“We can live without petroleum, but we cannot live without the whale”

I have been involved in “discussions” (once the name-calling comes in, are they arguments?) in a local message forum for IndyGasPrices.com, where I am generally the lone liberal and suffer for it. I have to work hard at being nice and also at not responding to everything, because it gets old and I have better things to do, and I just don’t need to stress about these people’s ideas. But seriously, the place is an echo chamber of ridiculous statements on poverty, homelessness, the environment, global warming, and of course the solutions to high gas prices (I’ll save you the trouble: it’s all the Democrats’ and environmentalists’ faults, and poor people are lazy leeches on society). I know they feel the same disgust at what I say, but it makes me sad that there are so many cranky, uncaring, thoughtless Hoosiers. It’s just the loudest ones that make it seem that everyone is like that, but that’s one of the reasons I try to maintain a presence: so everyone else doesn’t think ALL Hoosiers have those opinions.

At least all the discussions have prompted me to do some more reading (and I’m sure my sources are too liberally biased to be worthwhile, if you ask them), including my library checkout of The Working Poor, a rather long Wikipedia article on Hugo Chavez, and today I was trying to find information on why apparently 80% of leased oil exploration areas don’t actually get explored (i.e., why do we need more drilling areas opened anyway?). I found this article from January on an Alaskan area threatened by a proposed oil and gas field, focusing on polar bear habitat and generally being way too liberal for the folks I mentioned previously. But the article ends with

“We can live without petroleum, but we cannot live without the whale,” said George Edwardson, Inupiaq subsistence hunter.

That profoundly captures exactly how I feel. Of course that subsistence hunter can’t live without the whale and can totally avoid oil, but I’d say our planet and its population have the same basic needs. We’ve built this petroleum energy economy that threatens our very existence by shortages, political wars, unsustainable practices, and terrorism, and yet we blindly push for moremoremore of the addiction, never considering conservation or alternative energy seriously until, oops, I can’t afford to fill my SUV. It’s someone’s fault! Get me my American-guaranteed cheap gas! Those third world people are using too much oil! (The U.S. still consumes a QUARTER of the world’s energy but has 5% of the world’s population.) If we’d just get back to the basics, where we respect nature instead of pillage it, where we help the hungry instead of fertilizing and factory farming our way into Western obesity and soil depletion and water contamination, and where we stop thinking the planet is ours to trash, maybe we’d actually get somewhere.

One thought on ““We can live without petroleum, but we cannot live without the whale”

  1. -Disheartening tidbit I read recently about China:

    “China has lifted 300 million people out of poverty in less than a generation. It’s a remarkable feat, but one that has had profound and often harmful consequences. In this episode, we’ll look at the downsides of a booming economy.”

    “Pollution is one of the biggest problems. China powers its economy primarily with coal, a dirty fuel that blackens its skies and cities. Ted Koppel descends 1,000 feet into a coal mine to show the work and danger involved in relying on coal to fuel the country’s industries.”

    Electric car documentary gets power surge

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