Friday, February 23, 2007

Weekly blog roundup

Energy saving light globes

Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants to change the standards for lights to phase out the old-school electricity-chewing incandescent globes by 2010. This seems to me a sensible move that will make a modest impact at a modest cost. Joshua Gans is underwhelmed by the idea but Grant Young thinks it’s a good start.

Meanwhile, the libertarians at Catallaxy are incensed by this abolition of our freedom to waste electricity. I have sympathy with their ‘don’t ban things, persuade people to change instead’ philosophy, but I don’t think phasing incandescents out over 4 years is really such a big deal (from a personal freedom, or any other, perspective). If people are really worried about it, they have three years to stockpile incandescent lights (maybe in the underground bunkers that some of Catallaxy’s commenters no doubt have ready for when the leftist global warming conspiracy gives the UN an excuse to take over the world and abolish all personal freedoms).


Harry Clarke crunches the numbers for suburban backyard rain water tanks and concludes that they just don’t make any economic sense.

Rising rents

Every second article in the Herald seems to be about rents going through the roof. Joshua Gans argues that proposed rent subsidies won’t help anyone except landlords.

Carbon offsets

Grant Young asks a very sensible question:

I wonder - if Richard Branson is splashing all this money around to reduce climate change, why doesn’t his airline have an “offset this flight” button when you book a flight?

People that want it can get it easily when they’re booking the flight. People that don’t simply uncheck the box.
What a great idea. Make it easy for people to offset their emissions at the point of sale, let them know how much it would cost, and no doubt many will take it up. Perhaps just as importantly, even if people choose not to offset, providing this will educate people about air travel emissions, what offsets are and how much the ‘carbon cost’ of their flight is.

Have a great weekend.


Anonymous said...

I can see that the economics of tank subsidies are wonky, but I can tell you that when I got mine - I sure became sensitised to the state of my own 'micro catchment' (roof/tank/weather). Psychologically then - they are useful.

What an economist would make of that is anyones guess...


Grant said...

Hey David. Thanks for the pointer. I didn't really think about the educational effect such an option would have - but you're definitely on the money there.

Mebbe I should send a letter to VirginBlue... (Or mention it to the team at work).

Re: Harry's water post - it assumes that the Government is actually going to provide sensible infrastructure - which clearly isn't happening. And as one of the commenters points out, it also removes oneself from the water economy - potentially saving money as water prices increase.

I'm also not sure it takes into consideration where rain is falling - in cities and suburbs, not major catchments.

I'm also a fan of decentralisation - for power and water. And perhaps they aren't as cost efficient as large scale, "silver-bullet" solutions. But they do have many other benefits that may not be factored in with a purely economic perspective.

Anyways - it's an interesting perspective...

David Jeffery said...

Thanks for your comments guys. The anonymous comment is interesting. I'd certainly like to have a water tank for those reasons even if it cost more, which makes me think that there are psychological benefits to having your own tank which people are prepared to pay a premium for. However, from a public policy perspective, tank subsidies would seem to give you a very low bang for your buck in terms of improving your city water system.

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