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Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:28 PM

The Jevons Paradox is bullshit.

In case you haven't been following the recent wave of posts, the Jevons Paradox suggests that "technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons%27_paradox

Although it periodically gets spanked by a new study, a brief perusal of World Bank data for per capita energy use puts it to bed: in 1980, Americans used the equivalent of 7,942 kg of oil per capita. Thirty-two years later, with all of their iPhones, flat-screen TVs, iPads, iMacs, PCs, printers, PS3s, X-Boxes, Escalades, Kindles, Sub-Zero refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, ATVs, Jet-Skis, boats, etc etc etc - we used 7,069 kg/person. 11% less, thanks to increases in energy efficiency in both use and production, as well as lifestyles which are more energy-efficient.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.PCAP.KG.OE

The resource-related problems we face are the result of overpopulation. I know that will bum some out who are convinced an innate, lustful craving for energy is driving us to extinction...but there is hope.

Sorry.

64 replies, 3824 views

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Arrow 64 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Jevons Paradox is bullshit. (Original post)
wtmusic Jan 2013 OP
Angry Dragon Jan 2013 #1
wtmusic Jan 2013 #2
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #3
wtmusic Jan 2013 #4
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #5
wtmusic Jan 2013 #6
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #7
wtmusic Jan 2013 #10
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #12
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #8
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #14
wtmusic Jan 2013 #17
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #20
wtmusic Jan 2013 #23
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #24
wtmusic Jan 2013 #26
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #30
wtmusic Jan 2013 #34
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #37
wtmusic Jan 2013 #40
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #42
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #32
wtmusic Jan 2013 #36
fascisthunter Jan 2013 #29
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #9
wtmusic Jan 2013 #11
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #13
wtmusic Jan 2013 #15
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #16
wtmusic Jan 2013 #18
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #19
wtmusic Jan 2013 #21
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #22
wtmusic Jan 2013 #25
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #28
wtmusic Jan 2013 #33
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #35
wtmusic Jan 2013 #38
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #39
wtmusic Jan 2013 #41
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #27
wtmusic Jan 2013 #31
joshcryer Jan 2013 #44
wtmusic Jan 2013 #49
joshcryer Jan 2013 #59
joshcryer Jan 2013 #43
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #45
joshcryer Jan 2013 #46
The2ndWheel Jan 2013 #47
wtmusic Jan 2013 #51
The2ndWheel Jan 2013 #52
GliderGuider Jan 2013 #53
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #54
wtmusic Jan 2013 #60
joshcryer Jan 2013 #58
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #63
joshcryer Jan 2013 #64
joshcryer Jan 2013 #57
wtmusic Jan 2013 #48
joshcryer Jan 2013 #55
wtmusic Jan 2013 #61
joshcryer Jan 2013 #62
wtmusic Jan 2013 #50
joshcryer Jan 2013 #56

Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:33 PM

1. It sounds like a 75% reduction in population would then save us ............

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:34 PM

2. It wouldn't hurt.

Except the 75%, of course.

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:51 PM

3. "but there is hope"

 

Does that hope translate to reduced emissions before we are dead?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:53 PM

4. I hope so.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:57 PM

5. That's quite some faith you have

 

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:02 PM

6. It simplifies the problem to one of controlling population

not that that's a walk in the park, of course. But it suggests that man is not as hell-bent on consumption as some thought.

You're happy, aren't you?

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:11 PM

7. If we wanted to simplify the problem, pretending it doesn't exist may be easier

 

Though, I would assert that whatever we are seeing now may have far more to do with globalization (and btw, per capita figures don't mean a whole lot to Jevon's, as I understand it. Its about aggregate consumption).

But hey, if this data makes you hot and heavy, dig in.

FYI, globally we use more energy...the energy American's aren't using is exported to grow other places. Do you know what it is you are arguing? IOW, the efficiency gains cause these devices to be promoted and implemented more across the world and the "savings" of energy is shifted into the global economy.

I think you just....I don't know. I think you want to just keep buying more iPhones. Right? The more I think about this post, the less sense this post makes.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:45 PM

10. Sorry this good news peeves you so badly

but here...this may cheer you up: global energy use went up about 9% per capita.

But wait, look what also happened: global life expectancy also increased by 9% and infant mortality was slashed by nearly two-thirds. Almost like energy use went up for the people who needed it most.

