As my three year old nephew says, "I so confoosed". Recently, The Herald Tribune carried the headline, " A new generation of oil titans". The sub heading was "Western Hemisphere rivals OPEC as it moves toward self-sufficiency". I don't often buy The Herald Tribune, but I had to buy that one. I had to find out if rivalling OPEC was a actually a good thing in this day and age. Aren't we supposed to be cutting back on our oil habit?
To my surprise, I learned that more oil can be kind of a plus. Apparently, extracting oil from fracking, deep sea drilling and tar sands - all of which are considered environmental death knells - will allow the West to be less dependent on foreign oil. The article written by Simon Romero, kicks off with the news that Brazil has begun building a fleet of nuclear submarines to protect "its vast, new offshore oil discoveries" and this will create new jobs. Is it just me - or is this crazy talk? At this particular time in the earth's history, isn't building nukes to protect off shore drilling a bit like saying, 'I know we should be going into rehab but we just found an incredible stash of crack under neath the floorboards so we're going to get some AK47's in and hire a bunch of guys to keep it safe while we party our brains out.' Who elected Charlie Sheen World President?
The IHT article mentions more jobs, which I guess means more growth in the oil and nuclear weapons sectors. I suppose on a certain level one could argue that growth in any sector at this point is good for the global economy. But in the language used by parents of teenagers: Are we making smart choices here? Just last week Al Gore's launched his http://climaterealityproject.org/. The science it seems is pretty rock solid. The last thing we - people, living things - need right now is to burn more fossil fuels.
So is this really the way were going to hobble on? Business going in one direction while environmentalists tell us we're all going to die from lack of fresh drinking water or be drafted into some kind of territorial army to keep climate refugees off our land? Do we really want to limit our thinking to economic growth vs life on earth?
After twenty years of marriage I only just learned the "Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?" rule. (The answer is - happy - in case you were wondering.) The same question applies to our current state of affairs in the West - or what my friend Lacey Williams calls our "interest-ocracy". As long as everyone is fighting their corner we have no hope in hell of improving our relationship with all the things on this earth that really matter to us. The natural world is not a special interest. Without food, air and water we're all screwed. Lets stop taking sides and recognise that if our food systems collapses due to extreme weather, even the Koch brothers will run through their stockpile of tinned beans eventually. It is time for us all to start singing off the same song sheet.
So this is what I have found myself thinking: First of all, in this age of transparency, let's take the fight out into the open. I want big oil to make its case loud and clear so we can all hear it. They are too powerful to be able to operate without declaring their hand. After all, Exxon shareholders don't want mercury bioaccumulating in their bodies anymore than we do. And according to the accepted science, burning fossil fuels has an impact on every living creature on this earth. Second, I would like to put the fossil fuel honchos and the climate scientists in the same room. We need to begin to reach a consensus on the most sensible way forward. The split narrative is killing us. If the status quo is too hotheaded to acknowledge that a compromise may be needed then why don't we begin with a giant http://www.intelligencesquared.com/ style debate that would be broadcast around the world. The perps need to be held accountable. If big oil is devaluing my future, I want to hear them justify themselves. I also want to know from the scientists how exactly we are supposed to move to a low carbon economy if 85% of everything man made involves some kind of petrochemical? Are we being realistic? What needs to be done? Where are the big wins?
For those of us who choose 'happy' - the split between business and the environment is no longer tenable. We need one story; one future that we all commit to together. Is it time for a "Get The Story Straight" campaign? Are you in?