Will Our Oil-Dependent World Change Course — Or Get Even Oilier?

The world as we know it is hyper-dependent on oil. It serves as the foundation of dominant transportation systems worldwide and it’s the integral ingredient in countless consumer products. Of course, it’s also doing immense damage to the health and well being of societies around the globe, and gravely endangering the stability of the global climate system.

Calls to start transitioning away from oil and towards cleaner fuels have been loud and clear — and ineffective — for years now. And it’s pretty clear why: OPEC is set to rake in over $1 trillion dollars this year, even as the high cost of oil ($111 a barrel on average) is causing economists to worry about a ‘double dip’ recession as a result. Top analysts from the International Energy Association say that if high oil prices hold, it could “derail the global economy”.

So, a sensible, forward-looking individual might ask, why do we continue to tether ourselves to this volatile substance? We have plenty of alternative technologies available at our disposal that could help make oil-dependence a thing of the past. Electric cars. High speed rail. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Sugar cane ethanol. The list goes on.

And yet, oil demand continues to boom worldwide, especially in China and other fast-developing nations. So what, collectively, has been our response? To produce more oil. This recent NY Times article details the expanding oil demand, and details how the United States plans to meet it — by drilling even more heavily offshore, digging deeper into shale oil onshore, and experimenting with tar sands oil, which creates even more pollution during the extraction and refinement process than the normal stuff.

These are precisely the kinds of projects that the oil companies — which have become literally the most profitable private companies in the world in recent years — want to see. But, needless to say, they’re all pretty bad news. Even if we did have enough oil to adequately sate demand for years to come, the massive emissions we would generate in doing so would continue to be a major driver of climate change — which scientists say we need to start working seriously to head off right now. Drilling for oil is also becoming increasingly dangerous, as we’ve seen with the BP Gulf spill. Expect to see further risky operations — and devastating accidents — if we continue down this path.

But continued oil reliance won’t just be a disaster for the climate and the environment — it will be a disaster for economies around the world, especially those who are the most car-dependent or otherwise vulnerable to oil shocks. As current trends indicate, demand will likely outstrip supply in coming years, and prices are unlikely to come down. And remember, right now, high oil prices impact just about everything.

So right now, nations — especially the United States, which has the power to lead on such matters — have an opportunity to begin changing course. We stand on the precipice of an exponential rise in oil prices, and have in fact stood there for years. Fast-developing nations are putting thousands of new cars on their roads every year. Oil companies are more powerful than ever, and will work to influence policy that cements the status quo. They need to be taken on. It’s time to start moving towards a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable future — one in which dependence on oil doesn’t shackle economies, damage the environment, or threaten to create chaos at every turn.

Follow the Utopianist on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo credit: skampy via Flickr/CC BY

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant is a founding editor of the Utopianist.. When he's not helming the Utopianist, he is TreeHugger's politics writer, contributes the Getting Samy Out of Burma column to GOOD.is, and freelances for the likes of Salon and Paste. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

49 thoughts on “Will Our Oil-Dependent World Change Course — Or Get Even Oilier?

  1. 327132 45559Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I believe I learned a lot more from this post. Im really glad to see such great information being shared freely out there. 365072

  2. 602121 111727Safest messages, or a toasts. are typically launched at 1 point during the wedding but are likely to just be hilarious, humorous to unusual as properly. finest man jokes 621001

  3. 672987 453089Intending start up a enterprise about the internet involves revealing marketing plus items not only to females locally, but somehow to several buyers who are web-based as a rule. e-learning 717266

  4. 977522 585942Hey, you used to write great, but the last few posts have been kinda boringK I miss your tremendous writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on! 961917

  5. 529235 184830The the next occasion I read a weblog, I really hope so it doesnt disappoint me around brussels. Come on, man, Yes, it was my option to read, but I just thought youd have some thing interesting to state. All I hear can be a lot of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy searching for attention. 623192

  6. 610961 343490Soon after study some with the content material within your internet site now, we genuinely such as your technique of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark internet internet site list and will also be checking back soon. Pls look at my web-site likewise and make me aware what you believe. 411075

  7. 880763 547758Most appropriate the human race messages work to show your and present exclusive chance with special couple. Beginer appear system in advance of raucous people will most likely always be aware most of the golden value off presentation, which is a persons truck. best man jokes 483194

  8. 10387 959260Spot ill carry on with this write-up, I truly feel this internet site requirements a terrific deal far more consideration. Ill oftimes be once far more to see far far more, a lot of thanks that information. 55459

  9. 932005 875411A person necessarily lend a hand to make severely posts Id state. This is the extremely initial time I frequented your web page and to this point? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular submit extraordinary. Magnificent procedure! 508564

  10. 472208 320720I cant say that I completely agree, but then again Ive never really thought of it quite like that before. Thanks for giving me something to think about when Im supposed to have an empty mind while trying to fall asleep tonight lol.. 670861

  11. 79437 799911 An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I feel which you really should write far more on this subject, it may possibly not be a taboo topic but normally men and women are not enough to speak on such topics. Towards the next. Cheers 894636

  12. 202798 138890Having read this I thought it was quite informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this post together. I once once again uncover myself spending strategy to considerably time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was nonetheless worth it! 671722

  13. 843323 606884This sort of considering develop change in an individuals llife, building our Chicago Pounds reduction going on a diet model are a wide actions toward creating the fact goal in mind. shed weight 355806

  14. 653972 19124Most appropriate the human race messages work to show your and present exclusive chance with special couple. Beginer appear system in advance of raucous people will most likely always be aware most of the golden value off presentation, which is a persons truck. best man jokes 552483

  15. 503328 384683Thank you for every other informative website. Where else could I get that type of info written in such a perfect means? Ive a mission that Im just now operating on, and Ive been at the look out for such info. 772182

Comments are closed.