Thursday, May 20, 2010

Energy, Growth and Sustainability, Thoughtful Thursday

SPRU Electronic Working Paper Number 185, ENERGY, GROWTH AND SUSTAINABILITY: FIVE PROPOSITIONS, Steve Sorrell, March 2010

The modern financial system means that most of the money supply is interest-bearing debt. This article cites several references, which I list below for follow up where people proposed one hundred percent reserve banking. It is a theme that Anne Pettifor spoke in her book. And it would also re resolved under a share economy. Because of the reserve-banking-based economy, the developed world cannot shift to a low-consumption pattern without financial crises. This issue was taken up in several comments to Gail the Actuaries post in the Oil Drum this May Eigth about the debt rate, where one comment said if "wipe out all debt" would "wipe all money" if we ever have a jubilee. In the old days, whoever possesed the money at the time of the jubilee would keep it and would then have purchasing power to reprime the pump. Is this true when so much of the money is based upon the fractional reserves banking system?. It seems that if one has lots of bankruptcies or a Jubilee-approach or liquidations of companies, a participatory-democracy case-by-case approach needs to be taken to ensure that the person who lied about their income on their mortgage application, engaged in unproductive financial engineering, does not get left with a totally unfair share of the purchasing poewr. And we protect the person who worked hard for a pension or the person of modest income who scrimped and saved a million dollars over a life time, a la Millionaire Next Door.

One would think when our engineers develop better ways to use energy, efficiency, our economy will use less energy. That is, if an automobile has better miles per gallon, less gasoline is consumed. However, some indivdiuals may find more money in their pocket, which will lead to more spending. A little bit of it is a direct rebound effect--it costs less to drive so we drive more, but probably, this is not elastic. But the global effects are different. The Bessmer Steel process used less energy than the alternative--more rails and more transportation and all the economic goods that come from economic productivity. Similar things happened with motors, the steam energy making it more efficient to mine coal, which meant that more coal was available. The latter was observed in 1865 by Jevons--hence the name, Jevons paradox.

California sets energy efficiency requirements for new television sets. But it does not do anything to get consumers to purchase a smaller Television and save energy that way. Their web site says "Consumers will always have the freedom to buy any size or style TV they like." Compare and contrast the sortition-based consumption-based badness tax.

And this article confirmed something I cited earlier in the United States. Britain reduced its carbon emissions at home, but this at the same time that it imported products that were made by burning lots of coal elsewhere.

To follow up on future Thoughtful Thursdays

  1. Fisher I (1936) 100% Money New York Adelphi
  2. Fisher I The debt-deflation theory of great depressions" Econometrica October 1933
  3. Friedman M. (1960) A Programme for Monetary Stability New York, Fordham University Press
  4. Jackson T. (2000() "Prosperity without growth? The transition to a sustainable economy" Sustainable Development Commission
  5. Douthwaite, R. The Ecology of Money Dublin Ireland: Theo Foundation of Economics of Stability (FEASTA)
  6. Simons H. (1948) Economic Policy for a Free Society Chicago: Univerity of Chicago Press
  7. Soddy F, 1926, Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt London George Aleln and UNW
On the rebound effect and energy efficiency:
  1. Rosenberg N. (1989) Energy Efficient Technologyies: Past, Present and Future Perspectives How Far can the World Get on Energy Efiicnecy Alone Oak Ridge National Labs.
  2. Sanne C. (2000) "Dealing with Environmental Savings in a Dynamical Economy How to Stop Chasiong YOur Tail in the Pursuit of Sutainability" Energy Policy 28 6 to 7 487 to 95
  3. Sanne C. (2002) Willing Consumers or Locked in? Policies for Sustainable Consumption" Ecological Ecoomics 47 273 to 287.
  4. Saunders H. D. (2000) "A view from the Macro Side: Rebound, backfire, and Khazzoom-Brookes." Energy Poicy 286 t to 7 439 to 49, 2000
  5. Sorrell S. (2007) "The Rebound Effect: An Assessment of the Evidence for Economy-Wide Energy Saviongs from Improved Energy Efficiency"
  6. Sorrell, S. and J. Dimitropoulous (2007a) "The Rebound effect: Definitions, Limitations and Extensions" Ecological Economics 65 to 3 636 to 649
  7. Victor, P. A. (2008) Managing without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster Edward Elgar

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