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Power Stats United Kingdom

People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use 710

schwit1 (797399) writes with news that a UK study has found that folks concerned about climate change don't do much to conserve power at home. From the article: Those who say they are concerned about the prospect of climate change consume more energy than those who say it is "too far into the future to worry about," the study commissioned by the Department for Energy and climate change found. That is in part due to age, as people over 65 are more frugal with electricity but much less concerned about global warming. However, even when pensioners are discounted, there is only a "weak trend" to show that people who profess to care about climate change do much to cut their energy use. The findings were based on the Household Electricity Survey, which closely monitored the electricity use and views of 250 families over a year. The report (PDF), by experts from Loughborough University and Cambridge Architectural Research, was commissioned and published by DECC. High power use doesn't have to be dirty: Replace coal, methane, and petroleum with nuclear, wind, solar, etc.
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

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  • user error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphazulu0 ( 3675815 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:10AM (#47453927)

    This is slashdot. If there's one thing we know, it's that hoping users will alter their behavior doesn't work. Better technology does.


  • by Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:10AM (#47453937)

    As long as it's cheap, I do not care how the power is generated - coal, gasoline, nuclear, enslaved environmentalists...

    Oh, and unless there is an electric car with decent range that does not have software in it (actually, you can have a single ATMEGA MCU, but the source needs to be open), I'm keeping my gasoline powered car (that does not have software in it).

  • Wind? Solar? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by GiordyS ( 3739931 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:12AM (#47453947)
    Those are low energy density devices. They will never supply enough energy, and in some cases consume much more than they supply [bbc.com]. Innovative nuclear is the only way forward, and sadly I don't see much support for it.
  • by zippo01 ( 688802 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:17AM (#47453959)
    People have a choice. Different cooking fuels, different hearing sources, not using A/C, Driving a smaller car (electric cars are not very piratical for a lot of people). This just goes to show that most people who bitch and complain aren't willing to to do without. They want to force the change at the top. Power companies/society. This will not work. They don't see how closing US coal plant just moves it overseas, put our people out of work and more. If anything you want it in the us where it is more tightly regulated! I say give them what they want close all US coal/natural gall plants tomorrow. Coal 39% Natural Gas 27%. With 66% less power, you won't be doing much of anything. and will shut the fuck up about climate change when you feel the real impact of it. Do what is right, conserve where you can and let the industry evolve naturally.
  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:17AM (#47453965)

    People need electricity to conduct the business of their lives. The issue is not that we use electricity, Electricity isn't a pollutant, burning coal is a Pollutant. Electricity use isn't going to go down. The stupidity of this, is that we don't have Thorium power plants, or Microwave Satellites. (I think the reason Solar Power is failing is because the Earth's atmosphere is creating problems for the sun's Energy to reach us, but I could be wrong.)

    But we're not, we are still, burning, to our own stupid jackassery, coal. It's insane.

  • Or the converse... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoborrobots ( 577882 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:18AM (#47453975)

    Is a possible interpretation of the data that "people who don't use much energy, don't feel the need to worry about climate change"?

  • IMO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:18AM (#47453977) Journal
    I personally suspect that the people who might worry the most about it may already be convinced that it is too late... and any actions that we take now will at best only make a difference of a couple of generations, at most... leading them, perhaps ironically, to not really make any serious effort to take responsibility for what they may be able to do to slow it down.
  • Re:Wind? Solar? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:26AM (#47454015)

    God damn it. No, you clearly know nothing about this and your link just hammers home how misinformed you are.

    Your citation is about a single incident, that had mechanical problems (the brake on it locked), and that the installers warned that there was not enough wind to make it worth while, and the company liquidated so that it could not be repaired or maintained.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:33AM (#47454049)

    They'd do something about planned obsolescence.

    We literally build things to fall apart. The waste from that alone is staggering.

    Imagine if practically everything where build to last, be easily repaired, easily upgraded, etc.

    When your washing machine breaks did the whole thing break or did a 2 cent nut break? Exactly. But it isn't practical to repair it because its so difficult that its cheaper to just buy a new one.

