The World Oil Situation
OIL is without doubt one of civilization's most important natural resources. And yet we are just beginning to learn how dependent we are upon it. The wheels of machinery cannot turn, ships cannot move across the seas, our industrial age would come to a complete standstill,--without oil. But the world is only now coming to realize the significance of the two vital facts, first, that man can no more manufacture oil than he can manufacture a grain of wheat; and, second, that nature's supplies of oil are not inexhaustible.
These transcendent facts far outweigh the importance of those elements in the oil situation which appear to excite most acutely many writers for the press; they are, indeed, factors to which the statesmanship of the world may well give primary consideration as against thoughts of imperialistic aggrandizement or even of strategic protection.
To suggest the possibility of great nations going to war over oil is to suggest that civilization shall plunge to its downfall in the struggle to control the very natural resources which are intended to aid and promote the progress of mankind. To suggest that great nations and great aggregations of capital should engage in cut-throat commercial competition over one of nature's bounties which ought to be carefully conserved, economically marketed and intelligently used, is to suggest that the gratification of national and corporate avarice is liable to become more dominant over the policies of nations and their citizens than conceptions of intelligent cooperation to foster the progress of civilization.
No one can regard the petroleum situation in the world today in a comprehensive manner without being convinced that a clear vision of all the elements in that problem leads to but one conclusion, and that is the supreme importance of cooperation on the part of the peoples of the world both in exploiting and utilizing the oil resources which nature has so sumptuously provided.
The fundamental elements of the oil problem are comparatively simple, but they have been complicated in recent years by developments which have not yet cleared up, and which are of so abnormal a character as to create a recurring divergence from the ordinary processes of progress, a divergence which cannot be corrected by any measures of a superficial character. To assure stability and constructive effort the cure must be fundamental.