Seeding Socioeconomic Avalanches! [Hacked by WordPress; filtered by Google!]

Energy Consumption

9.73 Million A-bombs

The key to preserving human cultures on Earth is the ability to evolve at very low rates of consumption of energy, materials, and resources. Humans use about 150 times more energy now than in the pre-industrial times.

Global energy consumption for 2006 was a staggering 507 exajoules [5.07E+20 joules, the equivalent to the energy released by detonating 9.3 million Hiroshima-sized A-bombs throughout the year at the rate of 25,437 bombs each day, or one bomb for every 718 people.] Fossil fuels accounted for about 88 percent of global energy consumption in 2006.

Our estimate for the global energy consumption in 2007 is 531 exajoules (9.73 million A-bombs) releasing an additional 31,775.04 32,503.49 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere [anthropogenic CO2 total for 2007 was ~ 38,058.66 MMT.]


On average each [US] gallon of gasoline produces about 132 megajoules (primary energy of about 161 megajoules) of heat, or enthalpy. Each megajoule of energy used in gasoline (or diesel fuel) results in the emission of about 68 grams of CO2. Each gallon of gasoline produces about 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of carbon dioxide. [Note: An additional 22% is added to the CO2 calculation to allow for the input energy (primary energy) used to extract crude oil and process the fuel.]

Energy: US Per Capita Consumption

The US primary energy consumption is about 365 million BTU per capita (one BTU, British thermal unit, is about 1,055 joules) or 63 barrels of oil equivalent every year (a barrel of oil is equivalent to about 6.118 billion joules). Most of this energy comes from irreplaceable fossil fuel sources: oil, coal and natural gas.

Compare the total energy consumption per capita with the average power output of a human:

a. On average the power output of a human is about 100 watts (100 joules/second).

b. Per capita daily consumption in joules:
(365 million BTU per year) x (1,055 joules per BTU) / (365 days per year) = 1,054 megajoules per day

c. Per capita power used:
(1,054 megajoules per day) / (24 hours per day) / (3600 seconds per hour) = 12,201 watts

d. Divide (c) by (a) and you will note each person uses 122 energy slaves working for him/her non-stop around the clock [this gives a new slant to the content of Aladdin’s lamp: oil transformed into genie slaves!]

Food Energy

The energy humans need to stay alive and do work is provided by the metabolism of food. A good estimate for the daily energy requirement is 2,000 food calories (2,000 kcal) per day for women and 2,600 kcal for men (low to medium activity lifestyles).

To produce 1,000 kcal of food energy, however, the food production industry in the Western Society uses between 7-10,000 kcal in Sweden and 11-14,000 kcal in USA (about 22,000 kcal in Japan).

This enormous energy markup is used by the agricultural industry (fertilizers, pesticides, farm machinery), retail sector (transportation, refrigeration, processing, packaging, displaying and advertising) and in the kitchen (refrigerating and cooking the food).

Non-Renewable Energy Sources

– Petroleum
– Natural Gas
– Coal
– Nuclear

• Unconventional (examples)
– Oil Shale
– Natural gas hydrates in marine sediment

Renewable Energy Sources

• Solar photovoltaic
• Solar thermal power
• Passive solar air and water heating
• Wind
• Small-scale Hydropower
• Biomass
• Ocean energy
• Geothermal
• Waste to Energy

Energy Keywords
non-polluting energy sources, clean technologies, anaerobic digestion, biomass power, geothermal power, wind power, hydropower, solar power, tidal power, wave power; waste incineration, Clean Energy Trends, primary energy, PV power plants, PV power plants, PV power plants, renewable energy, International Energy Agency, wind turbines, intermittency, deep lake water cooling, ocean thermal energy conversion, concentrated solar power, solar ovens, wind farm, non-renewable resources fossil fuels, hydrocarbons, petroleum, natural gas, coal methane, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, global warming, average surface temperature.

Consumption: global warming, world energy resources and consumption, 2000 Watt society, Earth’s energy budget, Kardashev scale, oil phase-out in Sweden, Peak Oil

Note: Nuclear energy is neither sustainable, nor renewable. Much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are generated by the large amount of fossil fuel required for mining, transport and processing. Nuclear waste is a pollutant if released into the biosphere.

3 Responses to “Energy Consumption”

  1. Dawson said

    [Comment edited. FEWW]

  2. Ted said

    I’d like to know your source for the energy consumption (507 exajoules). Thanks

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