Is price a good indicator of "greenness"?

In this this thread, I sort of postulated that the fact that the Tesla roadster’s expense is an indication that it is not so green. I believe that price is a good indicator of “greenness”. Whether it be labor, or materials, the more you pay for an item, the more resources it is likely to consume. More labor costs= more workers out spending money and consuming. More materials costs= more mining, power generation, etc.

Shoot a hole in this theory, if you please!


You might want to define your term in quotes before proceeding. It certainly is possible to use fifty thousand dollars worth of renewable materials to create another product. I hope to do so with my home someday.

However, the term “green” has been appropriated by the advertisers and means whatever the hell you want it to mean at the time. It is just another buzzword fueling more conspicuous spending. No, you do not need to upgrade your perfectly fine refrigerator with one that saves a marginally small amount of energy. Wait for your fridge to die than buy an energy efficient one.

A lot of time a product is so cheap because environmental costs have been ignored or deferred. Don’t want to pay to meet US emissions standards on your factory? Build it in another country without regulations! The product is immediately cheaper, but the environmental costs are still be suffered. Someone will pay those at some point – even if its the residents of far-away-istan, who must pay huge cleanup costs or live with birth defects and chronic disease.

Also, I bet that not all costs are created equal when it comes to environmental impact. Some guy that comes and works in an office does consume resources, but the office building itself consumes much less than the factories that produce the final product.

You are only looking at one side of the equation. The production of the Tesla roadster may indeed be less “green” than a small econobox, but you would need to do a whole lifecycle analysis of the cars including enivronmental impacts of production, typical use, and disposal to really determine which one was “greener”.

Since when is labor considered “un green”? I suppose Hitler really scored high on the greenness scale when he got rid of all those extra consumers and we should probably give the old South some credit for the way slavery kept workers’ economic consumption at a minimum.

Also, consider things like mass production. Right now, Tesla’s cars are so expensive because they can’t set up a proper assembly line. If they were selling a million of them each year, they would see significant savings per unit and could reduce the cost without any change in consumption of resources. (Which, I suppose would actually be bad in your thinking; the cheaper it is, the more of it people can afford to buy).

So I don’t think you can draw any parallel between cost or greenness in either direction.

Price is an indicator of exactly one thing: The point where the supply curve crosses the demand curve.

There are an astronomical number[sup]1[/sup] of variables that come into play. One of those factors can be people willing to pay a premium for something they perceive as good for the environment. My wife insisted on buying a Toyota Camry hybrid because of her perception that it was “green” even though it’s initial costs and lifecycle costs are higher. (Well, it is more fuel efficient than a regular Camry, but I have no idea if the manufacturing process is “greener.”)

CFLs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs. Why would that be, if green were cheap? (They are cheaper to use over their entire life, though. But you didn’t ask about efficiency, you asked about how much it costs to buy something.)

The examples given above where it’s cheaper to manufacture a not-green product are typical.

When you include in your analysis the fact that more labor leads to more consumption by workers and that consumption is bad for the environment then you are questioning the basic premise of the world free-market economy, which is providing more jobs for more workers to make more mone (and consequently consume more).

BTW who is claiming that the Tesla is “green” to begin with? It’s a plug-in electric car. Most electricity comes from coal-powered plants. Is that greener than gasoline? The Tesla just shifts it around, doesn’t clean it up.

  1. “There are 10 x 10[sup]11[/sup] stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.” --Richard Feynman

Mangled quote-- 10 x 10[sup]11[/sup] is 10[sup]12[/sup], or a trillion, not a hundred billion. You want 10[sup]11[/sup], not 10 x 10[sup]11[/sup].