Fiat Lux

Guest Post by Thomas Fuller

There are a lot of people concerned about the pace of innovation as it relates to climate change and energy efficiency, because of fears about global warming.

Innovation has led to energy efficiency gains of between 1% and 1.5% for a very long time–perhaps as long as three centuries. For short periods within those three centuries, innovation has been even more robust.

However, every time somebody comes up with a way of saving energy, we end up finding ways to use even more energy with the money we’ve saved. This has become known as Jevon’s Paradox, and it has been discussed by economists since 1865, probably because economists weren’t interested in the invention of barbed wire.

In constructing strategies for defeating the dread global warming, the 1% – 1.5% rate of innovation is ‘baked in’ to adaptation and mitigation strategies. In some scenarios, they assume more. As Roger Pielke Jr. and his friends at the estimable Breakthrough Institute have repeatedly pointed out, it ain’t enough. To make a real difference on global warming, our energy efficiency would need to increase by between 4% and 6%, something that seems close to absurd.

But is it? Let’s talk about a subject dear to the hearts of global warming activists–tipping points. They use it to talk about points of no return for our atmosphere, something more sober scientists think is highly unlikely. But it gets them headlines.

But there are tipping points in technology, as well–witness the striking lack of horse manure on the city streets of New York and London. And the paucity of buggy whips, for that matter.

There are about 16 billion artificial lights in the world today, and about 13 billion of them get replaced every year. CFLs were supposed to change that, but everybody hates them–I think 15 billion of the world’s lightbulbs may well be CFLs stored unused in everybody’s closet.

CFLs could save 75% of the energy used for lighting. But they won’t, because they suck. (That’s a technical phrase meant to cover poor light quality, premature failure, inability to work in many settings and environments–they just suck.)

But LEDs are coming that can save 90% of the energy used for lighting, and they may work better than CFLs. (Anthony, you said you filled your house with them. How do they work?)

Stanley Jevons thought that if we saved 90% of the energy used on lighting, we would find some other use for that energy. And he might well be right. But as with other laws that have passed into obscurity, Jevons did not plan for a future that is almost within our sight, but was 150 years away from him. He couldn’t see a level of saturation that would cause energy use to plateau.

Energy use in the developed world is projected to increase by 0.3% per year through 2050. All of the growth will come in the developing world. But they will develop. They will reach the point where we are today by 2075. And regardless of whether innovation comes in strong or weak, their energy use will plateau, and then decline gently with innovation, stable population and social changes–do you know how much less energy a retired person consumes than someone in the work force? It’s a lot, and the number of retired people is going to skyrocket.

You can leave the lights on. You can buy more lights. But eventually you have enough. You can own three cars. But you can only drive one at a time. And houses will start getting smaller, not bigger, as demographic changes work through the population. And that means that eventually, innovations that improve energy efficiency will reduce energy usage. But, what are we talking about–another century? Another millenium?

How about before mid-century?

Can we achieve step change innovation in all types of energy use? That’s immediately followed by another key question–even if we can, will we?

Those who study energy use break it into several large sectors, with the largest being industrial, which consumes about half of all energy. Transportation accounts for 22%, and residential and commercial fall in between at about 30%. (Technically, the second largest use of energy worldwide is waste during generation and delivery of electricity, something that could be improved on…)

We know step change is possible for transportation. Audi had a car that got 80 miles per gallon on the market a few years ago. The U.S. fleet had an average of 22 mpg a couple years back. Ford is coming out with a model that gets 40 mpg right now. New commercial jet aircraft are at least 20% more fuel efficient than older models.

Half of all new windows sold are energy efficient, and energy efficient windows, doors and insulation could reduce waste by at least 35%. The same is true for new appliances. If we had a cash for clinkers instead of a cash for clunkers… well, you get the idea.

Industry could get a lot more mileage out of the energy it uses. In Denmark, 40% of their primary energy is delivered through combined heat and power at 85% efficiency, compared to the 35% efficiency of old fashioned power plants. In America, we get 9% of our power from CHP. (And how come nobody has thought of using the heat generated by nuclear power plants?)

There is not one thing I’ve talked about above that is not commercially available for sale today. There is not one thing above that would not save money over the long haul for the people who buy it. The average time for technology improvements to spread through a fleet of equipment is between 13 and 25 years. Certainly, if we moved on these available, off the shelf improvements now, they would be in place and reaping benefits before 2050.

People are reluctant to give up perfectly good refrigerators and cars before they are used up. Companies are reluctant to retire coal plants early, and to make capital investments in things like CHP or Waste to Energy without prodding. But we could redirect some of the subsidies we’re giving wind power companies…

Here in America we use 323 million btus per person per year. In Denmark they use 161 million btus per year. (We drive about twice as much as they do, on average, but that’s only a small part of the equation.) We could change that almost painlessly in fairly short order.

We don’t need any new toys to show Stanley Jevons is wrong. We just need to use the tools we have.

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137 thoughts on “Fiat Lux

  1. Jolly well said. Spot on.
    With all this, there is only a difference between compelling people to change, and making it natural. Compulsion (ban the bulb!) tends to bring with it revulsion. And a tendency to kick back.
    LED lighting, for example, works very well. With the right LEDs, and the right fixture and the right controller. There is a lot of crap out there.
    LED lighting, done right, not only saves a lot of power (=more $ in your pocket), it also dramatically cuts the maintenance costs.
    Somebody once figured out that there is a huge, huge hidden cost in older people changing light bulbs and falling off chairs and ladders. Reduce that need, and the cost of hospital admissions and broken hip repairs goes down. In commercial buildings, the change of the light bulb costs $1 for the bulb, and $150 for the man-with-the-ladder. Reducing the rate of change of light bulbs saves a fortune – lower power bills and dramatically lower maintenance costs.
    All these things are good changes to have, and are driven not by a green eco-nazi mantra but by a market need, that is, it puts some $ back in your pocket.
    (Disclaimer: I live in ban-the-bulb land, and have a house full of contraband lamps, a result of stocking up before the ban. I also use a lot of CFLs and don’t like em much – don’t get anywhere near the life out of them as they claim. It looks like my stock of incandescent lamps might have been a waste of effort. There are some very nice, very reasonably priced LED pure retrofit lamps coming very soon that will be really good indeed. I’m quite excited to hear these are on the way. They will probably become common knowledge in the next 6 months or so.)

  2. Hi Thomas,
    Thanks for this very interesting post. Just a little remark. You say :
    ” … (And how come nobody has thought of using the heat generated by nuclear power plants?… )
    Apparently you are not aware that, at least here in France, the heat from Nuclear Plants cooling is used to provide heating for greenhouses. At least for the later, the energy is provided for free … This may be part of a strategy to ease local acceptance.
    If you read French, here is a little example that shows, in particular, the greenhouses of Dampierre en Burly (a few kilometers from my home).
    http://www.innovagro.net/pdf/agro-industries.pdf
    Regards

  3. There is another aspect to Jeavon’s paradox that this article does not consider.
    All energy sources cost the user money. And increasing efficiency alone will mean they spend less on all those energy costs.
    So someone who heavily insulates their house to Scandinavian standards, lights it with LEDs and runs their car on a teaspoon of cooking oil per year will certainly use less energy. But the problem is they will spend less on it.
    Why is that a problem?
    It is because they have liberated cash. Money that would have been spent on fuel is now free to be spent on something else. That overseas trip? How about that chunk of consumer electronics? Or a nice steak? Almost any re-purposing of cash will result in some energy release, and in some cases, more than the original saving.
    Anything you spend money on results in more energy expenditure. If you chose to save the released cash in the bank, the bank will re-invest it in housebuilding for you. Or some new factory or business.
    Destroying the cash will effectively return its value to the government, who will, no doubt, invest the cash in funding an adventurous war in the Middle East.
    In conclusion, efficiency is a good thing. Waste is bad. But efficiency measures, by themselves do not cause a measurable reduction in consumption. They can give the illusion of energy conserved, but in reality it is only a deferral of energy usage.
    C.

  4. So, instead of wasting our money in windmills, we are going to waste it in discarding perfectly good lightbulbs. Somebody needs to look up “opportunity cost”.

  5. Sure, we could do all that stuff. But first you have to convince the target audience that there is something in it for them. People don’t like confined spaces (housing), low flow shower heads, external control of HVAC/appliances ( smart grid stuff ), or generally anything that puts control of their lives in someone else’s hands. Everything you mentioned would require Regulation with a capital “R”, and all that implies in terms of Nanny State Government. And that, my friend, is a 4 letter word.

  6. Home illumination consumes approximately 4 percent of total electrical demand.
    So, changing from CFLs at 1/4 of ordinary bulbs to LEDs at 1/10 saves
    about 0.6 percent of total demand.
    Um. We’re saved?

  7. Could someone tell me though, why do Americans use SO much energy? And while we (in England) use 140 litres of water in washing clothes (per person, per week), Americans use a whopping 400 litres!

  8. Reference LCDs: They work very, very well. They are a bit pricey up front, however. A bulb that is the equivalent of a 60-75W incandescent will set you back $20. While there are theoretically dimmable LEDs on the market, the ones I have do not work with the the dimmer I have. It’s still an all or nothing show. Cool white ones are cooler than the cool florescents. Most folks will feel more comfortable with the warm ones. Use SMD LEDs, the ones that are made an array of small pigtail LDs mounted on wafers and put in a capsule will thermally fail over time. What fails is the connection of the wafer to the “power bus” that powers all the wafers. While they do not create a lot of heat, it is trapped in the capsule and the solder joint will fatigue. I have no affiliation with these folks other than that of a customer, but for those who want to look at what is around and what it costs, http://www.ledwholesalers.com/store/ will give you an idea.

  9. Many great points in the article. Issues with the idea of capturing waste heat, though. Especially in the form of CHP.
    Two problems with CHP. 1) the so-called waste heat is low grade (meaning relatively low temperature). Not useful for very many things since it requires temperature differential to do work. 2) electricity can be transported rather long distances. Heat cannot. So CHP is only useful in large cities or industrial complexes where its use is nearby. All of those sites have been exploited for more than a century.
    In the early 1970s I shut down a 50 year old CHP system in a brewery because it was no longer cost effective. Natural gas and electricity had become so cheap that the increased efficiency of the CHP turbines didn’t cover the operating and maintenance cost.

  10. Tungsten light bulbs are only inefficient in the summer. In the winter, they are 100% efficient, because all the wattage that doesn’t go into light, goes into heating the house. Same for computers, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and everything else electrical.
    CHP isn’t viable in the US because we’re too spread out. It might work in Europe because you can’t build where you want. Anyone attempting to build a home in the UK will find his new castle shoehorned into somebody’s garden (back yard). But even that doesn’t help because you can’t build a power plant anywhere near enough to all the little village scattered about. (If you’re allowed to build one at all.)
    The Cordova nuke plant in Illinois has an interesting waste heat history. It’s on the Mississippi river, and it initially vented cooling water through a diffuser pipe running out into the river. Then the greens invented “thermal pollution.” I guess the extra warmth was harmful to the trout population, so they built an expensive, miles long cooling canal and recycled the water. That turned out to be a waste, and someone pointed out that the diffuser kept miles of the river from freezing over in the winter, which greatly increased the oxygen level for the fish, and made good fishing for the eagles that migrated in from the country every winter. Up until they opened Cordova, the only open water for the eagles to fish was at the various sewage lift stations along the river.

