Wednesday, February 1, 2006

"America is Addicted to Oil..."

And there you have it. A quote from the War President that I can actually agree with. From the Duluth News (and other sources):

"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," said Bush, a former Texas oilman, in the annual televised State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

And so, Bush and I can agree. Unfortunately, he continued:

"The best way to break this addiction is through technology."

And so, Bush and I can't agree for long.

I have two questions:

1. In the official White House transcript of the SOTU address last night, the above phrase is missing. Yet, it is being reported in several newspapers this morning. Anyone know what's up with that? Is this line from some other speech from yesterday? (I'm not suggesting anything untoward, I'm just curious as to the discrepancy.)

2. When you have a heroin addict who's wanting to quit, sometimes they'll take methadone temporarily as a bridge to try to kick the habit. But the methadone is not intended as a permanent replacement for the heroin.

If you have an addiction, the thing to do is get unaddicted, isn't it? Not merely replace it with another less damaging but still harmful addiction?

What say ye, faithful friends?


Scott Holtzman said...

I thought you might like this link:
Bush – PUSHES Fix

Sounds like "Addict" speak to me!

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, Scott. I thought your comment looked like one of those spam messages at first but I visited your site and liked what I saw.

Welcome to Payne Hollow.

I certainly agree that it sounds like addict talk. As I've said before:

There are those who will say, "This is the world in which we live. Our culture is dependent upon the use of automobiles and we cannot do anything other than continue to use cars. The best we can do is to work to make them more clean and less damaging."

This is the excuse of an addict. We "cannot" change significantly our dependence upon cars precisely because we do not wish to. We have a monkey on our backs and it is made of oil and asphalt.

I_Wonder said...

Dan, Hello.

I asked about "peak oil" because I'm trying to understand why the media and so many people focus on it. To me it appears to be a useless concept. More import is "how much time do we have to find alternatives to oil?"

By the way, I lived in Kentucky (Taylor, Green and Marion counties) for 21 years. After reading your interests, it appears we have many in common.

Dan Trabue said...

Yeah, I noticed that, too. Have you done any strawbale construction or is it just an interest at this time?

I hope one day to build an earthen building of some sort (strawbale, cob...or have you every seen a home built underground using large concrete - 10-12' - water pipe? A house in the round, sorta hobbitesque...intriguing, no?).

Welcome to Payne Hollow.

I_Wonder said...

Dan, I finished an MDiv at Southern in 79. Pastored in Marion, Green and Taylor counties and was employed at Campbellsville College for 15 years.

I plan on building a straw bale house after I semi-retire. At present I don't have the time -- or energy anymore -- to attempt building while working full time.

We've considered various options of earthen housing. I'm not really familiar with the concrete pipe approach. I think I did read something about it a couple years ago or saw something on PBS.

I discovered on some comment that you respect Jimmy Carter. Recently I purchased his latest book. It's refreshing to read a moderate and reasonable approach to political and social problems.

Dan Trabue said...

Some of my friends were in Seminary when you were (my wife, Donna, didn't start until 85). I go to a church that was supported by Henlee Barnette (with a little Clarence Jordan influence) back in the 40s - Jeff Street Baptist.

Being in Arizona, you're at a slight advantage to building strawbale over us here in humid Kentucky. Good luck with it.

Dr. Mike Kear said...

As to question number two, I noticed that Knight-Ridder was reporting that, "One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally."

There you go. The heroin addict doesn't literally want to kick the habit.

Dan Trabue said...

I'd be a cynic if it were worthwhile...

Daniel Levesque said...

I find it interested that you cannot agree that tchnology can break our dependence on oil, but I realize that your idea of progress in this arena comes from the side of the environmental movement that thinks technology and corporations are the root of all environmental evil.

As a conservative environmentalist I want to point out that modern technology is significantly cleaner than than the technology that performed the same function 50, 100, and more years ago, and it does so with greater output and efficiency. Our air and water are cleaner now, with modern technology, than they were prior to the 80's.

