RE: Kyoto

From: Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 00:53:16 EDT

  • Next message: Jonathan Clarke: "Re: Kyoto"


    I agree with most of your comments. However, as you probably know, living
    in the desert with temperatures in the 40s is not the same as living in a
    humid climate with temperatures in the 30s, like Chicago. I spent three
    years in Michigan and five in Pennsylvania and the summers were not
    conducive to sleeping. I suppose one can get used to it. But you are
    correct, modern houses are not designed to take advantage of natural air
    circulation. IMHO, the last 50 or so years, houses have been designed with
    cheap energy in mind. Our house was built in 1968 when oil was 18
    cents/Imperial gallon (that was before we went metric). Windows were double
    glazed and the walls are built with 2x4s. Since then, I have had triple
    glazing installed all around but, even with the current energy costs (now
    electric for us), the pay back time for adding additional insulations is
    very long.

    When the oil crisis hit in ~1973, there was some footage on TV featuring
    people complaining about the high costs of heating: these people were
    dressed in short-sleeved shirts, in the winter! The idea of a sweater never
    crossed their mind.

    As I pointed out to my e-mail to Michael Roberts earlier this evening,
    switching to a less energy intensive lifestyle is not easily accomplished
    without major dislocations. In the first place, it is very expensive to
    increase the insulation of houses. Second, there is the general "democratic
    inertia" that is central to an unwillingness to change. Let me give you an
    example. I listened to a presentation this afternoon about the public
    perception of nuclear power. One way nuclear power could be more acceptable
    in Canada (and help Canada come closer to meeting its "promised" goal for
    the Kyoto Protocol) is to institute a "carbon tax." A tax on fossil fuels
    based on the carbon content (highest for coal, lowest for propane) would
    drive Canada to nuclear energy (again) and lower the emission of greenhouse
    gases. Yet, instituting a carbon tax is considered political suicide at the
    moment and might result in the province of Alberta (oil and gas rich)
    separating from Canada.

    Where I take issue with you is the comparison of energy consumption in North
    America and elsewhere. The climate in most of Canada and much of the US is
    continental. We are situated in the middle of the continent and our minimum
    winter temperature can drop to -40 although -30 C at night is more common,
    with winter highs typically -15 C. In the summer it's not unusual to have
    highs of +30 to +35 C. We are close to lakes and rivers (Canadian Shield) so
    we have the added humidity.

    What is often ignored in the energy discussions is the vast distances (our
    town is at the end of a highway and the nearest town is 25 km away), our
    energy-intensive industry (e.g., aluminum, smelting, and other primary
    industries). As Canada evolves to more secondary industry, the energy
    consumption will decrease.

    BTW, last time I was in Japan in a summer, the stores in one of the
    provincial capitals had their doors wide open and the air conditioning going
    full blast, to entice shoppers into their stores! Yet, if Japan uses less
    energy per capita than Canada, it must be because the houses are much
    smaller, apartments use less energy to heat than detached homes, the climate
    is not as severe, and the population density is much higher which means that
    public transit can be much more efficient.


    -----Original Message-----
    From: Jonathan Clarke []
    Sent: Friday April 20, 2001 11:04 PM
    Subject: Re: Kyoto

    Hi Chuck

    Your example illustrates the problems of lifestyle, expectation and
    I grew up in the tropics were temperatures were frequently 39 and over, and
    spent nearly 5 years in the desert when the day time temperatures were often
    over 40 in summer. We never had air conditioning and learned to live with
    Of course houses were also designed in such a way as to allow maximum
    circulation. even today, were I to live in those areas again and be able to
    afford airconditioning, I would only bother with the sleeping areas. To
    extent the same applies to heating. I was amazed when I visited the US and
    Canada to degree to which buildings were heated to near tropic temperatures
    to could have been cheaper for people to wear a few more clothes (it was
    early autum). How next door neighbour, a Canadian, has twice the heating
    that we do simply because she insists in closing the house up and heating it
    round the cloth as soon as there is a chill in the air and keeping it like
    for 6 months of the year. She has lived here for 20 years and should be
    used to
    it by now. Of course once houses are designed and built for year round
    and cooling it becomes difficult if not impossible to be able to live
    comfortably in them any other way. I seem to remember that the per capital
    domestic energy consumption in North America is higher than that of Europe
    Japan, presumably this is a reflection of lifestyle, not different climates.


    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:

    > Bjorn,
    > Lest we concentrate too much on cars, it's well to look at all our energy
    > requirements. You have now been in the US for six months, you say. In
    > another four months I would like to see your comments about the need for
    > conditioning in Chicago when the temperature and humidity reach triple
    > numbers (temperature in Fahrenheit).
    > Walk (don't drive!) to your closest supermarket and look at the produce
    > section: none of those bananas, oranges, grapefruit, papayas are native to
    > Illinois. How did they get there? How did you get to Chicago from
    > Rowboat? I think not.
    > I'm not, for a moment, suggest that we should not travel, that we should
    > fly across the Atlantic or the Pacific, or that we should do without air
    > conditioning. What I do want to stress is that we are dealing with a very
    > complex issue that hits us to the very core of our life style.
    > Chuck Vandergraaf
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Bjoern Moeller []
    > Sent: Friday April 20, 2001 7:25 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Kyoto
    > --- "M.B.Roberts" <>
    > wrote:
    > >
    > > Take cars ; our hire car in the USA last summer only
    > > did about 20 - 24 mpg - we had asked for a Camry
    > > but got some Oldsmoblie 4WD . When that broke down
    > > we got a Camry which gave nearly 30 .
    > >
    > > In the UK I drive a Ford Contour/Mondeo which gives
    > > 35 mpg with similar driving. It has only marginally
    > > less passenger space than our hire cars and I have
    > > driven it similar distances across Europe.
    > >
    > > This alone makes a considerable reduction in gas
    > > usage.
    > >
    > > (On performance my 1.8 litre Contour with manual
    > > gearbox is better than either of the American
    > > cars)
    > >
    > > Am I being too green?
    > >
    > > Michael Roberts
    > >
    > > P.S. Will American oil prospectors working in
    > > Scotland get back at me!!
    > >
    > A brief comment from another European (after all,
    > aren't most white Americans also European?) that has
    > now lived in the US for about 6 months (which of
    > course makes him an expert on every detail and
    > minuscle in American culture).
    > It seems to me that there is an esthetic problem here.
    > Americans tend to like big cars, at least cars that
    > are bigger than most European cars. Take the so-called
    > SUVs, they are on every street corner and tollway.
    > They're huge, and they drive just like tanks (yes I
    > have driven one), and I wouldn't want to know the gas
    > mileage they make.
    > If it is true that Americans like big cars (with big
    > engines), the problem is not merely environmental, but
    > additionally esthetic, or auto-cultural if you like.
    > Then it is not just a matter of changing people's
    > opinion on the environment, but more so of creating a
    > new culture of cars. Take the cool Mercedes A Model
    > for instance, why isn't that car introduced in
    > America? (Now the A Model migt be in parts of America
    > where I haven't been, but at least it is not in
    > Chicago) It is obvious, I think; because there is no
    > market for such a cool car here. In Europe this car is
    > very popular (at least in Scandinavia it is),
    > especially in the larger cities (not very many of
    > those, though). Why not in Chicago or any other
    > car-friendly American metropole?
    > Just my quick thoughts.
    > Bjorn Moller
    > E-mail:
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