Hello, America. Have a seat.
I bet you’re wondering what we’re all doing here. We’re here because we think you have a problem. We’re here because we love you, we care about you and we’re worried. Yes, that’s right – we’re staging an intervention.
We think you have a terrible addiction to oil, and it’s been getting worse.
All your loved ones are here, America. Your environmental conscience, your national interest and your economic interests all agree: Your current addiction to oil hurts both you and those dear to you.
You don’t think you have a problem? The facts tell us otherwise, America. Fuel efficiency has dropped astonishingly since the 1980s, despite growing prosperity and technology. Your love of gas-guzzling SUVs, which, conveniently for automobile companies, do not have to follow the same efficiency standards as other cars, has made it so you’re consuming more oil than you ever have before. You consume an average of 8.7 million barrels of oil every day. Your addiction makes Ozzy Osborne look like a preschool glue sniffer.
Your environmental conscience is deeply concerned. He says that every drop of fuel you burn throws more gasoline onto the spreading fire that is global warming. Don’t kid yourself here. Contrary to the beliefs of some, when you pump poison into the air, it’s not like that stuff just goes away. As car usage increases around the world, your environmental conscience thinks it’s time for you, America, to step up and set an example by increasing your emission standards and thus decreasing the amount of fossil fuel you burn. If you’re so hung up on spreading democracy around the world, why not also spread environmentalism as well?
In addition, your environmental conscience thinks you may be doing irreparable harm to yourself in your pursuit of black gold. The recent decision to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is the biggest sign that this billion-dollar-a-day habit has gone too far. Before you bring on the oil drills that will feed your addiction, think about the caribou that will likely become extinct in order to shave that dime off of a gallon of gas for a year or two.
I know that part of you thinks your environmental conscience is full of shit. Fair enough. But hear your national interest out; he has a compelling argument that both the left and right side of your ego can agree on. He says that throughout the past few decades, you’ve become increasingly reliant on foreign oil. This is no surprise, seeing as how, with the exception of the few years’ worth of oil strip-mining Alaska will yield, you’ve exhausted most of your natural fossil fuel sources.
So more and more you’ve had to turn to your ruthless dealer – the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Not only is he able to kick around your economy through price gouging that would make Enron accountants blush, he also takes your money and uses it to fund an anti-American jihad. And it’s not like you’re the only addict in town either. China’s the other 800-pound gorilla, and the instant it wakes up and gets thirsty for oil, gas prices will soar.
America, even your President Bush has his heart in the right place, even if his head’s in his ass. He has advocated not only drilling in ANWR, but also drilling around your coast for natural gas. The problem is that natural gas, like oil, is finite – it will eventually run out. You’d simply be substituting one addiction for another.
Of course, as with any addiction, rehab will not be easy. Your car industry will have to deal with increasing fuel efficiency standards, but the technology is there. You could, if you wanted to, make all the cars on the road up to 5 miles per gallon more efficient. And you’ll have to seek out alternative and renewable forms of energy as well as promote more energy conservation.
It’ll be difficult, but don’t worry. The first step to recovery is realizing you have a problem.
Neil Visalvanich is a Daily Nexus columnist.