The United States and most of the Western world has a monkey on its back and that monkey’s name is oil. If we are to survive as free and prosperous nations, we must find a way to end our addiction to oil and shake that monkey loose.
The most perplexing part of the situation is that it did not creep up on us, nor did it materialize instantaneously. The real wake-up call should have been the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s. The result from that brief Arab-induced shortage should have caused the USA to immediately engage in research on a massive scale intended to find viable alternatives that would never allow the USA economy to be at the mercy of Middle East cultures that do not share our ideals. The problems have been apparent for the last 30 years, yet not one presidential administration, not even the supposed environmental champion Vice President, Al Gore, has done anything to reduce the impact of the problem.
Since the 1970s, there have been some feeble attempts to look at alternative fuel sources. There are a few wind farms and other sources of energy, but they have only reduced our dependencies by a very minute fraction.Â Attempts to find a long-term solution have at best been half-hearted and most energy-producing programs have been based on the assumption that we would always have an almost endless supply of cheap petroleum products. As we can see more clearly today, that may not be the case.
Problems related to the stability of many of our sources for oil have compounded in recent years. The competitive demand for large quantities of oil from the growing economies of China and India are contributing significantly to the increasing price of oil.Â It is a simple matter of supply and demand. The demand is growing faster than the amount produced; therefore, the price for oil is increasing, which theoretically encourages producers to produce more oil. A further complication is that the suppliers no longer have any incentive to keep the price low. The industrialized world is addicted and the demand is not going to diminish in the near future. Many producers literally have the major economies of the world by the throat.
The current turmoil in the Middle East and a growing radical religious fundamentalist movement appears the see the issue much more clearly than Western governments do. They are using the price of oil to further their political ambitions. Indeed, many influential Middle East leaders openly state that the Western world is stealing their oil at the current $70 to $80 per barrel prices. I don’t think anyone should be surprised if the price jumps to $100 to $150 per barrel in the next few years.
The bottom line is that the world is financing the religious radicalism fervor in the Middle East through the price of oil and the economies of the industrialized countries are losing control of the market for oil. Personally, I don’t feel very confident that the USA economy can withstand a cut-off of the supply for oil, nor a doubling of the current price.
There is also room for debate on the effects that burning fossil fuels have on the health of the planet. That in itself is an entire topic for another article. For the sake of this article, my viewpoint is strictly economic and political. We are at a juncture where radical powers can, at any time, cut off the supply of oil to the United States or other Western countries and bring major economies to their knees. Furthermore, given the nature of these countries, they may feel it is their best interests to do so.
I, for one, would love to see the USA cease buying oil from Middle East countries. But being the realist that I am, I know this scenario is hopelessly unrealistic for many years to come.
Imports by Country of origin