Wednesday, November 07, 2007


The price of oil is about to reach $100 a barrel if it hasn’t already. This isn’t a topic I normally write about, although it’s something that has been in the front of my mind for some time, starting from the period I spent in Los Angeles a few years back, which is when it hit me, just the sight of those hundreds and thousands of cars stretched out forever on the freeway in the middle of a desert that can’t come near to supporting the six million or so people who live there now and that number is growing. In LA you almost have to have a car – public transportation is primitive and the distances between the places you want or need to visit to carry on life make it nearly impossible to walk or ride your bike. Anyway, nobody rides a bike to work or for shopping in LA – it’s not at all cool, which is too bad, too bad for him or her and too bad for the rest of us. New York, Dallas, Chicago, you name the city the problem is the same and in the great splay of the rest of the country the internal combustion engine, particularly the new mammoth “super” trucks and faux military SUV’s, guzzle fuel and spew waste into the air at a shocking rate – it’s environmental pornography featuring soccer moms and would-be cowboys and hazy-headed young turks on the prowl and folks like you and me, who for the sake of vanity or convenience or without even giving it a thought, buy into the culture of greed and waste and insanity. And it isn’t just in the USA; it’s everywhere, here in Europe – everywhere. Yesterday’s news about the escalating price of oil just got to me – it made me angry – I feel exploited by the oil companies and the auto manufacturers and the politicians. If one of the presidential candidates made alternative fuels and rescuing the environment a priority I would probably vote for him or her – no matter the party. It’s that important and it’s that late in the game. It bothers me to no end that HH, sleeping in his room right now, will likely come to maturity in a world that is dirtier and far more dangerous than the world we know today. Each night when he takes his bath or brushes his teeth I remind him not to waste water, to use what he needs and save the rest for tomorrow. Tomorrow: What kind of world are we leaving for our children



Blogger vailian said...

I couldn't agree more. I went to high school in LA when gas was cheap, but even then I thought it was absurd that the city had to sprawl over such a large area. Where does the water come from? someplace in the Rocky Mountains. It is crazy. (Equally crazy is the farming country of Nebraska, where I lived as a kid: its water comes from the Oglalla Aquifer, an underground lake which was filled by the melt after the last Ice Age, and which is inexorably being exhausted by people watering their lawns and rasing cattle to feed Macdonalds.

Europe is possibly better positioned to live through this because of the population concentration and fairly good water supply. But things are sure to get more difficult.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Rositta said...

I too have written about this problem but the solutions are not that easy. Taking a 400 km trip in Germany for example, is a big deal. Here we do that most summer weekends to get to the cottage. What shall we do, go back to horse and carriage or give up an accustomed lifestyle? One small thing that reaps big rewards is to buy your food within a 100 km radius. Just shipping fruits and veggies from Mexico and California to Canada in winter uses huge amounts of gas. Buying goods from China, Taiwan, India etc. is also a huge contributor. Get the big behemoth trucks off the highways and people might be inclined to buy smaller cars. I wouldn't dream of driving a smart car on our expresways, I value my life too much. Oh well, enough of my rant, have a lovely day...ciao

5:03 PM  
Anonymous ian in hamburg said...

If only we could heed the words of the Native Americans, who say: We don't inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children.
I think of that too - what are we leaving them? I try to set an example by riding my bike all the time and showing her that you don't have to be shopping all the time to be happy, but the whole trend of the world just seems to be so negative, it's hard not to get discouraged. I hope some of what I'm trying to show her will sink in.

BTW, you should write with anger more often. It comes over very well.

10:16 PM  
Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

I went to high school in L.A. and lived there off and on in my 20's. I spent so much time driving for my job, L.A. and San Diego were always jam packed with cars, cars cars. Even Santa Claus drove a car instead of a sleigh--and nobody carpooled! Even santa was alone in his huge gas guzzling red convertible. It made me feel crazy just to look at endless cars...

I was so glad to get back to NYC and take the subway again! I still love the subway and Metro North trains.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Vailian, Ros, Ian and DCB ... Thank you for stopping by and for your comments. I don't rant in these pages too often. Perhaps, as Ian says, I should, but I expect this is a topic that we will all be thinking about for some time, so ... more to come.

6:15 AM  
Blogger EHDKD said...

İ filled the tank today.
My bike in the US had a bigger tank than the car İ drive here now but still... Turkey has the the most expensive petrol in the world.. 2 dollars a litre!
Do the math
Today is my time to rant as well

9:39 AM  
Blogger C said...

If you're talking about the US's presidential candidates, it might be worth it to hear that Milwaukee's former mayor, who, when trying to promote light rail in the city (an idea that still won't get off the ground there), was told that he couldn't campaign on the issue. The two biggest contributors to the Republican and Democratic parties in the US, after all, are the automotive industry and the oil companies. So you won't see anyone campaigning for alternative energy. That doesn't mean the issue's fallen by the wayside. Just look beyond the politics and onto the individuals doing wonders to promote cleaner energy. And then lead by example... it works better than anger.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

C ... I agree that leading by example is a sound choice - I also feel, however, that a little anger now and then isn't a bad thing to fuel change.

9:27 PM  

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