We almost did it. We almost started weening ourselves off the addiction to fossil fuels President Obama has warned of since his 2008 campaign. We made great strides in technology and reduced consumption, and for a while it seemed that our reasons for doing so were related to climate change and a concern for our environment as well as national security and economic sustainability.
An article in The Nation, “New Fossil Fuel Fever,” looks at the recent boom of fossil fuel production in the Western Hemisphere, and examines the long-term costs of the high-tech, high-energy, high-pollution techniques being used to exploit these resources. Once again, we are seeing the attitude emerge where “environmental risks are overshadowed by the greater benefit of economic gain and national security.”
On the other hand, market forces are pushing Americans to use less petroleum. National gasoline consumption has dropped by 4.2 billion gallons, or three percent, during the past year. Higher gasoline prices, bitterly attacked by most species of American politicians, have encouraged people to drive less and have pushed carmakers to make vehicles that get better gas mileage. Just think of the efficiencies we could get if we did full-cost pricing so that gasoline prices at the pump would include all the costs of the gasoline. Those costs include American lives and treasure spent protecting Mideast oil sources and environmental damages from creating more greenhouse gases.