Monday, April 23, 2007

環保本無罪,但消費更有理﹗

看到讀者柯程欣的《環保人士何罪之有?》,就筆者早前發表的《可持續環保陷阱》作出回應,是自《政治不正確》開始以來,第一個以完整文章向《蘋果》回應筆者文章的環保人士,自是令人興奮,亦令筆者有機會進一步說明保環保分子經常混淆「浪費」和「消費」兩個概念的慣常技倆。

在回應的文章中,柯讀者認為「因為空調的耗電量比很多電器高」,所以就算我們減少開冷氣,把節省下來的錢花在其他地方,也算是有助環保。 但事情是真的是這樣嗎?假設我全年不開冷氣,因而省下了數千元,跟著用這筆錢買了張機票,乘坐波音747噴射客機去泰國旅行,這樣就很「環保」嗎?

柯讀者可能不知道,一架747客機,每日排放約400噸二氧化碳,每年的排放量就相等於一個50兆瓦的風力發電場 ─ 大概相當於三十座南丫島發電風車 ─ 一年可以節省的排放總和﹗

另外,柯讀者又認為,市民把慳電節省下來的錢,捐給像綠色和平一樣的機構,使之用來「對抗全球暖化」,便又會「有助環保」。這麼辛苦省下來的錢,原來只是捐給環保份子,相信認同這提議的人肯定不多。 如果把柯讀者的邏輯引伸下去,市民如果升職加薪,是否也不應增加消費,把多賺的錢都捐給綠色和平?

就算真的有市民響應柯讀者所言,把自己減少開冷氣「有血有汗」省下來的錢,全部捐給綠色和平,但這類機構接下來又會怎樣去「花費」這些錢呢?是像去年般,邀請全球6000多名環保人士以及其他各界代表,齊齊飛到非洲肯尼亞首都,派場十足地開一個為期十天的「氣候變化大會」嗎?柯讀者有沒有計算過,開一次這樣的會議,會「浪費」多少能源,又會排放多少二氧化碳呢?這樣做,就比我們把冷氣開得涼快點更環保、更有意義嗎?

說來說去,筆者其實只想說出環保分子經常混淆視聽的一個事實﹕提高能源效益是市場一直在推動的方向,事實上沒有甚麼產品不是越來越有能源效益的,這種進步與現今的環保運動沒有關係,而歷史亦告訴我們,純粹提高能源效益,只是代表人們能夠以相同的資源,進行更多的消費,整體上並不能減少社會上能源的消耗﹔純粹減少個別消費活動也不能減少人們對能源的需求,因為節省下來的錢,最終人們還是要往別處消費。

那麼要怎樣做,才可以令人們減少消費呢?答案是透過各式各樣的干預,人為地把所有東西的價格推高﹕物價貴了,人們自然會減少消費。

所以,很多環保主義者「勸導」人們「減少浪費」,其實只不過是一種掩眼法,因為他們清楚知道,只要經濟不斷增長,人們不斷富裕起來,社會對能源的需求便只會有增無減。「勸導」其實只是要用時間「證明」市民自願性質的減少浪費「不能解決問題」。他們真正的目的,其實是要鼓吹透過政府「有形之手」,例如開徵膠袋稅、二氧化碳排放稅等,人為地將物價推高﹔而這樣的干預,實際上與把錢從市民手上拿走沒有分別。

這裏,我亦希望柯讀者能夠弄清楚究竟「政府的錢」是甚麼意思。市民有權譴責政府攪「維港巨星匯」是「浪費」,是因為「政府的錢」正是來自市民﹔政府減少一分錢的浪費,市民手上就可以有多一分錢作個人的消費,當中與「環保」毫無關係。相反,錢是我們辛苦賺來的,放工後按照個人喜好去消費,例如將冷氣開得涼快點鬆弛一下,環保分子又可以憑甚麼批評我的行為是「浪費」呢?

事實上,消費行為純屬個人選擇,有人會選擇不開冷氣,把省下來的錢改為每月去一次旺角的「按摩桑拿」鬆弛一下,難道就代表他的消費行為「更有助紓緩環保問題」?

對於別人的勸導,筆者時常都無任歡迎,但如果「勸導」的邏輯含混不清,最終的目的,卻可能是要把我們手上的錢拿走,看見這樣的一個「陷阱」,又怎能袖手旁觀、不去踢爆呢?

