This is the IFF World Model. Roll over each of the factors, or use the navigation panel on the right hand side of the page, to investigate trends and discontinuities in each area. For more information on the model overall and how to use it visit the world model pages.
DescriptionHumans live in and from the biosphere but civilisations run on energy. In the first decade of the 21st century, 85% of the primary energy consumed by the 6.7 billion human population comes from the lithosphere - below ground.
About 40% of this energy is oil, another 40% comes from natural gas and coal, and 6% is from uranium. A small but growing proportion of it is renewable, but most of it releases elements into the biosphere and atmosphere that have effects on its systemic functioning, mainly as climate change.
Energy has become the overarching resource and dependency question of our globalising commercial industrial civilisation (although many argue that water will soon become the most pressing issue in this regard). Our current patterns of use and dependency were set in the industrial revolution based on abundant coal and the subsequent exponential growth in cheap oil. Energy sources other than fossil fuel, such as hydro, wind, geothermal and solar, have always played a minimal role. The exception is nuclear power. In France for example, over three quarters of electricity generation is nuclear. The use of energy varies from region to region, climate to climate and industry to industry. However, the main dependencies on plentiful fossil fuel are now deeply ingrained in both local and global systems. The most demanding are heating/cooling of buildings, agriculture, transport and electricity generation.
Our dependency on sources ranging far and wide across the globe, often from geo-politically tense areas, makes the issue of energy security a major one. The history of war and the history of energy procurement are closely related. Energy supply is a highly charged geo-political issue which is now deeply entangled with climate change.