Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The energy resources in the recent years had become an important element of the world socio-economic development. However, in as much as resource does not refer to a thing or a substance, but to a function that a thing or substance may perform, or an operation in which it may take part, the large-scale exploitation of the planet's resource base may well go down in history as a defining characteristic of the 20th century.Today the scale of resource consumption threatens the entire global ecosystem. Throughout the last century access to and control over natural resources was a source of conflict. Equally, patterns of resource consumption remain a major marker between the so-called 'developed' and 'developing' worlds. According to the World Bank ( 2002) in 1999 the so-called high-income countries accounted for 50.5 percent of global commercial energy use. I n the early 21st century, society is increasingly aware of the finite nature of the planet's resource base. Yet, a seeming relative abundance of supply has made us complacent, as has a blind belief that technological progress will solve the inevitable shortage of non-renewable resources. The available sources of fuels that provide the motive force for a wide range of human activities are the sun, nuclear energy, geothermal energy,and tidal energy. These had been described as renewable energy sources which could efficiently replace the fast depleting and non-renewable energy sources like the carbon and hydro-carbon fossil fuels. In light of current global warming situation caused by large carbon emission into the atmosphere, experts had been quite optimistic that the renewable energy sources are obviously the better alternatives. PATTERNS OF ENERGY CONSUMPTION Resources are as dynamic as civilization itself. In fact, one can suggest that each major human civilization was sustained by a particular set of resources and technologies for their exploitation. Thus, the archaeological record talks of the Stone Age and the Iron Age. In reference to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, Simmons (1996) states that: 'industrialization based on the fossil fuel energy represents a turning point in the history of human-nature relations'.If the 19th century was based on the exploitation of coal, then the 21st century will be seen as the era of oil and gas. However, as the argument develops, it had been appreciated that the 21st should and would have important energy sources from nuclear, solar, tidal, hydro, geothermal, animal waste, wind and wave. For most of human history, societies have utilized renewable source of energy, low resources such as wood that can be depleted, sustained or increases by human activities. Since the invention of steam engines about 200 years ago, much of human society has become ever more dependent upon the exploitation of non-renewable energy resources. Today, three fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas account for for over 85 percent of the annual sale of the world's most important minerals. Coal is still used in many industrial processes and as a source of heat and remains the most important fuel for electricity generation. However, it is a relatively bulky resource and in recent years, particularly in Western Europe, it has been unable to compete with oil that is more versatile or with cleaner natural gas. High oil prices, increasing demand for energy, consequences carbon emission on the environment and industrialization have now resulted in renewed interest in non- renewable sources of energy and even a growing enthusiasm for nuclear power; a more cleaner energy source and cost effective. As energy consumption and economic development are related there is a clarification on the fact that high income countries tend to consume more energy. But in a critical look at the pattern, some of these countries tend to have low level of energy consumption because of the introduction of energy-saving technologies and have exported energy- intensive industry offshore. The main focus of the Geneva conference in 2010 was to cut down the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere known to be the main cause of global warming and it's environmental complications. The United States Obama administration's advocacy on more cleaner energy was met by the onset of the still-to-be salvage Gulf Of Mexico British Petroleum oil spillage. Apparently, the Kyoto Protocol was intended to address similar carbon emission problems. Though, nuclear energy had been much appreciated and advocated in most circles, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the supposed benefits were far out -weighed by the environmental problems it posed. criticisms leveled against nuclear by critics is listed as: That reactor operations and transport or irradiated fuels cannot be guaranteed safe against catastrophic accidents. That radioactive waste has to be disposed of safely and reactors have to be decommissioned, all of which is extremely costly That the reactors need to be kept safe and secure from theft or misappropriation, to make nuclear weapons. Over the years public trust on nuclear power has been significantly eroded by a number of serious accidents such those at Wind-scale, Cumbria, in the UK in 1957, Three Mile Island in the USA in 1979 and Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986. Despite these problems, in 1998 nuclear power accounted for 16 percent of global electricity generation; but it has been very much an option for the developed world, partly due to cost and technology, but also due to concerns over the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In view of the increasing energy demands and concerns of efficiency in energy-use, environmental situation, solar energy, wind power, biomass energy, geothermal energy could well be harness to salvage the problems.

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