In a series of articles, The Washington Post examines the economic forces that have unhinged oil prices from their longtime cyclical patterns, propelling fuel costs to once unimaginable levels that are now both fraying the lifestyles of our recent past and speeding the search for an energy source of the future.
World oil supplies are stagnating as demand, primarily from developing countries, is accelerating, propelling global oil prices upward.
America's love affair with the car has gone global, creating a clamor for oil even as industrialized countries tame their consumption.
Old oil fields are running dry and, despite new technology, there may not be enough new ones within reach to meet surging demand.
The American ideal of large homes, big cars and distant suburbs was underwritten by cheap gas, but those days are gone.
The search is underway for new technologies, like electric cars powered by solar plants, that could change the game.