In the realm of global energy, there can be little doubt that failing to plan is planning to fail. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, approximately 80 percent of the country’s consumed energy comes from fossil fuels. The largest of these is petroleum, making up a full 37 percent of America’s energy consumption.
Because of the prospect that the peak of global oil production has already been reached or will be reached in the near future, the heavy reliance on fossil fuels by the United States and the developed world generally form a potential crisis the likes of which have never been seen before. And the situation in the developing world is even more dire, with many countries in the third-world deriving more than 50 percent of their meager energy consumption from petroleum products.
More than ever, a rational global energy policy is needed to ensure that the inevitable resource crunch that will follow from the global decline in oil production causes an ordered transition to renewable and other energy sources. Failure to act in time could result in pockets of extreme energy scarcity. And this is likely to lead to wars and widespread societal collapse.
Population in the Global South and making a smooth transition to renewables
The United Nations has estimated that the population of Africa may reach more than 4 billion by 2100, mostly driven by high availability of fossil fuels. This phenomenally irresponsible population growth, if allowed to take place, will have been the result of terrible policies by the developed nations of the world. Because a global energy wind down is almost certain to disproportionately affect the developing world — when push comes to shove, the nation’s with the power to control the remaining resources will not commit civilizational seppuku, no matter how lofty their rhetoric to the contrary — a peaking African population could coincide precisely with the beginning of a sustained and possibly permanent energy crisis on that continent. The result could be the sudden restoration of Africa’s historic carrying capacity of around 75 million people. This would result in a die-off of apocalyptic proportions.
However, the developed world may ultimately be only marginally better off. With little real progress being made in the realm of renewable energy, time is running out. It is unlikely that even the most advanced countries will be able to suddenly adapt to a world without fossil fuels when they currently only derive 5 to 10 percent of their energy from renewables.