Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Is this progress?

The New York Times has an article today on the growing popularity of large pickup trucks, which appear to be supplanting SUVs as the braggards' wheels of choice. I find this to be an amazing development, as it goes against the trends towards increasing urbanisation (and hence, a lesser need for individual trucks), miniaturisation, the growth in the services sector, and growing awareness of the need to use limited resources more efficiently. Here's an excerpt from the article (italics are mine):

The average pickup truck has become 40 percent heavier in the last two decades and 11 percent less fuel-efficient, according to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Big pickup trucks are an even more formidable threat to people in cars than the largest S.U.V.'s, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatality rates for the occupants of large pickup trucks are modestly higher than those for other family vehicles like large cars and minivans because of the trucks' increased rollover risk, a government crash study in 2003 indicated.

On Wednesday at the Chicago Auto Show, DaimlerChrysler is planning to introduce one of the largest passenger cabs yet as an option on its full-size pickup truck, the Dodge Ram. The new cabin, to be called the Mega Cab, is 20 inches longer than the largest Ram passenger cab now.

Weighing in at more than three tons unloaded, the Ram Mega Cab seats six and joins a group of new passenger trucks that are so heavy that they fall outside federal fuel economy regulations for most other passenger vehicles. The makers are not even required to post mileage figures on a window sticker.

Unlike some more exotic giant pickups, like the new 18-wheeler-size CXT from International Truck and Engine, the Dodge Ram Mega Cab will be positioned as a mass-market product. Chrysler executives estimate that they can sell 50,000 to 100,000 of them a year, according to a person close to the company's planning.

[...]

Full-size pickup trucks rose to 14.8 percent of the nearly 17 million cars and trucks sold in the United States last year, from 14.1 percent a year earlier and 8.4 percent at the beginning of the 1990's, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank. By contrast, the market share of compact pickups has been cut in half over the last decade.

Last year, middle- and large-size S.U.V.'s fell to 15.9 percent of the auto market, down from 16.5 percent a year earlier, according to Ward's, while smaller models continued to grow sharply.
Perhaps U.S. cars are getting bigger because their drivers are getting bigger? The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults increased by an astonishing 61 percent between 1991 and 2001.

The trend towards bigger and more wasteful cars is increasing the United States' reliance on foreign oil producers, which is an important factor in worldwide political destabilisation (witness the wars on Iraq and perhaps soon Iran, the unrest in Nigeria, as well as the availability of greater resources to petro-autocrats such as President Chávez in Venezuela and President Mbasogo in Equatorial Guinea).

I do hope that more U.S. citizens become aware of the impact their personal choices have on their own country and on the rest of the world. At the moment, the USA makes up less than one twentieth of the world's population, yet it produces a quarter of the world's CO2 emissions! It is by far the world's biggest polluter, and its cars should be becoming more fuel efficient, not less. The trend described above is not progress, guys! (I'm assuming most of the pickup drivers are men.)

85 Comments:

Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

China is the world's biggest polluter. And I dare you to cross the Tijuana border near San Diego and tell me the Tijuana side is more nature-loving, and oh so less polluted. You ever see third world exhaust emission standards? You ever wonder why the grass is green in San Diego and raw diesel dust in Tijuana? This whole desire to micromanage America strikes me as counterproductive. I am a driver of a tiny Japanese car by choice and I snicker at the gas bills of these big nasty hulks. But gee, I don't want to tell them they can't buy these things if they like. Most of America, unlike cramped, still-lebesraum-craving Europe, is wide and spread out and these trucks make sense. Most people don't live in the big city as I do. I just visited Fort Myers and Cape Coral (loaded with Big Obese German Snowbirds, by the way) and they all drove their giant SUV trucks there and given the wide spaces of the place it made sense. It makes these guys feel free, and I don't want to interfere with them as long as they are willing to pay the gas bills. I don't understand why Europeans get so worked up about this except for the fact that their massive taxes and cramped bureaucratically-dictated spaces for 'the worker ants' make purchase of these stupid toys unaffordable. I just don't get it. Let them buy those dumb things if they like.

4:26 pm  
Blogger John said...

Dear A.M.,

your comments are appreciated, and I thank you for them. As you know, I share many of your views. But talking about "obese German snowbirds", and "Lebensraum-craving Europe" is overly emotive and doesn't further the discussion. Please maintain a cordial tone and present your arguments factually. Thank you!

