Costs of energy, many believe, can only rise. Petrol
prices rose to almost unprecedented heights in the
U.S. in 2005, and despite a brief fall in early 2006,
the trend is upward. The price of natural gas was
a major political issue in Europe in the winter of
2005-6, and most commentators expect natural
gas prices to rise further. The costs of aviation fuel
are threatening the financial viability of many airline
companies. Although some deserts command
large reserves of oil and gas, most do not. Dearer
energy will affect them all, but in different measure.
In deserts, where the relation between the price of
energy and that of water is close, more expensive
energy will restrain many development schemes.
The costs of solar and wind energy may be lower
in deserts than in some other places, but even
so, they do not yet compete well with fossil fuels,
except in a few sites, and their cost-trajectory is
uncertain, especially if cheap fossil energy is not
available to build the necessary facilities. The costs
of travel seem bound to rise, so that tourism may
suffer (among many other things), although rising
travel costs are claimed not yet to have had an
effect in the U.S.