| It is amazing that the US has done so little to avoid the oil calamity that has now befallen it. It is hard to understand how the representatives we send to Congress, or the people we put in the White House, or the American public in general, can be so numb from the neck up. While it is true that there is no silver bullet for our energy woes, it is also true that we could have made substantial progress in getting this problem under control, while cutting down green-house gases, creating many high paying hi-tech jobs, and avoiding the need to get involved in wars that both drain our resources and grind down our armed forces.
The US imports about 17% of its oil from the Middle-East. In the last few decades Brazil has virtually eliminated the need to import oil by introducing Ethanol in a big way. Brazil consumes about 10% the oil the US does, and a similar program in the US would have almost replaced Middle-East oil. Ethanol can be made from any material that has celluloid, i.e. virtually any plant. The trick is finding organisms to ferment these various plants--which is well within the capability of chemistry today--grass, woodchips, whatever. Cars can easily be converted to use gas and ethanol (alcohol)--GM knows how to do this right now. If we had used the past two decades installing infrastructure instead of involving ourselves in destructive wars or propaganda campaigns by feuding oil industry lobbyist, maybe this wouldn't be a problem right now, and a lot of entrepreneurs and their employees would be a lot richer.
Here is an article on fermentation agents: Bio-fuels
And here's one on Brazil: Brazil Bio-fuel program