Some people believe that the market value of energy should reflect the damage that it is causing to the earth. They believe that if the true value of resources are expressed, ie their prices represent the fact that they are a finite source, then they will become so prohibitively expensive that we will adapt to live without them. So prices for energy influence people’s use to some extent and people’s use impacts the earth.
Climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions trapping heat in the atmosphere that would otherwise be radiated into space. Fossil fuel combustion, the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, is still the cheapest way to get energy. Cheap means “desirable” for anyone who does not have an environmental agenda, and for most people, cheap still outweighs eco-friendly.
That’s not to mention the lovely growl of a big gas engine — aural feedback announcing that work is being done — over the relative silence of an electric motor.
When renewables become cheaper, however, I think people will drop their desires for such things. Likewise we’ll see our emissions drop.
Another example of how energy costs affect climate change is reflected in the gas cost and prius demand. As gas was inching above $4 a gallon a few summers ago in California, Toyota was experiencing very high demand for their hybrid prius model. So when energy costs go up, it induces the purchase of more energy efficient products which will reduce carbon output and help to slow climate change. This is also seen with electricity prices and purchase of energy star (whatever that means now) appliances. While the effect from reduced energy/oil consumption is not major, it is a lasting effect since most people will own their refridgerators and automobiles for 10+ years.
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