August 5, 2012

Natural Gas: Use Wisely

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times recently had an excellent article on how new developments in the domestic natural gas industry has the potential of setting us free from our dependency on oil from the middle east. He also points out that it could also cause us to relax our efforts to find alternative energy sources that are more friendly to the environment.

He is absolutely correct that natural gas has bought us time and we need to use it wisely. As the data below indicates, we have less time than many think. 

There are a number of countries that are beginning to prosper including Brazil, Russia, India and China. In addition there our other countries that seem to be on the cusp of a serious break through to a more prosperous life including Poland, the southern part of Africa, Vietnam and others. Greater prosperity comes with greater consumption. Greater consumption comes with greater use of energy.

Energy prices are dictated by supply and demand and demand is rising. World-wide demand for energy will be increasing dramatically as demonstrated below.. Our policy should factor in the sources of energy and the affects on the environment. After all, it is our children and grandchildren we are discussing.

Procuring sufficient energy in the future will be much harder. The population of the planet is growing and other countries are becoming more affluent and thus consuming more, including energy. Below is a graph of the amount of oil consumed per capita by country.

Below are other quotes concerning worldwide energy consumption. Some are in conflict with the chart above; however, the point is clear. We need a President who is thinking long term and strategically.

“In 2009…China's per capita energy consumption was about one-fifth of that of the United States”. The National Energy Bureau and the National Bureau of Statistics reported on Aug. 11, People’s Daily Online, August 12, 2010

“Per capita consumption rates in China are still about 11 times below ours, but let’s suppose they rise to our level. … China’s catching up alone would roughly double world consumption rates…

If India as well as China were to catch up (with the United States), world consumption rates would triple. If the developing world were suddenly to catch up, world rates would increase eleven fold. It would be as if the world population ballooned to 72 billion people (retaining present consumption rates).” The York Times, January 2, 2008

“Americans consumes as much as 32 Kenyans. With 10 times the population, the United States consumes 320 times more resources than Kenya does.” The York Times, January 2, 2008

The rest of the world is not only growing, it is developing a middle class and prospering. Our posterity will be living and competing in that world. It is time we focus on this problem, rather than when will gas prices hit $5.00 per gallon.

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