  11. CHP works well if you live close to the generator. This was done soon after the last war when Battersea Power Station was built in London. Apartments built on the opposite bank of the Thames were heated by the power station. Steam from nuclear generators runs in a closed circuit due to radiation fears. That is why this is not used for CHP.
    But who cares about global warming when all forecasts are for a colder climate. A bit of free warmth would be nice.

  12. All very nice, but why would energy consumption at some point level off? I doubt it will. Energy use is at the heart of economic development and economic growth, and thus at our prosperity. Yes, we are using less energy by more efficient cars, insulation, heating and lighting. But we also consume more energy by traveling further and having more electrical gadgets – both large an small – in our ever houses. The energy saved will not continue to be saved: we simply spend it on other less obvious things that cost a lot of energy to use or produce.
    To the extent that history can teach us anything I also don’t see any evidence of a saturation in global energy consumption in the official numbers. Developed countries continue very gradually but surely to consume more and more energy, even on a “per capita” basis. We will continue to develop new technology which increases our well-being but which depends on energy. So unless there are limits to the energy supply (“peak oil”) and energy becomes significantly more expensive I don’t see how energy consumption will saturate. It appears to be difficult to continue to have economic growth without growth in energy consumption.
    And as I somewhere noted, we are living the lives that centuries ago would only be possible for the happy few. Given the typical energy that a human produces, in western countries we consume the equivalent of hundreds of human beings (“slaves”) per day. That is prosperity, and we are not going to give that up for no real dramatic reason.
    Further, and maybe worse, assume that at some point a new “sustainable” energy sources becomes competitive, let’s say solar, which half of the world appears to be looking for. Opposite to fossil fuels where extraction becomes more expensive as first the easily available resources are used and where resources are rather limited, extracting solar energy will not become that much more difficult as time progresses. Resources may for quite some time be close to limitless (compared to fossil fuels that is, thus until we run out of space; and then we might even go into space to get it). That would stimulate energy consumption even more, with all problems of heat pollution and changes in climate (albeit that having very cheap energy available means that adaptation to any climate may become much easier to the extent that a change in climate is no longer an issue).
    See for some more inconvenient ideas relating to energy, see here:
    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-on-rebound.html
    Jenne

  13. Don’t forget aesthetics. In the northern temperate zone, most of it, the most energy efficient home would be something like a bunker. No doubt EPA is writing rules about this matter now.

  14. Well said, Tom.
    I think you’re right in saying that here in the West we are by and large, sated. Poor means not having a second car for most of us. Any new piece of technology means not using whatever it was we used before. I rarely watch television now, for instance, or use the home phone.
    The CRIB countries (China, Russia, India, Brazil) want our lifestyle and are willing to work very hard for it. And when they get there, their energy use will tail off just like ours, and at that point 80% of the world will have a first world life style (barring another world war, of course). They won’t want to be doing “dirty” industrial jobs either, so those will migrate on to the least developed countries. That will raise their standard of living, and they won’t need or have the time to grow so many children, so less need for “things”.
    I think one of the major problems we are going to have to solve, is how do we gainfully use our spare time.
    For instance, most government jobs nowadays are make-work schemes. And to the extent that we can afford it, okay, but alongside that is an increasing intrusiveness into our day to day life. Two foot outside a parking bay, clamped. Can’t drive there, can’t do this, oh no, you’ll need to wait a year before we decide whether you can do that. What should be an easier life as a result of the hard work that we and our forebears have done, has turned into a minefield of complexity.
    At the same time, we ourselves are having to run to stand still. The idea of going to school and then going into a job that we’ll work at until retirement is gone, forever (unless it’s a government job).
    Something has gone wrong in the lands of milk and honey. Personally, I think part of the solution is a three or four day working week, i.e. spreading genuine jobs around more equitably, but that’s just me.
    P.S. I always enjoy your posts. I don’t always agree with them, but it’s good to have fresh thinking. I do hope you’ll keep posting here.

  15. Has anyone ever done an analysis of *all* of the additional energy used to create energy saving products like compact florescent bulbs (they have plastic bases, starter capacitors, and complex coiled glass shapes that have to be made while the glass is hot — all that conventional incandescent bulbs don’t have) or hybrid cars (the batteries and rare earth elements used in the batteries and motors and the energy used to mine them)?

  16. As Carniphage says, you have not understood Jervons paradox. Economic output always requires energy input. Improving energy efficiency just makes economic output cheaper, so our economy grows. To reach energy usage saturation, we need to reach economic output saturation, and it ain’t gonna happen (this is Pielke’s Iron Law of Climate Policy).
    If decarbonisation is something we want to pursue, it must come through low- or zero-carbon energy sources. It is that simple. Improved energy efficiency will never contribute to decarbonisation.

  17. (Apologies if this is a doulble post)
    LEDs
    It is interesting to note that “white” leds are not really white emmitters.
    They are ususally blue leds behind a flourescent layer. This combination in general emits at 2 peaks 440 nm 580 nm giving the apearance of white. This colour rendition is similar to CFLs
    see:
    http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/607766.pdf
    Also they are run off standard mains supply using a capacitive+resistance dropper from 240/110Volts to the LED voltage. This is then rectified and smoothed to reduce flicker.
    The quality of this simple system can limit the life of LEDs and capacitors during mains transients (over currents destroy LEDs and can burn away metalisation in the capacitor reducing its value and hence reducing the light output) and if insufficiently smoothed will flicker at 50Hz/60Hz.

  18. paulhan says:
    I think you’re right in saying that here in the West we are by and large, sated. Poor means not having a second car for most of us. Any new piece of technology means not using whatever it was we used before. I rarely watch television now, for instance, or use the home phone.
    No, instead you use a computer… which takes five to six times as much energy to make and consumes two to three times as much energy to run. And you use a mobile telephone… which takes five to six times as much energy to make and consumes orders of magnitude more energy to run. How is this energy use saturation?

  19. 1. The Jevons Paradox has not been proven wrong and every new year just confirms it.
    2. If CHP was economically viable we would be using it.
    3. Subsidies merely distort prices at the expense of economic efficiency they do not make something economically viable. So I take it Tom you are pro economic inefficiency?
    4. History has repeatedly demonstrated that government intervention in the economy to be colossal failures. Especially with energy policy.
    5. Denmark uses less energy because their energy is more expensive.
    Denmark is “Energy Smart”? Think Again (U.S. News & World Report)
    The only way to reduce energy usage is to make it more expensive which will punish the poor and reduce freedom. The liberals even know this, which is why they want price controls on energy.
    Tom why do you keep pushing silly ideas like subsidies? Could it be a case of the “Intellectuals” believing they know best?
    Thomas Sowell on Intellectuals and Society

  20. Where I live 100% of our electricity is generated by hydropower. The electricity is generated whether we use it or not. NOT using it is wasteful. Of course that doesn’t stop the econuts from trying to punish us into submission via our power bill and even more stupidly, require that we pay for very expensive wind turbines, which are cleverly erected just over the hill from the dam that is the actual source of our power.

  21. RE: Bring it in from Canada amd Mexico
    Banning alcohol didn’t work during Prohibition and banning incan. bulbs also won’t work. The mob and drug dealers are going to rake in megatons of cash smuggling in light bulbs.
    Can you ever imagine using CFL’s for a cozy dinner party?

  22. The quango running Europe, commonly known as The European Union, is slowly banning your common incandescent light bulb, 100Watt went last year (But if you ask for “Rough Service Bulbs” at DIY shops etc, they’re still available, because the wording didn’t cover that usage!), 60Watt are next in line.
    They also banned industry making Mercury filled barometers, due to fears of pollution if they break or are disposed of.
    So, what do the marvelous CFLs use to produce their hideous light? Yep, Mercury!
    Dr Spencer’s showing SSTs going downhill in a big way, so another hard winter coming our way and another nail in the AGW coffin?
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/10/meanwhile-sea-surface-temperatures-continue-to-fall/

  23. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    October 12, 2010 at 4:29 am
    Could someone tell me though, why do Americans use SO much energy? And while we (in England) use 140 litres of water in washing clothes (per person, per week), Americans use a whopping 400 litres!

    The predominance of technology from a time when frugality was considered unnecessary. Having said that, my wife and I bought a new washer and dryer last year – the washer uses a ridiculously small amount of water (far less than the quoted 140 litres per person per week). So it really is a case of market penetration for major purchases such as these.
    With regard to CFLs and LEDs: CFLs are horrible – they are flickery, green, slow-to-start, contain elements that are really rather nasty, and are unreliable. LEDs do not flicker, can be properly tuned so as to give the right lighting colour for the application, and are a great deal more reliable and efficient than the cursed CFLs. Why would anybody in their right mind choose CFL over LED?

  24. We travel in an RV for 7 months of the year (a very low carbon footprint lifestyle but not the reason we do it) and have replaced all our incnadescents with LEDs. The light is different, not yellow like incandescents, but seems to be better for reading.
    Incandescent RV bulbs under high usage burn out in about a month and have outputs that vary with time and voltage, neither seem to be observable with LEDs. Best they use about 10% of the power allowing more off grid camping as well in new trailer designs smaller gauge wiring is possible, four bedroom light fixtures with two bulbs each draw 16 amps today vs. 1.6 amps.
    Today LEDs are a great solution. True the overall savings in terms of total world electrical usage is small. However it’s like government spending a million saved here a million saved there does add up. It’s too easy to neglect the small things but it’s the summation of small things that add up to major differences, one easily sees this in personal relationships.

  25. Here in America we use 323 million btus per person per year. In Denmark they use 161 million btus per year.
    So….you need to shrink your Country a lot to equal Denmark, not only you currency.
    Congratulations!, keep on this endeavor and you´ll have also a King, King Canute Gore the First, the naked King. 🙂

  26. What this article misses is the impact on CO2 emissions.
    We need the highest possible level to boost the CO2 atmospheric content.
    We need that to boost food production to the grastest extent.
    If we’re lucky, global population may peak by the end of the century at a much higher level than today.
    We need to be able to feed those extra people.
    Otherwise a destructive series of food wars is unescapable.
    There is no evidence that extra CO2 increases temperature BUT it sure boosts plant production.

  27. Trying to be energy efficient is a goal in itself as the production of energy has cost and some items may be limited.
    Pursuing energy efficiency to prevent manmade global warming is to give credence to a false claim, which unfortunately has a lot of attached baggage, such as the claimed need to drastically control emissions worldwide, raise the cost of energy, and take over the world.
    So, keep things simple and seek energy efficiency for its own sake and skip the false premise of manmade global warming.
    And avoid the tipping points f global warming. They are completely speculative and opinion.

  28. I’m afraid that most of the energy savings from more efficient lights (CFLs or LEDs) are illusory, outside the tropics at least.
    This is because most lighting occurs at night and in winter, the times at which most people heat their homes, offices, etc. The energy saved is merely a reduction in the amount of heat released by the lights, which has to be made up from other sources, if the same temperature is to be maintained.
    BTW, this is true of all energy saving appliances to the extent they are used at the same time spaces are heated.

