Uh Oh! Confusing Wants and Needs again....
Ezra Klein has a blog post discussing a Pew Research survey on "necessities".
Klein highlights that the centrality of cars as a necessity means it is going to be difficult to price carbon well. He's not kidding. If you look that most people consider clothes dryer and home air conditioning as necessities you realize that role of high energy use use cases (try saying that three time fast) in our lives. Though apparently, the economy makes a big difference in people's thinking. In 2005 at the peak of the boom, clothes dryer, air conditioning and microwave were at their peak in perception, while in 2010 each dropped about 20% points. Necessity indeed. So maybe there is hope.
However, the car line remained pretty much flat, which is not surprising. Our city planning necessitates a car and changing our infrastructure in response to the economy is a lot more challenging. It may even get worse since road projects are often a favorite of stimulus projects.
Though if you have to have a home air conditioner, it's good to hear that McMansions are on their way out. Halving your home volume will make cooling it easier.