    This is by design. What is more, the parts are intentionally designed to all wear out. They use plastic for parts of machines that should be in metal... parts that experience heat that over time melt and deform. This causes big parts of the machine to fail.

    Then you have parts that really must wear out like light bulbs but they aren't modular.

    If we did this the amount of things we needed to get made on a regular basis would fall dramatically.

    This would have a bigger influence on climate change then any other idea proposed... EVER.

    But no one wants to do it because it would effect our industrial supply chain that change the whole way everything is made.

    Well, until we do this... all climate change talk is a waste of time largely propagated my the incurious and the stupid.

    I have no patience for those discussions... they're a waste of time.

    We don't need carbon caps. All that does is give governments an excuse to raise taxes which is the only reason the politicians are even interested in this discussion.

    What we need is to change our industrial model. And the sick thing is that if we do this we won't even suffer for it. We'll maintain our existing standard of living. All of it. The gains in efficiency will so outstrip everything that it won't matter. The amount of STUFF that has to be made on a yearly basis could fall to less then a tenth of what we currently produce. Which means the carbon debt of our industry without any effort to make it use less carbon per unit production would fall to a tenth.

    This would also mean we wouldn't need to import all this shit from china because if you're buying a lot less you can afford to pay more. US manufacturing costs are at most 20 percent higher then china. If you're purchases fall to 10 percent then paying 20 percent more then 10 percent is easily justified.

    This is the solution. It has always been the solution. Until this happens... nothing in the discussion of climate change is relevant. Its just hot air.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:46AM (#47454131) Homepage

    People who're worried about climate change would likely be people who've already started cutting electricity usage. If you've already been doing things to cut down for several years already, how likely are you to be able to still make big gains? Not very. It's a lot easier to get those when you haven't cared and can still do the easy things like replacing burned-out incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, or replacing an old less-efficient refrigerator with a new one when remodeling the kitchen. It's not so easy when you did all those things, and replaced the windows with double-pane insulated ones and had the heating/cooling system upgraded to a modern unit, several years ago and now all that's left would be very-big-ticket items like a solar power system or infeasible stuff like completely rebuilding the house using modern materials and construction.

  • Re:user error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dayze!Confused ( 717774 ) <{moc.oahgnoyho} {ta} {gro.todhsals}> on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:49AM (#47454139) Homepage Journal

    I'm sort of the same way, not an environmentalist, just a really cheap mustachian. My average usage each month is about 200kwh and I live lasciviously, I know if I watched my usage a bit more I could greatly decrease this. As I write this I have a fan in my window blowing in and another in the window down the hallway blowing out and can get my house down to 66F at night, and then reach about 72F by the time I get home from work, but grant it we live in the Pacific Northwest where AC is hardly ever needed. We don't use our dryer but sparingly, and I ride a bike to work instead of driving because it seems insane to pay $300+ a month in gas PLUS the $1200+ a year in maintenance to maintain a residence 30 miles away. All of this is done not for the environment but because it's cheaper.

    When I do drive a car I hypermile it. My 2002 BMW 525i gets 32+MPG which usually elicits a wide eyed "really?" from people when I tell them. A single tank of gas lasts me about a month and a half. We buy a lot of things used because I figure that buying it second hand will retain the value more than buying it brand new. My wife's wedding ring and her Longine watch were both bought that way, same as my trumpet and my car. Buying used keeps one from going to the dump and lowers demand on new ones to be made. (Of course the ring would have been melted down and formed into new rings, but it still applies to everything else.)

    I also happen to be one who believes the scientific research and consensus that climate change is happening, and I wish it had more effect on my decision making, but for now being cheap seems to generally coincide with environmentally friendly. Most of this is from learning to want less shit that doesn't matter and to be perfectly happy living the very luxurious middle class life.

  • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:53AM (#47454161) Homepage

    I dunno. I am a person who does care about the whole climate change and all that and I do, actually, try not to waste electricity. I always turn off lights in any room that I'm not spending time in, I run my servers on a laptop since they generally consume a lot less energy than desktops, I use LED-lights only due to how they're also energy-efficient and last for a long time, I have a desktop serving as a file-server, but the file-server is always powered-off unless I specifically need something at that moment and so on and so forth. That is to say, I do what I do, but I try to be energy-conscious about it and save where I can.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @12:54AM (#47454165) Homepage

    Whether you have kids, or you import a brood of children from Mexico (cheap labor), the population growth vacuum will be filled. If you're not paying for your kids, your tax dollars will most certainly be paying for others in the form of welfare.

  • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:03AM (#47454213)

    Re-read my post please. I agree that the global warming crusade is a power grab and transfer of wealth. But this 'study' is still shit, with shitty methods and assumptions. Just because it vindicates your preconceived notions doesn't mean it's worthy of your endorsement.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:09AM (#47454261) Homepage

    Of course the entire point of this article (and others like it) is to give right-wingers are an excuse to feel superior to "those hypocrites on the left". So let's not get too self-congratulatory about our own ethical honesty, shall we? It amounts to the same thing in the end.

    The thing is, there is a difficult problem to be solved. Finger-pointing and denunciations aren't going to solve it. Expecting the bulk of humanity to spontaneously reduce their carbon footprint -- simply because it's the right thing to do -- is clearly not a viable strategy either. If we really want to solve this problem, it will take hard work, determination, and ingenuity, of both the technical and political varieties. And it will take seeing other people as thr fallable-but-well-meaning human beings they generally are, not as cartoon villains to fear or paper targets to take pot-shots at.

    A little more constructive dialog, and a little less demagoguery, please. I'll start: a revenue-neutral carbon tax would be a good way to tilt the market away from carbon usage without restricting it to any pre-ordained solutions that might or might not be sufficient.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:16AM (#47454297) Homepage

    People who advocate giving money to "the poor" and "disadvantaged" do not give their own to the poor and disadvantged -- they just get other people to do it. Just like the people who are pushing the UACs all over the US. Are they inviting these children into THEIR gated communities? No. "It's the right thing [for other people] to do."

    When will people just open their eyes? Radical socialist nations got that way under the leadership of and influence of famously rich and exploitative people who united people under the promise of equality and utopia and are somehow suprised when their government takes away their freedom and points guns at them all the time. How many nations ended up like this? And we want that here too? Really?

    You know what makes people save energy? High energy bills. We don't have "high" energy bills in areas where the government supplements [corporate welfare] energy companies. All these "capitalists" are amazingly non-capitalist.

    Look on either side. Nobody does or means what they say.

    And I still can't believe that people still don't know what was really behind the Hobby Lobby issue. Maybe you heard it from me first, but it has been out there for quite some time. But it turns out that such exemptions already existed but previously just for non-profits. And in those cases, under Obamacare, those birth control benefits (keeping in mind that birth control means abortive measures, not prevention measures) are STILL covered but are required to be paid for by INSURANCE COMPANIES. This battle was never about whether or not for-profit conpanies can have moral objections to anything. It is about insurance companies not wanting to keep their end of the bargain they wrote for themselves. They are making windfall profits on this and they don't want to give any of it back.

    Okay going a bit off-topic but I don't care. Things are getting increasingly stupid and the media is pushing out increasingly obvious and blatant lies. I just wonder at what point the common drones out there will begin to notice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:18AM (#47454305)

    Any one with central air needs to get a clue

    You've obviously never been to Texas.

  • by kenwd0elq ( 985465 ) <kenwd0elq@engineer.com> on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:36AM (#47454381)

    That's because their claims of enviro-superiority are like medieval "indulgences", permissions to sin without penalty. So Saint AlGore flies all over the world preaching the "Stop flying!" mantra, as if he'd never heard of Skype or Webex. As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes, "I'll believe that there's a crisis when the people who are telling me it's a crisis start ACTING like it's a crisis."