In response to your posting:

----

Top 10 CO2 polluters in absolute terms (million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption & flaring of fossil fuels, 1998)(Source: Sierra Club)

1) United States 1,494.60
2) China 740.38
3) Russia 405.04
4) Japan 288.48
(US CARS & LIGHT TRUCKS 260.00)
5) India 252.55
6) Germany 227.51
7) United Kingdom 147.37
8) Canada 138.46
9) Italy 119.98
10) South Korea 107.51

- The U.S. is the world’s #1 global warming polluter and #2 per capita, with 23% of the world’s global warming pollution yet only 4% of the world’s people.
- The U.S. uses twice as much energy as Europe to achieve roughly the same standard of living.
- In 1997, 1998 and 1999 China, which emits half the amount of pollution as the U.S., cut its coal burning, decreasing its carbon emissions, at the same time that U.S. emissions continued to increase.
- Roughly 3/4 of carbon emissions have come from developed nations.
- U.S. carbon emissions in 1998 were 160 MMT (approximately 11%) greater than in 1990, which is more that the total emissions for the United Kingdom.

----

"China is the world's biggest polluter. And I dare you to cross the Tijuana border near San Diego and tell me the Tijuana side is more nature-loving, and oh so less polluted. You ever see third world exhaust emission standards?"

What's your basis for saying that China is the biggest polluter?

Developed countries have more financial, human and technological resources available to cut their pollution than developing countries. In this sense, I don't think it's fair to compare Mexico with the USA. In addition, environmental damage is caused by absolute volumes of pollutants emitted, and the USA, being the biggest contributor to emissions, has the greatest opportunity to improve the situation by cutting its emissions. Consider too that the development of cleaner technologies by a country such as the USA would, through economies of scale, make such technologies available to poorer countries as well. It goes without saying, of course, that all countries should cut their emissions as much as possible. Countries with strong institutions and enforceable laws (such as the USA) have a better chance than those that don't have them (such as Mexico), however.

"You ever wonder why the grass is green in San Diego and raw diesel dust in Tijuana?"

I haven't been to Tijuana nor to San Diego, but I've been to many similar places. In many developing countries, environmental protection is perceived (correctly or not) as a luxury that cannot be afforded. Developed countries, on the other hand, can afford to clean up their act, and, being bigger polluters, have a greater obligation to do so.

"This whole desire to micromanage America strikes me as counterproductive."

In the end, it's an accounting problem: prices don't reflect externalities such as environmental impact. If they did, people would naturally choose options that cause less damage to the environment; in the case of fossil fuels, these would become significantly more expensive, and presumably far fewer people would use cars that are larger than their needs.

"I am a driver of a tiny Japanese car by choice and I snicker at the gas bills of these big nasty hulks."

Good for you! (So do I, by the way.) :-)

"But gee, I don't want to tell them they can't buy these things if they like."

Neither would I prohibit their choice. Instead, I would use taxes, not laws or regulations, to influence behaviour. By taxing wasteful behaviour heavily, it would become less attractive to engage in it.

"Most of America, unlike cramped, still-lebesraum-craving Europe, is wide and spread out and these trucks make sense. Most people don't live in the big city as I do."

Europe is cramped compared to the USA, that's true. But Europe is NOT "still-Lebensraum-craving". Europeans have learned to make their use of space and resources more efficient. They are not belligerent or territorially expansionistic.

Regarding your other two points: using a bigger car doesn't make you more capable of traveling long distances, so that argument makes no sense. Ad 2: As a matter of fact, half of the U.S. population does live in big cities with over 500.000 inhabitants (Source: http://www.demographia.com/db-ua2000compare.htm). And I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority live in towns with more than 100.000 inhabitants, where they also don't need a 3-ton pickup or Hummer to go from A to B.

"It makes these guys feel free, and I don't want to interfere with them as long as they are willing to pay the gas bills."

Right, but they're getting their gasoline very cheap -- too cheap, I think (because of unaccounted externalities).

"I don't understand why Europeans get so worked up about this except for the fact that their massive taxes and cramped bureaucratically-dictated spaces for 'the worker ants' make purchase of these stupid toys unaffordable."

Envy isn't the reason Europeans get so worked up about this. The reason they get worked up is because they realise that one's responsibility towards others extends further than the tip of one's nose. (Though there is also an increasing number of people here who buy huge cars -- not all Europeans are alike, of course.) One's actions impact people all around the world -- and this is particularly true for mighty hyperpower like the USA. The substances the U.S. economy emits into the air don't just have consequences in your country, but also in Europe, Asia, and everywhere else. (Of course, this applies to all economies, which is why all economies should get involved in reducing emissions.)

