Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Prez disappointed me slightly less today

I've been itching to do a post about how B. Hussein Obama has not seized the moment provided by the god awful catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico to tell the people what they need to hear, whether they like it or not: We need to end the petroleum age, as fast as we possibly can. Instead he's been spouting about how we still need to develop offshore oil but we just need to do it safely. He's pretty much steered clear of the crisis facing humanity because, I guess, who wants to be an even bigger downer when we're all bummed out already?

Today, he started to change the tune. Not enough, but he's moving. But will he exercise real leadership in this time of grave peril, step up like FDR to address the nation and tell them the truth, as Richard Heinberg does here? Or is it too perilous politically to try to save the world? As Heinberg explains, and as ought to be obvious, the fundamental cause of the destruction of the northern Gulf of Mexico is that all the easy oil has been found. If we are going to continue to feed our addiction, we're just going to keep going deeper and deeper into the ocean and further into the Arctic and look for the Black Tar Heroin in more and more dangerous and difficult and fragile places. The pressure in the Deepwater Horizon reservoir is 12,000 PSI, which as we now know, is completely uncontrollable by current technology. But we're drilling in water twice as deep. To quote Heinberg:

In short, the Deepwater Horizon story is not just an environmental tragedy. It is a story about the limits of both extractive technologies and the increasingly complex societal systems that support them. It’s a reminder that the whole project of basing unending economic growth on ever-increasing rates of extraction of depleting nonrenewable resources is wrongheaded from start to finish. And it’s a signal that hopes for our economy to magically “dematerialize” have turned out to be just that—mere hopes. . . .

[T]he era of cheap, easy petroleum is over; we are paying steadily more and more for what we put in our gas tanks—more not just in dollars, but in lives and health, in a failed foreign policy that spawns foreign wars and military occupations, and in the lost integrity of the biological systems that sustain life on this planet.

The only solution is to do proactively, and sooner, what we will end up doing anyway as a result of resource depletion and economic, environmental, and military ruin: end our dependence on the stuff. Everybody knows we must do this. Even a recent American president (an oil man, it should be noted) admitted that, “America is addicted to oil.” Will we let this addiction destroy us, or will we overcome it? Good intentions are not enough. We must make this the central practical, fiscal priority of the nation.

Alright Mr. President, seize the day. This is what you must tell the people. Shatter their illusions. Face the light.


robin andrea said...

For him to do what we'd like him to do would be like re-inventing our country. This is our chosen path, down those deep oil holes. There is no turning back.

We want B. Hussein Obama to be someone he is not.

Cervantes said...

Well he has to change. He has a world historic responsibility. Now is the time.

roger said...

i'm with you on the urgency of the situation, but he hasn't exercised leadership on any issue or policy so far.