Now you HAVE to be happy about that.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:52 PM

12. Its non-news. Its fiction in the manner its being applied. You don't know what you are talking about

 

You are looking at a tiny sub-system and drawing conclusions. We live in a global economy. What has correlated in the last 30 years to efficiency gains and innovation? Consumption in aggregate energy. Consumption is outpacing the growth in population.

Again, I am not here to defend Jevon's. But you don't understand it enough to "debunk" it with per capita statistics that are irrelevant to a principle that looks at how larger systems use energy.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:15 PM

8. BTW, where should we start?

 

Seems like if you focus on areas with highest per capita consumption, we have to get rid of less people (US, Canada, EU). That would take about 1 billion people to save the globe.

Now, otherwise, you could remove the wrong 5-6 billion people and not have such stunning results.

Yes, simple....

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:07 PM

14. There are about 5 billion people that are in fact hell-bent on consumption

They want to consume clean water, and decent food, and maybe some day own a small TV set and a telephone, and maybe an air conditioner... not much, just a tenth of what we already have.

Where do they fit in your self-satisfied calculations, those low-income countries in the rest of the world, the 800 million people whose energy consumption has stayed flat at an average of 383 to 365 kgoe since 1980?

It's good to be a first world westerner, isn't it? Fuck the foreigners and their forlorn desire to play catch-up. They could make do with what they had if they only were as efficient as us. We can even tell them where to offshore their manufacturing ... wait, what?

I'm sorry, but facile, imperialistic "analysis" like yours really pisses me off.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #14)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:31 PM

17. You seem to be intent on proving yourself wrong.

The 800 million people whose energy consumption has stayed flat (while their quality of life has improved anywhere from 10%-30%) prove that both you and Jevons are wrong. Without using any more energy, we've created a better world.

I have no idea what you're talking about with "Fuck the foreigners and their forlorn desire to play catch-up." Weren't you the one who is perfectly willing to let them starve to help save the environment, or let the Earth re-invent itself minus Homo Sapiens, or (actually, I'm not sure what it is you want).

You're pissed off because it's irrefutable: after becoming more efficient humans don't engage on a selfish power grab and fill in the void - they just use less. If you don't like it, take it up with the World Bank...it's not my analysis.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #17)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:53 PM

20. You claimed that it's not a consumption problem, it's a population problem

It's very easy for someone from a country where people make an average of $132 a day to tell people that make $1 a day (look up LIC NY.GDP.PCAP.KD) that there's no consumption problem, but rather a population problem.

And I'm sorry but this is your analysis. The World Bank just supplies the data, not the meaning. The analysis is what gives it meaning. That's your job. You've already had it pointed out to you that your analysis is not on point with Jevons. Now I'm saying it's inherently imperialistic as well. You're so eager to score points on guys like me that you're not thinking clearly.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:00 PM

23. Who said it's not a consumption problem?

It's very much a consumption problem. The point is that increasing energy efficiency makes consumption go down, and makes Mr. Jevons roll about fitfully in his grave.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #23)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:04 PM

24. "The point is that increasing energy efficiency makes consumption go down"

 

Our consumption keeps going up. I don't think you understand what you are talking about.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #24)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:11 PM

26. Only because our population keeps going up.

Our per capita consumption, since 1980, has gone down 11%.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:23 PM

30. So it did or it didn't?

 

At first you say efficiency decreased consumption, but now you admit consumption increased? I don't think you understand these numbers.

BTW, lets assume the US decreases its consumption. Does that happen in a bubble? Lets say the US made energy more "useful" with a neat invention in order to do this. Does that also happen in a bubble?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #30)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:40 PM

34. Do you understand what "per capita" means?

Overall (aggregate) consumption increased. Per capita consumption, or the average for individuals, went down.

The only possible explanation for this is an increase in population.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #34)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:44 PM

37. "Per capita consumption...went down. "

 



The only possible explanation for this is that you do not understand what you are talking about.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #37)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:59 PM

40. No, it's that you either don't understand or are being obtuse.

First of all, I never said global PCEC went down. The US went down 11%.

Now take this pretty graph of yours, and look at the years 1980+ - which has been the subject of our discussion. That part of the graph is leveling off, isn't it? That's because when people reach a baseline standard of living, like in the US and many other nations, people don't simply consume more when efficiency is created, and can end up actually using less. (Incidentally your graph, wherever it comes from, is wrong according to the WB. Energy use should be up twice that amount for 1980-present. You're welcome).

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #40)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 11:04 PM

42. "The US went down"

 

What's that have to do with the price of tea in China?

