The End of Oil
Oil, besides being a whole lot of political trouble, is approaching its production peak. What to do?
Not since the OPEC embargo of the 1970s have Americans been forced to take such a hard look at the nation’s reliance on oil, particularly the Middle Eastern variety. With gas selling at more than $2 a gallon, and a barrel of oil trading at $40 or more, the U.S. economy is feeling the pain at every level. And of course, the need to secure a reliable supply of oil from the Middle East explains, in large part, the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Now comes Paul Roberts to tell us in his new book, The End of Oil, that crude, besides being at the core of a host of political and economic problems, is getting harder to find, both in the Middle East and (especially) outside it -- meaning that high prices are here to stay, and that the United States can expect to become more, not less, dependent for its oil on volatile Middle Eastern countries.
Roberts says that Americans are “energy illiterate” -- we only think about the nation’s energy policy when oil prices hit us hard in the pocket. If the high price of oil keeps up, it may be just be the rude awakening needed for us to pressure politicians and in turn, the energy industry, to undertake massive investment in the alternatives to oil. If we don’t, the consequences will be disastrous: economic recession, environmental devastation, and further upheaval in the Middle East.
Roberts sat down with MotherJones.com to talk about the oil economy, the viability of alternative energy sources, and how the price of oil might play out as an election issue this year.