If you have ever purchased a box of cereal you know that certain things run out. You eat enough bowls of crunchy-sugar-bombs and its time to buy a new box. Now imagine for a second that all the oil in the world is represented by that box of sugar-bombs (except in this case you cant go to the store for more). We are getting down to that nasty powder stuff at the end. Oil is running out. Most people will concede that if it doesn’t run out now, it will run out eventually. The supply of oil (particularly cheap oil) is finite.
So what is our government doing, well they are doing several things. For one they want to go dig up more oil. This might be a good idea in the short term (ignore for right now that they want to dig for it in a wildlife reserve). So sure we go spend lots of money, dig up lots of oil and everyone is happy. Until next year when the oil runs out, or in two years, or five or ten. So letâ€™s say we “lessen our reliance on foreign oil” by using less. Well Wahoo, now we run out of oil in six years instead of three, or 20 years instead of 10. Twenty years is not that long, remember Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, or when Michel Jackson was black? If you do then you know that twenty years is not a very long time.
So what are we to do? Well the most obvious answer is to use something other than oil as a fuel. Something that gives us lots of energy (there is lots of it), and is clean (unlike oil), and is a renewable resource (can be grown or harvested or produced over and over). Several things pop into my mind right away, solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen (for storage of energy, produced by sun or wind). The government thinks that instead, renewable energy sources are things like nuclear, and “clean” coal. The funny thing about both is they both cause lots of waste, are hard to dig up, and in the case of Nuclear need lots and lots of coal to produce the energy to mine the uranium.
So with all the sun, and wind, and biomass laying around why then does the new House and Senate energy bill “solve” our energy problems by drilling for new oil, conserving the oil we use, and promoting coal and nuclear (to be fair the senate version of the bill does propose a couple of renewable options but not much and not soon)? If i was a cynical person (and I can be at times) I would simply shout ITS THE MONEY STUPID! However in my better moments I have to believe it is something more. For one policy makers are not educated enough. Oil companies spend millions of dollars to make sure that congressmen and women know exactly why they should vote for oil. They also run million dollar adds with scantily clad women working in coal mines.
We, the proponents of clean renewable energy, must instead educate them with our votes. We must vote against anyone who is not in favor of clean renewable energy. You and I and the hippy down the street are never going to get as much money as Enron, but we each get to vote. This works pretty well, its not always failsafe however (see election 2000).
We can also annoy. You would be surprised at how powerful annoyance can be. Your average house rep gets a couple of phone calls a day from constituents about a whole bevy of issues. They suddenly get 100 phone calls a day for a month and well things are going to change. This is the kind of thing you can do in your free time “Hey bob! While you are up get me a beer and call senator Kerry and tell him to vote for the Cape Wind Farm”.
Make deals with yourself, “No TV until I harass Tom DeLay.” “No ice cream until I call and bitch at Bob Dole.” Do it every day, do it twice a day. Make it a game with your kids. This power to annoy is not only fun, itâ€™s your right as an American. This little trick works much better with House Reps than it does with senators. They have smaller offices, and are more familiar with the people from the area.
The future is up to us, get out there and drive your Prius, recycle your trash, vote for responsible candidates, and annoy the crap out of your house rep or senator today.