Hydrocarbons or fossil fuels (oil,coal, and natural gas (represent 80% of the world's total primary energy supply (all hydrocarbons plus nuclear and all renewable energy combined). Especially since 1850, the world has grown extraordinarily wealthy on their use. In fact, per capita income today is closely correlated with per capita energy use.
Unfortunately, hydrocarbons also account for 80% of the global greenhouse gas production and most of the localized air pollutants which, depending on their concentrations, can impair human health. Yet the global demand for fossil energy is expected to continue to grow. Even with an astonishingly huge projected growth in some renewable sources (for example, wind) fossil fuels are projected to supply 81% of all global primary energy use by 2030.
Coal has a central role to play in all of this. It currently accounts for 25% of the world's total primary energy supply and 40.9% of world electricity generation; and coal represents 59% of the remaining available energy from the world's hydrocarbon reserves. Accordingly, coal is forecast by a US government agency to be the fastest growing global fuel source through 2030. Its share of world primary energy use is expected to rise to 26 percent of total energy and 41.5% of electricity production by 2030.
1. J. David Hughes, Geological Survey of Canada [PDF]
2. Kenneth Markel, Jr., Director of the Office of Major Demonstrations, National Energy Technology Laboratory [PDF]
3. Ross McKitrick, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Guelph [PDF]
4. Tom Adams, Energy Probe [PDF]
Thomas Homer-Dixon, Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Toronto [PDF]
5. Don Dewees, Department of Economics, University of Toronto [PDF]
6. Ross McKitrick, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Guelph [PDF]
7. Stephen Hill, Environmental & Resource Studies, Trent University [PDF]
8. David Keith, Director, Energy and Environmental Systems Group, Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, University of Calgary [PDF]
9. David Bayless, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology, and Director, Ohio Coal Research Chair, Ohio Coal Research Center [PDF]
10. David Layzell, Professor and Research Chair, Department of Biology and Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, and President and CEO, Biocap Canada Foundation, Queen's University [PDF]