Another way to see the problem with chasing energy efficiency as a strategy

October 27, 2021 by Joshua
in Nature

I support energy efficiency as a tactic within a strategy of reducing consumption. Most people treat efficiency as a strategy. Confusing its priority and putting it as a strategy distracts from what we need to solve our environmental problems, specifically growth.

Say there’s a guy addicted to cocaine who lost everything. One problem is he’s killing himself with the drug. A second problem is that without a place to live or make himself presentable, he can’t make an honest living.

Pile of Refined Sugar
Pile of Refined Sugar

Increasing energy efficiency isn’t exactly like increasing the energy supply, but overlaps in some effects. To that extent, imagine you tried to solve the coke addict’s second problem first, figuring that e can’t make living, so you supply him with resources like money and a place to live. If he’s still addicted to cocaine, what do you think will happen to the money you gave him to help him?

As much as providing him material resources will help a former addict who won’t likely relapse, providing him while full-blown addicted will likely exacerbate the problem.

There are differences between the cases, but there are differences between all comparisons. The analogy is that our culture is addicted to fossil fuels. Efficiency is like extra supply. As long as we value growth, we’ll use efficiency to grow more, exacerbating our environmental problems.

What works

What works is lowering the pursuit of growth first.

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