by Jerome a Paris
Wed Jun 28th, 2006 at 06:16:17 PM EST
According to Angus Maddison, the authoritative economic historian, gross global product rose 19-fold (at purchasing power parity, or common international prices) between 1900 and 2001. Over the same period consumption of all commercial energy increased 18-fold. The closeness of the correlation is eery.
What, then, does the deep-seated link between economic development and energy consumption imply for humanity’s future? The answer is that it points to four big questions. First, where might all this energy come from? Second, what does it mean for energy security? Third, what does it imply for our ability to deal with the threat of climate change? And, finally, what can economic policy contribute? I plan to address these questions in future columns. But one point is already clear: anybody who thinks it will be easy to reduce global energy consumption is simply dreaming.