Moving past oil

October 27th, 2003 – 9:40 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

There’s an interesting piece over at The Economist about the end of the world’s reliance on oil as an energy source.

“The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” This intriguing prediction is often heard in energy circles these days. If greens were the only people to be expressing such thoughts, the notion might be dismissed as Utopian. However, the quotation is from Sheikh Zaki Yamani, a Saudi Arabian who served as his country’s oil minister three decades ago. His words are rich in irony. Sheikh Yamani first came to the world’s attention during the Arab oil embargo of the United States, which began three decades ago this week and whose effects altered the course of modern economic and political history. Coming from such a source, the prediction, one assumes, can hardly be a case of wishful thinking.

Yet a generation after the embargo began, the facts seem plain: the world remains addicted to Middle Eastern oil (see article). So why is Sheikh Yamani predicting the end of the Oil Age? Because he believes that something fundamental has shifted since that first oil shock—and, sadly for countries like Saudi Arabia, he is quite right. Finally, advances in technology are beginning to offer a way for economies, especially those of the developed world, to diversify their supplies of energy and reduce their demand for petroleum, thus loosening the grip of oil and the countries that produce it.

It good to see that the end of the Oil Age is been seen as a reality, and something that should be encouraged, by people other than environmentalists. As the writer points out though, the U.S. government is still stubbornly clinging to the past. That’s hardly shocking though with oil men running the White House.

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