By the way, Europeans tend to think of U.S.-Americans as worker ants rather than the other way round. Cubicles are the exception at the workplace -- most people have their own office (or share it with 2-3 others). Europeans also have shorter working hours, longer vacation times, and earlier retirement ages. In general, they have more free time of which to dispose as they see fit -- hardly characteristic for worker ants, wouldn't you agree?

All that having been said, there are two points I want to mention:

1) Big pickup trucks have their uses. They can make good sense when there is a need to transport goods, or when living in a rural area where a rugged vehicle is necessary.

2) In Europe, there's a perception that the U.S. government does not engage itself strongly enough in environmental issues. That may be, but what is often overlooked is that the U.S. states are highly autonomous, and that many of them have environmental regulations that are as strict as those in the EU, if not stricter (California, for instance). This is an important fact to take into consideration when comparing the U.S. with Europe.

10:15 pm  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

John: I didn't even know they lived there till I saw them. They were German. They were obese. You may blame the American diet if you like, but the fact is, I never saw so many fat people who happened to be German. Obesity is not an exclusively American phenomenon. 'Snowbirds' is what they (and all the other nonnatives) are called and it's not an insult. My relatives (German by the way) call themselves snowbirds, too.

4:43 am  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

Sierra Club is not a reliable source of data, by the way, they are a highly partisan far-left lobby with an antiamerican agenda. Many of them have ecoterrorist backgrounds and believe in 'deep ecology' - which, if you haven't heard, is the belief that people should be eliminated from the ecological system. If you want to show good statistics, you should use US government stats, many of which are nonpartisan.

But you neglect to reconcile the sheer hell of the pollution of the third world with the pristine loveliness of the US - which attracts quite a few German retirees in Florida. I saw this with my own eyes and had no knowledge of it beforehand. How could the biggest pollutor be the cleanest place? Answer me that! If I want pollution, I will go to China or India. I won't worry about the US because by one's results do we know one's deeds. The Sierra Club is not a reliable source of information and the fact is, they don't have good sources of data from China or Mexico either because none of these countries gathers data of the same quality as the Americans. I'll judge by the results, not the ravings of a terrible leftist lobby with a true lebesraum agenda.

4:51 am  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

What's your basis for saying that China is the biggest polluter?

>>Having been there. Ever seen a black river? All you have to do is look. All communist states look like this by the way. How can we ignore the evidence of our own eyes? I saw the pollution of Nowa Huta firsthand in the 1980s, too. Terrible!<<

Developed countries have more financial, human and technological resources available to cut their pollution than developing countries. In this sense, I don't think it's fair to compare Mexico with the USA.

>>I do. The purpose of pollution control is to protect people. In Tijuana, there are people who are being poisoned. As well as China. On this I favor absolute value otherwise what is the point of lowering pollution other than to 'control' America out of envy? This isn't an academic statistical exercise. The reason to control pollution is to save people.<<

In addition, environmental damage is caused by absolute volumes of pollutants emitted, and the USA, being the biggest contributor to emissions, has the greatest opportunity to improve the situation by cutting its emissions. Consider too that the development of cleaner technologies by a country such as the USA would, through economies of scale, make such technologies available to poorer countries as well.

>>Are you aware of US innovations in fuel cell technology or the hot selling 'hybrid cars'? Stupid things that cost so much just to manufacture that they don't make up for it in in fuel savings but if people want to buy them I won't interfere. Feel-good cars. As for make it available to poor countries, yes, if they will pay. We don't have a free country for others to harvest for free so that they can stay unfree. That is a subsidy to tyranny and an incentive to corrupt third world governments to stay corrupt because Uncle Sam will always give you what you want for free. I favor everyone paying for the same thing and if they cost is too high, then ask why and reform yourself so it's not so high. Hard of course but it's their responsibility if they have any at all.<<

It goes without saying, of course, that all countries should cut their emissions as much as possible. Countries with strong institutions and enforceable laws (such as the USA) have a better chance than those that don't have them (such as Mexico), however.

>>Mexico looks like a dump because it has weak to nonexistent property rights laws. As many a dumb American retiree who bought a condo on the Baja coast can tell you. When there are no serious property rights and vast numbers of people are shut out of the system, you get 'tragedy of the commons' activity and everyone will treat the land like dirt, which is what it will become. You know what that is, no?<<

"You ever wonder why the grass is green in San Diego and raw diesel dust in Tijuana?"

