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Posted Tue Nov 2 2010: from Monthly Review:
Capitalism and the Curse of Energy Efficiency
The curse of energy efficiency, better known as the Jevons Paradox--the idea that increased energy (and material-resource) efficiency leads not to conservation but increased use--was first raised by William Stanley Jevons in the nineteenth century. Although forgotten for most of the twentieth century, the Jevons Paradox has been rediscovered in recent decades and stands squarely at the center of today's environmental dispute.... Economists and environmentalists who try to measure the direct effects of efficiency on the lowering of price and the immediate rebound effect generally tend to see the rebound effect as relatively small, in the range of 10 to 30 percent in high-energy consumption areas such as home heating and cooling and cars. But once the indirect effects, apparent at the macro level, are incorporated, the Jevons Paradox remains extremely significant. It is here at the macro level that scale effects come to bear: improvements in energy efficiency can lower the effective cost of various products, propelling the overall economy and expanding overall energy use.
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'Doc Michael says:
I just got an ultra-efficient refrigerator, so now my old one's in the basement, keeping the beer cold!
Jevon's Paradox makes this pair-o-docs want a parachute. And somewhere else to land.

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