Oil consumption is set to decline to 2003 levels this year. This is generally considered to be caused by "involuntary conservation," as people buy less things and drive less (because they have less money, obviously). The second article I linked to did a good job of describing the levels of economic pain we are currently seeing (sales are down 5%!!), and much of that decline is seen in the automobile (the primary petroleum-consuming device in the United States). It also shows how inelastic oil demand is, as an economic downturn that has hit the entire world has only moved the dates of what I described early by five years, as well as the link between oil and economic development (while causality does not prove causation, I think it is fair to say that oil is fundamental to growth in the world' current economic system, so a drop off in economic activity will similarly lead to a drop off in oil consumption). This news points to the most powerful tool that society will use to combat a sharp unplanned drop in oil consumption once a peak is reached: a sharp drop off in economic growth as well.
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