推薦閱讀:
Can shopping save the planet?
The Jevons' Paradox

24 comments:

真小人 said...

廢柴兄, 我想左好久, 終於想到自已叫甚麼名. 這靈感來自你一運串偉論而來.

閣下對廢柴兄的亂吹及將自已意願強加在另人的手段, 簡直佩服去到五體投地的地步.

我今日聽收音機講中五經濟科講解, 有一個term 叫做opportunity cost (機會成本). 我學識唔係好高, IQ又低低地. 不過我好似聽到話, 每個人可以有好多選擇, 當你選擇用風扇, 即係放棄次佳選擇冷氣. 原因可能是你覺得夠天氣清涼而支持環保, 唔開冷氣. 甘節省下來的金錢, 佢又可以有不同的選擇, 例如儲起來, 買一些環保紙, 唱K等. 每做一個選擇也可以考慮不同因素, 其中可以包括環保.

因此, 減少開冷氣不等於一定要坐飛機, 而係視乎怎樣花. 廢柴兄經常混淆視聽, 將減少開冷氣之後便一定要坐飛機, 然後又大做文章. 不過都好服垃圾報又照登. 但甘又係的, 廢柴兄見到佢的fan罵垃圾報的編輯, 立即大意滅親, delete了佢fan的message, 可見廢柴兄與垃圾報編輯的奴隸關係是多麼深厚.

有計 said...

牛牛的胡言亂語,其市場價值著實不菲,因為讀者眾多,不乏生存空間,不知其實是大義凜然還是賺錢維生?

有計 said...

漏說了一句:因為我覺得你的胡言亂語好像有點刻意營造的感覺。

yellowcow said...

真小人,
減少開冷氣當然不一定等於要坐飛機, 不過請舉一些不會用到能源的消費例子以便大家參考.

Anonymous said...

把儲來的錢買股票投資,會用多少能源呢?XD
即使用乘飛機的例子,你也未免將之過於簡化來迎合你的論點了。一輛飛機不會因為一個人去旅行而起飛,並且排放400噸CO2/day的。747最大客量可坐490人,我姑且當400人(因應不同改裝會有不同的載客量)。假設這400人都因不開冷氣,將省下來的用於這旅行。那麼這400部冷氣省掉了的能量是多少呢?又,一架飛泰國的747一天不會只飛單程一轉的。以泰國這些短途航線,我當飛4轉單程好了(其實已經算少了)。客量共1600人,這些人省下來的冷氣機能源又有多少呢?和400噸相比若何?
大家可能覺得我的例子充滿沒有實據的推演和假設,然而我就是想以此來點出黃牛兄的盲點:他去來支持自己論點的例子充滿了未必準確與真實的推演和假設。省下來的錢一定是用來乘飛機去旅行,或者進行一些比開冷氣還耗能源的活動?環保團體賺回來的錢自都用在開會,自我製造更多浪費?
如果邏輯含混不清,我都認為不能袖手旁觀、不去踢爆。黃牛兄,所見略同

cinimod said...

與其拿一個例子大做文章,不如實際想想人家文章的重點。

消費必然導致資源損耗,消費額越多,資源損耗必然越大。

儲起那些錢行不行?讀過中五經濟都知道,儲到銀行的錢最後還是會借出去,成為投資或消費開支。

節儉究竟是否有助環保?這才是重點啊!

真小人 said...

廢柴兄, 我無講過要唔用能源, 唔好亂將你的意念放在我的思想中. 一些環保case? 你可以睇睇2007年4月24日經濟日報A10版, 消費也可以較環保的. 因此花錢唔一定是壞, 問題係你點花. 另一角度, 節省下來的金錢, 也要看看你點用. 當然有些極端環保人士會反對消費, 但大部份環保人士都不是這樣說. 唔該廢柴兄, 唔好一竹"高"打晒一船人.

Anonymous said...

cinimod:
似乎是黃牛兄一開始用這些例子來造文章,我才用來玩玩吧
節約能源會否比繼續消費更環保,這是一個非常複雜的問題,甚至不可能單看一兩個例子去比較。然而,黃牛兄卻用了一兩個例子去否定節約能源的成效。我申明了我的例子只是去道出黃牛兄推論的問題。

Anonymous said...

