Energy efficiency fails to cut consumption: study

Friday, November 30, 2007

From a Reuters story by Sharon Ho and Frank McGurty posted on

TORONTO (Reuters) - American consumers are driving bigger gas-guzzling cars and buying more air conditioners and refrigerators as the overall energy efficiency of such products improves, a report released on Tuesday found.

In what the study calls "the efficiency paradox," consumers have taken money saved from greater energy efficiency and spent it on more and bigger appliances and vehicles, consuming even more energy in the process.

This irony isn't just restricted to the United States, though. "The paradox is true for every developed country," said Benjamin Tal, senior economist at CIBC World Markets, which conducted the study.

The study concludes that stricter energy efficiency regulations aren't the answer to concerns over climate change and the depletion of oil supplies because consumers treat greater energy efficiencies as a tax cut. "Because you get a 'tax cut,' you drive more," Tal said.


BobbyG said...

My comment on the "efficiency paradox" is to look at the ongoing pattern right here at home, in central Wisconsin. I am referring of course to the ongoing monster highway projects, the Highway 10 Bypass around Stevens Point and the Highway 29 project at Wausau.

Regardless of the efficiency of the vehicles traveling through these short, yet incredibly expensive patches of roadway (each around a quarter-billion dollars or more), they represent a squandering of resources. Expect these highway projects' completion just at the exact moment when global petroleum supplies begin their downward slide on Hubbert's Peak.

These highways will be complete just in time for a drastic fall-off in traffic, due to the simple fact of impending shortages of fuel for even the most efficient vehicles motoring down these gargantuan boondoggle construction feats of engineering.

This is money that should have been used on county-wide mass transit in Marathon, Portage, Waupaca, and Wood Counties. The projects represent renewable-powered light rail on a corridor down the existing Hwy 39 right-of-way that did not get built.

The projects represent what Mr. Vickerman called, at UW-SP the other day, the "frittering away" of today's wealth on unproductive activities--building obsolete monster highway projects.

I am quite sure our region is merely a microcosm for the whole state in this regard.

It's a shame, really.

Bobby Gifford
Stevens Point WI