Terra-watt Years of Power in 2017 Alone
Equivalent to Barrels of Oil
Global Year over Year Energy Consumption Increase
With a population of over 7.6 billion, our society uses an almost unimaginable amount of energy. In 2017 alone we produced almost 28 terawatt-years of power to sustain our industrialized society. Producing that much power would require us to burn almost 21 billion tons or 150 billion barrels of crude oil. And our energy demand is growing. Global energy consumption grows at an average annual rate of 1.7 percent per year based on a 10-year average.
Meeting the world’s demand for energy is causing serious environmental problems. Eighty-five percent (85%) of the world’s power comes from burning fossil fuel (oil, gas, and coal). Burning this fuel releases CO2 into our atmosphere at an enormous rate. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions for 2017 may be as high as 37 gigatons. As of 2018, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere are at the highest level in 3 million years. 2016 was the warmest year on record and 17 of the 18 warmest years have occurred since 2000. Science shows that the main cause of the current global warming trend is human activity, specifically warming of the atmosphere caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Although progress has been made moving toward renewable energy sources, as of today only 3.6% of our energy comes from renewable energy sources and not all renewable energy is sustainable energy. The challenge is to accelerate our adoption of sustainable energy as quickly as possible.