The curse of competence

While I was eventually able to get off the treadmill without too much of a stumble, I think human society is facing a similar dynamic, and I don’t know how graceful our collective dismount will be. More than anything, I want my friends, family, and neighbors to understand the consequences of our collective trajectory. The technical name for the ratcheting-up, “curse of competence” dynamic is the Jevons Paradox.

Is Transition Worth It?

Are investments in energy transition, especially for public dollars in the form of incentives or subsidies, worth it? Do investments in energy efficiency truly pay off, or does efficiency just make energy cheaper because we’re using less of it, encouraging customers to use more of it—a phenomenon known as the rebound effect, the backfire hypothesis, and the Jevons Paradox?

Seawalls for oil refineries and other ironies of climate change adaptation

Several climate change deniers in the Texas political establishment aren’t deniers after all. They just don’t want the industry which got them elected (and could get them defeated just as easily) to pay anything to protect itself from the very dangers to which the use of the industry’s products exposes the entire globe.

Digitalization, Efficiency and the Rebound Effect

Debates about the so-called rebound effect go back to William Stanley Jevons’ work in the 19th century, although they had been forgotten for too long. Rebound effects occur if a reduction of inputs per unit of output (efficiency) generates an absolute increase in output (growth).