More-Populous World May Demand 16 Times More Energy by 2050
If the global population rises to 9.5 billion by 2050, and every one of those people adopts the American standard of living, global energy demand could increase by a factor of 16 according to a recent paper by a team of University of New Mexico biologists and other researchers.
The article published in the journal BioScience finds that that low infant mortality, electronics consumption per person, and various other high-standard-of-living variables are closely correlated with energy consumption per person.
“The vast majority of nations we analyzed (74%) increased both energy use and GDP from 1980 to 2003 and exhibited positive correlations [in standard of living] across the 24 years. For example, from 1850 to 2000, while the global human population grew fivefold, world energy use increased 20-fold and fossil fuel-use rose more than 150-fold,” the authors write.
Correlation is not the same as causation. The researchers acknowledge the possibility that future technologies may make the U.S. standard of living less energy intensive. Regardless, the correlations they point out are compelling in the light of continued global dependence on fossil fuels.
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