Stobaugh, Robert; Yergin, Daniel
March 1979
Foreign Affairs;Spring79, Vol. 57 Issue 4, p836
This article focuses on the need to establish more pragmatic policies for more effective energy consumption in the U.S. to prevent the economic problems brought by the oil crisis in the 1970s. In sum, the government must lead, for the only thing that is going to happen automatically in the years immediately ahead is an ever greater stream of imported oil. But government leadership does not mean government management. Rather, it means correcting market defects in a way to create more jobs and more business opportunities for both large established companies and small new firms with a stake in conservation and solar energy. There are many who do not wish to face this reality. They would still say that if the financial incentives proposed here for conservation and solar energy were also given to producers of conventional sources, then the pay-off would be as good or even better. The authors would reply that substantial effort has already gone into conventional production. Conservation and solar energy are, on the other hand, largely untested possibilities, and yet the effort required to exploit them seems doable and economic, and also less socially disruptive than trying to force too much from conventional sources. What the authors proposed here would represent the beginning of a realistic transition for the U.S. away from ever-growing and ever more dangerous dependence on foreign oil. No other nation has so great an impact on the entire international energy system. It is time for the U.S. to come to terms with the realities of the energy problem, not with romanticism, but in a pragmatic and reasonable way--and not out of altruism, but for the most pressing reasons of self-interest.


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