In the 1970s, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which controlled virtually all of the oil resources of the world outside of the United States, increased the price of crude oil by a factor of three, precipitating a major recession in the United States and indeed in the world. This action gave us some inkling as to what the consequences of an oil crisis could be. Since that time the economies of the world have adjusted to the increased price of oil, and the sense of impending doom has all but disappeared. But the threat of another crisis should still be with us.
The source of more than 90 percent of the energy we use is from fossil fuels, oil, coal, and natural gas. It took billions of years for these supplies to be created. While there is yet no shortage, the amount of resources remaining is still finite. And we have little more than a century to develop adequate, practical, and inexpensive technologies to replace some of these sources. It is time to sound a tocsin to urge us to prepare for the inevitable--that an energy crisis due to scarcity will occur, whose consequences are not as easily overcome as adjusting to increased fuel prices.
Fossil fuels would seem to be a gift from the gods to earthlings. The availability of this source of energy has brought unimaginable comfort and prosperity to many of the inhabitants of our planet. At first glance these fuels seem to be cheap, clean, safe, and almost infinitely available. The case for continuing their use as the engines of our economy seems overwhelming. Indeed, it appears to be the