Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

The dramatically improved efficiency of dramatically increased amount of travel in America over 40 years

The workhorse 737, along with all other commercial jets, have improved their efficiency tremendously over the last 40 years. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The workhorse 737, along with all other commercial jets, has seen improved efficiency over the last 40 years. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Robert Bryce dives deep into the astounding technological and economic advances of the last 200 years as he ponders Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong.

Yet one more reason the neo-Malthusians are wrong in predicting imminent collapse, according to Mr Bryce is

..that we are wringing more and more value out of the energy that we consume.

Consider that in

..1970, American consumers drove about 1.1 trillion miles, and domestic airliners flew some 2 billion miles. That same year, US oil consumption was 14.7 million barrels per day. Forty years later, in 2010, Americans drove more than 2.9 trillion miles, and domestic airlines flew 5.9 billion miles. That year, the United States consumed an average of 19.1 million barrels of oil per day.

Let me put those statistics into a table:

  • Method           1970    2010
  • Driving              1.1T     2.9T
  • Airline               2B        5.9B
  • Oil bopd          14.7M  19.1M

There is a moderate amount of statistical leakage in that comparison, but for an illustration it is quite valid. (bopd = barrels of oil per day, average consumption)

So here is the percentage change in each of those factors over 40 years:

  • Driving distance – up 163%,
  • Airline distance – up 195%
  • Oil consumption – up 30%

In forty years, car travel roughly doubled and distance flown roughly tripled with a mere 30% increase in oil consumption.

Technological improvements created a radical improvement in engine efficiency. Yet one more reason the neo-Malthusians are so completely wrong.

Mr. Bryce’s book is filled with info like that. If you enjoyed this post, you gotta’ check out his book.

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