Misperceived Paths to Energy Savings

How in trying to “save the environment” most people choose symbolic energy savings, instead of responding to what “the experts” point to as having real effects, is the theme of the NY times blog “Dot Earth” post Misperceived Paths to Energy Savings.

It’s sadly also “the experts” themselves who are the very worst offenders, in truth, constantly recommending energy savings for their business value, but by making energy use more profitable also stimulate the economy to use more. I occasionally try to get Andy Revkin, the author of the blog, to question his own assumptions…

+++Comment 11:
As I think you know, this is one area I’ve studied quite a bit. The problem isn’t that the bad responses don’t do much. The problem is that the good ones are actually worse.

Basically, all the energy saving strategies listed as “good” are profitable, and so are part of the growth stimulus side of our world commitment to accelerate the use of efficiency for both accelerating growth and slowing resource depletion. The multiplier is 2.5. On average throughout the world for every unit of energy saved by efficiencies 2.5 new uses are developed. The reason is that efficiencies make resource use more profitable.

The really alarming problem is that this is one of many ways we are consistently compartmentalizing “cause and effect” in our minds for real causes and effects that are not in the least bit compartmentalized in nature. I’m struggling to find anything that might get people to simply go through the clear evidence.

So… the problem is that it’s the leading experts as well as the public who have entirely misperceived the nature of our problem. http://synapse9.com…

+++Comment 61
The confusing real truth, that saving energy does not save energy, but stimulates more energy uses, is getting largely missed in the discussion here.

Three other readers did mention the “paradox” that saving energy increases what you can do with money,… increases spending and stimulates growing energy use as Jevons first pointed out 150 years ago. But the absolute reality that what we do with the money saved messes up our theory of having saved energy is still not getting across. You, your other readers, and the vast majority of other scientists and activists actually treat it as just “words words words”… We’re all not recognizing the real usefulness of looking beyond our assumptions.

Our real problem is *not paying attention* (to quite obvious, easily confirmed, but socially disapproved hard facts that conflict with our cultural myths).

You should take up Steve Salmony’s comment #42 and give the floor to people who have little at stake but trying to tell the truth, like Gary Peters, myself in #11, Asteroid Miner #20, Larry G. #26, Gene G #33, Steve in #36, James #52. You could have a little exercise in “point counter point” among a group, even, just so the ‘Old Grey Lady’ can have the necessary disclaimer for any association with daring ideas… ;-) phil


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