Re: Kyoto

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 03:06:56 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: Kyoto"

    Hi Chuck,

    As I said in my original post I grew up in the tropics (8 degrees N of the
    equator to be precise). temperatures were in the 30's all year round with
    humidity to match. We survived quite well. One indeed gets used to it,
    although having an air-conditioned bedroom does make sleeping easier.

    Well, one has to compared energy consumption of N America to somewhere. While
    not perfect, there are enough similarities in standard of living and climate to
    make some comparison between N America and Europe possible. It won't happen
    over night, but N America may have to move towards a more European approach to
    issues such as urban design. this will of course take decades, but when you
    consider the change in urban design in the 20th century it does seem an
    impossible goal. The political will must be there, and that is a different


    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:

    > Jon,
    > 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.
    > Chuck
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Jonathan Clarke []
    > Sent: Friday April 20, 2001 11:04 PM
    > To:
    > Cc:
    > Subject: Re: Kyoto
    > Hi Chuck
    > Your example illustrates the problems of lifestyle, expectation and
    > perception. 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
    > it. 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
    > some 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
    > when to could have been cheaper for people to wear a few more clothes (it was
    > only early autum). How next door neighbour, a Canadian, has twice the heating
    > bill 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
    > that 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
    > heating 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
    > or Japan, presumably this is a reflection of lifestyle, not different
    > climates.
    > Jon

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