- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Environmental groups around the world constantly like to tell people to conserve energy and resources in order to save the planet. It is rather easy to take a serious look around and notice how much waste we have. So, it would seem that it is a good idea to reduce the gasoline we burn, the electricity we use and the water we consume. But, are there negative consequences to achieving such goals?
Of course, the environmental activists claim that we have to take action or we will run out of water and power. Our vast reserves of fossil fuels are limited and will soon be used up if our atmosphere is not destroyed first. Seems like a no brainer looking at it that way.
One of the consequences of this really bad economy we are in is a chance to see just what to expect as we lower our use of energy and water. President Obama gave us hints on what we should expect during his presidential campaign. In January 2008, he said that under his plan for cap and trade, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Click here to view his remarks in an interview on You Tube. In May 2008, he told an audience in Oregon that we are an arrogant country and should not expect to be able to keep our thermostats set to 72 degrees. Click here to directly hear his words.
Gasoline usage is down right now as a result of the recession limiting travel by people and businesses. There are fewer trucks and family vacations. Click here for a historical chart provided by the Energy Information Administration. As a result, the oil companies have been operating their refineries at lower capacity because the supply remains above 5-year highs. I recently read that they are also shutting down a number of refineries to keep supplies from rising much more. Things quickly change as it was just a few years ago that these same companies complained that they had not been able to build a new facility in over 30 years and therefore could not keep up with increased demand, which resulted in pump prices rising to around $4 per gallon. In other words, since we are being forced to conserve and use less gasoline, the oil companies are going to reduce their production in order to keep supplies down and prices up.
I have changed nearly all of the light bulbs in my home to CFLs. Some fixtures now use LEDs. I added insulation in the walls and ceilings. The windows and doors have upgraded weatherproofing. As a result of these actions and more, I now use less electricity. However, my bills are higher than at any time, even when I had a house full of teenagers.
Water is no exception. Water usage in most communities is down nearly 11 percent. But that also means the water utility brings in less money. More cities around the nation have privately run water suppliers. That means they must operate at a profit. Even the publically owned utilities are usually required to show they have positive cash flow. That means costs had to be pared down and rates raised. I know that I used to pay my water bill once a quarter and it ran $25 to $30. Now, I get a bill every other month and it runs anywhere from $75 to $150. The major water supplier in my area is discussing increasing rates further as the surrounding communities fight against it.
I used to think I would like to add an in-ground automatic lawn sprinkling system to keep my yard looking good and raise my property value. I am happy that I never got around to that project as it would be a negative now because of the high cost of water. The last two years in fact, I have quit watering the lawn at all as another feeble measure to reduce costs.
So, in the end, I am forced to wonder about the logic of conserving. It sure feels like we are being punished as we reduce the amount of energy and resources we use. I understand that it would cost me so much more if I had not taken steps. However, the increases I continue to face cause me to wonder if we, as a society, had not worked to reduce our usage, would we still be facing such rapid increases? One thing we can count on, as usage goes back up, the unit prices will not come down.
That is my complaint of the day!