Wackernagel, Mathis,  Man—Influence On Nature Our Ecological Footprint
Philadelphia, 1996

ISBN 0865713111
Page 128-9

Box 4.1: Will Efficiency Gains Save Resources?

Many economists and environmentalists believe that advances in technological efficiency are a potential panacea for the sustainability crisis. This follows from Buckminster Fuller’s reasoning of “doing more with less: and contains the hidden assumption that efficiency gains automatically lead to resource savings and reduced consumption. For example, industrialist Stefan Schmidheiny lauds the 50 percent energy efficiency gains by the chemical industry in recent decades, forgetting that chemical production had doubled in the same period.

Huber, Peter W.  Hard Green
New York: 1999
ISBN 0465031129

Pages 61 and 143

Purity is half the Soft Green battle; efficiency is the other half. How much more efficient it must be to eat soft. How much less energy and material it must take to live simply, naturally, and close to the earth. How much more efficient it must be to brow crops without the vast, costly, ruinous, destructive excesses of fertilizer and pesticide.

Efficiency figures even more prominently on the Soft agenda for energy. Most important for Lovins, more important than all the organic fuel, is conservation. “Technical fixes,” Lovins insists, can cut energy “waste” in half. “Negawatts” are cheaper, safer, better in every respect than megawatts. Making cars more efficient is soft, drilling for more off-shore oil is hard. Roof insulation is soft, artic gas, hard. Even better than solar in Arizona or a windmill in California is utility-sponsored home weatherization in New York.

Sachs, Wolfgang.  Greening the North
New York: 1998
ISBN 1856495078

Page 85

So long as only a few people owned cars, the individual motorist was highly satisfied, but since most people have now become motorized the advantages of being quicker and able to travel further than everyone else have shrunk. As soon as speed is a general expectation, gaining time is frequently no longer a pleasure because it becomes an obligation. The power over space and time made possible by mass mobilization is in process of becoming a duty rather than a privilege, to the fascination of utopia vanishes with its triumph.

Architecture Magazine December, 1999

Suburbanites drive 110 more hours each year than city dwellers.


Average driving speed on the Washington, D.C., Beltway in 1981:  47 mph
Average Beltway speed in 1991:  23 mph
Number of parking spaces per car in the U.S.:  8

Earthtalk, radio show on WHYY-FM 12/21/1991

Mike Lawbacher, host: There’s an intriguing sentence in the book about sustainable development and alternative technologies in developing nations. The sentence was “Beware of the green technofix!” Can you elaborate on that—the green technofix?

Johnathan Poritt, former director of the British Friends of the Earth, United Kingdom: Yes. An awful lot of people beset by difficulty of these problems have looked to new energy-efficient, environment-friendly, leaner, greener technologies, as it were, to dig us out of the problem.

Ris, Howard. Undated fundraising letter from the Union of Concerned Scientists
Cambridge, MA


Please join the campaign to clean up one of the biggest sources of environmental damage in our nation. I'm talking about sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans,and light trucks. SUV s spew up to 5 times as much air pollution as cars. Almost half of all Americans breathe air choked with smog. Young children and the elderly suffer most -- from rising rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. When I reveal to SUV owners how their vehicles are making America's air unhealthy, most are shocked. Drivers of SUVs are not the problem.

USEA Energy Efficiency Committee

In the not-too distant past, “saving” energy implied doing without. Energy curtailment, rationing, and even conservation still carry negative connotations for many people. Fortunately, however, over the past twenty or so years, technology and know-how have enables us to “conserve” energy by using it more efficiently; avoiding energy waste either by providing the same level of service (or output) using less energy, or by improving the level of service without increasing levels of energy.

Michael Silverstein,  How Business Will Thrive The Environmental Economic Revolution
New York: 1993
ISBN 0312097972

Page 178, 179

What’s wrong with this much acclaimed free market approach to pollution reduction?

In the real world, practically everything. At a time when so many Americans believe that those with enough money and connections can buy their way out of anything, emissions trading seems to prove this is exactly the case when it comes to polluting.

Brookstone – Catalog of Hard to Find Tools – “Two Heads Are Better Than One—Double Your Shower’s Efficiency!”

The two pressure-equalized, water saving heads on this quality extension allow two people to shower as efficiently as one—or one person to shower more comfortably and effectively in half the time!

Norgard, Jorgen. Technical Energy Savings versus Changes in Human Behaviour.
Denmark: 1996
ISSN 13964038,

Page 10

Declining efficiency of lifestyles

The concept of efficiency is usually associated with technology, and it might seem misplaced to discuss the efficiency of the daily way of life, defined by the equation: lifestyle efficiency = satisfaction/energy service) consumption. Since the satisfaction, the numerator, is a subjective parameter and cannot be quantified. The same is true about the whole lifestyle efficiency.

Nevertheless, the concept can be useful for discussions. It seems safe to claim, that the efficiency of our lifestyles in Western Europe is rapidly declining, even to the extend that growth in consumption might not increase satisfaction at all.

