Monday, January 12, 2009

Oil Import Interactive Map and Energy Consumption over Long Time Scales

The Rocky Mountain Institute has created an interesting way to view how oil imports into the U.S. have changed over time. You are able to see the magnitude of oil flowing from each exporting country for each month since 1973. Notice how imports from Iran go away after the second oil crisis.

Personally, I like to view view fossil fuel usage from a more historical perspective. The image below is a different "hockey stick" graph than the one most commonly referred to that shows CO2 or temperature increases in the last 30-40 years.

Figure 1. The world primary energy consumption and GDP over the last 300 years.

The image of Figure 1 shows the primary energy consumption and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The basic point here is that the large increase in energy consumption has only been enabled by fossil fuels. Notice the first steam engine was built in 1712 by Newcomen. What does this graph look like when we look over the time scale of human civilization? I would not call it a hockey stick shape any more, but perhaps a wall of energy consumption (see Figure 2). Think about energy independence and sustainability when you contemplate Figure 2.

Figure 2. The world primary energy consumption and GDP over the last 6000 years.

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