Throughout human history, as energy access increased, poverty decreased. This is because, when people have access to reliable and affordable energy, they can use it to power their homes, businesses, and industries. This leads to increased productivity, greater economic activity, and ultimately, job creation.
It's no wonder why countries that are known to be the most prosperous have some of the highest Co2 emissions per capita.
Eredicating poverty is great, but when we see the environmental costs, that's when division over how we should approach the future vary. Some will prefer to go back to a low-energy usage world and others would prefer to keep marching towards more energy production and consumption. As we've seen time and time again, energy consumption per person will continue to grow alongside the growth in the standard of living per person. Today, someone's fridge consumes more energy than the average citizen of Ghana. In the future, the fridge could consume 900 kWh/year.
In many developing countries, lack of access to energy is a major barrier to economic growth. Without reliable and affordable electricity, businesses cannot operate efficiently, and households may lack basic amenities such as lighting and refrigeration. As a result, these countries often have high poverty rates and low levels of economic development. By increasing energy access, governments and organizations can help to overcome these barriers and promote economic growth. This can take the form of expanding the electric grid, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, or providing subsidies or other incentives to encourage investment in energy infrastructure.
As the economy grows and more people gain access to reliable energy, the middle class tends to expand. This is because increased economic activity creates new jobs and opportunities, which can lead to higher wages and greater economic stability for workers. In turn, this can help to create a virtuous cycle of economic growth, with more people able to afford better education, healthcare, and other essential services.
To take economic growth further, energy must be affordable. The cheaper, the better. For countries struck in the "middle income trap," cheaper energy prices helps them escape the middle income trap and become a wealthy country like the US by becoming a more attractive place for business and for encouraging their citizens to increase their consumption levels. As for innovation, businesses are more willing to invest in R&D when energy prices are lower because those businesses would be more profitable and have a higher appetite for risk as a result.
It's hard to visualize how becoming energy-rich directly translates to higher productivity and more economic growth. Consider these innovations that have benefited our lives as a result of the energy-rich world that we live in:
Before the invention of air conditioning, people worked only in the cool early-morning hours or at dusk. When air conditioning was invented and was implemented on a wider scale, people started working more throughout the day and were more productive overall. Nations that had humid and warm climates are better able to participate in the world market thanks to air conditioning. Other benefits that air conditioning brought to those warm and humid areas include: higher quality life, more tourism, and population growth.
Did you know that an AI language-processing system produced 1,400 pounds of emissions
? Think about all the emissions created when making the semiconductors that power the AI applications? Think about all the emissions created when powering the databases that keep the AI applications functioning. It's a lot of emissions.
At the same time, think about the productivity gains created thanks to AI. ChatGPT helps us with creating content. Google Bard helps us with research. Bing AI Search and Bing Image Creator helps us create prompts that lead to the creation of beautiful art. We can go further and discuss how $BOX
latest AI feature helps people search text within documents
. AI is even helping us fight cancer.
When many parts of the world lack access to safe drinking war, water desalination is there to provide them with safe drinking water. People commonly associate it with turning ocean water into safe drinking water. From desert nations like Abu Dhabi to an island like Madagascar, who's stuck in the middle of the ocean, water desanlination is a great way to provide safe drinking water to those places. This process of producing drinking water requires huge sums of energy and without energy security, it will be difficult to ensure that the plant can provide water that's safe for human consumption at all times. If an energy shortage happens, the water desalination plant can't provide clean drinking water.
While this form of farming helps increase crop yields drastically, it requires huge sums of energy. That energy is used to power systems that regulate temperatures and watering systems as well as power the lamps that provide 24/7 sunlight to those plants. As locust start swarming farms, more nations are investing more in building vertical farms to secure their food supply. Plus, I hear that food grown in vertical farms are tastier
than food grown in traditional farms.
Other innovations created as a result of energy superabundance
In a policy paper
written by fellows at the Utah State University, the authors predict many things from sci-fi inventions becoming reality, scenarios for tackling energy inequality in poorer nations, replacing environmentally polluting materials like plastics and concrete, and using alternative farming methods to feed people more efficiently. The authors even predicted a carbon shortage as we start using CO2 to produce cement. Overall, we will see a surge in output and well-being because of energy superabundance, and those benefits are only the beginning.
In conclusion, access to reliable and affordable energy is crucial for economic growth and poverty reduction. Increased access to energy allows people to power their homes, businesses, and industries, leading to increased productivity, economic activity, and job creation. However, the environmental costs of energy consumption must also be considered. It is important to strike a balance between economic growth and sustainability, by promoting the use of renewable energy sources, investing in energy infrastructure, and providing incentives to encourage energy efficiency. The innovations that have emerged as a result of the energy-rich world that we live in, such as air conditioning, AI, water desalination, vertical farming, and many others, have improved our lives in various ways. Ultimately, a balance between economic growth and sustainability is necessary to ensure a bright future for all.