The world is facing significant population growth which is accompanied by an inevitable increase in energy consumption, resulting in serious environmental degradation. Consequently, the human population has to solve three interdependent problems: economic development, energy consumption and other natural resources, and conservation of the environment. Otherwise, if these problems continue to be ignored, the human population might be facing its disappearance in the following centuries.
Economic development will have to provide sufficient sustainability to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population. The projected increase in economic activities will result in an enormous consumption of natural resources, especially food, energy and water, which in turn will have inevitable effects on irreversible processes in the environment.
Humanity is faced with complicated set of interdependent conflicts that must be addressed. These conflicts, often recognized as 3E (energy, ecology, economy), by their nature produce many consequences with which we are confronted on daily basis. Obviously, a balance must be achieved between economic development, the use of natural resources and energy in accordance with environmental protection in order to avoid the emergence of irreversible processes in the nature and the resulting crisis.
Technological development and energy consumption along with the global population growth are in direct correlation. If the population growth does not slow down, it will balance itself after a while. In the most optimistic, although frightening prediction that is based on today’s population growth rate, 11 billion people can be expected by 2025, and over 21 billion by 2050. This will result in exhaustion of fossil fuels reserves, destruction of forests due to acid rain and global warming due to emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG gases), which will make this planet become geo catastrophic.
Population is what ultimately characterizes all the vital parameters of this civilization. Among them are certainly Gross National Income and energy consumption. The development of some countries are directly related to energy consumption. Majority of the energy is consumed in several industrially most developed countries of the world.
Economic growth has a strong impact on the increase in energy consumption. In developed countries, the dependence of an increase in Gross National Income (GNI) on the power consumption has been significantly reduced in the last decades, unlike the trend that is present in developing countries where energy consumption is growing faster than GNI growth.
Today’s annual CO₂ emissions are 5, 5 billion tons (calculated in carbon). Emissions of other gases such as NOₓ, CH₄, and CFC have become so significant that the problems related to the occurrence of acid rain and especially the ozone layer tests already have tragic consequences.
The emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG gases) is related to many human factors and is correlated with the number of inhabitants. The emission of GHG gases is not evenly distributed throughout the planet Earth, although its consequences are generally global. Primarily, the GHG emission depends on the energy consumption and the use of technologies.
All this indicates that the crossroad at which humanity found itself in order to build an economically prosperous society is conditional on solving primarily the problems related to energy consumption, and not from the aspect of the availability of natural energy sources, but mainly from the aspect of planet Earth’s ability to accept the consequences of transformation of natural energy sources, as well as consumed energy without irreversible changes to the environment.