Advanced economies have grown their GDPs, but have also reduced their emissions since about 1990.
The best policies to counter climate change like carbon taxes and schemes like cap and trade, which align people's incentives to emit less, but also don't damage the potential for growth and consumption as much.
Technically true, however airplanes provoke a rebound effect. By making travel so efficient and fast, it makes people travel more. If airplanes didn't exist all people would simply travel less, not drive more.
Also (pedantic but you started it), the society we currently live in is based around work. So if games weren't being developed it is more likely the developers would still travel to work.
And long road trips used to be a cultural pass time. This is why Route 66 is to some extent still such a cultural / historical icon. It used to be that American middle class families loaded into a gas guzzling vehicle to drive cross country for vacation.
Emissions are bad, but technology plus well thought-through policy has a potential to reduce them dramatically while both stimulating growth and energy consumption (nuclear + renewables and storage, electric cars, trains, etc.)
For sure, this is super vague, but i guess it's still good to consider all those internet traffic. local internet-caching could be a good solution to keep things more regional...
Isn't there an element of offloading their emissions to the 'less advanced' economies who make all of the new energy efficient nuggets?
Isn't buying a used (ICE) car better for the environment than a new EV one?
On the other hand, maybe you're thinking the total number of cars to be manufactured should go down, and this will happen if people stop buying them.
Every step in the right direction is a good one. Perfect is the enemy of good.
I'm thinking here of the lessons we've been learning recently about recycling: It would appear that we now need to come to terms with the possibility that recycling has done far more harm than good, by making it easier to justify excessive packaging waste while at the same time mostly only giving consumers the impression that what they put in the recycle bin wasn't going to waste.
I could see something similar happening with electric delivery vans: Perhaps, by ostensibly greening the most consumer-visible part of the process, they can make them feel better about buying into a way of getting their consumer products that relies on a much less efficient supply chain than the one used by the system it's supplanting.
Perhaps, if we dig into it, we'll discover that Amazon is being pennywise here, because properly dealing with the pounds would require rolling back the "free 2 day shipping of pretty much anything to pretty much anywhere" guarantee that underlies so much of Amazon's current business model.
I suppose that if an occasional item ships from across the country, then it would be less impactful to go by truck for 5 days, so if that is the case then any item that falls under that category could have a selection item on the checkout screen that says "Delay shipment by 3 days, to save 3 lbs of greenhouse gasses". That may influence consumer behavior.
BTW, what is the greenhouse gas emissions difference between one delivery vehicle making the rounds, vs several hundred people each driving to a store to buy something?
It'd be interesting to see how many people actually use that option to consolidate a significant amount of items on Amazon, though.
There's also an unstated major premise that packages never come from any further away than the nearest Amazon distribution facility. I suspect that the truth is rather far from that. It at least isn't true for me - I kept an eye on my Prime orders from last year, and 1/3 - 1/2 of the things I ordered originated from a more distant Amazon warehouse, and getting it to me within 2 days involved burning a whole mess of jet fuel. I suspect that the GHG emissions from doing that end up being a massive portion of Amazon's overall pollution.
May not have a huge impact on your overall point, but bump that number up to maybe 20 miles and I actually would bet that the majority of Americans at least do live that close to an Amazon distribution center
Unintended consequences are hard.
I'm just getting a little fatigued with the fearful "don't do anything, it might make it worse" coupled with the "stop all the everything" approach to environmentalism that seems to becoming ever more dominant. I just don't think that's going to work. Doing nothing won't help, and convincing people to do without doesn't work, so ?
As far as convincing people to do without goes, IMO the root cause of the problem is consumerism, and anything that fails to contend directly with that is bikeshedding.
There is an often unmentioned extra constraint on dealing with climate change: we have to do it in a way that doesn't break technological civilization.
I was addressing the problem with ideas that people should "just stop doing things", or that we should be drastically reducing consumption, or halting economic growth. These things, "consumption" and "growth", aren't just luxury goods and high valuations of bullshit companies. It's peace and prosperity and a hot meal on the table. It's scientific progress and all the technologies needed to fix the mess we've made.
