The Oil Conundrum? The Answer Is Easy.
While I’ve been on holiday, oil prices have continued to rise – now over $125 a barrel and heading fast for its previous pre-global crash record of $147. What I find bizarre is the whole reactive stance in the press – “Oh, no! The economy is gonna crash!” – as if there is nothing that can be done.
Let’s make it very simple for the hard of learning:
Energy bill = cost of 1 unit of energy x consumption
So there are two things we can all do:
1. Switch to a cheaper form of energy – not easy yet, but the rate things are going, renewables will soon be competitive with fossil fuels with the costs of the former falling and the latter rising, or,
2. Cut consumption. I have never visited a factory, an office or a home where I can’t spy a couple of quick fixes within ten minutes. Proper energy efficiency takes longer, and possibly some investment – but huge savings can be made and, unlike redundancies, energy efficiency can improve the business rather than weaken it.
So why is nothing done on energy efficiency? Everyone likes blaming politicians, but Government intervention on energy efficiency has a checkered history – either broad sweeps like 55mph speed limits in the US, or advertising campaigns of doubtful impact. Only on social issues like fuel poverty do Governments really get traction and deliver results.
Captains of industry are meant to be able to see which way the world is going and adapt swiftly – but they often get this one wrong – witness how a couple of years ago the US motor industry didn’t react quickly enough to a public looking for more efficient vehicles and kept churning out SUVs. More and more are opening their eyes, but the evidence is that many at the top do not see this as a strategic business issue and keep trying to ‘manage’ it.
And of course all of us as consumers can do our bit whether it is choosing a more efficient car (or a bicycle!), putting an extra layer of insulation in the loft or switching stuff off when it isn’t needed.
We’re all a little too wedded to cheap energy. And as Bob Dylan once said, back when he was still political, a change is gonna come. We can either do something about it or put our heads in the sand. The choice is ours.