I haven't been to Tijuana nor to San Diego, but I've been to many similar places. In many developing countries, environmental protection is perceived (correctly or not) as a luxury that cannot be afforded.

>>The property rights problem is part of it - as I stated above. But in terms of absolute damage, pollution's effects are just as real on a Mexican child as they are on a cossetted Western child. He still pays even if his government makes excuses and says it's got better things to do than bother about pollution. By the way, we in San Diego are frequently 'gifted' with Mexican pollution on our beaches and elsewhere. Who pays? We pay. Guess how we feel about it!<<

Developed countries, on the other hand, can afford to clean up their act, and, being bigger polluters, have a greater obligation to do so.

>>I think we should do it not because of some Calvinist obligation (I am trying to figure out the philosophical roots of your thinking), but purely because it makes our life better (I am more utilitarian). You know, you can disinfect the whole earth if you are willing to pay for it. It will cost you everything you have. But you will have perfection. But you don't have to disinfect the whole earth to live a quality existence, you need to weigh costs and benefits of how much pollution control you want to give you the quality of life you desire. You need to balance these things out and not buy the whole Sierra Club Deep Ecology prescription lock stock and barrel. Those people are loonies who have yet to sell their ideas because such ideas are unsalable. Remember: If some of them had their way, people themselves would be eliminated for the sake of pollution control - which wouldn't make sense anyway - volcanoes cause more pollution than people. I am sure you can see the point, even if you disagree about the volcano part.<<

"This whole desire to micromanage America strikes me as counterproductive."

In the end, it's an accounting problem: prices don't reflect externalities such as environmental impact.

>>Disagree. They do. Trust the markets. Read your Hayek and your Bastiat.<<

If they did, people would naturally choose options that cause less damage to the environment; in the case of fossil fuels, these would become significantly more expensive, and presumably far fewer people would use cars that are larger than their needs.

>>I am against doing it by coercion, having some unaccountable elite Camdessus French socialist bureaucrat be the decisionmaker on that. And so are our Asian allies who really did once get stuck with Monsieur Camdessus with all his elite French pretensions doing just that. Where is the democracy in this?<<

"I am a driver of a tiny Japanese car by choice and I snicker at the gas bills of these big nasty hulks."

Good for you! (So do I, by the way.) :-)

>>And they are easy to park! I am always amused to see someone in one of those big hulks trying to find a place to park! So dumb!<<

"But gee, I don't want to tell them they can't buy these things if they like."

Neither would I prohibit their choice. Instead, I would use taxes, not laws or regulations, to influence behaviour. By taxing wasteful behaviour heavily, it would become less attractive to engage in it.

>>It's one way, but I would prefer to let the market decide. Who sets the taxes? I think you have too much faith in the goodness and expertise of the proverbial Monsieur Camdessus. What if he sets them too high? How will he be held accountable? The problem with these EU-style bureaucracies is that no one is EVER held accountable, and no mistake is ever admitted, either. Power expands and the results speak for themselves.<<

"Most of America, unlike cramped, still-lebesraum-craving Europe, is wide and spread out and these trucks make sense. Most people don't live in the big city as I do."

Europe is cramped compared to the USA, that's true. But Europe is NOT "still-Lebensraum-craving". Europeans have learned to make their use of space and resources more efficient. They are not belligerent or territorially expansionistic.

>>I think they are. They certainly seek to micromanage others to their own reality! But this will have to be a difference of opinion. US cities are significantly different from Europe's by the way. I happen to love Europe's, but they are way different from a place like Cape Coral or Fort Myers. Or Los Angeles, a gigantically sprawling city with miles of space. When you say most Americans live 'in a city,' I am thinking you have obviously never been to an American one except maybe the few cramped ones like Boston or NY or San Francisco. A place like Fort Myers or Phoenix or San Diego, all of which are classified as real cities, are nothing like European cities - they are loaded with wide open spaces. As such, an SUV is not that big a space imposition.<<

Regarding your other two points: using a bigger car doesn't make you more capable of traveling long distances, so that argument makes no sense.

>>Ever done it with toddlers? Or small boys? You want a big car!<<

And 2: As a matter of fact, half of the U.S. population does live in big cities with over 500.000 inhabitants (Source: http://www.demographia.com/db-ua2000compare.htm). And I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority live in towns with more than 100.000 inhabitants, where they also don't need a 3-ton pickup or Hummer to go from A to B.

