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Earth Power The Almighty Buck Hardware Politics

Americans Happy To Pay More For Clean Energy, But Only a Little More 325

Posted by samzenpus
from the worth-the-money dept.
Fluffeh writes "A recent study of over 1,000 folks for a paper published in Nature Climate Change has found that the average U.S. citizen is inclined to pay a premium to ensure that by 2035, 80% of U.S. power comes from clean energy. At random, respondents received one of three "technological treatments" or definitions of clean energy that included renewable energy sources alone, renewable sources plus natural gas, and renewable sources plus nuclear power. Delving into the socioeconomics, researchers found that Republicans, Independents, and respondents with no party allegiance were less likely by 25, 13 and 25 percentage points respectively to support a NCES than respondents that identified themselves as Democrats."
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Americans Happy To Pay More For Clean Energy, But Only a Little More

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  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:10AM (#40026485)

    Often absent from these discussions, and before the usual flamewars start, are solar power satellites [startramfans.com], such as the ones JAXA [nature.com] is developing. This technology, while it may seem a bit blue sky at the moment is coming very much economically within our grasp over the next decade. All of the energy we need is flying right at us free of charge from the biggest nuclear reactor in the solar system, we just need to take advantage of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:15AM (#40026517)

    There is a reason they're absent: the numbers don't work.

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/03/space-based-solar-power/ [ucsd.edu]

    People are skeptical about paying more for power precisely because of boondoggles like that. How are we to know if the money is going to scientifically sound solutions or to someone's infeasible pet project, or worse, to their brother in law.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:47AM (#40026715) Homepage

    I gladly pay MORE for clean energy. I went out and bought and installed solar connected to a grid tie inverter. But in reality I end up paying less because it significantly reduces my electrical bill as it runs the meter backwards during the day. In the middle of the summer with the AC cranking it makes up for 1/2 the electricity I use for the AC. so it will pay it's self back in about 3 more years. after that it's free money.

    unfortunately most of my fellow countrymen are not smart enough to handle their money and do this. I have had friends look at me and not understand the whole payback thing. they get stuck on the "You paid $5000 to put solar on your house and you will pay an electric bill?" They cant understand that monthly bill reduction = money saved.

    Which makes me sad, I though I had smarter friends.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:11AM (#40026903) Homepage Journal
    A few years back I spent some time in Romania. My first impression of the country was "Miami without emissions controls". Everyone smoked in Romania at the time, and outside there was the constant smell of diesel exhaust. By the end of a week there my lungs actually hurt. After that, I appreciate the achievement that someplace like Downtown New York City has made in having breathable air. I wonder if you asked citizens of Beijing if they'd be willing to pay more for energy in exchange for significantly improved air quality, how many of them would say yes.
  • Statistics on charitable donation are pretty interesting, but that article doesn't provide a very good overview. In particular, religious donations are quite large in the United States, and I think a considerably different sort of thing than charitable donations (in many cases, imo, religious donations are closer to political contributions, intended to advance one's viewpoint). Republicans do donate considerably more to churches (especially Mormons, who are overwhelmingly Republican and often still tithe a full 10% of their income), so certainly Republicans donate more to charity, if you count organizations like the LDS church as charities.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:33AM (#40027687)

    This cannot be reinforced enough, humans only have so much mental bandwidth. We have habits and routines that don't require significant mental effort, freeing up "cycles" to deal with more demanding tasks, and when your life is stable it is very hard for people to continue to override those subconscious programs.

    I was recently at a pediatric subspecialty conference (Yes, I'm an MD, thus my anony-mouse posting) and in a section on childhood obesity, a recent paper was briefly discussed. They looked at the ability of people to make "healthy" choices with and without distractions. I can't find the paper now (Not at my desk) but, IIRC, when people only had to choose a healthy meal, without any other distractions or tasks, most people could make "healthy" choices. But with a task as simple as remembering a sequence of random numbers, a significant number of subjects wouldn't make the "healthy" choice. They just couldn't free up the bandwidth to do so. Which puts a spin on the obesity epidemic, doesn't it?

    I know *I've* had countless situations where I've made the "easy" choices, or the "quick" choice because I was stressed or distracted or busy, rationalizing that "it's just this once, it's not worth the effort," and I'm (damn me but this will sound arrogant) far better positioned to make smart choices than the average consumer. Discarding modesty (which is hard, because I have a hard time *believing* this about myself) I'm rather clever, financially comfortable (Doing the math, I'm damn near the accursed "1%"), with little debt, a stable job, a beloved spouse in a stable relationship, I'm frankly one of the BEST people in the world to make smart, well thought out, well planned decisions.

    And I still screw it up, more often than not. My wife and I are a good team, and we can catch a lot of bad decisions between the two of us, but we are, frankly, a rare pairing.

    When you look at the "average" citizen and the amount of money and effort that is spent to bypass or just plain wear down their psychological defenses and routines, we don't have a damn chance. SOMETHING else has got to change, because people are people. Wonderful, irritating, brilliant, stupid people.

  • Re:And, of course (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:02PM (#40028759)

    If you are looking to move, and the area is a flood zone. Look elsewhere. If you are dumb enough to move into a flood zone, why should other people pay for your foolishness. Tornado zones really can be anywhere. The state of Maryland has many tornados. Yet that state is not considered part of tornado ally.

Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders. -- Gauss

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