This article traces global economic trends and sources of energy from the fossil fuel era of the Industrial Age to the Information and Solar Age. Keynesian economics as well as political, economic and military power, led to the industrialized countries’ petroleum addiction and the demonization of OPEC. The shift from the Old Economy to the New Economy will be accompanied by greater emphasis on energy efficiency and a shift towards renewable resources, “green” energy technologies and environmental protection and restoration. The globalization of economics, finance, markets and trade driven by technology and liberalization of capital flows have led to the dematerialization of OECD economies. This will necessitate recognition of, and investment in, people and social infrastructure with education and health care as key economic sectors and knowledge, intellectual, social and ecological capital as the key factors of production. Due to advances in the internet and e‐commerce and the increasing interchangeability of money with information there will be a continuing flight into pure information‐based electronic trading systems and the growth of a less costly and more efficient pure high‐tech barter system. The issues of unequal terms of trade, poverty and the need for development will continue. If OPEC is able to grasp the significance of the shift to the Solar Age, it has an opportunity to reassert its leadership role in development.
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