… is from page 492 of Armen Alchian‘s 1975 essay “An Introduction to Confusion,” as reprinted in The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian (2006), Volume 1 (“Choice and Cost Under Uncertainty”); this essay is Alchian’s insightful response to the Final Report of the Energy Policy Project of the Ford Foundation (original emphasis):
Reduced energy use does not necessarily improve the environment. On the contrary, greater use of a greater supply of energy could be an effective means of improving (not just preserving) our surroundings. While energy production may injure the quality of some natural resources in some areas, cheaper, more plentiful energy permits improvements in other areas (possibly even the energy production locale). Air-conditioning improves our environment (in a sense); more gasoline for engines with lower mileage but greater effectiveness in curtailing pollutants would also help; pumping water to arid areas (by means of energy) makes the desert bloom. The correct issue is the optimal degree and type of pollution, the optimal mix of environmental effects, the optimal degree of personal abuse via work or loss of leisure. Despite the Report’s seeming bias in favor of energy reduction, nowhere does it actually demonstrate that decreased energy growth or a return to our original environment is the ideal objective.