- Capitalism and Alternatives -

...unless it threatens current market share.

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( UK ) on November 25, 1999 at 18:02:10:

In Reply to: Necessity is the mother of invention. posted by David on November 25, 1999 at 17:48:08:

: : As I pointed out in July, the OPEC countries will be producing over a third of the world's oil within the next 16 months; something they haven't done since the early 1970s.

: : Oil makes plastics; oil runs cars; if the price of either goes up significantly, it's going to hit all Americans who use either. This means you.

: If a massive shortage of oil comes about in the next 10 to 15 years, it will not surprise me if the U.S. economy takes a dip. I believe however, that we will find alternatives.

You believe. That's a statement of faith; not fact. The time scales I'm talking about cover a much shorter period of time than that, though. Oil is now worth two and a half times what it was 10 months ago on the world market.

: Much of the technology required for making plastics using alternatives to oil has been proven and designed, it is only a matter of making it profitable. Simply, oil can be replaced, it is just a matter of developing the technology. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Except that the patents are owned by the oil companies; who have been buying up research that might potentially harm their future revenue.

Witness the doped-GaAs photocell; the intellectual property belongs to an oil company; and no significant development has been done on it since it was bought by them. The oil companies have repeatedly tried to destroy developments which would threaten their hegemony. It's only now that oil stocks are starting to look decidedly dicey that they are actually thinking about funding research; and it could well be too late to develop a replacement.

Here's a cliff edge; if you jump off it now, someone might be rowing past in a boat at the bottom and be able to catch you...

(In other words, technology can only help those who help themselves.)


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