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Emma Clarke, Manchester
"We're really quite perplexed by the government's attitude to this."
 real 28k

Simon Cross, UK
"Higher tax means there is an incentive to look at alternative fuels."
 real 28k

Dr Rilwanu Lukman, Opec
"People choose to look to oil producers as scapegoats."
 real 28k

John Wendt, Cameroon
"I think Europe is basically correct in taxing fuel."
 real 28k

Alex Scullion, UK
"We need to be educated into smaller cars."
 real 28k

Roger Horne, Greece
"We should be thinking in terms of satisfying our demand."
 real 28k

Mustaque Ahmed, London
"The United States has a very firm grip on the largest oil producing country."
 real 28k

John Mitchell, energy economist, Chatham House
"The big automobile companies are taking this seriously."
 real 28k

Friday, 22 September, 2000, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Are we too dependent on oil?

Oil is the biggest single source of the world's energy - but what will we do when it runs out?

As the filling stations run dry in the UK, and protests build up all over the world, many people are starting to find out just how much they rely on oil - and it's not just the motorist.

In the short-term vital public services like ambulances, fire-engines and public transport are all put in jeopardy when fuel supplies run low.

The developing countries used to account for 26% of oil demand in the early 1970s. Now their share is close to 40% and likely to continue growing.

We all know that fossil fuels can't last forever, but are we investing enough in alternative sources of energy like solar power and wind farms? Should we be encouraging people to reduce their energy consumption? Is it really feasible to reduce tax on fuel?

We have taken your questions and comments on our radio phone-in programme on World Service radio and BBC News Online.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

Read what you have said since the programme

Read and hear a reflection of your comments during the programme

Read what you said before we went ON AIR

Your comments since the programme


The high price of petrol is simply the result of the world demand on oil being higher than the supply

Sarah Hadad, London
The high price of petrol is simply the result of the world demand on oil being higher than the supply. It's as simple as ABC. Tony Blair and the rest of the Western leaders blame OPEC for the petrol crisis. Iraq probably has the largest oil reserves in the world, so by lifting the economical sanctions and allowing Iraq to sell as much oil as possible, it would stabilise the world oil markets and bring the prices down.
Sarah Hadad, London

If petrol and natural gases are running low and will run out in approximately ten years shouldn't we plan to remove our dependency in five? Fuel is only going to get more and more expensive. Where did my Sinclair C5 go to?
CJO, MK in the UK

We have had 30 years notice to develop alternative fuels and energy sources. But as long as the price of the oil was held at tolerable levels, no real effort was made. I suspect that "nothing" will continue to happen until we run out. Politicians (our fearless "leaders") do not really look at long-term solutions - only what the polls tell them to do.
George Milton, Washington D.C., USA


People are too lazy to study the hard sciences

R. Hails Sr. P.E., USA
I am an engineer with 30 years of practise in energy production. I am appalled at the technical ignorance of your readers. If the governments implemented some of the commonly held beliefs, massive suffering, deprivation and death would occur. I attribute it to two basic causes: People are too lazy to study the hard sciences and politicians have figured out how to exploit the resulting ignorance.
R. Hails Sr. P.E., USA

I have always tried to live near good public transport routes. This has a number of advantages.

1) I can have a drink after work
2) Relaxing and reading on the bus is more pleasant than being cut up in rush hour traffic
3) It works out marginally cheaper
4) I only have to use the car at weekends

I have always worked in large towns or cities, so finding public transport to work has never been a problem. Obviously, it is wrong to expect people in lesser-populated areas to use public transport. But to those who drive into towns and cities when perfectly good transport systems are available - shame on you!
Ed Bayley, USA (English)


People take more notice when their wallets are being emptied

Andrew Milloy, London, UK
It's interesting that an environmental organisation such as Greenpeace backs the Government on retaining the fuel tax level. This must surely be the easiest way to make people aware of the finite future of oil reserves. People take more notice when their wallets are being emptied. Maybe more fuel tax could be put into alternative fuel research - as has been suggested many times before. If we think this crisis has been hard, imagine the chaos when the last few drops are used up and we have no immediate replacement for fossil fuels!
Andrew Milloy, London, UK

If sanctions and the oil exporting embargo against Iraq was lifted today, the price of crude oil would fall through the floor tomorrow. We could then all get back to normal and forget this discussion.
Pat, England

If successive governments from the mid-60s onwards had had a more enlightened approach to public transport and the building of office complexes far from any useful public transport routes, perhaps this crisis would have been less harmful than it has been. Now it's too late, public transport is in the hands of the private sector who care more about share prices and short-term profits than their customers.
Dave Sneddon, Birmingham, England

People are asking 'what will we do when the oil runs out'? Unfortunately, there is more than enough oil left to burn to make the Earth unliveable long before it runs out!
Jeff Tracy, USA


Are these people aware that Britain has some of lowest income and corporate taxes in the world?

Mark, UK
Everyone in Britain now knows that we pay just about the highest fuel taxes in the world. Are these people also aware that Britain has some of lowest income and corporate taxes in the world? The road hauliers might have to pay more for their fuel than their European counterparts but they pay lower business and payroll taxes. The UK tax burden even compares well with the US tax burden of 32% when you remember that over 6% of our GDP goes on the NHS which the Americans don't even have.
Mark, UK

The last week really brings home how dependant we are on fossil fuels. We must look for real alternatives now, not when it has all run out.
Andy Stickney, Coventry, England

This country is far too dependent on oil. I find the price of public transport ridiculously high and the level of subsidy to alternative fuels pitiful.
Simon Redding, Chesterfield, England

It seems like we have been putting all of our eggs into one basket. The technology for alternative power supplies exists but is not utilised. Why is this the case? The integration of alternative fuel methods is critical. Perhaps it is about time the Government forced companies to implement these alternatives into their power needs, products and services.
David Exley, Northampton, UK

