Profligate Energy Consumption Not Just Unwise, But Unpatriotic

Friday July 02, 2004

As the “energy crisis” rolls on and the environmentally oblivious continue to waste gas on SUVs, Hummers and RVs, the most critical dissent one hears in the broader public forum is a mild protest with respect to the price at the pump (Democrats love to jump on this bandwagon). What a revolutionary cry! As if releasing federal reserves and reigning in the power of the oil corporations slightly were enough to bring back the good ol’ days of American prosperity and that nostalgic heyday of the car culture. Meanwhile, the American public is carefully guarded from knowledge about the real costs of petroleum (economic, political, social, medical, environmental, military, etc.) and the indisputable geological truth of the finiteness of a resource we continue to splurge as if there were no tomorrow. And the inevitable consequences this will have to our geopolitical status are woefully ignored and swept under the rug by all quadrants of the political spectrum. 

In contrast, I would like to submit that not only is it whimsical and ecologically destructive to waste oil on such non-essential and/or inefficient uses of oil, such as the private automobile, air travel and excessive reliance on electricity, but that this waste is actually a security threat and, therefore, effectively unpatriotic—even subversive! Yes, the American life-style is most definitely and undeniably a threat to ecological integrity (what there is left of it!). But there is—in a very myopic American sense—something even more pressing to consider. The common sense fact that our national defense relies on the use (and therefore supply) of oil seems to escape everyone in the discussion of the pros and cons of wars for oil. As if it were a luxury to get oil from Saudi Arabia and we could really do without it, if we wanted to. This is no trivial matter. And it is no coincidence that our international strategy has revolved around this fact, ever since the end of World War II. Every president since FDR, Democrat or Republican, has recognized the significance of securing the oil supply. It is a seldom observed fact that Germany and Japan lost the war largely because they did not have their own supply of oil and were unable to secure it through conquest (of Azerbaijan by Germany and the Dutch East Indies by Japan). Just think what might have been, if Hitler had lived in Saudi Arabia! 

This does not mean, of course, that I am trying to defend the occupation of Iraq. But consider this: “The United States … is currently [2001] producing oil at the rate of about 2.8 billion barrels per year; if that rate is maintained in the years ahead and no new deposits of oil are discovered, U.S. reserves—estimated at 28.6 billion barrels in 2000—will be fully depleted by 2010.” (Michael Klare, Resource Wars) That pretty much means that six years from now (2004) we will be fully dependent on foreign oil. Is there anyone out there who really believes we can convert our technology to alternative, sustainable sources in the next six years—even if we wanted to? So what will our options be then? Realistically speaking we will need to somehow procure foreign oil or turn to nuclear power (which is clearly not a desirable—and perhaps not even feasible—option). Otherwise, in six years, whoever is in control of oil in the Middle East (if not us) will pretty much be able to roll right over us. This sounds to me like squandering oil now is somewhat anti-American! Maybe the oil companies are really a communist conspiracy! And their pro-car and sprawl culture, speed-worshipping propaganda is meant to blind us to our own ill fate.  

Instead, I believe we should be saving every bit of oil we can get our hands on (especially our own supplies), put it in the reserves and protect it with our life’s blood because we are bound to need it to protect our lives! And given the trend of increasing anti-American sentiments worldwide, growing by leaps and bounds with each passing day thanks to our current president and his neo-con lackeys, we are going to need every bit of it. This is a frightening prospect considering the nonchalance of our attitude about using oil for any frivolous reason.  

So the next time you see a Hummer or an RV racing down the highway, feel free to roll down the window and yell out: “You anti-American, unpatriotic swine! Don’t you know there’s a war on terrorism going on? If you want to waste gas, why don’t you go and live with the Arabs? You’re going to get us all killed!”