Check out a great article “Drowning in Light”) by Dirk Hanson on Nautilus on the economics of light — a topic that, I admit, I had rarely thought about until I read this (I won’t say “illuminating) piece.

earthatnight01

An excerpt:

As prices fall, our use of light climbs in exact proportion. For several years now, physicist Jeff Tsao at Sandia National Laboratories has been digging into the economic cost-benefit ratios of artificial lighting. Analyzing data sets spanning three centuries and six continents, Tsao and his coworkers at Sandia have concluded that “the result of increases in luminous efficacy has been an increase in demand for energy used for lighting that nearly exactly offsets the efficiency gains—essentially a 100% rebound in energy use.”3 The Sandia group’s equations aren’t holy writ, but with remarkable consistency, human beings, when faced with the availability of a cheaper and more efficient lighting technology, simply use more of it. We don’t bank the savings, but instead fall into what is known as Jevons’ paradox, which states that technological improvements can be counterproductive if the resultant savings are spent rather than saved.

Read more: http://nautil.us/issue/11/light/drowning-in-light

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Posted by Carlos Alvarenga

Carlos Alvarenga is the Executive Director of World 50 ThinkLabs and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business.

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