The energy crisis played a key role in the economic downturn of the 1970s. With the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, oil prices jumped 350%, and the higher costs rippled through the economy. Although business and government asked consumers to help by conserving energy, and entrepreneurs worked on solutions, the economic crises worsened. As things got more expensive, businesses laid off workers. Inflation and economic stagnation produced “stagflation” and shook confidence in the American dream.
Oil Crisis of the 1970s
In 1973, Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson remarked, “The era of low-cost energy is almost dead.” Americans paid the price as prosperity came to an end. The oil embargo of 1973–1974 and subsequent crises stretched across the decade and had a deep impact on everyday life.
President Jimmy Carter became an example of conservation by donning a sweater. On February 2, 1977, he asked consumers to reduce fuel consumption. Businesses and environmental advocates joined Carter in issuing advice on cutting back and fostering the design of new products.