Dysfunction - Jan 15
Click on the headline (link) for the full text.
Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad
Louise Story, NY Times
Add this to the endangered list: blank spaces.
Advertisers seem determined to fill every last one of them. Supermarket eggs have been stamped with the names of CBS television shows. Subway turnstiles bear messages from Geico auto insurance. Chinese food cartons promote Continental Airways. US Airways is selling ads on motion sickness bags. And the trays used in airport security lines have been hawking Rolodexes.
Marketers used to try their hardest to reach people at home, when they were watching TV or reading newspapers or magazines. But consumers’ viewing and reading habits are so scattershot now that many advertisers say the best way to reach time-pressed consumers is to try to catch their eye at literally every turn.
“We never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time, so we have to find a way to be everywhere,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive at the Kaplan Thaler Group, a New York ad agency. “Ubiquity is the new exclusivity.”
No consumer, it seems, is too young. Some school buses now play radio ads meant for children.
...Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 today. About half the 4,110 people surveyed last spring by Yankelovich said they thought marketing and advertising today was out of control.
(15 Jan 2007)
Posted at Intl Herald Tribune and elsewhere.
Americans have personal bonds with cars
Will Lester, Associated Press
...Almost four in 10 of those polled said their car has a personality of its own. Two in 10 have a nickname for their car. Most often it is a female nickname; popular choices include variations on Betsy, Nelly, Blue and Baby.
When people talk about their strong feelings for their cars and trucks, they mention dependability, time spent maintaining them and the freedom that comes from cruising on the open road.
Women were more likely than men to attribute personal traits to their cars, more likely than men to give their car a nickname and more likely to see their cars as female.
(15 Jan 2007)
Is Good Weather Bad for Sustainable Energy?
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
...To the extent that human-induced climate change is responsible for winter’s late arrival to many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, there is a peculiar irony at work: warmer weather means less energy going to heat homes and buildings. In a season when stockpiles of heating oil traditionally are drawn down, reduced demand has left inventories brimming with unused fuel. This anomalous weather is “confusing” not only the flora and fauna in our hemisphere, but also the strangely detached subspecies of humanity known as energy traders. The way they look at the situation, there’s way too much oil on the market, and they’re bailing out of long positions as fast as they can. Spot market prices have nosedived in the last two weeks, leaving the per barrel price of oil hovering just above the $50 mark. Such low prices cannot last.
The price of natural gas is even more sensitive to winter weather extremes than that of petroleum, but prices have held steady this month. Yes, natural gas consumption this month will be well below historic averages, but so too will domestic output and imports from Canada. In fact, the decline has already begun, which may be one reason why prices haven’t fallen in tandem with the oil markets. But natural gas prices haven’t soared either, as you might expect. Indeed it is entirely possible that the drop in demand is, for the moment, large enough to mask a very troubling downturn in output.
...As a result of this balmy stretch, several troubling thoughts have taken root in my brain: what if people come to regard climate change as something that could save energy in the long run? Could expectations of warmer winters lull Americans into a false sense of security? How many homeowners will put off valuable insulation projects and installations of solar water heaters because they’re not feeling any pain from utility bills? And the kicker: can we make any progress toward a sustainable energy future if the weather doesn’t cooperate?
(13 Jan 2007)