Reality Blind - Vol. 1

technology has, often and repeatedly, in the past century .

But there is an oft-misunderstood relationship between energy and technology. When inventions make a product cheaper or more efficient, or when new groundbreaking products are created, there is a rebound effect from increased consumption. Think about the aggregate impact resulting from such a scenario: 1) more people can now afford air conditioning and buy new air conditioners, 2) those people who owned an air conditioner, but hardly ever used it because of high energy costs, will buy a new one and use it more, 3) some people will save 50% on their monthly bills and, in turn, use that money to buy more stuff - take trips, increase their conveniences, etc. - all of which increases societal energy use, 4) staying cool will now be so cheap that some people will buy multiple air conditioning units per house, 5) some people will discard old (but usable) air conditioners (to be recycled or not) to buy lower cost but still resource- intensive new ones, 6) some people will move to hot desert climates who would not have been able to before. Due to the embodied energy in the other stuff they buy, and the lower cost of being cool, this great new technology revs up the baseline demand for energy services throughout the entire economy. Had the invention and cost savings been applied only to those people who already had inefficient air conditioning, it probably would have saved energy. But in a global economy with a growing population, using GDP as a cultural goal, a game-changing technology in period 1 means a higher demand for energy in period 2 (and all subsequent periods). In economics this is referred to as the rebound


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