Thursday, January 15, 2009
The image below (via The Oil Drum) is from Nate Hagens' letter #2 to President Obama regarding the country's energy future. The question of the day, it seems, is whether America's new found energy conservation is just a passing fancy or a long-term trend.
Whether the overweight and grotesque Mr. McDonald decides to change his ways is key to what the world will look like in a few years assuming, of course, that the global economy eventually pulls up out of its recent tailspin.
It doesn't sound as though a permanent transition will be easy:
Our species in general and Americans in particular have the wiring and drive to be consumptive machines. No matter how many goods we acquire over time, our pecuniary desires seem to increase faster than our acquisitions. Combine this with our mirror neurons, between-and-within-nation aspiration gaps (based on biologic underpinnings of relative fitness), an evolutionary penchant for waste, a built in drive to outcompete, a culture that fosters keeping up with the Joneses with a high % of Veblen goods, and you get a frenetic feedback loop that has a vast plurality of Americans now Jonesing, many nearly broke, obese, and a fair number realizing, without knowing the details, that something is amiss.Over the last few decades, the world has gotten used to over-consuming Americans. Given where things stand today, it's not clear whether we can live with that, or without it.
Demand Side Summary===> We are hard-wired to compete, and our brains are easily hijacked and confused by modern stimuli. Both these aspects lead to incredible wastes of energy and resources. It is the most politically difficult area, but also the one with lots of low hanging fruit.