A simple answer to yellowcow's thesis of "eternal consumption": I can work less and earn less when I spend less on electricity or other consumption. I can have a more relaxed life.

Anonymous said...

有心人,

環保機構或者代表是否可以公開披露他們詳盡的財務資料, 比如; 他們曾經或者正在接受哪些公司, 團體或個人捐助, 又比如; 他們本身的財務支出明細等等. 公眾其實最介意冠冕堂皇的姿態背後, 是否有不為公眾所知的一些因由. 智者有話, "請留意對方真正的動機"

全球羊群

yellowcow said...

Yes, but I think many more people would rather choose a less relaxed life so as to earn more and spend more, especially for those relatively poor earners

yellowcow said...

Some people want a more relaxed life and there is nothing stopping them having it. Other people want more in life and they are willing to work hard to get it.

Life style is entirely an issue of personal choose. Problem is some people are too full of themselves and want to impose their own values on the others.

Anonymous said...

我不明白你為甚麼要開 blog 和別人討論問題,因為我從來沒有看過你認同別人的觀點,即使對方是對的!

Anonymous said...

Life style is not entirely an issue of personal choice. One's life is always affected by others. When all employees are "forced" to work overtime to show that they are hard-working (no matter whether they have anything to do), no one are spared! What family life do we have? How can we count this "externality"? (I would say that this is "internality" for a "human". Frankly, I don't want to be a cow, whether yellow, or white.) Consumption again?

yellowcow: "but I think many more people would rather choose a less relaxed life so as to earn more and spend more, especially for those relatively poor earners"

Will it be easier for the poor to spend less than earn more?
Will it help the poor more if people use less air-conditioning, so that their neighbors are not forced to use air-conditioning to resist the heat exhausted by others' air-conditioners?

Why can't others advocate a simple life, when you can advocate a consumer life? What means by "impose" anyway? Aren't you also imposing your own values on others?

Besides, I don't find conspiracy theory leads us to anywhere. We can simply assess others' arguments.

Anonymous said...

Moreover, environmentalists are actually very middle-class rather than grassroot and the principle of user-pay such as plastic bag tax is actually a regressive tax. So, anti-environmentalists are actually red-der than Red Guards: why should we ask the poor to pay the same as the middle-class or the rich? Why shouldn't those who have the luxury to enjoy a better environment pay more than those who have to work many hours without seeing the sky? If the rich want a better environment, they should pay, not forcing the poor to pay, say the anti-environmentalist Red Guards. And... yellowcow is actually a redcow.

yellowcow said...

"anonymous", thank you for your comment.

- Of course one's life can be affected by others, but as long as a free society remains, it is still his/her personal decision at the end how to choose it.

- You think it is "easier" for a man to spend less than earn more? Is it "easier" for a father to ask his sons/daugthers to spend less, than to work harder so to earn more for his family?

- I like simple life myself, what I don't like is hoax in "simple life" disguise

- The neighbors of a poor man are supposingly poor themselves, right?

So a more logical explanation should be like this: when the man sees all his poor neighbors can afford air-conditioning, he suddenly realizes he is not that poor, then run to buy one himself!

Anonymous said...

When one’s life is inevitably affected by others as you admit, how can you still insist that one has the freedom to choose? There is only relative freedom in a society with rules to protect public goods, not absolute freedom in a vacuum.

Indeed, it is not easy for a poor man in HK to earn more. Where can we find a higher pay job for this poor man in HK? Poor people often make do by spending less.

If we are living in a segregated society as we are now approaching, the neighbors of a poor man may be poor themselves. I hope we are not yet such a society.

Your logical explanation can be continued: then he has to work harder and spend less hours with his family, if he can find a job, or he has to spend less on other things, like eating more cheap food. More is not always better. More consumption is not always better. For example, more private cars mean more congestion, if not more pollution (ok, I know that you don’t think pollution a problem), provided that land for road-building is limited.

Moreover, some consumption generates more “externalities” than others and requires more resources to clear up. Resources using for clearing up cannot generate benefits for humans, although it may not affect the GDP figure. So, it is unsound to argue that all consumptions are the same for humans' well-being.

yellowcow said...

The question is: what makes you think you could judge others' consumption behavior better or not?

