The end of oil?
The business landscape is changing, and it is changing fast. Especially when it comes to the energy sector. For decades now, analysts have been warning us of a time when oil will be a relic of the past. Is it the end for the black gold just yet? Probably not, but it is hard to deny that the impact that oil used to have on markets has diminished.
In 2008, the American economy tanked and the world panicked. The world economy dramatically slowed and demand for oil consequently declined. At the same time, OPEC refused to cut supply and naturally, the price of oil crashed. For those who hadn’t realized it yet, it became clear that Canada and the Canadian dollar were heavily reliant on commodities, especially oil. A technical recession was declared in early 2015 and since then, Canada’s economy, which proved to be quite resilient in 2008, has been stagnating.
For those in the translation industry providing services to oil companies based in Canada and elsewhere, it was a moment of anxiety when we thought that our clients would just close shop. What really ended up happening was substantial consolidations where the bigger, stronger and less indebted players acquired the other companies and business went on with a prayer of better days to come.
A lot of people around the world are concerned about climate change, deforestation and pollution in general. However, the reality is that when consumers are faced with the dilemma of making a more expensive ecological choice, and choosing a cheaper product and turning a blind eye to the environmental consequences, people will choose the latter. Why? Mainly because of the intangibility of an ecological catastrophe. We tend to measure risks through the lenses of what is directly perceptible to us. However, we are now at a crossroad when it comes to choosing our energy solutions. We can stick to oil and be at the mercy of a commodity which destroys vast swatches of land and which is mainly imported from a region growing more unstable every day. Or we could invest heavily in green technologies which are definitely going to serve us right in the future. The move to green to technology needs to happen, not only because it is the right thing to do from an ethical perspective, but because it makes business sense to do so. Green technologies are becoming more affordable simply because some precursors have been entrepreneurial about it. When you read that Shells’ CEO, Ben van Beurden has “no hesitation to predict that in years to come solar will be the dominant backbone of our energy system, certainly of the electricity system.”, it is strong indication that the way the wind is blowing might be changing soon.
These changes mean exciting times for translators and the translation industry. Why? Because it could signify a whole new world opening up to us. A world of never heard of before technologies and the creation of an industry jargon which we will need to learn and eventually master.
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