcA

    Economists? Obviously a bunch of morons.

    Climate scientists? Utter geniuses. Infallable. (At least as long as they’re predicting warming.)

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