Since bring up blaming: sure, "an average US consumer could easily forego half of what they buy (aside from groceries) and they'd still be fine". But good luck making them do that. When dealing with climate change, we need to talk about what's possible, not about what would be possible if we were living in a fairy land where every human is a perfectly rational actor prioritizing good of the many over the good of the few, and coordination problems didn't exist.
So no, not "stop doing things", but not buying shit you don't really need would be a good start.
What would you rather they consume, an internal combustion engine that spits out a deadly exhaust or an electric vehicle that uses power, presumably from a nuclear or less toxic fuel source?
It's not "happening," it's being done. By us. We can choose to stop.
Ironically China saw improvements in air quality by moving people from huts with fire cooking to apartments with gas or coal fired electric.
We certainly can address climate change by consuming more stuff. We could spend $100 - $200 per ton of carbon to sequester all of our carbon emissions. And it wouldn't wreck our economy to do so, the costs are similar to that of the Apollo missions or the war in Iraq, not the level of commitment that WW2 was. It would approximately double the price of gas if we paid for it the rational way.
Sequestration doesn't have all the secondary benefits that reduction has, like improvements in air quality, but it could be done.
But it would be nice if the overton window at least included the idea of rethinking how we consume. To the point where Bezos' plan could be considered for what it is.
Step 1 is to do what you’re doing now but in a more sustainable way. Remember, our current state is we are debating whether we even ought to make change in the first place.
The larger shift to less consumption overall isn’t something we can achieve in 5 years. It’s more of a marathon that’ll take 20-30 years.
Also, they could just buy no more new ICE vans and replace them with EVs when they get to their normal end of life.
On top of all that, you'd also have to consider that the ICE vans would be sold into the market and not destroyed.
For commercial vehicle that spend most of their life on the road, energy savings from running a more efficient vehicle recoup the energy used in making that vehicle pretty quickly.
It definitely possible to address climate change by "Consuming Different Stuff" if that different stuff is produced (and transported) in ways that emit less carbon.
Even without that option, Amazon has some work to do on their route planning - I should never need 3 different deliveries from 3 different drivers on the same day, and that has occurred at my house.
That's a huge incentive to do that as rarely as possible.
I forget where I read it, but there was an explainer that showed how all those deliveries with one huge box for one tiny item saved gas and packaging on the scale of the entire delivery network.
Logistics is weird.
I strongly doubt this will happen. Their truck still isn't in production and they haven't even built a concept van yet. The chances of them producing vans in two years is very low.
2, and this is what really matters:
They got major investments from established ICE manufacturers (Huge investment from Ford) with agreements to cooperate on building the factory and making products together. This is the real barrier to entry on EV startups and they executed on it by spending years figuring out the powertrain issue and then going off and getting help by those with the institutional knowledge on manufacturing them. This is why I think they will win.
3: It's a van, a skateboard with a metal box on top, likely borrowing heavily from already developed designs. Note that the van appears largely production ready lacking all the normal concept drawing details and lacking any form of wild 'FUTURE!!' details. Boring Ford van mirrors, standard marker lights, correct size tires and rims. This is a production-ready design, not a concept-car, that likely makes use of the Ford production machine for all the little bits. Think of it like building an app with Angular or React, they know what they want to do and what they want to use other sources for.
is Rivian really a vehicle manufacturer? or a startup? I though you have to actually manufacture something to be called manufacturer.
Amazon is a financial backer of Rivian, so this makes sense.
mediocre quarter-measure plans like this one will keep us moving at full steam towards catastrophe. if bezos wanted to put a dent in climate change genuinely, he'd take the path of least resistance: subsidize a meaty discount on goods that emit the least CO2 during their production and use as measured by a third party authority. this would create a virtuous economic cycle of manufacturers competing for lower emissions.
instead, he's found a way to accomplish little other than self-enrichment while appearing to make an effort. well, bravo. bezos is well on the way to being the richest man on an uninhabitable rock of a planet.
the alternative to this shitshow is to democratically plan resource investment, and get away from the insanity of a road-and-small-vehicle-based city system (aka, establish socialism). I'm optimistic we'll get there after the youth watch rich people vacillate over climate change for a few more years :)
As they say, the only thing History teaches us is that History teaches us nothing.