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Re: [Fsfe-uk] ZDNet Carbon-neutral PC runs Vista (not Free software)

From: Chris Croughton
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] ZDNet Carbon-neutral PC runs Vista (not Free software)
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 19:52:20 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.11

On Sat, Sep 15, 2007 at 11:33:05AM +0100, Jon Grant wrote:

> On 13/09/2007, Chris Croughton <address@hidden> wrote:
> > On Wed, Sep 12, 2007 at 09:46:52PM +0100, Jon Grant wrote:
> >
> > > Hi,
> > > [...]
> > > > Which won't work because people can't distinguish the effect of
> > > > running a computer from all the other things which affect their energy
> > > > consumption!
> > >
> > > If the tax is on the purchase price consumer can "see the
> > > environmental cost" without the need to laboriously measure the actual
> > > energy usage of the PC after they've already purchased it.
> >
> > Who is going to assess the energy cost in advance, and how can they do
> > so with no idea of how the machine will be used?
> Like always (the company), the companies will have to put their AC
> power devices through tests and get rated for estimated lifetime
> usage.

And of course they'll be truthful and won't distort or selectively use
statistics to make their products seem better.  </sarcasm>

> > > A label like this on a Vista Tower PC ??999 would suffice:
> > > "This product will release XXXX of CO2 over it's lifetime which
> > > inflated the above price by ??200".
> >
> > What's the lifetime?  How much will it be on (and at what power level)
> > over that lifetime?  A PC using an average of 300W for 8 hours a day for
> > a year will use around 850kWh in electricity, whereas one which is only
> > used for the occasional email and writing a letter will be a lot less
> > (an order of magnitude), and if it is used for high-powered gaming 12
> > hours a day it will be more.
> Agreed, but there is no effective and reliable tech to measure and
> charge, so an estimated usage would have to be used. Just like road
> tax, i may only do 10% of the travel a salesman does, but i still pay
> the same road tax despite my vehicle wearing away less of the road.

You want to compare it with another regressive and useless tax?  Since
when did road tax put any noticable number of people off buying 4x4
guzzlers?  All it does is penalise people who use their putatively
less-efficient cars in a more efficient manner.

> > You can do it with things like refrigerators, because everyone runs
> > those 24/7 and they are pretty much predictable use (unless someone
> > leaves the door open).  You can't do it with PCs and televisions because
> > the use is very variable and different for every user.  Or rather, you
> > can do it but it becomes just another arbitrary tax, and people ignore
> > those because it's just part of the price.
> I wouldn't say it was arbitrary, I'd call it "estimated energy usage
> tax". Also no one can ignore it, if an energy efficient 2Ghz PC costs
> ??500 and an inefficient 2Ghz Vista PC costs ??700.

I'd like to see your evidence that running Vista makes a 200 pound
difference over the lifetime of a PC.  Indeed, since *ix users are more
likely in my experience to leave PCs on all the time it could be argued
that Windows PCs are likely to use less power than geek machines
(almost all Windows non-business users I know only run their machines
from when they get home untli when they go to bed, most *ix geeks are
proud of their year-plus uptimes).

(And in case you think I'm anti *ix, I'm one of the *ix geeks who runs
his machines 24/7/52...)

Plus you'd be penalising people who buy a machine with Windows and then
convert to Linux.

> > > Each hardware component can have its price inflated by the energy
> > > usage, and also the OS software by it's anticipated energy usage.
> >
> > Which means that Linux users will be penalised to cater for Windows ones
> > (typically Linux is better on power saving than Windows).  And again,
> > what is the 'lifetime' of the component?  I have some graphics cards
> > which are still going after 10 years (and perfectly usable for what I
> > want), a lot of people change them every year to play the latest games.
> Assuming an energy efficient PC is sold with kubuntu preinstalled,
> there wouldn't be a need to average in the cost of if it had been
> running Vista for its lifetime.  Likewise, a clunky Vista PC shouldn't
> get any of the energy efficient PC energy tax reduction because it is
> preinstalled with Vista.

Rubbish.  See above.  The energy usage is dependent not only on what OS
it is running but also on usage.  Just because a machine is
pre-installed with Vista doesn't make it likely to use more energy over
its lifetime, and thus it is an unfair tax.  You would therefore set up
a market for machines being sold nominally bare but with "we'll install
Windows free after you've bought it".

> I'd say it is estimated energy usage over lifetime rather than just
> lifetime, and those who change gfx card and annually and sell on will
> see the product retains a higher value because it cost more initially
> if it was more power hungry.

That doesn't make any sense to me.  It would have a higher value because
of the new cards, yes, but not because it cost more (how much is an
original IBM PC costing 5000 pounds worth now?).

> Its not perfectly metered taxing like water, but an estimation is easy
> enough to do, and doesn't require massive infrastructure or so much
> extra costs administrating it.

Yes, it's easy, that is the only thing it has going for it.  Just as
slapping a flat tax on anyone with a height over 6ft would be easy.

> Will be interesting to see what politicians come up with, probably
> some free-market system, where we pay for CO2 output rather than for
> KWH like at present?

That would be logical, unlike your tax at point of sale.  And therefore
is unlikely (it's more difficult to measure).

Chris C

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