David Owen, author of The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse, would go with D. His theory is that technological advances, ...
When New Yorker writer David Owen moved his family from Manhattan to a small town in northwestern Connecticut in 1985, it seemed like a green decision. Their tree-shaded house had been built in the 1700s and sat across from a nature preserve. Deer, wild turkeys and even bears could be seen in their yard; woods surrounded their neighborhood. It was a bucolic country existence, something out of a nature poem.
Yet for the global environment, the move was a minidisaster. The Owens' electricity consumption went up more than sevenfold, and the lack of both public transportation and dense housing that's typical of Connecticut (and much of the rest of the U.S.) meant the family had to buy several cars.
It’s worth noting that there are other views of the situation. Late last week I talked with University of Toronto professor Danny Harvey, author of a set of comprehensive textbooks on energy demand and clean energy supply. He says Baksi/Green’s conclusion on energy intensity is “complete nonsense.” He’s done some detailed modeling and believes that “between now and 2050, we can average 3 or 4 percent [decline in global energy intensity] a year,” and thereby reducing total energy use. The efforts required would be heroic, but within the realm of possibility.
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