As the world population soars, we as a global community are met with a need to fulfill the energy requirements of this increasing population. Probably no one is in complete agreement on how to accomplish this. The World Energy Conference has concluded that energy needs in 3 decades will be 75% higher than today. The popular concern over fuel consumption that was so prevalent following the 1970 oil crunches has gone by the wayside. This concern has recently been revived, but the action is still left to "other" people. One area of concern is the environmental impact of our consumption of fossil fuels. The use of these fuels are often blamed for global warming, however the reasons are still under much debate.
We are generally looking to achieve better fuel efficiency. But with lowering fuel costs, sometimes this is not a priority. Political and economic interests tend to maintain the status quo. The 1970 oil shocks increased our fuel efficiency tremendously, but we still have a ways to go relative "to European countries or Japan"(Chase). The current energy mix is also an area for debate. This has changed throughout the past couple centuries--are we in the process of another transition, is a change necessary? Currently oil is the principle energy supplier, followed by coal and natural gas. Natural gas would seem poised to become the fuel of the 21st century with advantages over coal and oil and being more abundant than previously thought (Chase). The view of the World Energy Council and other organizations is to maintain the current trend, but shift reliance somewhat toward other fossil fuels like lignate or shale. With this scenario large technological or policy changes will not have to occur (Flavin and Lenssen pg. 20). It is assumed that energy efficiencies will increase and that this may be enough to fulfill energy needs. What are neglected are the effects of a tremendously increased population and the effects of unsustainable energy trends both economically and environmentally.
Proponents of the status quo make an incorrect assumption that rapid technological improvements will not be made in the area of energy technologies. Actually vast improvements have been made over the past few years in the area of developing efficient energy technologies for example. There are items like light bulbs and refrigerators that are at least 75% more efficient than the current standard. The power plants of the early 90's are 50% more efficient than a decade ago (Flavin and Lenssen pg. 21).
With natural gas becoming so prominent, a trend toward cleaner, more versatile fuels seems evident. As natural gas is developed, it would allow fazing out of oil and coal and lead to the development of "more efficient and decentralized energy conversion and storage systems" (Flavin and Lenssen pg. 22). This last development makes the transition to renewable fuels more feasible.
The energies that we are primarily using now are not an unlimited...