A Radically Different Transportation Future
To be honest, I don't know what impact I had on this roomful of teenagers gathered on a Saturday afternoon in late February to listen to experts in fields as diverse as healthcare and electric cars. I hope that I didn't (1) scare the bajabbers out of them, (2) bore then to sleep, or (3) come across as another old windbag. But I felt it important to give them a frame of reference as to at least one of the major forces that will shape personal mobility over the next twenty years out to 2030: oil demand and supply.
So, for the next forty-five minutes, I spun a tale of high oil prices driven by increasing global demand in China and India; and their people's desire to enjoy many of the same privileges and opportunities we take for granted, especially our access to affordable personal mobility. Now, in all candor, I was pretty cavalierly flinging around some numbers that, on review, weren't entirely accurate. In trying to recall a speech that former GM Chairman Rick Wagoner gave a couple years ago, I stated that the world consume 1 million gallons of gasoline a second. Actually, the number is closer to 1.65 million gallons a minute; still a pretty sobering figure.
My point was, we're already making enormous demands on the planet's petroleum reserves, demands that will only grow as our neighbors in China, India, and elsewhere on the planet, also want to buy that oil for their industry and motor vehicles. By 2030, according to government and oil industry estimates, we could be seeing a production-demand gap of as much as 40 million barrels of oil a day if all those two billion cars that are predicted to be on the road in 20 years, are fueled by crude oil.
I proposed to the students that three things will have to change: the vehicles, the fuel and the policies that encourage (or discourage) how we move ourselves and our goods. On reflection, after the event was over, I realized that I should also have talked about what all this means in the context of future educational needs and career opportunities. In every revolution are the seeds of exciting new opportunities, including the kernel if an idea for a new book that I may write someday on this very topic.
This video consists of five, roughly 10-minute segments, each uploaded to the Web in sequence: 1 through 5. I wish to thank the students for their time, contributions and patience, as well as the Youth Forum event organizers and Creighton University. And I especially thank the young lady -- whose name I have misplaced -- who volunteered to be my camera operator, a daunting task given my movements about the room. She did a commendable job, all things considered.
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