Crude oil is not a finite resource and will eventually run out yet alternative energy experts say the transition from the petroleum driven economy and society will not be a smooth one. The amount of new technology and infrastructure needed to be developed and built is staggering. Germany has achieved more than other nations since 10% of its energy is through solar and wind power.
Alternative energy consultants believe we need multinational, international efforts to break from the heavy, almost total dependency on fossil fuel which has become too expensive and continues to pollute the atmosphere, disrupting the natural environment, and causing serious climate change around the world. We have about 30 years left of reasonably cheap oil and gas and consultants say that within 20 years beyond that we had better be at least 90% free from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, at the present time the world is for the most part not acting as if this is the case.
One of the major problems of transition, the consultants point out, is that higher oil and gas prices stimulate the economy (This flies in the face of what many so-called energy “experts” and the majority of the public believe). Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC have cost the U.S. economy dearly, about $1.9 trillion from 2004 to 2008. And each major shock was followed by a recession.
Alternative or green energy has to become more marketplace friendly and more profitable to investors. Wall Street does not like change so there’s resistance to this much-needed economic transition. It is because of this that many consultants are saying that we need an international, multi-government backed initiative.
The thirst for oil is growing, not shrinking and it is growing faster now than it did in the 1970s. As of 2007, the United States imported 58 percent of its oil. The U.S. imports about 12 million barrels per day. Yet there are viable short-term solutions that can lighten this dependency. As an example, improved gas mileage, better transportation choices and clean farm-based fuels can easily save more than twice the amount of oil we import from the Persian Gulf. Personal vehicles use 42% of U.S. oil.
It’s imperative that wealthy, large consumption nations such as the US, Japan, China, Western Europe, and others be the ones to spearhead efforts to get off of fossil fuel dependence. Smaller, poorer nations no not have the means to break away from coal and oil dependence.