Last night, I reread a piece on Climate Change by Amory Lovins from more than a decade ago. It provides an excellent discussion not so much about the science of climate change, but why energy-efficiency makes sense in it’s own right. He concludes the long discussion by dispelling some myths. A few were particularly striking:
• It’s about climate science. No; it doesn’t matter what the climate science says, or even whether it’s right, because we ought to be purchasing energy efficiency anyway just to save money.
• It’s about who should bear the costs. What costs? The interesting question is who should get the profits. That’s a good thing to compete about in the marketplace, but it shouldn’t require difficult negotiations.161 The “polluter pays principle”—OECD doctrine since 1974—remains valid, but this time the polluter can profit.
• It’s about sharing sacrifices for the common good. On the contrary, it’s about helping individuals, firms, and nations to behave in their economic self-interest.
• It’s about “cutting back,” shifting to a lifestyle of privation and discomfort—as the Chairman of Chrysler Corporation recently put it, “dimming the lights, turning off the air conditioning, sacrificing some of our industrial competitiveness and curtailing economic growth.” No; it’s about living even better with less cost, by using smarter technologies that yield the same or better service. The showers will be as hot and tingly as now, the beer as cold, the rooms as well-lit, the homes as cozy in winter and as cool in summer, the cars as peppy, safe, and comfortable; but we’ll have substituted brains for therms and design for dollars.
Exactly! We can have cold beer and hot showers. (I’m a fan of both!) But we can do it wisely by eliminating waste. By eliminating waste, we can do it more cheaply, keeping money in our pockets, in the college fund, or in investments, rather than throwing it up the chimney. Energy-efficiency is just good home economics.