Population growth and energy conservation
How it's still possible for energy consumption to come down, even when the world population is going up.
Even with all the energy efficient appliances in the world, will future energy consumption continue increasing because population is increasing? This segment of "The Takeaway's" Power Trip series delves into population and energy consumption with David Biello, an associate editor at "Scientific American" online.
The U.N. projects that by 2025, we'll go from 6.6 billion people on the planet to 8 billion.
According to Biello, it's not so much about many people are consuming: "The real question is how much energy is each individual person going to use. If you look at the statistics, here in the U.S., we're burning 335 million BTUs ... in China, in India, they use basically one-sixth and one-tenth of that."
Another way to look at it: China consumes 7.9 million barrels of oil a day; the U.S. with less than one-quarter as many people, consumes 20.7 million barrels a day. This is largely due to the fact that there are more cars in the U.S. than China, so the question becomes, according to Biello: "... are they going to have a lot more cars? I was in China in last May and all indicators that I could see, and people that I've talked to is, they are going to have a lot more cars. Then the question becomes what kind of cars are they going to have?
"It's kinda what China will decide to do on it's own ... Chinese cars area actually more fuel efficient than American cars are required to be."
There's also a shift that has to happen in the market, says Biello, who points to the shift in the 1970s from people driving big Cadillacs to smaller cars that were more fuel efficient. He says, "Personal virtue isn't really going to get us where we want to go. We're not all trying to become ... vegan, Prius-driving environmentalists. What is going to save us is ... using energy more smartly."
"The Takeaway" is PRI's new national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.
More on the Power Trip series at thetakeaway.org