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View Diary: Real Stories of Higher Fuel Efficiency Standards Putting Industrial States Back to Work (8 comments)

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  •  Sorry--it's not. (0+ / 0-)
    In economics, the Jevons paradox (sometimes Jevons effect) is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.[1] In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal use led to increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.

    What this means for motor fuel is this:

    (1) If the price of motor fuel goes up (like with a greenhouse tax), people burn less motor fuel. And all of the new green jobs covered in this diary--and MORE--get created.

    (2) OTOH if cars get more efficient but motor fuel stays cheap, the following happen:

    * People decide to buy that house on the big lot (sprawl-inducing) in the suburbs, instead of that condo in town close to work.

    * People continue to drive for shopping and eating out, so they vote against raising local taxes for sidewalks and bike lanes and commuter rail.

    * People don't give a damn about changing zoning laws to require mixed-use, walkable development.

    * People buy a bigger, more powerful vehicle than they otherwise would've.

    In other words, if cars get more efficient but gas stays cheap, people drive more, bigger, faster.

    I'm thrilled about green jobs. In fact, I wrote a diary urging a greenhouse crackdown to create more of them. But higher CAFE standards are an attempt at a free lunch. And the most basic rule in economics is still: ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:27:46 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

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