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BP and the Forest of Fangorn

by Ouida on June 13, 2010


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The old world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise.

“The Forest of Fangorn lies on our doorstep. Burn it.”

Saruman, LOTR: The Two Towers.

I planned this blog post several days ago before Thomas Friedman’s editorial in today’s Times.  Friedman’s editorial puts the blame for the BP oil spill where it truly belongs, with each and every one of us.  We have had so many opportunities to get our “oil situation” right, but we have squandered them.  The 1970’s oil shocks, runaway inflation and the recession of the early 1980’s did push us toward fuel efficient cars and thermostats set at 65 degrees but neither of those maneuvers is really an energy policy.  The 1990’s bull market, tech boom and cheap oil pushed us toward MacMansions, the suburbs and SUVs.  9/11 wasn’t really a time for introspection and personal responsibility as much as it was a time for anger and war making.  No energy policy again…just another missed opportunity.  From 1996 to 2006 I drove a 4-Runner everywhere I went and thought nothing about it.  I didn’t make the connection either until I saw Syriana in January 2006 and realized what my petrodollars were really doing.  I walked out of the theater and said, “I’m buying a Prius.”  By February 6th I was driving my new car off the lot.  A Prius isn’t an energy policy either and the truth is that we may never get one at least not from our government.  But we as individuals can make one.  We can drive fuel efficient cars.  I am sorry to say that a car that gets 25 miles per gallon is not a fuel efficient car.  One that gets at least 30 mpg is.  We can replace our drafty windows with energy efficient ones.  We can get digital thermostats.  CFU light bulbs.  We can walk, we can cycle, we can compost, we can garden, we can lose weight for the obesity epidemic adds about a billion gallons a year in additional fuel consumption.

What will it take for individuals to take action?  Waiting for the government is like waiting for Gadot.  We can remain on the park bench waiting for him to arrive, be we know he never will.  That is the point.

So what will it take?  Should the Earth take matters into its own hands and the ground open up and swallow each SUV that drives over the roads?  What would happen if oil-soaked oysters rose from the depths of the gulf, grew feet, came ashore and hurled themselves at BP executives instead of die quietly on the ocean floor?  Would we get the message then?

The image of the Forest of Fangorn is a powerful one;  a forest that literally rose up and moved to intercept and destroy the creatures who had desecrated it in order to create weapons of mass destruction.  Do we need walking trees and talking animals to get the point?

I know this, I am feeling increasingly hopeless about our ability to get this right.  We’ve had so many chances.  Cheap oil and the consumer destroyed the electric car in the 1990’s.  I would like to blame GM, but they are not entirely to blame, they made the SUVs but we bought them.

Where do we go from here?  Please comment.

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