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

By John G. Clark | Go to book overview

10
Powering energy transitions and transactions: a summary and conclusions

How to package the transmutations in the political economy of global energy over the past century into a tidy model has eluded me. To cover events, often tumultuous, and key trends and to keep visible necessary chronological road signs has been difficult enough. The world's nations and peoples experienced diverse and complex energy transitions. The locus of national and world power constantly shifted. Power blocs rose and decayed. The material wealth of some societies underwent mind boggling growth while other peoples seemed frozen in want and despair. Technologies advanced beyond the ability of intelligent people to comprehend their workings or to predict their consequences. Most recently, people in many lands have become unhappily aware of the harsh, wounding impact on fragile environments of unrestrained, and fossil fuel propelled, economic growth. The many imponderables associated with these transformations assumed a magnitude too great for me to fold within a generalization or two or three.

Since the mid- nineteenth century, the compulsion and ability to augment material abundance stands out as the dominant characteristic of the advanced, as well as lesser developed, economies. The rise or fall of standards of living were charted by exclusively economic criteria. Into the post World War II years, quality of life considerations, less susceptible of quantification, were generally ignored. Even now, the quality of air or water, the distribution of educational opportunities, the adequacy of housing, and other socio-cultural variables rarely intruded into calculations of living standards. The environmental costs required to reach a certain level of income ought to give societies pause. Are the gratifications purchased by the generous incomes of many more valuable than the resources consumed to generate those incomes? Can,

-365-

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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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