The U.S. energy crisis in the 1970's - Assignment Example

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Among these were the affluent consumerist lifestyle of the American citizens, the so-called “peak oil” concept in which proven oil supplies from existing wells were declining…
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THE U.S. ENERGY CRISIS IN THE 1970s (A Response Paper) Full ID Number: of of School (University)
Word Count: 390
Date of Submission: January 11, 2013
A number of factors conspired that created the energy crisis in the United States back in the 1970s. Among these were the affluent consumerist lifestyle of the American citizens, the so-called “peak oil” concept in which proven oil supplies from existing wells were declining in their production output (oil being a non-renewable energy source), the supply shocks caused by the Arab oil embargo, and a growing environmentalism movement which prevented exploration of possible new oil sources, together with the failure to adopt a paradigm shift in formulating a renewable (green) energy policy by the government due to public apathy at that time.
Americas advanced consumer society (consumerism) produced the social movement in environmentalism.1 This had prevented oil and gas exploration in pristine wilderness areas of America which made the country more dependent on foreign oil sources, after becoming a net importer of oil for the first time, when it was once a leading oil producer. This made America particularly vulnerable to foreign political shocks, such as the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Foreign oil supplies were again unexpectedly disrupted by the Iranian Revolution in 1979. American cars prior to the energy crisis were gas guzzlers (not fuel-efficient) as Americans got used to having a big car, when oil supplies were previously cheap and plentiful. President Jimmy Carter by then tried to introduce the “moral equivalent of war” against energy waste while trying to develop the rational national energy plan but the concept of alternative energy was just a nascent idea then.2 The government had implored people to reduce energy use, such as setting the speed limit at 55 miles per hour and turning off unnecessary electric lights, like not lighting their Christmas trees.3 But perhaps most importantly, people had not yet grasped the full importance of the concept of “peak oil” which means oil supplies will continue on an irreversible downward trend forever.4 It simply means people cannot continue using oil like they did before, as supplies are running out; people need to find alternative energy sources which are environment-friendly too. Moreover, the social movement of environmentalism had some extremist advocates, who did not want any type of exploration activities at all; the idea of conservation did not appeal to them (the wise and prudent use of natural resources) and all they want is complete preservation.5
Abdullah, Bilaal. Peak Oil Paradigm Shift: The Urgent Need for a Sustainable Energy Model. Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies: Medianet Limited, 2004.
Anonymous. “Time Trip: The 1970s Energy Crisis,” Current Events 105, no. 10 (November 11, 2005): 2.
Black, Brian. “Jimmy Carter and the Energy Crisis of the 1970s: Crisis of Confidence,” Environmental History 11, no. 1 (January 2006): 141-142.
Cutter, Susan L., and William H. Renwick. Exploitation, conservation, preservation: A geographic perspective on natural resource use. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons Incorporated, 2004.
Henretta, James A., and David Brody. America: A Concise History, Volume 2: Since 1865, 4th ed. Boston, MA, USA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. Read More
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