"The concerns I have with Arctic oil drilling are not simply concern about the possibility of an oil spill in the Arctic Ocean. My longer term concern is that we continue to go after energy sources that exacerbate climate change and make the long term damage worse."In response, my daughter sent me this 2010 Onion post:
Millions Of Barrels Of Oil Safely Reach Port In Major Environmental CatastrophePORT FOURCHON, LA—In what may be the greatest environmental disaster in the nation's history, the supertanker TI Oceania docked without incident at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port Monday and successfully unloaded 3.1 million barrels of dangerous crude oil into the United States.
According to witnesses, the catastrophe began shortly after the tanker, which sailed unimpeded across the Gulf of Mexico, stopped safely at the harbor and made contact with oil company workers on the shore. Soon after, vast amounts of the black, toxic petroleum in the ship's hold were unloaded at an alarming rate into special storage containers on the mainland.
From there, experts confirmed, the oil will likely spread across the entire country's infrastructure and commit unforetold damage to its lakes, streams, and air.
"We're looking at a crisis of cataclysmic proportions," said Charles Hartsell, an environmental scientist at Tufts University. "In a matter of days, this oil may be refined into a lighter substance that, when burned as fuel in vehicles, homes, and businesses, will poison the earth's atmosphere on a terrifying scale." [Read the rest here.]
Why is it obvious to me that we have to get off oil as fast as possible, yet our Governor and our legislature are hell-bent on pumping as much oil as possible? And they think giving oil companies a $600 million a year tax break (at least that's what they estimate it at) in the hopes of getting more oil drilled is a good thing.
I realize that for many people (like all the industry employees who show up to testify in favor of this sort of legislation every public hearing) self interest is a giant motivator. And even if they truly believe that we can't live without oil and they are doing a public service, I can't help but believe that subconsciously, their oil job supported good life, influences their ability to dismiss the link between oil and global climate change. Or to believe that we'll find some fix in the future.
Slavery lasted generations because people were able to create stories that hid or erased the conflict between slavery and the American ideal of equality. We went into Vietnam and Iraq on false premises that some people still believe. And we rush to pump oil because some of the richest companies in the world were created to do just that and they'll continue until they can't find any more oil or a more powerful force says "Stop."
And who knows? I could be wrong and there will be a fix in the future. But at this point the evidence* I've read points to human misery due to changing climate getting pretty bad before things get better. Worse than living with less oil.
*It's hard to gather together all the evidence on climate change, but for the skeptics and deniers, including those in the Alaska legislature, here are a few recent pieces on the topic:
Union of Concerned Scientists
Media Matters - talks about the "climate denial machine"