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INTRODUCTION a safe environmentally sound and an economically viable energy pathway that will sustain human progress into the distant future Can this energy pathway as called for in the Brandtland Commission in 1987 Mitchell 1996 149 be fulfilled by the current energy situation The world population is likely to reach 10 billion by the end of the 21st century and demand for energy will increase Current fossil fuel use seems to be altering the global climate and causing pollution Is a switch to renewable energy the only solution and is this even economically technologically politically and socially possible How could new technology nuclear power or conservation be incorporated into 21st century energy policy FOSSIL FUELS Fossil fuels coal oil and natural gas provide around 78 of the worlds energy Walsh 1999 There is a finite supply of fossil fuels but the World Energy Council report Strubegger 1998 does not see this as a limit to fossil fuel use in the twenty first century The limit to its use will be environmental concerns The use of fossil fuels puts 22 billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere each year National Geographic March 2001 This adds to the greenhouse effect which changes the world climate The exact effect of this over the 21st century is impossible to predict but it is likely that sea levels will rise which will flood low-lying cities The circulation of the oceans will be disrupted which will alter temperatures change agriculture and could cause mass extinction This could probably be avoided if the current increase in carbon dioxide was halted or reduced Carbon dioxide emissions could increase by 55 by 2020 if fossil fuels supply the energy required by the increasing world population National Geographic March 2001 Another environmental concern surrounding the use of fossil fuels are the pollutants released in their burning Coal is the worst polluter releasing mercury lead and sulphur which cause acid
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