Perhaps there would be more fuel about if William Hague did not keep using it to fuel every populist bandwagon that goes past.
Ian Blows, UK


As usual, we wait until there is a crisis instead of heading it off by proper planning

Simeon Margolis, Jerusalem, Israel
As usual, we wait until there is a crisis instead of heading it off by proper planning. I also think that people's need for personal mobility will have to be a thing of the past until a viable fuel alternative is developed. The increasing effects on global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels must stop.
Simeon Margolis, Jerusalem, Israel

The next few years will be difficult for everybody. However, this is a temporary situation caused by the low oil price of the last few years. Because it didn't pay to find oil then we are having this crisis now. This high price means that a lot of new energy will be found and in a few years this will all be forgotten.
Peter Breedveld, Calgary, Canada

The Government will certainly have to find another way to fleece us!
Nigel, Wales, UK

For those who think they are immune because they cycle to work: what will you be lubricating your nike chain with when the oil runs out? This affects us all, not just the motorist.
Rob, London, UK

Some respondents have been saying that there is still plenty of untapped oil and coal. What they fail to mention is that much of it is either too hard, and therefore very expensive to extract, or it's located in extremely fragile environments which will be destroyed along with the dependent wildlife. Just look at what BP is trying to do in the Artic. The selfish attitude of those who vigorously assert their rights to car usage is stupefying considering the sharp increase in the number of recent climatic disasters, likely to be attributable to CO2 emissions.
Alex C, Cheltenham, England

Oil is too cheap. Let's face it. When the global warming has been stopped then and not before the price is right.
Torbj Sundblom The Aland Islands


I hate to sound like a 'Doomsdayer', but global warming is as great a threat to Earth as a thermonuclear holocaust

Michael Kohn USA
The Texan in Cameroon spoke the truth. I hate to sound like a 'Doomsdayer', but global warming is as great a threat to Earth as a thermonuclear holocaust. The BBC has recently reported that one kilometre of open water was seen at the North Pole. This should major proof to the world that the polar caps are melting. This is going to disrupt world climate to the point where this planet may not be inhabitable. And the reason is because of burning fossil fuels. While this crisis may not reach its peak for another 100 years, we owe it to our grandchildren to change our ways.
The next 20 years are critical in switching from fossil fuel consumption to alternative sources of energy like solar, wind and hydro power.
Michael Kohn USA

The true value of oil is as a chemical feedstock for plastics and medicines, etc. If the Middle Eastern states do not invest in increasing their water resources they may be left to drink their oil as there are increasing conflicts over this more basic resource. The West has and will develop alternative technologies, but not until major corporations with governments' blessings have drained us of every drop of wealth they can extract through inefficient cars. Only then will it be economical for the major corporations to introduce the alternative technologies to which they already possess rights and patents.
Hari Tahil British citizen living in Japan

I have been one of the fortunate few who has been unaffected by the recent oil crisis - I cycle to work, and I have not had any problems purchasing my daily necessities from the shops in my area (west Cambridge). The crisis has brought to my attention not only Britain's dependence on oil, but also the level of wastage. I have noticed parents bemoaning the fact that this week they have been forced to walk a one mile round trip with their children, rather than driving them to school. I understand that oil is a necessity for some, but I do hope this crisis will encourage people to seek other forms of transport where possible.
Bob Tubbs, UK


I have yet to find a viable alternative to petrol and even if one was available, be honest, even if it was environmentally friendly, it would still be taxed to the hilt

Roger Wilkinson, England
I have yet to find a viable alternative to petrol and even if one was available, be honest, even if it was environmentally friendly, it would still be taxed to the hilt, because as the government have said, this money is needed to pay for schools and the NHS. It's got nothing to do with the environment. If everyone switched to LPG, they would tax that in order to make up for the lost revenue on petrol. Also, living in Norfolk, I have very little choice than oil to heat my house. We don't get gas, electric heating is vastly more expensive, and solar power is not economically an option.
Roger Wilkinson, England

What else can a modern economy be dependent upon? There is NO alternative to oil. Once that runs out everybody had better get the bike out of the attic.
Roger L. Sayer, USA

Oil has become the fuel that drives the capitalist West and it is not going to be replaced anytime in the near future. Why? Take for example the primary source of an individual citizen's air pollution, the car. The technology already exists to build cars which use other futuristic fuels, but car companies will not allow these to become too widespread as it could potentially cripple an industry which directly and indirectly employs 10% of the world's population.
New engine technologies are priced out of the reach of the common man and woman, forcing us to choose the dirtier option. This in turn keeps the oil companies happy, OPEC quiet and the governments, which quietly support the plan, can still receive the donations. Everyone attempting to look green, all while resisting change as best they can. What a joke, but the last laugh will be on all of us.
Julian, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I have a pal in BP oil exploration. He tells me that we only locate enough oil for 30 years at a time. When the sources drop to 20 years they contract another 10 years to get back to 30. In all there is 300 years of oil available in the world and that is without yet to be discovered finds. Running out is not really a problem for a long while yet.
Bob Eldridge, UK

Driving along, it occurred to me that had we invented the combustion engine today, we would simply not have used it due to the unacceptable environmental impact it would pose. We should be considering this thought when we press our governments for easier access to fossil fuels which will ultimately spell our downfall.
Peter Critchley, UK


It is sad to learn from the recent fuel crisis how people have unknowingly become so dependent on fuel

Divyesh, Tanzania
I believe we are at the beginning of recognising the problem. Just as scientists had insisted that a phenomenon of global warming was under way over a decade ago, to my recollection, we are just beginning to see the signs of warmer weather. This is the same in the case of oil.
J W Kilvington, San Diego, CA

