Readers Respond: How Do We Prepare for a World Without Cheap Oil?
While we must look for and create alternatives, we do not need to lose competitive advantage in doing so. In fact, the first countries to successfully develop new layers of infrastructure to support and actively use a new fuel will benefit tremendously. As an example, look at Sweden's IKEA which approaches business in a sustainable fashion and has grown through this approach.
U.S Civil Service
I would probably start by addressing this question: "What should be the technology with the highest fuel economy and lowest (zero) emissions?" Thinking from this point of view, it is easy to see that petroleum-derived fuels will not longer work for whatever this "breakthrough technology" is going to be. History tells us that the "fuel enables the technology." We probably can say that future technologies (automotive, industrial, etc.) are going to require ultrahigh-purity fuels, ultrahigh quality, and ultra-controlled specifications. This is very difficult to attain by using petroleum. So, I think we will NOT see "cheap oil" deplete. In fact, as emerging, non-oil-dependent technologies develop, the demand and the price will go lower. Future energy markets could be diversified with regional differences depending on localization, population, and environmental conditions, although the target would be the same: high efficiency and low energy consumption.
Research Assistant (Fuel Science)
The Pennsylvania State University
The age of oil is a small percentage of the human age. It seems to me that the best we have now was a product of civilizations without oil ... from the Ten Commandments to democracy. Oil provided good things, but I don't think we will be worse off without it. In fact, we might end up reclaiming the rivers, the forests, and even some lost social decorum by finding an alternative to oil.
Given the current situation and the relative alignment of the rest of the economy, there is not enough "pain" to warrant any serious action or leadership role by any political body. It's another example of the tragedy of the commons: The result is predictable
Gregory C. Bailey
(for many more responses, see original article)
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