Jevons' Paradox in Action: Our Energy Efficiency Has Doubled Since 1973 . . .
The amount of energy we use in producing a dollar of gross domestic product is now a little less than half of what it was in 1973 when the first “Oil Crisis” struck with the Arab Oil Embargo. In 1973 we used 14,790 British Thermal Units of energy for every dollar of GDP. In 2011 we used only 7,320 BTUs, a figure that was down 2 percent from theprevious year.
This improvement has had a remarkable effect on our standard of living. As the graph at right illustrates, our gross domestic product has more than tripled since 1973, rising from $4.5 trillion to $14.5 trillion. Without the improvement in energy efficiency, our energy consumption wouldl have had to triple as well - or perhaps this rise in GDP would not have occurred at all.
However, the remarkable improvements in energy efficiency do not mean we are consuming less energy. Despite these improvements in energy efficiency, our energy consumption has contined to rise, as the next graph illistrates.