Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's your early morning call.

Every once in a while it dawns on me. The giant smack in the face that really isn't that much of a smack in the face as it is a mild wake-up call, like a phone ring at 5am telling us that maybe it's time to get up and address the day.
We devote more attention to drugs to "cure" erectile dysfunction than we do methods to get us to use less resources. Only when gasoline prices reach the four-dollar a gallon mark to we think about our wasteful lifestyles, and even then we prefer to complain than change.
An editorial by Rod Dreher that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday makes many cogent points that will surely be lost on a populace that is more concerned with the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and who is the Greatest American Dog. By comparison, why should we care who has the greatest dog when there are actual lives at stake? We care because it's easy to care. It's hard to care about the future of the planet.
We will continue to consume limited resources like oil until it is necessary to change. It will become necessary when we run out of oil, but the masses don't want to think about that. Face it, gang - dinosaurs aren't dying anymore and oil is limited.
Are we ready for the inevitable? The answer, I'm convinced, is no. And our unreadiness is not for lack of information; it's moral and philosophical. Put plainly, it's because we Americans do not recognize limits. We live in a fantasy land whose borders go far beyond the oil fields, whose psychological geography is critical to map out a future our nation is blindly headed for.
We live in a society that cherishes homes that sell for a half-million dollars and automobiles that are capable of transporting 10 people but usually transport one. We live in a society of wasteful entitlement - as though we are somehow entitled to throw things away.
Our way of life depends not only on cheap, abundant oil but also on a seemingly endless line of credit. Within a single lifetime, the United States has gone from creditor nation to debtor nation. The current crisis in the mortgage industry, which threatens to derail the entire economy, derives from the conviction that desire is its own justification. That is, if you want something, you are entitled to it, no matter its cost - and anybody who tells you different is a knave. Politicians of both parties depend on telling this lie.
Come November, we will hear the promises (lies) of the candidates who will tell us that they are interested in relieving us of our dependence on foreign oil and we will eat it up. What they won't tell us is that we need to radically alter our lifestyles. They won't tell us that because we don't want to hear it. We like to sit in bank drive-thru lanes with our engines idling. We want to take 5-minute drives to stores we could walk to and buy two items that are put into bags that we could easily carry out with our hands. We enjoy having things served to us that we could just as soon serve ourselves. We're a fat, lazy country of convenience.
But there are no guarantees. The thing is, we're living as if we are guaranteed to go onward and upward into a better and brighter future. Our nation's (relatively short) history encourages this fallacious thinking. Like spoiled children, we want freedom without responsibility. But that's impossible. You cannot defy the law of gravity forever.
All of those concerned citizens that had "Baby on Board" placards on their cars 20 years ago are now the same consumers that waste the valuable resources that their (so-called) babies could be using now. We are supposed to be concerned, but only for those issues to which it is convenient for us. We like a nice government-subsidised hard-on, but if they ask us to conserve resources, we get pissy. It's easy to put a sign on your window. It's difficult to think about why you're putting it there.
It's even easier when the end isn't in our limited sight. We are all going to die, and our mortality is what makes it easy for us to consume. We will leave it to future generations to decide. Throw a butt out the window, burn more gasoline, run your car and use more gas - it won't be my problem.
We are spoiled children. The trouble is that we may not be leaving enough for children of ours to be spoiled. If you think it's ecological left-wingers or tree huggers that are saying it, think again. It's coming from the very people who produce the resource...
Oil is a finite natural resource; sooner or later, the supply will peak. Jeroen van der Veer, chief of Royal Dutch Shell P.L.C., this year predicted the world would reach peak production in 2015. John Hess of Hess Corp. said: "An oil crisis is coming in the next 10 years. It's not a matter of demand. It's not a matter of supplies. It's both."
Whether peak oil is already here or on its way, we will have to deal with it
I don't have any children, so why do I give a fuck?

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