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In year t-1

Figure 18.5 Steel intensities in the UK, 1960-95, in kg/1000 US$ (1990)

of GDP remained relatively stable in the 1960s, moving around an attractor point of 42g/US$ (in price levels of 1990). However, after 1970 and especially after 1974, steel intensities started to fall, continuing until 1983 when a new attractor point was reached around 20g/US$. This attractor point remained stable until 1990, after which the intensities started to fall again and stabilized at a level of 16g/US$.

A similar pattern can be found with reference to the energy intensities (Figure 18.6). One attractor point existed during the 1960s at a level of 0.33 ton oil equivalent (toe) per 1000 US dollars. After 1973, intensities started to fall continuing at least until 1988, when a new attractor point was reached at 0.22 toe/1000$. The steel intensities in the Netherlands follow a similar pattern, with two distinct attractor points: the first lasted from 1960 to 1973 and the second from 1982 to 1995 (Figure 18.7). Energy intensities in the Netherlands (Figure 18.8) show three distinct attractor points: one in the 1970s, circulating around a level of 0.3 toe/1000$, and second and third attractor points from 1983 to 1988 and 1990 to 1996. More evidence for attractor points in the consumption of steel and energy in the USA and West Germany can be found in de Bruyn, 2000.

Figure 18.6 Energy intensities in the UK, 1960-97, in toe/1000 US$ (1990)

In year t-1

Figure 18.6 Energy intensities in the UK, 1960-97, in toe/1000 US$ (1990)

These patterns suggest that the theory of punctuated equilibria may more adequately describe the patterns of material and energy consumption over time than theories based on marginal and gradual change. The evidence cited above suggests that, when the economy is in an equilibrium phase, the intensities of materials and energy remain constant and move slightly around a certain attractor point. These marginal fluctuations

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