Thursday, September 09, 2004

You might as well face it—you're addicted to oil

Apologies to the late Robert Palmer and his estate for title of this entry.

Even as I type, I am listening to Terry Gross' interview of Michael Klare. As noted on the site for Fresh Air, "Klare says our addiction to oil is driving U.S. foreign policy. Klare is author of Blood and Oil: the Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency."

Okay, okay, okay. I finally get it. After years of hearing the phrase "our dependence on foreign oil," I think I have finally managed to grok the implications of that dependence. Thanks for that, Professor Klare. As he says, "We have securitized oil, meaning that we've made it a matter of national security." As a result, we're committed to using our military in increasing roles, not just in the Persian Gulf, but in South America, Central Asia, and Central Africa, to defend oil pipelines, oil wells, and&mdash at the cost of compromising core American values—oil regimes. Given the amount of power and money involved, if you thought that there were problems with so-called "conflict diamonds," oil is bound to be what Klare describes as the pivot of future global conflict.

All you smart people already knew this. Pardon me for being so slow to understand.

My difficulty now is that the analysis of the problem seems so much fuller than the policy options. It's not Klare's job to work out all scientific, political, and cultural changes necessary to bring about the end of our dependency. Yet, aside from funding R & D, or pushing hybrid vehicles, what's there to be done? So often, the phrase "explore renewable energy sources" sounds like a vague, romantic, liberal abstraction; like an uncodified religious belief. So many of the renewable energy resources we know of have their own negative impacts on land or water use; or they just don't seem that practical. (I'm not falling for ethanol. Sorry, farm belt.) Have you retrofitted YOUR house to convert solar energy for heating yet? The lack of an obvious direction to go makes it easy for status-quo-loving politicians to punt this problem to future generations while digging us deeper and deeper into entrenched fights for control of go-juice.

I'm convinced by enough of the argument to believe that a world competing for the same limited resoure is not sustainable. I'm still uncovinced that we have the necessary innovations, or will, to change things much yet. But I promise, I'll factor in my patriotic duty the next time I have to buy a car. I also guess I'd rather have spent the $200 billion and saved the tens of thousands of U.S., coalition, and Iraqi lives, by investing in just about ANY alternative energy development, even the goofy kind.


Blogger Tom G. said...

Scanning through your blog, there is a lot I respectfully disagree with you - on politics and on baseball - but this post is dead on, I couldn't agree more.

A Ford Escape Owner that Wishes He Had Waited One More Year and Bought a Hybrid Escape.

7:13 PM  

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