Quiz: What You Don't Know About World Energy


Photograph by Dean Lewins, AP

You know the world is using a lot of energy, but how much do you really know about how we are fueling civilization?

China overtook the United States as the world’s largest energy consumer in 2009. How did the two nations compare in 2000? China’s energy consumption was:

  • 10 percent less
  • 25 percent less
  • 40 percent less
  • 50 percent less

China’s energy demand was only half that of the United States in 2000, but it proceeded to grow at a pace four times faster than in the previous decade, says the International Energy Agency. It projects China’s demand will surge another 75 percent by 2035.

What nation has the world’s highest per-capita energy consumption?

  • Canada
  • South Africa
  • Russia
  • Australia

Russia has the largest per-person energy use, due to a harsh climate, a declining population, dependence on heavy industry, and inefficient production and distribution systems put into place during the Soviet era.

The world's largest coal exporter also has the highest per-capita carbon emissions among the major economies commonly known as the G-20, or “Group of 20.” Which nation is it?

  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • China
  • India

Australia depends heavily on the most carbon-intensive fuel to generate electricity, accounting for its high greenhouse gas emissions on a per-person basis. But it sends 66 percent of its coal overseas, most of it to Asia.

No country has done more than Brazil to cut its dependence on oil in favor of biofuel for transportation. How much of Brazil’s passenger vehicle demand is fueled by ethanol from native sugarcane?

  • 10 percent
  • 25 percent
  • 50 percent
  • 85 percent

Ethanol fuels about half the passenger vehicle travel in Brazil. All gasoline sold has at least 20 percent ethanol blended in, but drivers also have a choice of 100 percent ethanol. When oil prices are low, customers heavily favor the petroleum blends, energy experts say.

Electricity shortages in the Philippines, Kenya, and Venezuela all have stemmed from the same factor—what is it?

  • Drought
  • Storms
  • Heat
  • Aging power lines

Drought has caused critical shortages of hydroelectricity in many Asian, African, and South American nations. Changes in climate that reduce rainfall may make it difficult for some countries to rely on this form of renewable power.

What country is the world leader in the number of cars that run on natural gas instead of petroleum?

  • Argentina
  • Pakistan
  • Iran
  • Russia

Pakistan leads the world with 2.3 million natural gas vehicles, followed by Argentina with 1.8 million and Iran and Brazil, each with about 1.6 million. The nation with the largest proven natural gas reserves, Russia, has only about 100,000 vehicles that run on the cleaner-burning fuel.

What nation produces the most geothermal energy?

  • Iceland
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • The United States

The big 50-year-old California geothermal plant, The Geysers, helps the United States generate more energy from underground heat than any other country, but it adds up to only a tiny fraction of the nation’s electricity consumption. Iceland and Costa Rica derive more than 90 percent of their power—and El Salvador gets more than 40 percent—from renewables, thanks in part to energy from the Earth’s heat.

More than two-thirds of energy consumed in sub-Saharan Africa comes from what source?

  • Oil
  • Hydroelectricity
  • Coal
  • Biomass

Burning of biomass, in the form of wood, charcoal, crop waste, and dung, provides the vast majority of energy consumed in sub-Saharan Africa. Cooking smoke is a major health risk in a region where less than 2 percent of the population has access to electricity.

What country is Europe’s largest fossil fuel exporter, while drawing on renewable energy for almost all of its own electricity?

  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • The United Kingdom
  • The Netherlands

Norway exports more natural gas than any nation except for Russia, and provides much of Europe’s crude oil, thanks to its access to North Sea resources. But it derives its own electricity largely from hydroelectric power.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says global energy demand is on track to increase by 36 percent by 2035. How much of that increase does the IEA say will come from the world’s wealthiest nations (today’s members of OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)?

  • 7 percent
  • 17 percent
  • 27 percent
  • 37 percent

IEA projects that 93 percent of the growth in energy demand over the next 25 years will come from today’s developing nations.





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