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Anti-Climate Change Advocates Stand Up and Cheer – Energy Efficiency is Just Another Devils Paradise!

March 8, 2011

The renewable and sustainable energy industry now has its own variant of the heath care watchdogs who declare most of the food, drugs, cosmetics and consumer products humans consume and use are bad for one’s health. This also applies to our beloved pets From communist conspiracies behind fluoridation of water to Valentine’s Day flowers shipped from Colombia doused in chemicals including pesticides and fungicides, the public has been bombarded with silly and false claims.

A March 7, 2011, New York Times report by John Tierney, “When Energy Efficiency Sullies the Environment,” points out that energy efficiency can hurt the environment. Wow, there are hidden perils behind energy efficiency? Hey if the article says to it just might be. Being open minded, it’s important to hear the story

To set the stage, listen to “Mad World” by Tears for Fears:

The article states:

“To comply with federal energy-efficiency requirements, manufacturers made changes like reducing the quantity of hot water. …… that left some clothes “nearly as stained after washing as they were when we put them in.”

“….. fuel-efficient cars burn less gasoline per mile, the lower cost at the pump tends to encourage extra driving.”

“….. drivers use the money they save on gasoline to buy other things that produce greenhouse emissions, like new electronic gadgets or vacation trips on fuel-burning planes.”

“…..  new economic activity results from energy-efficient technologies that reduce the cost of making products like steel or generating electricity. ….. the overall result can be what’s called “backfire”: more energy use than would have occurred without the improved efficiency.”

“….. the steam engine extracted energy more efficiently from coal, it also stimulated so much economic growth that coal consumption increased.”

“….. from candles to oil-powered lamps to incandescent bulbs and beyond, the amount of energy needed to produce a unit of light has plummeted. Yet people have found so many new places to light that today we spend the same proportion of our income on light as our much poorer ancestors did in 1700”

“….. if your immediate goal is to reduce greenhouse emissions, then it seems risky to count on reaching it by improving energy efficiency. ….. it makes more sense to look for new carbon-free sources of energy,’

“….. the smaller and consequently less safe cars built to meet federal fuel-efficiency standards (resulted in) about 2,000 additional deaths on the highway every year,”

Well there you go. Everyone has the right to stand on the soapbox. Though this soapbox may have some truths, but it makes me feel stupid, gluttonous and out-of-control.  Maybe so, need to go now.

Time to watch a new episode of “Smallville,” warm up my 120” Plasma TV, turn up the AC to a comfortable 60 degrees F, wrap a few afghans around me, turn on my gas fired fireplace, brighten up the room with all sixteen 120 W recessed incandescent lights, give the keys to my 1955 Rocket V8 Oldsmobile to the kids to pick up a few beers around the corner, and later invite some friends over to relax in my outside Jacuzzi set to a soothing 104 degrees F.  That’s what I call making a contribution to a cleaner environment.

Please read the entire article and make your own decision. Google “When Energy Efficiency Sullies the Environment”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 1:16 PM


    There have been several such articles. There was one showing how the increae use of ethanol would lower the price of gasoline and …you know the same arguments. I even thought about writing one where we could tax on those riding bicicles, since their reduced demand for fossil fuels could cause a cascade of events (lower gas price, higher consumption, etc.) generating higher lifecycle CO2 emissions.

    Funny, but you always have people that will believe it (Tea Party?)…there you go, my politically incorrect statement for the day.

  2. Jonathan Allen permalink
    March 9, 2011 1:43 PM

    If one starts with a preposterous premise it’s easy to derive preposterous conclusions.

    To start with, only a minute minority of products, not most, are judged to be hazardous, and only after convincing evidence such as real harm to people. Is it not a legitimate function of a government to provide and enforce safety standards? Even the Preamble of the US Constitution recognizes the need to “provide for the common defense [and] promote the general welfare”. Would not these clauses imply protection against domestic criminals who would profit by selling dangerous products to the public? At what point does an interest in a shared responsibility make one a “Communist?”

    If a person believes wastefulness is a virtue (as Barry apparently does from his last paragraph) then he will certainly find a way to make up in waste for any savings or economy that might have been achieved by conservation programs. Promoting energy efficiency is a relatively new idea in this country so one might expect a few efforts to be imperfect. If we are smart, we will take note of those shortcomings and fix what we must to make them work better.

    As for smaller cars being less safe, I would like to see some good evidence for this. The only case in which this is a problem is a collision between a big car and a small one in which, by momentum conservation, the smaller one will suffer the greater velocity change and hence the worse impact for the occupants. In such cases wouldn’t we want to reduce the number of land yachts before they inflict such damage? It’s like blaming people who get punched in the nose for not having tougher noses. (Barry, sorry for invoking physics, since your denial of climate change indicates you don’t know any.)

    I don’t doubt that some of the “horror stories” Barry cites have actually happened, but before abandoning all conservation efforts I would like to see some quantitative statistics on whether these instances actually amount to a significant problem.

  3. March 9, 2011 6:06 PM


    1. You failed to understand the meaning of the discussion.
    2. Please read what I said, “false claims” not “valid claims.”
    3. Here is a good example of a major flip flop in the news:

    Believe It or Not: Trans Fat Can Be a Good Thing
    7/27/2010 – Debates can be had about nearly every type of food on the planet. Dairy, grains and fruit juice are among the many foods which have recently caused quite a stir in the natural health community as to whether they are the friends or enemies of our health. Trans fat, however, typically ranks as the king…

    4. Did you ever hear of satire? Hence my last paragraph.
    5. If you are interested in “As for smaller cars being less safe, I would like to see some good evidence for this,” why not Google the subject and see what you find. Maybe time to do your own work.
    6. You deduce too much, “Surprise – I do believe in anthropogenic climate change.”
    7. I would suggest read some of my +40 discussions.
    8. Remember “The Blind Men and the Elephant.”


  4. Diego permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:32 PM

    Jevons paradox is known from the 19th century, but the “efficiency delusion” is still in pretty good shape… Efficiency is NOT the right metric to measure sustainability. It doesn’t matter how efficiently we use natural resources, it only matters how much we use in total. And the total has been relentlessly increasing at least since the beginning of the industrial revolution, notwithstanding sometimes spectacular improvements in (energy) efficiency. This doesn’t mean energy efficiency can’t be part of the solution, it only means that it should not be taken as an indicator to achieve sustainability, because doing that is misleading. This has long been recognized by experts (see eg Vaclav Smil, ) Smil energy efficiency&source=bl&ots=X39t1qZR6_&sig=e0ZSF4TRdG1PMQTxa5KSuEy8fMc&hl=en), but the concept didn’t make it yet to the mass media.

  5. Kim permalink
    March 10, 2011 2:09 AM

    Barry! I love you!

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