Like Oil and Water

Unlike H2O, Petrofuels Don't Lend Themselves to Recycling

On the most fundamental level, and in every society, water gives life. For most of us humans in modern civilization, well, oil does too. It is either in or transports pretty much every single thing we buy – even water, if you drink the bottled stuff. Both are finite substances on the planet, though at least there is some constant recycling of the fresh water through evaporation and rain. Once the oil is burned as fuel it is gone, no longer usable, except to heat our planet. Plastic, which contains oil, can be recycled to make more plastic. Fortunately for us, because so little is recycled, they’re working on turning it into fuel, one of the myriad alternative energy sources being developed that will eventually ease our oil dependency.

Barbara Hirsch

But now, the current political and economic climate demands solutions for rising oil and gasoline prices, as well as the other costs that follow. One is opening up more lands and waters for drilling. Because, finite as it is, there is still some left in the ground. Though U.S. oil production peaked in 1970, an estimated 21 billion barrels remain, our oil “reserves.” At our level of consumption, it would be gone in three years. We now produce about a quarter of what we use, then, it would all have to be imported. Clearly this is not the solution, and what other costs might there be for drilling wherever possible?

The most inevitable solution is using less. Since Americans use far more than almost everyone else, we can learn. We’ll have to.

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