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Re: OT reducing your carbon footprint, helping the state you live in

Dear Bill,
thinking about ecology by thinking about what you call the carbon 
footprint of some entity you acquire, and then taking guesses at it by 
making assumptions about (and only about) its transport route from the 
manufacturer to the end customer (which is, in the example, you), is 
actually oversimplifying the case.
The carbon release from the transport from the harbour to your doorstep is 
but a small factor in the total ecobalance of a thing (let's stick with 
the Roland amplifier for that). Carbon dioxide emission is - although 
indirectly - one of the causes of global warming, along with many others. 
Apart from looking at a carbon dioxide emission balance for the trip 
alone, to really be able to help the environment you would need to base 
your buying decisions on the total ecobalance over lifetime for the 
device, which would be:
    * which environmental factors went into development, manufacturing, 
    * which happen over usage lifetime
    * which happen after end-of life
Even if we only look at the transport from an international harbour to 
your doorstep as in your example, you'd need to analyze the ecobalance of 
the entire customer transaction process, which would include:
     * direct entropy generation during the process (which would e.g. 
include the aircon running in your shop in SoCal)
     * electricity consumed (which has a lot to do with the efficieny e.g. 
of the IT infrastructure, and also from which kind of power plant you draw 
the electricty)
     * actual fuel consumption and emissions for all transport processes 
(this would also include you driving by car to the music store and back in 
a car that is possibly not up to date both with regard to low fuel 
consumption and toxic emissions)
     * human ressources involved in the process
Are you able to do these calculations (meaning do you have both the 
necessary data and the know-how to work with it)? And if so, are you 
willing and able to do the calculations for everything you buy?
I won't even start to go into detail about the lifetime total balance 
mentioned above - but it suffices to say that stuff you hear, e.g. from 
marketing brochures, doesn't tell you what you need to know.
One great example is Toyota's Prius hybrid car, praised as an ecological 
breakthrough and solution to all the problems. One thing is that 
manufacturing that car requires large amounts of Nickel, which is mined in 
Canada (with a severe impact on the environment), then transported to 
Europe for use in making semifinished parts, then to China for making the 
batteries (also with severe environmental impact), then to Japan for 
making the car, which is shipped back to North America. As a result of 
this, the ecobalance of the Prius is far inferior to that of your 
run-of-the-mill car. But even with regard to fuel consumption, in a proper 
lifetime analysis in comparison to a modern, fuel-efficient car with 
conventional power train (say, e.g., a BMW 118d), the Toyota looses even 
only regarding the co2 emissions for driving it. And in specific 
situations, it will even loose to a 430bhp BMW M3 sports car (see Top 
Gear's S11E1 episode for a demonstration of that).
Not wanting to sound like a complete dickhole, but have you ever compared 
the life ecobalance of a solid state guitar amp to that of a tube amp? ;)

Your second point is also interesting and well taken, although all the 
same relatively complicated. In typical federal countries and other 
unions, there's mostly some kind of communist cash flow (e.g. financial 
equalization) between states (which, I'd believe, would happen from 
California to some mid-west states), which is based on that state's GNP. 
Now, if you live in a (relatively) prosperous state, will it help more to 
buy locally (thus increasing the local GNP, which will increase the 
state's spending on financial equalization), or will it help more to buy 
in the mid-west (thus increasing their local GNP, thus decreasing 
financial equalization and helping your local state)?
It's interesting insofar as in some cases, selling online is a viable and 
sometimes the only business option for businesses in structurally weaker 
regions. Of course, most of the time states like California, Bavaria etc. 
would benefit most if the would secede from the U.S./Germany/EU, but 
failing that, it will help in the long run to empower the structurally 
weaker regions.
(I have been buying online for years in a shop located in one of Germany's 
least developed regions near Berlin. I once had a long chat with their 
managing director, and he basically told me that the local customers 
usually were of a kind that they would shop for e.g. guitar strings and, 
if they once really had a lot of money to spare, for a Ä30 effects pedal. 
Short of being forced to declare bankrupcy, his resurgence came with 
online sales to other, economically stronger regions, which in the long 
run helps everybody in a global market. This small shop, short of going 
out of business, now employs a lot of people, which in turn earn good 
money and use that to buy...stuff from California, which helps the economy 
there, which will allow you...you get the message).
Economical systems usually are able to properly regulate itself. Reasons 
for that not working are all the things which are government-enforced like 
taxes, financial equalization, unions and similar awkward concepts. 
It is perfectly understandable that you may want to support your local 
dealership (for whatever reason, be it that you like to go to a store 
instead of ordering online, or that you work at that dealership or that 
you like the people). But as above, optimizing your buying strategy in 
order to be in line with non-local economical considerations is 