It is sad to learn from the recent fuel crisis how people have unknowingly become so dependent on fuel which has almost become a lifeline for human existence such that life almost becomes unbearable without it.
Divyesh, Tanzania

Tax on fossil fuels is a government benefit not a deterrent against energy consumption. It is OUR tax money being used how THEY in government choose - and they do not choose to insist on decent public transport.
Richard Browning, Beckenham, England

What an absolute delight it has been to drive along with no pressure from other drivers to quickly accelerate from the lights or indeed exceed the speed limit. I hope people have noticed how far you can stretch a tank of fuel when you drive economically.
Gary Conlan, Liverpool, Merseyside


Your comments during the programme

I think what is new about alternative vehicles, compared to what was done 20 years ago after the gig oil shock, is that the big automobile companies are taking this seriously. This is not just designs ready in laboratories, this is putting cars on the market - as has happened in the United States, in Japan and in Europe. As one goes to the longer point, it is going to be fuel cells. Fuel cells have huge local advantages because emissions are very clean are very quiet, etc. But the question is what is going to fuel the fuel cell? That is probably going to be a hydrocarbon fuel.
John Mitchell, energy economist, Chatham House, London

The time is come when we think about other sources of fuel. Now it is the responsibility of companies to build such type of machines that uses other types of fuels. It is a responsibility of developed countries to give more help to research centres and companies for developing new machines. In India it is not possible because we cannot have such type of facilities and we have financial problems.
Pankaj Tokekar, Indore, India

I've lived in France since 1964. In France there is no indigenous coal, oil or gas so they had to go nuclear. They are about somewhere between 70 and 80% nuclear power generation. One of the wonderful things that has come out of this, is their TGV and an attitude towards to the future that is long views - they're thinking of electric in a big way.
Roger Horne, Greece


They seem to be getting people to use less fuel by taxing it and making it more expensive. It's my opinion that won't work

Alex Scullion, UK
They seem to be getting people to use less fuel by taxing it and making it more expensive. It's my opinion that won't work. They've tried to get people to stop people smoking by increasing duty on cigarettes and it didn't work.
Alex Scullion, UK

The coments made here by some Americans begger belief. The USA is the world's largest consumer of energy, not just energy per capita, by far - your gas-guzzling cars, SUVs and trucks are a shocking waste of fuel. Maybe increasing your fuel prices will persuade you to buy more economic cars.
James Chesher, Aberdeen, Scotland

I'm more concerned about carbon dioxide emissions than any current price fluctuations. I'm sure the price structures will work themselves out, the carbon dioxide problem and the greenhouse affect will not work themselves out until we make a serious commitment to reduce our consumption and that means finding alternatives. I think Europe is basically correct in taxing fuel, it's similar to taxing cigarettes to fund healthcare. I just wish the money that was generated from taxing petroleum products was more used to finding alternatives to those products.
John Wendt, Cameroon

I think that Opec has done enough to stabilise the price of oil. The value of the US dollar has not remained constant. People say Opec raises prices but that is physically not true. I think the EU should endeavour to reduce taxes because they get even more money from the sale of oil than the oil producing countries do.
Bryant Osah, Germany

Opec is absolutely right to push up the oil prices until the western pips squeak; after all, that is the capitalist system, isn't it?
Mohansingh, India

The current discussion seems to ignore the fact that oil is traded as a commodity and the price is effectively set by the commodity brokers and the market . It seems a little unfair that OPEC is constantly blamed for the high prices when time and time again it has shown itself as having only a minor role in setting prices . When the price fell to below 10 dollars a barrel its production cuts took a while to be effective . Some people maintain that it was in fact the perception of the purchasers of futures that effectively changed the price.
Folarin Williams, Cambridge

By and large Americans had no idea how much tax and duty the Brits had to put up with and the general feeling seems to be "if our Government ever tried that there'd be hell to pay". Therein lies one of the main differences between the USA and the UK.
Jono, Barnegat, NJ, USA


Most analysts would tell you there is no shortage of goods in the market place

Dr Rilwanu Lukman, Secretary General, Opec
I feel a sure way of getting taxes and oil prices down would be for the American, British, and French to withdraw their and any other NATO forces supporting the Gulf states. Then I'm sure the prices will tumble.
Fred Hamilton, Larnaca Cyprus

We have already stated that crude oil is an element in the price of the pumped product at the filling stations but it is not fair to blame Opec or any fuel producing countries for the high prices. Most analysts would tell you there is no shortage of goods in the market place - the problem is elsewhere, but people choose to look to oil producers as scapegoats.
Dr Rilwanu Lukman, Secretary General, Opec

I hate to sound like a 'Doomsdayer', but global warming is as great a threat to Earth as a thermonuclear holocaust. The BBC has recently reported that one kilometre of open water was seen at the North Pole. This should major proof to the world that the polar caps are melting. This is going to disrupt world climate to the point where this planet may not be inhabitable. And the reason is because of burning fossil fuels. While this crisis may not reach its peak for another 100 years, we owe it to our grandchildren to change our ways.
Michael Kohn, USA

Oil is too cheap. Lets face it. When the global warming has been stopped then and not before the price is right.
Torbj Sundblom, The Aland Islands, The Baltic Sea

We shouldn't be using oil for fuel now. It's dirty, environmentally destructive, and unnecessary with the alternative fuel sources that governments and lobby groups are fighting, because of the money and tax revenues that would be lost from the oil industry.
Morgan O'Conner, U.S.A

The government cannot lower tax on fuel as a blanket rate because we are so dependent on oil that the higher tax means there is an incentive to look at alternative fuels, like liquid petroleum gas for cars, things like that. That's the key issue - the incentive for change.
Simon Cross, Norwich, UK

