Thursday, November 05, 2009

The City/Suburban Carbon Footprint Differential and the Implicit Subsidies in the Tax Code: How Do OP-ED Readers Respond to Economic Logic?

Ed Glaeser makes some excellent points about the suburban subsidy implicit in our tax code: "Yet the tax code encourages Americans to live in big, energy-guzzling homes, instead of thrifty apartments, and Congress seems intent on further unbalancing the federal budget to egg on home buyers."

As many of you know, I wrote one of the first empirical papers on the city/suburbs energy consumption differential back in 2000! Here is a free copy. I did not explore how government incentives affect the city/suburb locational choice.

How have the readers of his Boston Globe Op-Ed received this wisdom? Let's hear from the comment gallery. The comments are very funny. You have to admit that there is a certain wisdom (or at least humor) in crowds. Take the best hate from 2 billion connected Internet users and you will have some great stuff.

shumirules wrote:
If you live in a home smaller then Al Gore then dont worry about your carbon frontprint.
11/4/2009 10:14 PM EST Recommend (10) Report abuse Permalink

JeffreyHooooop wrote:
Yes, carbon emissions could be reduced by reducing home size. But, they could also be reduced by castrating all breeding aged males, or legislating a legal limit on the number of times one can visit their grandmother in a year. All carbon reductions come at some cost, and while you may be happy living in a little apartment in Boston, there are parts of this country where apartments don't even exist.

The tax credit is available for the purchase of an apartment (or house boat...). The fact of the matter is, that when most people are able to purchase a place to live in, they want a place that is pleasant to live in, not someplace like the apartment they lived in in their poverty.

In the end, any consumption inducing policy has a negative carbon footprint, but, there are other things that matter other than carbon emissions.
11/4/2009 10:51 PM EST Recommend (8) Report abuse Permalink

yokosuka wrote:
Can't these green types just leave us alone?
11/5/2009 3:58 AM EST Recommend (7) Report abuse Permalink

biotechlawnerd wrote:
The global warming hoax is the greatest boon for politicians. It gives them the ability to severely regulate or tax any and every aspect of our existence.
No one can drive.
No one can eat meat.
No one can eat produce that wasn't locally grown.
No one can live in a single family home.
No one can have more than one child.

11/5/2009 5:27 AM EST Recommend (6) Report abuse Permalink

MiketheForester wrote:
For those "warmers" who worry about carbon footprints, what about the huge carbon footprint caused by the tsunami of illegal aliens? In the 1980's Reagan and Kennedy gave amnesty to 3 million lawbreakers and promised this would solve the problem. But now we have 12-15 million illegals that have greatly depressed wages, stolen jobs, and caused huge amounts of pollution. If the Democrats give amnesty to these lawbreakers, it really means 50 million more as they bring in their next of kin, etc. Then this will spur another tidal wave of illegal aliens. If nothing is done, US population will grow to at least 1 billion by the year 2100.

So next time one of these "warmers" start crying about CO2 ask them their position on illegal aliens. More than likely they will say "well I don't want to be xenophobic".
I'll call them for what they really are: hypocrites!
11/5/2009 5:39 AM EST Recommend (4) Report abuse Permalink

billyb2 wrote:
Since when did electrical appliances and lights start emitting greenhouse gases? The only place where the use of electricity would have any affect on the enviroment is at the source of production i.e. your local Edison plant. Even there with all the enviromental safeguards already in place in place there is negligible impact. This is just more hokum on top of hokum.
11/5/2009 6:00 AM EST Recommend (5) Report abuse Permalink

WJ wrote:
Mr. Glasser, where is your appartment located? Oh, you live in a house!
11/5/2009 6:20 AM EST Recommend (4) Report abuse Permalink

RJG33 wrote:
Mr. Glaeser: how large is YOUR abode? It would have been instructive if you showed all of us planet-wrecker who seek "to live in big, energy-guzzling homes, instead of thrifty apartments"... that you wlak the walk, not jsut tlak the talk. Methinks, much like those who bleat for increased state spending and taxes but refuse to say if they pay @ the optional higher rate, you are great at telling others what they should do but do not exercise the courage of your- stated- convictions. Do YOU live in a tiny, tidy studio apartment? Put up or shut, Ed- talk is cheap!

Global warming- er, um, excuse me, "climate change"- hysteria is SO 2004! I second shumirules assertion:
"If you live in a home smaller then Al Gore then dont worry about your carbon frontprint."
11/5/2009 6:42 AM EST Recommend (8) Report abuse Permalink

sweetlandoliberty wrote:
Well, finally an article showing the ridiculous hysteria about "global warming".

First time home buyers need that tax break in this lousy economy, and the "green loons" want to take that away from them?

We all seemed to have gone to sleep last November, and woke up to the realization that, indeed, the loons had won. Thank goodness most Americans have finally awakened from that drunken stooper, except the "greenies".
11/5/2009 6:53 AM EST Recommend (5) Report abuse Permalink

sizmo55 wrote:
The writer lives in the city, and believes in the superiority of city life, of higher population density. I don't buy it. I wouldn't live in a city if you paid me. Cites are meant to be visited and worked in, not lived in.