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Betreff: OT reducing your carbon footprint, helping the state you live in
Gesendet: Mi, 03. Sep 2008
Von: William Walker

Dear list,
 I know this is off topic but I feel itís relevant.
 I know many of you engage in on line buying, as do I, though Iím starting 
to have second thoughts about  my on line habits. Like many of you, the 
lure of rock bottom prices and free freight, as well as the convenience of 
not leaving your house, and in some cases the distance from a music store 
making that impractical anyway, is hard to pass up. 
 But in many cases I believe we are creating a bigger carbon footprint by 
ordering on line simply by creating another trip the product has to make 
before it gets to our door step. Here is why, if a retail store like the 
one I work at part time in Santa Cruz orders some Roland or Line 6 
products, they are shipped directly to our store from their facilities in 
southern California, which is one of the main ports on the west coast for 
Asian made electronics.  If I were to order the same product on line from, 
for example, Musicians Friend, that Roland or line 6 product would have 
first been trucked or flown to a warehouse in the Midwest from So Cal, 
before being trucked or flown to your door step. If I had gotten it from 
Sweetwater it would have been even further.  Conversely if you bought a 
Danish made TC electronics processor from MF and you lived on the East 
Coast, you would have bought a product that would have arrived by cargo 
ship or jet from Europe, to an east coast warehouse, and flown or trucked 
half way across the country before for showing up at your door step. In 
either example, thatís several thousand mileís of extra jet or diesel 
fuel, pardon the hyperbole. So even though we the customers are saving 
money with the free freight and the no sales tax, it would appear that we 
are in our own small ways, increasing the carbon footprint, by burning 
more fossil fuel. Also, I have reason to believe  it wonít be long before 
the days of Free freight will be gone, rising fuel surcharges from 
carriers like UPS and FedEx, are going to  put the squeeze on the big mail 
order houses to the point where they will stop offering the free freight  
incentive, so read the fine print as it may not be that obvious when it 
 Another negative byproduct of buying online is it really does hurt your 
local and state economy. In California, where we pay one of the nationís 
highest sales tax at 8.25%, the advent of discount online mega stores has 
had a crippling effect on our states economy. Not just in music retail, 
but pretty much all retail sales.  I see it first hand at Union Grove 
Music where I work and I hear the same stories from all of the other 
retailers and sales reps I talk to, even places like Guitar Center  that  
for years have been able to undercut the  sales of smaller stores like 
us., they are losing business to on line retailers.  California has had a 
several week impasse over creating a new budget, Why? I believe in part 
itís because the state is broke and everyone is fighting for the crumbs. 
What is a major source of revenue for the state of California?  You 
guessed it, sales tax, and they are thinking of raising it again which 
will screw local business even more, as the state hemorrhages more tax 
revenue from people avoiding it through on line buying.  I know many of 
you might not care and actually I really didnít for a number of years. 
Lets face it, getting something really cool,  really  cheap, and avoiding 
paying sales tax is some what of a Red badge of Courage among musicians, 
that has a subtle rebellious  undertone of sticking it to da man. I think 
we all at one time or another have conspiratorially bragged to our friends 
about the steal we got on such in such and item.  Its human nature and for 
many of us also a necessity to find the bargain.  But as I drive the 
streets of the city in which I live,  the roads are getting bumpier, both 
literally and figuratively (crumbling infrastructure anyone?)   and I have 
made a personal  decision to buy on line only when I absolutely canít find 
something I need  locally, even if it ends up costing me  a bit more, and  
 I urge all of you to think about the ramifications of buying on line in 
the bigger picture, not just for yourself, but the community and State 
where you live. I know some of you canít stand going in to music stores so 
I know I wonít convince you of anything J  but those of you who care about 
having a locally owned shop where you can actually pick something up and 
try it out before forking over your hard earned shekels,   I urge you to 
support your local music, or CD, or appliance, or computer store for that 
matter, and start looking at ways to Green you GAS. 
Sorry for being such a gloomy Gus, but now is the time to start thinking 
about these kinds of issues and getting proactive an individual as well as 
collective way

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