In the US, we have seen our petrol prices almost double in the past year just as everyone else has with prices currently rising. We have just as much right to fuel as the next country. Fuel is essential in this vast country of ours in order to successfully compete in a global economy which every other prospering economy is dependent. It is unfortunate that the only people really profiting from this crisis are the major oil barons and the Opec nations themselves.
Leanne, USA

We need more intelligent taxes on oil which are going to tax commuters more the people who haul our food from A to B less.
Christopher Bell, England

Your tax system is based on 75%Tax for The government. In Australia here we only take 45% for the government. If you are serious about your tax for conservation, then why does not your government offer subsidies for LPG consumption.
Chris James Wee, Perth, Australia

I believe that fossil fuel prices should rise through taxation to save our climate, as this is the only way to reduce consumption.
Tony Chinnery, Florence Italy

It's been quite alarming how difficult how lives have been up here. Our transport system is reliant on oil and never has that been more obvious than this week. There were lots and lots of queues at my petrol station and it was obvious that this situation was going to get quite critical. It's just astonishing how out of touch the government appear.
Emma Clarke, Manchester, UK

1. This and previous governments rely too heavily on the revenues raised from fuel. It is about time that some of the economic growth we are experiencing is used to reduce the dependency on petrol sales to raise taxes.
2. The government has done little to promote alternatively powered vehicles. The technology currently exists for high performance electric vehicles that cost 3.50 per charge with a 200-mile range.
3. Fuel is becoming a luxury item for the rich. With people from all walks of life dependant on cars, the government's policy of fuel taxation discriminates against poorer car users and small businesses.
Tony Carpenter, Derby

I don't think in the future there is going to be a serious oil crisis, particularly in the western world. The United States has a very firm grip on the largest oil producing country, which is Saudi Arabia. As long as the United States has that grip on the country I really don't think there will be a very serious crisis. Saudi Arabia has made it clear Saudi Arabia doesn't want to see the west paying higher prices.
Muastaque Ahmed, London


Your comments before we went ON AIR

I would like to point out that nothing has been achieved by the protests and never will be with attitudes like the one I heard at work the other day, 'I agree with the blockades but I hope they don't affect us too much'.
Clive Ovens, GB

My enduring impressions of this crisis are as follows: farmers and hauliers revelled in their unexpected power, but never truly believed they could transform their lot. The general public realised (to their surprise) that life wasn't so bad without endless petrol for their cars, so long as they could whinge about the government's folly.
Roger Thomas, Dynbych-y-Pysgod, Cymru


The oil may last another 60 years. That's when your grandchildren will be getting on a bit. Do we leave any for them, or use it all for ourselves

Michael, Hastings, UK
I already use a zero-emmission vehicle for all my local transport needs (a bicycle). I could supply all my hot water needs from a solar heater, and my electricity from photo-electric roof tiles. Imagine if everyone in the country did that. Our dependance on petroleum could diminish with a year. Petroleum is simply too valuable to waste . The oil may last another 60 years. That's when your grandchildren will be getting on a bit. Do we leave any for them, or use it all for ourselves? The baby boom generation will go down in the history books as the generation that exhausted the worlds resources.
Michael, Hastings, UK

Oil is not drying out, but ideas are .Plenty of oil is left to be discovered. For this you require creative exploration geologists and geophysicists who can find oil with new exploration ideas. Another point is that there is immense coal resources untapped throughout the world. Why don't we use them now for our energy requirements and conserve petroleum?
S K Roy, Baroda, India

The sun is a huge nuclear furnace and we don't object to that; the earth itself would be a barren lifeless rock were it not for the energy released in its core from nuclear decay reactions. What we need for the future is nuclear power. We have the technology and expertise to uses nuclear materials safely so let's invest in this future there really is no viable alternative.
John Brownlee, England

It took no more than five days to almost plunge this country into total crisis (as the world watched) as the result of an 'army' of lorry drivers and another miniature cold war between Iraq and Kuwait. It would take great ignorance to say that we aren't too dependent on oil. If we don't do something about our addiction to private transport and rampant consumer culture these problems are going to become a lot more commonplace.
Benj'min Mossop, London, Britain


The cost of fuel should include the cost of either repairing the damage caused by burning it, or at least the cost of compensating those affected.

Alan Reynolds, Norwich, UK
Undoubtedly, the market will find an alternative to petroleum. It is only a matter of time and being patient. There is a much more interesting issue, though: Will the Britons, and the other Europeans, who request lower taxes on fuel understand and accept that this would mean a smaller government and less welfare. The UK has a chance to be the first country in Europe to start serious debate about it. That is at least one positive consequence of the current developments. It will be interesting to see how the Labour responds.
Sigitas Groblys, Vilnius, Lithuania

You are asking us what we will do when the oil runs out, as if we actually planned to burn it all. A fine question during the fuel crisis of the seventies, but since then there as been some concern about a little thing called global warming. Does the Kyoto protocol really mean nothing? Are we really just going to convert all our fossil fuels into CO2 at breakneck speed. As for the cost of fuel, it should include the cost of either repairing the damage caused by burning it, or at least the cost of compensating those affected.
Alan Reynolds, Norwich, UK

I think that a big chunk of the massive tax we pay on fuel should be invested in the "alternative" sources of energy. I hope that we will be able develop something so that we can, in the future, call oil and petrol "alternatives".
Andrew M, Edinburgh, Scotland

We have to improve public transport, and find ways of making cars pollute less. There is no question other forms of fuel such as solar power will have to be used. Our total reliance on the motor car will one day push this planet to the brink, it's a fact that most of the problems caused by this fuel crisis were of our own making. The way people were panic buying was ridiculous.
Stephen C, England

