That’s a very complicated question. If oil were to simply vanish tomorrow, the impact on society would be immense.
Transportation would break down. This would lead to massive problems for areas that rely on imports such as big cities, which ship in food and supplies from far away to fuel their giant populations. Our society is very dependent on transportation for exchanging goods; most communities aren’t self-sufficient. With a near-total breakdown in transport, people would starve.
Plastics currently rely on fossil fuels to be produced. A world without new plastics would of course be highly problematic. Think for a second on everything you use that is made of some form of plastic!
The disappearance of oil would also de-stabilize the geo-political world. Basically, all military power would be reset to near-0, except nuclear states which no doubt have reserves so of oil so they can launch ICBMs at any time.
There’s a lot that would happen; I don’t pretend to know everything. Suffice to say, it would be bad.
Well – we can synthesize most things that are petroleum based, like fuels and plastics.
But if we just stopped using oil tomorrow and did not replace it with some other energy source… Food would not get to the grocery store; tractors that farm the food would not run, trains and trucks that bring the food from farms would not run, shipping vessels that carry most consumer goods would be gone. Aid to foreign nations would be gone; we would not be able to farm or ship the food to nations in need. Air travel would cease. Anything made of plastic would not exist. Kids would not be able to get to school, pretty much all transportation in the US would grind to a halt. Roads would not be repaved, as the tar in asphalt is petroleum based.
….well, okay. realistically most of our conveniences would have to be re-thought. But it’s absolutely possible. I think it’s possible for us to make a faster movement to a world like that than what we’re currently making, but every bit is a positive help.
To put this question in context, first you have to ask the alternative question. What will the world be like if we continue our dependence on oil? The IPCC report in 2007 and the NAS report this year answer that question: because of the relationship between fossil fuel use and climate change, a world where we do not significantly reduce our dependence on oil would be a world that is unstable, unpleasant and probably–in some places–dangerous to human survival.
Secondly, what is meant by a world without oil? Do we eliminate it entirely from our civilization? How long do we get to make this transformation? Despite the way the question has been answered above, nobody expects the transformation to be made in one motion. We’re not talking about a sudden change, but a concerted move to change, which is not the same thing.
None of which yet answers the question.
My answer. A world without oil will look much like the world we live in now, except that, over time and using human ingenuity, substitutions will be made. Given the powerful motivation of possible climate disaster, new ways will be found to do what we now do with oil. New substances will be tapped. New processes found. New sources of energy will come on line.
The question shouldn’t really be, what would a world without oil look like? No one can answer those questions yet. The question should be–given the realities of climate change which are already starting to catch up with us–what should we be doing to create a world without oil?
Actually, I concepted a movie with this premise: Gattaca. Electric cars, solar collectors, and a dozen manned rocket flights a week. Now if we can just see the perfection in every individual and then can the human spirit? While we have made some progress on avoiding ‘genoism’, I’ve been working on capturing the human spirit, too. Read my new book on the human spirit (aka human pheromones):
Nicholson B. (2009). Of Love KISSES PASS EPIGENETIC PHEROMONES IN THE PATHOGENESIS OF SOCIOPATHY, ‘MENTAL ILLNESS’ AND DISEASE The Cure for Crime. The Cure for Drug Addiction. Amazon Kindle edition.
So you don’t believe Gattaca was my concept? Actually Avatar and Titanic were, too! See:
Nicholson B. (2008). Hillary’s Angel: What Happened to Hillary Clinton Thirty-Five Years Ago, The McGovern Campaign in Dallas, Texas, in 1972. Amazon dot com Kindle edition.
Click here to cancel reply.
Sorry,At this time user registration is disabled. We will open registration soon!
Don't have an account? Click Here to Signup
© Copyright GreenAnswers.com LLC