Thread: Jevon's paradox
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:00 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by noodles91380 View Post
Over the past 30 years, we have come up with loads of new technologies to both make our vehicles more fuel efficient...
Except that for some reason, we don't seem to have made our vehicles - as a group, there are a few exceptions - notably more fuel-efficient.

...petroleum consumption has been ever increasing...
But consumption has increased because there are more people using it (increased population, developing countries, etc), not because the existing population was driving more.

Another way to view it is from an urban development standpoint. Historically, during periods of cheap petroleum, more developments crop up on the outer fringes, people think "hey, I can live 30 miles from work, and it'll still only cost me a buck!". When energy is expensive, we see more urban infill, smaller homes, higher density, more public transit and cycling.
Execpt that this is what I was talking about earlier: the primary cost of commuting isn't fuel, it's time. People are willing to spend only so much time travelling to and from work (roughly an hour per day: Is Getting There Half the Fun? - ). For most people, the fuel cost is a miniscule fraction of income, and one that's easily reduced by buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle, carpooling, etc.

I'd like to see your statistics relating commute distance to fuel cost, because that's not at all the pattern I see historically. It seems to have much more to do with the simple availability of transport, and affordability of different housing types.
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