The Importance of Oil
Americans use a lot of oil. Although we constitute only 5% of the world’s population, we consume 25% of global oil production. America epitomizes the petroleum-dependent lifestyle.
Oil is the raw material that makes possible the functioning of nearly every component of the U.S. economy, directly or indirectly. It provides 40% of the nation’s power supply—far more than any other source. Oil powers our industries, heats our buildings, and provides the raw material for plastics, paints, textiles, and other materials. But it is in transportation that oil is most essential:
Oil provides 97% of the fuel used by America’s enormous fleet of trucks, trains, planes, ships, buses and cars.
We have staked our entire way of life on a non-renewable resource that may be largely exhausted within the next 30 years. All of the current and projected alternative energy sources will not be able to replace oil in the near future. But Americans continue to act as if there is no problem as they buy more and bigger cars and commute longer distances from energy-inefficient suburban developments.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that when (not if) we run out of oil, our accustomed way of life will change radically. But even before that day, our gas-guzzling lifestyle erodes our national security, destroys the environment, and makes us very vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices.