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Jevon's Paradox resolved by solar energy

Jevon's paradox  refers to occurs when technological progress or government policy increases the efficiency with which a resource is used (reducing the amount necessary for any one use), but the falling cost of use increases its demand, increasing, rather than reducing, resource use.  For example, increasing insulation in homes in England has led to people turning up their thermostats for greater comfort.  

It seems to me that this paradox is based on the notion of access to a scarce resource - e.g. coal or natural gas.  People who choose a more comfortable lifestyle for the same price doesn't seem paradoxical, but rather a free-market choice.  Unfortunately, the larger goal of reducing environmental damage from the fossil is not met.  People just use more of the resource.

Rivalrous resources are well suited to billing systems.  It's pretty simple for an organization to set up a paywall and a meter, add up the usage, and bill each customer for their depletion of the resource.  If person A buys a unit of fuel, person B can no longer have it, and they are rivals in a zero sum game, controlled by supply and demand. 

This model works very well for the oil and gas industry.  One just needs to look at the opulence of the Saudi or Qatari royal family and hangers-on to see how well it is working for them.

Solar energy, on the other hand, is non-rivalrous resource.  If I put solar panels on my roof to harvest energy from the sun, I am not taking anything away from my neighbor.  In fact, the more my neighbors collect solar energy, the lower the price of the energy due to economies of scale.  If I decide to install more panels to have a more comfortable temperature in my home, I'm not using up scarce resources, nor am I creating more pollution or environmental damage. There is no need for a paywall to measure out the suns energy to pay to a third party (as much as my local utility would love to do so).  I can install enough solar panels to power my vehicles, air conditioning/heating, lights, cooking, electronic devices, air quality control, and whatever else I wish.  I am free to adjust my thermostats to whatever temperature I wish, drive as many miles as I like, run landscape lighting to create a pleasant evening glow around my home, or whatever I like without causing any environmental damage or taking resources away from my neighbors.

Jevons paradox - that 


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