The rich industrialized countries are consuming over 75% of world energy production, although they only include 25% of the world population. If everyone consumed as much energy as the average person in the developed countries, global energy use would rise around 15-fold.
Since energy is required for any kind of material change, physical or biological, it is essential to the material progress of the world. It is one of the fundamental ingredients in the development of societies. The harnessing of energy in all its forms (fossil, hydro, solar) has considerably affected the nature of civilizations, not the least our own industrial civilizations, and the world of tomorrow will be irreversibly shaped by the particular energy systems used (including sources, and production and distribution schemes). The problem of the availability of energy resources on a world-wide scale did not really arise until the 1950s, when long-term development plans began to point to the possibility of a shortage. Later inventories of resources potentially available to humanity showed that in the long range, the limiting factor on energy production and utilization would not be so much the availability of resources as the pressure on the environment.
In 1994, the 1 billion people of the North used 70 percent of global energy, 13 terewatts; the 5 billion people of the South used the remaining 30 percent. In 1993, 25% of all fossil fuel used annually was consumed by the USA. The amount of energy used by one person in the USA is equivalent to that used by 3 Japanese, 6 Mexicans, 14 Chinese, 38 Indians, 168 Bangladeshi and 531 Ethiopians. The effect is further multiplied by life inequality. In a year an American uses 300 times as much energy as a Malian; over a lifetime he will use 500 times as much.