  29. richard telford says…
    Richard, can you please provide his analysis in brief.
    Here ins DK we have CHP. CHP is not the solution to everything and has it’s own host of problems. However it works quite well and it is utilized in towns from 20.000 and upwards and can be based on almost any power source: biomass, waste incineration, coal, natural gas or oil. The most efficient power plats reach maybe 50-60% electrical efficiency (e.g. convert 50-60% of the energy in the input to electricity) but many are much lower. The rest of the energy cannot be converted to electricity due to thermodynamics, but as heat are used for heating buildings it can be put to good use.
    However there is no free lunch. To use the heat, the electrical efficiency are often a few point lower than for a pure electrical power station. The district heating system cost money to build and in O&M costs. There is also a loss in the system.
    What determines if this is a viable solution in a given area is basically economics. In energy there is no end-all solution for everyone, cause it always depends on the local situation. The question is if the CHP-heat can compete on price with alternative solutions available to consumers in the area.
    One thing to note is that here in DK and many other places the district heat systems provide warm water with a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius due to history and this means a higher loss in the district heating system. Modern buildings with modern heating systems (as watertubes in the floor) need only 25 degress Celcius and hence the system can be run a much lower temperature and hence reduce loss, if build from scratch.
    A special interest for the US and other places might be that it is possible to convert heat into cooling, and hence be used instead of air condition. However we don’t have much use for it here, and only recently have the begund trials in Copenhagen to test it, as many of the modern office buildings uses air conditioning units.
    So obviously it is not a question of being green or not, socialist or not, it’s a technology – not an ideology and what determines if it makes sense in a given place is economics.
    Kind regards
    Troels

  30. A thoughtful essay Tom.
    But I suggest you are a bit too optimistic about combined electrical generation and (space) heating. It requires 1) heat users being physically close to electrical production facilities, and 2) vast capital investment in heat distribution pipelines, which is almost certainly not possible to justify economically. What works in small, long-winter Denmark is not so likely to work in St. Louis, and doesn’t make a bit of sense in Jacksonville, Dallas, or Phoenix.
    Distribution of heat from nuclear reactors? Please explain why you think a population that is irrationally terrified of radiation from nuclear power is ever going to accept this?

  31. “Fiat Lux”….In the beginning there was no light; the universe, then, was only a dimensionless point; there was no manifestation. Then, it became manifestation: Two opposite forces were emitted, they clashed between them a little after, and the first electric spark illuminated the vacuum:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/38598073/Unified-Field
    Everything was going right, according to the supreme laws, but, as freedom was one of these laws, allowing only the possibility of disorder and chaos, there appeared a group of fools, who believed they could control the Universe, at least part of it: The third planet of a distant Sun, called Earth by their inhabitants. Thus, like Cancer cells taking over a body, they began by preaching the peoples of that planet that there were no laws whatsoever governing the Universe, and they could manage to control Climate and other physical manifestations on that planet, so they instructed (and generously paid them) a group of self-indulging beings, called by the inhabitants of that planet “scientists”, which inmediately began inventing a description of that world of theirs, as chaotic as possible, only understood by them and their masters, which they explained to the people, using a branch of that “science”-which in the past was only used in those places intended to lose money called “Casinos”-called “Statistics”.
    So they urged people to discard, to throw away, EVERYTHING their hard working parents and grandparents and their clever ancestors had developed to attain a better way of living. In order to achieve this goal, the Devil himself selected one of his most faithful followers, one who while being only a child sold his soul to Him, and known by a name which meant “To pierce or wound, as with a horn; to penetrate with a pointed instrument, as a spear; to stab.”, to accomplish this task, beginning with the most powerful country of that planet, so as to when this big country would fall under His power, the rest would soon follow it.

  32. My favorite example of technology supposedly bringing conservation: computers and the paperless office. Once computers became ubiquitous, so did printers. Computers can print a lot more than someone on a typewriter and printing from them was so easy. Instead of less paper or no paper, we use more paper. Change to paperless is still slow in most places.

  33. Has anybody calculated the amount of energy that it takes to transport the materials, manufacture parts, transport the parts, assemble the new energy efficient refrigerator, transport that new refrigerator….compared to the amount of energy that it will be saving after throwing away the working but less efficient fridge?
    I’ve always wondered if people are too focused on the power cord and can’t see the forest for the trees.

  34. From context, I assume that when the article says “…energy efficiency gains of between 1% and 1.5% for a very long time..” and “To make a real difference on global warming, our energy efficiency would need to increase by between 4% and 6%,…” that you actually mean xx%/PER YEAR.
    It’s a minor editorial change that would clarify and improve readability. Several other spots beside the two examples.

  35. “Here in America we use 323 million btus per person per year. In Denmark they use 161 million btus per year. We could change that almost painlessly in fairly short order.”
    Consider that only a short time ago, as history measures time, that humans burned whale oil for home lighting. Nobody worried about “peak whale”, they only worried about how much it cost to light their homes. The transition from whale oil to coal oil was entirely market driven. No government coercion or compulsion was required. No unnecessary destruction of assets or resources either. In some areas coal was gassified and distributed for street lamps and home use. The market also adopted lamp oil made from petroleum. After Edison, it took decades for electricity to be widely available. Transition and adoption of each took decades and was done without government intrusion.
    What goes unsaid by advocates of government intrusion is the aspect of force. Citizens are not free to decline to participate, and innovation grinds to a snail’s pace when it challenges the bureaucratic momentum. It is considered almost impolite to mention that the 19 pages of Federal regulations that cover the labels for light bulb packages are, in the end, enforced by a SWAT team if necessary. Those regulations are peacefully followed only because rational people know what can happen should they decline to do so. In the end, such government “help” to give us better lives only destroys liberty and reduces prosperity. And sadly over the years it is become easier and easier to call for government to intrude at a more and more detailed level until even flush toilets, shower heads and the font used on a light bulb package is backed by the implied used of deadly force.

  36. Tom, Look at computers. We all know Moore’s Law. But if you were to run a computer that had as much computing power as one from 10 years ago, you would use probably a tenth of the energy! But you do not, no one does. Instead, the latest and greatest use as much energy as the one 10 years ago, but is just 10 times faster.
    You are not correct when you use the word “might”, as until the cost of energy starts becoming a lot more expensive, there is no compulsion to economize it. Energy today, due to the advances you indicate., is relatively dirt cheap. And so people use it as it is no longer a major budget consideration (it is a minor one).
    30 years ago, I was hearing about horror stories of people getting socked with $300 electric bills. Today, the only time my electric bill approaches that is during the Christmas season when I am running 15,000 lights (yea, I am a bad person). And while $300 30 years ago was a week’s salary for me, today it is a day’s.
    Physical resources have gone up a lot in price, but anything technology based has not, indeed, as a cost per unit, it has come way down. That is why energy has not been saved – it does not penalize the people for not saving it.

  37. “And how come nobody has thought of using the heat generated by nuclear power plants?”
    Well the answer to that is obvious: No-one wants to live next to a power plant. Even non-nuclear ones.

  38. richard telford @ October 12, 2010 at 3:53 am
    The analysis is simplistic and potentially misleading.
    The analysis would be OK if the choice were between a new CHP system and a ground source heat pump supplied exclusively by a CCT power plant.
    The analysis is inadequate when the choice is between an air source heat pump, which operates at its rated COP only at the rating point temperature and at lower COP at lower outdoor ambient temperatures, connected to a grid with an overall efficiency of ~30%.
    Simplified analyses are fine as an approach to achieving some understanding, but are inadequate to support policy development.

  39. Very interesting post!
    I have no objections to anyone saving money, being more efficient, getting better value out of everything one can energywise, it’s every engineers’ dream to possess a Flux Convertor for time travel that no longers requires uranium for energy, but simply consumes the nearest available waste/trash, it’s makes sense! However, it is another thing when one side wants to impoverish another side, all because of ideology, & more than a sense of hard-cheese & a mighty chip on the shoulder! Better to be like me & have a balanced opinion, with a chip on both shoulders!;-) I recall listening & watching a scientist talking about energy, & that when we strike a wooden match, it uses barely 1% of the energy it possesses, yet if we could utilise 99% of its potential energy, we could literally move mountains! Now that’s real improvement!

  40. “In Denmark they use 161 million btus per year. (We drive about twice as much as they do, on average, but that’s only a small part of the equation.) We could change that almost painlessly in fairly short order.”
    I don’t imagine Denmark manufactures a lot of stuff – apart from Lurpak butter, that is.

  41. The EU has outlawed domestic incandescent light bulbs. When these have all been replaced in the EU, the total energy savings will be less than 0.33%. This figure is on the high side as it takes no account of winter energy saving from the heat released from filament bulbs or the additional energy used in the manufacture of low energy bulbs. Because of the slow warm up time it is likely that these bulbs will be left on for a longer time than conventional bulbs. The use of mercury will lead to additional environmental costs of disposal and the pollution caused by uncontrolled tipping. The net benefit is likely to be neutral or even negative.
    Beware of politicans attempting to save the world.

  42. Thanks Tom for an interesting post.
    As you and other posters write, increased efficiency breeds alternate uses for the excess (energy, money) created. It’s a good thing — our standard of living increases — but it has not yet brought down the total energy usage, and given the fundamental nature of energy, seems unlikely to in the future.
    One question — you wrote “Innovation has led to energy efficiency gains of between 1% and 1.5% for a very long time–perhaps as long as three centuries. ” That’s 1 to 1.5% per year, correct?

  43. ford about to bring out a car that does 40 mpg.
    Woopeedoo, I already get 50mpg with out of town driving in my 5-seater Citroen C5, and that car is 8 years old.
    Come USA, can you not do better than that? Actually, you still have not invented independent rear suspension yet, so I suppose you cannot. Still using 4mm steel plate for the bodywork?
    😉

  44. Just when I think westerners must be using all the new gadgets there will ever be, I’m proved wrong. I’m not sure we can even imagine all the energy guzzlers there will be even 10 years from now, let alone 50. Robots? 3D holograms? Hover boards? Better Than Life computer games? Space trips? Laser saws? Health nanobots? Sci Fi is a good place to start for tomorrow’s goodies but reality is often stranger than fiction. I’d consider myself a reasonably contented person but I can easily imagine myself with MORE. Some of the things I’ve listed I’d doubt any of us would not consider essential.
    If travel isn’t priced out of the question, who doesn’t want to visit more far off destinations? How many holidays will be politically correct? Will travel be the new way to discriminate?
    Many people will have to settle for a smaller home than that of their predecessors but they’ll never stop dreaming of more space. Tardis style wardrobes anybody? Think how much energy it would take to warp space and time so that you can squeeze a 10 bedroom mansion into your 1 bedroom flat space.
    Where will consumerism end? To ditch consumerism, you first have to change human nature. Tough one. And if we manage to eradicate it, what work will people do?
    Makes solving climate change sound easy by comparison.

  45. .
    >>>Paperless offices.
    used to work in a paperless office, where any printers and copiers were banned. Everything was on screens or projectors.
    It was absolute chaos, and more time was spent down at the local Copycenter than in the office.

