Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oil as a way of life

This recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has made me give a lot of thought as to how we got there. Not how the rig exploded, and the uncontainable leak is slowly killing half an ocean. I mean what has happened to society, that we allowed ourselves to be in this position in the first place?

By position, I mean the risky proposition of having to deep water drill close to our own shores, for oil that will probably never even see the shores of America in any usable form. The fact that we will take this risk for profit is another story entirely.

I hear the cries in the media. I see the bumper stickers, groups on Facebook, etc. Oil is the demon.....or is it us? We use the oil, the oil doesn't use us. Our society, our lief style, our towns, the way we shop. All designed around oil consumption. And not even on purpose. There is no master plan. It's just the way it works out. An unfortunate by product of our own laziness, apathy, and greed. and now that we are submerged in this culture of oil usage, how do we break the cycle?

The way we live is fueled by our individual attitudes. We chose to drive every where. I read a comment by another writer, that he knows a woman who drives half a mile to the gym, to walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes. We drive across town to a mega store to save 50 cents on a bag of chips, instead of walking to the corner store. Our downtown's' house dying retail while we drive to the outskirts of town to a mall. Could not Old Navy build a store down town? Others would follow. We consume petroleum purely to fuel our own leisure. Think NASCAR. We buy a giant gas sucking SUV because we have a child, even though its not that much safer statistically, than a normal car. Or we just buy an SUV because we like the style. Where I live people let the car run in the winter for at least 1o minutes, so they won't be cold for the 5 that it takes the car to actually warm up once they get in. We waste oil just to waste oil.

Then there are the built in things we have no control over. We have Fed Ex and UPS in the area where I live every day. But they are not allowed to deliver mail, so we have the redundancy of the postal service driving around with a fleet of trucks and petroleum consuming infrastructure. You ever follow a school bus? Ever see the black smoke puff out when it accelerates? Years ago, buses only had so many stops picking kids up fro school and dropping them off. Today they stop every 10 feet to pick up or drop off kids instead of just dropping them off at one spot and letting them walk. Why?

Because we have stopped building sidewalks. Most residential communities now do not have sidewalks. I'm talking suburbs here, not even way out in the country. So kids and parents drive every where. Can't just walk in the street right?

Look at how we shop. We order something from across the country to save ourselves on the purchase price. Now the item must travel thousands of miles, propelled by fossil fuel. We dismantled the nations rail system, and now our roadways crawl with semi trucks, even though trains are more fuel efficient.

You will hear it said we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That doesn't solve the problem. We would still be dependent on oil. That's like saying I need to quit using imported heroin, and find a local poppy grower. You're still a junkie. We need to analyze the choices we make and make some sacrifices if we want to be free of this mess.

Right now we drill in Alaska and off the coasts. If you think that is risky, wait till you see what we do when that option runs out. What happens when an addict can't get a fix? They get desperate and the decision making process goes out the window. What will we give up? Environmental protection? DID IT. The health and safety of our citizens? DID IT. National security? DID IT. Whats next? What do we have left to sacrifice? And how far down the bad decision ladder will we let ourselves go?

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