>>As I said above, most of these cities don't resemble Europe's at all. They were built in the 20th century and don't have roads based on winding deer paths or tiny yeoman's carts. They were actually built for car life. This has advantages and disadvantages of course.<<

"It makes these guys feel free, and I don't want to interfere with them as long as they are willing to pay the gas bills."

Right, but they're getting their gasoline very cheap -- too cheap, I think (because of unaccounted externalities).

>>Trust the markets. If they use too much, they will pay and when they get sick of it, they will get rid of those stupid things. What WON'T make them get rid of them is some creepy UN or EU type of bureaucrat (who drives one of these hulks himself, ever read Diplomad and the tales of the white Toyota suv corps) telling him he can't have one. As Hernando de Soto said, there are reasons people do these things and there is no stopping them. The best thing government can do is adapt to the people's reality and go with the flow. To fight the desires of the people in great masses is to lose. "History teaches us, there is no stopping the movement of people."<<

"I don't understand why Europeans get so worked up about this except for the fact that their massive taxes and cramped bureaucratically-dictated spaces for 'the worker ants' make purchase of these stupid toys unaffordable."

Envy isn't the reason Europeans get so worked up about this. The reason they get worked up is because they realise that one's responsibility towards others extends further than the tip of one's nose.

>>I don't think so. I hate to bring this up but is that why they were so indifferent to the human shredders in Iraq? We each have our areas of idealism. In America, we think freedom is most important. In Europe, there is more emphasis on preserving what one has and not being wasteful. I only object when it goes beyond mutual appreciation of differences and extends into a desire to remake the other in one's own image. This creates friction.<<

(Though there is also an increasing number of people here who buy huge cars -- not all Europeans are alike, of course.) One's actions impact people all around the world -- and this is particularly true for mighty hyperpower like the USA.

>>Says who? How does an SUV in some boring place like Phoenix affect your life? It doesn't! Trust the markets!<<

The substances the U.S. economy emits into the air don't just have consequences in your country, but also in Europe, Asia, and everywhere else.

>>Unsubstantiated. We are ten times the size of the next biggest economy in the world. We produce more than absolutely anyone. Of course our emissions numbers are going to be high, but that is because we are so productive and our economy is so huge. (One that Europe depends on for its exports by the way.) Do you propose we turn our economy into a stagnant European one with double digit unemployment, below-zero population growth and massive taxes, plus no new businesses forming? If we weren't productive, a whole lot of other people would have much bigger problems than they already do. And when you have tsunami problems, let's face it, there is only one country on earth with the resources that can handle it. One that requires a gigantic dynamic economy that is not stagnant. Do you really think our powerful (but hated in Europe) navy just kind of happened? Or was the result of a huge tax base, a commmitted leader, rock solid institutions, and a sound stable currency? There is a failure in Europe to understand the US as a whole and look at it analytically as a laundry list of parts. As VS Naipaul said, there is a belief in the jealous parts of the world (he was referring to Iran's mullahs) that if you can just destroy America, there will be this benign, loving, bountiful culture just waiting to be harvested with all the advances of capitalism. As if they just happened without cause. It just doesn't work that way.<<

(Of course, this applies to all economies, which is why all economies should get involved in reducing emissions.)

By the way, Europeans tend to think of U.S.-Americans as worker ants rather than the other way round.

>>You forget that we enjoy what we do and that career is identity. That we have power and more rights, and not always a boss. We move around so much that we never get that much vacation. Unlike Europe where you often get one job and once chance in life and stay put. This is for better or worse, there are definitely mixed points here.<<

Cubicles are the exception at the workplace -- most people have their own office (or share it with 2-3 others).

>>Oh please - you have never heard of guys from Europe like Mises van de Rohe and other architects that had such a low opinion of humanity that all they could do was design ugly inhuman things? Just look at Rotterdam! (sad, it was my ancestral city). These guys were the originators of the worker-ant concept. Not to mention, Marx with his 'proletariat' concept. That sure didn't take root in America! We are the land of 'every man an aristocrat' - as Tom Wolfe outrageously put it.<<

Europeans also have shorter working hours, longer vacation times, and earlier retirement ages. In general, they have more free time of which to dispose as they see fit -- hardly characteristic for worker ants, wouldn't you agree?

>>They pay for it with massive economy-killing taxes and lost productivity, but this is their choice, so I will agree.<<

All that having been said, there are two points I want to mention:

1) Big pickup trucks have their uses. They can make good sense when there is a need to transport goods, or when living in a rural area where a rugged vehicle is necessary.

