Energy: A Fair Deal for All
Audouze, Jean, UNESCO Courier
Both the supply of energy and the demand for it have spiralled in modern societies, where everyday life and changes to the environment, global as well as local, are conditioned by energy production and use. At the same time, there are more than a billion people in the world with an income of less than a dollar a day, and more than two billion rely on firewood as their sole source - if any - of energy. There is a crying need for a fairer share-out of material goods, energy and economic resources.
Energy comes in three forms: so-called "fossil" fuels (coal, oil and natural gas); nuclear power; and "renewable" energies (hydroelectric power, thermal or photovoltaic solar energy, wind and tide power, wood, etc.). Each of these has its own undeniable advantages and drawbacks.
Fossil fuels are abundant and very simple to use. Oil, for example, can be very easily transported and processed, and is relatively cheap. The technology for producing its many derivatives is highly developed. What's more, it is particularly well suited for use in all forms of land, sea and air transport. Its handy fluid form and its price make it appropriate to the needs of poor communities or those that are unable to invest in capital goods.
Fossil fuels account at present for 77 per cent of all the energy produced and will, according to the most realistic projections, still account for 73 per cent in 2020. Worldwide annual consumption of coal, natural gas and oil stands, respectively, at 2.3, 1.7 and 2.7 GTOE.(1) Proven reserves at 1990 consumption levels stand at 200 years for coal, 40 for oil and 60 for natural gas. These figures may be multiplied by between two and five if improvements in productivity and efficiency and the exploitation of the last remaining deposits, such as those …
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Publication information: Article title: Energy: A Fair Deal for All. Contributors: Audouze, Jean - Author. Magazine title: UNESCO Courier. Publication date: May 1998. Page number: 8+. © 1984 UNESCO. COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Group.
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