Energy and environmental security are major problems facing our global economy. Fossil fuels, particularly crude oil, are confined to a few regions of the world and the continuity of supply is governed by dynamic political, economic and ecological factors, independently of the sometimes questioned estimates about still available storages.
These factors conspire to force volatile, often high fuel prices while, at the same time, environmental policy is demanding a reduction in greenhouse gases and toxic emissions. Yet increased growth and demand for welfare by developed and developing countries are placing higher pressure on energy resources. In particular, a large fraction of “new consumers” in developing countries, mainly concentrated in megacities, already reached a purchasing power high enough as to be able to access to commodity and energy markets worldwide, thus boosting energy consumption and competition for all kinds of resources.
Such a trend, although in principle may represent a progress towards diffuse welfare and wealth as well as much needed equity, is at present contributing to a rush for the appropriation of available resources which are directly and indirectly linked to energy and may contribute to planetary instability if it is not adequately understood and managed.