  46. The progress of civilization can be measured in energy creation and usage. Without cheap and abundant energy, we will stagnate, and ultimately fall back. Even with cheap energy, businesses usually consider efficiency when purchasing new equipment and designing new processes, because it helps the bottom line and makes them more competitive.
    There is no need or place for the government in energy creation and technology, except perhaps for umpiring the competition. Keep the taxes low, to encourage growth, and get out of the way.
    /Mr Lynn

  47. Was in Azerbaijan in ’96. The city was fitted out with CHP to work from the adjacent oilfields; pipes everywhere. Didn’t work though, nor did the oilfields come to that. If CHP was viable anywhere, the entrupenarial spirit will get it set up. Put government onto it and you will get PoPo (politics in, politics out)
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8025148/The-Thanet-wind-farm-will-milk-us-of-billions.html
    and not EiEo (engineering in, efficiency out).
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1316273/E-Type-Jaguar-supercar-200mph-electric-hybrid-jet-engine-costs-200K.html
    IMHO of course :0)

  48. Ralph- I’d rather ride through a wreck in that Ford too….
    Been around a 2CV and 4CV some no- thanks…
    Owned a Geo metro too was run over by a deer,
    major damage-to the car…

  49. Carniphage
    October 12, 2010 at 3:55 am
    What a bunch of socialist nonsense. Peak Coal, my a**, it never happened. What you guys really hate is man and all of mans activities. Artificially raising the price of power to compensate for increased efficiency is not only moronic but evil. Jevon was a socialist trying to use math to push a socialist agenda. His math was wrong then and it is wrong now. The only reason why his name is still around is because it gives a patina of science to socialist policies of enslavement. Any economist who still uses his work is a fraud. The mathematical tools needed to do the type of modeling Jevon claimed he had done did not even exist until the latter half of the 20 century.
    Socialist have been manipulating and misrepresenting math and science in an attempt to give legitimacy to their plans for a lot longer then the current AGW campaign.

  50. Ralph says:
    October 12, 2010 at 7:29 am
    “Come USA, can you not do better than that?”
    ______
    Their gallons are smaller than your gallons. Ratio 1.2:1
    50/40 = 1.25. You still have the bragging rights, but only just ;0)

  51. Wow, the comments are flying in.
    @Tom

    No, instead you use a computer… which takes five to six times as much energy to make and consumes two to three times as much energy to run. And you use a mobile telephone… which takes five to six times as much energy to make and consumes orders of magnitude more energy to run.

    Takes five to six times more energy than what? The alternative is I go out in my van and travel to communicate with people or get things I need. Or I go out and buy loads of books to gain knowledge I can get by just Binging something. Or I just don’t do these things at all.

    How is this energy use saturation?

    It’s now possible to not need to leave the confines of one’s home to live a relatively full life. Less energy is used overall. It’s not the way I’d choose to live my life, but it’s possible, no?

  52. Ralph says:
    “Come USA, can you not do better than that?”
    Sure we could. A friend had a Dodge Colt [made in the late ’70’s or early ’80’s] that got almost 55 mpg. The secret? Not much pollution gear.
    Then the U.S., led by California, started requiring more and more emissions add-ons, which all reduced the gas mileage.
    Like everything in life, it was a trade-off, in this case between gas mileage [petrol kilometreage? What do you folks call it?] and smog.
    The whole push due to smog first began in the Los Angeles area, which is a basin surrounded by mountains and often covered by a natural inversion layer that keeps the smog from dispersing. In most areas, such as Europe [and most of the U.S.], the extra pollution gear isn’t needed, so Euro cars can don’t have the smog equipment that reduces gas mileage.
    If the only concern was gas mileage, we could build small cars today that would get 60 – 70 mpg. Geography and politics, not incompetence, is the reason we don’t.

  53. Hi all. Lots of interesting stuff here–thanks. For the two who questioned it, the rates of improvement (both current and desired) were annual figures. 1-1.5% per year for the last three centuries–maybe more, and 4-6% estimated to be what we need per year to really make a difference in global warming.

  54. Nice sentiment, but again one which founders on the rocks of practicality (and greed).
    While certainly over time LEDs should replace CFLs and incandescents, on the other hand the draconian regulations being passed all over the developed world are forcing people to switch to CFLs by outlawing incandescents.
    The net effect is to greatly delay the onset of LEDs, as CFLs will enjoy the economies of scale as well as incumbent install base.
    Even LEDs have a cost: the cost of a 100 watt incandescent is under $1. The cost of an equivalent LED is over $40.
    Sure, there is a lower operating cost of electricity. But $40 is a lot for India, for China and is significant for Brazil and Russia – even if it is insignificant (relatively) for the developed world.
    In addition – as others have noted – the light bulb is one of the least power consuming portions of a household.
    Air conditioning, refrigerators, and washing machines/dryers are the largest.

  55. Smokey says:
    October 12, 2010 at 8:07 am
    And why don’t you start with reducing the worst corrupted pollution ever invented by the human kind? (It’s up to you to find it out which is it)

  56. There is a big misunderstading in the article: The worlds most important light source is not the incandescent bulb, but the fluorescent tube. And compared to the fluorescent the LED will bring (in the future, ie. 5 years or so) a gain of 30% in efficiency, later maybe 50%.

  57. sorry, i have bad news: also LEDs suck.
    i have a fish tank, or aquarium, which is lit by a 25W fluorescent light. Because i dont like 220V in humid environment (where wife sticks her hands to feed the fishes) i thought to replace it with LEDs. So i bough 15 1W LED units and relative 12V drivers, plus a 220v-12v transformer to supply low voltage to the drivers.
    result? the 15w LED light i have assembled is much, much dimmer than the 25W fluorescent light. i have calculated that i need around 25W worth of LEDS to replace 25W worth of fluo light. and this considering that LED’s only emit in one direction while fluo tube emits in all directions.
    costwise, 15W worth of LED costed me like 3x25W fluorescent lights. yes, the LED and drivers i bought are commercial (read chinese) stuff and not cutting edge technology devices (which cost a LOT more) so they are probably a little less efficient, but they are alsomuch cheaper.
    so, forget about the 90% gains i have seen people fantasizing about. perhaps LED are better compared to a low power incandescent bulb (low power ones are a lot less efficient) but they are not better compared to fluorescent tubes or high power incandescent or alogen. and this is a real life test, not some numbers pulled from some spec sheet.

  58. Why are you writing a post that focuses on “making a difference in global warming”, e.g., energy effeciency? If the globe is warming, we are fortunate. Read some geology. If we have more CO2, we are fortunate.
    Also: what is your source? “Innovation has led to energy efficiency gains of between 1% and 1.5% for a very long time–perhaps as long as three centuries. For short periods within those three centuries, innovation has been even more robust.”
    And notice that you are writing about a colder-than-what-went-before warm period of an interglacial. Try advancing civilization, affluence, population, technological development (becaused we could), etc., for the issues you are putting forward. Think about what comes afterwards and get off the worry about “global warming/CO2” and energy efficiency for this purpose.
    I wish WUWT would stop speaking to those guys and gals whose so-called science is simply a fraud.

  59. @DesertYote.
    Perhaps you should re-read my point.
    Improved efficiency lowers the effective cost of a resource. Lowering the cost increases consumption. Happened with coal, happened with gasoline. Happens with computing power. It’s inevitable.
    This has everything to do with rudimentary economics and nothing at all to do with a global conspiracy of fictional socialists.
    Improved efficiency -> More consumption. is all.
    C.

  60. Wow, the comments are flying in.
    @Tom

    No, instead you use a computer… which takes five to six times as much energy to make and consumes two to three times as much energy to run. And you use a mobile telephone… which takes five to six times as much energy to make and consumes orders of magnitude more energy to run.

    Takes five to six times more energy than what?

    Erm, five to six times more than the examples you gave, viz. watching television and using the home phone. Instead of television, computer. Instead of home phone, mobile phone. See? This is Jervon’s paradox all over – as devices become more efficient we invent devices that use more energy.

  61. In the beginning, all was dark as night.
    God said “Let Newton be”, and all was light.
    It couldn’t last; the Devil, howling “Ho,
    Let Einstein be” restored the status quo.
    (Can’t remember the author; apologies.)

  62. “…………do you know how much less energy a retired person consumes than someone in the work force?”
    Looks like Europe will be using a lot less electricity in 50 years time, even without energy efficiencies. The US on the other hand……

    In Europe 2.1 children per woman is considered to be the population replacement level. These are national averages
    Ireland: 1.99
    France: 1.90
    Norway: 1.81
    Sweden 1.75
    UK: 1.74
    Netherlands: 1.73
    Germany: 1.37
    Italy: 1.33
    Spain: 1.32
    Greece: 1.29
    Source: Eurostat – 2004 figures
    “If current forecasts prove correct, then the US – which currently has 160m fewer people than the EU – will have equalled it by 2050. ”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4768644.stm

  63. “…witness the striking lack of horse manure on the city streets of New York and London…”
    Obviously, you’ve not read the Guardian and the NY Times in a long, long time.

  64. Tom, an interesting read. But you miss some of the most obvious points to be made. You note CFLs suck, and they do. LEDs are probably ready for prime time right now, but wait, in our rush to save energy, we spent money on useless light bulbs, further, the last incandescent factory recently shut its doors in the U.S., so there is even less money to spread around. Consider the time, energy and money wasted on CFLs(not to mention what we’re going to do with all the mercury.) So, the lesson here is not to force technological or efficiency advances, but rather allow it to happen. We’d literally save energy if we do.
    Later, you state, Here in America we use 323 million btus per person per year. In Denmark they use 161 million btus per year. (We drive about twice as much as they do, on average, but that’s only a small part of the equation.) We could change that almost painlessly in fairly short order.
    Tom, yes we drive twice as much, we have twice as far to go! So does our produce at the store, the wear on the vehicles is twice as much, the energy required to build additional vehicles…..on and on. Tom, here’s a news flash. The U.S. isn’t Denmark. Why do people insist on drawing ridiculous comparisons to countries with no parallels to the U.S. This is an “apples to oranges” comparison. Our energy use does not, can not, in any manner, be equated with any tiny over populated country in Europe. The needs of those nations are not the same needs as the U.S.

  65. oldseadog says:
    October 12, 2010 at 9:11 am
    Great !. Have you read my post above?
    Enneagram says:
    October 12, 2010 at 6:29 am

  66. Alexander says: “There is a big misunderstading in the article: The worlds most important light source is not the incandescent bulb, but the fluorescent tube. And compared to the fluorescent the LED will bring (in the future, ie. 5 years or so) a gain of 30% in efficiency, later maybe 50%.”
    So say you.

  67. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    October 12, 2010 at 4:29 am
    Could someone tell me though, why do Americans use SO much energy? And while we (in England) use 140 litres of water in washing clothes (per person, per week), Americans use a whopping 400 litres!

    Well BIG JIM, despite its technological edge in many areas the US is lightyears behind in domestic appliances.
    When we first moved to the US (1992) we were appalled by how backward things were here. We were used to shopping in France where every credit card reader was connected to an X.25 network, so that as your card was swiped, the receipt was printing out (on a fast printer) before the card had even left the reader slot, and in a restaurant they would bring a reader to your table, swipe it, and the IR communication between the hand-held reader and X.25 had your receipt ready instantly.
    Move to the US, and the swipe your card, you listen to the beeps as it dials, wait … wait … wait and then a crappy, slow, often illegible dot matrix printer slowly grinds out your receipt.
    Then you go to buy a washing machine — remember the old tub your mother (or maybe grand-mother) had with a lid on top to dump the clothes in and a vertical paddle thing that swishes the clothes let and right, left and right … using gallons and gallons (oh, btw, do remember that when comparing gallons, the US gallon is about the same as an English pint) of water. Now, 2010, front loaders are the newest thing — horribly expensive of course. And being American, HUGE.
    The there are freezers. You know that chest freezer you have in the garage? Well here they are vertical freezers, so open the door and all the cold air falls out on your feet and everything begins to thaw.
    Back to the washers … most of them don’t have any significant heaters in them, they rely on hot water from the domestic supply, and again, this being America, hot water is basically warm water, since if someone were to turn the hot tap on and it actually came out hot, they would scream and yell and call their lawyer ….

