2000w per person. Can we do it? Do we want to do it?

April 11, 2009

Dot Earth had a good post recently about one US family’s quest to reduce their energy consumption by 80% (to around 2000 watts per person), without radically decreasing their standard of living. A 2000 watt target (based on a Swiss target called the 2,000 Watt Society) would mean that their energy output would equal the world average per capita output — helping them to contribute to their goal of insuring that families in the developed world would be consuming the same amount of energy as those in the developing world.

The [Hager Family] seek to prove that personal choices matter. Here’s their query to you:  Hello from Oregon — We’re a family of five in Eugene, involved in rehabbing an older, inner-city house for maximum energy efficiency. We were inspired by the 2,000 Watt Society in Switzerland, and are hoping to cut our per-capita energy use down by 80 percent or so, to a globally sustainable level — without losing a lot of quality of life. I guess you could say we’re … seeking single-family, real-world contributions to big environmental problems. Please let us know if you’re involved in similar efforts (you can track our family blog at thinhouse.net ).

Could you do it?  Use the ECo2 calculator here to determine your own energy consumption.  I roughly estimated my family’s to be around 7000 watts per person (air travel was a real killer for us), so we too would have to reduce by about 70-80% to hit the 2000 watt mark.  Could we do it?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  2000w might not be possible, but 4000w certainly would be.  It would be expensive in the short run to “retool” our lives to make this shift, but over the long run I think it might improve our overall quality of living.

Is this the best path to follow?  According to the American Enterprise Institute’s calculations here, it would be economically devastating if everyone in the US economy engaged in such massive energy reductions.   While I find their quality of life arguments to be weak (living in smaller houses/flats, driving/ flying less, reducing mindless consumption would improve quality of life in my view), I do worry about the impact on employment opportunities if overall consumption dropped dramatically.  Yes, a “green new deal” might help restructure the economy to maintain sustainable rates of growth and employment over the long run, but in the short run it could be economically very painful and the short run could very well coincide with much of your your own life.   Rather than cutting our own consumption to benefit the next generation, are we better off simply saving a chunk of money for the next generation to use as they see fit (i.e. building typhoon-proof houses on stilts)?

— LMC

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5 Responses to “2000w per person. Can we do it? Do we want to do it?”


  1. Stumbled on your article and I must say I am pleased to see such stories being published more frequently. Personally I feel the 2KW target is easily attainable, especially if we could factor in personal energy production ie Solar Panels on each home. Thanks for sharing!

    My Green Energy Blog

    Cheers

  2. dan Says:

    === Google Blogs Alert for: “dot earth” ===

    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-242455

    2000w per person. Can we do it? Do we want to do it? « Pondering …
    By lmcinhk
    Dot Earth had a good post recently about one US family’s quest to reduce
    their energy consumption by 80% (to around 2000 watts per person), without
    radically decreasing their standard of living. A 2000 watt target (based on
    a Swiss …

    Pondering IR in Pokfulam

  3. dan Says:

    can you blog one day soon about this CNN and YOUTUBE video about future of climate? thanks. I am in taiwan

    danny

    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-242455

  4. dan Says:

    and Lucy, your students might want to see and think about my iomages of POLAR CITES for Human Security stuff

    http://pcillu101.blogspot.com

    please blog about this too

    danny in taiwan


  5. […] und für weitere Bügeleisen passend Wandhalterung + Bügelbrett TestWedding Flowers at Nambe2000w per person. Can we do it Dampfbügeleisen TestDampfbügeleisen […]


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