This soberingdiya_sm article explains the Jevons paradox, a theory developed by mid 19th century English economist William Stanley Jevons in his book, “The Coal Question”. (Yes, it has been a question for over 100 years!) The basic premise is that increased efficiency makes energy cheaper, and therefore easier to use. It’s not that I advocate even trying to live like a Mesopotamian, but it sure would reduce one’s carbon footprint.

The Efficiency Dilemma
By David Owen, The New Yorker, Dec. 20, 2010

If our machines use less energy, will we just use them more?

An ancient Babylonian…needed to work more than forty-one hours to acquire enough lamp oil to provide a thousand lumen-hours of light — the equivalent of a seventy-five-watt incandescent bulb burning for bout an hour. Thirty-five hundred years later, a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson’s could buy the same amount of illumination, in the form of tallow candles, by working for about five hours. In 1992, an average American, with access to compact fluorescents, could do the same in less than half a second.