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By Peter Peeters

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The need for food is related to body weight, age, sex, metabolism and physical activity and therefore differs considerably from one person to another. It may vary from Boo kilocalories per day for small children to 4500 kcalfday for heavilybuilt men performing heavy work. Although man can survive for a while on much less than the optimal amount, the average figure, often recommended for a population with the stature of Western people is 2350 kcalfday. Of the total food supply of 3000 kcal per person per day entering distribution in the developed world, at least 300 is discarded or wasted, but in spite of this, people still eat too much.

By burning plants (which really means the breaking of these chemical bonds and the oxidation of the hydrogen and carbon, to form water vapour and carbon dioxide) the original solar energy stored in these bonds can be released under the form of heat. 5 U of solar energy annually. Although this may seem very little, vegetation has played a most important role as a source of energy for man and will certainly continue to do so for many decades. Plant material normally decomposes after a plant dies and during this process its energy content is lost.

The demands on the oil producing and exporting countries, mainly including the Near East and North Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela and Indonesia, steadily increased. These countries, for which oil is the main and often the only source of natural riches, produced more than half of the world's crude oil and exported most of it. They finally began to realise that their resources were not as inexhaustible as they had seemed. At the 1972 consumption rate their reserves would only last for some 50 years and if the demand for oil continued to increase as it had, the known reserves might be exhausted before the end of the century.

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