The world population hit 7 billion mark recently, precisely 7,044,110,246 by the April Fool’s Day. During the pre-industrial era the population growth was not significant enough to make a big impact on the environment, and the lifestyle of the pre-industrial era human was not as complicated as the modern man either. The world population in 1900 was just 1.7 billion, and within 50 years it passed 2.5 billion with over 50 % increase. By the year 2000, the world population crossed 6.2 billion. The predicted number in 2050 is a staggering 12.5 billion, which some doubt if the earth can handle the situation. Although the developed/industrialized countries handle the population growth fairly reasonably, the developing countries either ignore or overlook the population growth. Perhaps their cultural/religious beliefs cross the idea of birth controlling, or lack of knowledge contribute to the cause; whatever it is, the situation is gloomy.
Increase of global population bring a load of problems. Over-crowding; shortage of food, water, and other resources; deforestation; healthcare problems; and socio-economic problems are a few to highlight. With the near exponential growth of global population, the increase of human necessities bring the inevitable and obvious requirement: Energy. Some powerful nations initiated a few mini-wars during past few decades to invade the energy rich (rather oil-rich) countries. With the oil companies controlling the economy of the most developed and powerful country in the world, (even the decision making authorities) this energy war would turn ugly, if not worse than that.
Current global energy demand is approximately 15-16 TW, or little over 500 quadrillion BTUs, and the conservative estimates projects it will be quadruple by the year 2100, or doubled by the year 2050. According to IEA world statistics, in four years (2004–2008) the world population increased 5%, annual CO2 emissions increased 10% and gross energy production increased 10%. The major energy sources can be categorized into two main areas: Fossil fuel sources and renewable sources. Fossil fuel sources include, oil, coal, and natural gas, while renewable sources can be hydro power, solar, wind, wave, geothermal, and other minor sources. Nuclear power belongs to neither of these, as it is non-renewable nor fossil fuel based.
Of all the sources, oil tops the chart of energy generation with coal coming second. Either it is oil or coal, the burning gives one significant final product except water: CO2. Previously, the energy pundits predicted that the oil reserves in the earth will be finished by the year 2030 to 2040. However the current findings have made them clowns. We will have fossil fuel for over 200 years, natural gas for over 400 years, and coal for 2000 plus years. These numbers exclude what we can have under the polar ice caps. The northern hemisphere political powerhouses, (US, Russia, Denmark, and some EU countries) already planning to dig the cleared arctic regions for more oil: They don’t care about the environmental impact at all. The limited amount or lack of it is not the major problem. The real danger is the impact on the environment due to the addition of CO2 and heat upon burning these fuel reserves to generate the energy/power.
To keep the discussion short and sweet, I will discuss the environmental impact of the increase of CO2 and many more things in future articles.