At the dawn of the 21st century the energy politics is taking a new twist. Currently, our world is going through an energy crisis of unprecedented nature.
Energy crisis is not a national crisis anymore than it’s an international crisis with America at the center. The gas price has doubled in the last year. The utility bills are increasing in a manner unsustainable for common people.
Predictions and projections were leading to energy crisis for the last 30-40 years. But we as a country refused to accept the facts. We always opted for short term solution avoiding the strategic policy options. In modern complex times it’s the responsibility of governments to come up with long term solutions for our critical problems. In America, both Democrats and Republicans are guilty as charged, albeit at different levels. In addition, the Big Oils were never interested in long term solution than their short term profit motivation blinded by their long term visions.
America’s dependence on foreign oil, in every measurement is too much. It is almost bankrupting our economy. In the early 1970s the USA imported almost 25% of our oil. In early 1990s, we imported almost 45%, and currently we are importing almost 70% of our oil needs. According to oil Barron T Pickens; we spend $700 billion every year for importing oil, and if we donít do anything about this problem, in the next 10 years we will spend $10 trillion leaving the U.S. and going to foreign nations, making it — the single largest transfer of wealth in human history. Itís good to know, a man like Pickens, who made his fortune in oil business talking sense. I wish, person like him would have been vocal advocate for alternative source of energy long time ago when he was in the prime of his business. But his ideas are worth considering. He is calling for wind energy and also calling for other sources of alternative energy. The world does not have enough oil. America consumes 25% of the world’s oil, where as we have 4% of the worldís population and 3% of the worlds oil reserve. Bush-McCain policy of digging more holes in America is not going to solve our problem. We have to strongly pursue all the options: solar energy, bio fuels, ethanol; and more money on R&D for alternative energy. We are late, but we need paradigm shift in our public and business policy culture.
If energy crisis is not properly addressed quickly, America will lose its leadership around the world. We need vigorous investment in innovation; we need to be aggressive in conservation, and we need to have prudent legislations at the federal and state levels. As well, we need to change life styles in America, and we must look at all the options here and abroad. It looks like Europe and Asian countries have smelled this energy crisis long before us. On the other hand, America is making one strategic mistake after another. We have messed up our healthcare, public education, retirement, and lately finance and housing crises. Now, we have energy crisis. What’s next? Dr. Nasir Ahmed is a professor of public administration at Grambling State University.