Plotting countries by their wealth and energy use shows a clear correlation. Is energy use the cause of wealth or does wealth simply creates the ability to consume energy? Clearly, having rich energy reserves (e.g., oil) often results in richness... but not always. The same is true of rich countries, like Singapore, being wealthy without natural resources. Will international environmental policies like the Paris Accords reduce wealth and standard of living? Are the long-term benefits of reducing energy consumption worth the short-term pain?
Source: [jaymaron.com] (not a direct source)
Suggested by @jaymaron
This I learned many years ago and I still believe it’s true: for every job created there are five spinoff jobs. Take those jobs away? The effect will be felt by many, many people.
The country runs on energy. Want to use less? Pick what you want to do without - gas for your car and your car itself. Heat for your home in winter. The clothes on your back and the food on your table...what will YOU do without?
I’m tired of these fucking flakes and their hare-brained schemes to make “us” better people. Can’t use coal, too dirty. Can’t use oil, non-renewable. Can’t use nuclear, too risky. Well, fuck! All of the self-indulgent virtue signalling is only putting us back into the 18th century! Wind turbines? Takes more energy to make than they’d ever produce. But they’re clean! Until they’re taken down and can’t be recycled and have to be buried in Wyoming or wherever. Solar? Expensive and right now provides only a fraction of the nation’s energy needs.
Don’t want oil? Fuck off to some island and let the world pass you by.
Energy does not necessarily lead to wealth, but cutting back on energy does indeed lead to recession and plunging standards of living. That’s my major objection to the Paris Accord. It seeks to deal with climate change by reducing energy usage only in wealthy western countries; but nothing is asked of countries like Brazil, India and the economic powerhouse of China.
Paris demands the west reduce its industry and economy, and even provide billions in cash payments to the developing world — laughably, including China.
These are the same minds that have effectively shut down Canada’s oil industry. The same minds that reject outright, contemporary nuclear technology, and even hydro developments in favour of the fantasy “fuels” - winds and solar.
The progressives stump-jumper seek to manage climate change by leading us back to the Stone Age.
Nuclear (SMRs) - Small Modular Reactors. I did the math. Our small city has about 50,000 people. With 2 SMRs, each the size of a school bus, could power all the residents at about $10 per month. ZERO carbon emissions, very small footprint - no big energy required.
Spread the news:
Correlation =|= Causation.
Energy use does not generate wrath. As countries generate more wealth through innovation and trade the demand for energy goes up. The difference between energy use and wealth in the United States and a 3rd world country is vast but the wealth is not related to how efficiently it uses Energy. As countries become more wealthy, they are able to economize effort and make processes more efficient (including energy usage and production). Example: A smart phone has more processing powers than a server room in the 1950s and uses substantially less power than that server room. The Kuznet’s curve can be applied to energy use and efficiency as other technology and economic wealth is generated.
Energy begets primary materials, which beget manufactured goods, which beget exports, which beget wealth. The cheaper and more abundant the energy, the stronger the exports.
The plot shows the world energy budget for producing primary materials.
For example, natural gas -> hydrogen -> ammonia -> fertilizer -> food.
The price of metals is usually proportional to the energy required to extract them.
Democrats are trapped in the nutshell of "what is the best energy source?". The answer is all of them, and as much as possible of each. This is how you make energy cheap, and the price of energy drives exports.
The nations that have anomalously high gdp/power tend to be the ones with small populations. Norway stands out because it has ludicrous energy and a small population.
Democrats love to say: "but true socialism has never been tried!". They cite Sweden, then Sweden collapsed. Their last stand is Norway. But Norway stands not because of socialism, but because of its ludicrous energy/capita. Canada also has ludicrous energy/capita, but Trudeau fails to use it.
Norway also stands out because the government rigged it so that the natural resource wealth goes to the people. In most other nations this is not the case.
Energy, the capacity to do work and in its "raw state" energy is the only true global currency.
If a country has "energy" in its raw state, is able to efficiently convert it to useful work, yielding a product in demand by others outside the country, it can use this "advantage" to stay wealthy.
Staying wealthy with less "raw energy" is an exercise in efficiency and, gosh dang it, you run into those stubborn laws of physics and thermodynamics.
So really, the question is how do you define "wealthy". < You can provide your own answer here >.
Just an aside here, speaking as an energy industry veteran with operating experience in just about every generating methodology out there < oil, gas, nuclear, wind, solar, biomass, hydrostatic and landfill > only the first three in my list make any sense when you look at the entire process chain, birth to grave, which is never done for the renewable resources.
I doubt wealth could be maintained while using less energy. International environmental pacts like the Paris Accord could conceivably reduce the standard of living. Knowing the potential negative impacts from a reduction of energy consumption, it certainly would not be worth the aggravation and hardship in exchange for supposedly being "greener".
