An observation worth noting … and pondering, from the 2012 report “The New American Oil Boom,” issued by the Energy Security Leadership Council (a project of Securing America’s Energy Future).
Although increased domestic oil production will have clear positive effects on the U.S. economy, it alone will not insulate America from the risks of oil dependence. This can only be accomplished by reducing the role of oil in our economy.
Energy security is almost entirely a function of the importance of oil consumption in the domestic economy and is not related to the original source of that oil. In other words, a nation cannot achieve energy security so long as it is economically beholden to oil, which is priced in a global market.
It’s a nice thought: the recent uptick in U.S. fossil fuel production means we’re just a hop, skip, and jump away from energy independence and the removal of threats to our well-being. No more worries about increasing prices, no worries about supply … nothing but clear blue skies and all the growth and prosperity we could ever want.
Who doesn’t want to believe that?
Reality intrudes on even the nicest of stories, and the reality is that energy independence, energy security, and an energy-worry-free future are just nice stories and nothing more. Yes, production has increased. Fracking’s impact on production totals has been a welcome turn of events (although it must also be noted that a more generous definition of “oil” offers a boost to the totals as well).
Demand is down, as are imports. But as the quote above make clear, until/unless we begin the lengthy, complex, and costly transition away from finite fossil fuel supplies, our dependence on an increasingly costly, less efficient, ever-depleting supply of oil and gas will do little more than create even more challenges ahead.
The fact that this problem won’t be clear to everyone until years from now offers a convenient excuse to put this one on the shelf until a more convenient later date. Human nature is what it is, and dealing with a set of issues so complex and broad in scope is admittedly overwhelming. Where to even begin?
Denial remains a strategy as well. Choosing to believe carefully-crafted stories that aren’t anywhere near complete in their dissemination of the facts is a choice we’re free to make. But wishful thinking will only take us so far … and that won’t be nearly far enough.
Adapting society to energy supply conditions which no longer have as the prime source the conventional crude oil we’ve relied upon to build and maintain our staggering achievements is a transition almost impossible to contemplate. What will we do?
Starting the discussion with all the facts at hand would be a great start.
Adapted from a blog post of mine