The Physics Factbook™
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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|Ramsey, Gabriel, McGuirk, Phillips & Watenpaugh. Holt Physical Science. New York: Holt Reinhart Wilson, 1986: 94.||"The amount of energy consumed for selected countries of Europe is 3,135 million short tons of coal equivalent."||8.1 × 1019 J|
|"Energy Supply." World Book Encyclopedia. vol. 6. 1990: 280.||"The amount of commercial energy for Europe is 4,126 million short tons of coal equivalent."||1.1 × 1020 J|
|Data Table 12.1 Commercial Energy Production, 1973-93 [pdf]. World Resources 1996-97: A Guide To The Global Environment. World Resources Institute (WRI).||"Total Commercial Energy Consumption, Europe, 1993: 92,937 petajoule"||9.3 × 1019 J|
|"Energy Resources." Energy - Past, Present, and Future. CQ Researcher, 1975: 356E.||"The quantity of energy in fossil fuels is 9.3 × 1010 short tons of coal equivalent."||2.4 × 1021 J|
|International Enrgy Annual 1996. Energy Information Administration. Department of Energy.||"The primary energy consumption of Europe is 119 quadrillion BTU."||1.3 × 1020 J|
The amount of energy which is used daily throughout the world is a huge number. A brief answer to this question would show that our lives are built around energy. For example, humans need the chemical energy supplied by food in order to survive. A person would find it difficult to live without heat energy to warm their house or cook their food. Tremendous amounts of energy run machines to make consumer products. A great deal of energy is used for transportation. The average person uses about eight times as much energy as could be produced by muscle power alone. It is a known fact that the average person in the United States expends more than ten times the energy of an average person in most other parts of the world.
The long upward trend in global commercial energy production and consumption continued through 1993, the most recent year for which data are available. Global energy production in 1993 reached 338 exajoules (1 exajoule = 1018 joules, or ~163 million barrels of oil), which is 40% greater than that in 1973. Total energy consumption rose to 326 exajoules, which is 49% greater than that in 1973. The energy consumption of Europe in 1993 was 93 exajoules, which indicates that Europe accounted for almost 30% of the global energy consumption.
Energy use creates serious problems. They include the depletion of fuel reserves and environmental effects. Energy depletion has occurred partially due to the increased standard of living, however, a major decrease is markedly noticed in the industrial development of manufactured goods. Alternative sources of energy must be considered, since fossil fuel reserves will be used up fairly soon.
It is necessary to develop new ways of obtaining energy and one such method is nuclear fission, in which nuclear plants work to split atoms in certain radioactive elements. The process of nuclear fission releases energy, and kinetic energy of nuclear fission fragments produces heat, which can be used in making steam for generating electricity. Another possible method to obtain energy is through solar energy, in which the sun's energy can be collected and concentrated by flat plate panels on the roofs of buildings and used to heat a circulating fluid. Other methods which can be used to obtain energy are biomass conversion, tidal power, geothermal energy, and nuclear fusion. In order for industrialized regions to maintain high living standards, they must develop cleaner, more renewable energy sources.
Marvin Rusinek -- 1998
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