Energy: Plenty of energy, not well shared

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
467,
Page:
886
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/467886d
Published online

The world currently produces more than enough energy to provide a high standard of living for all of its human inhabitants, researchers say.

Julia Steinberger at the Institute of Social Ecology in Vienna and Timmons Roberts of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, analysed energy and human-development trends such as literacy, wealth and life expectancy for the period between 1975 and 2005. They found that, because of increasing efficiencies, the amount of energy required to meet basic human needs has steadily declined over time. The duo projects that this trend will persist until 2030, enabling a reduction in cumulative energy consumption, despite continued population growth.

Their analysis suggests that high energy poverty and carbon emissions are driven by economic and political structures that maintain inequity among peoples.

Ecol. Econ. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.09.014 (2010)

Comments

  1. Report this comment #15183

    Jean SmilingCoyote said:

    An analogous finding was reported years ago about the maldistribution of world food resources, and the "economic and political structures that maintain inequity among peoples" being the fundamental cause, given the overall adequacy of the supply. But it is startling that "the world currently produces more than enough energy to provide a high standard of living for all its human inhabintants." I would have guessed by analogy something closer to the Iron Law of Wages. But I'm not doing that research. The next questions about energy would have to address the problem of the gross inequity we have now. What can concerned citizens of the world do beyond "Think globally, act locally"?

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