  68. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    October 12, 2010 at 4:29 am
    Could someone tell me though, why do Americans use SO much energy? And while we (in England) use 140 litres of water in washing clothes (per person, per week), Americans use a whopping 400 litres!

    Sorry mate, but Americans don’t use that much water to wash their clothes. Maybe those using bathtubs do. I wash maybe one load per week. That is probably less than or about the same as 140 liters.
    Either way, if we pay to have it cleaned, brought to our home, taken away from our home, cleaned again, then released, then what is the big problem? It’s not like we are asking you to pay for it.

  69. One more consequence of CFLs: Home lamp and light sockets have a power resctriction, ususally indicated on the socket in some fashion. Since the CFLs draw approx. 1/4 of the power, in some cases my wife has had me put in a larger comparable size CFL than the incandescent it is replacing so she can have more light! There goes half of your savings.

  70. As usual, Thomas Fuller writes about things he knows very, very little about. It’s called economics, Mr. Fuller. We have this thing in the USA called competition, and it drives decisions to the lowest cost (usually…there are exceptions such as when the government intervenes).
    Mr. Fuller might be interested in reading about energy efficiency here:
    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/energy-conservation-is-not-sustainable.html
    Still, it is interesting to read Mr. Fuller’s writings – as most of what he says is just plain wrong. As I’ve said before, it is a very good thing we have engineers around to get things done.

  71. Tom,
    I’d be interested in any studies which have documented changes in energy use upon retirement. Sounded reasonable until I thought about our own experience. When Nancy and I were working, we might leave at 6:00 AM, turning off the heat, TV, any other appliances… Which would stay off until we returned in the late afternoon. Since retirement, the heat stays on, (too often) the TV is in use whether or not anyone is watching, and other appliances are in use more than before. I think our energy consumption has gone up, rather than down, and I suspect we are not unusual.

  72. Smokey,
    You are right.
    I had a new 1984 Dodge Colt and consistently achieved high 40’s to 50 mpg. It did not have the optional “economy stick” which was essentially an overdrive. Here it is 26 years later and comparing the compact cars today they get about the same as the larger models.
    Something changed after the 1984 model because the newer ones barely got over 40.

  73. In Denmark they use 161 million btus per year. (We drive about twice as much as they do, on average, but that’s only a small part of the equation.)
    That maybe because USA is many times larger than Danemark

  74. juanslayton: The person who took your job is now using less energy at their home. The person who was enjoying retirement before you has died and is now using no energy whatsoever. And on and on it goes.

  75. The replacement of the materials conserving, recycleable incandescent bulb, a few grams of glass, brass and milligrams of tungsten, packaged in a lightweight corrugated paper sleeve, domestically produced by the non recyclable, massive plastic, glass, phosphor, metal, electronic circuitry, fraudulently specified, in heavy cardboard box and bulky plastic blisterpack with multicolour printed Ecopromo, shipped from the other side of the world, is simply the triumph of politically leveraged advertising over reason.
    That the inevitability of LEDs to obsolete CFLs was obvious at the time makes the concurrent loss of any North American capacity to make domestic lighting elements economic insanity.
    The green jobs are all in advertising.

  76. The hockey stick.
    Mr Fuller is right, people will not accept being forced into purchases they don’t want.
    The hockey stick applies to human nature. When the people have had enough, the population can suddenly change and at that point authority is lost. And global warming is all about authority.
    It is no secret there is corruption in politics but when science is corrupted to serve a political agenda and universities are in on it, when manufacturers jump on board in expectation of profits from a fraud then its more than corruption. Its using the trust of the people and their tax dollars in science, the indoctrination of university students in a political cause, and limiting the products available for purchase to those approved by the global warming agenda.
    The appreciation of the American people will go to honest scientists, universities and manufacturers and those who have attempted to take an easy path to success will probably find out they have been hit with a hockey stick.

  77. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    October 12, 2010 at 4:29 am
    Could someone tell me though, why do Americans use SO much energy? And while we (in England) use 140 liters of water in washing clothes (per person, per week), Americans use a whopping 400 liters!

    Obviously you are dirtier!. Deodorants anyone? 🙂

  78. James Sexton,
    Thanks for your comment. However, half the people in America do live in small overpopulated islands, just like Denmark. They’re called metropolitan areas, which is why our average driving per year is only double Denmark’s, despite our much larger size. You might bear in mind that many Danes do venture outside their borders in their vehicles, as well.
    Juanslayton, Thanks. The study I saw said 20% reduction after retirement, almost all due to lack of commuting and business-related travel.
    And all, remember that my central point is that there does seem to be a level of saturation on energy use. Jevons could not have known about this 150 years ago. But in the U.S. (and some other developed countries) total fuel use has declined, as has energy use per capita.
    There is such a thing as ‘enough.’ As long as it isn’t artificially imposed on people (especially the poor), I would think finding this out would be good news, overall.

  79. Incandescent – about 15 lumens/watt
    CFL – about 55 lm/w
    LED – perhaps 70 lm/w (at least the ones you can buy)
    Where is this 90% and 10:1 saving stuff?
    In the lab, LEDs reach over 100 lm/w. $$$$
    T5 Florescent tubes + electronic ballasts approach that today.
    For 1/20 the cost.
    In some places, CFLs work fine. I use them for outdoor security lights. No timers or photocells, on 24/7. Still less energy than incandescent, and far longer life. No problems in cold weather, if you leave them on all the time. They have their uses. But not refrigerators or ovens. (applies to LEDs as well)
    I’ll switch to LEDs when the price comes out of the stratosphere.

  80. Djozar says:
    October 12, 2010 at 9:26 am
    I thought the world’s most important light source was the sun.

    It still is.

  81. “”””” Industry could get a lot more mileage out of the energy it uses. In Denmark, 40% of their primary energy is delivered through combined heat and power at 85% efficiency, compared to the 35% efficiency of old fashioned power plants. In America, we get 9% of our power from CHP. (And how come nobody has thought of using the heat generated by nuclear power plants?) “””””
    “”””” (And how come nobody has thought of using the heat generated by nuclear power plants?) “”””
    Come now Thomas; surely you jest ?
    So please give us a short Journalists description of the Physics of Nuclear Fission Power generation; of course leaving out that pesky heat which we don’t use anyway.
    Due you have to be trained to say “how come nobody thought of” every time you run into some situation or information that YOU never thought of ? It is actually a whole lot more fruitful to simply fess up, and say “I never knew that”; that might actually bring on some further enlightenment from somebody willing to educate you.

  82. They banned incandescent light bulbs in this country and offered me the expensive new “saver-bulbs” containing Merury and other enviroment-friendly materials.
    As a consequence I have to turn up the electric heater even more, since the “saver-bulbs” don’t provide the heat we need anyway.
    No energy saved. Just more expensive and inconvenient.

  83. Not only do we drive further due to our size but we also grow more crops and manufacture more goods than does Denmark. Also, at the end of that US News and World Report article it mentioned that Denmark’s largest shipping firm used as much energy as the rest of the country combined, which puts it right up there with the US. So where’s the virture there?

  84. Innovation has led to energy efficiency gains of between 1% and 1.5% for a very long time–perhaps as long as three centuries. For short periods within those three centuries, innovation has been even more robust.
    How do you know this? I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I would like to know the source.
    But there are tipping points in technology, as well–witness the striking lack of horse manure on the city streets of New York and London. And the paucity of buggy whips, for that matter.
    Not as cute, but a better story would be farm labor. Better energy sources and ways to use it had the side effect of sending most of those workers to the cities where they worked on the industrial revolution instead. Now that is a tipping point.
    do you know how much less energy a retired person consumes than someone in the work force? It’s a lot, and the number of retired people is going to skyrocket.
    I don’t know how much less energy a retired person uses. How much? Is it because retired people don’t drive to work?
    Audi had a car that got 80 miles per gallon on the market a few years ago.
    You keep throwing out these tidbits. Can’t you be a bit more specific? Is this the one?
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/fuel-economy/3374271
    And houses will start getting smaller, not bigger, as demographic changes work through the population.
    Really? In the post-war period we went from small houses and large families to large houses and small families. We buy as big as we can. Same for the automobiles.
    We don’t need any new toys to show Stanley Jevons is wrong. We just need to use the tools we have.
    You imply the most important goal is reducing energy use. Energy is like money. Few want to waste it, yet few want to have less. Saying we only need so much just hints at a lack of imagination.
    If you ask me to cut back, I will ask where the savings will go. They will go somewhere or to someone else. They won’t be “saved”, they will just be redistributed. I will wonder if they deserve it more than I do. I will wonder about the ideology of this sharing of the wealth.

  85. Retired Engineer says:
    October 12, 2010 at 11:20 am
    Incandescent – about 15 lumens/watt
    CFL – about 55 lm/w
    LED – perhaps 70 lm/w (at least the ones you can buy)

    Yes we can!…..improve Incandescent
    production of lumens per watt, it is only a matter of regulating the ratio of charges (it doesn’t matter if alternate current, you know). WUWT?, That’s possible.
    See this:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/38598073/Unified-Field

  86. Ralph-
    After reading your commercial for the C5, I had to go out to the garage and look just to reassure myself. Yep! My 1965 Chevrolet still has the IRS that it came with originally.

  87. “”” Retired Engineer says:
    October 12, 2010 at 11:20 am
    Incandescent – about 15 lumens/watt
    CFL – about 55 lm/w
    LED – perhaps 70 lm/w (at least the ones you can buy)
    Where is this 90% and 10:1 saving stuff?
    In the lab, LEDs reach over 100 lm/w. $$$$
    T5 Florescent tubes + electronic ballasts approach that today.
    For 1/20 the cost. “””
    It’s an interesting question as to how efficient it is possible to get in the production of “white” light; and by “white light” we mean light that the human eye perceives as “white”, which is worth keeping in mind since “light” by definition is visible to the human eye.
    Wel there is a specific answer to the question too; which can be found in :- “The Science of Color”, which was published by the Committee on Colorimetry of the Optical Society of America; LOC # 52-7039.
    And the answer is that the highest possible Luminous Efficiency is 400 lumens per Watt, which is produced by mixing a 448 nm Blue with a 568.7 nm yellow, which produces the standard Source C white light. I would tell you how much of each component you need; but the graphs in the book are quite confusing; but it appears that you need about twice as many Watts of the Blue as of the Yellow.
    There is a problem with this of course. You do get a white appearing light source; which makes a great flash light; but in reality only those two wavelengths of 448, and 568.7 are actually present, so real colored surfaces will not look their correct color by reflected light of such a source; so it is not a useful solution except for certain applications like the white signalling light required on ships at night; ie human visible applications.
    But the LED people believe they can get to 200 lumens per Watt. Typical strategy is to make something approaching the two color white light; and toss in a pinch of red to give better color rendition. You don’t have to move too far from the 400 l/W maximum to add the red correction; so theoretically you should be able to get closer to the 400 mark; but a practical implementation will have losses in phosphors and such; that knocks you down into the 200 range.
    I suppose some actual 3-color LED solution that doesn’t use phosphors might be doable; but then you have the reality that LEDs are not strictly monochromatic, so each different bandgap material has a different spectrum that all combine; but is not as good theoretically as three monochromatic spectral lines.
    But 100 l/W is a good achievement. The industry is still undergoing packaging, and driving circuit evolution; which will go on for some time.