2) In Europe, there's a perception that the U.S. government does not engage itself strongly enough in environmental issues. That may be, but what is often overlooked is that the U.S. states are highly autonomous, and that many of them have environmental regulations that are as strict as those in the EU, if not stricter (California, for instance). This is an important fact to take into consideration when comparing the U.S. with Europe.

>>No disagreement. We are working to loosen California's outrageous pollution standards to levels that balance out cost versus benefit to levels more to our own preference as is our right in this state run by an Austrian we elected to oust the local chavez in a recall referendum. Go, Arnie!<<

6:09 am  
Blogger A.M. Mora y Leon said...

One last thing - not sure where I saw it on your comments - I do not believe the claims about global warming and I know that many reputable scientists do not either. We have a totally different basis of facts on this issue, I do not buy it in the slightest any more than I buy the "scientific" talk about a new descending ice age I used to hear in the 1970s. These forecasts can be such bad stuff. Once again, the purveyors of them are remarkably unaccountable.

6:13 am  
Blogger John said...

Hi A.M.,

you certainly do write a lot! :-) I'll try to respond as much as I can -- I have some questions for you as well as responses.

"Sierra Club is not a reliable source of data, by the way, they are a highly partisan far-left lobby with an antiamerican agenda. Many of them have ecoterrorist backgrounds and believe in 'deep ecology' - which, if you haven't heard, is the belief that people should be eliminated from the ecological system."

I actually expected you to criticise me for using Sierra Club information -- and so you did. I've provided some other information sources below. I've had a look at the Sierra Club's webpage and certainly haven't seen any "antiamericanism", such as wanting to destroy the nation or damage its pride. Quite the contrary.

I've had a look for the term "deep ecology" on the Internet. While this movement does seem rather extreme in terms of wanting to redefine the relationship between humans and nature (e.g. "Instead of identifying with our egos or our immediate families, we would learn to identify with trees and animals and plants"), I have not seen any source stating that they want humans to be eliminated from the ecological system (i.e. earth -- all of it is one system, after all). That is an idea I have only seen in science fiction so far, where it provided a great motivation for the bad guys to threaten the good guys with the destruction of all life on earth.

http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/2003/html/table_a.html:The U.S. population is 220M urban, 60M rural. I think most of the urban population don't really need large pickup trucks.

http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/2003/html/table_04_49.html:Provides longitudinal data on U.S. CO2 emissions since 1982.

http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_glob.htm:Since 1751 roughly 283 billion tons of carbon have been released to the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels and cement production. Half of these emissions have occurred since the mid 1970s.

http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_usa.htm:The United States continues to be the largest single national source of fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions reaching an all-time high of 1529 million metric tons of carbon in 2000. In fact, U.S. emissions are approximately twice those of the world's second largest emitter, the People's Republic of China. Emissions in 2000 rose 1.7% over 1999 and are slightly more than twice those of mid-1950s levels, although the U.S. share of global emissions declined from 44% to 24% over the same interval because of higher growth rates in other countries. (See also http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_tp20.htm.)

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/global_warming/page.cfm?pageID=524:Scientists are convinced that human actions are causing global warming. If this is so, it stands to reason that our own actions can also help reduce this threat.

Because US emissions of heat-trapping gases are so high, Americans have a special responsibility and opportunity to work to reduce the threat of global warming. You can help by taking personal action, encouraging community action, and influencing US action.

You can reduce your personal contribution to global warming and set an example for others by using less gasoline, natural gas, oil, and electricity in your daily life. Your choices about energy and transportation are especially crucial. The next time you buy a car, choose one that is highly fuel efficient. Your choice of vehicle is probably your single most important environmental decision: for every single gallon of gasoline burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide go into the atmosphere.

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/global_warming/page.cfm?pageID=965:List of Top 20 CO2 Emitters

----

"But you neglect to reconcile the sheer hell of the pollution of the third world with the pristine loveliness of the US - which attracts quite a few German retirees in Florida. I saw this with my own eyes and had no knowledge of it beforehand. How could the biggest pollutor be the cleanest place? Answer me that!"

