Oil, Addiction and Recovery

Most energy regulation is aimed at electricity production and emissions.  The U.S. typically does little more to regulate the oil industry than laughable MPG increases that are being surpassed in other countries such as China.  What do you want, military action to protect access to global oil supply and the interests of drug pushers, ah, the oil industry?  Oil and its derivatives power motorized transportation planet-wide.  We are addicted to transportation but it is our transportation that is addicted to oil.

By no means does this absolve mankind from responsibility but it does allow us to play a different role.  Rather than being the addicted character, we get to play the role of the concerned friend helping through the withdrawal and transition.  You may want to bring a poncho as this could get messy.

Simply turning off the supply of oil cold turkey isn’t feasible as such an action would have less than productive results on the economy and society as we know it.  Borrowing a bit from Einstein, we must make this transition as fast as possible, but not faster, and certainly not slower.

Cut the dependency.  This is already being done today with the growing production of hybrid vehicles like the Prius from automotive manufacturer Toyota.  This is an interim step, not perfect but a move in the proper direction.

Observation of recovering addicts shows that many opt for replacement addictions that are debatably less damaging than the addiction from which they are recovering.  Recovering alcoholics often embrace smoking to occupy a void of sorts.  As the helping friend, we need to steer transportation away from replacement addictions like natural gas or liquefied coal.  These alternatives are still fossil fuel based and emit carbon when combusted.

In the U.S., energy security would increase as both coal and natural gas are domestic resources compared to the vastly foreign resource of oil.  Opening wildlife refugees and school playgrounds to drilling only serves to increase the domestic supply negligibly.  While oil has passed it’s peak, coal and natural gas may not be past their peak, yet.  Should nascent fossil fuel industries be given a beachhead or should all forces be targeted on the development of non-carbon emitting energy sources?

A central concept of addiction recovery is to support the recovering addict by providing a path of little resistance to a clean future.  This concept applies to transitioning from oil based transportation.  Today the world is a rough place for a recovering oil addict with “drug stores” sometimes four to an intersection.

Photo Credit: Liz