Calentamiento Global y Medio AmbienteIniciosemana del 29 de OCTUBRE al 4 de NOVIEMBRE

An Issue of Science and Economics by Iain Murray

Abundant and affordable energy is one of the great boons of modern industrial civilization and the basis of our standard of living. Energy makes people’s lives brighter, safer, more comfortable, and more mobile. Unfortunately, billions of people in poor countries still do not have access to energy. For example, India’s per capita consumption of electricity is one-twentieth that of the United States. Hundreds of millions of Indians live “off the grid”—that is, without electricity—and many still use cow dung as a fuel for household cooking, a practice that contributes to half a million premature deaths every year. This continuing reliance on preindustrial energy sources is also one of the major causes of environmental degradation.

Whether poor people around the world ever gain access to energy depends on a number of factors, such as the development of secure property rights in developing countries and continuing technological progress. One potential obstacle, however, could thwart any efforts to provide more energy. That threat is political pressure to reduce energy use worldwide for fear of global warming. The hydrocarbons—coal, petroleum, and natural gas—that are the source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions provide over three-fourths of the world’s total energy. Although many alternative sources of energy exist, all of these sources combined cannot begin to substitute for hydrocarbons without further significant technological innovations and massive capital investments. This is not the work of a few years, but of several decades…

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