  88. Tom Fuller says:
    October 12, 2010 at 11:17 am
    James Sexton,
    Thanks for your comment. However, half the people in America do live in small overpopulated islands, just like Denmark. They’re called metropolitan areas, which is why our average driving per year is only double Denmark’s, despite our much larger size. You might bear in mind that many Danes do venture outside their borders in their vehicles, as well.
    =======================================================
    Yes, Tom, Thanks for your response. Perhaps I didn’t drive, 🙂 , the point home in a clear enough fashion. Yes, I’m vaguely aware of the metropolitan areas in the U.S. But that’s only half of the equation, as you pointed out, there is another part of this country that must cover vast expanses for the simplest of goods and services. Towards energy consumption……I work for a small electrical coop. Currently, we serve about 3500 meters and have about 2500 in membership. We have over 1000 miles of line to maintain for the 2500 members over an area of about 550 sq miles. This should bring to mind a myriad of implications. I can’t say that we are a typical rural coop, because I’ve never found a typical one. We’re all different, but many across this country have fewer members, larger areas to cover with more line to maintain. In pursuance of electrical use only, you can see few things. The need for more raw materials per capita. The need for more fuel for vehicles. The need for more equipment for maintenance.(chainsaws, earth moving equipment, etc….) Further, more energy is required to deliver the same amount of energy to homes and businesses. Wear and tear on vehicles are greater than in our metropolitan areas, so, once again the requirement for more vehicles is greater. Certainly, I haven’t listed the implications in entirety, and surely you could probably list more.
    Now view the similar requirements for delivery of other base services such as water and gas or propane (propane is different, but the implications should be clear). What of phone service? Land lines are still maintained, and cell coverage has greatly improved recently, but that too comes with an energy price. Towers have to be built and maintained. Consider the population that gets coverage from one cell tower in a metropolitan area and then consider how many get coverage in the rural setting I’ve described. Everything done here costs more energy. Significantly more.
    For those that may consider whining about the rural part of the nation’s energy use, don’t worry, you’re given a fair trade off. We’re the source of much of your food.
    I’ve considered this dilemma often. My conclusion is there isn’t much to be done about lowering the energy use in this area. The only answer is to make energy use a none issue. Electricity, this could be done easily. Nukes, coal, and nat. gas are in abundance here. Sadly, we’ve only built gas fired generation plants, only to backup the useless windmills out by Wichita.(increase in demand = increase in price for natural gas.) If we were to use coal and nuke for electricity, we could use natural gas to compete with propane and increase our availability of that type of energy use(heat, cooking…). Ideally, the energy wackos will pull their head out of their (self snip) and start focusing on realistic energy alternatives.
    Hydrogen is proven and plentiful, so we probably won’t go there. There’s a great amount of methane in the oceans, so we’ll probably just pass a permanent ban on energy retrieval from the oceans. But those are self-inflicted or possible self inflicted scenarios. Energy is in abundance. We only have to will energy use to be a non-issue, but the idea of cheap, plentiful energy that we can use without regard of use seems to be beyond some peoples ability to fathom. One day.

  89. @George E. Smith,
    I was quite puzzled by Thomas Fuller’s first few posts on WUWT. I looked up his info, he’s a journalist. I finally decided to read his posts with that in mind, and for the entertainment value. He cannot be taken seriously.
    However, his views do represent, in my view, a group of people who truly have no clue how the world works – no clue how electricity gets into their home; no clue how water gets into their faucet, nor where it goes after it runs down the drain or out of the toilet; no clue how natural gas gets into their home to run their stove or their furnace; no clue how gasoline gets into the pump at the gas station; while they may pump their own gas ( they are able to squeeze a handle on the nozzle), they have no clue where the gasoline goes once it is in their gas tank; no clue where clothes come from and what is involved in making them; absolutely no clue where medications and pharmaceuticals come from or how to make them; the list goes on and on. They certainly have no clue that each of those activities has numerous alternatives, and making selections among those alternatives involves economics. (Comparing Denmark to the USA is just…hilarious)
    The chore to educate those who hold such views is unending and probably not worth even trying.
    Still, journalists have a purpose in our society. They write, and sometimes influential people read the stuff. Lawmakers and policy-makers read their writings. And that can be catastrophic when those who read it believe it.

  90. A nice graphic to highlight the difference between the USA and the rest of the world is this map, which shows the US with the names of states replaced by countries of the world with similar GDP.
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_otfwl2zc6Qc/SzQ70Hkxs2I/AAAAAAAAMRQ/Z9e-tiYzhVg/s1600-h/MapUS.jpg
    Denmark is the economic equivalent of the state of Washington.
    In area the US and the entire continent of Europe are close at around 10 million km2 with Europe holding a small edge. If you add in Canada and Mexico, the only other countries Americans are likely to drive too, europe gets swamped.

  91. “IMT Report shows that every dollar spent yields $6 in energy savings and an additional $810 Million Funding is Needed to Achieve 90% Compliance with Building Energy Codes. Source: Institute for Market Transformation”
    http://www.csemag.com/single-article/report-helps-build-the-case-for-energy-code-compliance/a54a1478f2.html
    It’s these types of articles with blatantly propangandistic headlines that irritate me. It’s claiming that we’ll save $6 for every dollar invested in complying with the energy code. How? I’ve been in the engineering community for 30 plus years, and while certain systems have become more efficient, there is not a 6:1 payback. If there were, my clients would be begging me to make the changes. Just who is this Institute for Market Transformation?

  92. Innovation has led to energy efficiency gains of between 1% and 1.5% for a very long time–perhaps as long as three centuries. For short periods within those three centuries, innovation has been even more robust.

    The real picture is more nuanced than this … and lacks certain important details.
    For example, it suggests to many people out there that if we could only make this thing called “innovation” work harder, or somehow teach everyone to become “innovators” as well as rocket scientists and brain surgeons, things would be great.
    The first important point is that there have been several different technologies involved in garnering those improvements in efficiency: Steam engines, the internal combustion engine and improved control via electronics, to say the least.
    Another important point is that you cannot legislate innovation. Those innovations were brought to us by a relatively small number of people …
    A third point is that there is usually a long transition phase which is related to the differences in efficiency and the payback time of the new investment vs the ongoing depreciation and maintenance cost of the existing stuff already invested in, not to mention the retraining that needs to be done.

  93. “But in the U.S. (and some other developed countries) total fuel use has declined, as has energy use per capita.”
    Yes, yes it has. Oddly, so has GDP and economic activity. Ya think they might be related?

  94. Carniphage says:
    October 12, 2010 at 8:45 am
    @DesertYote.
    Perhaps you should re-read my point.
    Improved efficiency lowers the effective cost of a resource. Lowering the cost increases consumption. Happened with coal, happened with gasoline. Happens with computing power. It’s inevitable.
    This has everything to do with rudimentary economics and nothing at all to do with a global conspiracy of fictional socialists.
    Improved efficiency -> More consumption. is all.
    C.
    #
    First your rudimentary economics is wrong, but you probably can’t see that because your head is filled with that nonsense call “Socialist Economic Theory”. The relationship of Consumption and price of any discrete resource, is not only not linear, and not continuous, it is down right catastrophic. You guys are making the very same mistakes in climate modeling, that you made in economic modeling. But this is not surprising, as the very foundational basis of all socialism is fallacious, so any thing socialists create will be fallacious.
    Last time I checked, there was still plenty of coal, and plenty of gasoline. On top of that, we have plenty of uranium. And we can not even imaging what the future holds, if you lefties don’t destroy things first. So the facts are against you. As long as we do not give in, and sell our freedom for a lie, we will have enough energy for a very very long time.
    BTW, gasoline is a wast product that is only good for being burned as fuel.
    It is pretty apparent, that what really bothers you is consumption, as if consumption somehow bad. Consumption drives the economy, the economy drives the quality of life, the quality of life drives freedom, and freedom drives socialists nuts.
    As for as the socialist conspiracy, I never ascribe to conspiracy, that which can be ascribed to religious fanaticism. Socialism is a dangerous cult, and the fact that you do not believe socialist even exist, leads me to suspect extreme case of indoctrination.

  95. I always thought that 1.5% was just demanded by Adam Smith’s invisible hand to keep up with inflation.

  96. Roger Sowell says:
    October 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm
    “The chore to educate those who hold such views is unending and probably not worth even trying.”
    Truer words were never spoken.
    It’s a mindset.
    Whether it’s Paul Krugman’s economics, or Spain’s flirtation
    with “Green Energy”, there is no way to pull them to reality;
    no matter how much self inflected pain they endure.

  97. @DesertYote
    You seem to be arguing with some Glenn Beck induced hallucination. Whatever you are going on about, it does not seem related to anything I said.
    I didn’t say consumption was a bad thing. I am a businessman, pro-growth and pro-industry – and gleefully rack up an astronomical number of airmiles, as I hop about the planet in my ongoing quest to make a comfortable (captialistic) living.
    I disputed the OP, because there are no known instances where efficiency improvements have led to a net reduction in consumption. My post pointed-out that original article is flawed because it fails to take into account the most significant side-effects of any efficiency; namely the liberation of capital.
    The relationship between the cost of a resource and its consumption might not be linear, but it’s challenging to imagine a scenario where the cost going down causes consumption to fall. If you can cite an instance where this has happened, it would be useful.
    And once again, I suggest you re-read my post with that in mind. You might want to note also that I have not said a single word about climate change at all.
    Perhaps you have had enough of self-administered indoctrination for one day. If you ever do meet a real socialist, take a photo! They’re as rare as hen’s teeth these days.
    C.

  98. DesertYote says:
    October 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm
    Carniphage says:
    October 12, 2010 at 8:45 am
    “……… fictional socialists.” <——-Would that be opposed to the real socialists with whom I've personally engaged??? Or are you stating socialists don't exist?

  99. First a penny saved is actually a penny and a half earned. Taxes. Depending on your tax bracket you could increase your disposable income by 30 to 50 percent. Now it isn’t going to be a lot of money but it is yours. They will tax you when you make it, tax you when you spend it and tax you every other chance they get but just spending less for the same amount of comfort (heat, light, cold beer, etc) is not taxable (at least not yet but I bet the beggars are working on it).
    Second never get rid of something until you do a ROI with the old and new. Basic math on that one folks. Usually you will drive it till it drops then use efficiency as one of your criteria for the new.
    Third keep your recipes! I’ve replaced so many CFL bulbs over the last 10 years but I’ve not had to pay for them. Make sure you can replace them locally or deal with a company that will send you coupons and not expect you to ship the darned things around. That is not cost effective.

  100. Somebody has to manufacture your new fuel efficient fridge, package and transport it. The energy required to process the ore, manufacturer the steel etc is not insignificant compared to the saving. How many years power is used in the manufacturer of the fridge? Why are you so sure that everybody replacing their car would reduce energy? Why do you assume that the materials consumed replacing machinery for fuel efficiency are not more important than the resources consumed by the machinery? Rare earth material in particular are under heavy strain at the moment precisely because of the push for fossil fuel reduction – either in windmills or more efficient motors. This is leaning back towards centralised government planning of the soviet era, and I doubt the outcome would be the one envisaged by the beurocrats implementing it. When you optimise 1 design decision over all others, you should keep at least keep an eye on what is happening to them.
    In essence this argument comes down to using large amounts of rare and difficult to recycle materials in order to reduce (infinitessimally) something that is very abundant and easy to recycle – that is what the market is telling you when it is not cost effective.

  101. DesertYote says:
    Jevon was a socialist trying to use math to push a socialist agenda.

    What are you talking about? No he wasn’t. He was considered a neoclassical economist.

