by Ruth Sheldon Knowles ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 1, 1975
Knowles does a more than competent job of outlining the international background of the energy crisis both before and after 1970, the year in which Arab oil became a political weapon as Libyan production cutbacks, rising consumer demand, power failures and the discovery of natural gas shortages sent the price of crude oil imports soaring and Americans began to worry for the first time that the energy ""gap"" might in fact be a serious long term problem. Indeed she paints a grim picture: at least for the time being the Middle Eastern oil-producing nations have the industrialized world by the short hairs. By far the largest (and best) part of this book is devoted to explaining (with a multitude of statistics on America's energy consumption) just how the U.S. managed to get itself into this unenviable dependency on the Arab world. Knowles makes the point that for years Washington has blithely ignored the energy question and practiced what was in effect a spendthrift, profligate ""nonpolicy."" Since Knowles nowhere soft-pedals our staggering energy needs and our extreme vulnerability vis-a-vis the Middle Eastern producers, one is quite unprepared for her sudden burst of Pollyanna optimism. In the long run she believes that the quadrupled Arab oil prices will just be a salutary kick in the seat of the pants to our economy. In the next few years we will experience a domestic boom as American designers and engineers begin to provide a cascade of power-saving appliances, everyone lowers the thermostat and recycling becomes a way of life. But the only real ""solution"" is a mammoth development program costing about 700 billion dollars over the next few years to seek alternate sources of crude oil -- in Alaska, Venezuela, Norway, Canada. This will mean drilling about 58,000 new wells a year, doubling our coal mining, and of course finding all those new oil fields. But why not? Never underestimate the miracles of technology or that wonderful thing, ""human in. genuity."" Alas, Knowles' diagnosis is far more plausible than her utopian remedies.
Pub Date: April 1, 1975
Page Count: -
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1975
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