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†††† ††††††††Strategic Imperative - Oil Independence

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Earth Manifesto Insights

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Dr. Tiffany B. Twain††

†††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††† November 2005

Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling is a shortsighted and reckless symbol of our deeply flawed national energy policy. It is symptomatic of one of crony capitalism's worst features, which is the eager willingness of business and government to sacrifice the public good to the desires and greed of giant corporations. Our unalloyed addiction to the burning of oil for our energy needs is very dangerous to our health and our national security and the prospects for well-being of future generations.

Oil and coal and natural gas are fossil fuels. These are fossilized plants -- forms of stored energy created eons ago during such times as the Carboniferous period of Earth's geological history (345 million years ago to 280 million years ago). This fossilized energy from the sun has become critically important to humanity in the last century. Oil and natural gas provide extremely convenient, high-energy sources of energy that will prove to be very difficult, if not impossible, to replace once they are essentially completely burned up in the course of this century.

Fossil fuels currently provide 85% of all energy consumed in the United States. We are burning these resources up at a rapid and accelerating rate. We are consuming them very inefficiently, and extremely wastefully, as if there will be no tomorrow.

Dramatic and irreversible changes are taking place in the world today. We have already used up 90% of the known reserves of oil found in the United States. On the entire planet, an estimated total of about 2 trillion barrels of recoverable oil existed, and humanity has already used up just about half of it -- about 1 trillion barrels. The amount of oil we burn each year now exceeds 25 billion barrels, which is far more than the quantity of new discoveries.

We must boldly address the wasteful consumption and dangerous reliance on non-renewable energy resources. The use of fossil fuels has allowed us to increase our human population by 600% in the last 200 years, and to dramatically improve standards of living.It has allowed us to produce enough food to feed more than 6 billion people, and to create enormous wealth.It has also allowed us to finance an extremely expensive arms race and numerous wars worldwide. Yet it is becoming increasingly unlikely that humanity will be able to support the 9 billion people that are projected to be on Earth by the year 2050, due to the approaching exhaustion of high-energy oil and natural gas resources.

Our civilization is critically dependent on fossil fuels. Yet oil and natural gas exist in limited quantities. Our rapid depletion of these finite resources is almost certain to lead to the greatest crisis that civilization has ever faced. We are today very near the peak of fossil fuel production, according to the book, Hubbert's Peak. After this peak, the consumption of oil and natural gas will result in dwindling supplies, declining production, escalating prices, great economic disruptions, agricultural insufficiencies, humanitarian hardships, increasing international conflicts, and a possible human population crash.

The most significant strategic initiative that humanity can implement is to commit itself to making the transition from a wasteful consumer economy to a sustainable society in the long term. We simply must become rapid adaptors of innovative plans and technologies for energy conservation, efficiency of resource use, and fossil fuel alternatives. We are faced with the urgent need to transform our economies in the next 50 years into ones that are less dependent on non-renewable resources, growing consumption, ever-bigger houses, fuel inefficient vehicles, jet transportation, increasing debt, and growing human numbers.

We must move towards a sustainable future. We must simultaneously reduce carbon-dioxide emissions that are threatening to effectively double-glaze Planet Earth during this century. This global warming will affect Earth's climatic stability and cause intensified storms and a rise in ocean levels, making natural disasters much worse. It will also cause catastrophic flooding in some areas and serious agricultural disruptions, due to drought and expanding desertification, in other areas.

The political and business Establishment, represented by the Bush Administration, seeks to pass legislation to implement a shortsighted National Energy Policy that has been written by energy industry lobbyists. The Overview for this policy seriously envisions that "over the next 20 years, U.S. oil consumption will increase by 33%, natural gas consumption by well over 50%, and demand for electricity will rise by 45%."

In astonishing contrast, the Rocky Mountain Institute, an entrepreneurial non-profit organization, asserts that we have the technological capability right now to reduce our energy use by 80% and our electricity consumption by 50% -- without diminishing our standard of living!While doing this, we could be mitigating our vulnerability to the unintended consequences of economic and political and social disruptions that are being caused by our profligate fossil fuel consumption. At the same time, we could be creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and decreasing our risky addiction to fossil fuels and our dependency on Middle East oil imports. The restructuring of the world economy so that economic progress can be indefinitely sustained represents one of the greatest investment opportunities in history. We must not continue to figuratively "fiddle while Rome burns"!

Geopolitical realities make it extremely important that we stop pursuing policies that insure our continued dependence on fossil fuels. Oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East, with two-thirds of all proved oil reserves being in Islamic nations. The U.S. is not popular there due to our economic and military aggression and our increasing religious righteousness and our drive to control and dominate. This makes us very vulnerable.

We must not let Big Oil dictate our national policies. We should oppose aggressive drilling for oil on public lands and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We will have plenty of time for desperate need to drive our actions, so we should not readily accede to letting careless greed lead to the destruction and harmful exploitation of public lands. Common sense and honesty, not delay and myopic denial, must guide our actions.

We have been figuratively building our fragile human house of cards higher and higher by resisting programs to limit the rapid growth in our human population. We do this while we simultaneously show little discipline, responsibility or commitment towards moving in the direction of fossil fuel independence, sustainable development, renewable resource usages, and ecological balance. This is increasing our risk of suffering the collapse of industrial civilization, according to indications in a number of recent books (The Party's Over, The End of Fossil Fuels, Hubbert's Peak, The Olduvai Theory, and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.) Check out www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net!

We are collectively taking part in the greatest gamble in the history of civilization. We gamble that there are no limits to resources. We gamble that technology will save us when we run out of uniquely high-energy oil and natural gas. We gamble that we will be able to develop alternatives some future day when we are in the crisis throes of the exhaustion of fossil fuels. We gamble that economic growth and wasteful consumption are necessary to our prosperity.

