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3.3 The world's energy consumption - a growing problem

The world's energy consumption
The high standard of living in the industrialized world would hardly be possible without utilizing the hidden treasures of the earth, such as minerals and inexpensive energy, as well as the fertilizers used in agriculture.

The illustration shows the enormous increase of the world's collective energy consumption which has occurred during the last 100 years of civilization. Not until the 1950's was it realized that our large- scale industrialized society lives in conflict with nature. In the short term, pollutants affect our immediate environment through the destruction of forests, and acidification of the soil. In the long term, the global climate will become increasingly extreme, with drought, flooding, and hurricanes. In evidence of this trend, the number of natural disasters in the 1990's was triple the number in the 1960's. In 1998 alone, 300 million people were affected by torrential rains and landslides. In addition to this, the ocean level is slowly increasing due to the greenhouse effect. By the year 2100, the sea level could rise an entire meter, which would threaten millions of people living on small island countries and in large coastal cities such as London.

Instead of continuing with our present lifestyle, we should decrease our overall energy dependence, and work towards a more self- sufficient, recycling society which is more in balance with the demands and limitations of nature.

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