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Evaluation of energy policy

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Abstract

Even with the wide variety of analyses available of the energy problem and solutions, if you step back to provide a wider perspective, all the analyses (and solutions) fall into a single category — a category I shall call Solution A.

The burning of the supply of hydrocarbons placed within our spaceship (Earth) millions of years ago has produced for Western nations a kaleidoscope of material for life; yet it has been evident to some future-looking individuals for some time that both the availability of abundant cheap energy supplies and the exponential increasing use of unlimited amounts must change. However, official energy policy thinking in the U.S. either fails to believe that ‘times have changed’ or, if believing, is responding in a deleterious and counter-productive manner.

This fantastically pervasive and interactive problem cannot be dealt with in the long run by any policy of ‘normalizing’, of trying to return to doing more with more. The more successful the U.S. is in maintaining or increasing its total energy consumption under conditions of declining net energy, or striving for simplistic 1st law efficiencies without analyzing the 2nd level or entropy effects or realizing that every energy exchange adds a minute but rapidly aggregating portion to the environmental pollution limit — doing more with more — the more rapidly inflation, unemployment, and general economic instability will increase.

A small group of architectural professionals, the American Institute of Architects, has proposed an alternate energy strategy, essentially doing more with less which, if pursued, can provide more jobs, less inflation, less pollution, and the potential for better matching of energy task and source (entropy efficiency). This strategy exemplifies the characteristics of an appropriate technology response. It stresses capital and energy as well as labor productivity.

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References

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    Energy and Urban Environment Workshop, Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, CA, October, 1974. (Organized by League of Women Voters, et al.)

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    ‘The Liberty Machine’, an address to Conference on Environment, Washington, DC, October, 1970. (Organized by the American Society for Cybernetics.)

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    Design for Evolution, George Braziller, Inc. (New York, 1975).

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    ‘Towards a General Theory of Planning Design’ (Dept. of Architecture, University of Florida, Gainsville, FL, 1972).

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    ‘Needed: A Net Energy Dimension in All Government Policyr. Office of Senator Hatfield, Washington, D.C.

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    ‘The New Math for Figuring Energy Costs’, Business Week, June 8, 1974.

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    John C. Sheppard: ‘Man's Entropic March’, Quest, Spring /Summer, 1974 (Pullman, WA 99163: Washington State University, College of Engineering.)

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    Ibid.

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    Sir Stafford Beer, ‘The Liberty Machine’.

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Windheim, L.S. Evaluation of energy policy. Water Air Soil Pollut 7, 181–185 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00280858

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Keywords

  • Entropy
  • Labor Productivity
  • Total Energy Consumption
  • Energy Policy
  • Energy Strategy