i-think Twenty-Two

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Corporations need to lead the way

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I’m trying to get this out there before I see An Inconvenient Truth this afternoon. It has been suggested that my previous post (A look at the environment) suggested that I was going to avoid seeing the movie. The fact is that I want to get as much information as I can about this so that it can be discussed from both sides.

In my last article I discussed some of the hurdles Global Warming needs to overcome in order to be accepted into the mindsets of people. Unfortunately the entire nature of the concept has people disbelieving it during a cold spell. That and the fact that most people would prefer some warmer weather anyway (and talk about Global Warming in a positive light).

What I am trying to say is that Global Warming is not how we should be communicating the problem. It focusses too much on the symptoms rather than on logical problems (like trying to use a finite resource as though it is infinite). I am not saying that the environment is fine and that nothing needs to be done.To tackle these sorts of problems wide-spread support is required. As corporations have the biggest impact on the environment, they are a logical place to start. Corporations also have a major part in the backing of political leaders, so corporate change may help influence political change.

At first thought, one might tend to ask “why should companies care about the environment?”. Well, to start with, some of them already do. Sir Richard Branson is looking at ways airplanes can reduce the Carbon Dioxide emissions. The obvious solution, don’t have the engines running when you don’t need to. He isn’t saying turn off the engines in the air, but rather commenting on the large amount of fuel that is used while the plane is on the ground. Once a plane is on the ground, more efficient methods can be used to get the plane to where it needs to go. But it isn’t just stopping there, he is also looking for ways to reduce the weight on planes so that less fuel is required. When you consider that fuel has to be carried too, they are making additional weight savings.

Whilst certainly a step in the right direction, this move also will reduce the costs of burning the fuel in the first place. This is a move that will save money. I’m guessing businesses should be able to see that this is a good thing.

Of course, there is more to environmental awareness for corporations than simply cost savings, and I will discuss those further in subsequent articles. But cost savings is a good place to start. We will also start looking at other companies that are moving forward for the environment.This month marks the beginning of major changes for i-think Twenty-Two. First we are moving to a new “green” colour scheme to reflect what may well become a major direction. We’re also going to do more research into articles on The Mill to help separate fact from fiction.

This article was actually written over two days and in between writing sessions I have seen the movie An Inconvenient Truth. I strongly recommend that everyonee see this movie. I wish there were more politicians as intelligent and scientifically-minded as Al Gore. He also seems to have more personality than most politicians. Be sure to check out the website for the movie (climatecrisis.net).

One of the suggestions offered at the end of the movie during the credits sequence was to buy a hybrid car, if possible. Curious as to what a hybrid car might cost I checked out the Toyota website (as I believe they are leaders in this area). The Toyota Prius is the main hybrid vehicle they have on offer. The cost for the base model, $37,000 (Australian) plus dealer delivery and statutory charges. The big benefit, 4.4 Litres of petrol will get you about 100km.Of course, this car also has a number of fancy features (the dropping of which may lower the price and make hybrid vehicles more within the reach of the average driver).

  • To start the car, you push a button. Of course, you still need to insert a key for security (the i-Tech model ($46,500) only requires that the key be in the car (the example they provide is in your pocket). This is nice and all, but is this merely a feature they can use to pad the price?
  • There is a 7 inch LCD display on the dashboard which controls the radio, climate control, etc. It also acts as the screen for the reversing camera on the i-Tech model
  • There are no gear changes at all. No manual, no automatic.
  • It even has a tether connected to your fuel cap so you don’t forget it (because they say you’ll refuel so infrequently). As far as new cars go, the Prius is futuristic looking and probably reasonably priced for what you get. (The i-Tech mode is probably even a worthwhile upgrade for some extra safety features, GPS navigation and reverse camera). I spend approximately $150 per month on petrol, so that’s about $1800 a year. There is a $17,000 difference between the price of the car and the amount I could potentially borrow as a personal loan. Based on the Prius' claims I would only have to spend $411.84 per year on fuel (assuming 600km/month, petrol at $1.30/L). So I could save $1400 per year. The question is whether that extra $1400 is enough to pay for this more environmentally friendly car.

Perhaps the Prius will soon start appearing in the used car market at reduced prices. Certainly, government subsidies for hybrid vehicles would certainly be advantageous. In the meantime it would be nice to see a car company bring out a hybrid car in the $20,000 - $25,000 price range. Sure, it might have less features and not be quite as fancy, but combined with the fuel savings and its environmental benefits this price point may just hit the spot.

I know that if I had $37,000 lying around I wouldn’t hesitate to upgrade to a hybrid car, but unfortunately I don’t. Of course, if anyone would like to help me with that…

Branson plans cuts to plane emissions. 28/09/2006. ABC News Online