Warner Pacific College
April 2nd, 2014
When it comes to energy, there’s a huge conflict between our dependencies. Humans are consuming more energy than ever. However, the largest energy consumers are generally not the largest energy producers, and their respective territories are often very geographically distant. While more and more territories are engaging in energy development projects, thus provoking the ire of environmentalists, the transportation of this energy over long distances has itself become a geopolitical issue.
This situation has led some territories to become very dependent on others for their energy. For example, the United States, which consumes a quarter of the world oil production, must import about two thirds of the oil it uses.
This increasing dependence is also fuelling more and more serious political tensions. On a global level, oil has become a major factor in an increasing number of conflicts. In past report on the November 2009 U.S. trade deficit found that rising oil imports widened our deficit, increasing the gap between our imports and exports. This is but one example that our economic recovery and long-term growth is inexorably linked to our reliance on foreign oil. The United States is spending approximately $1 billion a day overseas on oil instead of investing the funds at home, where our economy sorely needs it. Burning oil that exacerbates global warming also poses serious threats to our national security and the world’s security. For these reasons we need to kick the oil addiction by investing in clean-energy reform to reduce oil demand, while taking steps to curb global warming.
In 2008 the United States imported oil from 10 countries currently on the State Department’s Travel Warning List, which lists countries that have “long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable.” These nations include Algeria, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Our reliance on oil from these countries could have serious implications for our national security, economy, and environment. Further, the regimes and elites that economically benefit from rich energy resources rarely share oil revenues with their people, which worsens economic disparity in the countries and at times creates resource-driven tension and crises. The State Department cites oil-related violence in particular as a danger in Nigeria, where more than 54 national oil workers or businesspeople have been kidnapped at oil-related facilities and other infrastructure since January 2008. Attacks by insurgents on the U.S. military and civilians continue to be a danger in Iraq.
Our oil dependence will also be increasingly harder and more dangerous to satisfy. In 2008 the United States consumed 23 percent of the world’s petroleum, 57 percent of which was imported. Yet the United States holds less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Roughly 40 percent of our imports came from Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, but we can’t continue relying on these allies. The majority of Canada’s oil lies in tar sands, a very dirty fuel, and Mexico’s main oil fields are projected dry up within a decade. Without reducing our dependence on oil we’ll be forced to increasingly look to more antagonistic and volatile countries that pose direct threats to our national security.
The unfortunate reality is that the Middle East remains the strategic center of gravity of the global oil market-a position that is not likely to change in the medium term. As long as radical Islam, China, India, and Europe continue the struggle for the world's limited oil supply in the Middle East, the region will remain unstable. If the U.S. is to protect itself from these economic and political threats, it must reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil as quickly and efficiently as possible.
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Pathak, H. (2013). Renewable Energy Resources. CreateSpace Publishing.