As always, humans will find a solution to the problem, eventually. As this issue is debated there are thousands of people employed in research and development, which will surely lead to solutions. It is also widely known that new oil reserves will be accessible in future years due to having the technology to dig deeper.
Duncan Sabiston, Ayr, Scotland

We went to the moon in 1960s. Then why not using electrical and solar power?
YoungKan Kim, Seoul, Korea

Taxes on fuel should remain high, but instead of going to the Treasury, should go directly to improve the public transport network.
G. Innes, Aberdeen, UK


A policy of moving the employment to the people rather than the people to the clustered employment would ease congestion and reduce the need for people to travel

Clive Hawkins, Pontyclun, Mid Glamorgan
I believe that one of the major problems facing Britain today is the regional economic variation. The south east of England dominates the whole country to the extent that everyone wants to work there for higher wages. Because of the high property prices people are not free to move and therefore many commute or live locally during the week exacerbating the need for travel. A policy of moving the employment to the people rather than the people to the clustered employment would ease congestion and reduce the need for people to travel.
Clive Hawkins, Pontyclun, Mid Glamorgan

London air has been less dirty, traffic has been slower but without jams. When will politicians of all parties have the integrity to admit that if we all burn oil and pollute without limit that we will destroy ourselves?
Robert Sumerling, London

At the grand old age of 43 I am finally throwing in my pedestrian towel and learning to drive. Why? I do not like cars and would in my ideal world have the whole lot recycled into tractors for the developing world. The point is that i do not live in my ideal world.I am finding it more and more difficult to lead anything that resembles a normal life without access to a car. This has become more the case since starting a young family. Everywhere and everything is miles away and no amount or mode of public transport makes it easy to get around with kids and heavy shopping. The only form of transport that meets my needs is the awful private motor vehicle. ilst the poor who are equally dependant upon cars have to stretch their budgets.
Ken Little, London

The government need to get revenue to run the country so whether it comes in the form of fuel tax, clothing tax, income tax or food tax they have to have this certain amount of money coming to them and this goes for the Conservatives when they were in power so what is all the fuss about?
Jackie Rudd, Windsor, Berkshire

I'm an American and I don't mean to sound so "crude", but, you are unfortunately almost completely dependent upon oil for your "survival" as a nation. Taken to it's extreme, without oil, your economy (not to mention your entire infrastructure) would most definitely collapse. A collapsed economy would sound the figurative "death-knell" of your nation as a competitor amongst the nations.
James Kellogg, Suffolk, NY, USA

If the Middle Eastern states do not invest in increasing their water resources they may be left to drink their oil as there are increasing conflicts over this more basic resource. The West has and will develop alternative technologies, but not until major corporations with governments' blessings have drained us of every drop of wealth they can extract through inefficient cars. Only then will it be economical for the major corporations to introduce the alternative technologies to which they already possess rights and patents.
Hari Tahil, British citizen living in Japan

Are we fuelling ourselves or fooling ourselves? I agree with the German Novelist Gunther Grass who called this the Age of Saturn after the God who ate his own children. Our God, the Automobile is a two edged sword driving at our hearts and to extinction.
Pierre Beautrais, Auckland, New Zealand

Urging motorists to take public transport fails because we find that the existing public transport, where available, is uncomfortably overloaded at commuter times. The US has a scheme called HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on congested roads to encourage car sharing. It works better than the bus lanes on the M4 and has public respect, probably the most important ingredient in any scheme today.
Tony Chamier, Crawley, UK

I'm sorry to pour cold water on the deep rooted belief that oil is going to run out. It is probable that oil derived from wells may run out in the next 60-100 years or so. But more is being found all the time as search techniques improve, so this time limit will probably keep on extending. Remember, North Sea oil was supposed to run out in the 1990's but in contradiction to the merchants of doom it just keeps on flowing.
S Cuthill, London UK


Hydrogen is seven times more efficient as an energy producer than petrol

John Turner Warrington, UK

Speaking as a physicist who has examined alternative energy options, especially in the sphere of petroleum substitutes, it is amazing that we persist with using petrol when the means already exists to use hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen is seven times more efficient as an energy producer than petrol and produces only water when it burns.
John Turner Warrington, UK

Since the fuel "crisis" bit, the air quality in my area at least, has improved noticeably. Those cars that are on the road are driving at a much more sedate pace presumably to conserve petrol. If the populous drove more slowly all the time they would save money, and there would be no need to lower fuel prices. Why is there no effort to install digital speed cameras on every street corner and motorway, which would enforce speed limits, and bring in a vast new revenue?
Paul Bickmore, Southampton, England

The greed and panic buying of totally selfish. Motorists has made them look like little spoiled chilldren. They believe they have the almost God-given right to pollute the atmosphere and to clog up the roads with traffic jams. What's more, in the morning and evening rush hours here in Leicester, the vast majority of cars have just the driver inside! If THAT isn't crazy economics I do not know what is.
John Burrows, Leicester, England

When will we all realise that it is the industrialists who are in control, not politicians? As far as our future energy needs are concerned, the most suitable technology has already been used. Fuel cells, evolved by the military and NASA for space exploration are THE future for clean, sustainable energy for the planet. At present they are too expensive for other uses only because the economy of development and production will not be steered in the right direction by companies who can still make billions out of every ones dependency on fossil fuels.
Steve , Inverness, Scotland


Educate the public on why the change has to be made

Brian Hugh, London, UK

The first step required to allow this country to begin the necessary adjustment to a non-oil economy is to educate the public on why the change has to be made. The government has failed lamentably to do this because Tony Blair has no time for environmental considerations essentially because environmentalists are opposed to rampant capitalism.
Brian Hugh, London, UK