  • by dirt ( 1129 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:40AM (#47454403)

    Are you saying the thousands of CO2 measurements collected globally for decades, and our thousands of ice core samples going back hundreds of thousands of years, and our scientist's best climate models of climate change... are all fabricated as part of a grand multi-decade long liberal conspiracy to set up a carbon trading market?

  • by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:40AM (#47454407) Homepage
    I am not sure this study captures the some of the bigger decisions made to conserve energy. For instance, here is what I have done: I live in a condo that has a high walk score, so I don't have to drive much. We are close to transit and we use it. I purchased a Prius, which gets 60mpg. Given that and the fact that we barely drive, our monthly gas bill is about $50. One tank per month. I don't eat much meat. This substantially reduces the carbon emissions from the production chain of my food. However, according to this study, I am being remiss if my electricity bill isn't lower than my neighbours' bills. The study is flawed. My overall carbon emissions are way lower than average but this study would overlook me.
  • by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @01:52AM (#47454477)
    Here's the thing: individual energy use is fairly insignificant. Turning off the light leads to a miniscule reduction of total energy use because: residential energy use is only 14% of humanity's total energy use [ Source: http://news.thomasnet.com/IMT/... [thomasnet.com] ], you are just 1 person out of 1 billion people living in the developed world (i.e. people with high-energy consumption), and turning off a light or two leads to a small reduction in your individual use. In other words: a fraction of a fraction of a fraction.

    If people are concerned about global warming and humanity's energy use, you can do totally ineffective things like turning off a light or two more often, or you can push for more effective means of curbing global emissions: change the source of our energy (for residential energy, industrial/commercial energy, and transportation), push for more energy-efficient devices (e.g. a lot of Western European countries use about half as much energy per-capita as the US), and throw taxes on carbon-based energy sources to influence consumers via their pocketbook and influence the market towards forms of energy without all those carbon-emission externalities.

    I can see that the conservatives are out in droves on this Slashdot story, flaunting their ignorance and conspiracy theories. You guys should really be ashamed of yourselves because you're only making yourselves look like cavemen.
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:11AM (#47454533) Journal

    They want a meritocracy where they're in charge. Because of this, everything should be forced by the hand of the government, otherwise nothing will happen. That's also why rather often you'll find "progressives" look warmly to socialism and communism. They won't help others now, but it will all be solved if there were laws to enforce it.

    Things that have been solved once there were laws to enforce it:
    child labor
    acid rain
    40 hour work week
    food safety
    monopolistic behavior
    worker safety
    consumer protection
    clean air and water
    so on and so forth, ad nauseum

    You do not seem to recognize that you're already living in world that has been fundamentally shaped by progressive and socialist/communist ideas.
    While not everything should be forced by the hand of the government, a lot of things that are taken for granted had to be forced.

  • by pollarda ( 632730 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:27AM (#47454579)

    1) The reference to Al Gore is relevant. Al Gore is a primary shareholder in some of the companies that have been formed to trade carbon credits. Needless to say, it creates a conflict of interest which ought to cause people to think a little more carefully about what he has to say.

    2) Al Gore after his movie and various environmental statements should be an example of good environmental behavior rather than the opposite -- especially if he truly believes it. Additionally, it is fair to assume he has seen data that most of us have not and would adjust his behavior accordingly.

    3) It doesn't matter whether a conservative author said it or whether it was said by Pol Pot. It is true or it is not. Giving credit to the author of a statement is the right thing to do no matter who said it. Ad homonym attacks are just plain dumb.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:52AM (#47454911)

    It is a wonderful thing to tell everyone else how to behave, shame them when they deviate from your plan, and then do the opposite privately. It is what humans have aspired to for thousands of years.

    Fact is that whatever I personally do has not measurable effect on the climate. Every person individually is better off not worrying about the climate and to go on consuming. Most people also know that there would be an improvement if _everybody_ changed their behaviour.

    The logical consequence is that behaviour change must be forced through legislation, taxes etc. And every rational person should agree to that.

