Save gas and power, cut costs — wow

But then, we knew that, right?

The “carbon footprint” justification is loopy (because it cannot alter global warming, even if there was any), but its righteousness distracts people so they forget about other ways of saving money.

Auckland[‘s publicly-funded War Memorial Museum] expects to spend 35 per cent less on gas and electricity, saving $340,000.

Auckland Museum is being touted as a green example for other city organisations after it succeeded in slashing its carbon footprint by 30 per cent in just two years.

The reduction – saving the museum around $340,000 this year – has prompted a call by Auckland Mayor Len Brown for others to follow its lead. Continue Reading →

Pencil in one carbon footprint

Published in 1958 by Leonard E. Read, this famous essay continues to delight young and old. It describes the natural system of collaboration, in which the mere insubstantial vapour of human desire recruits people, products and processes in a sublime, perfectly co-ordinated, yet undirected, dance of duty and productive effort leading to universal satisfaction.

“I, Pencil” [Milton Friedman says] illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith’s invisible hand—the possibility of cooperation without coercion—and Friedrich Hayek’s emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that “will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do.”

Clearly, Leonard Read wrote this modern morality tale to teach economics, yet it succeeds on many levels and today provides useful instruction about the foolishness of calculating an item’s so-called “carbon footprint”. For who could possibly know everything done in every capacity contributing to the item’s eventual production? Such knowledge is literally impossible.

Yet such extensive knowledge is required, if we are to determine all of the “carbon” used in an item’s design, production and distribution.

Here is that story; it is a cautionary tale against the hubris that tempts us all with: “We know everything”. When it drifts away from production, read it simply as a guide to economic principle. Continue Reading →

It’s your footprint. What is it to me?

Gareth Hughes, an obviously earnest young man, writing in the NZ Herald recently, advises us breathlessly to take all manner of feel-good actions to stave off global warming and prevent any further drain on the national grid. As though the national grid was not supposed to supply energy for our use. That we pay for.

He seems to take the view that the Earth is a fragile, sensitive object that, without the most rigorous balancing of resources to ensure what is called “sustainability” (but which is never defined), might never recover from the ravages of this human life upon it. Never mind that animals, birds and fish rage and stamp, consume and defecate their mindless ways above, across and under it and in the oceans in their millions willy-nilly. What they do is natural but everything we do is unnatural, artificial—even inhuman, perhaps. Certainly endlessly disagreeable. Continue Reading →

Tourism to be Ravaged by Global Warming?

The Editor,
NZ Herald.
4 January, 2008.

Dear Sir,

Is our hard-won tourism industry to be ravaged by global warming?

No, not by rising sea levels, but by imposts to “offset” the “carbon footprints” of the growing numbers of our visitors? Let us hope that cool heads examine the matter carefully before hasty action spoils anything.

According to research from the University of Otago published in the NZ Herald today, visiting tourists’ CO2 emissions equal those from all our coal, gas and oil-fired electricity generators combined. Continue Reading →