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  •  Fuel economy standards: less than meets the eye. (3+ / 0-)
    In economics, the Jevons paradox (sometimes Jevons effect) is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.[1] In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal use led to increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    What this means for motor fuel is this:

    (1) If the price of motor fuel goes up (like with a greenhouse tax), people burn less motor fuel.

    (2) OTOH if cars get more efficient but motor fuel stays cheap, the following happen:

    * People decide to buy that house on the big lot (sprawl-inducing) in the suburbs, instead of that condo in town close to work.

    * People continue to drive for shopping and eating out, so they vote against raising local taxes for sidewalks and bike lanes and commuter rail.

    * People don't give a damn about changing zoning laws to require mixed-use, walkable development.

    * People buy a bigger, more powerful vehicle than they otherwise would've.

    In other words, if cars get more efficient but gas stays cheap, people drive more, bigger, faster.

    Higher CAFE standards are an attempt at a free lunch. And the most basic rule in economics is still: ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:08:14 PM PST

    •  I rent a car once a month for a week. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior

      The newer cars seem get 35 mpg. The same size car is supposed to get 50 mpg in a dozen years.

      It makes sense that more miles will be driven as efficiency goes up but if you double mpg no way will miles driven double.

      We did shit about mpg for TWENTY years but now there supposed to double by 2025. Maybe 100 mpg in a generation.
      Here's the wiki  on CAFE standards:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Standards by model year, 1978-2011
      CAFE standards for each model year in miles per gallon.
      Passenger Cars    Light Trucks
      1978    18.0           
      1979    19.0    17.2    15.8    17.2
      1980    20.0    16.0    14.0   
      1981    22.0    16.7    15.0   
      1982    24.0    18.0    16.0    17.5
      1983    26.0    19.5    17.5    19.0
      1984    27.0    20.3    18.5    20.0
      1985    27.5    19.7    18.9    19.5
      1986    26.0    20.5    19.5    20.0
      1987    26.0    21.0    19.5    20.5
      1988    26.0    21.0    19.5    20.5
      1989    26.5    21.5    19.0    20.5
      1990    27.5    20.5    19.0    20.0
      1991    27.5    20.7    19.1    20.2
      1992    27.5            20.2
      1993    27.5            20.4
      1994    27.5            20.5
      1995    27.5            20.6
      1996    27.5            20.7
      1997    27.5            20.7
      1998    27.5            20.7
      1999    27.5            20.7
      2000    27.5            20.7
      2001    27.5            20.7
      2002    27.5            20.7
      2003    27.5            20.7
      2004    27.5            20.7
      2005    27.5            21.0
      2006    27.5            21.6
      2007    27.5            22.2
      2008    27.5            22.5
      2009    27.5            23.1
      2010    27.5            23.5
      2011    30.2            24.1

      •  Point is really (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, Notreadytobenice

        the systems impacts -- if cars are quieter, more comfortable, drive faster, have greater fuel efficiency, and there are good roads allowing them to go farther, it contributes to sprawl with large homes far from the nearest stores/work/schools which means that the individual car might be far more efficient per mile but the improved 'system' efficiency for an individual helps contribute to a societal land-use pattern that is far less efficient.  A real 'conundrum' to be understood but not exaggerated.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:06:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Conundrum is serious ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, HeyMikey

      and thus why, for example, 'CAFE' standards cannot / should not stand alone ...

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:04:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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