He wants to reduce the mortgage interest deduction for EVERYONE, whether they take advantage of the tax credit or not. Either he lives in an apartment or, being a Harvard professor, he can afford the reduction. I don't like deductions either, but get rid of them ALL and go to a flat rate. How's that Mr.Glaeser?
11/5/2009 7:40 AM EST Recommend (4) Report abuse Permalink

deltachild wrote:
Another Harvard loonie wanting to create the perfect life for everyone. Mr. Glasser, how about trying to sell your crap to Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria etc and I promise that when they come on-board I'll join. Wow
11/5/2009 8:42 AM EST Recommend (2) Report abuse Permalink

Douglas4517 wrote:
"Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University, is director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston"

Once again, the elitists wish to impose upon the masses, the One True Way. Not a way that the Ruling Class will have to live, mind you, just the way the peasantry should accept as their ordained lot in life.

I am sick and tired of these idiots.

11/5/2009 8:42 AM EST Recommend (1) Report abuse Permalink

ludviko wrote:
Ah, the fanatics of the secular religion strike again. Agree with the first poster - as long as your home is smaller than Gore's, you're OK.
11/5/2009 8:54 AM EST Recommend Report abuse Permalink

Celticpole wrote:
According to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey, per person energy use in owner-occupied housing is 39 percent higher than in rental units. Energy use, per household member, is 49 percent higher in single-family detached houses than in apartments in buildings with more than five units.
Well that sounds pretty accurate. Once the absentee landlord doesn't repair the heating system; the city suts off the water for non-payment; and residents are reduced to by their wits the carbon footprint is indeed reduced so that some of us can use more in a cap and trade kind of way. If the residents die from exposure that's even better as they will be subtracting themselves from the causal side of the equation.
Come to NYC, Newark NJ, KCMO, or Denver to see life's laboratory in action.
Carpe Diem and two sticks.
11/5/2009 8:59 AM EST Recommend Report abuse Permalink

realitybiter wrote:
I appreciate that the fantastically more intelligent academics have an enormous mental advantage over the rest of us.......but, puleeeeeez.

I will give a rip about my carbon footprint when private jets are made illegal. I will give a rip about my carbon footprint when academics stop traveling around the world, spewing 20 lbs of carbon per gallon burned of jet fuel, all in the name of attending this conference or is a long get the idea. "Some pigs are more equal than others"

I know my graduate degree in engineering is far less worthy than a phd in sociology or some other social "science" study, but my little pea brain says you folks are unwilling to eat your own cooking. Until you are, please reduce your carbon footprint by not blowing so much hot gas, through hare-brained notions like these.

My sister is an academic, tenured professor, dept chair...married no kids. I have done the math. She and her husband burn up more jet fuel and create a carbon footprint 2 times larger than me, my wife, my 3 kids, two dogs, three cars( we don't drive much...20k mi total), and mini mcmansion. All based on the fact that we live in a suburb, close to our school, house ran office, close to stores...and rarely fly. Them planes create a massive amount of carbon when you are traveling 100,000 miles a year... Do the math.

And just what do academics produce? Couldn't it be argued that their mere existence should be questioned since they create carbon and produce next to nothing? Just step on that slope and gets slippery in a hurry.
11/5/2009 9:03 AM EST Recommend (2) Report abuse Permalink

Huhh wrote:
Overly simplistic. And having lived in city apartments and the suburbs ... well I'll take the place where I own more that cubic air space and I can actually fit my family.
11/5/2009 9:37 AM EST Recommend Report abuse Permalink

PSRyan wrote:
Ahhhh, the beautiful concrete sterilized utopia of Cold War era Moscow apartment buildings. Squat, square concrete cubicles, about 150 sq ft of living space, low carbon footprint. How could I have been so foolish to want more?

Can I get the bread lines too?

MiketheForester brushes a key issue, but doesn't quite nail it in that the influx of immigration has moved these people from an agrarian, and therefore much lower carbon footprint lifestyle, to a more modern suburban lifestyle. Instead of living in a small home, likely built out of materials available nearby, built practically on top of the fields upon which they work; they now live in a city, often driving older, less efficient cars (both in emissions and gas mileage) longer distances to work in more industrialized fields using higher amounts of commercial fertilizers.

So how is it then that both policies can be supported if by supporting unlimited immigration we actually place more harm upon the environment? Shouldn't the policies be mutually exclusive?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. All the greenies want is a FULL return to an all agrarian lifestyle for everyone (well, except themselves). Being flippant I bet zombies are a greenies best friend as they consume the most evil being on the planet - humans.

I fully support recycling, wind, solar, and nuclear power. Interestingly, all of these things are actually opposed by, you guessed it, environmentalists. They infringe on natural beauty, threaten habitats of the desert toad, or migratory birds and therefore must be stopped (according to them).

So put on your reedskin loincloth, get your hoe (no oxen - that's cruel) and start farming (no hunting - just farming- you're not allowed meat either) - anything else doesn't meet the environmentalist agenda.
11/5/2009 9:56 AM EST Recommend (1) Report abuse Permalink

Hammer02 wrote:
My goodness ... the globe throwing stones at the moonbats in their big houses out in the burbs ... i am shocked?
11/5/2009 10:07 AM EST Recommend Report abuse Permalink

RJG33 wrote:
Worth noting:
A Google search did turn up an Edward L. Glaeser living on Ripley Lane in... Weston. Wonder if that is a tiny, cramped studio apartment?