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Everybody knows that America has an addiction to oil. Everybody also knows how bad this addiction is both to America and to the rest of the world. What nobody has figured out up to now is how to cure it. People have been talking about this oil addiction for decades to no avail. Even the danger to national security, which always works when everything else fails, couldn’t stop it. It seems like a spell has been cast on the mightiest country on earth.

Then came the biggest spill ever in the American history and quite probably, if it goes on unchecked for much longer, in the history of oil exploration. It’s ugly, it’s bad, and it’s inexcusable. It’s oil’s Chernobyl, wracking the environment in ways never thought possible.

Maybe this accident will finally break the spell and will become the moment when people understand that it’s time to change and start replacing oil with other forms of renewable energy.

We are running out of oil
Even the people who will disagree with the other reasons listed below for giving up oil won’t be able to fight this one. We are running out of oil and need alternative energy sources fast. What are we waiting for? For Big Oil to pay the last dividend with the last drop of oil extracted? Will we be unable to move on as long as there is money to be made in oil?

Easy oil is already gone
It is getting very complicated to extract the oil that still exists. New oil deposits offshore are at greater deeps. Its extraction is dangerous – as the blow out in Louisiana has just shown us.

Oil extraction damages the environment
The spill in the Gulf of Mexico is only one in many. Nigeria spills about one Exxon Valdez (about 11 million gallons) every year – and nobody seems to care. Tar sand oil extraction is not much better for the environment either. Both offshore drilling and tar sand mining are causing environmental destruction in a way not known a few decades ago.

Oil heats up the planet
Oil’s production, transport, and use generate a lot of greenhouse gases, increasing global warming and causing climate change. No need to elaborate on this.

Oil corrupts governments and damages human rights
A look at the situation in the oil producing countries shows that oil greases hands both in the literal and the figurative ways. It undermines democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Russia, Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, just to name a few, would be different places without oil and gas reserves. Brazil has just found huge oil reserves offshore. Is my country doomed to become another Venezuela?

Oil dependency is a security threat
The United States is not the only country hungry for oil: so is China. And China has been actively securing long-term contracts – especially in Kazakhstan, Sudan, Venezuela and Angola – and deepening its ties to oil producers both friendly to America (like Saudi Arabia) and unfriendly (like Iran, Russia, and Venezuela). America could get squeezed out in the long run. Another war for oil in the making – or should I say “in the pipeline”?

There are reliable and safe alternatives
Renewable energy sources, especially wind, tide, and solar energy, are the answer to America’s oil addiction. They are good to the economy, generating investment and jobs. They are good for the environment: near-zero carbon emissions and no environment degradation. They are good for national security: no dependency on unreliable and often corrupt foreign powers.

The price to pay
Yes, renewable are expensive to develop. They need subsidies. They need government intervention in the energy markets. But still they need less money then what is necessary to fight a war on the other side of the globe to secure oil supplies. To date, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost about one trillion dollars. With this kind of money we could have developed a lot of alternative energy supplies.

By the way, nuclear is not the answer
It’s getting fashionable to propose nuclear energy as the carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels. Nuclear is not safe, regardless of what the lobbyists will tell you. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is nothing compared to the Chernobyl disaster.

Change now
Again, the oil spill is ugly, bad, and inexcusable. But it has only one – potential – positive side: bringing the beginning of the end of America’s oil addiction.

It will be a great a waste if after all this the United States will go back to business as usual!


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