Jevons Paradox

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Description

Blaqswans:

"English economist William Stanley Jevons:

?“It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuels is equivalent to a diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth. As a rule, new modes of economy will lead to an increase of consumption according to a principle recognised in many parallel instances” (Jevons, 1865).

Savings arising from the increasing efficiency of energy conversions have been a factor in promoting their more frequent use and in driving up the overall use of fuels and electricity.

Examples abound: just compare the number of lights and electronic gadgets in an average household in 2010 with the total of their much less efficient predecessors in 1930. In 1930, even in the richest countries, a typical household had just a few (six to eight) lights, a radio, and perhaps a small electric stove; 80 years later it has more than two dozen lights, an array of electrical appliances (including such major energy consumers as refrigerators, stoves, toasters, washing machines, dishwashers, clothes dryers, and air conditioners) and a still growing range of electronic gadgets ranging from TVs and CD players to game boxes, personal computers, and cellphones. Clearly, relative dematerialization is decidedly one of those “many parallel instances” noted by Jevons as less means more." (Google doc)

See also

Wikipedia entry on Jevons paradox