It never fails with a disaster like this, environmentalist and activist groups use it as a pulpit to champion Americas need for clean energy, but to blame the American people, in a nation of cars, for driving a car is not only harsh but inaccurate. Some people drive minivan, SUV sized cars because of the size of family they have; others drive an older car that is not eco-friendly because it’s what they can afford. Despite programs like cash for clunkers, not everyone can replace their gas guzzling, carbon emitting vehicle; those who could got rid of their hummers and SUV’s when gas was $4 a gallon. Of course that is not the only thing Americans depend on oil for; however, it is hardly the fault of the people that they need to heat and cool their homes, that oil products such as petroleum are found in some of the most commonly used things like plastic, dishwashing liquids, CD’s DVD’s, ink, eye glasses, tires, crayons even bubble gum. Not everyone can live in an environmentally friendly dwelling or renovate their home to be so; Lots of Americans rent and thus have no control over what the building is constructed of; likewise they live where they live because it’s affordable. Too many Americans, especially now, are too busy just trying to survive to worry about being eco-friendly.
At the same time environmentalists seem to be fighting the wrong battle on at least two fronts; one- they are trying to get everyone to adopt energy conservation techniques and energy sources that are still in the Flinstone’s era of development. Two, they are pushing congress to create new energy policy without having anything substantial to replace it with. Until environmentalists can solve the problem of how to make plastic without oil, until they can tell us how to make lipsticks, shampoo, shaving cream, tennis shoes, medical equipment, and the list could go on, without petroleum, an oil derivative, little can be done about American oil consumption. Until we can find a viable substitute for the number of lubricants used between everything from car parts to bicycle parts, America’s oil consumption will at the very least stagnate, no matter how many hybrid cars we put on the road, no matter how many solar panels we put on roofs. Further no one has ever seen a hybrid 18 wheeler and until there is one, or another alternative, oil will still be needed to make diesel, to power the trucks that transport good across the country, something else that is not the fault of the average American.
Not to mention environmentalists have a long way to go in making their cleaner energy products viable before selling them to the White House or the American people; problem is, in regards to oil, green energy ideas already being used by the public may contribute to our need for the fossil fuel. In an effort to save trees, cut down on trash in landfills, green minded people have urged us all to use reusable drink containers. But part of what those reusable containers are made of is plastic. It is the same with reusable lunch materials many of the sandwich tins and reusable straws are made from metal which may have petroleum, or other oil derived chemicals, in their manufacturing process. 100 percent solar powered cars could perhaps house a small athlete, a horse racing jockey, but not the average person, forget the average family, to say nothing of the fact that the solar powered car needs an escort to avoid being plowed over by regular cars on the road during tests. What good is a solar powered car if you cannot fit inside of it, take your child to the doctor or perform any of the daily necessary tasks?
Bio fuel and ethanol has been a quirk in science fairs and alternative energy showcases for years, with cars that can now run on the grease from a fast food joint, the idea of turning food into fuel finally reached the stages of possibility but not without problems. Ethanol and bio fuel may be as harmful to the environment as fossil fuel and could cause other unforeseen fall out as it relates to farmers and food supply. Why, because farmers dedicate more of their crop to fuel than to food, leading to shortages. Wind energy is unpopular world wide because of the eyesore turbines required; in the US there are concerns that wind turbines, slated to be installed on waterways near Massachusetts, have the potential to change water currents, effect wildlife and fishing enterprises. Considering what has happened in the Gulf region, we should not be taking the chance on another unproven method that could impact the food supply even more, potentially putting more restaurants out of business in another part of the country.
Natural gas has been heralded a good clean alternative to fossil fuels or at least a good transitional fuel until greener options reach a higher stage of development, but tell that to the number of residents living in the vicinity of natural gas plants who can literally light their water on fire due to the methane content. Tell that to the number of residents who say they are getting sick from the chemicals surrounding areas close to plants. Tell that to the number of people worried the wells will explode. Are there side effects from drinking, bathing, cooking with water that concentrated with methane; if the chemicals are making people sick, why? However companies are not required to disclose the chemicals used or in what amounts and no one is earnestly looking into it.
