Online UpdateLecture Discusses Oil Shortages, Gas Prices

Paul Roberts, author of “The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World,” spoke to a packed Sun Room of the Memorial Union to discuss why the United States, and the rest of the world, are suffering from oil shortages and high gas prices.

A large audience gathered to hear the lecture, entitled “The End of Oil &#0151 Alternatives for the Future,” which focused on issues affecting the oil industry.

“We burn 30 million barrels a year and we’re finding 12 billion a year,” Roberts said. “I think what’s dawning on people is that there is a problem.”

He said Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast early Monday morning, is just the latest scapegoat being blamed for high fuel prices, but the real problems are more complex.

“Economic growth is such a powerful incentive that people aren’t willing to look at their energy usage,” Roberts said. “The oil companies struggle to replace the oil they sell. Companies are finding less oil every year.”

Roberts also said political unrest in oil-producing countries adds to the growing problems.

“Major producers are less stable now than five years ago,” he said. “The world’s most advanced military has been unable to stabilize Iraq. What is it going to do if Venezuela or Saudi Arabia become unstable?”

Roberts said in the past spare oil reserves came to the rescue when there was a supply problem, but with dwindling global reserves in the oil companies, that will not be possible.

“If you think $69 [a barrel] is bad, wait until it is $100,” he said. “There is nothing to stop it from doing that.”

ISU students are feeling the crunch from higher prices as well.

“The cost of rising gas prices is concerning,” said Dan Dempsey, freshman in health and human performance.

Dempsey, a Marine, said the military is reducing the number of Humvees because they are not efficient.

“It’s costing the military too much in gas,” he said.

He said the United States should consider cutting its fuel usage as a means to help alleviate the problem.

Abby Hancock, graduate student in chemical engineering, said getting the same petroleum products in a “cost effective means” is a major area of concern.