[Greenbuilding] Jevons's plumber

Alan Abrams alan at abramsdesignbuild.com
Wed Aug 1 09:32:56 PDT 2012


> One of the vehicles that we often used for the trip back and forth to
> civilisation was a 1938 Chevrolet Master Deluxe  (same as this one:
> http://ipocars.com/vinfo/chevrolet/master_deluxe_town_sedan-1938.html  )
>


when the analogies devolve to the automotive, the thread may have run its
course--however--that does not deter me from adding the following
observation...

my first self propelled vehicle was a 40hp beetle.  it had an am radio, got
nearly 30 mpg, and was so mechanically simple I could drop the engine and
replace the clutch in an hour and a half, with a few basic hand tools, a
floor jack (or, as the case might have been, a dirt jack), and a couple of
cinder blocks for jack stands.  my present and hopefully final car is a
recent Jetta, supposedly the baseline model VW*.  it runs on diesel fuel,
and gets about 30 mpg in the city, where I do most of my driving (when not
pedaling).

but it it's got umptyseven servo motors to operate windows, door locks,
sunroof, trunk, gas cap, and a zillion computer controlled sensors and
warning lights, plus other arcane and superfluous electronic devices, and a
host of annoying bells and beepers.  I could maybe change the oil (if it
weren't provided free by the dealer), but the machine is so complex that
that is the only service I could contemplate performing myself.

the question is, considering all its circuitry and wizardry, and the
automated factories that go into its assembly and the assembly of its
components, is this new vehicle going to save the planet?

The answer I think depends less on the features that go into the vehicle,
and more on how many additional miles can pedal instead of driving
altogether.  In other words, behavior can trump features.

Alan Abrams*
Abrams Design Build LLC*

*the real baseline VW would be, I think, a Skoda, which I have only seen in
former Iron Curtain countries.
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