What I really want to talk about is what has been going on with Kickapoo, Illinois

BTW, does the Khazzoom–Brookes postulate or Jevons Paradox state that consumption will instantly occur homogeneously across an entire system as an unintended consequence of efficiency gains?

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #23)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:34 PM

32. It may make the consumption of energy go down in the USA

But it hasn't in the world as a whole - per capita energy consumption is up 23% since 1980.

And the consumption of non-energy gods (which is the real point of using energy) is up dramatically world-wide. Since 1980, the world's aggregate Gross Fixed Capital Formation which a measure of actual stuff produced has gone up by 138%. GFCF went from $830 per capita to $1290 per capita - a surge of 56%.

World per capita consumption of energy went up 23%.
World per capita consumption of goods went up 56%.

What were you saying about "no lust for consumption again?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #32)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:43 PM

36. Using "lust" in reference to Al Gore's yacht

would make a little more sense than some Somalian's bowl of rice.

But it's all semantics, I guess.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:19 PM

29. trust me... Big Bird has been around professing myth

like a coockoo bird. Just watch your clock...

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:33 PM

9. "Thirty-two years later, with all of their iPhones, flat-screen TVs,....."

 

Thirty-two years later, with all of their iPhones, flat-screen TVs, iPads, iMacs, PCs, printers, PS3s, X-Boxes, Escalades, Kindles, Sub-Zero refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, ATVs, Jet-Skis, boats, etc etc etc, this is what our global energy consumption looks like:



Something about your post makes no sense. Have you figured out what it is yet?

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:47 PM

11. You're looking at total, I'm looking at per capita.

You see it as part of human nature when it's really just too many humans.

That's what makes no sense.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:57 PM

13. Why are you looking at per capita energy consumption? What does Jevon's Paradox say about it?

 

.......

N-o-t-h-i-n-g.

http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Jevons/jvnCQ.html

You are swinging at a straw man you built because you don't understand what you are talking about.

A "society" of 1 pregnant woman can increase her energy consumption by 66% but reduce per capita energy consumption below the starting point by having a baby. How does Jevon's Paradox apply to that system? It doesn't.

Jevon's Paradox is applicable to our global economy because despite all innovation in efficiency over the last 30 years, our global economy consumes more aggregate energy, outpacing the growth in human population. Sure, it probably doesn't satisfactory answer "why" but some more modern, less archaic and specific theories/postulates/ideas do.

In any case, you should admit talking about per capita stats in the US...was, well, irrelevant and borne from a misunderstanding

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:15 PM

15. Um...societies can't have babies.

And a woman can't reduce her energy consumption below the starting point; that's the point of using a per capita comparison. If every woman in a society had a baby at the same time that would create rather remarkable anomaly for a statistic, but that won't happen so it's kind of silly to even go there, isn't it?

Jevons claims that increasing the efficiency of using a resource increases its consumption. I've shown that energy consumption is almost entirely related to population growth, and that efficiency has caused American consumption to go DOWN.

The Jevons Paradox (not Jevon's, btw) doesn't say anything about it because it's just wrong.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:24 PM

16. "I've shown that energy consumption is almost entirely related to population growth"

 

To quote GG:

Between 1980 and 2010 the world population grew by about 50% - an average of 1.5% per year. Population growth has not been exponential since the early 1970s. We have been on a "growth plateau" of just under 80 million people per year over that time, meaning that the percentage growth rate is dropping. It's now south of 1.1% per year - half what it was in 1970.

Between 1980 and 2010 the world's industrial output (not GDP, just industrial production) grew by about 125% - at an average of 2.75% per year.. What's worse is that the rate of industrial growth has been increasing over time - from about 2% per annum in the 1980s to about 4% last year.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:35 PM

18. 9%.

That's the difference between population growth and energy usage. That's the point of using a per capita comparison, and it's really not that difficult.

Meanwhile the world has seen quality-of-life improvements far in excess of that. So if you don't like the amount of energy that's being used, your time would be better spent passing out condoms in India than railing at Western civilization.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:52 PM

19. Please retire the bad, poor Indian breeder crap

 

Americans use 12.36 X as much energy as an India.

Approx yearly addition to global consumption:

India: 28.8 million * 566 kg oil = 16.3 trillion kg oil more consumption a year
USA: 4 million * 7000 kg oil = 28 trillion kg oil more consumption a year

In addition, the people the US is churning out stick around longer.

