- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Honda: Insight or Incite ?

Really great commentary from Worldwatch Institute on the advertising for the new Honda "Insight" hybrid, which the company touts "theoretically seats 6.75 billion."

OPINION: The More Hybrid Drivers the Better?

The Worldwatch Institute gets right to the crux of the issue when it notes that more hybrid drivers does not in any way deliver energy saving. In fact, if the world's people (all 6.75 billion of them) were to drive hybrids or any kind of motor vehicle it would be an unmitigated disaster.

There is an interesting paradox in energy called Jevon's Paradox, which simply put notes that technological advances in energy efficiency tend to increase output rather than decrease overall consumption of the resource, so much so in fact that you end up with greater overall consumption due to the elasticity of demand. In other words, improvements in fuel efficiency do not automatically lead to decreased consumption - in fact the opposite is true.

In the context of hybrids, this would mean that the more efficient the vehicle, the more we would tend to drive. Looking at Honda's advertising, this is clearly their goal. It has nothing to do with saving the environment, though they would have you think it does.

Way to go Honda... very inciting, but lacking insight.

So a smoker kicks Lucky Strike for low tar. Woohoo! Actually, no. He's still a smoker - and the chances are pretty good he will just smoke more cigarettes to compensate. In the process the habit becomes even further ingrained into his daily life...

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