Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

Map Reveals a Web of Oil Imports

A new interactive map unveils the details of an oil addiction.

  • January 7, 2009

For an illuminating look at the web of oil imports that we depend on, check out this interactive Google Maps-based infographic at the Rocky Mountain Institute, an organization that promotes technology for energy efficiency.

Credit: Rocky Mountain Institute

The map features a timeline starting in 1973. As a cursor moves along the timeline (click the “play” button to automate the cursor’s movement, or control the movement yourself by clicking and dragging the cursor), the world map above it changes, showing how much oil is flowing to the United States, and from which countries. Changing a setting (under “Map Units” in the left column, select “Dollars”) shows how much money is flowing out of the United States, and to where. You can select a specific oil crisis (buttons below the timeline) to see the segment of the timeline related to that crisis.

You can also click a button (left column, “ANWR”) to see the size of the potential oil flow from the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. When oil consumption was low in the late 1980s, after the oil crisis of that era triggered a massive drop in consumption, it looks substantial. But in 2008, it looks vanishingly small.

One of the most salient things illustrated by the map is just how long oil prices stayed low after the oil crisis of the late 1970s: long enough for people to forget the lessons of that crisis and start buying big, heavy cars again, and get truly addicted to oil.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.