Lawrence Agbemabiese, Kofi Berko, Jr., and Peter duPont, Center for energy and Environmental Policy, U.of Delaware,
Air Conditioning in the Tropics: Cool Comfort or Cultural Conditioning?
ACEEE 1996 8.1


Many tropical natives adopt this addiction to the air conditioner when they stay in the West for long periods of time. For example, Ghanaians and Thais are increasingly traveling and living outside their country, especially in temperate regions. These travelers return home periodically for holidays and during special occasions. When they do, most of them use air conditioners during the hot periods, since their stay in temperate countries has socialized them to use the air conditioner on hot sunny days.

Rosenberg, Nathan,  How The West Grew Rich
1986
ISBN 0465031080

Page 214

The layout of the machinery in the factories was governed by the need to locate the machines with the greatest power demand closest to the engine. The efficient flow of work was a secondary consideration.

About 1890, it became possible to provide each machine with an electric motor and to transmit power to the motor through an electric wire. Many factories attached an electric generator to their steam engines and provided their own electricity, but in addition it became possible to draw almost any amount of power from the new central stations. The substitution of electric wires and motors for shafts and pulleys was at first justified by easily calculable savings in maintenance, fuel consumption, and interest and depreciation on investment.

Meyer, Herbert E.  The War Against Progress
New York: 1979
ISBN 0935166009

Page 124

Current efforts to conserve energy merely by using less of it, such as the law which limits our driving speed to fifty-five miles per hour, are intellectually satisfying but useless in a practical sense. We can never solve the energy crunch solely by using our present equipment slightly more carefully; we can do it only by discovering new supplies of energy and by developing new equipment that is structurally more efficient than whatever we are using today. For instance, we will need to develop new auto-body materials that are every bit as strong as steel but that weigh less, and auto engines whose fuel consumption rates are regulated by built-in microprocessing units.

Heinrich V. Pierer, Siemens AG  “Efficiency Improvements Are Critical for a Bright Tomorrow
in Power Engineering

October, 1996
Page 58

By the year 2000, the value of electrical and electronic components in luxury cars will reach 25 to 30 percent of the total and they will make a major contribution to further cutting energy needs.

Berman, Daniel M.  Who Owns The Sun
United States, 1996
ISBN 0930031865

Page 116-17

While the Collaborative Process in California legitimized the concept of energy efficiency as a tool and goal of energy management, it turned the control and profits of that tool over to monopoly utilities that have an interest in expanding electricity consumption, while meanwhile stilling public criticism.

And barred from expansion locally, California utilities are now vigorously seeking markets elsewhere—in area free from PUC regulation. Despite boasts by PG&E and Southern California Edison that they are stabilizing emissions of carbon dioxide in California-produced electricity, both companies have created unregulated subsidiaries to build and operate coal - and gas-fueled power plants throughout the world. Their goal is to grab market share in Latin America and Asia, where electricity consumption is expected to double every six to fifteen years.

“Unplugged.” October 1998, Environmental Working Group and the World Wildlife Fund
Page 3

Power would be available when people need it. With well-funded energy efficiency programs in place, utilities would very like not have had to ask customers to turn down their air conditioners in the peek of the summer heat wave in June.

From Power$mart – Easy Tips to Save Money and the Planet -- a booklet from the Alliance to Save Energy

Why Become Power$mart? Available technology can plug major energy leaks. The average household in the U.S. spends about $1,300 each year on home energy, according to DOE. What if you could save up to a third or half of that using the tips in this booklet? You could go away for a fabulous long weekend, see 40 movies with a friend, save for college, or buy the latest video games, attire, and those cool shoes.

Norgard, Jorgen S. Towards sustainable Energy Welfare
Denmark: 1993

Page 322

One paradoxical aspect of focusing just on improving the technical efficiency is that efficiency can be accomplished by increasing energy consumption. For instance, if a family replaces their house with a larger house that is fitted with the same standard of insulation, indoor comfort, etc, the larger house will use less heat per square metre of floor space, because the ratio between the heat-losing surface and the surface which provides floor space is reduced. Therefore, in accordance with normal technical practice, the house would be considered more energy efficient, even though it consumes more energy.

Lewis Mumford. Technics and Civilization
New York
Harcourt Brace, 1934

Page 271-2

And Mr. Bertrand Russell has noted that each improvement in locomotion has increased the area over which people are compelled to move: so that a person who would have had to spend half an hour to walk to work a century ago must still spend half an hour to reach his destination, because the contrivance that would have enabled him to save time had he remained in his original situation now—by driving him to a more distant residential area—effectually cancels out the gain.

Roy Morrison,  Ecological Democracy
Boston: 1995
ISBN 0896085147

Page 220

While U.S. residents per capita consume more than their body weight in resources per day (presumably including fossil fuels, metals, water, wood, and agricultural products), this consumption yields only three and a half pounds of consumer “garbage.” Thus, elegant technical fixes to make this process “more efficient,” while continuing maximal production and consumption, will merely slow, not stop—more importantly, not reverse—the rate of ecological and social destruction.