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By: Daniel Yergin
The energy challenge certainly ranks at the top of the world's agenda. What makes it particularly difficult to deal with is that it is
created by two forces.
Though not usually put in these terms, one is globalization-and, in particular-the success of globalization. High growth rates, the
emergence of large middle classes in countries like China and India, the continuing integration of the global economy-all this is
powered by energy. To keep it going requires energy, lots of it.
But the second is the flip side, the consequence of the use of energy. Modern industrial societies have proved that-with willpower,
innovation and capital-they are good at mitigating local and regional pollution. And they are continually getting better at it. But the
build-up of carbon in the atmosphere is something else. Over the last year or two, a global consensus has come together that this is
truly a global problem and that responding is urgent.
It is these cross-cutting concerns-the need for energy, and the need to manage the consequences of energy use-that are creating
the energy challenge that will dominate the decades ahead. And the magnitude is daunting. Every day the global economy requires
86 million barrels of oil per day, and that is only 40% of the total daily world energy consumption.
With a challenge so large and so complex, it should not be surprising that there is no single answer. Nor even just a few. Some of
the solutions are clearly on today's list; some will emerge as surprises. And, no doubt, some on which hopes are pinned today may,
in the end, just not pan out. That is why Forbes.com's "Solutions" is so timely. Like other readers, I am keenly interested in seeing
what participants with such different expertise and perspectives will offer and how they will rank the choices.
For starters, I will put three ideas on the table. But, before doing that, let us consider the scale of the enterp