Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A note on green products 

Regular readers know that I practice a certain amount of hypocritical environmentalism, most recently advocating the use of phosphate-free dishwaser detergent. Yes, we own a hybrid, I jam in florescent bulbs when my family's attention is elsewhere, and being an affluent person with a six mile commute I'm all for raising the tax on gasoline.

That said, there is a lot of truth in this, a response to the typical lefty charge that industry does not sell eco-products out of greed or a callous disregard for Gaia:

Er, industry also knew how to make low-flow toilets, which is why every toilet in my recently renovated rental house clogs at least once a week. They knew how to make more energy efficient dryers, which is why even on high, I have to run every load through the dryer in said house twice. And they knew how to make inexpensive compact flourescent bulbs, which is why my head hurts from the glare emitting from my bedroom lamp. They also knew how to make asthma inhalers without CFCs, which is why I am hoarding old albuterol inhalers that, unlike the new ones, a) significantly improve my breathing and b) do not make me gag. Etc.

In fact, when I look back at almost every "environmentally friendly" alternative product I've seen being widely touted as a cost-free way to lower our footprint, held back only by the indecent vermin at "industry" who don't care about the environment, I notice a common theme: the replacement good has really really sucked compared to the old, inefficient version.

But why make that obvious and virtually indisputable point when you can just blame businesses for incompetence, sloth, and greed?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 07, 03:28:00 AM:

For those of us that live in NJ where the average population density is almost that of Japan, I think we Republicans are all environmentalists to a degree. Here, Republican towns want environmental regulation to protect us against the particulates spewed by trucks on local roads, noise ordinances, riparian protection, etc. Democratic towns differ only in that they also want to tar and feather the truckers.

TH...you my dear, are a product of your environment. Hehe.

a moderate  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 07, 03:43:00 AM:


My brother also owns a hybrid. Of course he commuted to NYC for over ten years by private jet. His wife will only use cotton/linen napkins but they have a 6,000sq. ft.+ house. He's all for illegal immigration...after all...they clean his pool while he tells his accented cabbies that his sweet dogs are vicious so he won't be robbed. But, of course, he's a Democrat.

Oh Lordie...I hope he doesn't read this blog. LOL

a moderate  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Tue Apr 07, 04:21:00 AM:

TCO on hybrids is too high. A VW TDI diesel is a much smarter buy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 07, 05:20:00 AM:

Country club Republicans - the reason Libertarians need to split from the Republican party.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Apr 07, 06:35:00 AM:

I consider myself a "Teddy Roosevelt" Republican. I believe in conservation in the old school sense, but also adventurism abroad.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 07, 07:13:00 AM:

Hey Anon...

I'm not a Country Club Republican either. I live in a more rural part of southern New Jersey where almost ALL the Republicans are conservationists in the TR sense. Most hunt and fish.

a moderate  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 07, 07:28:00 AM:

TH, remember some of the other things that TR, the trustbusting progressive, did. The big jumps in government came during the presidencies of Lincoln, TR, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ and now BHO. Four to two but still plenty of Republicans in there.

Most people who buy Priuses do so to stroke their egos. With a peer recognizable body style they say, ""I'm green," On the other hand hybridized regular vehicles aren't selling so well since on a Lexus you have to look carefully for the H suffix on the model number as the only hint that it's a hybrid.

That said, the Prius is a technological tour-de-force, no question, but it's the wrong answer. They are incredibly complex and their poor repair records are only hidden by the fact that Toyota is providing secret under the table warranties. The batteries make them heavy and I know of at least one case where Toyota replaced the batteries under an extended warranty for no cost to the end user. The batteries are an $8000 part, almost half the price of the car at the time. Toyota strokes it's own green ego by having the car in its lineup but loses money on each one. In the past they made up the difference on sales of the Camry, Corolla, and Tundra Pick-up truck. Last year they lost money like the others, just less of it. The turbocharged, common rail Diesel with or in the VW case without peeing in the tailpipe is a better solution since it's simpler all around.

The Prious also has other problems the most egregious of which is the pollution caused by the mining of the Nickel for the NiMH battery technology. Batteries are dumb. You can go to the CRC Handbook and look up the numbers for the materials in your battery and that's the maximum number of amp-hours you can achieve at the limit. Flooded lead-acid technology of yore is pretty close to that limit. All the rest of the stuff like Gel Cells and AGM are just nibbling around the edges.


By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Tue Apr 07, 07:30:00 AM:

I was an environmentalist before I voted for Republicans. As both my parents studied under Victor Shelford, one of the founding fathers of Ecology, for their graduate degrees, this was perhaps to be expected. I spent some time as an eco-freak activist back in the day.

The flickering of fluorescent lighting that some complain about has not been an issue for me. While it is good to use fluorescent lighting, it is not cost effective to replace all your lights. The rule of thumb I have read is that if you are going to use the light for 15 minutes or less, keep the incandescent lights, as the fluorescent lights will burn out faster if turned off before 15 minutes of use. So, I have fluorescent lights only where I will use them a lot. For places like the closet or bathroom, where the light will be on for short times, I keep incandescent bulbs. The energy use for lights turned on for several minutes a day is trivial. But you have to remember to turn off the light!

I use air conditioning maybe two hours a year in Texas, and my electric energy comes from wind. I am fairly well shaded, so that helps.

The liberals who are against wind energy, such as Ted Kennedy for obstructing his view, or Diane Feinstein because it is a desecration to have a wind turbine in the middle of the desert, chap my lips. If Diane Feinstein doesn’t want to have wind turbines in the desert, then we should place them on the site of her mansion in San Francisco.

Similar opinions for those against nuclear energy, or for those who want carbon taxes on coal. The liberals/NIMBY/environmental people are basically saying that there is NO solution. They will paralyze our society.