It looks like you are suggesting we pass out condoms to the wrong country.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:55 PM

21. Per capita energy use in India is increasing

so in fact handing condoms out in India would do more to alleviate future energy use than here, where it's dropping.

But nice try to pull a racist point out of it.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #21)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:59 PM

22. Because they are using the energy freed up by our efficient innovations, and adopting them as well!

 

So full circle we go. Weee.

Maybe if we weren't so damn frugal, efficient, and innovative, we could keep them down while we burn the shit out of fossil fuels. But we made adjustments, and the system unexpectedly evolved to fuck us all.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #22)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:09 PM

25. How would being less efficient aid in our "keeping them down"?

I feel this discussion slipping into Marxist la-la-land.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #25)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:18 PM

28. If we burned twice as much energy, do you think the market would take notice?

 

If so, how much energy could India afford to fuel their development during the last few decades? More of less?

It has nothing to do with Marxism, but rather "free" economic forces.

The less we need & consume, the lower the demand. The more efficient items we produce for the us and the world, the more useful they are to other societies (who will use them to accelerate their growth--which becomes cheaper--thereby fueling their consumption at the next step). We are aiding the world on a quick 'catch up' path by not gobbling up everything and by making energy more "useful". In part, this had to be done to stay competitive with other first world nations.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #28)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:36 PM

33. "Growth" is a tricky word.

Growth in emissions? Standard of living? Population? GNP? Efficiency?

The point as it relates to Jevons is that growth in efficiency does not correlate to growth in consumption.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #33)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:41 PM

35. Why, it certainly has correlated to growth in consumption within the global context

 

Though, it seems that you want to pretend the US lives in a bubble.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #35)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:47 PM

38. You can't assume that from the numbers

Fuel use would be inestimably worse today without efficiency gains made in the last 30 years.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #38)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:57 PM

39. The numbers imply a clear correlation

 

Its causation that you have grounds to question.


Fuel use would be inestimably worse today without efficiency gains made in the last 30 years.

This is beyond assumption. Without those efficiency gains, keys may have been out of reach to much of the developing world that are adopting driving (done so with wealth obtained by fossil fuels whose price was suppressed with efficiency gains). There are a whole lot of industrial revolutions happening right now that may never have taken place if efficiency gains didn't make it economically feasible.

Frankly, without a crystal ball, we don't know what another reality would look like.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #39)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 11:02 PM

41. What industrial revolutions are you referring to?

You realize industrial revolutions are distinct from industrialization, right?

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:15 PM

27. OK, let's look at per capita energy consumption.

According to the WB, over the years from 1980 to 2009 the world's average per capita energy consumption went from 1450 to 1800 kgoe: up 23%. Maybe the rest of the world isn't as efficient as the USA?

Of course, the real issue is that in the same period, population increased by 53%, so the world's energy consumption went up by about 90%.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #27)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:30 PM

31. The rest of the world is more efficient than the US

because the standard of living return for that 23% might have caused a doubling of energy use 30 years ago. It's not about switching from light bulbs to CFLs; it's about having light bulbs at all.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #31)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:48 AM

44. That's another good way to muddle the argument.

The standard of living return is much lower in the developing world thus Jevons is wrong because they haven't developed yet.

Except. Erm. They wouldn't be behind developmentally if technology was freely (or fairly) shared.

As it stands now the United States owns IP and is a service sector economy (on the global scheme).

Indeed, the abject failure of Rio+20 reflects this perfectly.

The basic point is that US development wouldn't have happened the way it did if we didn't rely on the developing world to develop slower and be our technological manufacturers! So their state is precisely because the way we moved forward technologically.

Note: I do, again, think Jevons is wrong, but not because of the reasons you state. I think he's wrong philosophically in a hypothetical universe where technology is freely (or fairly) shared. As opposed to the system that we have set up here. In this system I do agree with Jevons, that at least how growth happened happened the way he says. If you need an undeveloped nation to develop your nation via globalization, and then that nation starts developing, you will have not actually made efficiency gains. Indeed, had you actually developed all together, you'd have efficiency gains because we see the western lifestyle has lower population growth and therefore the unsustainable population we have to deal with now wouldn't have existed! But that's not how history went. So Jevons is right about this particular technological development path.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #44)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:16 AM

49. Do you believe that a free transfer of technology is fair? nt

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #49)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:58 PM

59. Yes.

But I am willing to accept unfree (as in cost) as long as the price is fairly determined and isn't totally dominating them.

