Next time you’re standing at the gas pump feeling your wallet flatten, your might think finding more oil would be one way to help lower those prices a bit. Keeping those dollars in the hands of folks a little more friendly wouldn’t be a bad idea either, not to mention the economic benefits and everyone being a little better off. I know I’ve had those thoughts and when I see a company trying to supply more oil, I think it’s a pretty good thing. But some folks are upset, really upset, because coming up with more oil or energy, in any known manner, is environmentally unsound, … at least some folks think so. The Kneeslider thought a conversation with our friend, Mr. “Green” might help clear this up.
Kneeslider: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused all sorts of problems with oil rigs and refineries in the gulf region so we should drill in a few other areas to spread out the risk to our supplies and maybe build a refinery or two in some other states, too. Don’t you think?
Mr. Green: Not so fast, Bucko, you’re not going to drill off the coast of our state, they might spill some oil. Don’t build that refinery here, either, we don’t want those nasty old drills and refineries messing up our view. Those things are messy and very ugly. Not here, not in my backyard! OK?
Kneeslider: OK, so let’s drill up in Alaska. There’s a huge wildlife refuge with pretty hefty oil deposits, how about if we take a small corner and do some drilling?
Mr. Green: Hey, are you trying to be funny? There are caribou up there and wildflowers, they have feelings, too. We’re talking wildlife, not human life and humans are the problem not those innocent little caribou. Sure there’s plenty of room up there and no one except some photographers from National Geographic ever actually go there anyway but that’s not the point, it a “Wildlife Refuge!!” OK?!!
Kneeslider: Alright, well Canada has these really gigantic deposits of oil sands. Dig them up, heat them and you get oil. Have you seen the numbers? Those deposits could last for years, lots of years.
Mr. Green: Ha! Two words, dump truck, BIG dump trucks, why, you get a bunch of those trucks running around and pretty soon you have a strip mine and we all know what THOSE are like, right? They’re BIG! And if you’re friendly to the earth you can’t ever be big, you have to be small, because big is always bad and strip mines are big and, … well, c’mon, be serious, you surely don’t want oil sands. You can do better than that, right?
Kneeslider: Hmm… wait, I know, biodiesel! There’s a way to take everything from old cooking grease to soybean and canola oil and even crop waste products and turn it into diesel fuel. Cool, huh?
Mr. Green: Boy, are you dumb! Biodiesel is awful. If we’re ever going to have enough biodiesel for our needs they’ll just burn down all of the rainforests and use the land to plant oil palms. It’s an absolute global catastrophe. Fill up with biodiesel and you’re practically saying you hate rainforests! Get off the biodiesel kick now, while you still have a chance.
Kneeslider: I can see I’ve been blind to all of the problems with oil but there’s been a lot of work with electric cars and electric motorcycles, maybe we should build electric generating plants and just plug in. That’s a clean and green energy source, right?
Mr. Green: You haven’t been paying attention have you? A lot of the power plants out there are coal fired plants and they have huge emissions problems, CO2, particulates, and don’t forget where that coal comes from, mines! A lot of those are strip mines, too, so we don’t want those. The other ones run on natural gas and we’re running out of that, too.
Kneeslider: Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of nuclear power. I saw not long ago where Stewart Brand even said nuclear was the smart way to go in the future and he’s been a respected environmentalist for years, Whole Earth Catalog and all. There hasn’t been a nuclear plant built in decades and the technology is very advanced.
Mr. Green: I think Stewart is getting old and forgetful, he doesn’t remember The China Syndrome with Jane Fonda. She told it how it really is. And how about 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl? No, I’m sorry, if there’s anything we’re against it is definitely nuclear power. No Nukes!
Kneeslider: I have to admit, I haven’t thought of all of these things like you have but maybe windmills would work, wouldn’t they? They’re harnessing the wind, sounds pretty green to me.
Mr. Green: Windmills have several problems. First is that they kill birds, windmills are not a natural part of the environment and birds don’t know how to dodge those blades and they just get whacked right out of the sky, poor things. Besides, any windmill capable of creating enough energy to make it worth while is a big windmill, really big. Have you ever seen one of those monsters? They’re huge and ugly, I sure wouldn’t want one where I had to look at it all of the time and remember it’s BIG! You know what I think of big. No, windmills are NOT the answer.
Kneeslider: Well, we need SOMETHING for energy don’t we? I hear a lot of people talking about hydrogen cars but those are 20 years off at best before we start to see any of those on the market and you can’t just junk several hundred million cars and trucks people rely on now. I guess I’m confused. Every alternate energy I’ve suggested, you’re against. So, what’s YOUR answer?
Mr. Green: Hemp.
Kneeslider: But what about power? Energy? How do we power our cars and trucks and run our factories and businesses? How do we make iron and steel and computers and stuff?
Mr. Green: We don’t need them. We can live on little farms with little hemp houses facing the sun. We’ll raise animals and grow crops which will keep us very busy and after working all day in the sunlight we’ll be ready for a long night of restful sleep. We wouldn’t have time for computers anyway. And surely no one needs to go faster than a bicycle can move us, what is the need for all of this speed and rushing around?
Kneeslider: That sounds very pre industrial, sort of like the agricultural age before we invented things like the steam engine and electrical generation. It’s very idyllic but people didn’t live very long back then and there was horse poop everywhere. I don’t know, I would miss the things we have today and they require power of some sort but each of us has his own ideas I guess. But it’s getting late and I have to go. It’s dark, too. Where are the lights?
Mr. Green: If you would be so kind as to help me bring in some wood I’ll light a fire. Did you know a little fire provides just enough light and heat for a small one room cave like this?
Kneeslider: Ah, no I hadn’t thought about it. Well, lets go get that wood, I have to go.
One more thing: I’ve linked to some articles here giving the “green” view of things but there are many more voicing similar ideas. The point I’m making, before the avalanche of comments or email, is that being against everything is no answer. What IS the alternative energy the greens would accept? I honestly don’t know and I bet a lot of other people don’t know either. Anti everything, pro nothing, doesn’t work in the world we live in every day. We need power for homes and businesses and we need fuel to power our vehicles. I think new technologies are great but the environmental movement is turning into a Luddite mass against every technical advance. Clean vehicles don’t run on air. What’s the environmental movement’s plan for the real world?
There is no final “answer” or “solution.” Everything is a trade off with some good and some bad and unless both sides can talk a bit, we can’t move forward. What do you think?