So your saying should be rephrased like this: others' consumption behavior may not necessarily good for ME.

It is true, so the question is: what should we do to sort it out?
And my view is: market is a far better way than government control.

yellowcow said...

User pay is a useful concept. But to be fair shouldn't salary tax and profut tax be reduced accordingly? If that is the case I am all for it.

In principle I do not object to something like garbage disposal tax. But plastic bags shouldn't be singled out. Garbage is garbage.

And putting imaginary cost on something as essential to all forms of life as carbon dioxide is unfair to everyone, especially to the poor.

Anonymous said...

If you are serious about economics, you should know that government regulation has a role and the market is not self-generative. If you are serious about economics, you should know that there are “externalities” (“internalities”?) Some consumption behaviors are worse than others because they generate more externalities and cost more to clear these externalities up than the utilities they can generate for humans (not GDP). We can define this kind of consumption “wastage” in this sense. It is not all subjective. Environmentalists would suggest that government regulations should be there to force those externalities creators to pay and clear those externalities. If you agree with those bits, you are already an environmentalist. You only different from them in the techniques you prefer. I am not though. I prefer the rich to pay through higher direct tax, no other gimmicks. In this sense, I am an anti-environmentalist. Do you prefer to join me?

I don’t understand this bit though:
“And putting imaginary cost on something as essential to all forms of life as carbon dioxide is unfair to everyone, especially to the poor.”

“Essential to all forms of life” in what sense? Even if it is essential in some way, it doesn’t mean the more the better. For humans, many essential chemicals become toxic when the intake exceeds a certain limit. The above statement only reflects a “the-more-the-better” fundamentalist thinking.

Why can’t I say that “putting imaginary cost on something as essential to all forms of life as food, shelter, and even garbage... is unfair to everyone, especially to the poor”?

yellowcow said...

Without carbon dioxide there would be no life, plants or animals, on earth. That is how essential CO2 is.

And you keep saying certain consumption is "worse" than others. Would you mind giving some examples.

Imaginary cost on food? I didn't know they are supposed to be free.

燒你的肺 said...

黃牛說︰「他們真正的目的,其實是要鼓吹透過政府「有形之手」,例如開徵膠袋稅、二氧化碳排放稅等,人為地將物價推高﹔而這樣的干預,實際上與把錢從市民手上拿走沒有分別。」

黃牛說來說去是想說只有燒肺者會把錢放回市場,不會浪費。政府不會把錢放回市場。事實顯然不是這樣。

更壞的是全球政府狂印銀紙,催谷經濟,全球都以為經濟欣欣向榮是當然的,錢當然可以印呀印呀,可是地球資源不是可以無盡呢!

黃牛說消費是個人行為。
燒肺好,浪費好,都是個人行為,個人行為又如何,大晒呀,無集體價值支持會有你個人價值存在咩?

Anonymous said...

Following yellowcow’s logic in today’s Apple Daily “不 方 便 的 真 相”, why doesn’t yellowcow join the environmentalists when he thinks that their numbers are growing and more middle-class from the developing 3rd World could mean more people supporting environmentalism?

If the 1st world people really consume more than they should, why can’t people advocate less wasteful consumption among the 1st world? Why can’t the problem of wasteful consumption be resolved by thoughtful consumption? Isn’t this 永 遠 把 問 題 誇 大 , 但 同 時 又 反 對 任 何 可 以 真 正 解 決 問 題 的 方 法?

P.S.: actually, yellowcow has suggested that travelling by aircraft is "worse" than using air-conditioning, although I don't think someone who chooses not to reply to others' "inconvenient questions" should have his questions respected.

Anonymous said...

"環 保 分 子 的 真 正 目 的 , 是 要 反 對 他 們 恨 之 入 骨 、 但 對 人 類 進 步 有 巨 大 貢 獻 的 資 本 主 義 自 由 經 濟 。"

Is this merely a claim to tell Apple Daily that yellowcow is one of them? What a free economist: when there is demand, there is supply, no matter whether what being supplied is logical or consistent.

While environmentalism is not necessarily anti-capitalism, anti-environmentalism is not necessarily pro-capitalism, let alone pro-free economy.

Environmentalism is compatible with the idea of "externalities" in "free economy". It is more anti-free-lunch-capitalist than anti-free economy.