14 February 2013

Graph of the Day: Life Expectancy vs. Energy Use

The graph above shows energy use (expressed as kilograms of oil equivalent per capita) versus life expectancy at birth (expressed in years) for 151 countries in the World Bank Development indicators database that had data for both variables in 2010.

For the countries in the lowest fiftieth percentile of life expectancy the average life expectancy  is 66 years and per capita energy use is 74% of the global average. For those countries in the top fiftieth percentile life expectancy at birth is 78 years and per capita energy use is 212% of the global average.

There are no doubt some distortions introduced into an analysis of this type due to the use of countries as the unit of analysis. Each country of course has a distribution of life expectancy and energy use within its borders. It would be ideal to have a dataset with the individual as the unit of analysis, but I suspect that such data is not soon forthcoming.

Nonetheless these data carry a powerful message -- Energy poverty is not the only factor which contributes to below-average life expectancies, but it is clearly a very important factor.

18 comments:

charlesH said...

So if we allow poor people access to energy they will live longer and use even more energy/resources over their lifetimes?

Sounds terrible to me. That's why need energy to to cost more. We need to keep the energy poor energy poor to save the planet.

n.n said...

charlesH:

That's the niche filled by "green" technology and its impoverishing effects are not restricted to third world or developing populations.

It's interesting, technology including photovoltaic and windmills can be used to good if limited effect, but its proponents will accept nothing less than their pervasive distribution and consumption. As they are generally unreliable means to produce energy, with high maintenance costs, large scale displacement, and short usable lifetimes, this means high profit margins, especially when environmental and labor disruptions can be shifted or obfuscated, which makes their motives plain.

This population control agenda is neither new nor novel. Although, some of its more heinous methods, including abortion, have now been accepted voluntarily by its target populations. While underlying causes of social and environmental disruptions, especially resulting from converged migration and immigration, are actively encouraged. While self-moderating behavior is actually discouraged in favor of instant (or immediate) gratification.

Well, maybe they're right. Perhaps it is unrealistic to elevate everyone's material condition. Besides, treating symptoms is profitable in perpetuity. And, men, and women, just want to have fun. They are not reliable actors to independently moderate their own behavior, which may also be true, but I would not presume that immaturity.

Robert said...

I would suspect that there is an even stronger correlation between energy poverty and poverty than between energy poverty and life expectancy. If true, then I'm not sure that the conclusion holds. Energy poverty may just be another effect of poverty as is lowered life expectancy.

Tom Fiddaman said...

Generalizing #3, correlation is not causation.

Just reading off the graph, a country could have a life expectancy of 75 years with anywhere from 500 to 10,000 kgoe/cap, or consume 1000 kgoe/cap to yield a life expectancy from 50 to 80 years. That seems more ambiguous than powerful.

If you plot this on a linear scale, there's also a very strong appearance of saturation. The upside of saturation is that, to the extent this is causal, you'd need a comparatively small amount of energy to improve things for the poorest.

Joshua said...

===}}} Energy poverty is not the only factor which contributes to below-average life expectancies... {{{===

Ya' think? Maybe there might be a couple of other factors? Perhaps access to healthcare? Access to food? Access to clean water? Access to good housing? Access to education? Access to civil rights? Access to a free press?

http://books.google.com/books/about/Development_as_Freedom.html?id=Qm8HtpFHYecC

===}}} Energy poverty may just be another effect of poverty as is lowered life expectancy. {{{===

Precisely.

gescher said...

(Visual inspection of graph only)
It looks like the linear correlation is weak up to about 1000 kg oil equivalent per capita. So there is maybe more to the story.

eric144 said...

MEN born in Glasgow's deprived east end will die nine years (54) before men born in India (63) and 28 years (82) before men in Lenzie, a 15-minute drive away.

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/men-in-glasgows-east-end-have-life-988632

Before Thatcher/Bush there was a progressive agenda in British politics.

I asked (now) UK opposition leader Ed Miliband what his (then) government proposed to do to mitigate the effect of rising fuel prices on the most vulnerable. His reply was 'nothing'.

