Present & Future Global Energy Uses & Needs

Present & Future Global Energy Uses & Needs
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  • 0:01 Energy Drives Society
  • 0:44 Current Energy Use
  • 2:37 The Future of Global Energy
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Our world is powered by a variety of energy sources. What we use now may influence what we can utilize in the future. We'll have some tough decisions to make, all of which will have impacts on society, the environment and global and local economies.

Energy Drives Society

I want you to try something. Think about going through a single day without any energy powering it along. You would probably miss some simple things, like your cell phone, stove and hot shower, but you would also have a difficult time getting to work without a vehicle or traffic lights. And what would be the point of going in anyway - would you be able to do anything without a computer?

Your day would be difficult for sure, but that's just you. Think about all of the grocery stores, hospitals and factories that depend on a 24-hour supply of energy. All flights would be grounded, trucks could no longer deliver goods from warehouses and trains would be stuck at their stations.

Current Energy Use

Simply put, our world would be a very different place if we couldn't use all of the energy we currently use, but this is a relatively new experience for human society. My grandparents grew up in the U.S., but when they were kids, not everyone had electricity to power their homes. Nowadays, though, it's rare to find someone living in a house without it, at least in a developed country.

All of this energy comes from a variety of sources that we describe as either renewable, meaning that they are replenished relatively quickly, or non-renewable, meaning that they are available in limited quantities.

Fossil fuels fall into the non-renewable category. This includes things like coal, oil and natural gas. All of these are naturally made products on Earth, but they take so long to make (think millions of years) that we could easily use them up before they can be regenerated.

Renewable energy sources include things like solar, wind and hydroelectric power. Because the wind will keep blowing and the sun will keep shining, we can take advantage of these energy sources without the risk of using them up.

Unfortunately, though, global energy use relies heavily on non-renewable sources, and with a growing world population comes a growing demand for energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, or EIA, fossil fuels supply about 80% of the world's energy and will continue to do so for some time to come. That means more than 3/4 of the world's energy comes from non-renewable energy resources!

The good news is that renewable energy sources rank among the fastest growing sources of energy around the world. Many governments are pushing for large-scale changes that incorporate more 'green' energy into their societies, and the technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible for individuals to use as well.

The Future of Global Energy

You might be thinking that if most of the world's energy comes from sources that only occur in limited supply, we're in trouble. And you're right - there's definitely no way to rely on something we know is going to run out sooner rather than later. But we also know that as more people join the world population and more countries become industrially developed, it's unlikely we'll see a decrease in world energy use.

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