This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
The sudden fall in oil prices sure seems like a good deal. Please, don't be fooled. This temporary reprieve won't last. Sooner or later, the lure of cheap oil will vanish as the world economy begins to recover and sends the price of gasoline spiraling up due to increased demand. It has happened before and it will happen again.
The oil shock of the 1970s was a rude awakening. OPEC created artificial oil shortages that sent prices soaring. This changed the world forever by initiating a transfer of wealth to the Middle East that continues to this day.
For awhile, indignant Americans pledged to change their habits and end the nation's addiction to foreign oil. Commuters began riding mass transit and using car pools. They opted for smaller cars. They lowered the thermostat and wore sweaters indoors. The results were amazing. In 1977, oil imports were at 8.6 million barrels a day, enough to meet 47 percent of U.S. demand. Five years later, they had fallen 4.3 million barrels, or 28 percent of demand. Gasoline consumption fell 9 percent from 1977 to 1982. Unfortunately, this victory wouldn't last.
When oil producers realized they'd gone too far, prices came back down and Americans reverted to their old, destructive habits. As a nation, we went into a deep sleep on the energy front.
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