this period the correlation between GDP and energy use dropped to 99.0%. From 2000-2012, the tight relationship returned. Recently, a large switch from coal to natural gas has again moderated the relationship. Ec onomic growth would be said to experience ‘ absolute decoupling ’ if we were to increase GDP while decreasing primary energy consumption. Relative decoupling would be said to occur when total primary energy consumption grows but at a slower rate than GDP. Since dual statistics began in 1965, there has been no absolute decoupling globally and negligible relative decoupling (0.5%). 121 Globally, the relationship between GDP and energy use has -and will – remain tightly linked.
What does this mean? It means that at historical (and expected) economic growth rates, humans will require massive amounts of energy this century. The blue line represents Gross World Product. At three percent annual growth the world economy will be almost 12x bigger in the year 2100 vs today in terms of goods and services – this is what many economists, and thus politicians and citizens, expect. If we use the best historical energy efficiency period from 1973-2000 of one percent per year globally, this will mean energy use in 2100 will be over 500% more than it is today. TaaL: “Spoiler alert”: that graph won’t keep climbing forever . When I see this graph, I can’t help but think of one of your theme -park roller coasters, slowly ascending the lofty summit while giving its riders a great view of their surroundings – and approaching a precipitous drop-off they are unable to yet see. Your descendants will likely envy you the ride, but they may not
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