Chained to oil
Brooke McGee, Opinions Editor
March 6, 2012
Filed under Opinions
It is undeniable that massive problems come along with energy consumption. Although there are benefits that come from oil that are not obtainable elsewhere, it is rare that the other side of the coin in presented. The current reality that fossil fuels are being depleted has many people in an uproar over what will occur at its demise. But has the media somehow failed the attentive public in revealing both sides as to what this upcoming withdrawal would mean?
First, how long will our skies be contaminated with the pollution caused by oil? National Geographic’s “Tapped Out” tells us how Saudi oil geologist Sadad Husseini came to the realization that current oil output levels started leveling off as early as 2004, and that from that date onward, oil production would plateau and decrease. According to the same article, Saudi Aramco, the leading distributor of oil with one fifth of all the planet’s reserves, sings quite a different tune. According to Aramco, oil will continue to be in abundance for decades to come. Why the discrepancy? Can our planet withstand decades more of this consumption?
As far back as 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced that “Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you.” He warned of an imminent energy crisis as a “national catastrophe” and urged Americans to end their selfish overconsumption of energy. In the last 34 years, how have we done? According to the Christian Science Monitor, we are not using less oil. On the positive side though, we are getting more use out of each gallon of oil used. But what detrimental side effects have resulted because of this?
Along with the potential shortages that result in higher energy costs, fuel costs, food expenses, etc., the oil itself is causing unique problems that otherwise would not be on this planet. Frontline’s Heat diagrams show us the huge amounts of CO2 pollution that is emitted into the atmosphere each year due to human behavior and the use of fossil fuels. This graph would be virtually nonexistent if it were not for the footprint of human fossil fuel consumption. Although there are other natural forms of methane gas, cow emissions and tundra thawing for example, by far the largest contributor of pollution is due to human activities, according to Paul Crutzen’s Geology of Mankind.
As potentially radical as the suggestion may be, perhaps the media could be presenting the more positive sides to oil depletion. The world has been addicted to oil since the birth of the refining process and the industrial revolution, but we are using too of it. It is true that most of the current world is horrendously dependent upon this substance, to remove it would surely cause violent withdrawal symptoms, much like a heroine addict coming off of their drug. Just as a addict will stoop to low levels to get what they so desperately crave, we can all see humans doing the same thing for oil: tricking others, hiding supplies, even killing for it in wars. Do we continue to feed addicts their drug when they are seizing violently for their craving? No.
Perhaps if humans too could look at the positive side of oil withdrawal we would be better off, much like the addict is once the withdrawal fits have ceased and a new lifestyle and routine is adapted. Plato once said that “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and I do not doubt that quote. I have confidence that once oil is depleted, the brilliant minds that are among us will easily come up with other solutions, solutions that in reality will only help other areas as well. So many people point out how petroleum is in countless products such as plastic bottles, car tires, the list goes on. Yes the same people complain that these items do not decompose in landfills. How long will it take for us to realize that this drug that we are on is literally killing our earth, and the sooner it is out of our system, the sooner our atmosphere and planet can heal from the contamination its use has caused us.