The Use Of Energy From Fossil Fuels Continues To Increase

According to British Petroleum's Statistical Review of World Energy (2006), global use of energy has doubled since the 1970s, from about 5 million metric tons of oil equivalent to 10.5 million, more than 90 percent of it from fossil fuels. In the United States in 2004, the average person used 7.9 metric tons of oil equivalent, 3.8 in the United Kingdom, 1.0 in China, and 0.11 in Bangladesh (Hillman and Fawcett, 2007, 38-40).

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are built into our everyday lives—our modes of transportation, production, and consumption. Roughly 80 percent of human industrial activity worldwide is fueled by the combustion of energy that produces carbon dioxide (and, oftentimes, other greenhouse gases as well). The same industrial processes also produce waste heat in addition to greenhouse gases. Sometimes these manufactured goods (such as automobiles) also produce waste heat and greenhouse gases as they are operated. Warming provoked by greenhouse gases remains in the air for many years, sometimes centuries. An upward trend in temperatures would continue for at least the next 100 years even if fossil fuel consumption were reduced sharply today.

Fossil fuel burning is increasing most rapidly in China and other developing areas, especially India, as populations and industrial production per capita (per person) rises. Consumption of fossil fuels is increasing more slowly (and, in some cases, even declining) in the economies of the United States, Europe, and Japan. "No region is decarbonizing its energy supply," a report said (Boyd, 2007, A-8; Raupach et al., 2007, 10,288).

Amidst speculation that China might pass the United States as the world's leading source of carbon dioxide emissions in 2008 or 2009, a report arrived from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in mid-June 2007 that China had already taken the lead as early as 2006. China, which is experiencing an economic boom fueled mainly by low-energy ("dirty") coal and rapidly rising cement manufacturing, witnessed a rise in CO2 emissions of 9 percent during 2006 (China, 2007). U.S. emissions declined by 1.4 percent in 2006, as compared to 2005. "There will still be some uncertainty about the exact numbers, but this is the best and most up to date estimate available," said Jos Olivier, a scientist who crunched the numbers at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

Of all industrial processes, cement clinker production is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Globally, it contributes around 4 percent to the total of CO2 emissions from fuel use and industrial activities, the Netherlands agency said. Globally, in 2006, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use increased by about 2.6 percent, which is less than the 3.3 percent increase in 2005 (China, 2007).

In addition to massive industrial expansion, China since the year 2000 has been adding about 7.5 billion square feet of residential and commercial real estate per year, as much as all the existing retail shopping malls in the United States, according to the United States Energy Information Administration (Kahn and Yardley, 2006). An increasing proportion of this space is air-conditioned. In addition, most Chinese buildings, even the new ones, have little or no thermal insulation and require twice as much energy to heat or cool as the same amount of floor space as a similar climate in the United States or Europe, according to the World Bank. China has energy efficiency standards, but most new buildings do not meet them (Kahn and Yardley, 2006).

To light, heat, and cool all this new space (as well as industrial plants that produce so many exported goods), China in 2005 alone added 66 gigawatts of electricity, as much as Great Britain's annual demand. In 2006, it added 102 gigawatts, the total demand of France. Two-thirds of this new power is generated using coal. China has built small, inexpensive coal-fired plants that only rarely use the latest more efficient combined-cycle turbines (Kahn and Yardley, 2006).

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Responses

  • anonymous
    why demands for fossil fuel energy continue to increase
    8 years ago
  • hildibrand
    How much has the use of Fossil Fuels Increased since 2004?
    8 years ago

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