True, Moscow’s gridlock was not as bad as the August 2010 traffic jam on the main north-south highway from Beijing to Inner Mongolia. Said to be the longest in the history of the planet, that baby stretched 60 miles, moved at a speed of 2 miles per day, took 10 days to unsnarl and spawned its own local economy of noodle sellers.
The planet is getting flatter and more crowded. There will be two billion more people here by 2050, and they will all want to live and drive just like us. And when they do, there is going to be one monster traffic jam and pollution cloud, unless we learn how to get more mobility, lighting, heating and cooling from less energy and with less waste — with so many more people. We can’t let the climate wars continue to derail efforts to have an energy policy that puts in place rising efficiency standards, for buildings, windows, traffic, housing, packaging and appliances, that will drive innovation — which is our strength — in what has to be the next great global industry: energy and resource efficiency.
“We are going to go from green versus gold to green equals gold,” says Moody. Because the only way to grow without consuming more resources is through systemic breakthroughs in efficiency — developing new business models to deliver mobility, heating, cooling and lighting with dramatically fewer resources and pollution.
Here is a simple example that the energy expert Hal Harvey uses: “Consider a standard incandescent light bulb, powered by a coal-fired power plant. If the coal plant is 33 percent efficient (the average in the U.S.), and the light bulb is 3 percent efficient, then the net conversion of energy to light is just 1 percent. That is pathetic — and typical. An L.E.D. light, powered by an efficient natural gas turbine, converts 20 percent of the total energy to light— a 20-fold increase.” Run it on renewables and it’s carbon-free to boot.