Thursday, March 27, 2008

Scrap Metal

Sometimes paying more costs less. Why pay over a thousand dollars for a washing machine when that other one looks almost as good for half the price? But what if the more expensive machine will last more than twice as long? What if it uses half the energy? What if it was made from recycled materials and will be fully recyclable after you're done with it? All of these considerations might move you to pay more.

Beer fridges in basements and garages are usually ancient appliances that were already inefficient when they were made. Eventually the insulation inside these fridges turned to dust so that most of them consume four to ten times more power than a newer energy star fridge. Encouraging people to recycle inefficient machines will have a huge impact on overall consumption and carbon emissions.

We are entering an age of carbon credits and offsets. If governments are going to get serious about reaching overall reduction targets then at some point in the future they may have to consider some novel incentive programs. Might we one day consider enticing people to recycle their SUV's by offering to give them a highly subsidized or perhaps a free hybrid car in exchange? Or better yet, how about a 5 year transit pass? I wonder what the overall true costs of such a program would amount to. It might seem ludicrously expensive at first glance but what if you consider all of the environmental and social benefits of taking a million SUV vehicles off the road? Someone should do the math.

If the price of fuel continues to rise along with the value of carbon offsets then these recycling credits might be the only tangible value that these vehicles will be able to maintain.