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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oil

I think we can all agree that BP really sucks but do you know who sucks at least as much as the creeps in charge of British Petroleum? How about every single one of us who have acquiesced to America’s continuing and ever-increasing reliance on petroleum products to fuel unsustainable lifestyles? Because we can just keep living like we do forever, right? And what if I really like my SUV, my two hour daily commute in aforementioned SUV, and having a big grass lawn in the middle of the Nevada desert? I’m just living the American dream. If this is true we need to rewrite the American dream, like, yesterday.

So we have done almost nothing as a nation—at least in my lifetime—to address the problem of oil usage. In fact, we use more now than 30 years ago. You have to wonder just what it is we are waiting for when it comes to reducing our consumption. Do we need another scientific study? A child could figure out that the way we are living is contributing to our destruction. I mean, people commit suicide by running the cars inside of the garage. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that this is pretty much what we are doing to ourselves every time we drive yet we insist on relying more than ever on private automobiles for transportation, completely abandoning the idea of mass transportation in many parts of the country. When was the last time you took the bus?

If you want an example of how NOT to build a city then take a look at a place like Las Vegas, a city that was a 20th century invention and is now a 21st century environmental disaster in the making. Not only is it a city built where there is no water, it is a city that insists on stretching out seemingly forever in every direction. 340 square kilometers makes it over twice the area of Valencia, Spain yet is has less than half of Valencia’s population. This sort of sprawl not only makes biking and walking impossible, but it makes even public transportation impractical. There is just not enough population density to support busses or trams—not that anyone living in Las Vegas would ever walk, bike, or take a bus—that’s for poor people, right?

On a personal level, over the course of my adult life I have been using less and less. I have sought out places where I can live without contributing to the forces that drive us to drill for oil in places like the Gulf of Mexico. I say this not because I want to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude, it’s just that I think I’ve learned few things about how humans can responsibly build cities so that we can reduce disasters relating to oil usage to something of a minimum. I also happen to believe that building our cities so that they are a bit more conscious of the fragile bond we have between our survival and nature can improve our overall happiness. I would suggest that your overall happiness is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend NOT driving an automobile. If you spend a lot of time in parking lots then I would venture to say that your life is a failure on one important level. I rode my bike past a parking lot that had been torn up and will soon be the home of a new apartment building. All I could think was, “Way to go!” This is sort of the opposite of “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
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3 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, I know of a school that may be torn down to BUILD a parking lot...now that is sad!

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  2. As a daily bike commuter for the last 15 years of my employment, I must agree about the happiness part. On the rare occasions I did drive in to work, I was amazed how fast and reliably I got irritated. Feet and bicycles afford us a pace our peabrains can keep up with.

    I'm also right with you about packing us in in cities. We do okay here in Portland, but most of us still buy bananas. It never ends.

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  3. Cars seem to bring out the absolute worst in people, same thing with commercial airlines. We'd be better off with just trains, bikes, and boats.

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