Americans and oil

oil drilling rigsA new poll reports reports that Americans are “deeply concerned” about energy but “unwilling to pay higher gasoline prices to help develop new fuel sources.”  Professor Cutler Cleveland, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, says this attitude defies our experience since 1970 as we’ve gone to war over oil, experienced major oil spills, suffered recessions triggered by oil price hikes, and watched the global political landscape be reshaped by energy issues.  From his blog, The Energy Watch, he poses and asks a question — then offers a conclusion:

“How have American habits changed in light of these events? Here is what has happened from 1970 to 2007 in regards to our most oil-intensive activity: Percentage of people who commute alone in car, 25% increase; Number of miles driven per car, 23% increase; Percentage of households with three or more cars, 65% increase; Miles driven per household, 50% increase; Average size of household, 17% decrease.

BP and government regulators must be held accountable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  But make no mistake about it: the ultimate driving force behind our predicament is the American appetite for oil and our apparent unwillingness to change our behavior in the face of enormous human and environmental costs.”

Contact Cutler Cleveland, 617-353-3083, cutler@bu.edu

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