Excerpt from George Harvey, Originally published on Green Energy Times, Feb 2017
A general rule is that a people who use fossil fuels for heat reduce their consumption about 3% for every 1°F they turn their thermostat down. By turning the thermostat down 2°F, we can reduce our consumption of oil or natural gas for heating by about 6%.
The United States uses about 4 billion gallons of oil and about 4.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year for residential heat. Turning down the thermostat 2°F would save about 240 million gallons of oil, valued at $600 million, and 282 billion cubic feet of gas, valued at $2.82 billion. Turning down our thermostats by 2°F would save us about $3.42 billion each year at the household level. A penny saved is a tax-free penny earned.
On average, we drive 13,496 miles per year. Together, we consume roughly 138 billion gallons of gasoline in the process. If we reduced our driving by only two miles per day, it would cut 730 miles out of our driving, reducing our consumption by about 5.4%. That would save us from using about 7.45 billion gallons of gasoline. At $2.28 per gallon, that would save us $16.98 billion.
If all of us turned down our heat by just 2°F and reduced our driving by 2 miles per day, we would save about $20.4 billion per year, just in the cost of fuel. It would also cut about $10 billion from our medical expenses.
If those people made reductions of 2°F and 2 miles, they would save over $10 billion. But their gain is the fossil fuels industry’s loss. It is an industry already in depression, and if we respond to its grab for power by cutting its sales, it will hurt more than it can bear. And the fossil fuel industry’s loss cut into its support of the Autocratic Party in the White House and Congress.
We can get our democracy back. And we can start by doing what is good for us anyway. We cut 2°F and 2 miles, and we tell the fossil fuels industry that they have to give us the Congress and White House back. We push, and we keep pushing, cutting fossil fuel use as fast as we can, until they yell, “Uncle Sam!”
It is not just in the insurance programs that we see our society taxed. Only a small fraction of properties damaged by floods have flood insurance. In the Louisiana flood of 2016, nearly 80% of property owners were uninsured, a portion typical of the country. In St. Helena Parish, only 1% of properties had insurance. The costs of uninsured losses are covered by property owners, by banks if the mortgages are not paid off, and by the economy in general. The average payout of $3.45 billion is only a fraction of the actual cost to the economy, and if it is proportionate to the rates of insured properties, the economic costs have gone to over $17 billion in an average year.
The outlandish increase in costs associated with floods came about mostly because of events we can name. Among them are Katrina, Ike, Irene, Sandy, and Matthew. Massive storms are increasing in number and strength, and this is because the weather is changing with rising global temperatures. We are already paying, heavily, because of climate change.
In another example, we can get much clearer data on the costs of pollution from fossil fuels. The American Lung Association in California (ALAC) did a study of the medical costs associated with fossil fuel use in 10 states, most of which are in the Northeast. As it happens, the per-capita cost turned out to be highest in Vermont, a place people think of as having fresh and pure air. These costs come to $330 million per year for the state, ALAC says, or about $480 per Vermonter per year, or $2,400 for a family of five. The costs here are hidden in high medical insurance rates and high taxes. The other states had lower costs because people in them drive less, but they were not lower by much.
This is another example of a hidden tax we all pay to support the fossil fuels industry, apart from what we all pay to use its products. ALAC calculated the cost at $1.30 per gallon of gasoline, a tax not paid at the pump, but nevertheless imposed by use of fossil fuels, with no social benefit. (I am prepared to argue that we do not need fossil fuels for any purpose, not even fueling jet aircraft economically.)
These are just two examples. We have had extensive agricultural losses due to drought, such as has happened in California. Wildfires and invasive pests are destroying forests. Cities have to spend money defending themselves from rising seas, as we can see Miami’s campaign to raise its streets at a cost of over $400 million.
The good news is that renewable energy is now getting cheaper than fossil fuels and has already achieved that goal in many cases. So, we can eliminate the hidden taxes we have to pay while we reduce our energy bills — permanently.
From George Harvey, Hidden Taxes, https://cleantechnica.com/2017/02/20/hidden-taxes/
Three years ago this month, Bloomberg published this “view” by Edward Niedermeyer, an auto journalist who gets published on big websites because he’s an auto journalist who gets published on big websites. With three years of hindsight, and with Model III apparently about to start pilot production, let’s revisit his Bloomberg piece, eh?
Niedermeyer, 2014: From the beginning, there have been signs that Elon Musk’s ambitions for Tesla Motors exceeded his grasp on reality — or at least the realities of the car business.
TeslaMondo, 2017: Big Auto is squirming amid a new reality defined by Tesla. Quoth Audi: “I hate to admit it, but Tesla did everything right.” Quoth FCA: “I’m incredibly impressed with what that kid has done.” Tesla’s gobbling of market share has totally transformed the product strategy of, well, just about every automaker. This was Musk’s true intent all along. He told a German crowd (27:57) in 2013 : “If the big car companies see that our sales are good, and that we are actually taking a little bit of market share — I mean, we’re a tiny company, you know, a drop in the bucket — but if they see that people are buying these cars, then they will have no choice but to conclude that electric cars are the right way to go, and that will accelerate the transition to sustainable transport.” This is TeslaMondo’s favorite Musk quote, dry as it may be. Why? Because there is none more prophetic. Lookie at what’s been happening lately:
5/08/2016: Hyundai/Kia announce new EV strategy
6/21/2016: VW announces new EV strategy
8/03/2016: GM announces new EV strategy
11/25/2016: Jaguar/Land Rover announce new EV strategy
11/27/2016: Daimler announces new EV strategy
11/30/16: Toyota announces new EV strategy
12/5/2016: BMW announces new EV strategy
12/17/2016: Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi announce new EV strategy
1/19/2017: Ford announces new EV strategy
Niedermeyer, 2014: Tesla’s market capitalization is hovering around $30 billion, about half that of General Motors and Ford.
TeslaMondo, 2017: How about $43 billion, or 88% percent of Ford?
Niedermeyer, 2014: “But wait,” cry the market and financial press with one voice, “Tesla now has the potential to disrupt both the auto industry and the power utilities.” Which is true enough, in the sense that I have the potential to disrupt the world curling rankings.