Atlas is the Greek god who supported the heavens on his back, sometimes shown as the Earth instead of the celestial spheres. Whether you are a classical mythologist or not (probably not, but you never know), you know this is how we got the word atlas for books that show maps of the earth.
All very interesting, but where is this going? We have our own Atlas today: oil. Oil is holding up the earth as nothing before has ever done. From global industry (and hence the economy) to your car, everything runs on oil. Even your toothpaste probably has oil products in it, and if it doesn’t, it got to your supermarket using energy from oil.
As the price of oil fluctuates, responding to the political crisis in the Middle East and the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, energy security in the long run suddenly seems much more important. The price of oil is higher than it has ever been, excluding the high of 2008. That makes a lot of things prohibitively expensive, like airline tickets. At the recent GMIC conference in Portland, Ian Lee of the Sprott School of Business talked about research on airlines that saw many major airlines in Europe fail starting at oil prices of $125.00/barrel. As Jeff Rubin claims, your world is about to get a whole lot smaller.
When Atlas shrugs (apologies to Ayn Rand), where will we fall? On renewable energy? On nuclear (which most of us are thinking hard about, after the recent events in Japan )? On energy efficiency, the panacea of the 1980’s? How are you adjusting your business to be sustainable in the long run without the lubricant of cheap oil?
Oil has the power to change the map of your world.
This is not a statement of good or bad, just one of business: when your frame of reference changes, when your longitude and latitude shift, are you going to be ready? Because Atlas is shrugging.