Reality Blind - Vol. 1

and energy flows needed for happiness and security and continues to escalate exponentially. This means a growing societal energy price and a growing cost to the natural world. The net result is that the average American in 2018 has an energy metabolism equivalent to a hypothetical 30-ton primate. A country of 8 billion King Kongs. Think about it. 139 Thus “technology,” in the way you humans currently use the word, is about an investment of energy and materials into complex mechanisms and processes. I might suggest that it would also be “technological” to think deeply about what NOT to do and what NOT to use energy on, but that’s a different flavor of technology for which most humans have not yet acquired a taste. For instance, by simply consolidating trips into town – a change in behavior – your old car could burn far less energy than a new “higher efficiency” car driven the same old way, and without incurring the “embodied energy” from the factory to make the new one. But then you’d have all that extra money you hadn’t spent, which might be a social problem for you in some way. I admit I do find humans hard to understand. Declining energy availability is exactly the sort of predicament that most technology makes worse. T here’s likely a place for solar panels and windmills, but their net effect so far has not slowed the pace of fossil energy extraction: they’re just building a bigger societal monkey trap. The Bottom Line: Technology uses energy. In the current global economic system, most technology improvements result in more energy use.

Efficiency and Affordability? The Rebound Effect

Summary: Imagine if entrepreneurs developed a new air conditioner that not only cost under $50 but also used half as much electricity to generate the same amount of “cool.” This would be great – as many poorer people in hot regions could now afford to buy one, as could more people in areas with expensive energy. This more-efficient technology would, over the short term, improve the lives and comfort of a great number of people, as


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