Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Mr. Fletcher, in response to your Dec. 12 piece. What pattern do you see in the following factoids?

1 .Energy use per unit of US GNP has fallen 50% since 1975 after enormous efficiencies were effected following the Arab oil embargo. Yet total energy usage has risen in the US by more than 40%.

2. Since 1980, for any given car, the average fuel economy has improved 30% but American drivers responded by driving bigger vehicles greater distances. And thanks to population growth there are 130 million more cars on the road. 88% of increased energy consumption is due to population growth and only 12% to increased per capita energy consumption.

3. Fuel efficiency in aircraft improved by more than 40% since 1978, but overall fuel consumption rose by 150% since 1975 due to the explosive growth of air traffic from cheaper costs per mile.

4. Air conditioners improved their efficiency by 17%, but then the number of air conditioners increased by 36% erasing that energy saving. The same phenomena has been observed with other products like furnaces, computers, DVDs. More are bought and left running.

The bottom line here is that energy consumption has grown steadily as efficiency improvements have steadily lowered the cost of consuming it. It is called the Jevons Paradox, and it is as old as the hills.

Our objective in facing the challenge of Peak Oil and climate change is not to improve efficiency, but to reduce consumption. And that won’t happen until we shrink the economy and stabilize and reduce the population.

I will leave you with one question and three correlations.

Question: Can you cite a single jurisdiction anywhere in the world that has succeeded in reducing GHG emissions while at the same time maintaining economic or population growth?

Consider the following:

From 1990, the Kyoto base-line year, until 2006, Australia’s population grew by 30% while its GHG emissions grew by 31%.
From 1970 to 2004, America’s population grew 43% while its GHG emissions grew by 43%.
Since 1990, Canada’s population grew approximately 19% while its GHG emissions grew by 24%--and its per capita GHG emissions remained stable.

There is no technological fix for population growth. And it is people not ultimately factories or cars, which cause pollution. There can be no climate change without climate changers.

Tim Murray,

Quadra Island, BC


Dec. 14/07

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