Come on, A.M., you know better than that! There are several explanations for your observation. A) Your sample is very small (how much of the countries you are comparing have you really seen?). B) Not all pollution is visible pollution. You can't see CO, CO2 or NO2 emissions. C) I'm not sure you're comparing the same things. Have you ever compared the pristine loveliness of a Los Angeles smog alarm with the sheer hell of the pollution in the Kruger National Park? (I'm being ironic -- the KNP is pristine nature.) D) Developing countries are at a stage in their industrial development now where the U.S. was a hundred years ago. I wager that you wouldn't have found the U.S. to have been much cleaner at that time. In general, there seems to be a progression where industrial development is the top priority at the beginning of the process, no matter the environmental or human toll; at later stages, environmental factors and work conditions become more and more important. Obviously, the USA is much further down the road of industrial (and institutional!) development than Mexico or India. And I think most developed countries nowadays have similar levels of visible pollution.

"Ever seen a black river? All you have to do is look. All communist states look like this by the way."

Yes, the communist states were really terrible at environmental protection. Talking of black rivers: in the 1960s, they used to say that the Rhine was a Fountain of Eternal Youth: Whoever drank from it never aged. (Because they died immediately, of course.)

The Rhine is one of the most impressive examples of environmental cleaning-up that I know. Nowadays you can swim in the river (though you shouldn't drink from it yet), catch fish from it (and eat them without being poisoned), and it looks really healthy. This was only possible because ALL of the countries through which the river flows got together and worked on cleaning it up. Unilateral action wouldn't have been as successful by any means. By the same token, air pollution is an issue that needs to be addressed by all countries involved, not just by some.

"Are you aware of US innovations in fuel cell technology or the hot selling 'hybrid cars'? Stupid things that cost so much just to manufacture that they don't make up for it in in fuel savings but if people want to buy them I won't interfere. As for make it available to poor countries, yes, if they will pay."

Have you ever heard of economies of scale and the experience curve? Economies of scale mean that the proportion of fixed costs allocated to each item produced becomes lower the more items you produce. The experience curve describes the observation that with each doubling of the total (cumulative) number of items produced, production costs can be reduced by 20 to 30 percent. Both factors mean that prices come down as more products are sold. Like all other technologies, environmental technologies become cheaper the more they are used; and the cheaper they become, the more they are used. As they become cheaper, poorer countries will become able to use them. All of these factors contribute to cleaning up the environment -- that's why it's a good thing when developed nations promote environmental technologies. I wasn't trying to suggest the USA (or any other country) should simply give advanced technology to other countries for free -- perhaps I should have expressed myself more clearly.

I agree with your comment on the importance of strong property rights (and I do know what dirt, land, property rights and the tragedy of the commons are...).

"By the way, we in San Diego are frequently 'gifted' with Mexican pollution on our beaches and elsewhere. Who pays? We pay. Guess how we feel about it!"

I guess you feel angry and upset about it -- just like Europeans do when U.S.-Americans refuse to cut their CO2 emissions. High CO2 emissions very likely have consequences the world over.

I know that there are some scientists still undecided about whether a) global warming is taking place, b) whether we have a role to play in that, and c) whether there is anything we can do about it. But the dominant opinion among experts is a) yes, b) yes, c) yes. And if the USA believes in preemptive war on military threats, then why does it not lead a preemptive war on environmental threats?

Regarding my philosophical underpinnings: they are not Calvinistic, but rather utilitarian like yours. The only difference is that I believe society does not advance through individual advancement alone -- it also needs a little bit extra. (In terms of game theory: cooperation generally provides greater payoffs system-wide than confrontation, or non-cooperation.)

"In the end, it's an accounting problem: prices don't reflect externalities such as environmental impact.

>>Disagree. They do. Trust the markets.<<"

How does Chevron, for instance, factor in the cost of global warming resulting from CO2 emissions into the price it charges for petrol? How do the markets force Chevron to factor in those costs?

How do you see Europeans as being territorially expansionistic? When was the last time a European nation waged a war to win territory for its burgeoning populations? Or what do you understand by the expression "Lebensraum-craving" -- are you aware of the historical context of the expression?

"US cities are significantly different from Europe's by the way."

I am very much aware of that -- I've been to Houston, Phoenix, and Miami for medium to long periods of times (weeks or months), and to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York on short trips. The sprawling cities like Phoenix and Houston are distinctly car-friendly and pedestrian-unfriendly. You are right that in such places, SUVs or large pickup trucks have more space in which to unfold themselves, so to speak.

>>Ever done it with toddlers? Or small boys? You want a big car!<<

I know what you mean -- but a pickup??? :-)

"I hate to bring this up but is that why they (the Europeans) were so indifferent to the human shredders in Iraq?"

