By Kevin Yang
America is a great nation. We are a nation that has endured many obstacles but now we are faced with a dangerous and unique situation. Our growing dependence on foreign oil is eating America from the inside out.
The facts about this are ones that made my jaw drop, but they are the truth. The U.S. consumes about 19.5 million barrels of petroleum a day, making us the world’s largest petroleum consumer. Out of those 19.5 million barrels a day, we import 12.9 million barrels of petroleum a day. That number is projected to increase while our oil production is expected to decrease.
What does importing 12.9 million barrels of petroleum a day mean? It means we are spending $200,000 dollars per minute on foreign oil. If you do the math, that’s $249 dollars per American spent on foreign oil over a year.
Most of this money goes to the world’s most unfriendly and unstable regions like the Middle East. Most of the U.S.’s enemies on the “War on Terror” are nations with large oil reserves such as Iran and Iraq. This fact makes us more vulnerable, as we have become dependent on those who take hostile actions against us.
Besides funding our enemies, we are adding to the mountain of debt we already have. Currently the U.S. debt to GDP ratio is at a high 98%, the highest rate since World War II. Many experts agree that this unprecedented level of debt is a result of our dependence on foreign oil. We have already seen the detrimental consequences of trying to sustain a negative balance for too long. S&P, one of the three major rating agencies, recently degraded the U.S. long-term debt to AA from AAA. This is the first time it has happened in U.S. history, reflective of our fiscal irresponsibility and addiction to foreign oil. It has become incredibly clear that our greatest threat is not some terrorist hiding in a cave in Afghanistan, but ourselves-including our addition to foreign oil.
Economist Philip Verleger said oil prices took 15% out of our economic growth since World War II. This includes job losses, tax revenues, etc. Although foreign oil dependence is one of many factors damaging the economy today, it is one that we will have to eventually face, as drilling in American soil is not a practical solution. We only hold 3% of the world’s total oil reserves and will never be able to produce enough oil to meet our demands. In addition, the demand for oil is relatively inelastic, meaning that we will always have to buy it even if the price increases ten fold. The only practical path out of this problem is alternative energy.
There are so many ways to stop our addiction to foreign oil. Solar power, wind power, biofuels, and electricity are all alternatives to oil. We are living in exponential times. Developments in alternative energy technologies are happing faster than ever. It is essential that America capitalizes on this opportunity and invests heavily into alternative energy, an industry that is destined to become one of the largest industries when oil runs out, and it will.
The alternative energy debate has become more important than ever, as politicians at Washington have been stressing that our number one priority is now job creation. America is still one of the most innovative and competitive nations in the world today, despite its recent drop in rank to 4th from 1st as the world’s most competitive nation. We invented the automobile, created the airplane and now, we should strive to create the next “great” thing in alternative energy.
America has always been the leader in innovating new technologies. By leading the world in alternative energy we will be able to create American jobs and stop our dangerous addiction to foreign oil. Tackling our foreign oil dependence will be the first step to eradicating the fiscal cancer that has plagued America and threatened to take away the nation our founding fathers worked so hard to create.