"It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting our high technology from WEAPONRY to LIVINGRY."
- Buckminster Fuller (h/t Suzy Waldman)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Move Left!

We will all find ourselves moving leftward under the pressure of events.

By "left" I don't mean become more socialist. I mean become more energy efficient. The industries on the right (except for refining) in this graphic are disadvantaged compared to those on the left. The 2002 data means that the bottom scale is off by a factor of what, three?

I am especially struck by the cost of paper production. I suppose we will be moving more toward digital displays. How's that digital ink idea coming along, I wonder?

Larger image, via World Resources Institute, here; a tiny bit of context is found here.

Update: Much more context in the associated report, which is about the potential effect of carbon taxes on the US manufacturing sector, which apparently still accounts for a hair over 10% of all employment.


Dano said...

Hence the importance of paper recycling.

Good find, Michael. Thank you.

Ian Bicking said...

Interesting that the line doesn't seem to go up and to the right that much. That is, percentage of import isn't that closely related to the energy intensity.

David B. Benson said...

Oh, I suspect more socialist as well. :-)

Michael Tobis said...

What strikes me is that the energy component is so very small. Even now that it has tripled, it will be small for everything except paper.

However, the more I look at this the less convince I am that I know what it is trying to tell me. That is, I think it asks good questions, but I'm not sure what the answers are. WHat does "transportation" mean, especially. The lifetime costs of a vehicle are dominated by energy, after all. This seems to indicate, contrary to much of what one hears, that the energy costs of a vehicle are small.

And what of the metal in the engine block? Is that double counted?

tidal said...

I'm not sure what the x-axis is telling us either. I don't even think it reliably tells you whether a specific industry is energy intensive per $output (e.g. BTU/$output). I.e. if electronics manufacture is energy intensive, but those "costs" are dwarfed by, say, labour... what is the x-axis telling us? If "Textiles", "Wood Products" and "Plastics" have different BTU/$output ratios, then a given price change in, say, oil is not going to affect them equally... i.e. not shift their bubbles equally left or right of their initial roughly equal spot on the x-axis...

Even the "bubble size" - indicating absolute CO2 emissions -doesn't necessarily tell us much about how an industry is using energy/fossil fuels. Those "bubbles" are in different base units (e.g. total for the industry) as opposed to the x- and y-axes which are in "per unit of output" units...

Or maybe I am misreading this myself... Anyhow, I think there is something there, but I'm not quite sure what!

Somewhat related... I will make another plug for Vaclav Smil's book on energetics from earlier this year... "Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems"

Michael Tobis said...

OK, there is more here, the context being to examine the talking point that carbon taxes would threaten domestic manufacturing employment in the US, as if there were that much of it left anyway...

I am not sure which way the line should slope.

It seems to me that if something is labor intensive the advantage of moving it overseas is great, so if it's something-else intensive it would favor domestic manufacture.

The other thing that would favor domestic would be if it was very heavy, hence more expensive to transport than to put together locally.