Peering into a post-petroleum world

Glen M. MacDonald, director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, said alternative power sources like solar, geothermal and fusion energy are a long way from becoming practical and widely available. (And even when they are, they won’t solve our traffic problems).

But citizen uprisings in the Middle East have "got to be a wake-up call" for the United States, MacDonald said, because of the potential effect on global economic, foreign and energy policy.

Even though Egypt produces and controls access to only a small portion of the oil we import, MacDonald said, oppressed citizens of corrupt neighboring countries may feel emboldened and spawn their own revolutions.

"What if this really goes off the rails and we have movements sweep across the main sources of our oil — Saudi Arabia and the gulf states — and the regimes in their place are not friendly to us?" MacDonald asked. "We cannot control, and in some ways can’t even properly anticipate, what’s going to happen in some of those countries."

To read the full article by Steve Lopez click here.