Oil: Last Century's Energy
Remember when 20th Century sounded modern, or at least current? It was an exciting 100 years, but it's in the past now. Much of its technology, as wonderful as it was then, belongs in the realm of nostalgia.
Oil, sucked from deep underground, has been extremely useful in powering everything we do. We Americans use more of it than anyone else, though others are catching up:
China Tops U.S. in Energy Use
Petroleum has always had the inconvenient habit of not being found everywhere, and often hiding under someone else's country. That has led to wars and international domination games, and support for friendly but brutal dictators. The more we deplete the easy sources, the more international conflicts and exploitation will result. Though there's quite a bit left, at least in theory, the other problem is that we're going to run out of it entirely, probably by the end of this century.
Because China and India are going to increase world demand for years to come, the cost of oil will increase every year until actual shortages begin to occur, and then it will soar astronomically.
The sensible, logical thing to do is maximum acceleration of our necessary transition to renewable energy.
Oil companies and those dependent on them do not want to see this happen. They would prefer we continue to consume their product in ever increasing amounts right up to the end. That is why, from them and their political pets, we continue to hear that renewable energy is not practical, and that it would be insufficient for our needs. That is not true. The main obstacle is their resistance.
This history of gasoline prices is my own accurate data, based in Phoenix, from February 2005 to April 2011. Gas prices, PDF version
The fluctuations, based on temporary events, speculation, and oil company manipulation, are interesting but less significant than the steady rise overall.
The problem is not that we can't afford to pay more, but that simply continuing to pay a rising price is a bad investment leading to a dead end, leaving us serious economic and social problems on the way to it.