These facts are not subject to debate. The world's energy-producing countries are operating near maximum production. Demand for oil is rising faster than production. And there haven't been any major new discoveries of oil in nearly three decades.
In other words, we may be at or very near what's known as "peak oil," the point where demand permanently outstrips supply. Depending on whose estimate you believe, it's either happening right now, or will happen sometime within the next 10 years.
Whichever way you slice it, the era of cheap, limitless energy is over. Dealing with this reality cannot be postponed or delayed any longer. The United States can't keep invading other countries to control their oil. It can't drill its way out of this supply crunch. It needs to commit itself immediately to a plan to conserve energy, develop new energy sources and find ways to make the transition away from a hydrocarbon-based economy.
The last time this nation had to face a drastic change in its energy consumption habits - during the 1972-73 and 1979-80 Arab oil embargoes - the results were astounding. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that the energy efficiency improvements made since the mid-1970s oil embargo now save this nation more than $400 billion in energy costs each year.
Of course the question of the hour is will we, indeed, change our energy consumption habits? I'm not optimistic. The current administration has sent the consistent message to the American people that selfishness is good and conservation is bad. In the meantime, I do what I can and I urge everyone reading this to do so as well. Conserve energy, folks! And give generously to those organizations working hard to wake our leaders up to scientific reality.