In a recent journal article, Jonathan Koomey and I criticized Dr. Harry Saunders' work showing high rebound effects and backfire in the U.S. economy. Shortly after our paper came out, we responded to initial comments made by Dr. Saunders and his Breakthrough Institute colleagues on Jon's website and over social media. Now Dr. Saunders has offered a longer defense of his work at the Breakthrough Institute blog.
Jon and I took a look at his arguments and found them unconvincing, to say the least. Relying on a cursory analysis that suggests national average prices can be used to study pretty much anything in the field of energy economics, Dr. Saunders fails to show that the methodological errors we identified don't affect his results. Simultaneously he places great reliance on a peer review process that was never fully informed about the nature of his data. Whether that is because he withheld critical information from reviewers or merely did not understand the issues we discussed over a year before he submitted his article for publication, it's hardly a flattering picture. It also speaks volumes about the Breakthrough Institute's decision to promote his work so heavily in their much-discussed 2011 report on the rebound effect.
Links to the original journal articles are available in our new post.