Technology will hopefully provide us with viable clean fuel alternatives to fossil fuels that will further improve the situation.

Knowing President Bush (from his media appearances, of course), and judging from the content of his speech, I am inclined to think his primary drive toward breaking the bonds of oil is getting the US off our need for Middle East oil as a means of making that region of the world strategicaly and economically unimportant. This is a good plan too.

Marcguyver said...

I was glad to see that the President was willing to admit that we are 'addicted' but I think the technology has been available for a very long time now for us to not have to be so dependent on oil. Hopefully the major automakers will finally produce a vehicle that is affordable and non-oil dependent.

Mr. Levesque, I too think that by refusing to import Middle Eastern Oil it will do well to make them less economically strong and thereby decrease their ability to push their fundalmentalist agenda with vast economic resources.

Nightcrawler said...

For starters, we can bulldoze New York City and Los Angeles and turn them both into wildlife sanctuaries. Then we can expand operations into Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville so on and so forth.

Along the way, we'll destroy all of our roads and highways. As we destroy the infrastructure that allows us to continue abusing such an addictive substance, we will also destroy other forms of technology such as television, radio and computers.

Once this plan is completed, the United States will have the technology level of China in the 1500's and our oil addiction will be cured!

What exactly is wrong with a more environmentally friendly substitute for oil, by the way?

Dan Trabue said...

Thank you gentlemen for offering some thoughts and a chance for me to elaborate.

I'm NOT anti-technology. I'm anti-technology that doesn't help.

The Amish are not anti-technology, either. They use plows, they use combustion engines sometimes, will use phones or accept rides. They're not against technology BUT they do keep it at arm's length and carefully measure how sustainable, practical, helpful any technology is. They don't believe we should do it just because we can, which is a common affliction amongst the technology-driven.

We have addictions that are bad for us: the car, for instance. That's not to say that for any one person to drive a car is a bad thing. But collectively all of us driving one or two billion cars IS a bad thing, or at least has negative repercussions.

For one thing, a billion cars need billions of miles of roads that cost trillions of dollars to build, draining vital resources. The same number of people could be more efficiently mobile by walking, biking, mass transit with considerable less investment. So, it's a money matter.

Further, those billions of miles of roads contribute to the degradation of our waterways. EVEN IF we had totally clean cars that emitted not a whiff of smoke or a droplet of toxin (which they do in abundance right now), all those impervious roads have contributed to stream degradation and poisoning. Another problem.

Further, as we've discussed here before, a million people die each year from auto wrecks and hundreds of millions are maimed and wounded.

Just because we can get around quickly and "comfortably" doesn't mean we should. We should weigh the costs and benefits and make decisions based upon reality and, if the technology can help us, employ it by all means. If it's going to have severely negative consequences, it ought to be reconsidered.

I'm not a luddite. I'm typing here on a computer, after all. I'm just looking for sustainable, reasonable and personally responsible solutions.

I've asked this before and to not much response, so I'll try it again:

If we didn't have cars and people were getting around in other, slower and less comfortable ways, and we were told about the invention of the car and were told its benefits (speed, convenience, distances traveled, comfort, security) and its problems (1 million killed in wrecks, hundreds of thousands killed and sickened by the resultant pollution, stream and air degradation, dangerous streets for our children and elderly, etc), would you vote for it?

I_Wonder said...

I spent ten days in Amsterdam during Christmas -- 750,000 people and 550,000 bicycles. I saw bicycles with four seats -- the parent, a small baby in front of the parent and two small children behind the parent. I saw bicycles with extended front ends that had box with two seats that would accomodate 4 small children -- seat belts included.

Not surprising, the overweight people we saw were tourists.

Mass transit was quiet, efficient and effective.

BTW, I develop software and I live off the grid. I designed and installed a solar and wind system. I'm not against technology but technology can be dangerous to health, happiness and contentment.

Technology as a servant is OK but technology has become our master.

Eleutheros said...

Nightcrawler:"What exactly is wrong with a more environmentally friendly substitute for oil, by the way?"

Mainly this: there isn't one.