For all liberals who don’t like domestic drilling, and increasing domestic drilling admittedly will NOT provide all our energy needs, I would suggest that they turn off the heating and air conditioning systems in their houses, and sell their cars. I drive less than 2000 miles per year,because I work out of my home, so I put my money where my mouth is. Drive less and drill, I say.

I left the Democratic Party because I decided that the McGovern/Carter approach to foreign policy did not work. I was a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam War, and was appalled by the genocide in Cambodia. We gave peace a chance, and it didn't work.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Tue Apr 07, 07:46:00 AM:

Another point about the article.She complains about "energy efficient" clothes driers. There is a very energy efficient clothes drier. It's called the clothes line. While it is easier in TX than in cooler climates to air dry clothing, my mother hung out our clothes to dry even in freezing northeast winters. Only rain stopped the clothes line.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Apr 07, 07:51:00 AM:

Boludo, nice comments. My only observation is that it is no longer possible to air dry your clothes in many parts of big cities.  

By Anonymous meta-4, at Tue Apr 07, 09:42:00 AM:

Consider another overlooked fact about batteries:. Have you ever been near a battery factory? Do you know what raw materials go into a making a battery? Can you spell
S-U-L-F-E-R-I-C A-C-I-D?
And L-E-A-D. Yes, that dreaded lead. And various other base metals, and other very bad stuff, any one of which the EPA wouldn't let you have anywhere near a populated area. This is why you couldn't get a permit to build a battery factory here in the U.S.

Environmentalists, could you possibly get a clue......before you kill what's left of our economy?  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Tue Apr 07, 09:53:00 AM:

My sister recently purchased a new refrigerator for her clinic to store drugs. It didn't work. Turns out that the new 'energy efficient' refrigerators have smaller compressors and won't keep the contents cool if the door is constantly opened and closed. She was told that nowdays she would have to buy a commercial refrigerator to do what a residential refrigerator used to do. Green products are BS. Much inconvienience and costly inferior products for negligible enviromental gain.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Tue Apr 07, 10:48:00 AM:

We've had two low flow toilets for several years and they work just fine.
As for dishwasher detergents and the phosphate issue...use a dish scrubby. They worked for Mom and they'll work for you!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 07, 11:25:00 AM:

BOLUDO TEJANO has got the engineering and economic stuff right. He sounds like an old engineer--like me.

By Anonymous Blademanmartin, at Tue Apr 07, 12:21:00 PM:

I like a clean environment, just like everybody else. But, My money IS my freedom; the more the government takes, the less I have. I don't have a cabin somewhere to go to, I have to bring my camping stuff with me. Ever try camping with a wife and kids in a Prius? Ever try to tow a 20' trailer with a Prius? How about a boat, or a horse trailer? Why should I be forced to fund Barney Frank's Ponzi scheme in the name of Gaia? For the entirety of human history Gaia's done her best to try and kill as many humans as possible, and just when we get things sort of figured out, everyone wants to unilaterally disarm.

And another thing: Why is the status quo ante environment/climate something we need to preserve? The current environment we have will relapse to an ice age which will last on average 100,000 years, followed by an average of 15,000 years of warmth. Why is that the most desirable state to have? If we can engineer our planet's weather system to prevent or eliminate ice ages, why shouldn't we? Why is having a mile of ice sitting on top of North America a desirable thing??  

By Anonymous Stuart, at Tue Apr 07, 01:17:00 PM:

Everyone knows that GM can make a car that get 100 mpg and GE can make lightbulbs that last forever but Exxon won't let them. 1975-1990.

GM can make that car only its way to expensive to be cost effective and the Japanese make a better one. GE makes those lightbulbs but the actual light sucks and they don't last nearly as long as expected. 2009.  

By Blogger John A, at Tue Apr 07, 02:02:00 PM:

TH - "There is a very energy efficient clothes drier. It's called the clothes line.

Yes. But does your Homeowner Association allow it? Or your landlord, if you rent? Or your local government?

And yes, I remember we used "freeze-dried" tech long before the food industry expanded from military applications to the consumer marketplace.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Tue Apr 07, 02:27:00 PM:

BOLUDO TEJANO has got the engineering and economic stuff right. He sounds like an old engineer--like me.
Guilty as charged.

John A:
TH(actually BT) "There is a very energy efficient clothes drier. It's called the clothes line.”
Yes. But does your Homeowner Association allow it? Or your landlord, if you rent? Or your local government?

That is a very good point. Both my siblings have owned in places where the HOA prohibited clotheslines. Such prohibitions inhibit freedom of choice and also force energy consumption in an era when we should be doing all we can to reduce energy consumption. I would like to see some sort of class action lawsuit against such prohibitions. I should have the right to hang out my clothes on my own property. And regarding those who are offended by seeing clothes drying outside, perhaps claiming that such a sight reduces property values: I extend to them the middle finger.

Regarding drying clothes in freezing weather: from the ridiculous to the sublimed.  

By Blogger CarmelaMotto, at Tue Apr 07, 05:04:00 PM:

Boludo - I live in Queens and had a line for my laundry (no dryer at the time) and if you work 12 hours a day like I do, it means doing it on the weekends and having to pray for dry weather. If you leave it out during the work day, it will most likely get rained on in the afternoon (and who has time in the morning to put all of your wash out). Oh, and not a lot of wind because when something fell on the roof below, it was gone forever.

In my current place, I don't have the luxury of the line. Love my gas dryer. LOVE it.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 07, 07:40:00 PM:

I have 2 low flw toto toilets in my home. They work better than the high flow toilets that they replaced. I also drive a Prius. It is a really nice car. There are crappy "green" products, just like there are crappy non-green products. You need to look beyond the "green" label and see if they deliver as promised. Generalizations are often wrong.  

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