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Saturday, November 12, 2011


Jon S.

I must point out that a pair of Canadian philosopohers have already made this argument in this book:http://www.amazon.com/Nation-Rebels-Counterculture-Consumer-Culture/dp/006074586X

Their basic argument is that an elite/alternative/bohemian part of the population partakes in some behavior in order to give themselves the status of authentic individuals. This pose is then is marketed to people as a way to prove their authenticity bona fides. This is a way for us to purchase a kind of identity. In this way, they argue, the counter-culture promotes the consumer culture by making being a "rebel" a commodity to be bought. One can see this recently in the attempt by Jay-z to now market a series of OWS consumer items.

Donald Pay

Nothing new in this. It's how about 99.99 percent of new products or concepts get started. It's pretty dumb, though, to put a solar panel on the shady side of the house, and it wouldn't be done by any reputable solar company. Some of this is probably made up.

Ken Blanchard

Jon: buying products to signal virtue is certainly not a new thing nor is it undiscovered. One does have to keep testing one's assumptions, and the Prius story is a pretty good test.

Donald: you really think a solar company is going to refuse a lucrative contract because the client wants the solar panels where he wants the solar panels? Wow. I

Donald Pay

Any solar company that values its reputation is going to do the best to produce energy, not just have a decoration. Since there are tax incentives for installation of solar panels for energy production, anyone that installs solar panels as decoration would be subject to investigation and penalties through the IRS code. Many states now have regulations or guidelines for solar panel installation. Any fraudulent installation would risk state licenses. So, my guess is this is more a case of urban legend or a few unscrupulous installers.


Ken Blanchard

Donald: you mean like Solyndra? It's nice to learn that many states require that solar panels be installed by someone with a license. That tells us nothing relevant to the question. Sexton says that she knows this happens. I am inclined to believe her in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

Stan Gibilisco

Maybe some people drive hybrids to exude a "holier-than-thou" air, while nevertheless putting down a massive carbon footprint in other ways, such as with a 5,000-square-foot house.

I'd love to figure out a way to make green energy actually conserve money as well as reduce my carbon footprint. The problem is, in order to reduce the cost from month-to-month, one must usually spend a whole lot up front.

The tenants who rent from me have it figured out, I think. They can't afford a car, so they don't pollute in that mode at all, even indirectly. They live two miles south of Lead, yet they walk to work in Lead and Deadwood (or hitch-hike, sometimes). They burn wood for heat -- wood that would otherwise get burned anyway to thin the forest, so it doesn't increase overall carbon emissions.

They don't pretend to be holier than anybody, and yet, if green equals holy, they're a heck of a lot holier than I.

Ken Blanchard

Good post, Stan. I suspect that conspicuous conservation and conservation may be mutually exclusive.

Donald Pay

Hey, you put up a solar panel or two against code, and at most your energy savings is less than it could be and you're not generating as much energy as you could. Now, what happens when a nuclear plant or a deep water rig violates regulations? It's quite a bit more of a problem Let's not pretend "conspicuous conservation" is a huge problem. It's more a figment of the conservative imagination, than it is a problem.


The whole thing about hybrids or electric cars misses a huge point. Yeah, they aren't using as much gas. BUT they are using huge amounts of electricity, and just where do they think that electricity comes from for the most part? Coal, good ole American coal! Electricity is not usually green, unless it's maybe hydroelectric. How come no one mentions this little fact?

Bill Fleming

Good question, lynn. A couple of quick answers off the top of my head.

1. We don't rely on foreign nations to produce any of our electricity.
2. The development of electric cars represents a departure from petroleum based fuels.
3. Cars that run exclusively on electricity can be powered for about the same cost as it takes to run a refrigerator.
4. Electricity doesn't care where it comes from. One could in theory charge electric cars with solar panels, wind, etc.
5. It is a beginning of a new transportation/energy paradigm, not the final result.
6. America can either lead the way in the development of this technology, or let other countries do it.

Ken Blanchard

Bill: your six points are very revealing. 1. We don't get electricity from abroad. But we do get oil, which powers a lot of things. 2. No, unless you mean a shift from oil to coal and nukes. Electricity is a storage medium, not a source of energy. 3. I have no clue. 4. Yes, and then you have to charge the solar and wind power generators with subsidies payed for with other, more viable sources of energy. 5. Who knows? 6. Leading the way is a good thing is the way is a good way.

Bill Fleming

Ken yes.

1. It's a way to become less dependent on foreign oil.
2. Coal is not petroleum.
3. True. Especially for commuters (approx. 50 miles a day... see link.)
4. Only until the technology is scaled to meet market demand via MGF R&D. The oil companies will no doubt resist this. They should embrace it instead. They have the R&D money.
5. Don't you think we should find out?
6. See #5.


Ken Blanchard

Bill: you believe in Santa Claus. I do not.

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