Chapter 63

Energy, Technology and Geopolitics


Quality of life, energy supply, and the distribution of energy sources are important components of global politics. Geopolitics is the study of how the relationships between nations depend on geography, demography and economics. In this article, we discuss the relationship between energy, technology and geopolitics. This article is an extension of the discussion found in Huntington (1996) and Fanchi (2004, 2005).

Energy has had a significant impact on society. Deforestation in sixteenth-century England motivated the search for a new primary fuel: coal. The discovery that rock oil – as oil was called in the nineteenth century – could be used as an illuminant made rock oil a viable substitute for whale oil and reduced the need to hunt whales. The need for oil encouraged Japanese expansion throughout Asia in the 1930s and was one of the causes of the Second World War. The 1973 Arab–Israeli war led to the first oil crisis, with a short-term but significant increase in the price of oil. This oil price shock was followed by another in 1979 after the fall of the Shah of Iran. These oil price increases are considered shocks because they were large enough to cause a significant decline in global economic activity. Their global impact showed the interdependence of nations and the need to understand how nations interact.

The world has been undergoing a socio-political transition that began with the end of the Cold War and is continuing ...

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