Any informed observer knows there is a long list of reasons developed nations should act swiftly and urgently to reduce their reliance on oil.
We must do it to avoid catastrophes like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. To soften the impact of price shocks. To improve air quality. To fight climate change. To lessen the risk of peak oil. To enhance our security and deny some of the world's most odious regimes their principal source of money and power.
It's equally obvious this has been true at least since the 1973 Arab oil embargo.
And yet, the developed world today is essentially as reliant on oil as it was in 1973. How is that possible?
It's tempting to resort to conspiracy theories. But the reality is much more mundane. And depressing.
It is this: Most people are vaguely well-intentioned, but don't understand even basic facts. What they know intimately is the number on the big board at the gas station, and when it comes to deciding what governments should do and which politicians they will vote for, that number is what people care about more than anything else.
That's a little harsh, I know. But consider the evidence.