In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create but by what we refuse to destroy.
On Wednesday 16 March 2005 a slim majority of U.S. Senators passed a resolution that would allow oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). There's still a ways to go before oil drilling can begin, but it is a victory for the proponents. Misguided and ignorant it may well be. Even "criminally" irresponsible many of us would claim. But the fact is that within a year, it is likely that hundreds, perhaps ultimately thousands, of humans with drilling equipment, diesel engines of all kinds, drums of chemicals, aircraft, ships, and tons of supplies to sustain these strangers will descend on a remote coastal plain, a place that some have called "America's Serengeti." We made a choice. Didn't we?
This American government has proclaimed it's about "energy independence." In this day and age who can argue with national security? Of course, the U.S. has been aiding and abetting religious fascism in the Middle East (of which terrorism is a part) for years, because we haven't had any American energy conservation policy, at least one created by the "elected" representatives for the citizens of the country.
Thomas Friedman, the N.Y. Times columnist, in a recent article, called the almost dysfunctional fixation on Alaska oil drilling "mind-boggling." His article was not primarily about Alaska but our growing dependency on China, and our decreasing leverage with the country most likely to be our major competitor--because of the dim-witted (my words) policies of the Bush administration.
Friedman believes any oil that may eventually come out of the Alaska Refuge will probably benefit the consumers of China and Japan more than the citizens of the United States, because of distances and refinery capacity. And, as oil demand increases in both China and India, prices will continue to rise for Americans--significantly. As the proverbial broken record says over and over again, a slight increase in fuel efficiency standards in the United States would offset any possible marginal gain from drilling in ANWR ... and might actually set us on a course of something that resembles a degree of energy independence.
The current American government has clearly decided that protection and preservation is not part of its energy policy. The current American government has clearly decided that America needs to remain an insatiable, reckless, world class drunk. Last, the current United States Senate has clearly decided they are nearly as irrelevant as the Roman senate at the time of the Empire. But it's our choice. Isn't it?