Oil Safari: A Tank of Gas, A World of Trouble

Trace the irony-laden journey of crude oil into American autos. This brilliant 4-part series by Pulitzer-prize-winning Paul Salopek of the Chicago Tribune should be REQUIRED READING for everyone who drives. Thanks to JasonZ from The Watt for posting this.

Fossil-fuel consumption is a cancer. It may yet kill the patient. It is a scourge, a plague, a tragedy. No word would be too strong. We are causing untold damage and destruction to the Earth and to our own future EVERY DAY through our thoughtless actions. Oil production leaves a bitter trail of corruption and death in its wake.

I predict global competition and instability will drive pump prices for petroleum to $8.00 to $10.00 per gallon within 10 years. The true costs are far higher. We are making people who hate America fabulously wealthy and powerful. And we are melting the polar icecaps. Mark my words, this will come back to haunt us in ways we cannot now imagine. Start planning. I predict the global implications of petro-use and petro-scarcity will be the defining issue of our lifetime. You can safely invest in renewable energy, electric autos, and anything related to weapons manufacture. The energy transition is going to be a really bumpy ride.

It didn’t have to be this way. But taxpayer-subsidized imported oil has kept Americans complacent and oblivious. And kept the hundred-million dollar bonuses flowing to executives who’ve made their fortunes selling a public resource back to the public. Worse, the siphon hose in our collective wallets is now largely controlled by foreign dictators, and it’s about to start sucking even harder.

The oil executives, the politicians who allow the travesty, the truck manufacturers (oops, ‘car’ companies) and Western drivers of these wasteful vehicles are all guilty of gross criminal negligence. (And that’s an understatement.) We will be looked at by future generations as some of the most shortsighted dumb-fucks in history for our utter failure to open our eyes and address this challenge in time. Like it or not, the great hundred-year-long-gasoline-powered-automobile-party is at the beginning of its end.

Comments (6 comments)

Aaron Kinney / August 2nd, 2006, 10:32 am / #1

I want Ford to make an electric Mustang with a 1000 pound-torque electric motor. I will ditch the gasoline V8 in a heartbeat when that happens :)

Matt / August 3rd, 2006, 1:06 pm / #2

I just want to be able to get to work and back without spending 60 bucks on a tank of gas.

Oh wait, that’s why I ride the train! :)

I love my truck, but not enough to let it take a good chunk of my paycheck. Yes, I know the environmental problems with crude oil and fossil fuels… but in the end, like many Americans, in the pocket book is where it hurts the most, and it’s that hurt that will start to change peoples views of fossil fuel consumption, whereas ideology simply hasn’t.


John / August 4th, 2006, 11:08 am / #3

Sean Prophet makes a good argument elsewhere on this site about the followers of a religious cult being culpable in that cult’s ability to abuse them. It’s a good point, and I suggest that it applies here as well.

As I sit in my 68 degree office in my 3500 sq. ft. house, powered by purchased (natural resource depleting) electricity, and type on one of the three monitors on my desk, I recall running an errand last night, in my premium fueled sports car, surrounded by SUVs on every side, with one person in each. As I passed gas station after gas station so brightly lit that it almost blinds you, and every business with lighted signage, I marveled at how nice the new lighted computer billboards are.

It’s always easy to blame everyone but ourselves. But the truth is that hybrid cars, solar power, more efficient home design, etc. are available to all of us, and have been for a long time. I don’t have any of those, nor do most people in the U.S.

If all these items are available, but we simply do not purchase them, then how can we expect the automobile manufacturers to make them. What is it exactly that these companies are supposed to do, loose money on products that we don’t buy?

Keep in mind that we are also the individuals who own stock in these companies, and demand they do everything in their power to increase profits every quarter, while ignoring the same environmental and moral issues we say are dear to us. Don’t think you own this stock? Do you have any retirement benefits with the company you work for? Do you own any life insurance?

I don’t mean to defend the companies or politicians here. But I think we the consumers, and I include myself, are by far the guiltiest party to this travesty.

And at the head of the crusade to foist blame, are celebrities, who are the most gluttonous of all of us, as they prance around the world and spend tens of thousands of dollars per day (understatement for many) on oil dependant goods and services. After all, they have to be comfortable as they jet to the next feel-good fundraiser.

But, I also recognize that this oil gluttony attitude we all have, is in part programmed into us by the celebrities we watch with amazement, the so-called public service messages, and the tons of money being pored into our favorite television programs to promote certain agendas.

It’s a fucked-up world for sure, but because you and I made it that way with every little purchase we make every day. All it would take to change the world, is for enough of us to make wiser purchases. That’s it.

Ok, but whom do you trust for guidance. Clearly people like Ralph Nader are, in my opinion, misguided. So ultimately, I don’t have the answer any more than the next person. Thanks for indulging my rant.

Ano / August 7th, 2006, 9:40 am / #4

Worst case scenario –>

BlackSun / August 7th, 2006, 8:08 pm / #5

Good points, everyone, thanks for visiting.

calli / August 31st, 2006, 8:23 pm / #6

I love black Sun. I read it and get turned on. I came here from a Rory Lewis link. I guess you guys are related. Wow – supah dupha wisdom all exploding om two kewl fuhkcing web sites. Go Sean I love u baby

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