• Diana Schumacher


Conservation was practised throughout history until the second half of the twentieth century. Most civilisations reclaimed, recycled and re-used materials. Old ships’ timbers were preserved to build houses and barns; rags were used in the paper industry; organic wastes were spread on the land as fertiliser. As industrialisation progressed with cheap and abundant energy and materials, conservationist habits were gradually abandoned in favour of manufacture using virgin raw materials. These were often imported relatively cheaply and avoided the more expensive labour costs incurred by reclaiming and sorting used materials before recycling. Increasingly too, as both social and industrial structures developed towards specialisation, they became more energy-intensive and the overall use of energy became more profligate and more prone to promoting wasteful practices. Also, after the 1950s accelerating changes in new product design and concepts such as built-in obsolescence to guarantee continuous markets for replacements were introduced to stimulate demand and increase production. The increasing throughput of materials, in turn, led to higher overall energy consumption, the creation of additional waste and further pressure on reserves. Before the 1973 oil crisis some people were becoming alarmed by these runaway trends in energy consumption and waste. Some of the ‘prophets of doom’ as they were then labelled, came from within the oil companies themselves but, on the whole, up to the 1970s such critics were associated with the antipollution or anti-industry movements.


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Further Reading

  1. Gabor, D., Colombo, U., King, A. and Galli, R., Beyond the Age of Waste, 2nd edn, Club of Rome Report, Pergamon, Oxford, 1981Google Scholar
  2. English, Bohm and Clinard, Proceedings of the International Energy Symposium III, Harper and Row, New York, 1982Google Scholar
  3. Kent, D., Dictionary of Applied Energy Conservation, Kogan Page, London, 1982Google Scholar
  4. McGuigan, D. and McGuigan, A., Heat pumps. An efficient heating and cooling alternative, Garden Way Publishing, Carlotte, Vermont, 1981Google Scholar
  5. Orchard, W. H. R. and Sherratt, C. A. F. C., Combined Heat and Power — Whole City Heating — Planning Tomorrow’s Energy Economy, George Godwin, London, 1980Google Scholar
  6. Dryden, I. G. C. (ed.), The Efficient Use of Energy, 2nd edn, Butterworths, London, in collaboration with the Institute of Energy Action on behalf of the U.K. Department of Energy, 1982Google Scholar
  7. Armor, M., Heat Pumps and Houses, Prism Press, Dorchester, Dorset, 1981Google Scholar
  8. Payne, G. A., The Energy Managers Handbook, 2nd edn, Westbury House, Guildford, 1980Google Scholar
  9. Department of Energy, Combined Heat and Power Group, District Heating Combined with Electricity Generation in the U.K. Energy Paper 20, HMSO, London,1977Google Scholar
  10. Department of Energy, Combined Heat and Power Group, Heat Loads in British Cities, Energy Paper 34, HMSO, London, 1979; Combined Heat and Electricity Power Generation in the U.K., Energy Paper 35, HMSO, London, 1979Google Scholar
  11. Atkins, W. S., Greater London Heat Density Survey, Department of Energy, London, 1978Google Scholar
  12. Pearce, D. et al., Decision Making for Energy Futures, Social Science Research Council, Macmillan, London, 1979Google Scholar
  13. Lucas, N. J. D. (ed.), Local Energy Centres, Applied Science Publishers, London, 1978Google Scholar

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© Diana Schumacher 1985

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  • Diana Schumacher

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