Rising demand for oil exposed Europe, and later America, to oil shocks - serious interruptions in supply. Like a pebble tossed into a pond, an oil shock creats ripples, or effects, felt everywhere. Oil shocks have two causes. The first is natural, because existing oil fields may not yield enough to satisfy demand. Scarcity results in higher prices for oil products, reducing our standard of living. Natural scarcity was not a problem in the world's major producing areas until recently. The second cause of oil shocks is political. Political shocks happen when governments of oil-producing countries reduce or halt supply to gain the upper hand in dealings with other governments. This is the case in the Middle East, where oil has often mixed with politics, religion, and blood. The reasons for this have shaped the history of recent times.
America experienced its first oil shock. Within days of the cutoff, oil prices rose from.90 to 1.65 a barrel; gasoline prices soared from 20 cents to.20 a gallon, an all-time high. Across America, fuel shortages forced factories to close early and airlines to cancel flights. Filling stations posted signs: 'Sorry, No Gas Today.' If a station did have gasoline, motorists lined up before sunrise to buy a few gallons; owners limited the amount sold to each customer. Motorists grew impatient. Fistfights broke out, and occasionally, gunfire. President Nixon called for America to end its dependence on foreign oil. 'Let us set as our national goal... That by the end of this decade we will have developed the potential to meet our own energy needs without depending on any foreign energy source,' he said. We have still not met this goal.