In his last State of the Union address, President Bush talked about the need to develop alternative energy sources so as to facilitate a decrease in our need for foreign oil imports. This was a great start, not so much because it was an innovative idea, but because it’s been a long time coming.
My hope is that he’s actually serious about doing what needs to be done. While I’m in no way implying that President Bush is insincere about this issue, there will almost certainly be political resistance to any effort to reduce domestic oil consumption despite the increase in oil prices.
Where I disagree with the President, however, is that I don’t think he has the right end goal in mind. I don’t think we should just reduce the amount of oil we import and consume; I think we should eliminate the need for oil at all, and not just because I can’t afford to drive my car anymore. It’s not to reduce pollution either. In the end we need to get rid of a need for oil so we can completely eliminate placing ourselves in a dependent position to nations that would as soon nuke us than sell us oil.
Setting aside the political resistance financed by the oil lobby, no such effective alternative to oil currently exists. There’s talk about ethanol, biomass, hydrogen, etc. and several other alternatives like the long sought electric car. Yet in spite of all this no significant progress has been made toward bringing any of these ideas to market. Even the Hybrid gas/electric cars, while a step in the right direction, are still not practical for the average person to own.
Reliance on foreign oil imports places our national security at risk. In a time of war this condition is inexcusable. As these are drastic times, what is called for is drastic action. In World War II, for matters of practical necessity, the federal government funded research that led to the creation of industrial products we now take for granted. Pick up anything plastic or purchase a tire for your car and you’re utilizing two of those products.
The war on terror places us in a much more precarious position since the place we buy a significant portion of that oil from is also the place where people come from who end up flying planes into our buildings. As such, the government should treat the issue of our oil dependence the same way they treated the need for a cheap source of rubber during World War II.by creating synthetic rubber.
The resources exist and the technical capability exists to eliminate completely the need for oil as an industrial power source. All we need to do is take the step of deciding what is more important to us-maintaining the status quo or making ourselves and our nation ultimately safer.
Scott Wacholtz is a graduate student in the history department. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.