We also gamble that our beautiful planet will be able to support 9 billion people within 50 years, when oil and natural gas resources are substantially depleted, even though our food supply is extremely dependent on fossil fuels for fertilizer, mechanization, pesticides, transportation, and distribution. We gamble that we can allow our leaders to be beholden to the oil industry and to socially and environmentally irresponsible energy policies. We gamble that spewing billions of tons of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere every year will not cause climate change, severe ecosystem disruption, the disruption of biodiversity, and a grave threat to the well-being of future generations.

We further gamble that it is "moral" to oppose family planning programs, contraception, and women's reproductive rights at a time when future generations will suffer the consequences of our wastefulness, shortsightedness, and fundamentalism. And we gamble that the unfairly regressive, anti-regulation, anti-environmental, aggressively militaristic ideologies of radical neoconservatives are acceptable in social, energy and foreign policies.

Our national values cannot any longer be limited to hot-button issues of sexual preferences and philosophical disputes about pregnancy from the very moment of conception vs. women's rights. Greater values exist than absolutist morality and intolerance -- including far more significant moral concerns related to poverty, social justice, peace, responsibility, fairness of progressive taxation, stricter limits on deficit spending, accountability for actions, and environmental justice.

We must strive for mutual security among nations, rather than being fearful arrogant bullies who treat others with the attitude that "it is us against them, and WE must be the ones to control and dominate."

Our collective unconscious contains a confusing morass of motivations, beliefs and convictions. Yet morality in its largest sense is a consistency with the social good and, ultimately, human survival. The ultimate moral imperative must be understood: we must leave a fair legacy to future generations, and we cannot leave them with grave social inequities, depleted resources, enormous debt, ecological devastation, air and water pollution, exacerbated conflicts, and endless wars!

We must not allow our government to acquiesce to giant corporations in their single-minded preoccupation with the purpose of maximizing profit every fiscal quarter and every year. Corporations are a large part of society, and we must increasingly insist that they be more environmentally and socially responsible. The United States has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, but American businesses must nonetheless accelerate their moves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Think of it: 141 others countries in the world have joined in the Kyoto Protocol to do something about human-caused climate change, yet the United States -- representing 5% of the world's population and 25% of emissions -- refuses to make this commitment to ecological sanity.

We are all relatively "lucky dogs" to be living in an era with a plentitude of resources and a fair amount of freedom. Even though we face a great many immediate problems, it is certain that far more challenging times are coming for humanity on Planet Earth. We must begin to bet more intelligently, to plan ahead more wisely, and to better understand long-term trends and necessities. We must gamble with the best odds, rather than myopically pursuing policies that primarily benefit shortsighted Special Interests at the public's expense. We simply must wean ourselves from our irresponsible addiction to oil, coal and natural gas! We must start now!!

We must prioritize our spending and resource usages more intelligently. We must not allow business and government to emasculate the Clean Air Act. We must redesign all of our manufacturing, residential and transportation systems to recognize the critical importance of more sound and far-sighted energy policies. And we must embrace smart growth in order to optimize the health of our human communities.

We must revitalize cities, curb suburban sprawl, improve public transportation, protect farmlands, promote energy efficiency in vehicles, create more effective incentives for insulating homes and buildings, and take bold steps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel combustion.

Subsidies to established technologies inhibit healthy change, and encourage wasteful usages of resources by distorting free-market prices, keeping them artificially low. They also discourage innovation, and divert research and development funds that would otherwise be spent on creating alternatives. We increasingly need alternatives!!

We should eliminate subsidies to extremely profitable fossil fuel industries, and instead establish courageous incentives to encourage energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the sparking of innovation for fossil fuel alternatives. We should implement green taxes that will more effectively reflect all of the true costs of fossil fuels in their free market price.

One reason that oil is relatively cheap, and hence is used too wastefully, is that we are currently allowing giant energy corporations to externalize very significant costs of the combustion of fossil fuels onto society, rather than including them in the true cost of gasoline, heating oil, thousands of petroleum-based products, and electricity generated by the burning of fossil fuels. In particular, we force the following costs to be absorbed by society, rather than being included in a fairer, full-cost pricing of fossil fuel products:

(1) Direct and indirect subsidies to the energy industry;

(2) Healthcare costs associated with smog and air pollution;

(3) Clean-up costs of air and water pollution, oil spills, and toxic wastes;

(4) The costs of future problems related to greenhouse gas emissions, including increased agricultural disruptions and natural disasters associated with climate change;

(5) The high cost of aggressive deployment of U.S. troops in the Middle East for the purpose of controlling oil and guaranteeing American access to it; and,

(6) An allocation of the expense of developing fossil fuel alternatives that recognizes the true costs to future generations of the depletion of these vitally valuable and uniquely versatile resources.

Gifford Pinchot, who was Theodore Roosevelt's first Director of the then-newly-created U.S. Forest Service, referred to CONSERVATION as "the greatest good to the greatest number of people for the longest time". This is an important idea.

Our "conservative" leaders have become anti-conservation extremists in the pursuit of short-term Special Interest benefits at the expense of the public good, of wise planning and of a fair legacy to future generations. We must insist on better, fairer, more moral ideas -- and begin a bold restructuring of all of our economic systems and activities in light of better understandings!!

Did you hear about the stand-up comedian who found great humor in the fact that our

top leaders are "oil guys", whose financial success is due to the exploitation of fossil fuels formed eons ago, and yet they embrace ridiculous religious fundamentalism that posits that the Earth was created by God a mere 6,000 years ago. HA!

As John Lennon sang "Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see Ö"

We must strive for our best understandings, and act accordingly!!

Thatís my opinion.Whatís yours?

††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††--- Dr. Tiffany Twain        

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com