Saturday, June 04, 2005

Petroleum

Today in the United States we consume crude oil as though it were water. Our most obvious use of crude oil comes when we pump gasoline into our cars, but we burn petroleum in a hundred other ways as well. For example, every product we buy is transported by truck, train, plane or ship -- all of which burn petroleum products. All of our food is farmed with tractors that burn petroleum. And so on. Life in America would grind to a halt if we were cut off from petroleum today.

Yet, by 2050 (and probably much sooner), petroleum products will play a small role in our economy. We find that hard to imagine. But, if you think about it, whale oil once played a nearly indispensable role in our economy. Today we cannot imagine using whale oil. The same sort of transition will happen with petroleum.

What will replace petroleum in our economy is a long list of other technologies that will all compete with oil as the price of oil continues its rise. The transition to these new technologies will be completely natural -- each one will become viable as the price of oil reaches certain levels. Eventually, oil will be completely replaced by these technologies, most of which will be far better than oil from an environmental standpoint.

See also Peak oil will be a non-event.

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1 Comments:

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