Friday, May 07, 2004

The first one to say "Manhattan Project for Energy Independence" gets a million votes

"Oil is a resource in finite supply; no major oil fields have been found since 1976, and experts suspect that there are no more to find. Some analysts argue that world production is already at or near its peak, although most say that technological progress, which allows the further exploitation of known sources like the Canadian tar sands, will allow output to rise for another decade or two. But the date of the physical peak in production isn't the really crucial question.

The question, instead, is when the trend in oil prices will turn decisively upward. That upward turn is inevitable as a growing world economy confronts a resource in limited supply. But when will it happen? ...

During the 1980's, oil consumption dropped around the world as the delayed effects of the energy crisis led to the use of more fuel-efficient cars, better insulation in homes and so on. Although economic growth led to a gradual recovery, as late as 1993 world oil consumption was only slightly higher than it had been in 1979. In the United States, oil consumption didn't regain its 1979 level until 1997.

Since then, however, world demand has grown rapidly: the daily world consumption of oil is 12 million barrels higher than it was a decade ago, roughly equal to the combined production of Saudi Arabia and Iran. It turns out that America's love affair with gas guzzlers, shortsighted as it is, is not the main culprit: the big increases in demand have come from booming developing countries. China, in particular, still consumes only 8 percent of the world's oil but it accounted for 37 percent of the growth in world oil consumption over the last four years. ...

So what should we be doing? Here's a hint: We can neither drill nor conquer our way out of the problem. Whatever we do, oil prices are going up. What we have to do is adapt. " - Paul Krugman

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