There’s also the issue of lifespan. Most vehicles put on the roads since 1990 have a long lifespan to the point that even if every passenger vehicle sold from now on was an EV, we’d not see an end to oil in passenger transport for another two decades. Even then, even if every passenger vehicle and light truck were an EV right now, that would only make a dent in global oil demand. About 2/5ths of oil is used for transporting people and heating. The rest is much more difficult to do away with. Another 1/3rd is used for air transport, industry, and other modes that require far more range or power than electric engines can manage. And another 1/5th isn’t going anywhere ever, as it is what makes petrochemicals as varied as paints, plastics and pesticides possible.
(None of which means greentech won’t eventually solve the petroleum problem, but all of which means technology needs another couple decades to give it a go – and even that assumes the capital and educational structures around the world which have made the Digital Revolution possible hold steady at their current historical highs.)
Let’s talk protection:
At the end of World War II every nation of consequence aside from the United Kingdom had lost its navy. The United States in essence inherited the global ocean. America’s creation of the Order gave everyone aside from the Soviets a vested economic interest in not floating a new one. Fast forward to today and the American Navy is over ten times as powerful as the combined blue water fleets of every other country combined. Putting that force disconnect at the service of the global commons is what makes the Order work, and what makes global energy shipments and markets possible.
The world’s second- through sixth-most powerful navies in terms of long-range power projection are (roughly in order) Japan, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia. Of these only Russia need not sail forth for oil, as it has plenty of its own. France and the United Kingdom can secure what they need from the North Sea and North and West Africa. China has only 30 combat-capable surface ships of size that can effectively operate over 1000 miles from shore; unfortunately (for the Chinese) Southern China is a cool 5800 or so miles distant from the Persian Gulf. Only India – keeper of the world’s seventh-strongest navy – is even remotely proximate.
End result? Today’s oil markets comprise the greatest concentration of risk in the most critical economic sector at the most vulnerable part of the global system and no one can do anything about it if the Americans leave.
And that’s just the beginning.
By the way, for more on oil’s role in a world without American strategic oversight, I’m happy to refer you to my 2016 book, The Absent Superpower: the Shale Revolution and a World Without America.