Beware of Low Oil Prices

The unexpected plunge in oil prices is leading to declining investments in renewables and may prove politically destabilizing, argues Michael Klare.
January 9, 2009, 10am PST | Michael Dudley
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"[Low Oil] Prices -- and their equivalents at the gas pump -- will no doubt be viewed as a godsend by many hard-hit American consumers. Here, however, is a simple but crucial reality to keep in mind: No matter how much it costs, whether it's rising or falling, oil has a profound impact on the world we inhabit -- and this will be no less true in 2009 than in 2008.

The main reason? In good times and bad, oil will continue to supply the largest share of the world's energy supply...Keep your eye on the politics of oil and you'll always know a lot about what's actually happening on this planet.

Perhaps most disastrously, in a cheap oil moment, investment in non-polluting, non-climate-altering alternatives like solar, wind, and tidal energy is also likely to dwindle. In the longer term, what this means is that, once a global economic recovery begins, we can expect a fresh oil price shock as future energy options prove painfully limited."

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Published on Thursday, January 8, 2009 in TomDispatch

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