1 Why sustainable energy matters
The world's current energy systems have been built around the many advantages of fossil fuels, and we now depend overwhelmingly upon them. Concerns that supplies will 'run out' in the short-to-medium term have probably been exaggerated, thanks to the continued discovery of new reserves and the application of increasingly advanced exploration technologies. Nevertheless it remains the case that fossil fuel reserves are ultimately finite. In the long term they will eventually become depleted and substitutes will have to be found.
Moreover, fossil fuels have been concentrated by natural processes in relatively few countries. Two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves, for example, are located in the Middle East and North Africa. This concentration of scarce resources has already led to major world crises and conflicts, such as the 1970s 'oil crisis' and the Gulf War in the 1990s. It has the potential to create similar, or even more severe, problems in the future.