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Out of Gas: Photos from the 1973 Oil Crisis in the United States

Ian Harvey

In this day and age, resource scarcity is a topic of regular discussion.

The reason for this is that global warming seems to be doing a number on our available supply of infinite resources.

Gas Station

Gas Station Photo Credit

 

Oil crisis

Oil crisis Photo Credit

 

Limited gas

Limited gas Photo Credit

 

Import gas

Import gas Photo Credit

 

Import Gas No Limit Not Cheap

Import Gas No Limit Not Cheap Photo Credit

 

Oil crisis

Oil crisis Photo Credit

Another reason for this is the overuse of our natural resources as a result of continually growing human technological expansion.

People are more reliant on technology than ever, and it seems that everything being made just takes more and more of a toll on the finite natural resources.

Car filling up at the gas pump

Car filling up at the gas pump Photo Credit

One of the biggest sectors that do this is transportation. Many things that make up the transportation sector rely on fuels such as gas or oil to let them run properly, hence why prices are always fluctuating.

While people may think that supply and demand is in a frightening place now, it has been much worse. The 1973 oil crisis was an eye-opener, showing how reliant people were on oil and gas to get around and do normal activities.

The Tillicum with reader board

The Tillicum with reader board Photo Credit

It all started in 1970 when the production of oil in the United States of America began its precipitous decline.

Traffic jam on gas station

Traffic jam on gas station Photo Credit

The president at the time was Richard Nixon, who was quite shocked to learn that as a result of the embargo there was no spare capacity available and that production could only decrease with time to an extreme point.

Eventually, that crisis came, and it began in October of 1973.

Man trying to hitchhike

Man trying to hitchhike Photo Credit

The members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, or as many people know it OAPEC, announced that they would begin an oil embargo.

As the embargo went on, all the way until March of 1974, the price of oil rose dramatically, starting off at just three dollars a barrel and getting as high as twelve dollars a barrel on a global level.

Shockingly enough, the prices in the United States of America were even higher.

This startling embargo had long lasting as well as short term effects globally, with politics and the economy being severely affected.  The oil crisis of 1973 was sadly referred to as the first oil shock, with another occurring in 1979.

It is sobering to see pictures from that era showing the long lines of people waiting for hours to put gas in their vehicles so that they could get to work.

Many signs were erected warning people not to loot one another’s oil, or there would be repercussions.

People were desperate because they needed oil in order to continue living as they had become accustomed to, but there was simply not the supply available, and it was increasingly more and more expensive for many people, even if they could get the oil to use.

Many are probably wondering why the embargo even came about, to begin with, and if it was warranted given the international effects that it had.  The embargo was, in fact, a response by the Arab nations to the United States’ involvement in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Explains lack of highway lighting due to energy conservation

Explains lack of highway lighting due to energy conservation Photo Credit

 

 

"Turn off the damn lights" tickers mirrored the seriousness of the energy

“Turn off the damn lights” tickers mirrored the seriousness of the energy Photo Credit

 

No Gas Sign Beside Gas Pumps

No Gas Sign Beside Gas Pumps Photo Credit

The United States purportedly supplied the nation of Israel and its fighters with arms to use against the Arab nation’s attacks, and as such, in response to this military move, the members of OAPEC stated that they would begin an oil embargo against the United States, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as well.

The crisis went on to, as previously discussed, have a significant international impact.

It even went as far as to create tension within NATO, as many of the countries around the world no longer wanted to be associated with the actions of the United States.

 

No gas sign

No gas sign Photo Credit

They did not want to be the recipients of this embargo which could truly be crippling to a nation’s economy.

Sorry No Gas Today Sign At An Oregon by Everett

Sorry No Gas Today Sign At An Oregon by Everett Photo Credit

Also startling is that this period of time was labeled one of the first times since the Great Depression that not only the nation, but the world, was plunged into a long-term persistent economic crisis.

Empty sign beside gas station

Empty sign beside gas station Photo Credit

The success of this embargo was evident with just how much it affected the entire world’s economy, and the way of life for many nations.

It was an effective way for Saudi Arabia to display their economic power on a global scale.

Out of gas sign

Out of gas sign Photo Credit

One good thing that came out of this energy crisis was that it almost forced people to have a greater interest in discovering more about renewable energy, and how it can be used in modern society in a cost-effective and efficient way.

There was a significantly increased interest in the research around solar power and wind power.

No Gas Sign Beside Gas Pumps

No Gas Sign Beside Gas Pumps Photo Credit

Many nations learnt not to be so reliant on the Arab nations for their oil supplies, and to avoid costly fuel crisis on a global scale.

Here is another interesting read from us: Hershey’s Field Ration D bars did not melt in heat, and tasted “just a little better than a boiled potato”

It is events such as this that make the importance of the environment clear, with it being very closely related to international markets and the day to day lives of people across the world.