How is wealth connected to energy?

Wealth can be described as the possessions, goods, and liberties that provide a person with a good quality of life. The more wealth a person has, the higher quality of life they can enjoy. When we think of modern wealth, we automatically picture lavish lifestyles, fancy cars, and large beautiful houses. But in reality, the well-being of a community is more complex than material goods. Wealth, security, and innovation go hand in hand. Modern energy has catapulted this aspect of our lives to new heights, uncovering new avenues for our societies to flourish. 

What is energy in the context of wealth? 

Energy is the fundamental element that propels the survival of our planet. Access to energy and water fuels our bodies and minds through the food and drink we consume. Similarly, water and energy allow us to improve and maintain our communities through scientific discoveries and technological advancements. Facilitated access to natural resources means more energy. More energy means more opportunities for growth and innovation. 

How has energy made our modern world wealthier? 

Thanks to new advancements, life today is much different than it used to be. Not too long ago, for example, the medical sector produced a much different environment than the one we see today. Thankfully, we no longer have to endure the horrors of 19th-century surgery and medicine. With access to electric lighting, operating machines, medications, antiseptics, and new technology, modern energy has provided us the opportunity to improve our lives by improving our health. A healthy population is better able to work and contribute to society, elevating the wealth of the community as a whole. This pattern is repeated and can be seen in how we produce food, manufacture goods, create modes of transportation, and much more. 

How can energy improve the economic stability of impoverished and developing countries? 

Energy equals time and comfortability. A machine that can plow your land in a quarter of what it would take you to do it on your own gives you the freedom to accomplish other tasks. Something as seemingly small as providing electric lighting and plumbing to an impoverished community can make a huge difference. This access to energy will allow them to do more with their time and improve their safety at night. People can study and work even when the sun goes down with electricity. Proper plumbing increases a young woman’s chances of remaining in school after puberty. For these reasons, women tend to benefit the most from energy and the technology that comes with it. This pattern can be life-changing. A community with access to modern energy is more likely to have access to education, healthcare, and overall liberties that can improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, accessing energy is not always so easy. Geographic limitations, corruption, and war can make maximizing a nation’s natural resources exceptionally difficult. Maintaining support for organizations such as Innovation Africa, which provide access to clean water and electric light to communities in Africa, is vital. 

How can sustainable practices help maintain and improve a nation’s wealth? 

Thanks to the advancements in modern energy, we no longer have to put in nearly the same amount of work to get what we need to survive as we did only one hundred years ago. While this is great for innovation and advancement, communities with abundant access to modern energy are more likely to be over consumers. We currently find ourselves in a position where some communities desperately need updated energy systems and resources. This is juxtaposed with communities with ample access to energy resources who need to take a step back and conserve what they have. As a society, our goal should be to create a world in which there is a balanced distribution of wealth and a culture that encourages awareness of our natural resources and the energy they provide. 

Discover more about the connection between wealth and energy by watching the Power Trip: The Story of Energy WEALTH, and check out more amazing episodes here! Also available on PBS, Apple TV, and Prime Video.

To learn more about energy resources, how they influence our society, and how you can be a more responsible energy consumer, visit Smart Energy Education, Resourcefulness, and Watt Watchers of Texas! And don’t forget to follow the Smart Energy Education Facebook page for updates on all our projects, scholarship opportunities, blog posts and more!