In my last post, I wrote that I would be listening hard for President Obama's statements about the future of oil as an energy source. Here's what he said last night, in his first address to the nation from the Oval Office:
For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we've talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.
The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.
We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America's innovation and seize control of our own destiny.
Excuse me. I'm a good listener, well educated and widely read. If Americans have been talking for decades about the need to end the "addiction to oil," I didn't hear it. Did you? I heard President Carter say it, 30 years ago--but Americans didn't want to hear any more, so they voted him out of office. I heard G.W. Bush say it, once or twice, but nothing happened after that--predictably, because he and Cheney (voted twice into office by Americans who supported their policies) were oilmen. The only serious discussion I read about it is reflected here, but more Americans are likely to visit the American Idol website than read about the need to end our oil-dependent ways.
Here's what I wish President Obama had said:
Listen to me, and listen hard. We have reached the end of the oil age. This resource is not only fouling our planet, but it's nearly depleted. The price of a gallon of gasoline in five or six years will break your budget and destroy our fossil-fueled production of cheap food and other cheap consumables. The cost of cleanups will bankrupt us all. So do something about it: each one of you, each company, each city government, each state. Choose something you can do and do it every day, every week to reduce your dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, by at least 10% each year, starting now. I am charging the federal government and the military to cut that dependence, by 10% each year, starting now. I am putting the nation on a war footing. Here is the agenda I will be sending to Congress... Here is what I am saying to every department of the government... Listen hard, and prepare to do your part.
But he didn't. I guess he didn't want to send the markets into a death spiral, which would threaten our ability to guzzle the last drops of oil from the already-depleted reserves. I guess he didn't want to lose the vote of Americans who are clinging for dear life to their oil-fueled way of life and who don't give a flip about their grandchildren, as long as they can make it to the mall to buy-baby-buy.
Okay. So he didn't say it. But I can say it. Over the last couple of years, Bill and I cut the transportation mileage on our fuel-efficient cars by 12%, both by reducing our business mileage and by cutting out extra trips to the grocery, the shopping center, the post office. This year, we're aiming at another 10% reduction. We've inventoried our non-transportation uses of fossil-fuels and are working toward reducing as much of that as possible--a little harder to measure, but we're making progress. We are reading and informing ourselves about the issue of resource depletions, and not just fossil fuels but water, soil, and critical minerals.
What he said was okay. What he didn't say was a disappointment.
What are you saying? What are you doing?