Hydrocarbon fuel is unique in that it contains such a huge amount of energy easily released for its weight.

Hempseed oil and ethanol from corn come close, but they are only feasible if there is very little transportation going on. Millions of people can't commute hundreds of miles every day on them.

Dan Trabue said...

"What exactly is wrong with a more environmentally friendly substitute for oil, by the way?"

"Mainly this: there isn't one."

But there are environmentally friendly substitutes for our current transportation and energy solutions. Namely, reduce, live in small circles, do without (and realize the joy therein)...these sorts of things.

When people talk about "environmentally friendly" options to keep doing things the way we've been doing them, it seems to me more often than not, they're talking about "Less damaging but still toxic" rather than "environmentally friendly."

(If I see one more ad for the Toyota Prius advertising it as "Green Transportation," I shall puke.)

Marcguyver said...

"Namely, reduce, live in small circles, do without (and realize the joy therein)...these sorts of things."

Are you for real Dan? Whether I agree with you or not; do you really, and I mean really, think that you or anybody else is going to be able to get almost 300 million Americans to live in a 'small circle, do without, and realize the joy therein'???

Wow, I think you'd spend your time more wisley and have a LOT MORE SUCCESS in getting Hillary Clinton elected as President.

Dan Trabue said...

Marc, not only do I think that we're going to be able to get almost 300 million Americans to live in a small circle, I know it will happen because we're not going to have a choice.

Sometime in the next 10-50 years, probably our lifetime, oil will cease to be affordable and when that happens, we'll all live in smaller circles. Our only choice will be rather we try to do so gracefully or whether we'll leave our children in a mess.

And I certainly would not work to get any Clinton elected, they're working on your side, not mine.

Marcguyver said...

Well, I guess we'll all be 'nervously waiting in anticipation' for the fruition of that one!

And who's side? The Clintons are on my side? And what side is that?
If Clinton walked through my front door he'd get an 'earful' of 'honest reporting' on what I thought of him as a man, (supposed) leader/Pres, and fellow citizen of the U.S.!

That was laughable!

Anonymous said...

Dan, It strikes me as doublespeak to suggest that a way to solve addiction to oil is for working people to give up things and do without, but non-working people are not to do without. 1 Thess. 4:11-12

Dan Trabue said...

Miss Marilyn, why do you assume negative stuff of me? I'm not wanting folk to go hungry or children to be homeless, but I'm also not wanting folk to be addicted to stuff either. Poor or wealthy. Does that not make sense?

Marc, I know the Clintons don't represent you, my point is that they don't represent many on the left, either. They're somewhere in the great middle, to the left of McCain, but to the right of more progressive.

My further point is that it's a bit silly and annoying for someone to tell you who represents you (as in you saying I should be working for Hillary - that's as ludicrous as you working for her, right?)

Wembley said...

Dan, I am only saying this for the sake of your metaphor-- having grown up in the area I grew up in and knowing many heroin (and other drug) addicts; I can tell you truly that the methadone program is pretty much a lifetime commitment for anyone without a truly fantastic amount of willpower. The idea that it is only a temporary "bridge" is pretty much just PR.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, Wembley, but the metaphor stands, it seems to me: We want to be rid of the addiction, not transfer it.

Wembley said...

I dunno, maybe the wording got a little cofused. What I'm trying to say is that actually methadone is pretty much intended as a replacement for the heroin. Nearly any health insurance coverage will keep you in it for the rest of your life, no questions asked. The one heroin addict I am close to has been on the methadone program for seven years now. He, and many of the other people he knows in the program, have no intention of stopping.

Oh yeah, also, methadone has no long term harmful effects and very very few side effects. Technology may very well. But like I said, this is pretty much just about your metaphor.

Anyway I don't think america is so much addicted to oil as it is other habits that happen to involve oil. Unfortunately these habits, like heroin, cannot be quit cold-turkey. Technology might have to be our methadone. It might not be easy to eventually kick the habit (and the debate could be brought up whether or not we need to), but it is possible.