Check out the graph. The USA uses a lot of energy, but squeezes a billion dollars of gross national product out of a quarter as much as China. That's good. However it uses almost twice as much energy per billion bucks of GNP as Britain and Japan. How do they do it? People in Europe or Japan live rather well and get to shop at Muji and Conrans, have decent health care and even public transit, so it can't be quality of life. Perhaps it is that they tax gas to death so that cars are smaller and used less often. Perhaps energy for heating is priced so that people tend to keep the thermostat down and avoid air conditioning. Perhaps they live in denser cities. Perhaps land is expensive because they preserve more of it for agriculture instead of development. Perhaps they conserve.
Yet even in thrifty Europe only one third of all the energy produced is put to work. The rest disappears into the air or sea through leaky pipes and poor insulation. In cars, 70 to 80 percent of the energy burned does not end up being used for the purpose of moving the car, it goes out the tailpipe or heats the radiator fluid.
All the VC money is chasing wind and solar, hydrogen and ethanol; perhaps green investors should read about how "One reliable source of energy is not even close to being depleted: Simply saving it may be the safest and cleanest option mankind has. It also happens to make a tidy profit." Read a remarkable series of articles on Conservation as the World's Best Energy Source in ::der Speigel