fr:L'humanité est dopée par un engrais concentréThe United States in particular, and the global economy in general, depends heavily on non-renewable fossil oil as a fuel for transportation. More specifically, it depends upon oil remaining relatively inexpensive.
Unfortunately, the pre-eminence of oil extraction as an industry has led to the gradual entrenchment of powers with an invested interest in maintaining this dependence and, by extension, preventing the development of alternative energy sources. As a result, we find ourselves not only dependent, but unable to break away even when we clearly see it is in our best interests – in other words, addicted.
In practical terms, a "fuel" is any substance which can hold enough energy to power a reasonably-sized vehicle for a distance of at least several hundred miles while fitting into a container small enough to be carried by that same vehicle. The key fact here is not that the fuel provides the energy, but that it contains it. An extension cord plugged into a household power socket can provide a lot of energy, but you can't take it very far. Conversely, most batteries (anything from a miniscule Lithium watch battery to an automotive wet-cell battery) are quite portable, but cannot hold enough power to move a vehicle any useful distance.
The most important thing about oil, which is even more true once it is refined into chemicals such as gasoline (petrolium) and diesel, is that it has a high energy-to-volume ratio – in other words, you can pack a lot of energy into a relatively small space. There are very few substances which approach this density, and most of them create other problems -- hydrogen, for example, is far more combustible than gasoline, and is extremely hazardous to transport in quantities large enough to be useful as a fuel.
To the best of our knowledge, naturally-occurring oil is formed by the actions of heated chemicals under extreme pressure over "geological time scales" (millions of years), and therefore is not something of which we can quickly make more. Once the naturally-occurring supplies have been exhausted (), we will need to have found either an alternate method of production or a better means of storing energy.
(to be written) Some data here: 
- Gas Guzzling Pride
- Due to finite supplies of naturally-occurring oil, oil dependence is not a sustainable practice until we have the ability to synthesize as much oil (or oil product) as we use.
- Wikipedia: (there may be an equivalent page, but I'm not sure what it would be called)
- Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries: how much oil and petroleum the US imports from its largest suppliers
- BP Oil Statistical Review of World Energy 2005: a lot of data, available in multiple formats
- Friends Committee on National Legislation
- UK fuel protests: Wikipedia: signs of a flagging supply
- George Monbiot: "oil" articles
- Stop Oil Speculators "Speculators and investment banks can game the energy trading markets, using loopholes in commodities law to drive up the cost of energy and reap record profits... at the expense of American families and small businesses!" This site is more about reducing/preventing the exploitation of oil dependence rather than reducing oil dependence itself; should probably go on a page about high gas prices and the way the Republicans are using those high prices to argue for more domestic drilling
- Dollar a gallon gasoline: how-to/editorial page started by H. Keith Henson
- Fuel Oil Synthesis: If gasoline and diesel could be synthesized from renewable resources, all we'd have to deal with would be the environmental effects
- Alternative Portable Energy: There are other ways to store energy so that it can be used portably; the trick is getting the energy density high enough.
- Apparently electric cars have nonetheless been within the realm of practicality for some time
- 2006-02-17 Kids Build Soybean-Fueled Car that gets 50 MPG (2006-03-01 slashdot)
- oil plenitude: some people argue that oil supplies are in effect inexhaustible (and oil combustion isn't causing any real environmental problems, either) so we shouldn't be worrying about it
Editorials & Articles
- 2007-01-31 Power (Plants) to The People! by Carl S. Milsted, Jr.: some thoughts on personal power generation
- The Great American Streetcar Scandal by Larry West: "How General Motors Derailed Public Transportation [in order] to Sell More Cars
- 2007-11-17 Federal Court Voids Bush's Fuel Standards for Trucks and SUVs by Marty Jerome: "In a stinging rebuke to the Bush Administration's year-old fuel economy standards for light trucks and SUVs, the Ninth Circuit voided the new regulations, saying they failed to consider the economic impact on global warming. ... In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit obliquely chided the role of corporate interests in the regulations Bush has put forth. Its exemption of large SUVs, such as the Hummer H2 or the Ford Excursion, from any mileage standards at all can only be explained by lobbyists' dollars."
- 2007-11-07 The End of Oil is Upon Us. We Must Move On - Quickly. by Chuck Squatriglia: "If there are any lingering doubts as to whether the age of oil is nearing its end, the International Energy Agency has put them to rest and made it clear that only a massive and immediate investment in sustainable energy will prevent a global crisis."
- 2007-09-14 The end of oil "A small - but growing - group of experts think world oil production will peak in the next few years, to devastating effect." For eventual page on peak oil
- 2007-05-24 Incredible New Claim For Why Gas Prices Are So High: Competition: This is so backwards. Heavier competition lowers prices. Adding another source of the same product also lowers prices.
- 2006-05-24 Beyond the Oil Peak by Lester Brown: examination of the likely effects of declining oil production
- 2006-05-10 Are You Ready for the Energy Crash? by Jan Frel, AlterNet: "The biggest obstacle to getting our petro-dependent society to change its wasteful ways is collective insanity."
- 2006-04-19 Tilting at Windmills (slashdot): popular opposition to alternative energy projects
- 2006-01-26 Ethanol can replace gasoline with big energy savings, comparable impact on greenhouse gases
- 2005-10-08 Seventy dollars a barrel? Relax, it'll come down. (2006-04-22: Oil breaks through record $75)
- 2005-10-07 House passes bill to boost refinery capacity: how does the Bush Administration handle the increasing fuel crunch? They lower our pollution standards to make sure we're running at top speed when the last few drops come out of the ground.
- 2005-09-02 U.S. drivers won't cut back on gas: or, more to the point, they can't, without substantial changes in the culture
- 2000-11-13 The Peak of Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge by Richard C. Duncan, Ph.D.: somewhat iffy argument with some fairly specific data and conclusions, including expected crisis years. Appears to be the basis for the DieOff site's major premise.