There are limits to the use of resources. And there are limits to the safe operating space within the global environment. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) suggests, however, that the world’s economy may be approaching those limits. It reports that scientists have warned that those safe limits may have already been crossed in some cases.1 What may not be as easily understood is that the inefficient use of energy and other resources may also be weakening the robustness of both the U.S. and the global economies.
In the case of energy, for example, the world economies may waste on average over 80 percent of all high-quality energy consumed in the production of goods and services. That magnitude of waste creates an array of costs that weakens the economy.2 How to turn waste into opportunity? That is the primary focus of the team at Economic and Human Dimensions Research Associates. How to explore new ways and new business models that increase the energy and non-energy benefits of greater resource productivities. In effect, we are assessing and promoting ways that increase local jobs and economic prosperity through the smarter use of resource and energy efficiencies. . .

 

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  1. UNEP (2017) Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications. A report of the International Resource Panel. Ekins, P., Hughes, N., et al.
  2. This conclusion builds on and extends the work of colleagues Robert Ayres and Benjamin Warr in their 2009 book, The Economic Growth Engine: How Energy and Work Drive Material Prosperity; and also on a 2015 journal article by John A. “Skip” Laitner, Linking energy efficiency to economic productivity: recommendations for improving the robustness of the U.S. economy.  Contact us for further information.