  102. The market is smarter than those who pre-opt it. [hey, I just invented the word ‘pre-opt’ . . . I think]
    Socialism/Communism/Totalitarianism/Planned Economies/Mixed Economies . . . . . they failed because they fail the needs of actual human beings . . . by pre-opting trading freely.
    Look at the ‘isms’ of the 20th century . . . it was not so long ago that even younger generations could see them fail.
    Communist China is only appearing to be successful by emulating its old enemy . . . . the USA.
    Communist North Korea . . . . hah, a joke.
    John

  103. Tim says:
    October 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm
    “…….. They will tax you when you make it, tax you when you spend it and tax you every other chance they get but just spending less for the same amount of comfort (heat, light, cold beer, etc) is not taxable (at least not yet but I bet the beggars are working on it). ”
    Well, sort of, if you put your savings under your mattress or bury it, then it won’t be taxed. But then, what good is money if you can’t engage with it? For goodness sakes, don’t leave it in your will to your offspring! Then they’ll really come get it! Or maybe just don’t tell the authorities and let your kids know where you buried it.

  104. T Fuller,
    The CFL’s that you, and most everyone else, bought suck bigtime because you bought the Lowe’s/Homedepot cheap s%*t junk with color rendering abilities, CRI, of the old cool white fluorescents – about 50% of natural light. It is so bad that the mfgrs don’t dare to put the numbers on the wrappers.
    For somewhat more money and a little research one can buy a variety of CFLs w/ CRI’s well above 90% in colors ranging from “warm” 2700°K, to “very cool” 6500°K. All have luminous efficiencies of 70 to >90 lumens/Watt and real, 10,000 life times.
    The CRI’s of LED’s SUCKS BIG TIME, even worse than the cheap s%*t CFL’s. The luminous efficiencies of commercial lights are only now approaching CFL’s. AND the cost is an order of magnitude higher than the excellent CFL’s I discussed above.
    Eventually LED’s may produce light of excellent quality at an overall cost lower than CFL’s but that is quite a few years away.

  105. Tom,
    As you can see, this discussion about efficiency has morphed to an economic discussion, as it should. Further, myself and a few others noted demographic considerations. I feel that we are close to gaining understanding of each others views. (Not myself specifically, but many others here. If you were to gain understanding of my views, I’d recommend you seek help quickly!!!) I note that there is a new discussion on WUWT, discussing population control that, while ancillary to your discussion, it is an integral part of the overall discussion. Energy, economics, demographics and population, these are the subjects most important to the CO2 reduction scheme. If I may be so bold, I recommend you observing, or even participating in what promises to be a lively exchange of views.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/12/population-bomb-new-study-discusses-population-impacts-upon-global-warming-emissions/#more-26308

  106. Poptech says:
    October 12, 2010 at 3:36 pm
    DesertYote says:
    Jevon was a socialist trying to use math to push a socialist agenda.
    What are you talking about? No he wasn’t. He was considered a neoclassical economist.
    #
    I might be wrong, but I was pretty sure he was a Benthamite. Did he not help develop the theory of marginal utility which is the cornerstone of socialism? Even if he was not, I do not trust anyone that socialist treat like a god.

  107. John Whitman says:
    October 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm
    I think we should go out for a few beers (even evil capitalist martinis) sometime & someplace. : )
    Right?
    John
    =======================================================
    Absolutely! John, I don’t know where abouts you live, but I live in SE Kansas, anytime you find yourself nearby, (within a few hundred miles or so), holler and I’m sure I’ll know a place to have the beers………martinis?….We can do, but as was once said by people smarter than me, “beer is proof God wants us to be happy!”

  108. Carniphage
    October 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm
    “Anything you spend money on results in more energy expenditure. If you chose to save the released cash in the bank, the bank will re-invest it in housebuilding for you. Or some new factory or business.
    Destroying the cash will effectively return its value to the government, who will, no doubt, invest the cash in funding an adventurous war in the Middle East.
    In conclusion, efficiency is a good thing. Waste is bad. But efficiency measures, by themselves do not cause a measurable reduction in consumption. They can give the illusion of energy conserved, but in reality it is only a deferral of energy usage. ”
    #
    This is what I read that caused me to think you were a socialist. Socialist are using this very similar arguments to justify outrageous taxes on energy. On second reading I see this was not really the case.
    And no, I could give Glenn Beck a lesson or two, but the math might be beyond him. I ovoid listening to him.
    A socialist is anyone who believes in the manipulation of society. This would place Imperialists as a species of socialist. This definition make for a very mathematically useful manifold. I think the only US Presidents that was not some form of socialist this past century were Ike Eisenhower and Ronny Raygun.
    CRT televisions.
    I know you did not bring up climate. I did. That is because in a very literal way the fallacious math that the socialist use to justify destroying the economy, is exactly the same fallacious math that is used to prove AGW.
    I am actually writing this stuff in between test runs so its a bit spotty and maybe sounds a little over the top with the rhetoric, but I have in no way said anything that is the stuff of fantasy. That you do not believe in socialist is a bit scary.

  109. Carniphage says:
    October 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm
    “If you ever do meet a real socialist, take a photo! They’re as rare as hen’s teeth these days.”
    You must be hanging out in the wrong places. Take a trip to D.C., they’re busing them in from all over the country. Not to mention the average meeting of the Cabinet, where you can’t swing a cat without hitting at least a couple dozen.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qki5nIdsBEw

  110. James Sexton says:
    October 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm
    Absolutely! John.
    —————-
    James Sexton,
    I wander around between upstate NY, Sarasota FL, SF Ca, Taipei . . . .
    If I am near Kansas or you are near any of those places then perhaps we can meet.
    John

  111. I might be wrong, but I was pretty sure he was a Benthamite. Did he not help develop the theory of marginal utility which is the cornerstone of socialism? Even if he was not, I do not trust anyone that socialist treat like a god.

    At one point in his life he may have flirted with Benthamitism as you will find many well know economists to flirt with all sorts of opposing theories at one time in their life as appeals to emotion are hard for everyone to resist (it appears) but the theory of marginal utility is in direct opposition to Marxism. Neoclassical economics have nothing to do with Marxism. Where do socialists treat him like a God and where do socialists embrace the theory of marginal utility?

  112. James Sexton says:
    October 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm
    Tom,
    “As you can see, …..I recommend you observing, or even participating in what promises to be a lively exchange of views.”
    lol, well I thought it might be a lively debate! Sometimes, I just get it wrong.

  113. Poptech
    October 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm
    Thanks for responding. I guess I’m a bit confused. I thought that marginal utility was the theory that thous who have a lot of a resource value that resource less then someone who has little of it. Therefore by taking from the individual with a surplus and giving it to the individual with a deficit, the net value of that resource in society is increased.
    My buddy who is an economist, once told me that many economists abandoned Benthamitism once they realized it was leading nowhere.
    The peak-oil crowd along with the rest of the greenies clamoring for using taxes to control behavior can’t stop talking about him. I’m at home now, so I can be a bit more thoughtful in my posts, then when I was trying to read and comment in between boring test runs. I probably will want to do a bit of research. I will see if I can find a resent example of idolization.
    I am not in the Socialism is Marxism camp. Marxism is just one particular malignant branch. As I understand it, Marxist economic theory is a cobbled together from all sorts of ideas and bears little relationship to any of them. When I talk of socialist economics, I am referring to any system that promotes the manipulation of the economy by the government.

  114. For some years I have asked about the fate of taxes raised from GHG emissions. If the taxes are given to the needy and worthy, their first act will likely to be to use the windfall to consume more energy and produce more GHG. Therefore, the basis of a tax on GHG is arguable.
    Then it dawned on me that officials who would not explain this apparent paradox, knew quite well that their way to lower GHG was to reduce total personal consumption, though REGULATION. The GHG plot is all about control of others.
    The Australian Stanley Jevons thought in similar ways about fuel consumption in the 1850-1900 era. (As an aside, he was working on sunspots and industrial activity when he died).
    Loosely put, an example of Jevon’s paradox comes from home-based organic gardening. Those who do it to save money, to be seen as green and to altruistically keep industry in their country might save the money for a purpose – such as importing the latest bicycle from a distant country.
    Ecomomic analysis can suffer from incomplete closure of the equations and often does in the climate world. In a nasty way, the “unintended consequences” and “collateral damage” are sometimes known in advance, but not told to the public who will be regulated. The CFL light bulb, for example, was designed to fail by creating enough heat to cause a fire – there was no safe failure mode in the design. Hundreds of homes in Australia alone have caught fire from a combination of old-design CFL failure and newly installed ceiling insulation under a stimulus spending plan.
    Back to you, you theoretical economic modellers and manipulators.

  115. James Sexton, sorry–I was off line. I’ll check out that thread and see if I can join you there. I do appreciate what you have to say, even where we may seem to disagree.

  116. My last comment appears to have been eaten 🙁
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox
    Here is an artical that demonstrates the greenies interest in Jevons Paradox. It also contains some counter points.
    Thanks again for correcting my misconceptions. I will need to read more about William Jevon. He seems to be very interesting person. It would have been interesting what he would have done with the tools we have today (e.g. Ricci Flow). Then again, his pioneering work probably was responsible for providing their foundation.

  117. Tom Fuller says:
    October 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm
    James Sexton, sorry–I was off line. I’ll check out that thread and see if I can join you there. I do appreciate what you have to say, even where we may seem to disagree.
    ========================================================
    No worries. Apparently the mods are eating or something. I too appreciate civil discourse.
    The morning comes early.

  118. George E. Smith says:
    October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm
    “It’s an interesting question as to how efficient it is possible to get in the production of “white” light; and by “white light” we mean light that the human eye perceives as “white”, which is worth keeping in mind since “light” by definition is visible to the human eye.”
    It seems to me that the problem here is that we insist on measuring the wrong parameter. The lumen is based on the eye’s sensitivity to light. That is, how bright the light appears. But we don’t want to look at the light; we want the light to illuminate surfaces, which is a very different thing. To see a light, what counts is the intensity of light in the brightest parts of the spectrum; whereas for illumination, what counts is the intensity of light in the dimmest parts of the spectrum. No matter how powerful the light, if it doesn’t have a complete spectrum it will never give enough illumination to compete with an ordinary incandescent. That’s why the subjective illumination from CFLs and LEDs is nothing like as good as the claimed equivalents (even with the better designs of CFL you need at least 40W to match a 100W tungsten bulb, and even then the appearance is noticeably inferior). The maximum possible illumination efficiency is nothing like as big an improvement on incandescents as the ~25 times implied by the ratio of visible brightness (400lumen/W/15lumen/W).

