The World's Oil Dependence and How to Cope With It

Term Paper, 2012

15 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Oil Dependency

3. Dangerous Dependency
3.1 Environmental Aspects
3.2 Conflict, Violence, War, Terrorism

4. An Approach to Become Indepentent
4.1 Hard Path
4.2 Soft Path
4.2.1 No More Oil, Please
4.2.2 Renewables

5. Conclusion


1. Introduction

90 percent of the world's economy is fueled every year by digging up and burning about four cubic miles of the rotten remains of primeval swamp goo. […] The rising costs and risks of these fossil fuels are undercutting the security and prosperity they have enabled.[1]

Oil is one of these fossil fuels on which our society is dependent on in the beginning of the 21st Century. Since 1950 the world population has more than tripled, there is a growing demand for energy, especially in developing countries such as China. The more the world develops, the greater becomes its thirst for energy and oil; despite repeated calls to save it. Energy even became a national security issue.

Primarily, in this paper I show and analyse the world's dependence on oil, followed by an outline of the disadvantages it comes along with. There are several reasons for why we should become independent of oil, such as its emissions, environmental destruction, climate change, resource scarcity, conflict and unethical production. Thereafter, I proceed to introduce an approach on how to reduce this dependency, focussing on renewable resources. I will conclude that it is absolutely necessary for us to become independent of oil as well as other fossil fuels and nuclear energy, which for reasons of space will not be dealt with in detail. If we do not, we will severely harm, if not destroy, our society, the environment and eventually the planet we are living on.

2. Oil Dependency

Nowadays, energy is taken for granted, but there is great political, economical and military power behind energy. Energy politics national, european and worldwide are an important and difficult decision to be taken.[2] Paimani outlines energy as one of the challenges of the 21st Century. The recession following the economic upheaval from 2007 to 2010 in many countries caused decreased economic activities and energy consumption. However, more and more energy is required because of improving living standards of enlarging economies and growing populations.[3] Economic growth and energy consumtion are closely related; the IEA (International Energy Agency) is predicting that the share of OECD countries in world energy consumtion will decrease from 58% in 2000 to 47% in 2030. In contrast, the consumtion of developing countries will increase from 30 to 43%.[4] This implies that especially developing countries will have a greater thirst for energy, whereas developed countries are already used to it. However, the energy issue is not only about energy itself and energy security, but also about cheap energy. At the moment, fossil fuels are less expensive than renewables. This is why 80% of energy comes from fossil fuels.[5]

Oil, natural gas and coal continue to be the most important sources of energy worldwide despite their negative effect on the environment and global warming. Oil used to be the

most commonly used type of fossil energy for about a century because of its abundance and relatively cheap process of extraction, transportation, and                            utilization compared with coal and gas.[6]

Peimani opines that it will probably keep its importance in the near future despite the essential to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases brought about by fossil fuels in general.[7] He predicts that the demand for oil will remain high for a long time because of the lack of global reluctance to establish green alterlative energy from renewables. Additionally, he justifies the increasing demand with the affluence of oil and continuous discoveries of new reserves.[8] However, I oppose this notion, since oil is declining rapidly and new reserves mostly contain hardly extractable oil, to which I will relate in the next chapter.

Currently, the United States (US) is dependent on oil producers from the Middle East. The same accounts for Europe and Japan, despite the fact that they are trying to diversify their sources of supply. Oil consumption is steadily rising; the regions with the largest oil consumtion are North America, Europe and East Asia. The IES predicts that dependency on oil and gas imports will dramatically rise in all economic regions.[9] Of the developing countries, especially China's growth in energy demand is exploding. In terms of oil and gas consumption, only the US is ahead of China, which provided for 40% of the worldwide growth demand for oil. China is buying oilfields in various countries like Venezuela, Oman and Indonesia, setting the terms of sale locally. It is a rather aggressive foreign policy, reminding of the US and the United Kingdom (UK).[10]

