And yet this game changer is the result of a failure of leadership that extends long before a blow out preventer failed. We can point to a failed government response to the spill. A failure of leadership at the head of BP. A failure of government to create an energy policy for this country that weans us off of oil. But really it is a failure of leadership to convey to the public at- large the challenges we will face in our daily lives if we do not powerdown.
Every Monday, I write my Independence Days Challenge update. I participate in this challenge for several reasons. It keeps me on track throughout the growing season. It creates habits in our lifestyle that are seasonal. It easily points the way to incorporate self-sufficiency in my life. But the real reason that I participate in this challenge is because of Peak Oil. Oil and all it by-products touch everything in our lives that we touch. EVERYTHING. The gas for our cars is the most obvious. The food on our table is so dependent on oil, it is scary to ponder what would happen if its means of getting to my table were disrupted for even a couple of days. But everything from the toothbrush we use in the morning, to the band aid we put on our child's skinned knee, to the pillow we lay our head on at night has found its way into our home by the power of oil.
We have no short term memory in this country. It was just two years ago that the price for a barrel of oil reached the unimagined price of 147.00. Gasoline was 4.50 a gallon in my neighborhood. It took nearly 40.00 to fill the tank of our Subaru Legacy station wagon. We managed to stretch that tank of gas by practicing conservation. But what I remember most about that time was the inflation of food prices at the grocery store. It cost more for the food to find its way to the shelves of the store and that increase was passed on to my bottom line. At the time independent truckers were parking their trucks because they could not afford to pay for the diesel for their tanks. The fear that many residents of Maine would be without heat was very real. Many homes in Maine are still dependent on heating oil.
The geyser in the the gulf is tragic. But when taken in the context of peak oil it seems inevitable. The easy oil is no longer as easy to get to. The technology to pump every last drop out of the wells in the oil fields in the US has assured that we are using it all. The countries that have the remaining easy oil are not in friendly neighborhoods or their own supply is in decline. Boondoggles such as biofuels that use FOOD for fuel or shale oil whose energy investment does not equal its energy return are last ditch efforts to keep this train on its rails. We are not the only country that wants to use the remaining easy oil. So we drill in deep water horizons. We argue whether to open ANWR. We go to war to secure our dependence on oil. We talk of alternatives as though the infrastructure to switch our energy economy were as simple as a few solar panels and hybrid cars. When what we really should be doing is re-localizing, producing more of our own food, living in self-sustaining communities.
After hearing this piece on Morning Edition, I think we have a way to go....