Most Europeans were not indifferent to Saddam's regime, but shocked and disgusted by its atrocities. Yet they differed about the ways of dealing with the problem. After all the wars that Europe has been through, the continent has developed a distinctly pacifistic attitude -- and I actually think that that is mostly a Very Good Thing. Particularly in the case of Germany, which luckily appears to be most pacifistic of all.

Another thing that irritates Europeans is what they see as U.S. hypocrisy: The USA claim to have liberated Iraq for humanitarian reasons, because freedom must prevail, democracy needs to be spread, and dictators have to be stopped. That may well be true, but then why does the USA not liberate Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, North Korea and so on? (And this is without even mentioning past U.S. administrations' active support for dictators in Latin America and other countries.) Europeans have the impression that the U.S. only cares about freedom when it is convenient for the U.S. In contrast to its publically stated ideals, the real motivation for its actions is decidedly self-serving in many cases. (I'm not talking about examples like the USA's tsunami aid, of course, which was exemplary and greatly welcomed.)

"We are ten times the size of the next biggest economy in the world."

Not quite...

According to the CIA World Factbook, the GDP of:
EU: $11.05 trillion (per capita: $25,700)
USA: $10.99 trillion (per capita: $37,800)
Japan: $3.582 trillion (per capita: $28,200)
Germany: $2.271 trillion (per capita: $27,600)
Luxembourg: $25 billion (per capita: $55,100)
(Something that always astounds me: California GDP in 2000: $1.33 trillion. If separate nation, CA would rank 5th after US, Japan, Germany, UK.)

"Do you propose we turn our economy into a stagnant European one with double digit unemployment, below-zero population growth and massive taxes, plus no new businesses forming?"

Certainly not! I think it's great that the U.S. economy is so strong, and I wish the European economy would emulate it. But surely you don't believe that the U.S. economy would become stagnant if it improved its energy efficiency?

"Do you really think our powerful (but hated in Europe) navy just kind of happened?"

Do you really think I really think that? Come on, A.M., you can't be serious! :-)

"There is a failure in Europe to understand the US as a whole and look at it analytically as a laundry list of parts."

I think Europe actually understands the U.S. quite well. It just doesn't agree with all of it, that's all. (The reverse also applies, wouldn't you say?)

"As VS Naipaul said, there is a belief in the jealous parts of the world (he was referring to Iran's mullahs) that if you can just destroy America, there will be this benign, loving, bountiful culture just waiting to be harvested with all the advances of capitalism. As if they just happened without cause. It just doesn't work that way."

I think you are right that there is a jealous belief in some parts of the world that can be described as above. Even though I find it hard to believe and couldn't agree with it less.

"You forget that we enjoy what we do and that career is identity. That we have power and more rights, and not always a boss. We move around so much that we never get that much vacation."

I think you are generalising a bit too much here... you'll certainly find a bit of both in Europe and in the USA (i.e. some people like their jobs and others loathe them, some are self-employed and others work for a company). Life-time employement is also a dying concept in Europe, by the way.

"lost productivity"

Europeans wouldn't be able to enjoy so much free time if they weren't extremely efficient and productive at work... next time you're in Europe (specifically, in Germany), go to an Aldi discounter. The cashiers there never cease to amaze me -- I've never seen anything like it anywhere else. They're incredibly fast and productive. They use tills without scanners because they're faster typing in the prices than scanning them (they memorise the prices of all products in the supermarket). They finish pricing your goods faster than you can put them into your trolley. And they don't just do cashier duty -- they simultaneously restock shelves and keep the place clean!

By the way, how is Arnie doing as governor?

Regards,
John.

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The thing is, the advertising industry HAS changed
dramatically over the past few years. And while company
after company has gone out of business just trying to keep
up with all these changes, Howard has continued to generate
over $3.7 million every year with what he's just giving away
to you now.

And this book shows you step-by-step what he did and how he
did it so you can take his strategies and model them to
create your own success.

Plus, with over 50 million places to place your ads, and an
additional 15,000+ instant links, I was especially impressed
by the way Howard's book is unlike any other as you can use
it to start making money literally within just 5 minutes of
opening it up -- and test -- all the resources and links for
your own instant use and your own business.

I still think that Howard's going to regret giving all this
information away, so I would advise you to grab this book
while you can! It really does provide you everything you
need to do to grow your business successfully and
explosively with FREE ads -- over 50 million of them
instantly. Find out more at:

https://paydotcom.com/r/2787/gipedan

All the best...

Daniel Gipe

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