OIL ADDICTS ANONYMOUS
by JENNIFER KRILL
Jennifer Krill is the director of the Zero Emissions Campaign at Rainforest Action Network.
Hi, my name is Jennifer, and it's time for us all to admit that we have a problem: we are addicted to oil. The United States represents only 5 percent of the world's population yet consumes 25 percent of the world's oil. From the Middle East to Nigeria to Colombia, more than half of our oil comes from conflict regions. We are willing to topple governments to get more oil.
We will risk the principles of democracy itself in order to get our fix.
Today we are fighting for access to oil, but our next war may occur because of our consumption of oil. According to a leaked Pentagon report, global climate change poses a greater threat to our peace and security than international terrorism. Global warming is melting ancient glaciers, warming the world's oceans (thus raising sea levels), and intensifying catastrophic weather events. As frayed resources are pressed to the limit, climate change will provoke increased conflict.
If oil is such a dangerous substance, why do we continue to abuse it? We burn most of our oil for transportation-specifically for automobiles. One out of every seven barrels of oil globally is consumed on America's highways alone. Carmakers that refuse to improve fuel efficiency are like dealers keeping us hooked. The worst culprit is the Ford Motor Company. Ford's fleet has had the lowest average fuel efficiency in America for five years running. Ford's gas-guzzling SUVs, like the Excursion and Expedition, get worse gas mileage than the Model-T did eighty years ago. But Ford is far from alone; think of General Motors selling a military vehicle (the Hummer) as a family car!
It's time for a twelve-step program to break America's oil addiction and halt global climate destruction.
What you can do as an individual:
1. Declare independence from oil. Walk, ride a bike, or take mass transit.
2. If you must drive, carpool and choose the most efficient vehicle you can.
3. Demand zero-emission cars. Tell the Ford Motor Company to stop driving America's oil addiction. Take action now at www.jumpstartford.com.
What we all can do as a movement:
4. Separate oil from state. Get big oil money out of politics and get politicians to stop subsidizing big oil. Visit www.publicintegrity.org.
5. Green the grid. We cannot halt global warming without clean energy. Demand solar and wind alternatives. Find out how at www.seen.org and www.nrel.gov.
6. Support sustainable mobility. Help encourage bike lanes and mass transit and discourage sprawl in your community. Go to www.newrules.org for information.
7. Reform global finance. Get banks to stop making destructive investments in oil and fossil-fuel development. Instead, encourage them to join Citigroup and Bank of America and start supporting sustainable energy and transportation alternatives. Learn more at www.ran.org.
What Ford and the other carmakers must do:
8. Bring today's cars into the twenty-first century. Existing clean-car improvements are sitting on shelves instead of in Ford's engines. If Ford used today's technology to clean up its internal combustion engine, its cars would get an average of 40 miles per gallon, a big improvement over
Ford's 2004 average of 18.8 miles per gallon.
9. Develop hybrid electric vehicles. The battery system in hybrids uses energy that most engines waste. But hybrids do still burn some oil, which carmakers could limit further with a "plug-in hybrid" option, allowing consumers to use solar-power electric batteries for short commutes and a gas tank for long trips.
10. Find other alternatives. Use intelligent alternative fuels like biodiesel and vegetable oil, or create solar-charged electric vehicles. With a simple conversion, diesel engines like those used by Mercedes and Volkswagen could run on vegetable oil. Full-electric vehicles plugged in to solar power offer an affordable zero-emission alternative.
11. Stop using hydrogen-fuel cells as an excuse to delay production of the easy alternatives above. To produce hydrogen, we must find an affordable, climate-neutral means such as solar power. Electric vehicles, available and on the road today, are a sustainable shortcut. We don't need to wait a decade to begin our clean-energy revolution.
This is a quote that follows this piece in the book.
"While anti-terrorism and traditional national security rhetoric will be employed to explain risky deployments abroad, a growing number of American soldiers and sailors will be committed to the protection of overseas oil fields, pipeline, refineries, and tanker routes. Inevitably,we will pay a higher price in blood for every additional gallon of oil we obtain from abroad."