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Well here it is. The oil barons have turned the volume on their "drill hard, fast, deep, often, everywhere and NOW" propaganda to ear-shattering levels, just in time for election season. Never mind global warming...who has time for that when the poor American consumer is hurting at the pump! Never mind peak oil, let's drill, squeeze and milk that peak so hard, we'll shoot that little pimple of a problem all the way to the year 2015 where it'll erupt all over our children. Oh, wait, 2015 is not even a generation away - never mind, just fill up my hummer.

As Republicans are trying to turn this into another "you're either with us or you're a terrorist" issue, I think it is important that we don't take the bait and try to beat them at their game. As we have seen with the response to Barack's More Perfect Union speech, it seems that Americans are ready to take other issues like energy consumption and conservation to a higher ground as well.

I have to admit, as long as the debate is framed in a "fair and balanced" sort of "should we drill over there or over here?" way, I can see why people would want to go for the jugular along our own coasts and in our wildlife refuges. Why let our sons and daughters be killed and maimed in the hot and hostile desert if we can just suck all the juice out of idyllic and peaceful ANWR? Plus, it seems neither fair nor particularly progressive-minded to obliterate entire ecosystems, cultures, and social fabrics in places like the Niger Delta while we're driving our pick-ups and vanagons to pristine beaches for a nice day of surfing.


A Day on the Beach Here
California youth on the beach ready for surfing
On a sunny day, California youth get ready for surfing on the beach, made possible by an oil-drilling moratorium that has been in place for 27 years.


A Day on the Beach There

Urohobos Bake Tapioca In The Heat Of A Shell Gas Flare Site
In the oil town of Afiesere, in Warri North district of the Niger Delta, local Urohobo people bake "krokpo-garri", or tapioca in the heat of a gas flare. Since 1961, when Shell Petroleum Development Company first opened this flow station, residents of the local community have worked in this way. Life span is short for these people, as pollutants from the flare cause serious health problems.
From Curse of the Black Gold, by photojournalist Ed Kashi


A Walk in the Park Here

animal - brown bear (ursus arctos horribilis)
A brown bear of the ursus arctos horribilis kind enjoys a rigorous back scratch somewhere along the 19,049,236 acres (79,318 km²) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The region first became a federal protected area in 1960 by order of Fred Andrew Seaton, Secretary of the Interior under U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.


A Walk in the Park There

Scenes in Oloibiri Town, Niger Delta
An oil spill from an abandoned Shell Petroleum Development Company well in Oloibiri, Niger Delta.  Wellhead 14 was closed in 1977 but has been leaking for years, and in June of 2004 it finally released an oil spill of over 20,000 barrels of crude. Workers subcontracted by Shell Oil Company clean it up.
Another heartbreaking image from Curse of the Black Gold, by photojournalist Ed Kashi


No wonder that according to a recent Rasmussen poll 67% of Americans support offshore oil drilling. If the only two options you are given are fighting more bloody wars or risking a few oil spills in some remote wilderness, you can expect that kind of response, which then in turn is used by those who profit to wear a populist cloak.

The real, paradigm-changing question, however, is this: "Should we keep drilling furiously until there's no more, or slow the pace while there's still some left?"

Or what if Rasmussen asked this question:

"Do you support offshore drilling to temporarily lower gas prices with oil that will not be available for your grand children's basic needs such as bicycle tires, shoes, medicine, or electronic devices?"

I'm sure we would get a much different response, but they're not asking this question. Yet.

So while John McCain is pandering to Americans' lowest instincts and existential fears by calling for offshore drilling, it is our responsibility to counter by broadening the debate and raising the level of consciousness on this issue.

This is where a skilled and inspiring orator like Barack, and passionate, intelligent, and forward-thinking netrooters like yourself come in. It's not just about passing a law or making policy, but it is about explaining why a fundamental shift in attitude and philosophy is in everyone's best interest and will make us stronger and better as a nation and a people.

Here's the rousing end of a speech I envision:

"...An American Dream longing for moderation and equanimity? A future of living within our means and in tune with the earth? The cynics tell us we are shrink-mongers, ready to retreat to our 1-bedroom apartments and vegetable gardens. They say we're too weak to kick the oil habit and that we can't live without having a plastic bag for every little knick knack we buy. But you know what you and I will tell them?

Yes we can
   strive to have fewer possessions than our parents.

Yes we can
   be average on the world-wide consumption index.

Yes we can
   find patriotism in grace and humility.

Yes we can
   take pride in driving the smallest cars, live in the smallest houses,    
   and eat even smaller portions than the French.

Yes we can
   aspire to spend more time listening to each other.

Yes we can
   get things done by foot, bicycle and skateboard.

Yes we can
   be the world's fastest learners on how to slow down.

Yes we can
   be the world's largest producer of solar, wind, geothermal, and
   hydrogen energy.

Yes we can
   kick serious ass and sweep all the gold medals in diplomacy,
   tolerance, and kindness.

Yes we can
   be the best at stopping to talk to our neighbors, breathe the air, and
   watch the seasons change.

Yes we can
   turn the fear of not having enough into appreciation for what we have
   (and distribute our abundance to those who really need it).

Yes we can
   become the world's most intelligent capitalists by factoring
   externalities such as pollution, soil depletion or sweatshop labor  
   into the cost of doing business.

Yes we can
   rise to the idea that we're not as important as we think we are.

Yes we can
   waste less plastic packaging, paper cups, and electronic gadgets.

Yes we can
   waste more time with art, music, poetry, hiking, and other
   unproductive activities that yield no consumer satisfaction other than
   inspiration, joy, and mindfulness.

Yes we can
   be heroes of moderation in a world of shrinking resources.

Yes we can
   consume Less, We Can! Less, We Can! Less, We Can!"

Originally posted to Ecomusings by Sven Eberlein on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:24 PM PDT.

Poll

What kind of drilling do you support?

6%3 votes
6%3 votes
2%1 votes
20%9 votes
63%28 votes

| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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