  • by kiddygrinder ( 605598 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @04:07AM (#47454975)
    while you're correct, *everybody* feeling like they are helping by turning off a light would actually amount to something, a fraction of a fraction though it may be. i don't go out of my way but i do buy energy efficient tech where performance doesn't matter, set up my desktops to go to sleep after an hour or so (they way i use them it doesn't bother me), use a raspberry pi as my server etc. at worst i'm making bugger all effort to make my power bill cheaper.
  • Re:Wind? Solar? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DamnOregonian ( 963763 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @04:12AM (#47454983)
    Or a 50x50 mile stretch of Arizona if you felt like powering the entire peak demand of the US with it. We'd have to surrender a lot of really, really useful dirt down there for it though, and probably have to divert a year of our defense spending.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @04:27AM (#47455031) Journal

    Al Gore is a primary shareholder in some of the companies that have been formed to trade carbon credits

    So...you're saying it's a bad thing he puts his money where his mouth is, right?

    conflict of interest

    I'm not sure that phrase means what you think it does.

    As for TFA, I am an old fashioned "greenie", I believe in science based policy, I've never understood why people think that means I should shiver in the dark waiting for a clean energy utopia arrives? I don't want more/less energy, I want clean energy to fulfill my wants/needs and was prepared to pay a premium to get it. I say was because now I expect it to be cleaner and cheaper and will be installing solar PV on the roof of my new home later this year. They will pay for themselves in ~2yrs, after that initial investment it's virtually free compared to coal.

    I don't understand why people like you are against market solutions: Simply make polluting more expensive than not polluting and the problem will go away. There's no conspiracy to take away your SUV, just common fucking sense that polluter's should pay to clean up their own mess.

  • by AudioEfex ( 637163 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:35AM (#47455465)

    1. AGW is real. Science resolved. Nothing even to discuss. Period.

    And you just hit that nail so squarely in the head you couldn't have been more accurate with a laser sight.

    You know why there is a growing amount of folks saying "wait a minute?" Because no science is "resolved" on anything with such a short-term study with such absolution (and yes, few decades is a short time). It has this religious fervor around it that is really unsettling. That folks swear there isn't even a discussion to be had instantly makes someone who can think for themselves highly suspicious. It may very well be true, but stating with such bullishness it's not up for discussion "period" at once makes you sound defensive, childish, and suspicious.

    It's something like the autism/vaccine question - if you aren't even willing to entertain an opposing thought, get out of the room because you understand nothing about science, which by it's very nature is about constant questioning. Period.

  • by AudioEfex ( 637163 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:02AM (#47455527)

    I don't think that's what he's saying, and the folks that think it's some vast conspiracy are rare, but those that refuse to even entertain the discussion on it are doing nothing for their cause and themselves creating a growing air of suspicion, not the other way around.

    It doesn't take a vast conspiracy - that requires a central malice and string-puller. But the current "scientific" environment around Global Climate Whatever it's being called this week (just look at these comments to see a half dozen other terms folks are now using that Global Warming has used up its cache), is not only anti-science (science is all about questioning), and it isn't a leap to think that the reason "99% of scientists agree!", the current talking point, is because it might be self-sustaining. It doesn't take a conspiracy for folks to see which side their bread needs to be buttered in to survive in their jobs.

    If everyone agrees, of course any science that might shed the tiniest bit of doubt will be buried because the scientist would lose all funding, likely their job, and be out of work just for questioning a hypothesis. Do you see how anti science that really is, and how easily many individuals have it in their best interest to keep proving this thing they already say is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt?

    I'm not a skeptic or a believer in human climate influence. I can see both ways, and to be honest think it's probably somewhere in the middle, where obviously the earth has cycles and with how little we truly understand about how many infinite factors go into such, but that likely humans have helped whatever cycle is happening now along.

    What I do know is human nature, and the scientific community (please forgive me for this next reference, I don't take making it lightly) is somewhat like Nazi Germany at this point - agree, support, or you will be eliminated. The fact that any scientist would take any modern notion studied over such a short time (a few decades is a blink) and with such veracity state that it is the unequivocal, be all, end all, no questioning allowed is not only scary, it's coming from a generation who has no understanding whatsoever of the true nature of scientific discourse.

