The failure of BP to plug the undersea oil gusher makes most people quite angry about the company and the oil industry in general. But the overall problem is that, even today, there is no real alternative to gasoline as an alternative fuel for automobiles. If this disaster had not happened, the average American would still be going about his or her way with hardly a thought to the environment.
While anger towards BP is a localized and short term emotion and likely to dissipate in a few years just like anger towards Exxon, America should be angry at the government who collectively has done very little towards really creating a blueprint for the future of energy and transportation. Americans should also blame themselves as most people seem to think that everyone is entitled to cheap gas. With cheap gas comes a huge demand for it and along with that comes powerful lobbies who make sure that restrictions on oil companies are as weak as they can possibly get.
The latest Time magazine says, that Dick Cheney was responsible for diluting some regulations against the oil industry. With Dick’s record I tend to believe this statement. But let me not pick on Dick, if ultra stringent regulations on the oil industry are not in place today, then the entire political system is to blame. A few months ago President Obama did approve offshore drilling (this decision may already have been reversed). It’s kind of sad to see that politicians really do not have a track record of looking after people that inspires confidence in democracy.
It’s ridiculous to see the number of people who get onto US highways each day. It’s inefficient, costly, environmentally unfriendly and just plain stupid to not have a good nationwide mass travel system in place. How about getting the best of intercity travel technology from Europe or Japan into the US? I would love to see two or three competitors to Amtrak in the country with TGV or Shinkansen type high speed trains.
I once used the TGV from Paris to Brussels and the trip was superb. I got some reading done and I doubt I could have made the trip faster if I drove all the way. The price obviously can’t be beat. But I realize that moving away from highways that now feed a whole industry of automobiles, fast food, gas, toll collectors etc. is not going to happen in one decade or maybe even two. But it needs to start now. So slowly, people can get off the road and into nice clean trains whenever possible.
So let us take this disaster to think about:
- Whether we really need to put the environment or cheap gas ahead in our list of priorities.
- Whether offshore drilling is a bad idea overall
- Whether god intended for oil to remain where he/she put it (i.e. underground)
- Whether all offshore drilling facilities should be scrapped overall
- Can I be happy driving a 4 cylinder automobile instead of a 6 cylinder automobile? Do I need an automobile at all?