I posted the following to an interesting thread on Brad DeLong's site today.
I mostly agree with Graydon when he said:
> There is no technical reason everyone can't have a car, prosperity, and regular hot showers in a zero-carbon energy cycle.
> The problem is that the folks who are rich and powerful from controlling fossil carbon extraction don't want to stop being. That political problem is the _only_ problem.
Repeat that ten times: The political problem is the only problem.
Individual efforts at efficiency, conservation, fasting, etc., are not that helpful in-and-of-themselves, because of the basic problem mentioned above...one person's conservation is another person's bargain.
However, individual efforts at efficiency, conservation, etc., CAN BE HELPFUL in a large number of indirect ways, such as raising consciousness and preparing transitional technology. At sometime in the future, we may all need to use energy more efficiency, etc., so having some people do so now CAN BE beneficial above and beyond the actual energy saved (which might not be that great at first, there is much to learn).
IMO, the important thing wrt personal choices regarding efficiency, conservation, etc., is that they DO help raise consciousness of the actual problem and activities that need to be changed. If what develops is merely an obsession with saving 0.001% of total energy (such as by getting everyone to unplug cell phone chargers) and not look at the big energy/carbon users, then such efforts may be worse than useless.
BTW, that is my take on the latest generation of 1.3G toilets, worse than useless. The largest use of water, more than 80%, is on farming and landscaping, and all the emphasis on energy saving household appliances mainly serves to obscure the source of the actual problems.