Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
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Aaron wrote:What he is saying is, I think, that people will consume what is available, over time, to the limits of it's availability. So that by increasing the energy efficiency of oil use, we will actually stimulate the growth in oil consumption and accelerate depletion rates.
In the case of the personal automobile, I think that things would be different. If cars become more efficient some people in marginal cases of poverty might loosen up and increase their total mileage driven, but the vast majority of people would be driving more or less the same as they are now. The gross aggregate use of gasoline would clearly decrease.
Sure we began using less gasoline for driving after the OPEC embargo and less electricity for heating/cooling etc... through conservation efforts.
But we didn't actually consume less energy... we just used it in different ways.
The point of all this is that despite high energy prices, or conservation, we consume all the energy products we produce, one way or another.
The contemporary significance of the Jevons paradox is seen with respect to the automobile in the United States. The introduction of more energy-efficient automobiles in this country in the 1970s did not curtail the demand for fuel because driving increased and the number of cars on the road soon doubled. Similarly, technological improvements in refrigeration simply led to more and larger refrigerators. The same tendencies are in effect within industry, independent of individual consumption.
And if such is not always the result within a single branch, it must be remembered that the progress of any branch of manufacture excites a new activity in most other branches and leads indirectly, if not directly, to increased inroads upon our seams of coal….
increased efficiency in using a natural resource, such as coal, only resulted in increased demand for that resource, not a reduction in demand. This was because such improvement in efficiency led to a rising scale of production.
I would argue, using the same linked data, that consumption was curtailed initially from the embargo itself, (can't use what's not there), and the resulting recession prolonged this condition through collapse of the consumer base for oil.
Only when we instituted conservation measures, did our economy recover, and thus cause consumption to increase...
Leanan, we agree completely; higher prices did promote conservation.
My point is that it wasn’t altruistic.
The US is certainly the glutton at the table, but there are huge numbers of the world population that want to be gluttons too, I don’t see them deciding to forego their first SUV.
To be dispassionate, if you believe there will be a reduction in the future population of the world to a more sustainable level due to less cheap energy, conserving now and delaying the inevitable will only lead to a larger “reduction” in the future since the population will surely grow without constraints.
At any rate, In my honest opinion, I don’t see any voluntary conservation efforts happening unless forced by increasing prices, this administration certainly won’t impose any of it’s own.
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