The Oil Crisis And Alternative Energy Ideas

4694 words - 19 pages

Fuelled by Greed: The Oil Crisis and Alternative Energy IdeasAccording to a study done for Environment Canada, a large oil spill can be expected to hit in or near Canadian waters every one to two years. The question of who's to blame for these oil spills, is often answered improperly. Considering that most oil is intended for the use in our vehicles, an ad from Greenpeace, quoted by Gordon and Suzuki (1990), pointed the finger rather precisely. Under the picture of the Exxon Valdez's captain, a caption read: "It wasn't his driving that caused the oil spill, it was your's." Our consumer society, which is driven by economic gain, often leads to the detrimental effects of oil production in our ...view middle of the document...

(Gordon & Suzuki, 1990, p. 200).As the number of cars occupying roads increases, the average fuel efficiency decreases. Rowell (1997) found that in the Western World, there are 494 vehicles for every 1000 people, and recent indications are that by the year 2006, there will be one billion vehicles worldwide. Many North Americans are buying cars that symbolize their affluence, such as pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles. These vehicles, commonly known as "gas-guzzlers" have poor fuel efficiency - leading to the depletion of oil reserves. However, it appears that oil and gasoline prices will have to get a lot higher before we make significant alterations to our affluent lifestyles. Alternative fuels are the big solution to the problem of our moneyed greed for oil.Renewable energy sources have been available for quite some time now. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 led to the development of renewable energy sources. Table 1 - Petroleum Consumption, in the appendix shows the effect that this oil crisis has had on the transportation sector, by indicating the decline of petroleum use, followed by an influx a few years after the crisis. However, interest and awareness ceased when oil prices fell, and new, plentiful reserves were discovered. Current energy markets ignore the social and environmental costs and risks that are associated with fossil fuels. Harmful energy sources, such as oil, are given an unfair market advantage over safe, renewable energy, such as solar energy.If it wanted to, the oil industry could kick-start the renewable energy revolution. Brower's research (1990) found that for now, the oil industry is an industry with a single focus, often aided by governments offering rather favourable economic and tax advantages. The industry is opposed to a majority of the subsidies for renewable technology, and will continue to search for and produce more oil and gas until it becomes completely uneconomical. In such circumstances, it will then contemplate a fundamental investment in alternative fuels or energy sources - which will be too late.The industrial world is founded on oil. It helps to heat our homes, generate electricity, run our cars and power our manufacturing industries. Without oil, North America would not be as prosperous as it is today. Many countries see oil as black gold, a commodity that can be depended on to provide energy requirements. However, oil is a finite resource. In the next 20 years or less, global petroleum output may begin a permanent decline, as oil demands persist. Craig Hatfield (as cited in Easterbrook, 1998) stated that:The world has burned more oil since the year 1970 than throughout its entire history to that point. Huge volumes of oil have been found since the 1970s, but we're using that oil so much more rapidly that the top of the curve is no longer hard to see (n.p.).With the expected disappearance of known oil reserves, many companies are frantically searching for new reserves. The challenge however,...

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