2011: The Most Energy-Efficient Year in History

Erika Johnsen
Posted: Apr 02, 2012 3:19 PM

It pains me when President Obama throws around terms like "innovation," "investment," and "efficiency." The way he uses and abuses these words, he makes it sound as if the institution of government (rather than the hard work of brilliant and self-interested individuals) is somehow responsible for the many conveniences of the modern age, and that we wouldn't be able to survive unless the government was interfering in the economy on behalf of the public good. The president is very wrong.

To an equally painful degree, environmentalist doomsayers are wont to hopelessly bemoan how we consume far too much costly energy, and how oil and gas reserves are too scarce to go around without either sucking the earth completely dry or spewing carbon into the air at an accelerated rate with which we cannot possibly cope. They, too, are very wrong.

Real investments in the private sector have led to actual innovations in technology, which in turn have lead to greater efficiency -- and, more so than anything else, efficiency is what's going to lead to a stable energy future. No, not algae-powered cars or EPA regulations or taxpayer-funded windmills, just plain ol' efficiency, brought to you courtesy of free enterprise. According to the Energy Information Administration, using the real 2005 dollar as a metric, 2011 was the most economically energy-efficient year on record, ever. Observe:

The energy that it takes to produce a dollar is in steady decline, i.e., the cost of converting energy into GDP dollars is getting lower, while our GDP and standard of living have both steadily increased -- thanks to the innovations and ever-increasing efficiencies that are part and parcel of free-market competition.