Tag Archives: Heat

The inconvenient side effects of increased eco-efficiency

George Monbiot’s book Heat (reviewed here) includes a brief discussion on the difference between efficiency and reduction. Given that eco-efficiency is one of the buzzwords of sustainability, I want to highlight his discussion, as it seems to me to be very important for greens to be aware of the problem he outlines.

Monbiot notes that if a new consumer gadget or a new industrial production process or a refitted home uses 30% less energy than previously, then we might assume that 30% of the previous energy consumption has been saved. Unfortunately, due to some very inconvenient side-effects of eco-efficiency, this is not necessarily the case.

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George Monbiot on climate change: Why we need a 90% cut in CO2 emissions, and how we can achieve it

In his book Heat, George Monbiot looks at the possibility of a climate change catastrophe. He argues that a 2°C rise in global average temperature would precipitate such a disaster, as it would cause many ecosystems to begin to collapse. They would become CO2 emitters rather than the CO2 sinks that they are at present, and runaway global warming would follow, regardless of what we humans might do.

In order to be sure of avoiding that scenario, Monbiot estimates that humanity must achieve a 90% reduction in its CO2 output by 2030. Is it at all possible? In his book, Monbiot attempts to show that it is.

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Filed under climate change, David, sustainability