The Political Economy of World Energy: A Twentieth-Century Perspective

By John G. Clark | Go to book overview
projects of funds. Within eastern Europe, poorly endowed with fuels other than coal, but possessed of excellent industrial potential, dependence upon the Soviet Union for oil and gas intensified. The Soviets benefited from the OPEC windfall but shared little of this manna with its satellites. GDR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland were trapped like mammoths in a tar pit, their agricultural and industrial sectors suffocated by institutional rigidity and by decades of Communist mismanagement. Brazil and India were caught in an economic-demographic snare that appeared inescapable. Soaring energy costs battered their fragile economies. But far more deadly was the population explosion. Energy at the cheapest price could bring little succor to societies containing so many millions of impoverished and landless people. Aid from the West and OPEC funded projects that offered few tangible benefits to the many. For Tanzanians and most sub-Saharan Africans, the price of commercial energy was irrelevant. Eroded land, encroaching desert, deforestation, and malnutrition were the pertinent facts of life. Africa, self-sufficient in food in 1960, imported just under one-half its needs in 1980.The unprecedented revenues of the oil exporting LDCs did not magically transform their economies. Nigeria and Indonesia remained encumbered with layers of intractable difficulties. Self-sustained economic growth proved difficult to induce in Mexico, however much money was available. Mexico in 1980 was in worse condition than in 1970. A few producers, mostly Arab Gulf states, appeared to register solid economic improvement. But, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait remained tightly bound to oil and to western markets; their high average standard of living masked severe internal inequities and tensions.Development could not be bought, simply, like a refinery, steel mill, or hydroelectric dam. It required a balanced approach, one that emphasized agriculture and rural employment as well as large scale industry and urban growth. A reformed energy mix and more appropriate energy technologies could contribute strongly. This might mean, at least in the short-term, greater but more efficient use of wood fuel in tandem with the application of such small energy devices as well- engineered coal stoves and water purification equipment rather than giant technologies. But, most of all, population must be brought into balance with available resources.
Notes
1. For the above two paragraphs: World Resources Institute, World Resources 1987, New York: Basic Books ( 1987), pp. 260-1; J. Goldemberg,

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The Political Economy of World Energy: A Twentieth-Century Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables xi
  • Maps xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Preface xix
  • 1 - A Prospectus 1
  • Notes 8
  • 2 - Energy and the Maturation of Industrial Economies in the West, 1900-18 9
  • Notes 44
  • 3 - The Search for Energy During the Interwar Years 51
  • Notes 88
  • 4 - Energy Flows in a Politically Polarized World 95
  • Notes 138
  • 5 - The Owners of the World's Petroleum Resources 146
  • Notes 179
  • 6 - Cheap Energy, Security, and the Industrialized Nations, 1960-73 186
  • Notes 224
  • 7 - The West and the Energy Crisis of 1973-8 230
  • Notes 267
  • 8 - The Lesser Developed Countries and the Oil Boom of the 1970s 274
  • Notes 311
  • 9 - A Second Energy Crisis: the Iranian Revolution and Its Aftermath 319
  • Notes 358
  • 10 - Powering Energy Transitions and Transactions: a Summary and Conclusions 365
  • Notes 376
  • Index 378
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