In economics, the Jevons Paradox is an observation made by William Stanley Jevons who stated that as technological improvements increase the efficiency with which a resource is used, total consumption of that resource may increase, rather than decrease.I just finished reading Winning the Oil Endgame. While I thought the ideas on how to conserve oil were good, I wondered if Jevons Paradox would come into play. As cars became more efficient with oil, would this lead to people driving larger cars and driving further offsetting any oil reductions? Seems like you need a tax on gasoline as well to overcome Jevons Paradox.
In his 1865 book The Coal Question, Jevons observed that England's consumption of coal soared after James Watt introduced his coal-fired steam engine, which greatly improved the efficiency of Thomas Newcomen's earlier design. Watt's innovations made coal a more cost effective power source, leading to increased use of his steam engine in a wide range of industries. This in turn made total coal consumption rise, even as the amount of coal required for any particular application fell.