The truth of the matter is the US government can squarely be blamed for what is currently transpiring for not properly regulating the oil industry and BP specifically, for not following its own safety standards, for not paying attention to BP’s safety record and the goings on inside the company. The government, not the residents of the United States, gave them the permit; the government officials and employees are the ones who can’t keep tract of their own people. Inspectors found to have allowed BP personnel to fill out safety forms in pencil then the inspector tracing it with pen, one inspector possibly high on meth while conducting inspections and another conducting inspections while negotiating a job there. Cozy relationships once again found between regulators and the company they are supposed to be monitoring, regulators accepting fishing and hunting trips along with other gifts. It was the government’s responsibility to ensure that the disaster plans made sense, so that if something happened, there was minimal damage, yet everything that has been tried, up to this point, is something never before done in the current conditions.
The government is responsible now, 60 plus days into the cleanup, and no one in The Gulf knows who is in charge, when it takes news investigations to find out why boom and other cleanup equipment is not being sent to areas in emanate danger of oil landfall, when skimmers and vacuums are left sitting on land for hours at a time by order of BP then the coast guard and no one knows why. When pleas from city and state offices for boom and barricades, to prevent oil from destroying delicate marshlands, fishing waters, oyster habitats, seem to fall on deaf ears. The government should have taken charge upon being presented with evidence, which they had been, that BP didn’t, still doesn’t, know what it’s doing or has every intention of cutting corners in cleanup the same way they cut corners in operation, actions that no doubt lead to the disaster in the first place. Instead you have governors, mayors of gulf areas forced to take matters into their own hands, potentially violating the law, in order to save not only their significant stretches of environment but an entire way of life.
Who, other than the government, is to be blamed for cleanup techniques that are the same as 30 years ago; experts, commentators talking about people out there picking up tar balls, removing oil soaked boom by hand, along with some kind of industrial age trolley contraption used to separate oil from sand. At the very least much of the operation should be mechanized in the 21st century, if nothing else, to protect the health of cleanup workers. Who else should be blamed for the lack of innovation, innovation that should have been demanded before BP was allowed to drill in the Gulf, especially taking into account BP’s billion, with a B, dollar profits and their stated drop in the bucket of 20 million spent on prevention. Who should be facing charges, being fired, not to mention crucified in the court of public opinion, other than the government, for turning away ideas brought forth from the American people? Kevin Cosner was willing to lend his celebrity to getting his vacuum invention out there cleaning up the worst ecological disaster in decades, if not history, and no one wanted it. Many creative Americans with products from new sponges, fabrics and chemicals, to new cleanup effort uses for household items have come forth, submitted their ideas to websites and hotlines only to be ignored. One suggestion of using hay bales to soak up oil was dismissed because it would cause too much waste; however, when a desperate cleanup crew placed bales next to marshland lo and behold it kept the oil away.
Why are environmentalists bashing citizens when White House officials reject companies like a New Jersey based solar panel manufacture whose design purported to make them more efficient and cheaper to produce? The owner of the this fledgling business, a former US marine, determined to keep his business in the US, tried to get financial backing from Washington to make his idea a reality and was met with complete disinterest. When he hired a Washington law firm to assist with the red tape, he found out it would take thousands of dollars in fees just to apply to relevant government programs; he is currently in China about to sign a deal that will bring hundreds of jobs and cleaner energy to that country. And what other new energy choices, chances, opportunities are we losing out on because of the attitude displayed here; that needs to be taken to task before the public is raked over the coals.
Why are those critical of energy sources and uses so quick to point the finger at ordinary people when president Obama designated millions into the creation of nuclear energy that is several times more dangerous, has far more planetary implications, in the event of an accident, than the oil catastrophe we are currently dealing with. The state of California is more concerned about the amount of power consumption required for your 46 inch television, not the other estimated 90 percent spent on other things, too concerned about reducing fuel emissions to create new fuels. Not to mention there is a reason we keep using the same things over and over again, because they work. And, despite the damage they do, it can be argued that they are the best methods for the moment causing the least environmental impact simply because they do not trade one problem for another. In addition, they do not cause a multitude of added problems in an attempt to solve one.
Passionate champions of the environment need to focus on fighting the right battle; that battle, for the immediate future, is making sure congress cracks down on the lackadaisical enforcement of regulation to make sure oil drilling is as safe as it can be for as long as we need to use it. Secondly they need to take advantage of the growing popularity of green as a lifestyle, a jobs creator and a way to save the planet. Use existing programs and lobby for the funding needed to bring different energy sources out of the stone age, out of the 1800’s and into the 21st century Then when we have viable alternatives to heat, cool our homes, run our vehicles and make the items we use every day, we can push congress to change the laws, we can say this is the energy policy needed and here’s how you do it. Otherwise it becomes a political chew toy and nothing gets done; otherwise alternatives will continue to cause more problems than they solve.