Thursday, February 7, 2008
It's not terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or even global climate change, it's the availability of energy. The increase in the standard of living over the past century is entirely proportional to our use of energy, as is the growth of population. And we are running out of our main energy source!! This resource is, of course, oil. Experts who study oil production place the date at which oil will peak at 2010, just two years from now. This is the date when the supply of oil can no longer meet the world's demand. What does this mean? More than anything it means economic shock. Our entire way of life is built upon the foundation of oil. As the price of oil continually increases so will the price of everything else, particularly anything that uses oil in production or shipping. Drastic changes in the price of oil have drastic effects on the US economy, the 1970's the most notable example of this. But the future will be worse. Other countries realize this problem as well. China's demand for oil is growing faster than any nation, as its economy is growing at over 10% a year. As a result China has attempted to buy as many oil fields around the world as it can and has been expanding its navy to secure "sea lanes" in a future where they decide not sell the oil they need on the world market. As people living at this time in history, we must realize that we are in for difficult times. The good news is that we can solve this problem. The answer is clean, renewable energy. But we don't have forever. We can delay the switch as we have before, by increasing the efficiency in our use of oil (the overall increases in technological efficiency, a most recent example being hybrid vehicles), but we must start switching. The sooner we start the better chance we have and the smoother the transition will be. This is a transition that MUST occur if we want to mantain any resemblance of our current way of life. A failure in making this transition will result in disaster, and possibly an early demise for a great number of the over six billion people living on this planet.