We all know the world will someday run out of oil, and we talk a lot about alternative energy sources. Nevertheless, there are uncountable billions of dollars invested in the oil industry, and, like the old theme, money makes the world go around. Adding to this, most of the petrol comes from rather unstable regions of the world, like the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and there is much fear in what such countries would do if they are stripped of their main (in most cases, only) wealth. All together, these facts confirm the world is dependent on oil, not only for energy but also economically and politically. Therefore, most investment in alternative energy sources do not have governmental support.
Bruno Silva, Portugal


The car has been allowed to invade our space

Lionel, London, UK

Pedestrians in London rejoiced in the reduced traffic resulting from fuel shortages. It shows how the car has been allowed to invade our space and then come to be regarded as a "sitting tenant". Get the private vehicle off our walking space! Pedestrian priority at junctions!
Lionel, London, UK

No one believes that the so called fuel escalator was a green tax, more just another way to milk the motorist. Taxation should be used as part of an overall package, not just a blunt instrument. 'Gas Guzzlers' should pay a premium tax. Small efficient cars should pay low tax. The new hybrid and vehicles that use alternative 'green' fuels should pay no tax. These types of vehicles could be competitively priced to kick start this alternative transport.
M Jones, Chichester UK

It took the planet millions of years to lay down the oil which at current rates of usuage we will have used up in under 200 years. Conservative estimates say it will run out in 50 years, gas in 30. Yet like ostriches we stick our heads in the sand. Far too many still seeing driving the BIG car as a symbol of their spending power. Few it seems have the wit or conscience to realise we are burning up our children's' future at an unsustainable rate.
Pat Vincent, Milton Keynes

I would like some serious thought given to a system of "Public Transport Miles" like Air Miles. The government could return some of the fuel duty to the motorist in the form of such vouchers, redeemable on any form of public transport. The government would only pay if and when the vouchers were redeemed. The scheme would therefore only divert as much money into public transport as the motorists wanted. This would solve the problem of "I've bought a car and now I can't afford the bus"
Michael Wills, Penrith

I support high taxation as long as the extra revenue raised goes toward providing alternative transport solutions. This fuel crisis has prompted me to investigate public transport alternatives.
Alan Jarrett, London England

Here's what to do when fossil fuels run out: generate our power from nuclear fission. Use that energy to react water and carbon dioxide to make methane and O2 to run transport on, clean and efficient. The only problem is we're all so scared of nuclear energy! The energy density of the wind, waves and sunlight is simply to low for "renewable" sources to generate enough power. So until we overcome our fear of nuclear power we are dependent on fossil fuels!
GH, UK

The one question that our esteemed politicians seem totally incapable or unwilling to answer is "why is our petrol SO much more expensive than that of our neighbours and that of the USA. Do they seriously believe that by increasing the price of fuel, motorists will use our shabby public transport network? It's not worked up until now and it won't work in the future until someone decides to actually invest our 80% fuel duty in the public transport system. Wake up politicians we've cottoned on!!
Richard, London


The government should look at schemes as innovative and rewarding as the 'boilermagic' scheme to promote purchase of highly fuel-efficient vehicle

Michael Parsons, UK
At present the negative aspects of the taxation policy to control fuel consumption are so massive that the few positive aspects (e.g. 100 VED) are trivial by comparison. The government should look at schemes as innovative and rewarding as the 'boilermagic' scheme to promote purchase of highly fuel-efficient vehicles - those that take efficiency 20-30% or more beyond the baseline for current small cars. Manufacturer buy-in should also be gained through investment incentives.
A quantum leap in thinking and courage is required that preserves both the acquired right to freedom of movement and the environment and sustains a profit-driven economy.
Michael Parsons, Northampton, UK

I can't believe in this day and age that urban public transport and taxi's are not running on alternative fuel, LPG being the current obvious choice. You only have to walk around the streets to see the black filth pouring out of buses and black cabs in particular. The vast majority of trips made by these vehicles is within a small radius of their base. It is criminal that NO government has made any effort.
Graeme, England

The answer can only be YES to the question here. How can any "developed" nation exist without oil? They cannot, we are dependant on oil for our standard of living totally, from the car we drive to the computer I'm writing this on. There seems to be no viable alternatives even being considered and yet oil is very much a finite commodity. For if OPEC decided tomorrow to cease all exports of oil there would be a world crisis the like of which has never yet been seen. No one seems to question this total dependency.
Alex, UK

The major problem here is the profligate use of oil by the Americans. If they used much less, there would be more for the rest of the world - and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, too.
A Evans, Sunderland, UK


Hydrogen? Where is it? All around is! It is the single most common fuel available in the universe and we have not harnessed it

James Butler, UK
Hydrogen? Where is it? All around is! It is the single most common fuel available in the universe and we have not harnessed it. Clean, environmentally friendly, abundant and no less safe than petroleum. So, where is the development? Well, I'll tell you, it is in the lab where it will stay until the oil companies can figure a way to earn millions from it to replace the money they get from petroleum. Is it not about time the pressure was placed here? All the talk about electricity is fine, but something needs to generate it. So, use hydrogen, and start using it soon.
James Butler, London, UK

Complex hydrocarbons in oil are much better used for raw materials in manufacturing e.g. plastics, rather than being burned in cars or, even worse, in large fixed installations such as power stations.
There are fascinating figures on the relative risks of deaths from coal-fired, oil-fired and nuclear power stations; nuclear comes out best, as the pollution from power stations is reckoned to kill several thousand people per year. I've not seen figures for fossil fuels in motor vehicles; probably even worse.
OK, Greens, your choice: Nuclear power now, research into renewables for 25 years' time, electric vehicles and find a way to deal with the pollution from old batteries; or no nuclear power and serious pollution from fossil fuels while the renewables are being developed.
Peter Crowther, Manchester, England

Here's a solution: Urban taxis and light goods vehicles must be LPG or electric within 5 years. LPG should be widely available to the public in all areas. Electric and LPG cars should be more readily available, especially to urban users. Cars should be smaller. Big petrol guzzling saloons and 4x4s should be banned all together. Wouldn't that improve things now and get us ready for the move away from oil?
David R, Worcester, UK


Esso has announced a price rise - what arrogance and blatant profiteering!

