Greed or Green - your choice
Last weekend, the US president announced he was taking steps to speed up oil and natural gas drilling on public lands and offshore waters.
The reason was basic politics: Rising energy costs, especially the price of gasoline, which is now more than $4 a gallon, have people upset, and they tend to take their anger out in the next election on the party in power. Ultimately economic growth will always trump concerns over the environment.
Never mind that these changes won’t meet the nation’s short-term energy needs (or long-term ones, either); that prices are being driven by speculation and consumption; that Americans believe cheap energy is a constitutional right; that the GOP’s “drill baby, drill” approach is smart politics but horrible energy and environmental policy.
And while it’s easy to blame politicians, the fault lies with Americans who are unwilling to make the changes in their lifestyles to meet the energy challenge.
Prices of crude oil and gasoline have gone up and down many times. Each time they skyrocket, Americans get energy religion. We form car pools, use mass transit, buy more fuel-efficient vehicles and drive fewer miles. We swear that we’ve learned our lesson, that we’ve sobered up.
And each time prices drop, we lose our faith in these measures and resort to our energy-guzzling old ways.
The real costs are the ones that we as a individuals and a country are paying because we refuse to take the steps that are necessary to diffuse the situation.