What strikes me as odd about the posturing over Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel, is how unnecessary it all is. When US oil consumption dropped last year by ten percent, oil producers were thrown into chaos. Tankers around the world were sitting idle, loaded with crude waiting for someone to buy. There was more oil to be refined than any number of refineries could cope with. Just a ten percent drop in consumption by the US caused massive, unsustainable over production. Imagine what would happen if we got serious about alternative energy.
The argument goes that alternative energy is a socialist tree hugging plot to ruin the economy and pave the way for the End of the US As We Know It. Well, yes, in a sense that's true, but it could actually be for the better. In seeking independence from oil we would at last be seeking independence from foreign energy markets. Not since the 1970s has the US produced all the energy it needed. And ever since then energy independence has been a political catch phrase with no substance to back it up.
There is market in this country for alternative energy, and that market would provide jobs and light industry, which can't actually be bad for the US. It would be different for sure to make our own solar panels, our own windmills and our own gas and bio fuel plants, but in feeding those industrial dreams Americans would be working for their own benefit not for shareholders in the world wide oil bonanza.
The biggest issue I have with opponents of alternative energy is that they impose their own blinkered limitations on any proposals to move away from oil dependence. firstly there is no rule that says it has to be done all at once. Secondly we don't have to replace our oil obsession with any other single replacement. Liquid propane gas is a commonly used substitute in Europe and it produce one third less carbon than equivalent consumption of petroleum. Hydrogen technology can still be studied, and bio-diesel projects can also be implemented. There's no reason we can't increase the number of windmills and solar panels. Pickens has abandoned his plans for wind power in the Texas panhandle saying energy is too cheap to justify it, yet one wonders why subsidies aren't worth considering to make them worth while. If your child was off to fight an endless oil war in Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran a wind power subsidy instead might look cheap, and worthwhile.
And yet, even though these ideas have been kicked around for years, and none of them are particularly radical we live in apolitical atmosphere where sensible debate has become impossible. Politics used to be known as the art of the possible. The recent health care reform proposals which were shot down uniformly by the Party of No, illustrate clearly how far we have moved from the days of partisan bickering and back room deals and public unity. Nowadays a unified proposal for energy independence could never be more than a pipe dream. The Democrats would never have the nuts to propose it and the Republicans, funded by Big Oil even more than the Democrats are, would never even agree to begin to think about it. I'm just glad, selfishly, I have no offspring to donate to the cause of Big Oil and the Great Game. Because if we are to continue to be consumers and not citizens someone has to die to get us the fuel to feed the American Dream in it's current incarnation.