Abundant Waste

Eliminating waste is the first and most important level of the quest to use less energy. Think of it as the least we can do. Wasting energy is such a terrible . . . well, waste. Give me one good reason for why we should tolerate waste!

The scrawny kid in the back of the room, whom no one likes, raises her hand. “Our economy is based on pointless consumption.”

Oh. Well, give me another good reason!

Many people flinch from the idea of using less energy because they’re scared of sacrifice. But a pretty large percentage of the energy we use is simply waste. Many energy experts say that the United States wastes more than half of its energy. That would explain how Europe uses half of what we do yet has a living standards quite as nice as ours.



But if it makes you feel any better, Saudi Arabia wastes even more. They use so much energy domestically that they’re building solar power plants, so they can save more of their oil to sell to the rest of us. I wonder if they’ve thought of simply reducing their energy use. . . . Naaah.

Eliminating waste has no disadvantage, no downside. Well, you lose all that mindlessness.

The second level of the quest to use less energy is energy efficiency. We can exact higher expectations from our technology. The Obama administration and many state governments have been quietly raising efficiency standards. So essentially we’re doing the same things and accomplishing the same goals, but using less energy.

And who can object to that? The scrawny kid raises her hand again.

You in the back of the room–shut up!



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