This was first posted on July 28, 2010. Unfortunately, it remains just as accurate a year later, despite the promise of the leaders at the 2009 Pittsburgh G8 to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. President Obama is expected to make a decision on whether or not a second Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil to refineries in Texas, can go ahead. People are gathering in Washington DC over the next few weeks to send Obama a clear message – President Obama, just say no to releasing the carbon bomb of the tar sands!
Is anybody else getting tired of being told that we have to continue on the destructive oil-dependent path we’re currently on? There seems to be a large and vocal part of the population that believes because this is way we’ve been doing things for the last 100 years or so, give or take a few decades, it is the only possible path to maintain our standard of living. The truth is, unless we take a sharp turn and start living and doing business sustainably, our standard of living is going to come crashing abruptly and painfully down. You just can’t live indefinitely like there are 5 more planets like earth, like we currently do in North America, when in fact there is only this one.
If you aren’t convinced that oil is a dirty fuel after the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, one that is getting filthier all the time due to our growing dependence on the Alberta tar sands, go to Wikipedia.org’s “list of oil spills” page. It is a reverse-chronological list of oil spills that are currently happening, and that have happened since the early 1900s. Hundreds of thousands of tons of oil have been spilled in 2010 already (remember we’re only halfway through the year) by seven spills around the globe.
And yet, here we are in 2010, and governments around the world are using our taxpayer money to subsidize Big Oil and Gas to the tune of $500 billion a year! As I wrote previously, we are all subsidizing Big Oil’s war on our grandchildren!
Yet, it turns out, it didn’t have to be this way. Henry Ford’s Model T came right from the factory, in 1911, with flex-fuel capacity; it could run on alcohol and gas. And in the 1930s and 1940s, Henry Ford developed a car body that was made from hemp fiber that also ran on hemp biodiesel. According to the YouTube video clip that features it, the resulting material was “lighter than steel, but could withstand ten times the impact without denting”. It seems clear that Henry Ford did encourage hemp cultivation to use as a fuel and as a manufacturing material. This was before hemp growing was banned in the U.S. in a strange twist in their war on drugs (hemp has no hallucinogenic properties although it is related to the marijuana plant).
Here are some videos that demonstrate how we could have gone down a different path to fueling and making our vehicles, and how, if we act quickly enough, we might still be able to change direction:
Ford’s first flex-fuel car, the 1911 Model T:
Archival footage of Ford’s 1941 hemp car (the quality is quite poor, but it gives you the general idea):
Take Action and become a fossil fuel abolitionist:
Participate or organize a “Moving Planet” event on Sept. 24th. Initiated by 350.org, people all around the world will be rallying to demand solutions to the climate crisis, and a move beyond fossil fuels.
Join or start a Citizens Climate Lobby group in your community. CCL is focused on creating the political will for a stable climate, and empowering individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power.
For more ideas, check out my Action Not Apathy page.