Due to high gas prices, most students feel a noticeable monetary burden every day. Rather than complain about the ever-increasing prices, it is up to our nation to decide if it wants to remain at the mercy of others in a way that directly affects our economy. Alternative sources of energy, along with increased efficiency in those sectors in which gasoline remains the best choice or until it can be phased out, are a must to overcome our country’s dependence.
What is most troubling about the price of oil is there are no readily apparent causes such as the ones that led to price hikes in the 1970s. Historically, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a monopoly founded specifically with the intent to control gas prices, has exercised control when it saw fit. In 1973, for example, the member states embargoed countries that sided with Israel in its war against Egypt. The United States, along with Europe and most of the Western world, was hit with an oil crisis, the effects of which lingered through most of the decade.
Since our economy is linked directly to oil in several areas, we continue to be at the mercy of countries that can control it.
Special circumstances similar to the ones in the ’70s could happen again at any time. Yet, like an addict too scared to criticize his pusher, our government is afraid to change this dependence.
Some ties with oil-supplying nations are even more troubling. Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack recounts how Saudi Prince Bandar was informed about the invasion of Iraq, at this point a certainty, before Secretary of State Colin Powell was. In exchange, the prince offered to keep oil prices stable, especially in the months leading up to the election.
This is just one of the examples of how our nation has increasingly grown dependent on oil and is literally at the mercy of other governments.
Fossil fuels not only have drastic negative side effects on the environment, they are also becoming increasingly sparse as emerging economies such as China demand a larger share every year.
It is time we came up with an alternative. The nation that within a decade put a man on the moon has the potential to solve this problem. The only question that remains is whether we really want to break free of our dependency.