walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

sunk costs vs. sustainability

Of course, the sunk costs argument is an economists argument -- not an environmentalists argument. There's some serious energy wrapped up in an old vehicle (see the tail end of the previous post) -- or an old building.

This is a discussion of stored costs, er, energy vs sunk costs, er, energy in vehicles, primarily:

http://blogs.nimblebrain.net/index.php/2008/07/27/reuse_versus_replacement?blog=5

Which links to an article about the same issues in buildings. There are some issues in this article:

http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2008/january-february/cautionary-tale.html

Notably, commercial buildings from before 1920 are (a) mostly gone and (b) there aren't many of them compared to commercial buildings as a whole and (c) they've probably been modded. Repeatedly. But the idea that any given building, residential or commercial, is essentially stored energy, is a fascinating one.

While a building (or vehicle) which is destroyed after you are done with it is over and done with (altho the demo and removal costs should be accounted for reasonably, as should salvage from same) is over and done with, a building (or vehicle) which you sell to someone else goes on to have a life of its own. A certain number of people out there worry about selling their guzzler because they know they aren't putting many miles on it per year and fear the next person might do worse. I'm not convinced that's justified; I distinctly recall running across people who replaced an 8 mpg truck with a 16 mpg truck (or SUV or whatever); presumably the 16 mpg vehicle was replaced by a 20+ mpg vehicle and so on upstream. I, for one, don't think we need worry too much about encouraging the production of replacement vehicles for these folk (the terrible to merely bad mpg vehicles); the used market should be able to supply them adequately for a long time to come.
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