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Imagine there is no oil…in figures

2011 April 26
by Mario

In this brilliant illustration, you can find some interesting information about the world you live in, an oil world.

Did you know that the united states, the largest consumer of oil, needs more than the following four higher consumers, being China, Japan, India and Russia together?!

I did not know that only 3% of oil consumption is to produce electricity and that 66% is used to fuel transportation where on average only 30% of the energy consumed is actually transformed into the movement of cars, the rest is wasted in heat.

So basically we are wasting about 45% of the resource for which we are willing to make wars?!?!? This without even considering the well-known impact on global warming.

Does this make any sense?


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4 Responses leave one →
  1. April 27, 2011

    You should ask this question to producers of oil…
    The question which everyone should ask to himself should be “how could I reduce my depending from oil?”
    I don’t know the situation in Patna. In Italy (Trentino), for example they use to build houses named “casa clima”: walls are covered with wood to mantain inside the warm of the sun (in ancient times they used animal skin like); water is warmed by passing it deep in the ground and using the warm of the earth and so on…In Ulm (Germany) Nelmuth Ritzer (Daimler) has developed a service of car-sharing; and not so far from Ulm there is Stoccarda, known for its car industries!
    There are lots of solution, but the main problems, i think, are big interests around oil and laziness of people…

    • Mario permalink*
      April 28, 2011

      Carlo, I believe you made an interesting point when you said that everybody should ask himself “ho can I reduce MY dependence on oil”, on a daily basis at, home. In the end, if no one cares about creating a smooth transition to a non oil world, we should think about it ourselves! Oil is used in so many materials we have at home, that not having it anymore can have a massive impact on our daily lives, and transportation might even not be the greatest impact!

  2. Michael Bernier permalink
    April 27, 2011

    I agree that as a diminishing resource, we have to break our dependence on oil, and I agree that oil’s environmental impact makes it doubly important. But we should also remember that countries are not homogeneous things, and that Russia, India, and Japan each have 1.5 trillion dollar economies while China has a 5.9 and Japan has a 5.5 trillion dollar economy. That is, the US, as the third largest country in the world by population, uses oil to generate power to create a 14.7 trillion dollar economy, and it uses about the same amount as 15.9 trillion dollars worth of economic activity in other countries.

    Per capita usage is higher, and this is an area for concern and effort, but the total use must be accounted for at least in part by the amount of economic activity. Significant economic gains in India and China are due in part to trade between these countries and the United States–and oil makes some of that possible. Perhaps this is just a self-conscious response from an American that supports your points in general but disagrees on little items, but I do feel it important to evaluate complex issues like oil with an eye toward nuance and context.

    • Mario permalink*
      April 28, 2011

      I agree with you Michael, I always love your insightful and well structured comments. Indeed the comparison of oil consumed per unit of GDP produced is relevant. Yet I find interesting how easily we are willing to accept that oil is a necessary input for the production of GDP. Very interesting for a natural resource unknown to economies less than two centuries ago and that will be unknown in half century from now.

      Remains impressive the data per capita when take into account the terms of comparison account for around 2.7 billion people….more than 6 times as many as the US!!

      However, looking at nuances and context might just make the picture worse. Let’s have a quick look at the GDP side, maybe it is worth decomposing the economy structure. The US derives a larger proportion of their GDP by the finance industry and other service based industries that use less oil than the manufacturing sector larger in Japan, India and China. Therefore, the oil consumed to produce GDP should be considered only for the fraction of GDP that actually has oil as a relevant input. It is unfair to divide it for the value of facebook, google and goldman sachs, while comparing the US to the manufacturing powerhouse of the world (China).

      It would be interesting also to understand how much oil is used to fuel the conquest of more oil. That is how much fuel is consumed by airplanes, land vehicles, helicopters etc employed directly and indirectly in the ongoing wars in oil rich countries. But this is just a curiosity.

      And what about Germany that fuels a 3.6 trillion dollar economy (1/4 of that of the US) with 1/6 of the oil. And note that I am quoting another factory powerhouse, not Switzerland.

      While it is almost impossible not to agree that we, as a species, need to reduce our dependence on oil regardless of who consumes how much, I find that observing the nuances risks being like counting the stones on a path, which risks taking all our attention for so long that we’ll end up walking way to slow on that path.

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