The prediction of Marion King Hubbert in 1956, who saw a peak in indigenous oil production of the US in 1970 turned out to be true: the world is running out of oil and oil prices are rising; they reached their highest price so far in 2008.[11] Moreover, the latest IEA report shows that oil demand and supply are still rising, despite ever higher oil prices. However, the output of some of the worlds largest oilfields is in decline.[12]

The oil age already began in 1855 with the invention of the petrolium lamp. Thus, it was primarily used for street lights and the demand for oil should increase soon. In the 19th Century, Texas experienced an oil boom.[13] The first petrolium-driven motor for street vehicles was invented by Gottlieb Daimler in 1885. It was in the UK where the industrial revolution has its roots. It was fueled by coal; but since 1900, oil began to challenge its dominance.[14] Giddens claims that coal has never been replaced by oil, whereas Alt maintains that coal was the most important fuel for industry and transport only until 1914. Nevertheless, it is a matter of fact that oil began to take a crucial role. The UK did not have its own oil fields, but was dependent on and had to import oil from the US, Iran, Russia and Mexico.[15] At the turn of the 20th Century, the US was the largest oil producer in the world. It remained self-sufficient and anti-imperial for a long time, until it discovered that the Middle East was vital for its interest.[16]

Oil has become a political weapon in the beginning of the 20th Century. It took an important function during the World Wars, in which the oil fields of the Middle East, the hegemony in the Caucasus and the future of resources from Mexico to Persia and South America to Africa played a crucial role. Oil driven warships had several advantages to coal driven ones: They could not be seen from up to 20km distance bacause of smoke clouds, they have lighter motors which spend 75% less energy and they could be refuelled much faster. Furthermore, Oil has been crucial for aerial warfare, tank fighting and marine missions which all need a secure and affluent energy supply. Thus, oil became decisive for the outcome of the war.[17]

F. William Engdahl states in Mit der Ölwaffe zur Weltmacht:

Öl floss in den Adern der Sonderbeziehung zwischen den USA und Großbritannien seit 1919. Sie fassten das große Öl und das große Geld zu einem die Weltgeschichte bestimmenden Machfaktor zusammen.[18]

Oil became a weapon for world dominance when firstly the UK and then the US linked economic and political power to the raw material oil.[19]

The actual oil age did not start before 1950, during the high economic growth in the reconstruction years after the Second World War. Automobile traffic and energy consumtion increased dramatically, which cemented the dependence of the industrial countries on oil.[20] OPEC (Organisation for Oil Exporting Countries) is a nongovernmental organisation that was founded in 1960 by oil producing countries to form a counterbalance to the influence of Western oil corporations. Instead, state-owned companies should take over the oil assets in these states.[21] It aims at creating and maintaining a monopoly among its members through securing the highest oil prices.[22]


[1] Lovins 2012, p. 134

[2] Hennicke and Müller 2005, p. 9-12

[3] Peimani 2011, p. 161

[4] Hennicke and Müller 2005, p. 61

[5] Arthus-Bertrand, Home (Movie), 2009

[6] Peimani 2011, p. 80

[7] Ibid., p. 80

[8] Ibid., p. 98

[9] Hennicke and Müller 2005, pp. 62

[10] Giddens 2009, p. 44-46

[11] Ibid., pp. 38

[12] IEA 2012

[13] Hennicke and Müller 2005, pp. 71

[14] Giddens 2009, pp. 35

[15] Alt 2004, 109

[16] Giddens 2009, p. 36

[17] Alt 2004, pp. 108

[18] Engdahl in Alt 2004, p. 87

[19] Alt 2004, p. 107

[20] Hennicke and Müller 2005, pp. 72

[21] Giddens 2009, p. 37

[22] Peimani 2011, p. 98

Excerpt out of 15 pages


The World's Oil Dependence and How to Cope With It
University of Hamburg
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ISBN (Book)
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oil dependence, energy security, fossil fuels
Quote paper
Annemarie Kunz (Author), 2012, The World's Oil Dependence and How to Cope With It, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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