Re: Kyoto

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 18:10:35 EDT

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    I have used the removal of clothing point myself to point out to people the
    advantages of what in Australia are regarded as cold weather. Great minds truly
    to think alike :-)

    I agree with all your points.


    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:

    > Jon,
    > I have found that it's better to live in a moderate-to-cold climate because
    > one can always add clothing to keep warm, but there is a limit to how much
    > clothing you can remove. ;-) I have read somewhere that loose fitting garb
    > actually helps cool you by providing an airflow (updraft) between the
    > clothing and the body, so there may be an optimum.
    > The reason North American cities are so spread out is no doubt due to cheap
    > and portable energy and affordable private cars. We all (well, many of us)
    > want to have a grass buffer between ourselves and our neighbours and prefer
    > to live in detached houses rather than in apartment buildings. As long as
    > portable energy remains cheap, we will continue to do so.
    > As far as I know, there are only three ways to turn this suburbanization
    > around:
    > 1) increase the cost of portable energy
    > 2) make it difficult to drive in cities and encourage increased use of
    > public transit
    > 3) rely on people to make a conscious decision to move closer together
    > Increasing the cost of portable energy will come automatically when our
    > resources run out or when society decides that "it's a good thing" for
    > prices to go up.
    > Encourage the use of public transit can be done by providing free public
    > transit and use the money to fund this by cutting back on building roads.
    > This is a case of "social engineering" and may not be acceptable to the
    > public. IOW, politicians that advocate this won't get (re)elected.
    > The third option is not likely to be a viable one as long as the advertisers
    > and the media tout the advantages of suburbia.
    > Problem is that, if we don't do something proactive, we will live with the
    > consequences and these will include massive dislocation and disruptions.
    > For example, those of us who live in suburbs would see the price of our
    > homes plummet if the cost of portable energy goes through the roof. Since,
    > for many of us, our home is our investment, we have a vested interest in
    > maintaining the status quo: "après nous, le deluge."
    > Chuck Vandergraaf
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Jonathan Clarke []
    > Sent: Saturday April 21, 2001 2:07 AM
    > To: Vandergraaf, Chuck
    > Cc:
    > Subject: 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
    > story.
    > Jon
    > "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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