Thread: Jevon's paradox
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Old 01-10-2011, 06:50 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by roflwaffle View Post
The last time we saw Jevon's paradox, ie the increase in efficiency is more than offset by an increase in consumption because of that increase in efficiency (not anything else), was the early 1900s during the expansion of the grid.
It's not really a paradox, though, if you think about it. There are a number of useful things that can be done with a resource, if it becomes cheap and plentiful, but those things themselves have limits. So if for instance you suddenly get A/C running off cheap grid power, you may cool your house, but you don't keep the thermostat set at 32F in the summer.

It's the same principle as with driving. The cost of gasoline only becomes a limiting factor if it's expensive relative to your income (which for the great majority of people in this country it's not), it's the amount of time you're willing to spend driving. So if gasoline suddenly started selling at $0.30/gal, we wouldn't see people driving 10 times as much.

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