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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Rising Cost of Resources and Global Indicators of Change

The turn of this century saw the cheapest-ever energy and food combined, and here’s why we may never return to those historic low numbers.

Carey W. King

2015-11KingF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageContemporary discussions of energy resources and technologies are full of conflicting news, views, and opinions from extreme sides of arguments. The average person is understandably confused. In the vast majority of instances, the extreme views are hyperbole of a much more subtle reality. It is tantamount that we properly consider future energy options in the context of relevant biophysical and socioeconomic trends. Otherwise, we risk merely treating symptoms of the true underlying causes. One approach to a deeper understanding of energy, particularly for the general consumer, is to put the numbers into practical context. For instance, here’s an essential takeaway shown by my recent data analysis: The turn of the 21st century marked an important societal turning point, as the time of the cheapest food and energy the world has ever known. For developed countries, and likely the world overall, the trend of increasing food and energy services consuming a declining proportion of our economic output (in terms of gross domestic product, or GDP) seems to be over, perhaps permanently.


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