Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Status quo apologists' arguments are getting sillier

Now that it's de rigueur, even among the formerly staunchly anti-environmental crowd, to acknowledge global climate change and species depletion and other truths once held only by "those wacky greenheads," the arguments supporting the oil economy status quo, coming from the mouths of Big Oil apologists, are becoming marvelously convoluted.

Have a gander at this op-ed in the Dispatch, going under the title, "As crazy as it sounds, oil has been good for the environment."

In the piece, Goldberg identifies some of the known dangers of expanding domestic food-crop-based ethanol production as a possible "green" replacement for foreign oil. His self-serving argument is specious: given those same dangerous supposed effects, no one in a position of power (other than more self-serving, corn-district congresspeople) is seriously considering a wholesale push for corn-based ethanol as a viable alternative to expensive foreign oil imports. That's so 1990s. Eyes and R&D dollars are instead on cellulosic ethanol production as ONE part of a multi-faceted solution to oil imports.

Further, he points out that increasing our solar electricity production even by a factor of 25 would do nothing to alleviate oil import problems, because we don't use electricity for transportation. True enough under the status quo. But perhaps Mr. Goldberg has not been paying attention to the enormous growth of the electric vehicle industry; converting any proportion of our national vehicle fleet to electric vehicles will obviate the need for ANY liquid fuels for that proportion-- a strong incentive, even among supposed "conservatives." Yes, the added burden to domestic electricity production will require further innovations in how we generate, store, and transport that increasingly important energy as well. But the greater efficiency of electric vehicles means the energy requirement is thereby substantially reduced. EVs is the obvious transition for transportation (toward urban dominance of alternatively-fueled public transit), and therefore a huge reduction in oil imports and use.

Fact is, we're so deeply entrenched in our oil addiction that we face massive changes to our energy, transportation, building systems, consumer goods, AND agriculture infrastructures if we are to have a hope of continuing this society at anything like current standards of living. Peak Oil is looming large on the close horizon. We have no choice but to go forward to alternative energy sources; to remain entrenched in the cheap oil status quo is to capitulate to doom.

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