Sunday, September 27, 2009

Energy Use per Capita

Yesterday I showed you a chart of energy intensity vs. GDP per capita. There didn't seem to be much relationship in that data. Today we have energy use per capita and GDP per capita:

Here there is a clear relationship. Unfortunately, for environmental Kuznets curve advocates it is pretty linear. Energy use is a first order proxy for environmental impact. For example, solar energy might be cleaner than fossil fuel energy but collecting solar energy requires taking up space (and views) to collect the energy and something environmentally disruptive is going to be done with that energy. First it is taken out of the natural ecosystem and second it is directed to moving matter around in other ways. There is no free lunch. Economic activity has environmental impact. Of course there are more disruptive and less disruptive activities and energy sources but they are all disruptive.

So don't worry about calculating "ecological footprints", just look at energy use.

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