Global Warming and Future Fossil Fuel Consumption

  • Vaclav Smil


This paper reviews the potential for reducing emissions of CO, by reducing the use of fossil fuels. Following a brief review of current data on greenhouse gas emissions and global warming/ the author considers three ways of decreasing fossil fuel consumption: doing without; maximizing conversion efficiencies; and reducing the use of energy intensive products through better design and extensive recycling of materials. He identifies a major potential for such reductions/ but sees severe limits on their realization, even if the public's desire for them is intensified by a clear confirmation that significant global wanning will occur. These limits centre around the diffuse nature of the measures necessary for dramatic energy conservation and the extreme cross-national inequalities in energy consumption. It is concluded that a reduction in population growth must be a major component of any attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.