When it comes to oil, the bells don't yet seem to be tolling. Although the price of this energy source has fallen far from last summer's high of $150 per barrel, oil companies are still enjoying the financial fruits of that period. Exxon Mobil Corporation just posted its 2008 earnings: they took in $45.2 billion in profits, although in the last quarter, revenues slipped by 33 percent. This extraordinary figure broke the company's own profit record of $40.6 billion, which was set the previous year.
Of course, Exxon Mobil doesn't derive all of its revenue from oil, as it is a diversified energy company with many different facets. And in general, profits are a very good thing. However, the idea that a company whose main line of business is focused on profiting from a product we so desperately need to move away from due to environmental, national security, and financial concerns, should really give one pause.
The next time you pull up to a filling station, think about this: do we really need to help a company earn $45.2 billion in profits when the global economy is teetering on a very precarious perch? We need to acknowledge that the time has come to move on.
Follow Jonathan A. Schein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jonathanschein