The energy situation facing the United States and the world today is in some ways similar to that faced by the early Greeks and Romans. The use of wood in the United States peaked in the 1880s, when the use of coal became widespread. The use of coal, in turn, began to decline after 1920, when oil and gas started to become available. Today, we are facing the global peak of oil production, which is expected by about 2020.


Fossil fuel resources, which took millions of years to form, may be essentially exhausted in just a few hundred years. Nevertheless, industrial production of goods automobiles, appliances, etc. continued to grow significantly. A potentially effective method of conserving energy is to change our behavior by using less energy.


This involves our values and the choices we make to act at a local level to address global environmental problems, such as human induced warming caused by burning fossil fuels. For example, we make choices as to how far we commute to school or work and what method of transport we use to get there. This improvement stems from increased fuel efficiency; smaller cars with engines constructed of lighter materials; and hybrid cars, which combine a fuel-burning engine and an electric motor.