Since February 5 was the first Tuesday of the month, R-Spec, the Rochester Speculative Fiction Fans, held its usual meeting. This time we were addressed by an energy expert, Ben Ebenhack. He gave an interesting and informative talk, but one point puzzled me.
Among other statistics, he showed us a curve relating energy consumption by country to the UN's "quality of life" indicators, and the curves show a strong correlation. What puzzled me was why everyone else seemed surprised by this. Quality of life depends (in part) on medical care, education, safe streets (or at least as safe as possible), sufficient food, clean water, etc. On an overcrowded planet, all of these require energy consumption. You don't run a good hospital without a lot of equipment and the means to manufacture drugs. You can't release kids from the fields to go to school unless you use energy-consuming machines. So why was everyone surprised at this correlation? What am I missing here?
Incidentally, the country that consumes the most energy of all is.... Iceland. But because a lot of it is geothermal, they're sitting pretty.