The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
May 17, 2004
Presentation by Author and Journalist Paul Roberts & Panel Discussion
Hosted by the Eisenhower Institute at the National Press Club
Co-Sponsors: SEI & Environmental Media Services
Paul Roberts pointed to two possible scenarios for the future of energy supply: a gradual policy adaptation accompanied by a slow
demand-driven shift, whereby consumers rely more heavily on renewable and sustainable energy technologies;
or a more sudden supply-side shock which would rapidly force consumers to find alternative energy sources.
The panelists discussed three main issues that will shape our future energy supply: the scarcity of fossil fuels,
political instability, and climate change. Mr. Flavin and Mr. Miller brought to light the importance of consumer
consciousness and preference as a means of affecting demand-side change. Mr. Flavin specifically emphasized the
need to decrease our current demand for oil by raising gas prices and improving the fuel efficiency of vehicles.
Mr. Miller remarked that adding government leadership in education and regulation is key to reducing our dependence on oil.
Mr. Flavin and Mr. Erickson stressed technological innovations as being crucial to decreasing our reliance on oil.
Mr. Roberts raised the subject of technologies in developing countries. Mr. Miller, emphasizing that the largest
energy-consuming markets in the future will be in developing regions, offered that many technologies will have to
be exported from developed countries to balance the environmental effects of quickly-growing industrial markets in
countries such as China. The consensus among the panelists was that in order to stimulate technological advancements,
rapid policy changes are needed. Mr. Roberts noted that unless we act quickly to implement such changes, a potentially
dangerous crisis could await us in the future.
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