Because a growing standard of living in any nation requires a growing amount of energy usage, I have planned a series of articles centered on that key topic. Energy sources and uses are not just important in an economic sense; they also carry significant implications for national security and the environment.
The best way to get things rolling with this first article is to summarize the facts of our energy sources and uses (...according to the US Department of Energy).
The chart above is the data from 2005. I hope the format I’ve chosen to depict sources and uses is self-explanatory. The drawback to using percentages in both dimensions is that it masks the magnitude of the grand total, 99.8 Quads in 2005. Keep that in mind, because if there is one certainty about our future, it is this: our energy usage will grow in lock step with our standard of living—energy conservation measures notwithstanding. (Conservation measures reduce our energy usage per standard-of-living-dollar, enabling our standard of living to increase at a faster rate, which in turn will increase the total amount of energy we’ll use. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s the one sure bet about our energy future: Energy efficiency improvements will help drive increased energy usage.)
Now, here’s a tickler for future articles I have planned for the energy topic. It's another picture I keep in my head, for reference whenever I’m pondering the next generation’s economy, national security, and environment. (Wondering what happened to all the transportation energy between 2005 and 2025? Hint: Take a look at the yellow area, electricity generated for public use. More on this in future articles.)
Here are links to all seven articles in the energy series:
• Article 1: Energy facts, certainties, and possibilities
• Article 2: Government spending and its consequences
• Article 3: Yes, growth DOES require more energy
• Article 4: Dissenting from Mr. Gore
• Article 5: The obstacle to oil independence
• Article 6: A tankful of electrons
• Article 7: A 21st Century “GI Bill”