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Spot on, Steve! Your insights give me a lot of fodder to amuse myself with when debating my liberal friends.


Can you show some kyoto protocol countries like Japan, the Netherlands and Germany in a graph together with the US as above. So we can show the rest of the world how planet friendly we are. Maybe Australia also good to include in the graph(the other NO to kyoto)

To put these on equal terms, 20% in 4 years would be 4.66% per year, compared to the US rate of 2.01%.

john: Any idea where those stats are available? I'd like to find a time series for China, too (quads and gdp).

Pseudo: You are correct. If China can sustain 4.66%/yr for 34 years, that will certainly be impressive.


Maybe this link will help.

This is silly. Environmentalists call for reduction in energy use per capita, not per unit of GDP.

Less energy per unit of GDP just means more output per unit of input, which is just another way of saying "economic growth".

If enough people think it's silly, I would anticipate a backlash against China's Premier soon, wouldn't you?

My last comment didn't show up. Try again.

I'm not all that lathered up about China's goals. Consider that today infrastructure (buildings, locomotives, plants, etc.)can take advantage of more energy inefficient technology than the seventies or eighties.

Since China is a developing economy (damn vibrant one)and has to build new infrastructure to accommodate growth it can take advantage of all the new efficiency at a much smaller cost than us who need to retrofit existing infrastructure.

Nice message though, Mr. Premier. You're learning.

Great work Steve, I wrote this in 2004..

One thing that major pundits of the hedge funds are missing in this blind pursuit of ever-higher oil prices is the impact of petroleum intensity on pricing. The United States has in fact been following the path of lowering oil intensity-oil consumption per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP)-since the late 1970s.

Global economy was consuming around 65 million barrels of oil in the early 80's; however, the total size of the global economy was only 12 trillion dollars. Today, a global economy of nearly 50 trillion dollars consumes slightly higher oil. The world is becoming a very efficient user of oil. If lessons from the first oil crisis are to be learnt, then we need to appreciate that these price rises will ultimately reduce the consumption of oil.

Thoughts are now turning to reducing oil, not producing it, even more spectacular results can be ensured. With new technology, new energy forms are possible, not that they don't exist, they are very uneconomical at $35 /barrel, but at $55, even some form of fuel cell becomes an attractive option.

On top of that anyone who underestimates the potential of exponential growth of development and research would do that at his own peril. The biggest and most efficient consumer, the U.S., consumed about 6.2 billion barrels, up 4.2% from a year earlier. It is expected this year the US consumption to be 6.8 billion barrels.

Now let's look closely at the US petroleum intensity for which the date is easily available - from 1950 to 1980 it would take 1.6 barrel of oil to produce 1000 dollars of GDP, in 2004 it takes .8 barrel, nearly half the consumption of 1980's, to produce $1000 of GDP.

In 1978, the total consumption of oil in a much smaller GDP of $2.2 trillion in 1998 was 6.6 billion barrels of oil; presently, for slightly higher consumption of around 7 billion barrels of oil, US GDP has grown to 11 trillion dollars. Reduced gasoline demand plus price-induced conservation has reduced U.S. oil consumption by 2.8 million barrels per day.


Tim Shell,

By your way of thinking the way to achieve Kyoto's goals is to have more people while not growing the economy of Country X. That would surely reduce the emissions per capita.

(It's hard not to be sarcastic when I see that sort of loose thinking.)

Not to burst everyone's bubbles, but it doesn't really matter what the ratio of energy use to GDP or energy use per capita is. What matters is where that energy is sourced from.

As far as I care, we could use energy incredibly inefficiently if it were all from clean sources. I'm sure the US is way more efficient than Norway, but Norway has less of an environmental footprint because more of it's energy is clean (99% of electricity from hydropower).

Likewise, per capita, China uses way less energy than the US. But that has nothing to do with how clean the energy is.

I'd wager that every developed country on the planet has been reducing intensity at about the same pace as the US. However, overall consumption has gone up anyway. Even that isn't a bad thing, except that the majority of that consumption is in the form of oil and coal.

That said, I'm totally optimistic that clean coal will work, new nuclear will work, and renewables will in the long run contribute significantly.

Of course, the US will still be using vastly more energy than China, or any other country in the world, per capita, per unit of GDP, per whatever metric you want. Yeah, USA! You really showed those capitalism-hating tree-huggers.

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