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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Energy choices impacted by world events

Observation:  Two stories in the New York Times within the past month have me thinking about how world events can influence longer-term choices and consumer trends.  Last week, one article covered a renewable energy conference where experts considered the impact of the global economic strife on the alternative energies (click here to see that story).

Another article explained how life in Japan has changed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was destroyed.  Since that event, many of the nuclear reactors which generate the country’s power have been shut-down for inspection, leaving a country that is intensely reliant on electricity in somewhat of a quandary as winter approaches (click here to see that story).

Implications:   Environmentalists who seek to advance policies and practices that reduce greenhouse gases would be smart to consider the influence of economic issues on their cause.  Consumers are likely to “give until it hurts” where environmental protection is concerned, but then revert to their old ways if a new energy alternative becomes too costly or inconvenient.

Ironically, Japan gives us the example of what might happen in a situation where a population is over-reliant on any one energy source… an example that favors the cause of reduced energy use and creating a more diverse supply (beyond fossil fuels).

We have learned that lesson before, both during the oil embargo of 1976, and in the Northeast’s Halloween weekend snowstorm of 2011.

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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