Judith, UK
Esso has announced a price rise - what arrogance and blatant profiteering! Could someone remind me, when we had a $10 barrel of oil did the price at the pump plummet? I don't seem to remember it happening - maybe I am being unfair. Let us hope the oil majors are investing their profits into research into renewables!
Judith, UK

As a nation the lesson learned from this is our dependency on a commodity which has taken the earth millions of years to create, and has been known and used by man since the Roman times, yet in the last 50-60 years we have reduced this resource to such a level, that it is rumoured that we only have reserves to last another 40 years. Despite this our "love affair with the car" continues to grow.
Surely, the solution must lie in redressing this by investing in sustainable technologies and energy. Our future and the planet lies in our hands in the choices that we make, we have a responsibility not to ourselves but for future generations.
Sara Salamat, London

The only solution for the future is to move away from fossil fuels and to invest in the far cleaner nuclear fuels. The current combustion based technology which powers cars, lorries and trains needs to be replaced with electric based solutions. If this does not happen, with the rapidly growing use of fossil fuels in developing countries, the world is surely heading for disaster.
Adrian O'Connor, UK

Being a cyclist - its nice to have less traffic on the road as I'm not having to pull over because of incompetent drivers. The government should though reduce tax to help those who are genuine in the need to use their car, van or lorry etc.
Darryl Burns, Cheshire

If electric cars were available I'd trade in my petrol driven one tomorrow!
Simon Clark, Hampshire, UK

It is encouraging to see so many contributors recognising our current dependency on a finite resource which is in increasing demand.
There is that old remark that says when crocodiles are snapping at your backside your first thought is not of draining the swamp. But it would be useful if at least some of the increased government UK revenue and awareness of inevitable scenarios were to result in more research/development aid for the technologies required to improve future vote-losing situations.
B Haines, Walsall, UK

The Stone Age did not come to an end because the world ran out of stones. People found alternative, better materials to use for tools. The Oil Age should not come to an end because we run out of oil. There are alternatives out there in the form of renewables and nuclear power. BP has recently re-invented itself as an energy company and is developing solar, wind and wave powered alternatives to fossil fuels.
The UK is self sufficient in oil and produces 150% of it own gas requirements, so no one is holding us to ransom. We need the politicians and the energy companies to develop the alternatives now rather than sitting on the cash cow that is North Sea oil and doing nothing about the future.
Pete, Aberdeen, Scotland

A radical investment in public transport is required - more buses/trains at peak times is the first priority, as well as newer and cleaner vehicles. I have to leave home an hour earlier to get to my office if I travel by bus rather than car because of the unreliable service. The investment in public transport has been made in Europe and their system is a joy to use. Come on, John Prescott, let's see something done!
Carolyn Morris, UK

I am very pessimistic. We have no way out. Now we all depend on petrol. But although we invest in other energy supplies, such as solar energy, wind energy, sea energy, or others, there will be companies that will have monopoly over it. Then we will depend in these companies and in theirs wishes of earning more and more money.
Alex, Spain


What will we do when the oil runs out?

Matt, UK
What will we do when the oil runs out? As the events of this week show, PANIC. It is astonishing how short-sighted we are regarding this issue. Oil is a finite resource, yet we are doing virtually nothing to move our society away from being wholly dependent on it.
Matt, UK

As a crude oil trader and having been a major buyer of crude oil at lower prices we welcome these high prices. The problem at the moment is that although traders have been blamed for high prices, the UK consumer is behaving in a much more irrational manner by stockpiling fuel thus creating the shortfall which pushes the price up further. With regards to what happens when oil begins to run out then more extreme areas will be found to drill for oil and then we will be looking at 100$ oil and be thinking can't oil be 35$ again?
Graeme Mackenzie, Sweden

As we are part of Europe, why aren't are petrol prices the same??
Jon Ingham, Cambridge, Cambridgshire

Rather than panic buying petrol in large quantities, we should try and re-think our often selfish use of the car. Why aren't more local authorities, schools and businesses encouraging participation in car-sharing schemes, conserving fuel and reducing pollution?
Mark Robertspn, London, England

At the end of the day, it's all economics. As oil gradually becomes scarcer, the cost of obtaining it will increase to a point where it's no longer feasible to extract it. Secondly, it is in the oil companies interests to buy all patents for electric cars, orbital engines and alternative forms of energy. In fact it's more likely that these companies are spearheading alternative fuel research, so that we are dependent on them both now and in the future.
Bill Edwards, Maidenhead UK

People keep saying "We need to get more people off the roads and onto public transport". This is obviously commendable but the reality is that public transport is a complete joke in the UK. This was highlighted recently when I took my 3 children on a walk with the local Ramblers. It cost me almost 16.00 to reach the start of the walk on public transport, a journey which would have cost little more than 4.00 if I had used my car. Public transport? Don't make me laugh!
Alexander Storch, Pontyberem, Llanelli.

