Energy issues

The development of our society is tied to energy consumption. Without energy, man would not have been able to reach the present level of wellbeing and quality of life. Without the availability of sufficient energy resources future economic development  would be jeopardized. Notwithstanding recent increases in prices, energy is still “cheap”. All of us therefore are used to make use of large amounts of energy without thinking much about it, this is because we are not aware of our actual needs. The world energy panorama shows constant energy reserves, relatively stable prices, which however tend to grow, and a strong increase in the demand, particularly in the developing countries.  However fossil fuels, which are the source of energy that has been utilized mostly up to date, have a downside. First of all they are destined to become depleted sooner or later. Certainly the ascertained reserves of fossil fuels have gradually increased during the course of the last 25 years, with the discovery of new deposits and a more exhaustive exploitation of the existing deposits,  made possible by  modern technologies. Unlike what was believed at the end of the Seventies, a physical depletion of these “fossil” resources is not imminent, we can still count on a few years (about 110 for coal, 58 for natural gas, 51 for oil) to develop alternative sources of energy. The problem therefore has only been postponed, but not for long!  Another fundamental problem is that fossil fuels in many cases are a source of pollution of the environment, and in particular of the air.
This problem also sums with the disparity between nations, with regard to the level of wellbeing that has been obtained. Distribution of energy consumption is greatly anomalous: 20% of the world population (in the richer countries) uses 80% of the energy that is produced. This situation is strongly in contrast with the fundamental principles of equality among peoples, sustainable development and therefore global quality of life.
Countries like Africa or India are very poor at present (the pro capita income in some areas is greatly below subsistence level) and they yearn to increase their level of wellbeing. In order to do so, however, they need to utilize energy in greater amounts (for more factories to operate, to guarantee sufficient light and heating for the families).
Where will this additional energy come from? Probably if they follow our development model that uses mostly fossil fuels, there will be a marked impact on the environment and, as many experts believe,  in the future, severe climate changes (the so-called “greenhouse effect”) may take place with consequences that are extremely harmful for human beings. The consequence is a “non-sustainable” development from the point of view of the environment. On the other hand,  we cannot prevent the poor countries from reaching an adequate economic and social development, also because the economic and social imbalance that exists between nations is a potential source of political instability, wars and strong migratory flows. Maintaining the present situation or a solely partial improvement would, in this case, lead to a non-sustainable development from an economic and social point of view.
How to solve these problems? Since their extent is international, the countries of the world are trying to reach an agreement, through all the international institutions that can have a fundamental role.

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Facts

  • Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

    Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

    Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

  • Geographical distribution of energy

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need. Unfortunately we cannot exploit all this…

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

    Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…

  • Hydrogen from biomass

    Hydrogen is an energy carrier that allows to generate energy in an environmentally sustainable way...

    ITER fusion reactor

    The reactor that will be able to produce electronuclear energy without risk of explosion or radioactive waste...

    Phyto-depuration

    A very interesting project has been carried out by Lombardy region...

  • 2 March 2011

    Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

    Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

  • Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

    Geographical distribution of energy

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need. Unfortunately we cannot exploit all this…

  • Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

    Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…

  • Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

  • Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

  • Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…