One thing certain about the energy picture for tomorrow is that it will involve living with uncertainty when it comes to energy availability and cost. The sources of energy and the patterns of energy use will undoubtedly change. We can expect problems, with growing demand and insufficient supply leading to higher costs. Supplies will continue to be regulated and could be disrupted.
Oil embargoes could cause significant economic impact in the United States and other countries, and a war or revolution in a petroleum-producing country would significantly reduce petroleum exports. It is clear that we need to rethink our entire energy policy in terms of sources, supply, consumption, and environmental concerns. We can begin by understanding basic facts about what energy is.
The business-as-usual path is more comfortable it requires no new thinking; no re- alignment of political, economic, or social conditions; and little anticipation of coming reductions in oil production. People heavily invested in the continued use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy often favor the traditional path. They argue that much environmental degradation around the world has been caused by people who have been forced to use local resources, such as wood, for energy, leading to the loss of plant and animal life and increasing soil erosion.