Monday, April 24, 2006

Adding Fuel to the Fire

Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post had a really interesting Op Ed piece today:

"President Bush's retreat from the ambitious goals of his second term will proceed one small but fateful step further this Friday. That's when, after more than two years of stalling, the president will deliver a warm White House welcome to Ilham Aliyev, the autocratic and corrupt but friendly ruler of one of the world's emerging energy powers, Azerbaijan."


The piece goes on to explain how America is forced by need to once again assist a lesser evil in order to strengthen our position (and secure oil reserves) against a greater threat Iran. Additionally it talks about Russia's continuing attempts to advance its position on the world stage by securing ever greater amounts of the worlds oil supply which again forces our hand in Azerbaijan.

Given the historical results of our meddling in Middle Eastern politics how long is it going to be before we're talking about sanctioning or invading Azerbaijan (average is 45 years)? And is this the first battle in a new cold war for oil?

Meanwhile Brazil announced that it will achieve energy independence this year. Brazil managed this with 25% of its population living in poverty, a 1 Trillion dollar deficit, a 6% inflation rate, and a 10% unemployment rate. And while Brazil has a little over half the population of the US and is one of the major sugar (key ingredient in their ethanol) produces in the world they accomplished what we should and could have long ago.

Had we set on the same course as Brazil at the same time (gas shortage of the 70's) we could have accomplished it in a fraction of the time and as a result changed the political and economic history of America. Think about it. Death of the American family farm? Wouldn't have happened as corn, soy, and wheat prices would have been stable plus farms would have been able to sell their chaff for ethanol production. American auto manufacturers would theoretically be in a better position today. We'd have never heard the words global warming, Gulf War I would have never happened, 9/11 would have been averted, and the War on Terror would be nonexistent.

Why didn't we become energy independent then? Shortsightedness of our leaders, complacency of the people, and a pay to play electoral system. The first two of those are a symptom of the third. But I've already covered that previously.

The oil industry is one of the largest campaign contributors to both parties. Neither party could risk losing that money by calling for energy independence if the other didn't as well. End result? Nothing happened. And now 30 years later we find ourselves back in the same position and we're seeing the exact same things happen again. The recently passed energy bill offered huge subsidies to oil and gas and much smaller temporary subsidies to alternate energy. We're again forced to play one crappy middle eastern dictator off of another even though we now know that it'll probably bite us in the ass later and cost American lives one way or the other.

This has to end. The status quo is slowly strangling us.

Here is what you can do:

1: Use less fossil fuels and save money by:

a: seeing my previous post for gas saving tips

b: until hydrogen powered cars are readily available make fuel efficiency a priority in your car buying decisions

c: Check with your local utility company as most have a renewable energy program. If not go to (4% of America's electricity is generated by petroleum products) and sign up there. (This is going to cost you about 3$ a month extra)

d: Install 4 fluorescent bulbs in your most used lights (this will also offset the 3$ a month you're paying for renewable energy) I converted the entire house and dropped my electric bill by 10%. For best quality light I recommend GE or Sylvania bulbs. 12$ for 12 bulbs at Sam's Club.

e: Recycle your plastics (plastics account for 15% of America's total petroleum usage)

2: Stay current on renewable energy issues at

3: Call for real campaign finance change on a state and federal level by visiting Public Campaign's site.

4: Spread the word.

If the government won't change America for the better then we have to do it ourselves.

P.S. I've already put my money where my mouth is.