It is an article of faith with the 'deep ecologists' that the masses are destroying the planet. Many of them want to dismantle civilisation. Including Hansen endorsee Keith Farnish and Monbiot's friend, Paul Kingsnorth.

http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/

The beauty of modern
Man is not in the persons but in the
Disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the
Dream-led masses down the dark mountain".


We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’.



Robert said...

Joshua you said, " Ya' think? Maybe there might be a couple of other factors? Perhaps access to healthcare? Access to food? Access to clean water? Access to good housing? Access to education? Access to civil rights? Access to a free press?"

Still stuck on stupid I see. You can't get large amounts of food, water, housing without large amounts of energy first.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

Tone reminder -- please keep it civil. Thanks!

Bill said...

You can play with these sorts of correlations at
http://www.gapminder.org/world/

In this case, countries seem to have moved up in life expectancy whether or not they increased energy use. Unfortunately, the data on energy use doesn't go back very far.
www.bit.ly/ZfW3JG

Joshua said...

===]]] You can't get large amounts of food, water, housing without large amounts of energy first. [[[===

Right. Starving people who are dying of disease and lack of water and living without shelter, and who do not have access to basic civil rights, are quite capable of "get[ting]" large amount of energy?

The causality is mixed. The need to find some simplistic causality is an unfortunate aspect of how these debates are waged:

I'll re-post from above - something for you to think about:

===}}} Energy poverty may just be another effect of poverty as is lowered life expectancy. {{{===

Robert said...

Joshua, "The causality is mixed", your starting to get it.

Joshua said...

Robert -

===}}} your starting to get it. [[[===

Seems to me that my point was consistent across both posts. Sorry I wasn't clearer the first time.

The Right Wing Professor... said...

MEN born in Glasgow's deprived east end will die nine years (54) before men born in India (63) and 28 years (82) before men in Lenzie, a 15-minute drive away.

Don't you think heavy drinking, a disgusting diet, and a high level of violence have a lot to do with that?

eric144 said...

The Right Wing Professor...

Tell you what. I will take to Calton and you can show them how to have the lifestyle of an American academic on $100 a week. The cost of living in Glasgow is noticeably higher than the United States average.

You can tell them the nutritional value of great American foods like Cheerios, MacDonalds and KFC. Or you could explain how to live a healthy life completely devoid of pleasure in a stinking hell hole. You could even live there for six months and show them how it's done.

You can explain how Britain went from being a full employment, booming* economy in the 1960s to an industrial wasteland in the 1980s thanks to Milton Friedman's trickle down, supply side monetarist economics that even Margaret Thatcher disowned.

I never mentioned the CIA. I never mentioned James Angleton, the removal of Prime Minister Wilson or operation Gladio.

As for the violence. That is completely untrue. They love right wing Americans in Glasgow. Honestly. I can vouch for your safety. I won't be with you when you refer to their diet as disgusting, obviously but I know they will love you to bits.


* There is a wonderful novel (and film) called 'Saturday Night, Sunday morning' about the confidence and new found wealth of the British working classes in the late 1950s. This is the vibrant culture that lead to The Who and the mini skirt.

http://www.amazon.com/Saturday-Sunday-Morning-Vintage-International/dp/0307389650/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1360975229&sr=8-2&keywords=Saturday+Night%2C+Sunday+morning+book

Robert said...

eric144, " to an industrial wasteland in the 1980s thanks to Milton Friedman's trickle down, supply side monetarist economics that even Margaret Thatcher disowned".

It is not good form to display such ignorance in public.

Paul Rowlandson said...

The population of the planet will be about 500 million, in less than 10 years. Naturals disasters will be the cause. Oil and nuclear use will be gone, in less than 100 years. Toxic materials will be taken off planet in less than 20 years, except for those still producing energy. Climate will be stabilized in 20-30 years. TPTB are finished this year and will never regain control. Many good things will end up being the result of great Earth changes, that start this year, before June 1.

n.n said...

eric144:

With around 7 billion people in this world, economic benefits will always be "trickle down". There is simply no basis to believe that everyone will enjoy a beachfront property in Hawaii. There is no moral position to defend denigrating individual dignity. Perhaps there is a reasonable compromise between people and the inviolable constraints imposed by nature. It will not, however, be realized through consolidation of capital and power in minority hands.

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