Saturday, June 14, 2008

Emulate Japan to cope with oil shocks

Again from Asia Times; With the price of oil rocketing to the unprecedented level of US$130 a barrel and more, there is a talk of another oil shock. Unlike past instances, this one is unlikely to subside and may indeed keep intensifying. The only way out is for Western nations, the gluttonous users of petroleum, to cut their consumption and emulate Japan in its consistent drive for energy efficiency and alternate sources.[...] Since supply is unlikely to rise appreciably in the near future, the stress must be laid on curtailing demand. That can only happen in the Western nations. As it is, in the face of soaring prices at gasoline stations, US demand fell by 3% during the first three months of this year.

It's worth noting that a similar decrease occurred in America after the quadrupling of oil prices in 1973-74. That oil shock led to a drive for fuel efficiency in the United States, West Europe and Japan. It also gave a boost to developing renewable sources of energy. But whereas Japan has followed a consistent, long-range policy, and reduced its petroleum usage, America has not. [...] Little wonder that the oil usage in Japan has dropped by 15% over the past dozen years.