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Jordan Candler / April 21, 2015

Green Times for Energy Efficiency, No Thanks to Government

Are you feeling green this Earth Day? You should. The White House would have you believe our days are numbered because we’ve failed to enter another ice age (take a moment to shiver in the irony), but statistics suggest we’re in unprecedented times — in terms of energy efficiency. But here’s the kicker: Neither Earth Day nor government intervention have anything to do with our greener ways. Based on data from the Energy Information Administration, American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry writes, “In 2014, it required only 6,110 BTUs of energy (petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewables) to produce each real dollar of GDP, which was the least amount of energy required to produce a dollar of real GDP in US history.” That’s even more extraordinary when you consider how much the economy has expanded. “[T]he US economy was 28% larger last year than 14 years ago, even though slightly less total energy was required in 2014 than in 2000 (98.324 vs. 98.819 quadrillion BTUs) to produce $3.5 trillion more real output,” says Perry. “That would be like adding an economy about the size of Germany’s to the US, but without requiring any additional energy to produce 28% more output!” And consider this even crazier statistic: It cost a whopping 15,930 BTUs in 1949 to squeeze out just $2 trillion in GDP. So next time you hear demagogues claiming we’re dirtying up our planet, tell them we’re living in remarkably efficient times relative to yesteryear using the same old fossil fuels. And tell them they can thank capitalist innovators for the progress.

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