Can you imagine a world without oil? I can. Even with all the oil in which we’re swimming today – as pictured by this excellent graphic from the latest issue of Momentum from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota – I can see a world powered by renewables, generating electricity to fire up electric vehicles and to produce hydrogen for fuel cells. That’s part of the vision that Moving Planet is hoping to further embolden our imaginations with tomorrow.
Why? If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile or you just know generally about the dire impacts of climate change, then you know why. If you’re not among the climate cognoscenti, then you should know that there is abundant, deeply researched, broadly documented and, quite honestly, clearly visible, tangible evidence of the impacts: environmental and economic, all with stark implications for human security, public health and the future of ecosystems on the planet. Hyperbole? Not really. Don’t believe me? How about the science academies of 13 leading nations of the world? Or the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?
Forget – if you dare – the environmental, public health and economic impacts. What about how reliance on oil degrades human security? Oil funds terrorism. Oil makes countries vulnerable to political blackmail. Oil degrades national security, not only for developed economies but for all the world’s economies. The burning of all the fossil fuels, oil very much included, exacerbates the palpable pressure that climate change brings to security concerns. I wrote a two-part article for DeSmogBlog in which security concerns were echoed by several of the groups I cited. One, a highly regard national security research organization, CNA, said in a report in May of 2009, that “U.S. dependence on oil — not just foreign oil — weakens international leverage, undermines foreign policy and leaves us vulnerable to unstable or hostile regimes.”
Precisely this message is being echoed by a new group, the United States Energy Security Council. Their goal? “…diminishing the inordinate strategic importance of oil, which stems from its virtual monopoly over transportation fuel.” Two of their members, one a former National Security adviser, the other a former CIA director, had an op-ed in the NY Times recently in which they recommend, among other things, bringing EVs into the mainstream more quickly, more and better hybrids, and building a “flex fuel” option into new vehicles to enable the use of 2nd generation biofuels and methanol from natural gas.
Oil? More is less. The DeSmogBlog article I wrote centers on the Alberta tar sands and how their further development poses serious concerns. A new ad out from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Nobel Women’s Initiative features an open letter to President Obama from nine Nobel Peace Laureates urging him to deny permission for the Keystone XL pipeline to be built, enabling the tar sands oil to be transported to Houston for refining then export. (Why Al Gore and Wangari Maathai were not among the signees, I couldn’t tell you.)
NRDC’s “Stop Dirty Fuels” program has much to say about the manifest evils of this particular mode of fossil fuel extraction. To get a good, quick picture of what’s at issue, see this video. Then get on your horse, your bicycle, or into your electric vehicle and help us create an oil-free world. (Hint: We’re closer than you think.)