When this photo was taken in Emeryville, California, in 1941, oil was $16.60 a barrel. On January 2, 2008, the worldwide price of oil reached $100 a barrel for the first time in history.
Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart, National Geographic

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  • On January 2, 2008, the worldwide price of oil reached $100 a barrel for the first time in history. The price of oil changes, going up or down according to many factors. These factors could be weather, political situations, or conflicts around the world. It also relates to the availability of oil resources. As with any commodity, the less oil is available, the more expensive it becomes.

    High oil prices are a symbol of the increasing consumption of energy of the world. Oil consumption has traditionally been highest in the United States and Europe, but there is a rising demand for energy from developing nations such as China and India.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    commodity Noun

    a good or service that can be sold or traded.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    consumption Noun

    process of using goods and services.

    energy resource Noun

    source of energy found in nature that has not been subject to any human-induced energy transfers or transformations; for example, oil, coal, gas, wind, or sunlight.

    expensive Adjective

    very costly.

    oil Noun

    fossil fuel formed from the remains of marine plants and animals. Also known as petroleum or crude oil.

    weather Noun

    state of the atmosphere, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness.

    Encyclopedic Entry: weather