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Oil and The Gulf

Well, geez, what a surprise. We’re getting another serious lesson in sustainability. Oil doesn’t qualify.

Our first big lesson came in the early 1070s, when the U.S. and other Israel supporting countries felt the effects of an oil embargo initiated by oil producing countries in the Middle East. Then in 1979 we suffered another shortage due to the Iranian Revolution which removed the Shah and allowed the Ayatollah Khomeini to rise to power. We throw in the War(s) on Iraq, and the many other conflicts in that part of the world and we reach a simple conclusion. The conclusion is that, from a geopolitical perspective, oil is unsustainable.

From the perspective of consumption, we find another marker. Climate change. Anyone who doesn’t think the science is ‘in’ on this does so at their, and our, peril. There is no question the seas are rising, and that means we’re getting warmer. We may argue the cause, but we cannot argue the likelihood that all the carbon we’ve been throwing into the air these last 300 or 400 years [first coal, then oil] is going to have negative effects. So again we find oil is unsustainable.

Which brings us the BP oil rig explosion and the ensuing mess we’re facing in the Gulf of Mexico. Already experts are suggesting this could be far worse than the Exxon Valdez tanker accident off the coast of Alaska. Some suggest we not use the word ‘spill’, as that implies a finite amount of something being spilled. Continually spewing 25,000 gallons of oil a day, maybe 10 times that? We probably need a new word. We may see contaminated beaches, ruined livelihoods, and ecological disaster from Texas to Florida. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the chemical soup of dispersants being dumped deeply and on the surface to break up this mess. What we are sure of is that no one has any idea of the potential far-reaching effects of thousands of tons of chemicals. Not good.

But when I titled this entry, I was also thinking of another gulf. And this, the gulf between our energy interests and energy policy. With the production crises of the 1970s, there was a lot of talk about conservation and other policies to remove our dependence on foreign oil. How effective was that? Well, we went from 28% in 1979 to 66% in 2007.
And again the uproar 20 years ago with the Alaskan Oil Spill. And again no positive results. And only a few weeks ago President Obama suggested more ‘drill, baby, drill’ options on the East Coast. Yuck.

Chris Matthews made a salient point on Bill Maher’s HBO show last recently. The same time this spill kicks in down south, a massive wind farm off Cape Cod is approved. He described it as ‘a teachable moment’, and I couldn’t agree more.

But if we look at this 40 year history of oil troubles, we see the same pattern emerge as we see emerge in so many other areas of our lives. Elitist interests trumping the common good. Our policies haven’t improved, because our government is controlled by money, in this case energy corporations money.

It’s the same reason we give the billions in subsidies to energy interests while we drip some handful of millions at alternative energy sources. As always, we see more clearly how our world works when we follow the money.

An irony here is that I don’t see our elected officials even seeing the connection between their past policies and sucking up to energy interests. Oh, the word about Cheney, Bush and energy policy is starting to get out, but our whole congress is complicit. And we’re still giving ecological impact exemptions for new drill sites? Another reason to throw the bums out.

In our new World5 world, we appreciate our two most great and constant needs [assuming access to clean air and water] as food and energy. We further appreciate that the more we localize these two needs, the more we gain stability, control and sustainability. Of course it will be some while before we are weaned from oil as an energy source, but that time comes much sooner with an honest and concerted effort, as opposed to the green washing and bullshit we get from massive energy corporations.

In world5, none of this mess happens. Companies don’t think twice about fail-safe valve systems because they care. Absentee ownership doesn’t give one permission to pollute. Indeed, in world5, the word ownership comes to mean stewardship. We are, after all, all in this together.

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