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.