Tar sands, pipelines, and big-picture decisions

The Sierra Club is having a campaign to stop the oil pipeline from Canada down to refineries here in the US; the complaint is partly about the environmentally-damaging source from tar sands, too. (Or would we like fracking contamination of our drinking water?)

Normally I would stand with environmental protection concerns. But after much thought about the bigger picture, on this one I abstain from the vote of participation. It is the bigger picture that must be consulted.

The reasoning is as follows:

We Americans have built our lifestyles around cars and trucks. This consumes an incredible amount of oil for the energy to propel these vehicles, that we send huge amounts of money overseas to get more oil, tens of billions per year.

Much of my life I too consumed gasoline in my cars as if it were in endless supply and of our own produce. But nowadays, people know better, and have the choice to moderate their petrochemical fuel consumption.

But they generally choose not to. Instead of buying their teenagers bicycles to use to go to school, the soccer moms fire up the family SUV to take them to school and bring them back in style. To go get a couple items to finish off dinner prep, again fire up the SUV or other gas hog vehicle to make the trip there and back, the foreign-bought fuel pushing the multi-thousand-pound vehicle to grocery and back, with the half pound of grocery food treasure. The local Walmart has a huge supply of bicycles for sale, along with basic supplies like helmets. But when I put on my backpack and bicycle to Walmart to get groceries and supplies, mine is usually the only bicycle parked on the parking rack there at the store.

Point is, we Americans could be doing lots more to reduce our oil consumption, yet we are not doing that. We still live it up, burn the gas, to heck with the nation and world problem it makes.

Thus we need more and more oil to feed this problem. There are security problems about the supply from overseas, as was so well experienced in the gas lines during the gs shortages of the early 1970's. Could happen again, even lots worse.

We have a better chance of protecting a pipeline from Canada to refineries in Texas, than to guarantee endless oil from overseas.

We have not been able to wean ourselves from excessive use of oil for energy, despite being aware of the problem for decades. Sure, it is hard to change ones ways, even a little bit. But life is ever changing; we constantly adapt. But to the energy problem, we just have not adapted.

Even lots of politicians say there really is no oil supply problem, no CO2 building up in the atmosphere due to our industrial civilization, altering the basic energy balance from the Sun. It wasn't taught them in school; therefore it does not exist. It is all a plot by the politicians on the other side of the ball court.

America must have a continuous supply of energy, and lots of it. We are making some success such as some solar panels up and a few wind turbines up, but we are stuck on the notion that it has to be cheaper to get energy from wind and solar, before we will abandon coal and oil as our primary source of energy. Energy to run our factories and light our homes and swirl our washing machines. The idea of building wind power infrastructure when it is in competition with other energy sources, is ridiculous to those who do not comprehend that even some energy from local sources is better than none, when things have gone sour.

Can we continue to guarantee that things do not go sour on us re invasion by another country, simply by reminding them that we have enough nukes to destroy all life on earth including them? Well, we cringe that North Korea or Iran may make a nuke or two, that we don't control. Hardly enough to destroy the world like we can do, but enough to make a terrible mess of a big city or two, or vaporize one of our great aircraft carriers at a strategic moment. Yet perhaps the bigger risk is that we will be conquered by starving us of critical supplies, and energy is the most obvious one. All energy self-sufficiency we can arrange as fast as possible, is a better protection than waving our world-destroying pile of nukes, to guarantee we get enough energy to power our lives.

It is abundantly proven that we cannot curb our demand for petrochemical energy sources, in great quantity. It is a choice thing, as pointed out. Therefore we need to do second-best, and that appears to involve more secure and diverse petrochemical sources, such as the Canadian tar sands pipeline.

Actually it is "third best" in my opinion. We could have already solved this energy problem, if we had taken on the task of building the Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure to Geostationary Earth Orbit project, well outlined back in 1989, plenty of time to have developed it and have it operational used to lift construction materials to be building abundant Solar Power Satellites beaming totally clean electrical energy to America, in quantities enough to start shutting down coal fired power plants by now. (Sure, call me a crank, a loner, lots of bad names, reaffirming the rightness of business as usual. I just mention it here, as it rightfully belongs in the energy picture. Period.) And sure, wind turbines ans solar panels on the ground, are pitifully weak compared to the enormous energy demands of the industrialized world. This KESTS to GEO transportation system and the SPS energy sources could have well solved the problem, but it was not in the hands of the wealthy and powerful energy producers, so it was suppressed and had no chance to be done by now. And sure, they will eventually take the project over as if totally their own, when petrochemical sources peter out. Is lots easier to do that control game. But lots of suffering for humanity has to happen first, in the profit-controlled scenario.

Anyway my tirade about "KESTS to GEO" over, back to the current apparent scenario. We need petrochemical energy for our cars and trucks. They do not go very well without gas in them. Compromises need to be made. We chose not to go the KESTS to GEO solar satellite power route. We have done foot-dragging re the wind turbine and solar panel route for even a significant share of the energy needs. We are stuck with petrochemicals as our energy primary source, for a long time.

A pipeline from Canada's tar sands to our Texas refineries, seems a more secure supply route for a significant supply of our petrochemicals to move our cars around back and forth to our jobs and back home.

Beside the offshore oil sources, particularly in the middle-eastern areas, we are dependent on lots of oil pumped from ocean oil rig sites. In a big conflict, do you realize what happens if the other nation(s) use subs to chop those oil lines up from the ocean bottom, with no chance to shut their blowout protection system? The environmental disaster would be incredible, but right now since we are talking about fuel for our cars nevermind the environmental consequences, think of all that oil not getting to our refineries so that soccer-mom can drive little Suzie to school in the huge SUV?

Part of long term survival involves shifting from hand-to-mouth little-picture attention, to wider view big-picture attention in which our many little pictures all are all laced together.

America needs to have her greatness not so much on her ability to march off to war to save the world, but to save the world in other ways. Like, adequate clean energy to power our lives. Or if we continue to be unwilling to be part of the solution, at least not be so much a part of the problem.

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