I spent a few days after Christmas with my in-laws. They live in a new house, but they were raised in a different time. I cannot remember how many times I shut of lights in empty rooms as I meandered through the house.
I don't mean in anyway to insult or denigrate my in-laws, but this stuff got me to thinking about how we think about things. We can require all news houses to be super insulated and have zero net energy usage, but we still have virtually all people living in sub-standard (energy wise) housing. Worse, we still have most people who don't really care about anything other than energy bills, and not that much even then. People care about making more money, and when you make more money you can pay more bills.
I'm not saying I have solution for this, but this is the problem. Older people don't have the same concerns and cares about the environment and energy usage as some of the younger of us do. The older you get, the more you are stuck in your ways and beliefs. From the era of cheaper power, some just don't care about whether or not the lights are on. When I go on vacation for more than a day, I turn off a bunch of the breakers and everything not necessary and turn the thermostat down to 40 but I don't know anyone else who does. And I sure don't personally know a single person willing to go so far as to make the change necessary to stop crapping in drinking water. I mean, I save a thousand gallons a month from an already quite low water bill by using the sawdust toilet, but I don't even know anyone who has what I consider to be a true low flow shower head.
So the problem is resistance to change. What can we do? We could raise the cost of energy, but that hurts the poor more than anyone, they are least able to make the changes necessary. Maybe some sort of progressive tax based on how much a person makes.
Or maybe it could truly work with just awareness and personal responsibility. Right.
No, it will probably come about with the end of fossil fuels, some sort of energy drought or something like that. It's already become uncool to be greedy thanks to the recession, hopefully it will become uncool to be wasteful and environment ignorant. Maybe if the recession gets deep enough, we'll get both birds with one stone.
Hard, I know. It takes hard stuff to get the change we need, not exactly like voting for a black guy or a woman or something...