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:35 AM

43. The US is not the metric for more energy consumption.

We've been effectively flat for 50+ years.



Being more efficient has allowed us to outsource our efficiency and is directly related to artificially high population rates in the developing world. We need bodies to make our shit. Try making that shit locally, it doesn't work, the energy required to do it would show that overall, as our technological civilization as a whole, and not confined to one nation, is going up.

I would agree, however, if the totality of society all grew at the same rate (technologically, culturally, democratically, sociologically) the Jevons Paradox wouldn't work. But it's constrained by current civilization since said civilization inherently relies on countries developing and relying on our efficiency improvements to provide them with resources that are less efficient (an example would be coal exports).

edit: Here's how we off-shored our technological development:

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #43)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:48 AM

45. That second graphic really tells the tale.

The evidence of global labor arbitrage and the outsourcing of pollution...

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #45)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:08 AM

46. Lest we forget Norman Borlaug's technological efficiencies.

Which led to the doubling of India's population since 1968. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I think he did a good thing (if tragic in its final unsustainable consequences). I'm saying that this is an efficiency we can tie directly to population growth. So it's not "oh, population grew, efficiency just lagged." No, it's efficiency as the cause for population growth.

Can one imagine a scenario where India underwent a major famine and then went on to have sound population management methods and then be doing a lot better off today? I can't say that's what would've happened, but I don't think that possibility could be ruled out, and I think there are arguments to those ends (Black Plague).

Note: I'm a huge fan of technological efficiency, and I could go in circles about how we could have closed ecosystem cities. But I am ardently against capitalist efficiency, because it goes against the very nature of a closed ecosystem. It's grow or die, full stop.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #46)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:41 AM

47. It's never just one thing

That's why we're always chasing our own tail.

Efficiency can be the cause of population growth. Population growth can also be the impetus to increasing efficiency. Same with the overconsumption/overpopulation debate. Which is the bigger issue? Does one cause the other? Which one is the other? We have a lot of people, so we consume quite a bit. We have quite a bit to consume, so we can sustain more people.

Then there is the moral part of the equation. A huge variable. The Black Plague came at a time when nobody could really do anything about it, at least not from any corner of the globe. Had something like the Green Revolution been possible then in relation to the Black Plague, it probably would've been done.

That leads back to the issue of control. Trying to control nature. Trying to control/cure death. Do we do it? How do we do it? Should we do it? How could we even think about not doing it? Can we even stop trying to do it?

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #47)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 12:04 PM

51. +1

These threads get bogged down in hypotheticals, and it's hard to create a blueprint when you don't know what you're building.

The original purpose was to counter neo-Kaczynskians who believe efficiency and technology are the enemy. Both are going to be part of any way forward.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #51)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 12:45 PM

52. I don't know if they're the enemy or not

But I don't know if they're going to fix anything either. More like just create different issues that have to be dealt with. We do something, there are consequences, we do something about them, there are consequences, do something, consequences, do something, consequences, etc. No matter what we do. We can go neo-Kaczynski, or neo-Kurzweil, or whatever, but it won't leave us with fewer issues to face.

We can't go back, we don't know what's coming, we just exist now...right now...when?...just then...now...and do what gets us through the day. There's no foolproof plan for that.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #52)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 02:58 PM

53. Very succinct and on point.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #52)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 04:47 PM

54. We'll keep fixing the problems of yesterday's solutions until we can't

 

In the past, the "we can't" point comes when there is not enough available energy--or knowledge to apply it--to create a new level of complexification that fixes the current slew of problems (and can consuming energy in any conceivable amount stop climate change or just exacerbate it?). The "we can't" point is when collapse historically comes. But, we are dealing with a new, highly "advanced" animal these days.

This is not only what we observe in the past collapse societies, but it is likely where we are heading. I don't think science and technology have a chance to fix anything at all, as they just fit the pattern of the past (further complexification that demands further energy to maintain and creates further problems we must fix).

The only hope for mankind is a new religion where men are forced to where Burkas and women herd goats with AR15s; we cannot choose to decomplexify civilization, so nothing short of doing it at the end of a gun will help.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #52)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:15 PM

60. There are two options: Business-As-Usual, and Not-Business-As-Usual.

With BAU, we're doomed.

With not-BAU we're very likely doomed. There's a sliver of chance we could engineer our way into some sort of sustainability. Though some people here think it's not worth a try, I do.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #51)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:52 PM

58. I do not believe efficiency and technology are the enemy.

If you read what I wrote you'd understand that.

