Richard Heinberg, The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrialized Societies.
Gabriola Island, BC, Canada:
New Society Publishers, 2003
The inescapable implications of these findings are first, that many efforts toward energy efficiency actually constitute a kind of shell game in which direct fuel uses are replaced by indirect ones, usually in the forms of labor and capital, which exact energy costs elsewhere; and second, that the principal factor that enabled industrial countries to increase their energy efficiency in the past few decades - the switch to energy sources of higher net yield - does not constitute a strategy that can be applied indefinitely in the future. Thus the curtailment of energy usage offers clearer benefits than improved efficiency. …
Given that, from a historical and cross-cultural perspective, Americans' average standard of living is lavish, it would seem that some curtailment of consumption may not be such a bad thing. After all, people currently have to be coaxed and cajoled from cradle to grave by expensive advertising to consume as much as they do. If the message of this incessant propaganda stream were simply reversed, people could probably be persuaded to happily make do with less. Many social scientists claim that our consumptive lifestyle damages communities, families, and individual self-esteem; a national or global ethic of conservation could thus be socially therapeutic.