Admitting Oil Addiction

President Bush famously admitted in his State of the Union address last January that "America is addicted to oil." E took a look at our addiction in "The Outlook on Oil" (cover story, January/February 2006). Now the International Energy Outlook (IEO) reports that the U.S. actually decreased its oil consumption in 2005. But the IEO said the dip was something other than a sign of personal virtue. The 0.4 percent decline in demand "resulted from a combination of high prices, hurricane-related disruptions and a mild winter." The world is moving in the other direction. In its latest Vital Signs report, the Worldwatch Institute says that global oil use crept up 1.3 percent from 2004 to 2005. The group warns that continued reliance on oil could derail economic efforts in developing countries. "Of the world’s 48 poorest countries, 33 are net importers of oil; more than half of these are completely dependent on imports," it says.

According to the Department of Energy, demand for energy in the developing world is scheduled to grow at an average annual rate of three percent between 2003 and 2030.