At this time in our history, we can view the Gulf oil disaster with great sadness and disgust. Disgust not only at the greed to drill deeper and faster, but drilling beyond adequate safety margins and two working backup systems (only one was operating) to avoid equipment failure in such a sensitive location.
It has become a major tragedy for the environment, for the flora and fauna that inhabit or pass through the region and for all the people whose livelihoods were based on or in the water and for all the supporting personnel who assisted them. The ripple effect of this crisis will continue for many years.
At this time in our history, there are some who believe we have reached the point of “peak oil.” In our lifetime, increasing demands will outstrip production as supply lessens and becomes prohibitively expensive. Many refuse to even consider this possibility, while the U.S. military prepares contingency plans for its inevitability as a major threat to our national security. You can imagine that the federal government is surely a major consumer of oil.
At this time in our history, do we cry and wring our hands at all the wasted oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico? Do we also despair at all the petrochemicals evaporating along with controlled burns polluting the air and increasing greenhouse gases? Or do we take this event as a powerful message, a wake-up call that we must change our thinking and the way we live. Oil will not save us. Oil is the addictive monkey on our backs. The whole world needs energy, but we need clean and sustainable energy that does not lay waste to the environment nor ravage people’s health from its extraction and processing.
At this time in our history, we need to consider all our resources, not as commodities to exploit for gain but as materials to cherish for our sustenance. Our future is to develop advanced alternative energy and delivery systems for small to industrial users. This needs be a no-brainer, worldwide directive. China has seen the green. A Jan. 30 New York Times article, “China is Leading the Race to Make Renewable Energy,” says that China is now the largest maker of wind turbines and solar panels in the world. America was the first country to develop an effective solar panel. We can do it again. Now get busy!
— Written by Richard Bisbee, Sustainable Edmonds board member. This article first appeared in the Enterprise newspapers.