We are complicit. On average, each American consumes as much energy as 2 Japanese, 6 Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians, 370 Ethiopians. It’s a kind of Ponzi scheme that takes from limited resources in order to sustain our voracious appetite.
You remember Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi artist. As unethical as he was, he didn’t destroy the environment. Our greedy demand for the earth’s fossil fuels is just like a Ponzi scheme. Ultimately, like in Madoff’s case, we’ll reach a point where the rest of the world demands their share and the scheme collapses.
I’ve sailed the Gulf of Mexico. Fifty to 100 miles offshore it rivals any of the world’s major oceans in beauty and sea life. It’s alive with porpoise’s that play in the wake of your boat and elusive sea turtles that dive before you can get a second look. At night, schools of fluorescent fish stream by as you move along your course. We don’t know what the full effects of that disaster will be, but we do know what the effects of fracking are.
Fracking is injecting water, sand and toxic chemicals under pressure into the ground. This releases oil and gas as well as other natural radioactive and poisonous materials. These materials can destroy sources of drinking water, not to mention, one well can use up to 30 million gallons of fresh water. But it’s not just fresh water being injected. It’s combined with up to 650 toxic chemicals including lead and benzene. Vapors, leaks and spillage can pollute everything in the environment. Once contaminated, that water and land can never be used again.
Yet, 90 percent of new onshore oil and gas drilling in the United States are using some form of hydraulic fracturing. “It’s here,” says Mark Brownstein, associate vice president and chief counsel of the US energy and climate program of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). And so it goes, the oil and gas industry just keeps moving along destroying the planet to get the fossil fuels that we demand. And environmentalists have accepted it and are happy to get some kind of voluntary standards in place.
This is directly related to our unconscious belief in “infinite growth” on a finite planet. It is simply not sustainable. The Chinese know this well and plan to become the “green energy” technology and manufacturing center of the world. We, on the other hand, are resolved to make every energy issue into a partisan conflict. The impact is that we remain deadlocked, addicted to fossil fuels and settling for voluntary standards to, at least, mitigate some of the damage to our environment.
This is an opportunity to develop new energy sources, create new jobs, starve funding for global terrorism and save our planet. We missed the opportunity to keep the world on our side after 911. I hope we don’t miss this opportunity to create new jobs and release ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels, regardless of where they come from.
We have the intellect and the ability. We have the rallying point. We need the leadership. But as they say in the Mideast; “some people never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.