Ever since George W. Bush used the phrase “addicted to oil”, the world has woken up to the fact that it might be suffering from an unhealthy compulsion to consume oil and oil based products. Oil is an integral part of every aspect of human life- whether the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter or other utilities and luxuries. It is powerful, labor saving, cheap and incredibly practical for those with access to it. Yet, apart from these widely perceived benefits, there are numerous disadvantages as well. Environmental degradation, pollution of air, water, soil and constant reinforcing of global inequalities are some of the distinct drawbacks of a life governed by an obsessive use of oil.
Yet, despite these huge negatives, the reality of it stands at this- it would not be possible to sustain human life at this juncture without strong dependence on oil. It guarantees prosperity. The cheapest and most convenient option yet for electricity, heating, transportation, cosmetics and so much more, oil is the only alternative to ensuring a smooth and functional life.
It has been argued that people from all over the globe have together created an industrial empire which can sustain itself only by consuming huge amounts of energy. While this might be held to be true, the fact remains that oil consumption has recently been decreasing. Demand for heating oil, primarily in the developed world has started coming down as newer and more advanced technologies come to the fore. There is still a long way to go to get rid of the addiction to oil but the ground work has been done. Hopefully in the near future, there will be a range of alternatives which are as effective and cheap as oil while at the same time, not as scarce or as polluting. But until then, oil is the best and most effective way to ensure a good life for all concerned.