Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I definitely hate her a little less now

This is basically fantastic, as it mockingly takes everyone in the political system to task for not knowing what the hell they're talking about. Who would've thought that I'd ever [intentionally] spread a video starring Paris Hilton?

Unfortunately for Paris (and McCain and Obama, since they actually all agree on this), she's wrong that we can have it both ways on offshore drilling and alternative energy. In fact, given the long investigation and construction time needed for effective platforms, the argument for increased drilling is less coherent when combined with a true commitment to renewable energy.

The primary effect of new oil-gathering measures will be to distract people from the problem by making them feel like something is being done. It's political, not rational, and making decisions on those terms is a mistake with long-term consequences. There's genuine reason to be worried about this issue, and we shouldn't be lulled into false sense of security. There's no quick fix. Any real solution will require years of careful, difficult construction and investment, because renewable sources of energy are expensive to install. In the meantime, we shouldn't do something destructive just because it seems like it's the easy way out.

If we take the concept of renewable energy seriously, after all, then the economic benefits of increased drilling won't be felt until the point at which we should be seriously phasing out our use of petroleum-based energy anyway. Such a serious commitment to new sources of oil is like betting the losing hand when we already know the cards. Worst of all, not only does the construction of new platforms come at significant environmental cost, it requires an investment of time and money that should be going towards the development and subsidization of renewables. Gas may be expensive now, but it's only going to get worse. We can either make the necessary long-term investments in green energy now, or we can wait until we're paying $8 a gallon before we address the actual problem. Every dollar spent on drilling makes things worse.

Of course, given the recent panic over gas prices, it's easy to forget that the scarcity of oil has been within the sphere of national consciousness since the 1970s, and that many of the obvious solutions have remained expensive primarily due to the lack of demand for mass production. We don't really have an excuse other than laziness, here: while solar energy undeniably costs quite a bit, for example, any given panel will pay for itself within a matter of years. Furthermore, on a personal level, the initial cost can take the form of time rather than money: here are some (admittedly complicated) instructions for building a cheap (~$100) solar panel all by oneself.

On the plus side, solar panels have apparently been back on the White House roof since 2003 due to a unilateral decision by the Park Service (which maintains the White House). I actually got a chance to see the original White House solar panels at an exhibition at the Canadian Centre For Architecture in Montreal over spring break. Panels that Carter installed in response to the oil crises of the '70s, and that Ronald Reagan had taken down shortly after assuming the presidency. Exactly why he did that, I cannot say. Presumably, it was just to be an asshole.

(Another fun fact: did you know that the first patented life form was a bacteria engineered to efficiently turn oil into edible simple proteins? I'm not implying a conspiracy here, since I know to a near certainty that the creator had the best of intentions. But isn't it a little telling that the patenting of the first organism – an act that literally invented contemporary commercial biotechnology – was for something to clean up oil spills? It's all related, I tell you.)


  1. Exactly why he did that, I cannot say. Presumably, it was just to be an asshole.

    I'd say that's a fair assessment of things.

  2. that's certainly not the type of video I'm used to seeing from Paris Hilton...

    thank you for explaining why Obama's recent talk off possible off-shore drilling "if it's part of a comprehensive plan" is idiotic and illogical. another reason nothing has changed despite knowledge of oil's scarcity: record-shattering profits across the board for all oil companies. any talk of renewable energy sources isn't anything a little hush money to politicians can shut up right quick.


    *composes hour-long speech instructing mr. environmentalism to tear down those panels*

  4. ...record-shattering profits across the board for all oil companies. any talk of renewable energy sources isn't anything a little hush money to politicians can shut up right quick.

    Yeah, word. There's a world to be said about that alone, between rising gas prices and the inability of small gas station owners to stay in business. I'd always thought that the end of oil would mean trouble for these folks, but I guess they're smarter than I gave them credit for. The bastards.