Peak Oil is You

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Page added on December 30, 2007

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2007: year of recognition

…There are three things that keep me up nights: the threat of climate change, peak oil and the mountaintop removal strip mining that is destroying Appalachia. And I have reached the conclusion that, here in the United States, there are three major causes of these problems: Our homes are too big, our food travels too far, and our entire economy is built around the automobile. American homes are twice as big as they were 30 years ago, though fewer people actually live in them. The average item on a supermarket shelf has logged 1,500 miles to get there. And the homogenous suburb has ensured that we must drive everywhere, destroying at once the traditional, walkable city and the surrounding rural landscapes. Thus we have created a consumer culture that much of the developing world — most ominously, China — wants to emulate. But the problem is that this culture is based entirely on carbon-emitting fossil fuels, and it is therefore a culture that has no future.

The reason I still hold out hope is that I don’t think our current culture of corporate domination and strip mall landscapes is truly the future we want. If it were, why would advertisers have to constantly inundate us with false promises that play to our most elemental insecurities? Social scientists have found that today’s Americans are no happier than they were 30 years ago, though we consume twice as many resources. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. We feel increasingly anxious and isolated, depressed and over-worked. Thus I think an alternative to this consumer culture would not only decrease the damage we are inflicting on the natural world, I think it would make us a happier people.

Louisville Courier-Journal

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