Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

(Image from They have red, white, and blue streamers, too!)

Every July 4th we celebrate our independence from colonial rule. An estimated 25,000 American troops died in the Revolutionary War, more than half of them from disease.

Then as now, the country was bitterly divided into factions. Make no mistake, we will be eternally grateful that the Revolutionaries won both militarily and politically. Every war is fought on those two fronts.

We are presently engaged in two wars that have again bitterly divided the American people. I'm not writing this to place blame or insist that this course or the other is the right one. There's a time and place for that, but not today.

Lenin is believed to have said, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” The figurative hangman's noose around our necks in 2008 is petroleum, or more specifically, our addiction to it. We cannot drill enough holes in the Earth to satisfy that addiction. Even if we did, we do not have the refinery capacity to feed our addiction. And the burgeoning economies of both India and China consume ever-increasing quantities, so it's unlikely that the world price for petroleum will decrease significantly, despite the popular fairy tale that blames speculators for the current price spike.

There's an on-going war about our belief systems because people act on them. If you truly believe that there's a limitless supply of petroleum just waiting to be tapped, you're unlikely to believe that we're facing a significant long-term crisis. On the other hand, if you believe that we've hit the peak of oil production, and that we cannot increase that production as rapidly as demand increases, you can believe we'll be in a continuing state of crisis for a long time. Only one of these ideas can be true.

Now, as you know, CycleDog is about our common cycling experience. And I've written previously about how our beliefs influence our actions in the much smaller sphere of road cycling. On this Independence Day, regardless of your beliefs about peak oil, I urge you to declare personal independence from petroleum addiction. It may be something as simple as walking or cycling to the grocery store a couple of times a week. It may involve commuting to work on a bicycle or by public transportation. The goal is to drive less. If you believe that our oil crisis is temporary, you'll save money over the short term. If you believe the oil situation will be a permanent fixture in our lives, you've taken the first step in adapting to it. Either way, you're shaking off the financial yoke imposed by high petroleum prices.



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