It is rather embarassing.
There are giant trucks in America. This country produces 100 billion plastic bags a year, and hardly anyone even notices when their groceries, sometimes as little as two bananas and a stick of butter, are double or even triple-bagged at the supermarket checkout. There are windows that don't close properly, millions of air-conditioners that run constantly, and absurdly dilapidated systems for conducting water, electricity and gas. In 2009, all of this makes the United States seem like a country that has just discovered, with childlike joy, that it can actually be a little more frugal, and is immensely proud of this realization.A little more than a year after it appeared that maybe some slight bit of rationality had returned to Washington, more and more it's looking like the stupid is winning out again. Obama's Copenhagen message--17% reductions from 2005 levels by 2020--should be exactly what conservative Democrats would want out of energy efficiency legislation. Republicans are meaningless since it's virtually enshrined in the party platform to oppose anything even remotely resembling efficiency. Firstly, Obama uses the same trick conservatives criticized the Europeans of using for Kyoto: he takes an excessively high emission year as his baseline. The reduction in total emissions can be easily accomplished through increased efficiency; that's something that will wind up saving pretty much everyone but the oil and coal industries money. And, we will use market-based solutions to reduce emissions: companies should make a profit from saving people money and reducing emissions. Relatively simple regulation can help bring this about, for instance, there are ways to make money off of borrowing people's roofs. The consumer has virtually no up-front risk, and gets the benefit of a lowered utility bill since the solar power is sold at peak times when the user is not at home. There are numerous other examples like this: distributed generation, insulation, SUPERTRAINS, etc. that represent low-hanging fruit. Just the kind of thing that the world would like to see us start with (the article linked above suggests otherwise, but it does state that the US has to start somewhere).
But instead, we have the alarmists screaming into our television sets that 2.4 million jobs will be lost !!!!! if cap-and-trade legislation is enacted. Of course, what they don't tell us is that that's a maximal figure when assuming that consumption patterns won't change. They also don't tell us that this figure has a 20 year timeline, meaning that 120,000 jobs per year are lost at most. Remind me again of how many jobs were lost in this current cycle of excess consumption? After all, the "housing bubble" was nothing more than an insane drive to build isolated McMansion communities dozens of miles away from jobs and activities while encouraging the use of non-existent capital to buy ever larger SUVs to ferry people back and forth. Oh yeah, and then came $5.00 gasoline, exposing all those suckers who bought SUVs to the "free" market.
That sort of "policy" is superior to an energy policy aimed at promoting efficiency?