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How can America wean itself from fossil fuels when fossil fuels are so cheap?

America is supposedly the leader of the free world. What was the primary message during the presidential campaign? Energy independence, not the environment. We will continue to sacrifice our legacy, our natural resources that might better be left to subsequent generations rather than accept higher energy costs now that renewables, until now, can't supply economically (at least not without a carbon tax).

As long as our politicians can make campaign promises based on the cost of a gallon of gas, don't expect any negative news about the environment to make headlines.

While President Obama extols the virtue of clean natural gas, I live in rural Schoharie County which is ripe for fracking for natural gas. Never mind that it is a bucolic, pastoral part of nature. It has vast reservers of natural gas so, following President Obama's desire, it will soon be an industrial park and all the tourists who used to come here for our natural beauty will go elsewhere.

When you look at the cost of natural gas in America, it is about the fifth the cost of natural gas in Europe. Guess what? America is going to become the World's leader in natural gas exports. The "good" news is that natural gas has only half the carbon foot print of coal (we have billions of tons of coal to export to Asia---and there has been a massive ad blitz promoting "clean" coal).

Unless there is someone like a Randall Mills who can make low-energy nuclear reactions economic, fossil fuels are our albatross.

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    Nov 27 2012: Like all problems, it's got to start in the home, and self-awareness needs to be encouraged. For example, 400 million people are told to buy a 4WD to look cool by tricky marketing and hi-fiving politician frat-boys. The shift has to come from a cultural change, so each person who goes from thinking "Yeah, I want to look badass in that fuel-wasting car" to "I want to be sensible and buy something that better society" is the key. The cultural change is in understanding that a child says "Me", but an adult says "Us".
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      Nov 27 2012: During the 1973 oil crisis, there was a group of architects who designed an appartment complex (In Seattle, if i recall correctly) that was a net seller of energy to the grid, not a buyer from it. They were using 1973 technology. (remember the 1970's computers? - big as a barn and with 4K of memory).

      If you were a potential home buyer would you prefer, for the same price, a home with a net annual energy income or a home with a net annual energy cost? The answer for 99.9% of buyers should be obvious.

      Why every home built after 1973 was not built with this simple equation in mind, is an utter mystery to me.
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        Nov 28 2012: 1973! Wow that's crazy! What is it then that seems to be not connecting with the logic part of our brain, and the taking action part of our brain? Is advertising and the media really so powerful as to stop us using common sense to such a huge degree? Maybe it's like the media uses "implied presence" to make us feel if we don't do what "everyone else is doing" then we'll be thrown out to the wolves because everyone is watching each other, never realising that we are actually the status quo and not something external to it... if that makes sense.
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      Nov 28 2012: It's hard to say why it has been so difficult to turn around market preferences. One problem is that many contractors and builders lack the competencies necessary to build green, and whenever you're building, hiring in specialists of any kind raises costs. That seems to be changing rapidly right now in many countries.

      Another problem is that power in many countries has been relatively cheap, meaning that home buyers haven't been too demanding when it comes to energy efficiency.

      A third problem is that the real estate market works very hard at selling whatever they have at hand, and that has mostly been old-fashioned energy inefficient units. I get the impression in this country (Norway) that having a state-of-the-art kitchen and bathroom is more important for marketability than state-of-the-art energy technology.

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