Friday, September 14, 2012
Books in the News
"Fuel Efficiency Standards Have Costs of Their Own", New York Times
11 September 2012
Synopsis: while President Obama has been successful in forcing manufacturers to adopt stricter fuel efficiency standards, in the long run this isn't truly helpful, because it doesn't change drivers' behavior. Americans' problem is not that they use oil too messily: their problem is that they use too much oil, period. Energy economists in the article recommend that the US adopt gas taxes increases more on par with those of Europe: only high prices at the pump will adopt drivers to abandon gas-guzzlers.
Related to: The Green Metropolis, David Owen
In The Green Metropolis, Owen also stresses the need to make Americans aware of how truly expensive our auto-dominated society is by raising the gas tax: he also emphasizes that we can't consume our way out of environmental consequences. We can no longer afford wasteful lifestyle, or be content with the consolations of greenwashing. In the book, Owen advocates adapting to the energy demands of the 21st century by abandoning sprawl for walkable cities, where we can likewise ditch cars. He takes an economical approach to environmentalism, which I think carries a stronger argument. Experience it in brief in an interview titled "Your Prius Won't Save You".
Relatedly, The Economist has a series of articles on on how people are already adapting by biking more, including one published on 8 September claled "Vive la révolution"