Monday, July 07, 2008

Moral equivalence!!!

Guess if you can spot the thing about this WaPo article that got on my nerves:
TOKYO -- When it comes to saving energy, the Japanese have much to teach the United States and other rich countries, whose leaders descend on Japan next month for a Group of Eight summit.

Energy consumption per person here is about half that in the United States, and the growth of greenhouse gas emissions is slower than anywhere in the industrialized world.

There is a hiccup, though, in this world-beating record. It happens inside the Japanese home, where energy use is surging. And nothing embodies the surge quite like the toilet -- a plumbing fixture that has been reengineered here as an ultracomfy energy hog....

But as with a Hummer, romance with a high-end toilet is not cheap. Luxury models cost up to $4,000 -- plus at least $2.50 a month per toilet in higher electricity bills.
Get the message? Sure, big stupid Americans drive big stupid cars, but those Japanese heat their toilet seats!!! And they call us wasteful!!!

Okay, this is just an obvious example of American newspapers being stupid. But lets do the math, shall we?

The article mentions on the high end, these toilets cost $5 a month in electricity. (Newer models are more efficient.) If the Japanese pay $0.20/kwh for their electricity, that works out to about 25kwh/month just for the toilet. That's 90 megajoules, equal about to the energy content of 7/10 of a gallon of gasoline.

Or, to put it another way, in an entire month the Japanese use as much energy to heat their toilets as the Americans use to get halfway to work on the first day of the month.

Clearly, these two behaviours are equivalent.

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