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View Diary: Energizing Energize America for Change We Can Believe In (53 comments)

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  •  In terms of Jevons Paradox ... (1+ / 0-)
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    mataliandy

    I see California as an excellent example to the contrary.  Over the past 30+ years, per capita electricity has stayed flat despite the introduction of all the new electronic devices / etc ...

    Now, I am not as dismissive of Amory as you, but nor am I blindly kneeling at his altar.

    •  Huge loss of factories in CA (0+ / 0-)

      Automobile plants have shut down, etc.  Industry has declined in CA--that's the main reason electricity consumption has declined.  Lovins likes to claim conservation did it all.  Steadily industry has learned that conservation saves money.  But the big drop in electricity use in CA is because more coal is being burned in Asia to make the same goods that were once made in CA.

      Good summary of the real story about CA's electricity consumption.
      The money quote:

      A dirty secret about California’s energy economy is that it imports lots of energy from neighboring states to make up for the shortfall caused by having too few power plants. Up to 20 percent of the state’s power comes from coal-burning plants in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Montana, and another significant portion comes from large-scale hydropower in Oregon, Washington State, and the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. "California practices a sort of energy colonialism," says James Lucier of Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington, D.C.–area investment group. "They rely on western states to supply them with power generation they are unwilling to build for themselves"—and leave those states to deal with the resulting pollution.

      Another secret: California’s proud claim to have kept per-capita energy consumption flat while growing its economy is less impressive than it seems. The state has some of the highest energy prices in the country—nearly twice the national average, a 2002 Milken Institute study found—largely because of regulations and government mandates to use expensive renewable sources of power. As a result, heavy manufacturing and other energy-intensive industries have been fleeing the Golden State in droves for lower-cost locales. Twenty years ago or so, you could count eight automobile factories in California; today, there’s just one, and it’s the same story with other industries, from chemicals to aerospace. Yet Californians still enjoy the fruits of those manufacturing industries—driving cars built in the Midwest and the South, importing chemicals and resins and paints and plastics produced elsewhere, and flying on jumbo jets manufactured in places like Everett, Washington. California can pretend to have controlled energy consumption, but it has just displaced it.

      The coal horrors CA is responsible for in neighboring states have been shown in a powerful report by Environmental Defense, "Clearing California's Coal Shadow from the American West."  The increased nitrogen in high altitude streams and lakes in the Rockies that is altering ecosystems and imperiling species is largely due to fossil fuel emissions from plants supplying dedicated electricity to CA.

      The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

      by Plan9 on Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 07:44:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Several things ... (0+ / 0-)
        1.  Yes, California has lost a lot of industry, but so has the United States as an entirety as the economy has shifted away from heavy industry (and exported jobs).  California has averaged, roughly, a 1% better annual energy efficiency improvements than the rest of the United States since the first oil crisis.    Can't pull up the material right now (can't remember where I've seen it), but the relative loss of (polluting) industry is explanatory for something like 20% of that difference.
        1.  The coal burning is a discussion of source of power, not the use of it. The measurement/discussion is the use of power -- including imported power.

        Re your point, one of the better pieces making your argument comes from the libertarian City Journal (published by the Manhattan Institute), California's Potemkin Environmentalism. This, however, is an ideological skewed screed.  

        Writ large, not just California, but the entire United States, we conveniently forget just how much of China's pollution load comes from making rubber duckies and plastic crap and transporting it here to put under Christmas trees.  Now only have we 'exported' manufacturing, but we've (writ large) done so to places that pollute even more in the process. Our 'import' carbon footprint load is high.  

        •  Agree that CA has been a leader (0+ / 0-)

          in conservation and efficiency overall.  If you can at some point pull up the background on loss of industry coming to 20% of the difference regarding reduced electricity usage, I would like to review that info.

          I just had to throw in CA's nasty little secret about dirty coal.  I know it's OT.  In many ways CA is admirable when it comes to energy decisions.  In others, there's plenty of hypocrisy.  CA is fortunate enough to have a lot of hydro and two nuclear plants, along with stricter tail-pipe curbs helping keep their in-state emissions low.

          The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

          by Plan9 on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 09:40:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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