Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jevon's Paradox

The application of an interesting paradox to our current social and economical aspects of life was presented by Jeff Dardozzi. Jevon's paradox, or the rebound effect simply states that technological progression of a particular resource leads to an increase in the efficiency of that resource which ultimately leads to an overall increase in the rate of consumption. In other words, if something becomes more efficient and cheaper to use, people will use it more frequently. Jevon's paradox can be applied to the increase in production of the Smart Car. Consumers had never before seen a car with better gas mileage. When the production of the Smart Car increased, sales increased due to a lowering in the price. But having a Smart Car with better gas mileage than every other car allows the driver to drive even more than he/she would have with a normal car. So, the increase in production of the Smart Car lead to a decrease in price and an overall increase in consumption. Another example of a resource that exhibits jevon's paradox, is air conditioning. Recently, new air conditioners have been installed in homes that use almost half of the overall energy than the original air conditioners. Production of these new energy-efficient air conditioners has greatly increased, causing the price to go down. More and more homeowners are now buying these new air conditioners. When a homeowner learns that their new air conditioner is much more efficient, he/she will use it much more frequently. And if more and more people are buying them and using them more frequently than their old air conditioners, the net energy consumption will be greater than before.

The has been a very large emphasis on consumer spending in our economy in the past century primarily because it sustains the system. The present consumer spending supports the economic and political order whose power is sustained primarily by maintaining growth and "capital accumulation". Since the economic system requires the constant externalization of its operating costs to maintain itself, a decrease in consumer spending would cause an overall systematic collapse of our economic and social system.

Adam Curtis' idea of corporate America turning our society into a "sea of selves" describes each member of our society focusing primarily on the health of themselves, rather than focusing on the overall health of the system and community. Curtis' "sea of selves" describes an entire popultion that has an "inverted quarantine". He believes that corporate America has influenced and allowed each member of our society to concern themselves with only themselves.

Bailey's notion of the civic and the divine describes, what he believes, the social aspects of our collective personalities. He believes that for a community or organization to be successful, the elements of the civic and divine must be placed at the center of its structure. The civic and devine, he sates, describes an organization's reason to be. The civic element of our personalities is found in our set of rights and obligations that bind the collective to the individual while the divine element describes the notion of something greater than one's self and that the activities of the collective effect the overall system.

I think that Dardozzi's essay paints a very accurate picture of the structures of our entire society. From economically, politically and socially, Dardozzi describes how each aspect will be affected by an overall decrease in available energy and the problems that appear with energy efficiency. Dardozzi's essay makes us as consumers think twice about using energy efficient technologies rather than simply using less. I do appreciate his description of our very fragile system and how one simple flaw will have destructive consequences. I also appreciate his description of the rise of our somewhat selfish personalities. I think he was very accurate when he described our "survival of the fittest" type of attitude, in that most members of our society think and act only for the success of themselves, rather than the success of our system. Although his description is somewhat depressing, I think it is a wake-up-call for members of our society. I think Dardozzi accurately describes who the individual is and why the individual should work more for the collective in order to survive any oncoming crisis.

This assignment is appropriate for veteran's day because of the mentality of the soldier. At the beginning, the soldier is broken down and the "self" is taken out of his/her personality. After the soldier is broken down, he/she is rebuilt to focus on the health and success of the collective unit. A soldier soon learns to fight not for himself, but for the soldiers around him, and the success of the entire operation. A veteran is someone who has fought for the success of the people around them, and for the success and health of the entire nation. The veteran knows that a "sea of selves" will not survive. The veteran exhibits more than others the civic and devine and knows their reason to be. If this nation was filled with a "sea of veterans", our society as a whole would prosper.

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