Tag: economics

During our MAX1 study effort we focused on optimal environmental operational practices, but after we issued our MAX1 final report, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation asked us to perform a follow-up study that focused more tightly on operating costs.

 

In the initial effort we avoided this task, because we felt that it would be near impossible to come up with a simple answer. However, Hannah van Hemmen was intrigued by the question and decided to give it a shot. 

 

She collected cost data but knew that cost data by itself does not provide an economics case and she also needed to balance the cost data against the economic benefit of compliance and this is where things became really complicated.

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Not too long ago only a small proportion of humanity had access to vast resources (which actually equates to access to energy). Although the very rich could travel by ocean liner between continents, poorer people’s action radii were very much smaller. For most of humanity’s existence a human might be tied to a very small patch of ground, which was accessed by walking. There were nomadic tribes, but even those tribes moved slowly and seasonally. Somewhat more recently, sailors started to move over vast distances, but they did so on a commercial level and not on a personal level.

 

Today, a much larger proportion of humanity travels much more, and over much longer distances. This is due to low cost and readily available energy. While this makes life interesting, it is also an efficiency trap and Maxi Taxi, instead of reducing energy use, may simply increase our mobility for the same energy dollar and not result in overall energy savings.

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