Reading many of today’s energy articles, it is easy to get the impression that our energy problem is a quality problem—some energy is polluting; other energy is hoped to be less polluting.
There is a different issue that we are not being told about. It is the fact that having enough energy is terribly important, as well. Total world energy consumption has risen quickly over time.
In fact, the amount of energy consumed, on average, by each person (also called “per capita”) has continued to rise, except for two flat periods.
There is a good reason why energy consumed has risen over time on a per capita basis. Every human being needs energy products, as does every business. Energy is what allows food to be cooked and homes to be heated. Energy products allow businesses to manufacture and transport goods. Without energy products of all kinds, workers would be less productive in their jobs. Thus, it would be hard for the world economy to grow.
When energy consumption per capita is rising, it is easy for workers to become more productive because the economy is building more tools (broadly defined) for them to use, making their work easier. Manufacturing cell phones and computers requires energy. Even things like roads, pipelines, and electricity transmission lines are built using energy.
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