Reality Check on Energy Sources in the United States

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OIL

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(David McNew/Getty Images)

Claim: Global demand for oil has reached its peak.

Reality: According to the International Energy Agency, demand for oil has in fact peaked in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, 30 of the world's most developed nations. The agency's chief economist, Fatih Birol, estimates that because of advances in technology, the demand for petroleum in these developed nations probably will never return to the levels seen in 2007. However, despite the flat demand over the past two years in Europe, Japan, and the United States, the IEA predicts that burgeoning demand for oil in emerging markets such as China and India will offset any declines and that worldwide demand will continue to increase.

With demand growing, the concept of "peak oil"--the theory that the world's supply of accessible oil will reach a high point and then begin to decline--has many people worried and uncertain about oil's prospects. According to Gary Long, the Energy Information Agency's expert on crude oil reserves, while the world supply is finite, there's very little consensus about how much is left or how much technology will progress to extract difficult-to-obtain reserves. But what happens in the future will depend on the available alternatives, Long says.

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