Concept Question: How is the way we power our planet altering the Earth's energy balance?

Modern society depends on energy. When you drive a conventional vehicle, you use energy from the combustion of gasoline. When you flip a light switch, you use energy in the form of electricity. The products that we use every day—from the clothes we wear to the food we eat—all require energy during the process of production, packaging and shipment. But how do we typically generate this energy that powers our planet?

tomato, car, light, shirt
What do we know?

Consider the following graph, which illustrates the percentage of the world’s total primary energy supply generated by various sources.

World Primary Energy Supply 2010
Your Turn!

What percentage of the world’s energy supply came from fossil fuels in 2010?

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The fossil fuels displayed in the graph are coal/peat, oil and natural gas. Therefore, in 2010, fossil fuels provided 81.1% of the total primary energy supply.