I believe capitalism is the enemy.

You have not convinced me otherwise.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #58)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:26 PM

63. World economies don't need capitalism to grow and consume energy

 

Frankly, I think the system is evolving a bit towards mixed economies with socialistic aspects to further propel growth forward. The more equality there is, the more people there are spending money and consuming energy. Capitalism's characteristic of promoting disparity is what throttles growth.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #63)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:38 PM

64. I dispute that. The world is moving toward state monopoly capitalism.

As opposed to corporations owning everything nationalized "corporations" own everything. There's no real substantiative difference because competition is still a major aspect of economic flow. ie, my countries' nationalized industries can do better if they do not give an equal share to another countries' industries. They're still in competition. The US, for instance, doesn't sell gasoline back to Venezuela at cost of refining, they add a US tax, export fees, and there's even a bit on top of that, to the tune of billions of dollars a year.

If we had some sort of energy theory of value we'd have a better metric to calculate exchange (as opposed to the "subjective theory of value"; which btw is why I quit Econ 101, because it was subjective banalities and one textbook to the next was different). I spend 1000 BTU to make a smartphone, it sells for 1000 BTU of equivalent energy exchange. This would also have the effect of promoting clean energy because if I am using fossil fuels which are 30% efficient I am expending 70% more in energy utilization. The cost to me is enormous.

Indeed, in the case of regular gasoline, the gasoline's energy value is negative, that is, it requires more electricity (and therefore energy) to produce a gallon of gasoline than it does to power an electric vehicle.

It is not wrong to say that the undeveloped world would spend more and therefore consumption goes up as the world becomes more equal as far as standard of living. But it is wrong to say that there's no cultural plateau that would happen as that high standard is reached. Germany, Japan, negative birth rates, the United States, just about even (immigration is another matter). The problem is that we now have too many people to easily move the entire population of the planet to that high standard. So while I disagree with the principle of the matter, I do agree that the current situation civilization has to experience is not very promising.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #47)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:51 PM

57. Sure, but that's muddling the argument further.

Making the argument instead of the results of efficiency improvements but more what the "driving force is." Yes it is perfectly valid to argue that efficiency improvements in India were 'caused' by widespread fears of famine. Of course, it took Norman Borlaug 20 years to develop his strain. He couldn't have foreseen that there would be an immediate need for a strain of wheat that would grow there. It was almost a coincidence.

Of course, I am not saying the innovations are a bad thing, and I fully agree that "had we been able to do something about the Black Plague" it would've been done. Just as it was done in India. I'm not sure how that has much bearing on the basic argument about the results of efficiency improvements. The arguments about the Black Plague pertained specifically to what might have happened to India as a developing state had they not been subservient under the capitalist model.

Again, for the third time, I disagree with Jevons paradox. I just don't think ya'll are right when it comes to efficiency improvements under capitalism being a good thing.

This paper may convince you: Globalization and Its Impact on Indian Agriculture: A Study of Farmers' Suicides in the State of Andhra Pradesh

It doesn't help that climate change is going to have an innumerably catastrophic impact on India's agriculture sector.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #46)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:01 AM

48. Claiming efficiency is the cause of population growth is silly.

You could, with equal justification, claim compassion is the cause of population growth, or intelligence.

You're just hopping off the train where it benefits your argument.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #48)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:19 PM

55. You seriously want me to believe India's population...

...would have still doubled without agricultural efficiency?

Because I'm sorry, I don't think that's realistic at all.

(Note: I was not saying in all cases efficiency was the cause, but in India and Pakistan it most certainly, unquestionably was.)

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #55)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:17 PM

61. It definitely wouldn't have doubled without sex,

or intelligence, or compassion. The implication is that that's where we need to do the fixing.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #61)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:21 PM

62. I think technological sharing has a bigger effect.

Sex education is powerful, but I think technological sharing will help boost intelligent and is compassionate.

It's one thing to say "Hey, wear condoms, but clean drinking water? Hahaha, your kids will have a low survival rate. Wear condoms!" It's another thing to say "Hey, here's clean drinking water, hehehe! Your kids will outlive you and every generation before you!"

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #45)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:25 AM

50. Don't forget the outsourcing of wealth, healthcare, and standard of living

which are accomplices in this crime (I know, the secret ennui which lurks behind increased life expectancy makes it all for naught)

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #50)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:36 PM

56. You redundantly stated "standard of living."

Which I already established is directly hindered by faux efficiency improvements.

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