Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More Dangerous Than Cocaine, #4: We have met the enemy...

...and he is us.

This picture is making the rounds today. It's appalling. It's easy to blame oil companies for the nefarious happenings in the Gulf of Mexico, or lax government regulation, or complacent attitudes over safety, but ultimately, the blame lies with ourselves. A number of commentators in recent days have pointed out that every president since Richard Nixon have described the need for "energy independence", but as for taking real action, well, the only guy who tried to actually say we had to make hard choices got canned in favor of the happy-go-lucky grandfathery "morning in America" fellow in 1980. Meanwhile, ever since the 1970's, we've continued wasting petroleum and almost totally ignored the problem.

Even now, hardly anyone in the media or in the broader culture seems to be discussing the bigger problem. It's not seeping into the national conciousness the way it is into the gulf. It's not just the mess we made in the Gulf. It's the problem of the oil we burn. We are addicted to petroleum; we are doing nothing to curb that addiction, we are just working harder and paying more to feed our addiction. But the oil is running out, and we have no viable alternatives. We are poisoning ourselves, and overheating our atmosphere, but we will tolerate no talk of ...dare I say it?...sacrificing. Instead, we will just drift along until we hit a very tragic wall. Then the sacrifice will be on us whether we like it or not. Gas at $20/gallon? Not so far away. No gas at all, like the 1970's? Probably.

Contrary to the myth, you can't see the Great Wall of China from space. Check out the larger version of the picture above...maybe you are sharper-eyed than I am, but how sad that the one bit of evidence that we live on this planet that is visible from space is an oil slick. The oil spilled in the gulf may amount to 2 million barrels so far (over the two months)...that's about one-tenth of what we consume as a country per day., I have more to say, but I think American Idol is on. See ya'.

Satellite Imagery from NASA, full image is here (10 mb).

Learn about Pogo and the 1971 Earth Day Poster with the famous line "he is us" here.
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