We are culpable of using too much energy. There are too few incentives to use cars with low fuel consumption, to insulate houses, to buy refrigerators with good insulation and to avoid unnecessary use of cars.
Putting fuel tax up does not seem to have stopped people buying petrol and diesel. What kind of fiscal incentives would work?
Judith Chegwidden, London


The problem with not getting people onto public transport is not just the lack of infrastructure but also the cost

Stuart Bruce, UK
The problem with not getting people onto public transport is not just the lack of infrastructure but also the cost. People only consider the variable cost, i.e. fuel cost vs. the fare.
We see the reaction if the fuel price is pushed high to try the stick approach to get them out of their cars. I lived in Sheffield in the mid 70's when the transport system was subsidised. I am a dedicated motorist, and even I used the bus and train then. Today? What do you think?
Stuart Bruce, Chesterfield, UK

We have become too dependent upon those who supply the oil. Not actually on the 'oil' itself. And, the real problem is that the greedy oil companies are responsible for this present crisis. There are no oil shortages. Absolutely none.
Our people in Europe and in North America are being 'manipulated' by those rich 'oil barons' who are causing unnecessary delays and price increases for the consumer. I find it interesting that the 'oil companies' while not wanting to allow people to buy oil at reasonable prices would be opposed to alternative energy sources as 'solar' power. Why can't those rich 'oil barons' be satisfied with the rich profits they have been getting without any more excessive charges? tough.
Dave Adams, St. Louis/USA

I was pleased to see this morning some support for the government in regards to the fuel issue. We must remember the cost of driving is not just in the cost of the fuel, but in the pollution that is caused. I know of loads of people who use their cars for really short journeys and hope that they will be forced to get off their backsides and walk to the shops for a change! Hats off to the government for not giving in to mob rule.
Chris, London

Prior to this discussion broadcast it is worth considering the reading of Thom Hartman's "The last hours of ancient sunlight" a very sobering book and one that addresses this very issue. It is a vital read and certainly opens ones eyes to the blinkered view modern day man has to fossil fuels.
Tom Dunman, London


You mean to tell me paying outrageous price like in UK, is going to stop oil from ever running dry?

Rob J. Sheldahl, United States
I can only wonder why Tax and Higher gas price's will help? You mean to tell me paying outrageous price like in UK, is going to stop oil from ever running dry? Yes us Americans say we have high gas. But I have seen the price British pay also. Its way to high. I am grateful for our own price. But still think it is high here for what we have always paid for it. It is time that we all stand up. Just to show the government (who work for us) that we have had enough.

Rob J. Sheldahl, United States

I watch this 'fuel panic' with great amusement, as I cycle to and from work. Why don't people realise that the NHS, education system and other public services don't pay for themselves? Would motorists prefer everybody's income tax to rise, whilst they drive around, cocooned in their consequence-free worlds? Let the polluter pay. And yes, public transport should be better, but how does a government pay for that if not through taxation. Get on your bikes.
Lisa Harvey-Smith, UK

I'm glad that at least this has made people think again about alternative energies. The big fuel companies would do well to invest in other energies, such as individuals having solar panels on their houses for heating. In the long run, the big companies of today could be the big companies of tomorrow if only they could see past the here and now.
Liz Ainslie, Herts


ll this caused by protests from people who rely and depend on fuels to support and run their business as well as support other peoples livelihoods with employment as well as products produced

Ronald Aitken, England
All this caused by protests from people who rely and depend on fuels to support and run their business as well as support other peoples livelihoods with employment as well as products produced. All this being threatened by the heavy taxation from the British government which has the knock on effect to the price of goods as well as sustaining profit for business growth.
Ronald Aitken, England

Cars and lorries ARE a necessity today. But the mindless determination of most motorists that they won't even consider alternative transport at anytime beggars belief. I hear the same old tired excuses for having to use the car, what's wrong with trying to walk, cycle or use public transport occasionally. I cycle 23 miles a day to work and back, it averages out at 0.25 a day and NO POLLUTION. The only thing that spoils it is the attitude of motorists towards cyclists (I'm 47 and own a car that I drive about twice a month).
Peter, UK

Its good to see that the people of the world are living to their maximum excess. I agree with other people's comments that when we decide to reduce our excess that we will be able to have a future.
Stephen Clark, Canada


It demonstrates how dependent we have become on fossil fuels to maintain our civilised life-style

Paul Hearmon, UK
The current fuel crisis is posing some interesting problems for our country (and indeed Europe). Interestingly, it demonstrates how dependent we have become on fossil fuels to maintain our civilised life-style.
It also serves as a warning. Having worked around the Middle East I often found myself wondering what might happen if OPEC were to severely restrict the flow of oil to Europe. Surely the effect would be devastating but more importantly, TOTALLY OUT OF THE PRIME MINISTER'S CONTROL. In a manner of speaking he's quite lucky that this is proving to be a domestic (and European) dispute and not a foreign one.
Paul Hearmon, UK

Use the CAP subsidies to grow BioMass crops like water hyacinth and oilseed rape. More nuclear fission for electric power. Blackpool Trams are nuclear powered, after all!
David Paul Morgan, UK

It's about time that the world embraced Bio-Diesel. Then we wouldn't have to subsidise the farmers! I can't wait to get that here for my VW Jett Jetta (Bora) TDI (diesel)!
Something I noticed from all the comments about this whole fuel delivery 'strike', is that fuel tax affects not only the consumer buying the fuel, but the entire consumer buying/usage chain. If the tax is raised, that affects all shipments of all products/services that move from point a to b. That's the reason that in the US, consumables and transportation are so much cheaper than the rest of Europe. Reducing tax on fuel not only affects consumers at the pump but in EVERYTHING from buying a simple loaf of bread to basic services. This whole oil issue shows just how much we rely on oil because it affects so much and the government gets a huge chunk of every part of the movement of goods.
Dean Woodhouse, USA


erhaps the present dilemma will encourage the government to look a rapid improvement of public services which is what the fuel levy is for

Steve Fowles, London, UK
Perhaps the present dilemma will encourage the government to look a rapid improvement of public services which is what the fuel levy is for and also to look at water/alcohol power which already exists for combustion engines. Levies can then be made by tolls or via the road tax fund (based on miles driven previous year or similar).
Steve Fowles, London, UK

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