It seems the good people of ExxonMobil have seen fit to advertise on my blog, and far be it from me to question the sincerity of a giant oil company when it says it's interested in developing new technologies to generate cleaner energy. It is, however, always worth saying that using less energy is probably the cleanest energy option out there. One way to achieve that would be for our country to become much, much poorer, but there's a lot of variation among countries of comparable wealth.

Denmark, for example, consumes 3832.8 kilograms of oil equivalent per capita, whereas Germany consumes 4203.1, France consumes 4518.4, Belgium consumes 5703.4, Finland consumes 7218.1, and the United States consumes 7794.8 over twice as much as Denmark. And the Danes and Germans aren't living in circumstances of abject poverty or anything. If every American lived in a somewhat smaller house and spent less money on both the house and heating/cooling/lighting it and more money on fancy shoes or platinum cable packages or expensive organic produce we'd be just as well off and the planet would be better off. We just happen to have a lot of public policy in place that encourages lavish energy consumption (big houses, low-density land use, many cars) when policy should probably discourage such consumption or, at a minimum be neutral about it.

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