  119. I am slowly working through a renovation and recently installed new lighting in our kitchen using LED downlights. They are GU10 240V fittings, although run from 85-240V, and draw 10W of power. They use the new CREE LEDs. They are to all intents and purposes equaly to the 50W halogen incandesents they are intended to replace. I am very pleased with them. I will be fitting these in the rest of the house as the renovation moves forward.
    The CFLs that were in place did indeed ‘suck’!
    If you are interested, http://www.cree.com for the LEDs themselves, and I got the lights from http://www.ledcentral.com.au
    I have no associations with either of these companies other than a customer!
    Tim

  120. “”” Paul Birch says:
    October 13, 2010 at 3:01 am
    George E. Smith says:
    October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm
    “It’s an interesting question as to how efficient it is possible to get in the production of “white” light; and by “white light” we mean light that the human eye perceives as “white”, which is worth keeping in mind since “light” by definition is visible to the human eye.” “””
    Well Paul I already explained that they call it light because it is visible to the human eye; and that is the only thing that matters.
    And since we are talking about “Illumination”, it is rightly presumed that we are talking about Photopic Vision, and not the Scotopic Vision that would be appropriate for the dark adapted eye that was looking for the arrival of a single photon; which the human eye can easily see under those conditions. Well mine can’t; but I can detect a nuclear blast when it happens.
    And the Lumen is specifically defined to reflect the behaviort of the average of normal human eyes.
    Moreover, the relationships, beween Photometric Luminance, Intensity, Luminous Emittance, and Illuminance, are all precisely defined, so if those parameters are all known, than the real world application results are quite predictable.
    LEDs do have some of the same problems that bare filament Incandescent lamps have in that the Luminance of the source is far too high for comfortable viewing by eye; which is why they make frosted incandescent laamps in the fist place; and why incandescent light fixtures typically employ light “shades” to prevent accidental exposure to the high Luminance of the bare filament. Of course those light “shades” absorb and scatter even more light and make them even less efficient than the bare bulb is.
    LEDs at least have rather well controlled emitting surfaces; and also well controlled integrated Optics; so the lighting engineer can redistribute the flux in some effective radiation pattern without excessive additional light. The phosphor type of white LEDs in particular have a somewhat larger source area and lower peak Luminance than the bare die; but it is still a small enough sorce area to be efficiently redirected into an efficient illumination pattern.
    The LED companies have already discovered that a 1:1 replacement of Incandescent/fluorescent lamps by an LED lamp is not an effective strategy for LED illumination; so new application strategies are being employed. Lighting a whole building interior from 8 to 10 feet off the floor to get say 200 foot Candle or equivalent desk top illuminance; is a totally dumb way to distribute light. You can light floors and passageways at much lower illumination levels; and then apply local area LED lighting, on the desk or other work space for a hell of a lot less total power than by any other means.
    When the internal combustion engined automobile was invented they did not try to develop some new powerful buggy whip to cause it to accelerate; they used something more appropriate to the new technology; the accelerator pedal or throttle control.
    The issue of the spectral composition of LED or other lighting, is a question of “Colorimetry” and not one of “Photometry”; and yes it certainly is true that in work environments attention has to be paid to the colorimetry of light sources. Standard Colorimetry theory says that any illuminant point on the color triangle space, can be exactly matched by just three monochromatic sources; but that relates only to the visual coclor appearance of the source to the human eye. To the extent that ordinary colored surfaces might not react normally to any such set of three monochromatic sources; the reflected light color of real objects can be tainted by improper lamp colorimetrical design.

  121. Interesting post. I think I “got it” all except the barbed wire allusion. Now I feel really thick; for us dunces — can you drop a hint?
    You dance around it, but there is a well-known caveat to Jevon’s paradox: it does not work in the context of inelastic demand. You are essentially arguing we are approaching a point at which demand for energy is rendered inelastic, or that elasticity will fade. I think you’re right, but we must be cautious. The same thing was commonly said about Moore’s Law a couple of decades ago. It was expected to fail because of the so-called Von Neumann limit within the first 3 decades or so, but innovation has outpaced intuition, and the Law has held strong for half a century.
    Cautious visionaries today postulate that Moore’s Law might be good for another decade at the most but … who knows? While the Von Neumann limit can be demonstrated to exist in principle, nobody knows its precise order of magnitude. The same is true for the Jevon paradox: in principle demand for power cannot increase beyond bound, but is that bound really in sight? Last I checked nobody has yet fired up the engines on the first interstellar freighter…

  122. George E. Smith says:
    October 13, 2010 at 5:26 pm
    “Well Paul I already explained that they call it light because it is visible to the human eye; and that is the only thing that matters.”
    But it isn’t the only thing that matters; the colour of illuminated surfaces also matters.
    “And the Lumen is specifically defined to reflect the behaviort of the average of normal human eyes.”
    Yes, the eye, not the surfaces being illuminated. Which makes it the wrong measure for the illumination of surfaces, for many of which the spectral response will be nothing like that of the human eye.
    “Moreover, the relationships, beween Photometric Luminance, Intensity, Luminous Emittance, and Illuminance, are all precisely defined, so if those parameters are all known, than the real world application results are quite predictable.”
    Well, no, they’re not, because the spectral responses of the surfaces being illuminated are wildly variable.
    “Lighting a whole building interior from 8 to 10 feet off the floor to get say 200 foot Candle or equivalent desk top illuminance; is a totally dumb way to distribute light.”
    I don’t agree. For most domestic purposes I want a single light, controlled by a single switch. Multiple lights would be enormously more expensive (costing thousands of pounds to install, the more so since we’re no longer allowed to do it ourselves). Personally, I have never liked desk lamps or standard lamps or wall lamps or spotlamps anyway, so I wouldn’t use them even if they were there.
    “The issue of the spectral composition of LED or other lighting, is a question of “Colorimetry” and not one of “Photometry””
    Sorry, but it isn’t (or only in part). It’s a question of the spectral response of the illuminated surfaces, not the eye.
    “Standard Colorimetry theory says that any illuminant point on the color triangle space, can be exactly matched by just three monochromatic sources; but that relates only to the visual coclor appearance of the source to the human eye. To the extent that ordinary colored surfaces might not react normally to any such set of three monochromatic sources; the reflected light color of real objects can be tainted by improper lamp colorimetrical design.”
    Precisely. And the absolute requirement for proper general purpose design is that the lamp’s emitted radiation shall cover the entire visible spectrum continuously and smoothly. If it doesn’t, then no matter how “white” the light looks, the colour of (some of the) illuminated surfaces will be wrong. The illumination will be inferior to that of sunlight, daylight, or incandescent light. That is why CFLs and LEDs are and will remain fundamentally inferior (at least until they can be given a genuinely continuous spectrum).

  123. R. Craigen says:
    October 13, 2010 at 6:53 pm
    “… the Jevon paradox: in principle demand for power cannot increase beyond bound, but is that bound really in sight? Last I checked nobody has yet fired up the engines on the first interstellar freighter…”
    On the contrary, in principle the demand for power can increase without limit. Interstellar freighters – or personal relativistic starships – would be only the beginning. How about a fireworks display with real supernovas? Nah, that’s for pansies. Let’s do it with quasars. For now. We can move on to Big Bangs later.

  124. “”” Paul Birch says:
    October 14, 2010 at 4:30 am
    George E. Smith says:
    October 13, 2010 at 5:26 pm
    “Well Paul I already explained that they call it light because it is visible to the human eye; and that is the only thing that matters.”
    But it isn’t the only thing that matters; the colour of illuminated surfaces also matters. “””
    Well the color of illuminated surfaces is once again something that is again determined by the human eye viewing it; and the variability in human eyes is at least as great as the variability in the emission spectrum of even incandescent lamps.
    And the human eye is also able to make the color look whatever it wants it to look like within reason.
    For example it is a well known; one might say incontrovertible fact that sea water selectively absorbs spectral colors with depth, starting with the absorption of reds first; so as you go deeper in the ocean water, the spectral composition of the available light (from sunlight keeps getting narrowerea nd narrower with depth ending up with just a ble green .
    The State fish of Californaia is the Garibaldi; a bright red/Orange fish of generally snapper like shape, and they are all over the place in the favorite soutehrn California scuba diving areas.
    And if you dive in those areas, you will find that the Garibaldi loos exactly the same color in two fe4et of water as it does in 100 feet of water. There isn’t any red light to speak of at 100 feet; but the eye knows that the fish is supposed to look red, so that’s the way you see it. You can measure the actual light spectrum down there, and find almost no red light yet the Garibaldi still looks the way it is supposed to. And the human eye red light spectral fall off is very steep, so it will see only a pittance of the red illumination that might remain; yet the eye insists that the fish is still red, and not blue; even thoguh blue light is ablut all that is left.
    The Low Pressure Sodium street lamps are another example of the eye laying tricks with us. In that case you only have a sharp pair at 5890, and 5896 Angstroms; and nothing else; yet you can see a lot of colored surfaces illuminated only by sodium yellow street lights. But yes some colors like my red (maroon) Ford looks brown under sodium light.
    But you can light up your house anyway you like Paul; that is what freedom is all about; but the availability of newer higher efficiency lighting technologies, is going to change the way the whole wolrd provides illumination.
    Many cities in California now have nothing but LED traffic lights; and they still haven’t fully exploited that technology.
    When you get rid of the incandescent light bulb, you no longer need the fanct steel box with heat dissipators that incandescents have since you don’t need to be able to open them up in inclement weather to change the light bulb. In fact these cities have eliminated the guys in trucks who drove around changing light bulbs. In the future the LED traffic lights will be cheap molded plastic housings that don’t need on the street service, and cost a small fraction of the fancy metal housings with waterproof seals and the like.
    The city of Sunnyvale where I live svaes millions every year in traffic light costs; and that is just the power savings. PG&E gae Sunnyvale a $360,000 bonus, when they completed their LEDification, just because of what it saved the power company in energy distribution and line service costs.
    But yes it will evolve over time. Phillips Lighting (Lumileds) owns the building where I work; and they make the “Luxeon” Line of LED power lamps; and they are already selling modular lighting units for the newer more intelligent indoor office lighting designs. And they seem to have figured out how to do all that is necessary in a typical office room with just a single switch.
    Things like the internet, and radio, have changed how we obtain our information. The buggy whip newspapers still try to peddle their biassed excuse for information on dead tree; even thoguh it is old hat befopre they even get their product out to the street.
    But you can still buy a newspaper if you want to still live in the past; Lighting will experience the same disruptive technology shift.
    By the way; for the legal disclaimer; I don’t work on any sort of lighting products; other than the light that you migth see underneath your (optical) mouse if any. Of course if it is a laser mouse you won’t see it because it is infra-red. We do sell LEDs but only as panel indicator lights; and are sepcifically barred fro doing the power LED thing; (besides not having a corporate wish to do so. So I’m not selling anything; just telling what I know about where the industry is going.
    But by all means do it whatever way you like Paul; I certainly will.

  125. George E. Smith says:
    October 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm
    Paul Birch says: But it isn’t the only thing that matters; the colour of illuminated surfaces also matters.
    “Well the color of illuminated surfaces is once again something that is again determined by the human eye viewing it”
    No, it isn’t. It’s determined by the physics of light absorption and reflection at the illuminated surfaces. Nothing to do with the human eye. The human eye doesn’t get into the picture until later, when it’s too late to change the spectral composition. If a surface’s reflective band is missing from the illumination spectrum, nothing on Earth can put it back and make the colour look right. The human brain does make subjective corrections for the colour temperature of the light, which is why things don’t look too different by sunlight, daylight or incandescant light, but it can only do so for a continuous smooth spectrum (effectively, by adjusting the gain along the curve). It cannot correct for a discrete line spectrum; the data it would require do not exist. The only reason sodium street lights are at all acceptable (and they’re not very, which is why they’re seldom used any more) is that the brain doesn’t expect to be able to use colour vision at night anyway.
    “But you can light up your house anyway you like Paul; that is what freedom is all about; ”
    It would be, if we had freedom. We don’t. We have people banning the bulbs we like, and bullying us to use inferior forms of lighting that would require the expenditure of huge sums of money in wiring changes.
    “Many cities in California now have nothing but LED traffic lights; ”
    Traffic lights are not luminaries; as I pointed out from the beginning, making a light visible is very different from illuminating surfaces. For indicators, navigation lights, etc., monochromatic emitters are fine.

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