You'd swallowed "green" message hook, line, and sinker: "Upgrade technology, don't bother conserving."
For one, I schedule my thermostat to turn down FROM 68F to 58F. Every night. In Minnesota. In the winter. It can be done, it saves real money, and it saves real energy. Does it mean I've saved the USA from having to buy natural gas? No, but it's an incremental savings, and if more people did it (like yourself), our consumption would drop dramatically.
I work for a Fortune 500 company as an Energy Training Specialist. We are currently in the process of nearly rebranding the company to emphasis "Energy/Green/Sustainability" initiatives. The reality is - we specialize in HVAC controls and energy use off-sets. We specialize in saving people money by reduced energy use. One pilot project at a school has saved $200,000 by using controls (room sensors to shut off lights, scheduling the HVAC system to shut down at night and during breaks, etc, turning off vending machines) and behavior change (getting teachers to turn off unused computers, shutting of classroom lights during lunch, etc). AND ONLY 50% OF THE MECHANICAL CONTROLS ARE INSTALLED. They could easily saving another $200k when all is said and done.
That $200k in savings has allowed the school district to keep an elementary school *open*. The district was going to close the school.
These kinds of conservation measures and controls can be implemented in every school, hospital, government and commercial building around the world. We have other contracts where we save companies MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year in energy use.
You said "There simply isn't enough "waste" to make conservation a workable plan for fulfilling our future energy needs" to which I say "You are ignorant about this topic.'
You're subscribing to a life of energy gluttony. It's too bad that conservation has turned into a dirty word.