    You actually will find that a good portion, if not most (over 50%) actually agree that there should be some questioning or at least don't believe in the severity - because, you know, fifteen years ago we were told by the end of this decade the ocean would overtake Manhattan - but like Israel, any possible Autism/vaccine connection, "supporting our troops", or any number of issues we are only supposed to be of one hive, unquestioning mind of - folks just don't admit their true feelings on it when asked in surveys, etc, because of social pressure, not that they actually don't question them.

    If there is true consensus about global warming, then science should be inviting opposing thought - not trying to stifle the discussion like a dictator.

  • by BBF_BBF ( 812493 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:52AM (#47455727)
    Didn't need a study to tell me that people "most concerned" about climate change aren't necessarily the must frugal per-capita energy users.

    Just look at Al Gore.
    He's considered the biggest climate change advocate by many.

    He probably uses more energy in his mansions than 99.9999% of the people in the world, let alone the energy jetting around everywhere. But of course his houses only use "clean" energy and all his jet travel is offset by purchasing carbon credits (most likely through clean energy and carbon credit trading companies he has shares in.)
  • Oh, and unless there is an electric car with decent range that does not have software in it (actually, you can have a single ATMEGA MCU, but the source needs to be open), I'm keeping my gasoline powered car (that does not have software in it).

    What are you actually scared of? Cars don't seem to be randomly crashing or exploding due to software bugs. Even the Toyota "bugs" turned out to be user error. Considering all the other safety features in a modern car it seems that even if a few percent of accidents were caused by software you would still be much safer in one.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @09:23AM (#47456233) Homepage Journal

    As long as it's cheap

    You mean, as long as you can externalize the downsides on everyone else and not pay for them up front.

  • Re:Wind? Solar? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @09:28AM (#47456291)

    ... nuclear is dirty. Until there's a failsafe solution to radiation leaks and nuclear waste storage, it will always be perceived as dirty.

    Even if there is a "failsafe solution to radiation leaks", whatever you understand by that, people will remain against nuclear as long as the scaremongers bang on about it, which is their plan of course. As a nuclear power station engineer, with particular responsibility for safety, I can tell you that the plants already have failsafe features against radiation leakage to the extent that they are safer than most other human activities.

    As for waste storage, it is a political problem, not a technical one.

  • Re: user error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @09:45AM (#47456467) Homepage

    Lighter cars are typically safer than heavier cars (as is indicated by your link).

    I screwed up with that source and deserved the moderation down, but this isn't true either. Heavier cars are safer for the person driving them. The direction US cars have gone is based on things like this 1997 weight study [dot.gov], where the conclusion was that passenger cars would be better with an extra 100 pounds.

    However, having a fleet of heavy cars around is more dangerous for the average person, which is what the EU statistics show, and that study points it out too. At the same time as showing cars would be better if heavier, the study also shows making light truckers lighter would be good. The important point in their words, and I'll bold it because it's the most important thing here: "When trucks are reduced in weight and size, they become less crashworthy for their own occupants, but they become less capable of damaging other vehicles."

    If everyone has a light car, the average accident isn't as bad as two heavy cars colliding. That's Europe right now. Average car is heavier but you're also in a heavy car, that's the American roads. Worse overall, but it's not as bad if you are in one of the heavy cars! The really bad case is when you're driving a light car and you hit a heavy one. That's what I was describing with the EU car on I-95 example. The end result is a sort of arms race in American car design. Everyone has a a personal incentive to drive something heavier for their own safety, but everyone would be safer if, collectively, we didn't do that.

    Another reason the busy American highways are dangerous is all of the trucking used to move things around. My personal distaste for being in a light car here in the US comes from watching a few car -> tractor-trailer accidents back when I used to drive quite a lot here. Whenever I'm in something like a London taxi, worrying about a collision with a truck in that tiny vehicle makes me crazy. I have to remind myself that the road isn't filled with those big trucks though, and overall that's an improvement.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin