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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How To Reduce CO2 Emissions Now

SEARCH BLOG: CO2 and TRAFFIC SIGNALS

I've had forum discussions as well as private email exchanges with those who are concerned about CO2 increases in the atmosphere.

Some, but not all, are understanding of the situation enough to admit that the relationship of CO2 to climate change is complex because there are so many other potential factors... and the fact that CO2 increases have, historically, followed temperature increases... not vice versa. And then there is the matter of CO2 concentrations being much higher... as much as 16 times higher... in the past while earth was in cooling phases.

Be that as it may, most of the arguments to reduce CO2 fall into the "risk management" area. We can't afford to not reduce CO2 levels on the chance that it is the primary forcing factor in this climate change.

Fine. If you believe that reducing CO2 production immediately is critical, what should we do... now!

Well, here are some lifestyle changes that we could make:

  • Shut off unused rooms and close the heating vents in those rooms ... we do that now!
  • Replace standard light bulbs with spiral florescent bulbs ... we do that now!
  • Turn water heater temperature to a lower setting ... we do that now!
  • Turn winter heat setting to 67 degrees ... we do that now!
These are simple conservation efforts that we can implement with little effort or expense.

The next level of action becomes a little harder.
Replacing power plants that produce CO2
  • Use nuclear power instead? Well, that's something we can't do now! But conventional power plants are where the greatest CO2 production occurs.
  • Wind power? You all read about those rich, Democrat, environmentalists in Cape Cod who squelched that idea... would spoil the ocean view, you know.
Replace all vehicles with fuel-efficient vehicles:
  • Number of vehicles on the road: over 230 million
  • Median age of all vehicles: almost 9 years
That means it would take about 18 years to remove nearly all of the inefficient vehicles... if we stopped buying them now! Of course, much of the reduction would be offset by population and vehicle increases, but the rate of increase of CO2 production would be decreased gradually.

Replace all home heating and cooling systems with geothermal units.

Who will mandate that one? And they do need electricity from power plants to operate.
So, do we ignore the homeowner/consumer produced CO2, beyond turning down the heat and changing some light bulbs, and place all of the burden on businesses? Since so few of us own or work in businesses, that would work (feel the sarcasm here).

Here is something we can do now!
Contact your Department of Transportation and demand that their traffic engineers synchronize traffic signal progression! Have you ever read the city/highway EPA stickers on new vehicles ... something like 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway. That's because all of those extra hours you give up each week due to poorly timed signals also increases your cost of driving and CO2 production from unnecessary idling and acceleration. This can be corrected now!
If you want to make a big difference now, start raising the roof with your state, county and local Departments of Transportation and Traffic Engineering Departments. Poorly timed traffic lights are the single biggest, unnecesary producer of CO2 in the U.S.

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CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates

FEDERAL RESERVE & HOUSING

SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
November 28, 2007 FED VICE CHAIRMAN DONALD KOHN
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."
http://www.reuters.com/

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
fed_rate_moves_425_small.gif
[Image from: CNNMoney.com]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)