Like @El_Uro, I voted "Yes" but my "Yes" is contingent on a clarification of how one defines "wealth." If it means everyone having a gas guzzling automobile or two and a gas guzzling boat or two... or three; two retired people living in a 12 room house just because they have worked for it their entire lives and can afford it, then perhaps I'm wrong. I, however, do not equate conspicuous consumption of energy with wealth but with waste. I believe the root of the word wealth is actually "weal" from earlier English to mean well-being or welfare, which to me speaks more to one's mental and emotional state than one's financial status. In the USA the promoting of the general welfare of the people has been twisted to mean almost exclusively, financial status. I think health leads to wealth as long as one is not hypnotized by the bright lights and shiny glitter of endlessly perishable monetary based goods.
America has, at least since the advent of railroads, always used energy to overcome continental distances. Oranges from Florida, raisins from California, beef from Texas all shipped by rail, and then trucks and then air. Now it's even more diverse. Grapes are airlifted from Chile. Or I can get my butter from Ireland. And we're not the only recipients of these blessings.
None of this happens without abundant energy. Energy supplies are not only wealth themselves, they make wealth easier to generate.
I voted yes. They are constantly improving production efficiency and cost-effectiveness across all industries. I also remember reading some surveys indicating that long work/operation hours does not equate high productivity. So, if they can strike a right balance, I think that high productivity can be achieved with much less time and energy.
Also, the future is naturally going to depend on millennials and younger generations. Their financial behaviours are very different from the financial behaviours of boomers for example. Millennials are also more conscious of environmental and social responsibilities and that is probably reflected in their perspectives on energy security and their energy consumption behaviours.
These are the two things that popped in my head. I'll ponder on.
Thanks for the thought-provoking poll. It makes a good change!
China dominates world mining and they do it with coal. They're cashing in the coal by converting it to steel, aluminum, and magnesium. Aluminum and magnesium extraction is dominated by electricity, and coal is the electricity source with the worst energy/carbon.
China leads the world in CO2 production and they have a poor value for energy/carbon.
There is a difference between less power and more efficie t power. However, beyond encouraging more efficient power generation by deploying more Nuclear power and seeking need scalable alternatives (as opposed to wind and solar which scale up in availability when they want, and not when you need)...most measures are accomplished only via increased tyranny.
Well let's simplify to something a bit more important. Can I be as wealthy while using 50% less energy?
Let's start with fuel for my car. If I use 50% less fuel, I will only be able to make it half way to work. If I don't make it to work day after day, I will be less wealthy. And, we're done.
But you say "You don't need a car to get to work?" Or maybe "Use a solar powered scooter." Or walk, etc... The response to all of these things is "If I could save a reasonable amount of money by sacrificing a reasonable amount of my time, effort and comfort I would do so in order to become more wealthy. However, I have judged that the sacrifice would make me less wealthy, which is the goal of the question.
WAY too complex a question to address from that simple graph.
For example, that graph doesn't differentiate between power used by private and public sectors, from industry, commerce, or personal use. It could be that all that power is being used by people watching TV and driving around, neither of which would show up as contributing to the GDP.
Geography is also an important factor. Take Iceland and Qatar at the very top. Are their power per capita contributing to their GDP or used to keep their countries hot and cool, respectively? Notice that all the countries on the low end of the spectrum are warm countries, where there might not be a need to use power for heating/cooling.
Also, a "per capita" analysis distorts wealth. China and Chile use about the same power but Chile, having less population than China, shows up as "wealthier" with a higher GDP/capita... a view that I think not many would agree with.
So "Can countries stay wealthy while using considerably, say 50%, less energy?"
No conclusions can be drawn from that graph.
But it bears noting that since the graph is logarithmic, a 50% drop in watts/capita (which is technically power, not energy) would be a trivially small drop on the y-axis and would represent a trivially small change in GDP/capita on the x-axis.
Energy, by definition, is a quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object. The ability to do work is the driver behind all technological progress and the maintenance of society. One can't produce less energy and produce the same or more work without increases in efficiency.
It's helpful to think of society as an organism (because it is a colonial organism).
Life is about reversing entropy by capturing energy. That should pretty much answer the question.
I understand people want some nuance. That black and white is almost always dangerously naive. That said the industrial revolution is nothing more than an evolutionary step that reduced selection. It runs on capturing energy. It caused a population explosion because of that reduced selection. The selection switched from individuals to the group level with groups who captured less energy in some cases virtually disappearing. It is at the heart of guns, germs and steel.
We didn't evolve to live a civilized life. We evolved for an easy but unstable environment, the Garden of Eden if you like. Civilization is all about efficiently capturing energy, it's why agricultural societies more or less replaced hunter gathers. Food being just another source of energy like fire which increases caloric efficiency. The problem is how do you define efficiency.
Organisms can be so good at capturing more energy than they expend that they destroy their environment, Snow Geese being an example. This illustrates short term and long term efficiency. The problem is you can't get to long term efficiency without short term efficiency. All organisms degrade their environment with waste. What makes the natural world work is that one organism's waste is another's energy supply. It isn't how much waste you produce but how it is utilized.
Eventually entropy always wins, we all die. Civilizations get tired and die. What the West needs is to be energised. We need to be thinking about expending more energy not less but to do so wisely. The wise choose is to push through the current limitations to a more energetic future.