Seeing as the price of oil hit a record high a few hours ago (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4399537.stm), I thought it appropriate to post an article which I wrote for the new edition of Benchmark Magazine (www.benchmarkmag.com):
Is the trend of man’s entire history about to be reversed? Are we going to start getting poorer instead of inexorably richer?
It is possible that the worldwide production rate of oil may have peaked in December 2004, that our supply of oil is slowing down, whilst our demand for oil is still accelerating. The absolute inevitability of this scenario, whether or not it is actually happening now, demands our attention.
In the UK today our energy use is at about 5KW per person. If we consider our waking day and how much useful work we do, then each of us has the energy equivalent of about 250 people working for us! Now, if the amount of oil available, per person, declines (which it is doing already, due to the increase in the number of people making more use of oil) then we become poorer. This is reflected by the price of oil going up faster than our income.
O.K. – so we’re going to become a bit poorer, so what? Well, whilst becoming a bit poorer doesn’t sound too devastating, it can be to a proportion of society. The norm in times of recession is that there is a decrease in consumer, and business spending, an increase in unemployment, bankruptcies and home repossessions. Decline isn’t pleasantly ordered, it is more a case of the weak being picked off!
So what is our responsibility as Christians? Well, unfortunately our responsibility was evident some 40 years ago or more – we have a responsibility to reduce our energy consumption, leaving more non-renewable fossil fuels in the ground for future generations. Instead we steal their wealth from them, while they are still unborn. Now, it is all the more urgent that we stop and consider the price that our children will pay for our greed.
However, aside from such idealistic hopes of reform, we must continue in our regeneration, where we gain control over our motives of greed and focus more and more on those around us. In our communities today people are living death. Our youth see lives devoted to slaving for their shelter with house prices so high that they are continually giving tribute payments to the older generation of ‘haves’. Let us open our hearts and minds to the injustices that we seem so blind to and give people an understanding of Christ’s love in practical ways that really mean something to them. Perhaps this is through charity, perhaps through fairness in trade, perhaps by sharing and perhaps it is through a change in our own consumer lifestyles.