Letter: Reason for Despair and Hope
To the Editor:
May we hope or must we despair?
Despair is engendered by the Valley News account of dramatic deepwater oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico (“After Spill, Gulf Oil Rigs Proliferating,” July 18).
“The blow-out at BP’s Macondo well in April 2010 killed 11 workers, injured 17 and triggered an 87-day oil spill that fouled thousands of square miles and shut much of the Gulf to fishing for months.” But after a five-month suspension, drilling accelerated again, with its attendant risks to the marine environment, including the deafening of whales from frequent blasts of air guns (the Natural Resources Defense Council provides the latter grisly fact). And exploration is going deeper to a geologic layer 20,000 feet below the sea floor.
The oil companies are hungry for profits. Many consumers are hungry for oil, the fossil fuel that, when burned, is a leading contributor to climate disruption. The scenario induces despair.
Thankfully, the June 30 edition of The New York Times engenders hope by highlighting that “Americans are buying fewer cars, driving less and getting fewer licenses. ... (A)s of April 2013 the number of miles driven per person was nearly 9 percent below the peak (of 2005) and equal to where the country was in January 1995.” Among other factors, both business and personal connections have been facilitated by the Internet, replacing many direct physical contacts.
With foresight, Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Co., has laid out a “business plan for a world in which personal vehicle ownership is impractical or undesirable. He proposed partnering with the telecommunications industry to create cities in which ‘pedestrian, bicycle, private cars, commercial and public transportation traffic are woven into a connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety.’” Transportation provides the second largest source of America’s carbon emissions (the first being power plants), so Ford’s proposed scenario is indeed a source of hope.
It is not Mother Nature inflicting on us the current weather miseries. It is, in fact, human nature, and we have it in our power to commit ourselves to change.