The Growing Need for Energy Sources and the “Oil” Industry

Exploring the framework for a “Balanced Development” model

 

Ramses Rashidi

©2008 Center for Balanced Development  (www.cbdus.org)

 

In the last article we talked about culture, values and progress. Here, in a series of articles, we are going to examine a number of industries and how they are affecting the course of the development of human civilization.

 

Fragmented Growth and Development

Throughout history, we have observed the evolutionary stages of human and social development. The gradual growth of the economy and the advent of new technology, until the mid-19th century, did not pose any major issues in terms of depletion of natural resources and the simple lifestyle of the scattered pockets of population worldwide. Our ancestors struggled to utilize the limited technology that was available to them, and from time to time their achievements would be destroyed in wars and regional conflicts. However, in the past century and a half, as technology has advanced, we have experienced tremendous growth as well as challenges that are unprecedented in human history.

 

One of the major challenges that we have been faced with is the concept of fragmented growth and development. What does this mean? …… At the most basic level, it means that industries have been growing without much correlation and coordination with other industries. The housing industry is busy building homes, the transportation industry keeps producing cars and the manufacturing industry keeps making more products. Basically each industry keeps doing their own thing without much attention to their impact on the bigger picture. This fragmented growth pattern starts to pose a challenge to the overall body of development, with certain parts being grotesquely out of proportion in relation to the whole. We also see this fragmented development pattern among nations. When we look at the global community, there is a great imbalance in terms of distribution of resources, utilization of human potential, and access to necessities of life such as food, water, shelter and education.

 

Clearly, there is a need to reflect on the impact of the widespread fragmented growth on our personal lives, our families, the geopolitical landscape, the global community, and the physical environment. Here, we are going to examine certain industries and look at their impact and growth pattern. Furthermore, we’ll try to come up with some transitional as well as long-term remedies. In this article, the Energy industry, especially the Petroleum or Oil sector is going to be the focus of our examination.

 

The Energy Crisis and the Oil industry

Energy is the lifeblood of growth and development throughout the world. In fact, without the needed energy sources, our development around the globe could suffer serious setbacks or even come to a halt. Today, the fragmented nature of development has created a situation where we are faced with an energy crisis. On one hand, we have been counting on the development of non-renewable sources of energy such as oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear. On the other hand, we have been playing with the idea of renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass and fuel cells. The net result has been our continuing dependency on non-renewable sources of energy specially oil.

 

The petroleum or oil industry has changed the way we live. Some of this change, of course, has been good and has raised our standard of living. It’s hard to imagine how we would live without access to oil, natural gas and its byproducts. However, the exploitation and over-utilization of petroleum has placed our global community, our well-being, and the environment under great stress. In the past 40 years, we have witnessed numerous conflicts and crises, both in the East and the West that have been brought about due to the availability or shortage of oil. In the Middle-East, where there is a major portion of the global oil reserve, extreme ideologies and rogue governments, funded by oil revenues, could potentially destabilize global peace and cause the further polarization of the planet. Meanwhile, in the developed countries, as well as developing countries, severe dependence on oil places entire national economies in vulnerable positions. In fact, the exploitation of our oil reserves could become the cause of global imbalance. Unless we take steps towards moderation and adjusting our consumption patterns, we could become the victims of our own dependence on oil.

 

It’s very clear that we need to take measures to avert potential disaster. Imagine not having access to oil and its byproducts. This could easily happen. All we need is an escalation of the conflict in the Middle-East - an area that is already in a constant state of crisis. We can wait and see, or we can change the course of our lives and create a ripple effect. Let’s start a new chapter towards balanced development.

 

Balanced Energy Policy

The following are some rudimentary and transitional measures towards a balanced energy policy:

  1. Changing the way we live to reduce the usage of cars and fuel consumption.
  2. Encouraging and using bicycles, buses and trains.
  3. Supporting new models of urban planning that incorporate efficient mass transportation models.
  4. Conserving energy in our homes by using less electricity, less gas and less heating oil.
  5. Using energy-efficient machinery and better space utilization in industrial production and commercial facilities.
  6. Supporting commercial transportation including land, water and air that use efficient hybrid and electric engines.
  7. Teaching energy conservation as an integral part of the education system from kindergarten to college.
  8. Exploring ways to alter the nature of organization so that individuals work more and more in their residences, while being connected to their organizations via telecommunications.

 

As a starting point, It’s time we realize that we are the agents of change on this planet. We could continue our fragmented growth tendencies and further push our global communities towards crisis or we can initiate changes in the way we live and work, and the way we relate to each other. In a united and harmonious environment we can achieve whatever we put our minds to.

 

In the next series of articles we will further examine the fragmented growth of specific industries their impact on global balance and possible solutions.

 

 

Ramses Rashidi  (ramses@cbdus.org) is the founder and director of Center for Balanced Development.

The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and services to foster global balance in social, personal, ecological and economic development.