Most countries are also greatly affected by issues related to oil supply. Energy security has become a major issue, as countries with enough energy and countries without begin to compete for a piece of what is left of world oil and natural gas reserves, to develop technologies to help their nations keep pace with a skyrocketing demand for energy, to lock in agreements with other nations to address global energy-related environmental issues, and to arrange mutually beneficial trade pacts that exploit existing energy sources or developing technologies. In the United States energy security is now also a term that suggests the need to protect oil refineries, pipelines, and nuclear power facilities, yet for the United States and the entire international community, the term now increasingly suggests the need to maintain a level of fuel and electricity production and affordability that will secure a country's economic stability and political power for generations.
The potential of renewable energies when society is already dominated by fossil fuel energies is another hot-button issue for the world, just as it is for the United States. Renewable energy's share of total world energy supply (among countries of the IEA) grew by an annual rate of only 2.2 percent from 1973 to 2004, according to the IEA.1 Wind and solar were the fastest growing renewable energies among IEA countries but still only accounted for less than 1 percent of the 13.1 percent of energy that was derived from renewable sources. Nuclear electricity production among IEA countries, on the other hand, contributed 6.5 percent of total energy supply in 2004.2 Yet the demand for fossil fuels is still alive and well. According to the IEA, oil's contribution to total primary energy supply among IEA countries was 34.3 percent in 2004.3 Total demand for oil among IEA countries fell by 20 percent between 1979 and 1983, but since then it has been increasing continuously, returning to 1973 demand levels in 2000.4 After 1994 natural gas surpassed coal as a primary contributor to energy supply among IEA countries. In 2004 natural gas accounted for 20.9 percent of total primary energy supply, while coal's share was 25.1 percent.5
Was this article helpful?