Towards the close of 1973, the four-fold increase of oil prices heralded the end of an era of plentiful and relatively cheap energy. For some countries (Europe, Japan) this era had begun in the late fifties with the commercialization of Middle East oil; for others — i.e. the U.S.A. and Canada — it started as far back as the beginning of the century. First of all in North America, then in Europe and Japan, the energy abundance, both real and expected, encouraged or even generated rapid economic growth and energy intensive development patterns, characterized by the important and rapid spread of road transport and of the car, by the growing consumption of materials with a high energy content, by the urban sprawl, by the generalization of energy intensive habits and behaviours (heating, travels,…) and especially, by the development of a whole energy intensive technological infrastructure (badly insulated dwellings, low-efficiency industrial kilns,…). This generally resulted in an explosive growth of commercial energy consumption, the world-wide level of which underwent a threefold increase between 1950 and 1973 (previously such an increase had required fifty years).
KeywordsEnergy Demand Urban Sprawl Road Transport Energy Market High Energy Content
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