Monday, August 27, 2012


Definition: Eco-Tripping

To own a 'local' car that is ultra efficient, perhaps electric, with a limited range a speed. When you want to go on a " trip to grandma's " you rent a family van with all the fancy TV and such for the trip.

The net result is less money spent, and a HIGHER STANDARD OF LIVING.

Standard of Living:

What is meant by wealth and standard of living?  These are the combined sum of how much 'stuff' you get for your day's work at some job.  By 'stuff' we mean material position, travel, security (police, fire, safe neighborhood), medical care, entertainment, internet access, recreation, family togetherness, food, clothing, house, exercise.  Notice that money is not in that list.  Money is a future claim on all the above.

A standard of living item that Americans cling to very tightly is transportation freedom.  Go where you want, when you want, in style.

There are two ways to raise standard of living: First is to make more money, and second is to get more stuff for less money.

The Diesel Rabbit Story:

My first car way back when was a VW Diesel Rabbit.  It was a freedom machine for me because at the time it went very far on very little money.  Going on a trip somewhere was not a big money decision.  The car was a very tangible increase in my standard of living.

One thing that lowers standard of living is when we worry about some activity we are doing or material we are using.  For example if you have to worry about the cost of gas, global warming, foreign wars fought over oil, then you standard of living is lower. You tend to have a negative mindset about driving anywhere.

Large Car Costs

If you currently have a Ford Expedition and haul the kids around in it, and gas hits $5 per gallon, the car becomes a drag on all trip decisions.  "Maybe we could go to the park, but it would cost too much in gas."  Why haul around such a huge car all the time when you only need it twice a year for long distance trips?  Not only is the big car a gas hog, but also repairs, tires, filters, oil changes, transmission, and the whole thing is very expensive. On the flip side if you look at person-miles-per-gallon a big car is very efficient if all seats have people in them.  A Hummer at 12 MPG with 8 people in it is 12 x 8 = 96 person-miles-per-gallon!

Electric Car Costs

A very efficient electric car (or gas for that matter) is less expensive, and less costly to repair.  The exception to this is some hybrids where the unique nature of the car pushes repair costs up.  That is a temporary condition.  An all electric car is less expensive to build, repair, and drive. The current lineup of electric cars are expensive because it is new technology. (Remember how expensive flat screen TV's started out?)

The Electric Car Delusion

There is  a current impression that electric cars are a reduction in standard of living.  This has been fostered by the automotive manufacturers. The problem is that it is obvious that if electric cars cost less to make, and have virtually no repairs, then selling the same number of cars per year will result in something like half the revenue.  Not a good business direction.  The fallacy is that either way cars are going to change to electric, the question is just when.  Only Nissan and Toyota have fully embraced this fact and are looking toward a future where they dominate the market. (Side note: electric cars can waaaaay out accelerate gas cars.)

Other Similar Topics

On a similar vein is how we handle the two largest home uses of energy, heat and hot water.  Both use natural gas and are completely unnecessary. Solar systems, if massed produced, should not cost much more to install, and result in a complete freedom from subsequent cost of hot water.  So take a shower as long as you want.  Once again a higher standard of living on less money.

Cultural Inertia

We have a cultural inertia where the way we have been doing things is what everyone knows, and it is difficult to imagine a different way, even if it might be better, more fun, and a 'higher standard of living'.  Instead we are stuck with the tree hugger nightmare where we all are supposed to suffer, trim back, reduce, scrimp and save, drive some eco-car that is no fun, freeze in the winter, bake in the summer and so on.  It is all wrong.  We need to put our creative powers toward how to live sustainably at a higher standard of living

It can be done.


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