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Squandering instead of innovating

June 24 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

We're running out of water in California. In fact we're in an official drought and yet we continue to water our plants with drinking water. We wash our driveways with drinking water and let drinking water go down our street drains and into the ocean. Precious and increasingly limited drinking water. To top things off we import drinking water from places as far away as Fiji.

Does that seem out of whack to anyone?

We're running out of oil in California, the rest of the US and... (gulp) everywhere on the globe. Yet we continue to operate as if we're not. We support car makers 1970's thinking that big-is-American and buy their vehicles. Oil walks past $100 a barrel and flirts with $150 and yesterday I saw gas prices nipping the $5 mark. Yet we drive the largest cars in existence, usually by ourselves, to places that sometimes we could even walk to.

Does that seem out of whack to anyone?

Of course I don't mean to suggest I'm some uber-aware, enlightened global citizen as I struggle with how all these things challenge my life and my family's lives. None of this is easy... but my sense is that there are some logical shifts that need to happen.

I tried to summarize the water issue with a couple graphics a few months back.

The oil issue is the one that is currently intersecting our mission. Last week President Bush and a number of others came out promoting the lifting of a moratorium on offshore oil exploration, arguing that this action will help increase domestic oil supplies and drive down prices.

Analysts say this a) won't affect gas prices for at least a decade b) offer tiny incremental resources and c) has environmental risk.

"The total (effect) would be less than 6 cents off the price of gas, per gallon, two decades from now"

I keep coming back to the phrase "addicted to oil." If we know that, and many have drawn a logical argument regarding the price of oil and terror regimes (even Dilbert is onto this), then why wouldn't we put as much innovation and adaptation oriented thinking and financing into moving away from oil. How can we think that a small incremental amount of oil, from anywhere, is going to offset the massive... breath taking oil consumption rates of emerging nations like China and India.

The world has changed.

We must change with it.

We simply must adapt to these new realities and not simply continue doing what we've done for decades which I'll be so bold to suggest is squandering the world's natural resources. With this new world there is a new math, it is a math that doesn't work in the world we've all been living in. Consumption rates are clearly going one way and production is going the other (graph via WSJ). There aren't enough natural resources for all the people in the US, China and India to exist on... in fact when China and India get to our rate of consumption (and they are zooming toward it), we'll need five planets... not one.

This all brings me to offshore drilling.

No, because it won't solve our problem. As stated above and elsewhere. If we add a few percent to world oil supply that, in no way, suggests a decrease in the cost of oil as demand is not set by the United States, it's a global market. Both parties in Washington need to stop going in circles and lead a generation away our addiction. Our problem is a dependence on oil. Let's fix that problem instead of looking for a few last fixes before we face rehab.

No, because it will take away something many of us love. If you live anywhere near the coast... look around. Go ahead, walk outside and look around. If you do this almost anywhere in the world you will see development, perhaps even what seems like "endless development." Now look out to the ocean, you see very little.

Surfrider Foundation has taken a stand on this issue. We believe lifting the ban on offshore drilling is a bad thing. It goes against our mission and it goes against who many of us feel we are. Of course most of us drive cars. Instead of equating that to say "See, you use oil... we need more oil" let's turn that comment into "Yea, let's figure out ways to use less oil."

Just as we should be smarter than to water our gardens with precious drinking water, let's be smart enough to adapt our lives to the new, crisp reality that we have an addiction that needs to be remedied.
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