Wednesday, July 16, 2008

$4 Gas - Will Life Change Forever?

How it used to be ...
energy oil change future

In 2000 the technology bubble burst and my portfolio suddenly shrank in size by 50-75%. But I was in denial or more aptly was just ignorant. I held on to my technology mutual funds and stocks … expecting these companies to rebound. As months turned into years – reality started to sink in. We had turned a critical corner in the technology revolution and the players had changed for good. I had learned my lesson and sold off my beaten down technology stocks and moved on.

A similar cataclysmic change seems to be happening in the energy space. Oil prices may retreat eventually but will life go back to how it used to be? The more time we spend with $4-5 gas – the more pervasive the changes.

What was taken for granted till recently is being re-evaluated. Gas or energy inflation is driving long-term behavioral changes. The winners of tomorrow may not be the oil companies and refiners – that is old school. The new players will be alternative fuels companies, energy innovators, conservation specialist and efficiency gurus. A corollary of this impact will also be the evolution of green. Green as a way of life, as a way of conducting business, as a necessity and not a fad.

Will the gasoline engine survive (and the Detroit auto industry)? Will Mc Mansions still be in vogue five years from now? Will commute times and telecommunications change the way we work? Will renewals become routine energy sources? Will America reduce its consumption? How will global energy demand be met? What will be the impact of increased fossil fuel usage on the climate? What innovations in travel, building construction and technology be unveiled that will change the way we live?

We live at the cusp of revolutionary change. Betting on Google, Amazon and Apple after the technology bust would have paid off handsomely. Question is what should one bet on next?

(Photo courtesy Flickr/The Visions of Kai)

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