Sunday, June 13, 2010

Big oil, big profits and the future of energy production

Deborah Gordon and Daniel Sperling of The Washington Post provide a thought-provoking look at what the big oil companies see in terms of the future of energy production. In short, same-'ol same 'ol. Energy demand is increasing at an astonishing rate. Renewable energy supplies are not. Market answer: more oil. And, if this problem is left to market forces, its more oil for a very long time.

Obviously, this is a real problem for society. As Gordon and Sperling put it "...oil companies are, quite rationally, investing the equivalent of pennies in biofuels and other alternative energies, compared with dollars in unconventional oil prospects. But while they are behaving logically in economic terms, they aren't serving the public interest."
Hmm... that sounds familiar.


Joel Garner said...

I agree here but it seems they are preserving the public's interest since our interets now is burning the oil they are providing. We are consuming at a much more astonishing rate than could be maintained by renewable alternatives. We just haven't found the answer to this question in a manner that proves to be efficient. It will come (hopefully) and with it a change for the better for our environment and individual's as a whole. But our need for oil will remain.

Samuel Wilson said...

The public interest, or private interests? I feel that the public interest would require more of a reflection of the social costs of oil burning, bumping up the marginal cost of oil. Our need for oil will remain as long as the cost at the pump or per kW hour on our electric bills fails to reflect those externalities...and were it to reflect the true social cost, I think firms would view renewable R&D investments in a much more favorable light and get the ball rolling with a bit more haste.

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