Edited by James Sperling
Chapter 19: Energy
Energy is the lifeblood of civilization. Both as individuals and nation states we depend heavily on energy. In almost everything we do, we rely on one or several sources of energy. Many people and governments once took the secure availability of energy sources for granted. Our deepening reliance on energy and the rise of a combination of geopolitical, geological and environmental challenges have cast doubt on this assumption that energy will always be there. Little wonder that energy security has become a major concern for almost all countries in the world. In recent years, policymakers and scholars have examined different aspects of energy security. These include production, consumption, reserves, refining, shipping and investment among others. Indeed, the last few decades have witnessed a proliferation of political and academic conferences, industry journals and books on energy security. Each side has sought to promote its interests with little ground for neutrality and objectiveness. A major characteristic of energy is the mismatch between resources and demand. Generally speaking, major consuming regions and nations (the United States, Europe, Japan, China and India) do not hold adequate indigenous energy resources to meet their large and growing consumption. On the other hand, major producers (that is, the Middle East, Russia, the Caspian Sea and Africa) consume a small (albeit growing) proportion of their energy resources. This broad global mismatch between consumption and production has made energy products the world’s largest traded commodities.
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