Are we running out of it?
food and land graph
Arable land per US resident population US production as percentage of the world's energy-use.



Land is finite. As a source of food, fuel, fiber, water, minerals, shelter, and residential space, land area sustains multiple uses. As the available area shrinks in comparison to population, energy has become more important as a means to use less with greater efficiency. This may be thought of as a form of the "mini-max" criteria. The minimum number of impacts that a maximum amount of efficiency can produce.


What is energy?

Global use of energy | disparity | Uses of energy

Sources of United States energy use

Sources of energy used in the United States


"Energy is

            1) "the ability to effect change in our physical world,

            2) "essential to human enterprises at every level"


Ehrlich & Ehrlich, The Dominant Animal, p. 290.


"biomass pyramid of a summer grassland."  Miller, Similar to p. 183, figure 9.5:

[1] source: Miller, Living in the Environment. Wadsworth publishing.

Trees, "biomass fuels sustain about 2 billion people . . ."


"Most–- but not all–- of the energy mobilized for human use in industrial countries today comes from chemical fuels such as gasoline, diesel oil, jet fuel, coal, and natural gas."

p. 290.


A photograph of biomass to fuel a rural home in India (1989)



USA fuel use is revealing of how different we are form the world.

energy in US


biomass fuels sustain about 2 billion people on earth.

p. 291.


Street in Chihuahua, Mexico

The horse is sustained by biomass in this street scene in Chihuahua, Mexico

"Altogether, the world's people now use energy at the rate of about 16 a year... equivalent in energy content of 17 billion tons of coal."

p. 291.



Like income, access to energy is "unequally distributed among human groups."



A township in South Africa

A township in South Africa

"In 2000:

Numbers                                Affluence (earnings per capita)              energy use

  800 million people                        $20,000 or > annual income                      6.3 terawatts

1100 million people                        $5,000 - $20,000                                        6.8 terawatts

4100 million people                        < $5,000                                                      2.9 terawatts



1000 million equals 1 billion or 1 * 1012

per capita is Latin & means per person

p. 291



Land, air, & water are all related to energy for obvious and hidden reasons, not the least of which is that land is needed to place an energy generating facility. But without air and water much of what we think of as energy in the form of combustion, steam, falling water, or blowing wind involve the interplay of water, energy, air and land.

Energy and water

The relation of electricity and water is crucial to comprehend but widely missed and little understood.


"Electricity production from fossil fuels and nuclear energy requires 190,000 million gallons of water per day, accounting for 39% of all freshwater withdrawals in the nation, with 71% of that going to fossil-fuel electricity generation alone.

Coal, the most abundant fossil fuel, currently accounts for 52% of U.S. electricity generation, and each kWh generated from coal requires 3.3 gallons of water. That means U.S. citizens may indirectly depend on as much water turning on the lights and running appliances as they directly use taking showers and watering lawns. According to the Bush administration's 2001 National Energy Policy, our growing population and economy will require 393,000 MW of new generating capacity (or 1,300 to 1,900 new power plants—more than one built each week) by the year 2020, putting further strain on the nation's water resources."

NREL, p. 200


SOURCES form electricity
Water falling hydroelectrical dams
steam reactors, coal, gas, oil, wood
cooling all nuclear and fossil fuel plants need cooling water
Energy static electroweak force of atomic elements, ion chemistry, batteries, magnets
radiation solar (thermal) & photo-electric effect: photons excite electrons to flow
Air wind turbines
Land geothermal heat of the planet's interior mantle used to boil water into steam


Electricity | electromagnetism | electric | electronic


Global energy disparity

8 kW versus 0.7 kW

"use of ...commercial energy and roughly half that much from biomass."

p. 292

What is biomass?

Layers of the landscape's food or trophic pyramid


Energy from photosynthesis accumulates on grasslands and is available for grazing animals we call livestock. Biomass is living or once living matter. Biomass –or the volume measure of any group of living things– as a fuel would be the use of switch grass for making alcohol, a combustible fuel source.





What energy is depends on how you are trying to use what you've got.


Wind turbines


 Inner Mongolia is abundant in wind energy resources due to its special proximity to interior deserts and the sea.


After the refrigerator, the clothes dryer is the second-most energy-consuming appliance in the home.


2/3: is the measure of the amount of energy that is saved when producing new plastic products from recycled materials instead of raw (virgin) materials or petrochemicals.[2]


Global use of energy | disparity | Uses of energy




Ecological laws

Energy may be defined as the capacity for overcoming entropy, or the ability to do work. Technically speaking, entropy is the measure of useless energy; another way to think about that is that entropy is dissipated energy (usually as heat). That is because heat is the measure of movement or turbulence in molecules. The more random the movement of the atoms {Brownian motion} the greater the heat energy [long wave radiation or {LWR}] that is present.


Entropy; entropy entropy is the measure of "the amount of energy unavailable" in any a heat generating system to convert into mechanical (work) force.


So in a strict sense we are constantly running out of mechanical energy because entropy always increases.


See- Three Laws of Thermodynamics




Earth is finite