By Soumyajit Kar

Scarcity of oil is incontrovertibly the most serious issue looming over the horizon of industrial and economic and therefore social development. It is no longer a pocketed problem, isolated in a few corners of the world; rather it has become a ubiquitous issue, and therefore needs more attention and a holistic solution.

Oil scarcity can be caused by a number of factors, including technical limitations, political maneuvering, and capacity problems when the supply cannot meet the demand. According to a report, as of 2012, 79% of the world’s total energy requirements were met by fossil fuels. Taking the case of India, only thirty three percent of our total oil conservation is met by inland production and the rest is imported mainly from the Gulf. Crude oil production rose barely 1.4% in 2013-14 over the previous year to 7, 63,000 barrels per day. Meanwhile, India’s energy needs are exploding. This mismatch between domestic crude production and imports has had disastrous economic consequences like a severely misbalanced current account. Oil scarcity has led to the biggest economic shocks in the recent past and has been one of the contributors to the 1991 economic crisis. Oil imports now comprise an enormous portion of the country’s total trade deficit by value. Does it require any more to say why we should conserve oil? A very relevant question is why should we save oil, when we learn so much about alternative and renewable resources of energy? Firstly, in a country like ours, installation of large scale wind, water or geothermal power stations is not feasible both economically and due to the absence of apt technical know-how and infrastructure. So till we attain that technological level we cannot but rely on petroleum for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes. Also, there are a host of other feasibility issues with renewable resources of energy, as pointed out in a recent article on the site. Moreover, as a considerable chunk of the population lives below the poverty line, when we are analyzing oil scarcity, it is only right that we think about the effects on the entire economy as a whole.

Youths are the people who are most flexible and can grow up with better habits that will make conservation of oil something that are just normal for everyone. Being a representative of the country’s productive youth population, we should realize that the youth has got the potential of promoting oil conservation. At this age we are ready to assimilate the probable consequences and can act differently if imbibed in the quintessence of conservation. The most important tool of initiating this process is involving the mass, spreading awareness and conducting result oriented informative sessions to emphasize the need for saving oil. It is true that the government has a constructive role to play in formulating and enforcing economic reforms in favor of conservation, but as an individual of the nation, we have to realize the duty we have in complementing policy. Although large scale projects relying more on technology than public participation can’t be implemented in India, yet small steps with determined goals can better serve the need. Already we are celebrating Oil Conservation Fortnights and the likes, but the problem is to incorporate all the citizens under it.

Young people can demonstrate a serious commitment to reducing oil consumption through their choices as they become old enough to conduct themselves. Instead of regarding the acquisition of a driver’s license as a right to drive, we can view it as an opportunity to save fuel. In this Age of Petroleum, and in a country like ours, petroleum is an indispensable tool for economic growth. It is wrong to think that with a giant population it is impossible to conserve oil effectively; rather our perspective should be employing a billion minds in innovating ways of conservation. Our role as future citizens should not just be devoted to the cause of conservation for economic good, but as a commitment to better the quality of life.

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind