The Club of Rome cast an uncertain shadow over the future of the world in 1972, when they suggested that the world would soon face a dearth of resources by the turn of the millennium. Unfortunately, their figures were correct and the oil shocks that lasted through the 70s and 80s of the 20th century into the fall of oil prices in the 1990s, which even came as low as $10 per barrel, continued to prove those reports right.
So, what then could be made of reputable organizations like the World Energy Council (WEC) and International Energy Agency(IEA) who remained steadfast, and refuted opposing claims through public reports in 1992, in the expectation that there was sufficient energy to support the human race for decades on end.
The difference it seems, is in the approach of the issue, as the Club of Rome delivered a rather myopic report with oil and gas basically substituted as energy in their research, while the WEC and IEA were optimistic about factors such as the potential of technology advancements, substitution of resources and the presence of alternative sources of energy, each of which has become the inspiration for energy resource in the 21st century.
No better case study exists than the United States of America, who had tagged herself as a country ‘addicted to oil’ in 2006. A realization that strengthened their resolve to reduce their dependence on fossil fuel, with a target of only 25% imported from the Middle East set for 2025, and bolstered by investments exceeding $9 billion in developing more efficient energy mixes since the turn of the century. Indeed, the new energy investments have been channeled at two consumers: buildings and automobiles.
For this reason, initiatives like the Freedom Cooperative Automotive Research (Freedom CAR) , as well as several researches for developing alternative energy sources like coal-powered plants, solar cells, wind energy plants, biomass fuels, hydrogen plants and improvements made to hybrid car batteries have all been supported by the government to not only deal with the diversification of energy from sole reliance on fossil fuels to the creation of more energy-efficient systems that will allow reduced consumption of available energy, regardless of its source.
This meant that the United States went in a different direction than it had in the 70s, with more money now purposefully channeled to getting this diversification and efficiency plan in motion. For the parts of the plan already in motion before the turn of the century, even more money was put in.
The result? The United States of America already claims self-sufficiency in the use of energy, with advancements in biotechnology and nanotechnology proving to be the current solutions to what was a depressing problem. For example, one of every five engines used in the US is powered using biofuels, while hybrid cars with rechargeable batteries made super-efficient through nanotechnology have dominated the market as we cross over to the third decade of the 21st century.
Reports have even been made of photoelectrosynthetic models of power plants through some special artificial bacteria. Since the rest of world followed suit when the United States began its pursuit of technology, everyone else is not far off from achieving a more optimistic future. Say hello to the new energy mix.