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A major challenge to worldwide sustainability is finding a way to meet the evergrowing energy needs of a growing population with increasing

economic success an
d a steadily dwindling supply of resources. Vance, Eason and Cabezas analyze the
feasability of incerases energy efficiency and reductions in energy consumption
over time to return to the environmental impact levels of the 1970's. Compared
to 1977, the global population is expect to double by 2030, causing expected ene
rgy demand to increase 150% over 1977 levels. Accompanying the increase in popul
ation, global GDP will increase 352%. The world is reaching diminishing returns
in energy efficiency, which has become stagnant over the last several decades. E
nergy efficiency would have to increase 120% if it was the sole method to achiev
e sustainability for the projected growth.
Vance et. al. explore various scenarios to study the practical challenges of ene
rgy sustainability. They used the year 1977 resource and impact levels as a repr
esentative "tipping point" for sustainability, which served as a baseline for th
eir calculations. Overall energy efficiency was found to not siginifcantly incre
ase over the study time period. they then tested three scenarios, one with "busi
ness as usual" using projected values for global growth, a second that reduced e
nergy demand by 2% each year starting in 2014, and the third reducing energy dem
and by 3% per year beginning in the same year. Changing these parameters allowed
Vance et. al. to determine the relationship between energy efficiency and envir
onmental impact as energy demand changes.
Vance et. al. incorporate the following principles in their study: (1) Minimize
depletion of natural resources, (2) create engineering solutions beyond current
or dominant technologies; improve, innovate and invent (technologies) to achieve
sustainability. In order to create a more sustainable future, the energy demand
must be reduced to conserve resouces, rather than increasing energy efficiency,
which increases energy use and consequently energy demand. A sustainable future
can be achieved by setting realistic goals on decreasing energy demand to drive
it near the biological capacity of the earth. This decrease in demand requires
the use of new methods of energy conservation, such as integrated energy systems
in processing and power plants. However, we must be careful that we do not fall
into the trap of increased use of a resource to reduce the use of another. In a
ddition, policy development and legislation are critical to garner support for t
hese technologies and spur implementation of sustainable approaches in the futur
e.
Say we take the first scenario provided by Vance et. al. and want to see how muc
h of an environmental impact increasing efficiency from now until 2030 has on th
e global population. Assume the population grows at a rate of 2% per year, econo
mic growth is at 4% per year and the increases in techinological efficiency are
0.001% per year. Estimate the impact of these changes.
Suppose we reduce our energy consumption by the mentioned 2% per year from now u
ntil 2030. Assume this correlates to a 0.003% increase per year of the T in the
IPAT equation. Also consider with a 3% energy reduction that the increase is now
0.002% per year as the T in the IPAT equation. Assume the same population and e
conomic growth increases as the previous question. Which of the three cases give
s the largest impact?
Vance et. al. believe that reducing energy consumption instead of increasing ene
rgy efficiency is the better option, based on the values obtained, is this an ap
propriate conclusion?