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Green Topic: The Efficiency Paradox


Photo Credit: Ley_photography

In a world of increasing gasoline prices, people are wanting to hear when their fuel costs will begin to go down.  Recently, I read a book by Jeff Rubin, who has been a chief economist at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) for over 20 years.  The book is entitled Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller: Oil And The End Of Globalization and takes a very interesting approach on voicing environmental conservation.  The reason I wanted to talk about this book is to write about of the topics that Rubin discussed called “The Efficiency Paradox”, which discusses the flaws in our energy efficiency.

Rubin writes about “The Efficiency Paradox”, which made me see a whole new side of alternative energy sources.  I’ll describe Rubin’s Paradox by using an example.   Let’s say an engineer develops a battery to makes cars more energy efficient.  As a result, more and more companies begin to mass produce the battery and produce more cars.  However, there are now more cars producing more energy than there would have been if the energy efficient battery was never created.  Therefore, The Efficiency Paradox arises.  Although all of the cars may have energy efficient batteries, our economic system then mass-produces them, consuming even more energy than there had been in the first place.

Fortunately, Rubin offers a solution to The Efficiency Paradox: Use less energy.  Alternative forms of energy, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric, are all renewable, but none of them are proving to be as efficient as oil.  You can produce a lot of energy from just a small amount of oil because oil is very efficient.  However, oil is also a limited resource and cannot sustain our high-energy society forever.  By decreasing our energy needs, we can start seriously using alternative forms of energy.  For example, instead of spending money to buy a brand new hybrid vehicle, try driving less, carpooling, or even living closer to where you work.  By doing this, people will save money, help conserve the environment, and will help decrease our energy dependence.

Rubin, Jeff. Why Your World Is about to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization. New York: Random House, 2009. Print.

Ian Gaudreau

written by Ian Gaudreau

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