The population is approximately 7.5 billion and expected to increase to 9.5 billion by the year 2050, and rise to an incredible 11.5 billion by year 2100 (UN.org).
It’s hard to even fathom so many people being on earth, right?
An increase in the population will greatly impact the production of food and commercial goods. But the use of fossil fuels and other popular energy sources to produce goods are causing harmful effects on the environment. Therefore, we must find alternative and renewable sources of energy if production is going to match the population increase. Our natural elements like the sun, water, and air may be the solution.
Scientists have predicted that production of commercial goods, such as food, will need to double in order to maintain today’s level of comfort in developed countries (Ray DK, Mueller ND et. al, 2013).
This looming food shortage might bring to mind images of those heart wrenching infomercials showing starving children in Africa. The thought that this could easily be you might even cross your mind. It is also worth noting that nearly 3 billion individuals live under the poverty line, surviving off of a shocking $2.50 per day (globalissues.org), andwith our current issues it may be hard to imagine an increase in population by 4 billion people.
But even though doubling the production of goods may seem daunting, an even more pressing issue lies in finding energy sources to complete this task. The preferred energy sources used in industrial and commercial production are fossil fuels such as coal, oils, and natural gas. However, using fossil fuels presents a huge dilemma.
Their burning greatly contributes to the production of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which breaks down the atmosphere leading to global warming. That’s right! The “strange tree-huggers” of the 70’s were right to be wary.
But fortunately, there have been massive breakthroughs in technology to produce clean, renewable energy by using Earth’s natural resources. Therefore making resources such as, solar power, wind turbines, and hydroelectric or “water energy”, more accessible and reliable.
So you may ask “why are we still exhausting fossil fuels?”. Simply put, fossil fuels, especially oils, are cheaper and get the job done quite well. But, with rapid advancements in technology the ability to rely on renewable energy is in fact becoming cheaper every day. Less than 10 years ago, the cost of a solar panel installation was $8.82/watt and it is has fallen by over 60% to $3.36/watt (news.energysage). Additionally, a federal tax credit called the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) will result in an additional deduction of 30% off the total cost of solar panel installation.
Therefore, renewable energy sources have become cheaper to obtain. For instance, wind turbines can now be purchased for the same cost as an iPhone! Yes, an iPhone! With the ability to produce 3-5kW hours of electricity daily, this $750 wind turbine the size of a ceiling fan can power your house for a lifetime (educateinspirechange.org).
The future is bright, and windy, with some strong waves at your local beach. Being that we are only in 2017, and renewable energy is becoming cheaper pretty much everyday, having these types of mind blowing (wind pun) advancements is astonishing.
I personally envision the remaining 16% of the global population without electricity to have access by 2030. That may be a bold statement to some, but I am a firm believer and I’ll bet you my biweekly paycheck.
Despite the almost exponential increase in population, and the multitude of challenges posed for industrial and commercial production, there is hope in renewable energy sources. Economies will change and become more sustainable, especially if developing countries look at our mistakes and proceed accordingly.
“It ain’t about who did it first, it’s bout who did it right,” Word to Drake. That being said, being late to the party never felt so good.